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In my view, the question from Senator Birmingham to Minister Farrell was completely infantile. I think it's perfectly right, from the point of view of the Minister for Trade and Tourism, to point out that our trade relationship with the United States might be a bit more complicated than simply being able to refer to the US as being our most trusted ally. It is, in this context. And we have the ability to walk and chew gum.

Are you feeling insecure in your relationship with the US, Senator Birmingham? It seems so. But we aren't, and the US aren't. Are you somehow worried, Senator Birmingham, that Senator Farrell's answer somehow implies that some other nation has come between us? You tend to equate our important diplomatic relationships to schoolyard antics like the particular sayings by text message: 'You're dropped,' and 'Will you go around with me?' or, 'Will you not go around with me?' These are our diplomatic relationships. Our diplomatic relationships are sophisticated, reliable and strong and have never ever had such significant standing in the eyes of the Australian public or in the strength of our relationships with other countries than since Minister Wong became our Foreign Minister.

The amount of work that has been done to rehabilitate our relationships with the US, China and a wide range of other countries, indicates how infantile your question actually is. We have to build strong, trusted relationships with a wide variety of countries. I would not expect the trade minister to give an answer in relation to the nature of our relationship with the US and being allies. It's not at all clear to me about whether you were talking in the context of trade, defence or security et cetera. To my mind, I'm quite cognisant of the fact that, yes, while the US is our most significant military ally, they are not always our best friend on trade, but we are secure in our economic relationships with the US. We are secure and robust in our relationships with the US when it does come to trade, despite the fact that we don't always see eye to eye. We are secure in our relationship with the US. Yes, they are our most trusted ally in many respects but that is not absolutist answer. It is not ever helpful to create the kind of hierarchy in allyship without the level of nuance that our diplomatic relations actually require.

If Senator Birmingham is seriously worried that Minister Farrell was trying to imply that someone had somehow come between us and the US and that we were no longer special friends, on all things at all times, well, that approach that the opposition is taking is absolutely laughable. This government has a mature, reliable relationship, a grown-up relationship. We work as a team—consistent, organised—whether it is with the US, New Zealand or, for that matter, China. It is an approach that we will continue to take now and into the future, especially under the leadership of both Senator Farrell as our Minister for Trade and Minister Wong as our Minister for Foreign Affairs.