Australia's Economic Destiny Lies With China

By Graham Richardson
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Our PM really has had a few good weeks. She pulled the right rein on Qantas, had a good Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and looked every inch a success in Hawaii. Now that Obama has visited our shores, her relationship, both personal and professional with the US President is obviously warm.

Obama appears to be intelligent. He uses his words carefully and, given the lacklustre candidates the Republicans have assembled to oppose him, he is a pretty safe bet for a second term.

That having been said, for many of us who believed he was a breath of fresh air after the embarrassing George W. Bush he has been a disappointment. He is popular here and being seen to have a strong friendship with him will do Gillard no harm at all.

Mind you, hanging off the coattails of US presidents is no guarantee to boosting your poll numbers at home. John Howard did himself real damage by being seen to be close to Bush, who most Australians regarded as a bumbling fool. The PM's good weeks continue and I look forward to the next Newspoll.

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I would have one word of advice for our PM though: beware Obama's enthusiasm for a new free trade pact. Every US president talks the talk on free trade but never walks the walk. US farmers are heavily protected and trying to export steel to the US always ends in tears.

Australia is uniquely pure in our free trade. Australian farmers get no protection of any kind but if you own a farm in the US, Japan or France you know you have a government behind you.

Bush may have been an embarrassment but I would rather an honest dope than a hypocrite. On his last visit here Bush said it was his job to protect American farmers, not Australian farmers. Amen to that one, brother.

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Graham Richardson is political commentator for the Seven Network and hosts Richo on Sky News at 8pm Wednesdays.

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