What should Australia’s political class do if they are worried that a dangerous lunatic could become president of the United States?

Tomorrow night, Melbourne councillors will vote on whether to formally adopt this motion on Donald Trump:

“That the Future Melbourne Committee authorises a nominated councillor to write to the chairman of the 15 largest US-domiciled companies (excluding weapons manufacturers, gambling companies and large carbon emitters) by market capitalisation extolling the virtues of relocating their global headquarters to the City of Melbourne if Donald Trump is elected President of the United States.”

The full rationale is spelled out in the background to the motion, and the reaction has been interesting to watch.

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle lent tentative support in this Herald Sun article on Thursday, and The Age ran a line about Melbourne becoming a refuge for fleeing Americans.

Someone with the email address [email protected] sent through the following email on Friday night:

Dear Mr Mayne,

Your views about Donald Trump in your “Move to Melbourne: Where people think Donald Trump is a ‘jerk’ article” are very disrespectful, immature and do not represent the views of Melbournians (sic).

Please inform yourself adequately with Donald Trump’s policies, and patriotic aspirations for the country he feels so strongly about. Beware of being influenced by the erroneous views espoused by the dishonest mass media and the corrupt political machine. Please take time to view Trump’s recent speech on foreign policy at the National Press Club in Washington.

Make America Great Again!

Melbourne4Trump

Given the way Trump shows utter contempt for Americans and foreigners alike, it is passing strange that his supporters are suggesting he be shown respect.

Having thrown out the etiquette handbook on basic civility in politics, it is perfectly fine for foreign politicians to start sticking in the boots.

America has benefited enormously from internationalism, and with Trump promising greater nationalistic pride, wealth and jobs, perhaps the world should respond by pointing to the economic disaster that would unfold under his presidency.

If Trump thinks he can bag the world’s most valuable company, Apple, and promote a consumer boycott, then why shouldn’t Apple respond by saying it could very well relocate its head office to another country, such as Canada or Australia?

Canada, like Switzerland, is already host to a large number of international organisations because these countries are regarded as neutral and relatively inoffensive.

If a conman and insult machine like Trump is elected US president, why wouldn’t Singapore, Sydney or Geneva offer to become the new home for the United Nations? That would resonate with US voters pretty quickly.

Similarly, there is nothing stopping Australian companies like Woodside and Brambles ditching the greenback and returning to reporting in Australian dollars or even shifting to euros. If Americans think that electing Trump would lead to the US dollar no longer becoming the default global currency, they might think twice.

Rupert Murdoch is potentially a key player in this debate. He is one of the few individuals who has the power to stop Trump, simply be deploying Fox News against him, but as this recent Newsmax article suggests, Rupert’s hatred of Hillary runs deep. As Crikey recently noted, The New York Post has also endorsed Trump, although that position may change now that editor and Trump sympathiser Col Allan finally left the building for good on Friday night.

As Fox News reported over the weekend, a growing number of Hollywood celebrities are threatening to move to Canada if Trump becomes President.

If the likes of Lena Dunham, Samuel L. Jackson, Miley Cyrus, Cher, Jon Stewart and Raven Symone are prepared to publicly make this call, then what about Australia putting some sweeteners on the table to attract whole companies?

At the close on Friday night, there were 35 US-listed companies with a market capitalisation exceeding US$100 billion as follows:

1. Apple: US$513 billion

2. Google: US$481 billion

3. Microsoft: US$392 billion

4. Exxon Mobil: US$367 billion

5. Berkshire Hathaway: US$359 billion

6. Facebook: US$336.6 billion

7. Amazon: US$311 billion

8. Johnson & Johnson: US$309 billion

9. General Electric: US$285 billion

10. Wells Fargo: US$252.7 billion

11. AT&T: US$239 billion

12. JP Morgan: US$231 billion

13. Proctor & Gamble: US$213 billion

14. Walmart: US$210 billion

15. Verizon: US$207.6 billion

16. Pfizer: US$202.3 billion

17. Coca-Cola: US$194 billion

18. Chevron: US$192.6 billion

19. Visa: US$184.2 billion

20. Disney: US$168.5 billion

21. Home Depot: US$167.6 billion

22. Oracle: US$165.4 billion

23. Merck: US$152 billion

24. Bank of America: US$150.3 billion

25. Pepsico: US$148.7 billion

26. Comcast: US$147.5 billion

27. Intel: US$142.8 billion

28. IBM: US$140 billion

29. Cisco Systems: US$138.3 billion

30. Citi: US$136.2 billion

31. United Health Group: US$125.5 billion

32. Bristol-Myers Squibb: US$120.5 billion

33. AmGen: US$118.7 billion

34. McDonalds: US$111 billion

35. 3M: US$101.4 billion

The Commonwealth Bank is currently the most valuable ASX-listed company, with a market capitalisation of US$96.3 billion. If just one of the above companies relocated to Australia it would be a big coup, and there’s nothing lost by asking.

Donald Trump doesn’t speak for all of these companies. It’s time corporate America stood up to Trump, just like the way a number of major British companies helped defeat the Scottish independence referendum by openly canvassing shifting corporate functions from Scotland to London if the union was broken up.

Many disgruntled Americans think major corporates are greedy and corrupt. Here is a chance for them to take the governance high road by helping defeat an ugly conman’s run at the White House.

*Cr Stephen Mayne is chair of the Finance and Governance committee at City of Melbourne and was not paid for this item.

Peter Fray

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