It’s a moment of truth for the Australian business leaders and influence seekers who have enmeshed themselves in the world of Donald Trump.
As the president continues his attack on democracy, will they stand by, or start edging towards Joe Biden?
Some, like Rupert Murdoch, have been quick to switch allegiances, choosing pragmatism over ideology. Others face a more embarrassing retreat from their close proximity to Trump, now a dictator in the making.
Here’s a quick stocktake of the president’s Aussie besties.
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Joe Hockey is one of the most striking examples of someone who has put their neck on the line for Trump. The former ambassador and Trump golfing buddy has developed strong connections to the president’s administration through his DC lobbying outfit Bondi Partners.
Hockey will have an interesting time trying to build bridges if he wants to secure a future as a lobbyist in the halls of a Biden White House. The most awkward conversations will no doubt be around Hockey’s recent support for Trump’s election fraud claims. He may need to rely on his partner, Alex Tureman, a former operative inside the Democrats, to help mend the relationship.
Few Australian business people have come to embody Trump’s politics quite like Andrew Liveris. A cheerleader for economic nationalism, the former Dow Chemical boss lauded the president’s policies in 2016 when he was appointed to head Trump’s short-lived manufacturing taskforce.
“President-elect Trump, I can’t tell you, I tingle with pride listening to you,” he told a rally of Trump supporters in Michigan.
How things change. Liveris told the Australian Financial Review this week that he, like other business leaders, would be happy to trade the instability of the Trump administration for Joe Biden. “There’s no question the previous administration’s volatility and instability has spooked a lot of people,” he said.
Liveris’ taskforce fell apart in 2017 after CEOs abandoned the president over his comments on the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville.
As the face of Australia’s richest family, Anthony Pratt has never had any problems playing both sides of the political fence. Yet he took his relationship with Donald Trump to the next level, becoming a paid-up member of Mar-a-Lago, where his influence-peddling inside the Trump machine earned him a mention in a New York Times expose last month.
Pratt has reveled in his proximity to Trump, posting pictures of Mar-a-Lago and the first lady on Instagram. He’s promoted the president’s economic policies on Fox News and bought full-page ads in The Wall Street Journal commending the president.
Pratt has been reasonably quiet since Biden was elected, despite having met the former VP before. The pair enjoyed coffee and croissants at a private breakfast meeting in 2016, and they’ll no doubt they’ll have a lot to catch up on in the new year — especially given Pratt Industries USA employs more Americans than any other Australian company.
Alongside Hockey in the expat army wielding influence in the US is legendary Murdoch foot soldier Col Allan.
Allan confirmed his retirement from the New York Post two days after the election, just as the paper made its dramatic turn away from Trump. The tabloid king was behind the paper’s questionable reporting on Hunter Biden and has been spotted in the newsroom wearing a Make America Great Again hat.
Allan is said to be planning to split his time between Sydney and New York, but a smooth landing in a Biden world might be hard. He’ll be returning to an Australia that is much more critical of Murdoch’s influence in the wake of Trump.
News Corp columnist Miranda Devine was brought over to the New York Post by Allan to help Trump get elected. She has become one of the president’s most virulent attack dogs, with regular appearances on Fox News.
Devine was meant to be serving out an 18 month secondment at the Post. But even as the tabloid turns away from the president, Devine has doubled down, declaring voter fraud and cheering on his MAGA supporters.
Where does she go from here? If Trump refuses to leave office, will she continue to back his assault on democracy? Or will she join the growing ranks of American conservatives urging Trump to accept the result?
Either way, she’s unlikely to ever warm to Biden.