Outspoken politician Roberts finds a lot to like in President-elect Trump
Unlike many foreign leaders who have shied away from or tried to ignore Donald Trump, newly elected Australian Sen. Malcolm Roberts is proud of his early support for the maverick Republican candidate and now the president-elect.
“We’re the only party that actually came out and supported the Trump candidacy,” Mr. Roberts, a member of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation political party, said in between meetings in Washington, D.C., this week. “We also celebrated his victory the moment it happened. We were very happy about that.”
The appeal of Mr. Trump’s campaign, he said, was that “it seemed to be that the American people are at last waking up that there’s something wrong, and they’re saying to both main parties: You caused this. We don’t know what the problem is, but we know there’s a problem,” he said.
An engineer and onetime coal miner elected to represent Queensland earlier this year, Mr. Roberts has defended Mr. Trump in speeches before his colleagues, and he brought a “Don’t Tread on Me” Gadsden flag, now closely associated with the American tea party movement, to Parliament after Mr. Trump’s shocking win.
Channeling the often confrontational language and attitude of Mr. Trump himself, Mr. Roberts said last month that “after imprisoning Hillary Clinton,” the first act of a Trump administration could be to roll back climate policies enacted under eight years of “the destructive and rudderless Obama presidency.”
But Mr. Roberts said he went public with his support for Mr. Trump in part because other officials were speaking out so harshly against Mr. Trump and in favor of Mrs. Clinton. For example, Queensland Deputy Premier Jackie Trad reportedly said shortly before the election that Americans could do better than having a “bigoted” man as a leader.
Mr. Roberts has close ties to the United States. His wife is from Pennsylvania, and he received his MBA from the University of Chicago. He is perhaps best known in Australian political circles for his outspoken rejection of the idea of man-made climate change, and he thinks he will soon have an ally in the White House.
“It’s very important that the Trump administration hold its line and start exposing the scam that is this climate change,” he said.
“We’re hoping that he will stay [true] to his word and pull out of the Paris agreement,” Mr. Roberts said of the multinational climate deal brokered in part by President Obama to lower global emissions levels. “We’re hoping that he will dismantle the EPA.”
He said he was encouraged by Mr. Trump’s selection of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a fierce critic of the EPA’s regulatory overreach, to head the agency, and that he also likes what he has heard from Mr. Trump about his criticism of the Federal Reserve’s fiscal stimulus efforts.
But he also cautioned the new administration against becoming too closely aligned with Wall Street. Steven Mnuchin, Mr. Trump’s pick for treasury secretary, and Gary D. Cohn, his choice for director of the National Economic Council, both have close ties to Goldman Sachs.
“I’d love to see Donald Trump unshackle America from the Fed. I’d love to see Donald Trump hold Hillary Clinton accountable. And I’d love to see Donald Trump get away from appointments of people — Goldman Sachs former employees — because they have been seen as people in the past who litter every administration and perpetuate the policies of the Fed,” he said.