The G7 and Trump’s protege

Jun 8, 2020

Coming from anyone else, an invitation for Australia to participate in the G7 meeting would be seen as a tremendous compliment.

The G7 is the big league, the first grade, the game that matters. To be offered a guernsey in that company is an offer no politician could refuse.

And Scott Morrison is not about to refuse it, even though the invitation comes from Donald Trump – the world leader who is leading his own nation into something close to civil war and the entire globe into unpredictable division.

Being seen as a protégé of Trump is a problem in itself, but it is compounded by the glance down the rest of the guest list. Bringing in India and South Korea area is fine, but the re-inclusion of Russia is still unacceptable.

Russia was tossed out over its invasion of The Ukraine, and at least two of the current G7 – Britain and Canada – have made it clear that it is still due for more time in the sin bin. Which once again brings up the question: what is the G7 actually about?

Russia remains a military superpower and a big economic mover and shaker. Its status as an international heavy hitter cannot be questioned. But it is not a team player, an observer of global rule and convention. It is, in short, not a democracy, and does not aspire to become one under its present leader, Vladimir Putin.

Thus placing it on the same dance card as Australia takes some of he gloss off Trump’s move. This will not and should not deter Morrison from accepting his chance, And come September, it will presumably become apparent whether Australia’s membership of the group will be confirmed as permanent.

If so, it will complete the journey begun by Kevin Rudd. who was one of the reformists who expanded the then G8 into the G20, in which Australia also became a member. The G20 has not lived up to its promise as a more inclusive and influential international forum, but it broke the grip of the old guard, who had effectively run the place for some fifty years.

And should Australia breach the inner sanctum of the G7 as well, Rudd should receive some of the credit. His rescue of the local economy from the Global Financial Crisis, in which Australia avoided recession as the rest of the world floundered, was seen and applauded by the other industrialised nations.

In this context, there will be a certain irony if Morrison collects the trophy. Whatever his virtues, he will be forever remembered as the leader who led his country into recession after an extraordinary three decades of economic growth.

But whatever caveats we may have about both The Donald and ScoMo, the G7 is the place to be. It is not quite a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council but it is just about the next best thing. So let’s regard the invitation as a compliment – not to either of the two transient political leaders, but to some 30 years of success, some serious good management and some good fortune – the lucky country.

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