Climate change is one area where, at least in the abstract, Obama and Abbott do not agree.
Abbott has pledged to scrap a carbon tax imposed by the previous government and, like many US conservatives, has voiced doubt about the science behind climate change.
The last prime minister from Abbott’s Liberal Party, John Howard, had been then US president George W. Bush’s primary ally in opposing the Kyoto Protocol that required rich countries to curb emissions.
Satu Limaye, director of the East-West Center in Washington, noted that Obama faces strong political obstacles to taking action on climate change.
Even if Obama makes good on his promises to do more on climate change, “I simply don’t think it will derail the overarching US-Australia alliance relationship,” Limaye said.
“It might make it a little uncomfortable, maybe a little testy, but it’s not going to affect Marine rotational deployments through Darwin,” Limaye said.
Ernie Bower, the Southeast Asia chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said it was possible that the United States and Australia would expand the Darwin troop plan as it enjoys widespread support.
“The honest assessment is that Rudd and Obama were much more alike in terms of worldview and I think they shared an understanding of the importance of Asia,” Bower said.
“We’re just not going to have the
chemistry we had with Rudd and Obama or with Howard and Bush. But fundamentally if you look at polling numbers in Australia, support for the alliance is at all-time highs,” he said.