Scott Morrison has distanced himself from Donald Trump in the dying days of his presidency, avoiding any mention of the outgoing president’s name.
Mr Trump has become increasingly isolated since his supporters stormed the US Capitol on January 6, and was a notable omission as the prime minister praised American leadership on Tuesday.
Mr Morrison has not spoken to Mr Trump since before the election, and confirmed he had no intention of doing so before Joe Biden’s inauguration.
He instead spoke to US Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday, after a conversation with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday.
Mr Morrison has stopped short of criticising Mr Trump’s conduct directly.
But he did not mention the President as he praised a host of Trump officials – including Mr Pence, Mr Pompeo, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and former Defence Secretary Mark Esper – for supporting Australia over the past four years.
“They have been a key part of how we’ve managed that relationship over the last many years, and the cornerstone of that has been an understanding of just how important Australia and the United States are to each other,” he told reporters in Queensland.
Mr Morrison has joined a number of allies in recognising Mr Biden’s as president-elect, an implicit rejection of Mr Trump’s baseless claim the election was marred by voter fraud.
He confirmed he had not raised Mr Trump’s refusal to accept the result with either Mr Pence or Mr Pompeo.
“I welcome the fact that, despite all the terrible things we’ve seen there happen, there has been that positive engagement between them and those who are coming in after them. There is a handover,” he said.
“I have the privilege to steward that from Australia’s perspective and the incoming president, President-elect Joe Biden, will join me in that stewardship.
“It’s incredibly important for our region, it’s incredibly important for Australia’s interests. And I say it’s very important for the United States’ interests as well.”
It comes after Labor leader Anthony Albanese urged Mr Morrison to call Mr Trump’s actions “out by name” ahead of Inauguration Day.
Mr Trump has been accused of stoking an insurrection after urging his supporters to march on the US Capitol and continuing to claim, without evidence, the election was rigged.
A subsequent assault on the Capitol building by his supporters left five people dead, and the National Guard has deployed 25,000 troops to Washington DC to prevent further violence.
Despite despite their lack of communication since November, Mr Trump in December made Mr Morrison one of three world leaders to receive the Legion of Merit, a prestigious military award bestowed on national leaders.
Mr Albanese said the pair’s close relationship put Mr Morrison in a good position to rebuke the outgoing president.
He said Mr Trump would be “regarded harshly by history” after undermining America’s democratic institutions.
“Trump obviously had a great deal of admiration for Scott Morrison, and Scott Morrison did a great deal of positive things for Donald Trump,” he told 5AA Radio on Tuesday.
“I just wish Scott Morrison would be prepared to call out by name Donald Trump’s actions for what they were.
“Other world leaders have done it: Boris Johnson, Angela Merkel and Jacinda Ardern. Those of us who are democrats need to be consistent about calling out democratic values.”
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has “unreservedly condemned” Mr Trump and directly linked him to the attack on Capitol Hill.
“Insofar as he encouraged people to storm the Capitol, and insofar as the President consistently cast doubt on the outcome of a free and fair election, I think that was completely wrong,” Mr Johnson told reporters earlier this month.
“I think what President Trump has been saying about that is completely wrong and I unreservedly condemn encouraging people to behave in the disgraceful way they did in the Capitol.”
Mr Albanese said the institutions of American democracy had shown “resilience and strength” by withstanding the Capitol hill attack.
“They’ve remained intact … the Congress and the Senate got back to work, the very same day to do their constitutional duty and declare Joe Biden elected,” he said.
“I think people will look back … and scratch their heads a little bit at some of the events that occurred.”