'We need to deal with trend lines, not headlines'

Last Updated: Sun, Feb 03, 2013 01:30 hrs

Leigh Sales, Australian Broadcasting Corporation: And we have one final request today, secretary, and we’re going to go to Australia via Skype to hear from two very serious, experienced foreign policy experts – people I know you rely on – your old mates, Hamish and Andy. (Laughter.) For those of you in the audience who don’t know, they’re Australian comedians. (Laughter.)

Q: Madam secretary, hello. Welcome.

Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: These guys are hilarious.

Q: Hamish and Andy here. It was an honour to interview you a couple of years ago. Here we are at Government House...
Q: The Royal Palace here in Australia. It’s wonderful. We’re out in the back, so it’s not as fancy as it is from in the front. But we just wanted to say, first of all, congratulations on a wonderful term as secretary of state, and it was amazing having you out here. Certainly, a career highlight for us was to get to meet you. So many Australians took a lot away from your trip... We were just wondering, what was the best thing you took away from Australia?
Clinton: Well, clearly my interview with you two.

Q: A lot of people will accuse us of having scripted this. (Laughter.) But thank you...
Q: We were hoping it might have been the gravy chips that we gave you, but that was part of the interview, so that’s fine. We must stress, do not eat them under any circumstances. They’re well past their use-by date...
Q: Madam secretary, I have a friend, and I know obviously as you’re stepping back from the secretary of state position, I have a friend who is about 31. He’s a cute-looking brunette.
Q: Just a friend.
Q: He’s very good, he’s been to university. He did two degrees; he graduated from one, so that’s quite good. (Laughter.) What qualifications – let’s just say John Kerry, something comes up, he can’t do the job, he can’t be the next secretary of state. What qualifications could I tell my friend he should put on his CV if he wants to become the secretary of state of the US?
Clinton: Well, I think his educational background is important – the fact that he finished one degree out of two, that gives him a 50 per cent record. (Laughter.) Better than most baseball players or other professional athletes. I think his good looks, that’s important. Yeah, because you’re going to be given a lot of TV time. I know you guys are radio guys, but it’s good that he doesn’t have just a face for radio. (Laughter.) I guess, thirdly, broad travel, willingness to meet other people, listen to them, as you have a lot of experience from interviewing. I would drop the gravy chips. I think the gravy chips would be misunderstood in diplomatic settings, especially since I sent them to a lab to be analysed and you don’t want to know what’s in them.
(Laughter.) So – but I think he’s got a good start here.

Q: Unfortunately, gravy chips are the centre of our policy, so I guess (Laughter.) But you did say politics is about compromise, so I’m sure we could find a way there. Probably the big question on everyone’s lips is when you step back from being secretary —
Q: Well, she won’t be having to be called Madam secretary.
Q: You’re no longer Madam secretary... I think on behalf of all the global citizens joining in the town hall meeting tonight, which of these three names would you like to adopt? (Laughter.)... We spent three or four months on this — The Incredible Hillary, the Artist Formerly Known as the Secretary – (Laughter), or just Hill Clinton – but it does sound a bit like your husband.
Q: Like Bill, yeah.
Clinton: Yeah, I think we’re going to have to work on that list.

Q: None. Okay... (Laughter.)
Q: We’re going to sack it. We’re here at Government House, so we can sack some of our advisors right now. (Laughter.)
Q: We understand that you’ve been trying to cross to every single continent today at the town hall meeting. You haven’t got down to Antarctica. There’s one email – we’ve got a recent telegram that’s just come in here... Yes, because we’re closest to Antarctica, our signals are a little bit better from them. Just a little telegram from Antarctica. I think it’s very important, obviously, that we recognise the frozen continent. It says, “Dear Madam secretary – stop. Alien spaceship reactivated – stop. Help – stop. Send” – and then that’s it. (Laughter.)
Q: So, what should we write back to our stricken comrades in Antarctica? (Laughter.)
Clinton: Well, that’s quite distressing. I think, as your first diplomatic mission, you may have to go to Antarctica and find evidence about what happened. The person sending that to you clearly is counting on you. (Laughter.) We will be happy to provide satellite support. I don’t know how fast you can get there, and you’re going to need different clothes than the ones you have on. But I think you need to follow through on this. You guys need to go to Antarctica and broadcast from Antarctica what you find...

Q: That’s so late here, it’s 2:30, and these are such cheap suits. (Laughter.)
Q: Thank you. Amazing advice. This is why – we always say this. This is why you’re the secretary of state, and we are not. (Laughter.)
Sales: To wrap it up, let me just ask you one question. As you prepare to hand over to John Kerry, what would you like to see American diplomacy focused on?
Clinton: Well, I don’t think we have a choice. We have to deal with the immediate crises that come across our desk every day. We have to work on the long-term challenges like security in North Africa. And we have to deal with what I call the trend lines, not the headlines.. the kind of big projects that will have a tremendous impact on what kind of world we have. If we don’t deal with climate change, food security, energy access that is sustainable, we could have increasing conflict over resources, for example. That’s not in the headlines today, but in 10 years, it could be...
Sales: Secretary Clinton, thank you.

Edited excerpts from a global Townterview at the Newseum in Washington DC on January 29

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