New US envoy to Australia scolds male reporter: ‘Did you just talk over the woman?’

Ambassador’s post has been vacant for 18 months

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar
Friday 22 July 2022 12:16 BST
New US ambassador to Australia shuts down male reporter

Caroline Kennedy, the new US ambassador to Australia, called out a male reporter at an introductory press conference after landing at the Sydney airport.

Ms Kennedy, 64, was taking questions from the media on Friday, who were talking over each other trying to grab her attention, when she shifted her focus to Ten News reporter Hugh Riminton.

“Did you just talk over the woman?” the ambassador asked Mr Riminton, looking directly at him. She then immediately laughed it off before switching her focus to the other reporter.

“I... I did,” Riminton responded, to which the ambassador replied: “Well, okay, she started.”

While Rimington tweeted that it would be “only fair that I out myself”, he said in another tweet that “it turns out I started talking first”.

“I had got out the words ‘It’s been...’ before my Channel 7 colleague began speaking. Press conferences - they’re a game of centimetres sometimes,” he added.

The US Senate unanimously confirmed Ms Kennedy’s ambassadorship in May and she was sworn in on 10 June.

The daughter of assassinated president John F Kennedy will formally present her credentials on Monday to take over a post that has been left vacant for 18 months, aimed at filling the US’s “absence” in the region.

She had earlier served as an ambassador to Japan during president Barack Obama’s administration.

Ms Kennedy said she couldn’t wait to get to the “big agenda”.

When asked if the US had shifted its focus from the Pacific in the recent past, the ambassador said she was focused on the future.

“This is a critical area in the region, and I think the US needs to do more. We’re putting our embassies back in and the Peace Corps is coming, and USAID [United States Agency for International Development] is coming back and we’re coming back,” she said.

“We haven’t been there for a while, but I think that is all tremendously positive, and I think the US and Australia working together will make a big impact.”

Ms Kennedy added that the Pacific holds great personal significance since “my father served in the Pacific and was rescued by two Solomon Islanders and an Australian coast watcher”.

The US’s revived focus on the Pacific comes amid China’s growing aggression in the region, which led to Washington signing a trilateral security pact with Canberra and London in an effort to keep Beijing out.

The ‘Aukus’ alliance signed last year, will enable Australia with technology and nuclear power submarines to respond to Beijing’s aggression in the South China Sea.

When asked about China, the ambassador said her focus was on the US partnership with Australia on issues like security, economic engagement, climate change and health.

“I think that China certainly has a big presence here in the region, but I think our partnership does as well,” she said.

Ms Kennedy recalled her first visit to Australia 36 years ago on her honeymoon. “Personally this means a great deal to me. My husband is here with me. We first came to Australia on our honeymoon 36 years ago, almost exactly because three days ago was our anniversary,” she said.

“I can’t believe that I’m lucky enough to get a chance to serve here and to live here and get to know even more people.”

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