If Biden wins, Australia will benefit from dealing with a better governed and more cohesive America but it may lose some of its edge in White House access.
Scott Morrison does not personally know Joe Biden, but Australia will have close friends in the 46th president's inner sanctum if he is confirmed as the US election winner.
Just last month, the defence strategist rumoured to be the leading candidate to become America's first female defence secretary should Biden win, Michèle Flournoy, spoke on a call with Australian government senior officials and foreign policy scholars.
Flournoy, along with Biden's top Asia advisers, has been publicly critical of Donald Trump's narrow bilateral tariff fight against China. They want Australia to be central to building a broad coalition of countries in the region to push back against Beijing through a more traditional US-led multilateral alliance.
Still, foreign policy will not be Biden's top priority, so Australia will need to be patient.
Healing America's domestic wounds over COVID-19, the recession, racial relations and civil unrest will be Biden's primary focus in line with his campaign's "Build Back Better" slogan.
At the same time, Biden, who is facing the prospect of a Republican-controlled Senate and is without a strong mandate to implement the progressive Democratic domestic agenda, will have more control over foreign relations.
On the eve of the election, US ambassador to Australia Arthur Culvahouse jnr, said the alliance would remain strong regardless of whether Biden or Trump was leader.
Morrison and Trump, both conservatives, personally get along well. Australia was able to deftly avoid steel and aluminium tariffs and keep Trump to an Obama-era commitment to resettle refugees.
National security hardliners in the Australian government also backed Trump's willingness to disrupt China – even if it did cause panic among diplomats, economic and trade officials.
A Biden administration would offer a more conventional and predictable approach for Australian officials, who would particularly benefit from his belief in alliances and, potentially, his handling of the rocky US-China relationship.
Matthew Goodman, a former international economic adviser to president Barack Obama when Biden was vice-president, says managing competition with China will be the organising principle of US engagement in the Indo-Pacific region.
"Biden will be as tough on China as Trump in some areas like technology and tougher in others such as human rights," Goodman notes in an email.
"Biden will be more rhetorically committed to strengthening alliances, more focused on persuading allies to work with us rather than insisting that they do, and more willing to engage with China, both in areas where we disagree [maritime, economic coercion, market access in China] and where we need to co-operate [climate]."
"But a Biden administration will be more targeted in the tools they use – fewer sweeping tariffs or broad decoupling efforts, more targeted incentives and disincentives – and again, more focused on persuading allies to adopt similar tools, rather than forcing them to "choose" between the US and China."
Lowy Institute executive director Michael Fullilove says the US is the "leader of the West, and our great security ally.
"So it is in Australia’s interests when America is well governed, cohesive, appealing to the world and strong enough to deter malign actors. Biden is obviously more likely than President Trump to preside over such an America."
"He is an alliance believer, an internationalist and a natural democrat."
However, Trump's disdain for multilateralism and lack of international friends meant Australia was at the top of the White House access list. Other countries did not fare as well. Trump threatened to pull troops out of South Korea and damaged relations with European partners such as Germany, claiming they had failed to fulfil their defence spending commitments.
Biden will seek to repair relationships with Asian and European allies and partners. Australia will not be any less important, but there will be more competition for White House time and attention.
Zack Cooper, an Asia security expert in Washington who worked in the Bush White House and Pentagon, says "from a purely Australian point of view, maybe Trump is good for Australia.
"But if Trump eliminates the US-Korea alliance, I don't think that's better for Australia."
"From a broader regional perspective, it's better to have a strong, broadly engaged US, even if that means Australia is not quite as high a priority as now. Under Biden it would be an easy relationship working closely with allies and on shared values."
Biden was vice-president during the Rudd-Gillard and Abbott-Turnbull governments, developing relationships with those prime ministers, former foreign minister Julie Bishop and former Australian ambassador in Washington Kim Beazley.
He visited Australia in July 2016, taking time to check out Sydney's Opera House and an AFL match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
The deep and bipartisan US-Australia alliance means there is close personal links between Biden's key advisers and the senior ranks of Australian officials across diplomacy, intelligence, defence and trade.
In the lead-up to the election, Australia's ambassador to the US, Arthur Sinodinos, held Zoom calls with Biden's key people to build relations in case he is elected (similar to former ambassador Joe Hockey getting a foot in the door with the Trump team before he was elected).
Morrison's cabinet secretary and soon-to-be Office of National Intelligence director-general, Andrew Shearer, is also very familiar with the cast of characters on both the Republican and Democratic sides in Washington, after living there twice.
Shearer was a senior diplomat at the Australian embassy during the Bush administration and more recently between 2016 and 2018 worked as a senior adviser on Asia-Pacific security at Washington think tank Centre for Strategic and International Studies.
"Andrew Shearer deepened his ties with the Washington strategic affairs community during his time in residence at CSIS – an influential Washington think thank – at a time when many likely Biden appointees and advisers were out of government and prominent in the lively DC think-tank scene," says United States Studies Centre chief executive Simon Jackman.
Biden's campaign co-coordinator for Asia policy, Ely Ratner, is well known in Australian foreign policy circles since he served as a deputy national security adviser for Biden when he was vice-president.
Ratner is a China hawk and tipped to fill a key Asia adviser post in a Biden administration. He co-wrote a report earlier this year – Rising to the China Challenge: Renewing American Competitiveness in the Indo-Pacific, which said the US and China were "locked in a strategic competition over the future of the Indo-Pacific".
Australia and Japan "are critical to the success of any US regional strategy," the report said. "For this reason, the US national security adviser should convene an annual high-level trilateral with Japanese and Australian counterparts to discuss and co-ordinate policy."
Ratner, however, is unlikely to go as far as Trump's deputy national security adviser Matt Pottinger, who has given speeches in Mandarin calling for the Chinese people to push for regime change against the ruling Communist Party.
Mira Rapp-Hooper, another east Asia adviser to the Biden campaign, has also spent time in Australia. Her new book, Shields of the Republic: The Triumph and Peril of America's Alliances, argues the post-World War II, US-led alliance system and security guarantee to dozens of countries including Australia has been critical to underwriting American and global peace and prosperity.
But in Asia the alliance system is under threat from China, she writes, adding that "US politicians and voters are increasingly sceptical of alliances' costs and benefits and assert that we are safer without them. The alliance system may be past due for a post-Cold War overhaul, but it remains critical to national security."
Over recent years, many former Obama people who could play key roles in a Biden administration have been hosted on visits to Australia and at conferences held by think tanks including Lowy, the US Studies Centre and the Perth USAsia Centre. They include Jake Sullivan, veteran diplomat Nicholas Burns, Flournoy and Kurt Campbell, whose wife Lael Brainard is a frontrunner to be Biden's US Treasury secretary.
Biden's pick for secretary of state will prove critical for China policy. Some in the Obama administration were criticised for being too soft on China and overestimating Xi Jinping's appetite for co-operation.
Those speculated to be in the mix for secretary of state include Burns, former Obama US ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice and Biden's successor in the US senate seat of Delaware, Chris Coons, who is considered a centrist with a strong interest in China.
Some in conservative political and national security circles in Australia would feel uneasy about Rice. She is perceived to have been too lenient on China's island building in the South China Sea during the Obama administration, because of her preference for striking a US-China climate change deal.
China failed to live up to its commitments to Obama on areas such as intellectual property theft, hacking of American corporations, forced technology transfer, subsidies and opening up its economy for investment and trade.
Michael Thawley, former Australian ambassador in Washington and national security adviser to Howard and Abbott, says some Obama advisers joining a Biden administration will "have lost their illusions about China".
"There is no question [US] technology and investment restrictions will continue to be tightened, perhaps in a more systematic and targeted way," Thawley says.
"But there will be people in a Biden administration who say it makes sense to give China a chance, given it is such a large part of the world economy. It's hard to see China under Xi Jinping responding in a way that is going to assuage the concerns of the US and most free market countries."
Climate change is a point of potential tension between Morrison and Biden, especially after other US allies, Japan and South Korea, committed to net zero emissions by 2050. Biden is committed to immediately rejoining the Paris climate accord – which Australia is already a signatory to – and net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, a target that Morrison is yet to adopt.
Biden will want strong global commitments from other countries.
However, climate change is unlikely to be the same major source of friction as it was between Abbott and Obama.
The 44th president blindsided the Abbott government by giving a speech in Brisbane about climate change threatening the Great Barrier Reef.
"Maybe Biden will go a little bit further on climate than ScoMo would go but I don't think it will be contentious," says CSIS senior vice-president for Asia, Mike Green.
A driving force behind Obama's climate stance in Australia was former adviser John Podesta, whereas Biden foreign policy advisers such as Antony Blinken and Avril Haines are likely to be more sensitive.
If the Democrats fail to capture the Senate, Biden won't be able to pass any major climate-friendly legislation and he will use more limited regulations on sectors such as oil, gas and transport. It will be more "direct action" than carbon pricing.
One senior Australian source says Biden has not proposed a cap and trade scheme or European-style cross border carbon tax and that the government's technology road map to reduce emissions may be an area of potential US-Australia collaboration.