MOMENT OF TRUTH: WHAT COMES NEXT?
America is set for a wild two and a half months after Joe Biden yesterday secured the necessary 270 electoral collage votes and accepted he will become the country’s 46th president, while Donald Trump absolutely did not.
With the US breaking its own COVID-19 record for three days straight — topping 100,000 cases a day since Wednesday — Axios reports that one of Biden’s first acts as president-elect will be to announce a 12-member COVID-19 taskforce on Monday (US time). His campaign has also launched a new website, BuildBackBetter.com, which lists the pandemic and recession as core priorities along with tackling both climate change and systemic racism.
According to Politico, Biden then plans to press Congress on a COVID-19 bill guaranteeing paid sick leave, free testing and treatment, and resources for state governments and public health workers to suppress the virus and distribute any potential vaccine. The publication has also compiled a guide to potential cabinet nominees that includes a number of conservative figures in the likely event Democrats do not win two Georgia run-off elections, and therefore lose the Senate, on January 5.
Finally, The Washington Post ($) reports that Biden is preparing a slew of executive orders to reverse Trump’s policies such as the “Muslim ban”, crackdown on DREAMers (undocumented immigrants who entered the US as minors), and withdrawals from the Paris climate accords and the World Health Organization.
IF YOU CAN’T BEAT ‘EM, JUST PRETEND YOU DID
For his part, Trump has refused to concede and, surprising no one, continues to spread unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud.
As SBS reports, this comes despite calls from allies to concede gracefully — including a truly sycophantic plea from Fox News host Laura Ingraham — even if, as CNN explains, the Murdoch media empire is still pushing certain anti-democracy conspiracies (and apparently refusing to call Biden “president-elect”).
Instead of taking this advice, however, The Sydney Morning Herald explains how Trump has launched a series of (apparently futile) legal challenges. Conversely, USAToday lists a number of potential lawsuits the president may face after leaving office on January 20, i.e. potential tax fraud.
NO TALK, NO ACTION
While Biden’s victory and promise to at least do something on climate change — i.e. net zero emissions from energy by 2035 — means the Morrison government has lost one of its last denialist allies, the AFR ($) reports that Scott Morrison has no plans to lift his relatively weak 2030 target (which we are not on track to meet without cheating via carryover credits), or commit to net zero 2050.
This again leaves genuine domestic action to the states, and, according to The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian ($), the NSW government will today launch a landmark energy policy to incentivise the replacement of all coal-fired power plants with renewables by 2042. According to government forecasts, the budget measure will push household power prices down by $130 a year.
And in another reminder that conservative governments don’t actually have to be neutered by climate deniers, South Australian Energy Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan last Friday announced a $60 million, two year energy efficiency scheme for government buildings.
STEP THREE IT
Melbourne today joins the rest of Victoria in loosening a series of restrictions under the government’s “Third Step”, which will see the “ring of steel” between the two regions end, cinemas and gyms reopen with capacity limits, and a mandate on wearing masks in public remain.
The measure comes after Victoria recorded its ninth straight day of no new cases or deaths, although Melbourne still has two mystery cases from the last 14 days (October 23-November 5).
NSW yesterday announced its first day of no new cases since Thursday, November 5, as the ABC reports that five mystery cases emerged in the Southern Highlands and a health alert is issued for the Rouse Hill area, north-west Sydney, after COVID-19 traces were found in the local sewage system.
PS: As Melbourne steps out of lockdown today, The Sydney Morning Herald reports that global biotech company CSL will begin manufacturing millions of vials of one of the University of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines in Melbourne, in the hope trials will shortly demonstrate its effectiveness.
Finally, with yesterday marking the start of NAIDOC week, The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the NSW government will today announce an Australian-first, Country-specific reconciliation action plan to deliver jobs and recognition to the traditional owners of The Rocks, called Tallawoladah by the Cadigal people, and Darling Harbour, known as Tumbalong.
STATE WRAP: NT LAUNCHES JOBMAKER BOOSTER (TM)
- According to The NT News ($), Chief Minister Michael Gunner will announce a $7.8m “JobMaker Booster” in Tuesday’s Northern Territory budget that will complement the Morrison government’s JobMaker hiring credit by subsidising an extra $100 per week for employees aged 30 to 35 and, where the federal scheme’s age limit ends, providing a $200 per week subsidy for staff over 35. The subsidy will run for 12 months and employers will need to demonstrate the new hire increases their business’ full-time-equivalent count
- The NSW government has announced a $120 million preschool package to extend the existing free program for another year
- On Saturday, November 7, the Victorian government announced a $9.8 million healthcare worker wellbeing package
- Further south, the Tasmanian government has announced a “Summer Social” scheme that, from this Friday, November 13, means contact tracing in hospitality venues will be mandatory, “vertical drinking” — or drinking standing up — will be allowed in outdoor hospitality areas, and the number of visitors permitted at household gatherings will double to 40.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
To clarify, President Trump’s press conference will NOT be held at Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia.
It will be held at Four Seasons Total Landscaping — no relation with the hotel.
Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia at Comcast Center
In a fitting tribute to Donald Trump’s presidency, his legal team somehow ends up issuing a series of false fraud allegations outside a landscaping company wedged between a crematorium and adult book store “Fantasy Island”.
“Well it’s all gone mmm yeah, still. Despite President Donald Trump’s Thursday evening (US time) pre-emptive press conference doubling down on claims of a rigged election, Joe Biden is on track for a narrow victory, after the polls shifted in the two days of post-election day counting. Smilin’ Joe has picked up Wisconsin and Michigan, with Nevada, Arizona, North Carolina, Georgia and Pennsylvania in the balance.”
“Joe Hockey, apparently, has spent several years in Washington DC. First as Australia’s ambassador to the court of mad king Donald, these days as a lobbyist in his own K-Street outfit, established with some former embassy personnel to take advantage of his links with Trump.”
“In a presidency marked by a daily assault on the truth one set of figures stands out: by July this year, one third of Americans did not believe the official death toll from COVID-19, even as infections and hospitalisations surged to a new high.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
US Election 2020: Three ways our electoral system can be improved ($) — George Williams (The Australian): “Donald Trump has rightly been criticised for his tirade against the running of the US election. He has failed to provide any evidence of fraud or corruption. This, though, masks deeper problems with the US electoral system. It has been apparent for many years that the method of choosing the president is flawed. US electoral processes are unfit for the nation’s status as the world’s leading democracy. Its elections are marred by mass disenfranchisement and the partisan division that defines so much of American society.”
Real change requires more than nice words and minor policy tinkering — Shireen Morris (The Sydney Morning Herald): “There is now widespread, in-principle agreement on what Australia needs to do to close the gap on Indigenous disadvantage. At least, everyone uses the same language. But real change requires more than nice words and minor policy tinkering. It requires enduring structural and constitutional reform to empower Indigenous peoples to take responsibility and leadership in their affairs, in true partnership with government.”
Goodbye! — Dahlia Lithwick, Tom Scocca et al (Slate ): “Come Jan. 20, Donald Trump will not be president. In the coming weeks, there will be plenty of opportunities to think about what lies ahead, but for now, we want to bid farewell to the Trump officials and family members who have made the past four years so difficult for so many people. We know they’re not just going to go away, but their power is dwindling, and soon they will not matter. Goodbye!”
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
The State Library of Queensland will host NAIDOC event “Always Was, Always Will Be: the next generation of First Nations changemakers” on Facebook Live with Bundjalung fiction and poetry editor Grace Lucas-Pennington, Torres Strait Islander lawyer Sasha Purcell and Gomeroi Kooma activist and law and psychology student Ruby Wharton.
Independent MP Zali Steggall and former chief scientist Professor Penny Sackett will discuss “Why Australia needs the Climate Act” at an Australia Institute webinar.