Donald Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani speaks during a news conference at Four Seasons Total Landscaping (Image: AP/John Minchillo)

MOMENT OF TRUTH: THE STATE OF THINGS

According to NBC, the head of a US Justice Department branch responsible for prosecuting election crimes has resigned just hours after Attorney General William Barr issued a memo authorising federal prosecutors to investigate “specific allegations” of voter fraud, none of which have yet to be even slightly substantiated.

With Donald Trump refusing to concede and Republicans largely toeing his line, the Los Angeles Times (via The Sydney Morning Herald) reports that his decision yesterday to fire defence secretary Mark Esper — and bypass regular Pentagon processes to replace him with director of the national counter-terrorism centre Christopher Miller — has raised concerns the president may be planning military action in his final weeks in office.

Elsewhere, NPR explains that the now Republican-stacked Supreme Court will today hear its third challenge to Obamacare, while CNN reports that Georgia Secretary of State (and Republican) Brad Raffensperger has rebuffed calls from GOP state Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue to resign ahead of their crucial January runoff elections.

Loeffler and Perdue had released a joint criticism of the state’s electoral processes but — and you have probably picked up on this by now — did not cite any actual evidence to back up their claims.

BULLYING COMPLAINT AGAINST TUDGE

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, former Liberal staffer Rachelle Miller has lodged a formal complaint against Alan Tudge for allegedly engaging in workplace bullying and intimidation that left her “anxious and afraid” in an inadequate workplace environment.

The news comes after Miller revealed on Monday to have had an affair with the now-acting immigration minister, and after The Guardian reported Scott Morrison announced he will not take action against either Tudge or Christian Porter following Monday’s Four Corners revelations.

Porter has since issued a statement to The West Australian ($) admitting to having failed to be a “good husband” while again denying claims he kissed a Liberal staff member at a Canberra pub.

TURN UP THE HUSIC

Over to Labor, SmartCompany reports that former shadow minister for the digital economy Ed Husic has been named shadow minister for agriculture and resources, 18 months after stepping down to make room for Kristina Keneally on the front bench.

The news comes after Joel Fitzgibbon stepped down in opposition to Labor’s climate policies, a move The Sydney Morning Herald reports has rattled some members of the party’s right faction.

PS: One group that apparently will not miss Fitzgibbon is the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, which put out a statement calling on Labor to reject the “gas-led recovery” in favour of jobs built around climate action and a just transition for workers.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA GOES FOR BROKE

According to InDaily, South Australian Treasurer Rob Lucas has pledged $8.9 billion for two tunnels, almost $90 million for stadium upgrades, a road user charge for electric cars, and a significant increase to the Victims of Crime Levy in his penultimate budget.

Lucas, a fiscal conservative, plans for “significant deficits over the next three years” before projecting a surplus in 2023-24 on the assumption that a population-wide COVID vaccine is readily available by the end of next year.

As The Australian ($) reports, the electric vehicle charge was designed partly in conjunction with other states with the goal of creating a substitute to fuel excise.

PS: In other state news, ABC reports that the Victorian parliament has rejected the Andrews government’s proposed laws to force families of dead sexual assault victims to obtain court orders to share their loved ones’ stories; voluntary assisted dying legislation has passed the Tasmanian Upper House; and the Northern Territory government is set to rush through legislation this week to sideline the independent Liquor Commission — which the government itself established — to fast-track approval for a controversial Dan Murphy’s application.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

[journalist]: “Ms Ruston, could I ask you, as a woman in the government, your reflections on the culture inside; has it gotten better, worse, or no change since the bonk ban era?”

[Ruston]: “Well Phil, the only thing that I can–”

Sorry before you go… How this ban is referred to I think is quite dismissive of the seriousness of the issue, Phil. And I would ask media to stop referring to it in that way. We took it very seriously. And I think constantly referring to it in that way dismisses the seriousness of this issue. It’s a very serious issue… Thanks, Anne.

Scott Morrison

On top of scoring top marks for irony, Morrison’s mansplanation is worth watching in that there is no way in hell the media is going to stop calling it a bonk ban.

CRIKEY RECAP

The ABC reveals Canberra’s sordid side — and it’s definitely in the public interest

“The rush by the government and its media supporters to attack last night’s Four Corners as not in the public interest is not merely wrong, but offensively so.

“The campaign was led by Liberal minders in the weeks before the program went to air trying to prevent the ABC from broadcasting it, including by contacting the board, then Liberal senators in a special Senate estimates sitting yesterday attacking it, and then News Corp’s bloviator-in-chief Paul Kelly tried to argue on Q+A last night that Four Corners had gone beyond normal standards of what was in the public interest in covering politicians’ personal lives.”


Politicians behaving badly is an old story, so why hasn’t it come out before?

“The real question about last night’s Four Corners on political sexual shenanigans is: what took so long?

“Not to the ABC team, who obviously fought unprecedented legal battles and political backlash to get the program to air. But why did it take until now for any meaningful follow-up to former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull’s infamous ‘bonk ban’ in February 2018?”


Stalingrad at the Four Seasons: how it all ended in a Philly carpark

“Because your correspondent currently has a beast of an insomnia, turning night into day, he was fortunate enough to watch the Trump administration’s late act, in which reality fused seamlessly with every satire — the now historic Four Seasons Total Landscaping press conference.

“As Trump issued and rescinded tweets about the presser’s time and place, pre-event set up footage filled the screen with a ratty low slung red brick building behind a chain link fence, all squeezed between a sex shop and a crematorium.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Fears of fresh fiscal cliff when JobSeeker supplement ends in March

Victoria’s first Indigenous senator Lidia Thorpe expresses shock at receiving abusive letter purportedly from Jim’s Group CEO Jim Penman

Australia invests $9.6m in ‘revolutionary’ Chinese solar company Sunman

Victoria has announced free kinder for parents in 2021. How will it work?

Premier’s office to face second investigation over shredded documents

Advance Australia Fair: Gladys Berejiklian calls for change to anthem lyrics ($)

Brazil suspends trials of China’s Sinovac coronavirus vaccine, citing ‘serious adverse event’

Aussie coal aboard a ‘floating Chinese jail’ ($)

Veteran warns Australia’s Collins Class submarine fleet has limited ability to save trapped submariners

Murdoch’s News Corp defends climate coverage in escalating Turnbull stoush

Joe Biden: How the president-elect plans to tackle climate change

Reproductive health NGOs pin hopes on Biden reversing ‘global gag rule’

THE COMMENTARIAT

One Nation failure in Queensland’s election doesn’t mean race relations are betterMelinda Mann (IndigenousX/The Guardian): “In the lead-up to the October Queensland election, commentators pointed out the very obvious absence from the campaign trail of the One Nation party leader and senator, Pauline Hanson. They predicted her party would take a hit at the polls and they weren’t wrong. The election results showed a 7% swing away from One Nation. But while the party’s leader may have been out of view for many, that has not been the experience for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Rockhampton.”

Joel Fitzgibbon exposes a lost Labor as Christian Porter faces modern spotlight ($) — Graham Richardson (The Australian): “The resignation of Joel Fitzgibbon from Labor’s front bench underlines the tensions that inevitably trouble a party that has been out of government too long. As the dreary years in opposition reinforce the view that Labor is just not destined to get regular experience in the art of government, some navel gazing is probably necessary — no matter how uncomfortable it makes the party’s leaders.”

NSW renewables plan marks a major new moment for climate action in AustraliaKetan Joshi (RenewEconomy): That the states of Australia are stepping well ahead of the federal government on climate action is no mystery. As the Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the federal energy and ’emissions reductions’ minister Angus Taylor stall, distract and obfuscate, the problems get deeper. Yesterday, federal MP Craig Kelly issued an anxious pre-emptive strike to the federal leadership, presumably after seeing China, South Korea, Japan and (probably) the US get on track to net zero by 2050.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

The Latest Headlines

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Canberra

  • Former ambassador to China Geoff Raby will present “China’s grand strategy and Australia’s future in the new global order” at the National Press Club.

Melbourne

  • CEO of the Philippine news portal Rappler Maria Ressa will speak on “Freedom and fakery in the Philippines today” in conversation with writer Fatima Measham in a Wheeler Centre webinar.

  • 3CR Tuesday Breakfast will host digital panel event “Safety for who?: Abolitionist perspectives on criminalising coercive control”.

Australia

  • Former South Australian premier Jay Weatherill and former ACT chief minister Kate Carnell will discuss “How childcare reforms could help power the economic recovery” in an Australia Institute webinar.

Peter Fray

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