SIGN OF THE TIMES
Joe Biden has capped off his first day as US president by issuing a slew of executive orders that (deep breath):
- Rejoin the Paris climate accords
- Repeal Donald Trump’s “Muslim ban”
- Cancel the emergency declaration to use federal funds to build the wall with Mexico
- Require masks and social distancing on federal property (and soon planes)
- Revoke the Keystone XL pipeline permit and put a moratorium on oil and gas development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
- Pause the deportation of some undocumented migrants for 100 days and suspends a “remain in Mexico” policy for asylum seekers
- Issue principles for accounting the impact of climate change
- Rejoin the World Health Organization and contribute to the COVAX vaccine program for poorer nations
- End Trump’s policy of ignoring undocumented migrants in the census
- Include several COVID-19 policies accelerating vaccination, testing and mask production, along with measures aimed at “safely” reopening schools i.e. directing agencies to create guidelines and reimburse schools for purchases of personal protective equipment
- Re-institute race and gender diversity training and eliminate Trump’s weird, racist and ahistorical “1776 Commission”
- Extend the suspension of federal student loan payments
- Extend bans on evictions and foreclosures.
As ABC reports, Biden is also developing a US$1.9 trillion stimulus package, while, in the likely event Republicans stonewall, incoming chairman of the Senate Budget Committee Bernie Sanders has outlined a plan at CNN to pass the following with a simple Senate majority: increase direct payments from US$600 to US$2000, expand emergency unemployment benefits to US$600 a week, state and local funding, 12 weeks of paid leave, universal pre-K, tuition-free college, cancel student debt, and $15 minimum wage.
PS: According to The Australian ($), Scott Morrison has pledged to work with Biden on combating climate change — a plan that would require Morrison to do something on climate change — and regional security challenges in the Indo-Pacific.
International travellers coming to Australia from today will need to return a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours of departure, a requirement ABC explains is exacerbated by a recent decision by national cabinet to halve the number of passengers allowed into three states.
National cabinet will meet again today to discuss arrivals caps and the vaccine rollout, although no major announcements are expected. Separately, the airline Emirates has announced plans to resume flights to Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane less than a week after cancelling services.
Elsewhere, The Australian ($) reports that new Education Minister Alan Tudge has warned universities it would be “very difficult” to get significant numbers of foreign students back on campus this year.
And according to The Age, Spanish tennis player Paula Badosa — who was forced to quarantine in her Melbourne hotel room after potentially being exposed to COVID-19 on an Australian Open charter flight– has announced she has tested positive.
Finally, The Guardian reports that Peter Dutton has claimed Home Affairs’ decision to release 34 men after a year in Melbourne hotel rooms — and at least 7 on offshore detention — was a cost-saving measure.
Which, if true, can only mean good things for the several hundred other people seeking asylum who have been detained by Australia, including the Bileola family of four being kept on Christmas Island at a cost of $6 million so far.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
I think a bit more focus on cricket and a bit less focus on politics would be my message to Cricket Australia…
When those 12 ships turned up in Sydney all those years ago, it wasn’t a particularly flash day for the people on those vessels either … You can’t just airbrush things that have happened in the past. I think one of the great things about Australia … is we are pretty up front and honest about our past.
The prime minister who just days ago claimed it was not his place to “provide lectures to anybody” following the Capitol Hill siege has a whinge about someone dumping the words “Australia Day” from a cricket match.
“Well if he couldn’t do anything else right, the Donald at least put on a halfway decent final exit. He’d done a boring, boilerplate final address to the nation from the White House — written for him, no rants about stolen votes, getting hot women in NY in the ’70s, debunking Santa Claus etc, none of the good old stuff — and now here he was at Andrews Air Force Base, for the final Air Force One trip.”
“Just hours into his presidency, Joe Biden has already made sweeping changes to erase signs of Donald Trump’s reign.
“Five hours after Biden was sworn in, he signed the first of 17 executive orders covering climate action, coronavirus and more.”
“Time now for Prime Minister Scott Morrison to begin his own pivot to the new US President Joe Biden.
“Biden to Morrison maybe not so much. He doesn’t need to.
“‘We will repair our alliances’ said the incoming president in his inauguration speech a few hours ago.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
All Australians, but especially Scott Morrison, must tell the truth about our violent history — Lidia Thorpe (The Guardian): “Maybe the convicts on the colonising first fleet didn’t enjoy being sent here as punishment for mostly petty crimes, but First Nations people feel sick to think that 26 January is a day that the leaders of this country should choose as a national day of celebration. It’s like dancing on the graves of our ancestors. When Aboriginal people speak up about the realities of colonisation, we’ve almost come to expect casual racism, collective amnesia, and a denial of this country’s history.”
Crucial to sign up for a nuclear-free celebration — Kym Pfitzner (The Age): “I commend the 86 countries which have already signed this important treaty — from Austria to Zimbabwe — and particularly the 51 nations that have ratified it. They’ve put the interests of humanity and the environment above other considerations. I’d like to remind all other nations of our organisation’s inability to provide any remotely adequate medical or humanitarian response to a nuclear crisis and call on all countries which are yet to sign — including Australia, the nuclear-armed nations, and some of their allies — to do so now.”
Andrew Forrest on how green hydrogen offers a chance to fix our climate and our economy — Andrew Forrest (The ABC): “If the world’s renewable energy resources were a power station, the plant would be millions of gigawatts in size. To put that into perspective, Australia produces all of its electricity from just 70 gigawatts. There’s enough pollution-free, renewable energy out there to power humanity for the entire Anthropocene. That’s the age of humans, just as the Mesozoic was the age of dinosaurs.”
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
Australian experts from the Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons will celebrate the UN treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons, in force from today, by urging the Morrison government to sign the document and holding an event at Martin Place Amphitheatre with a 7-metre-tall inflatable missile.