A number of conservative Australian MPs have cried “censorship” after every mainstream social media platform banned outgoing US President Donald Trump. Nationals MP George Christensen, who had an official fact-check placed on his Facebook post about “Democrat vote fraud” in November (and this week linked to claims that the violent insurrection at the Capitol was a “false flag” by antifa), has called for Communications Minister Paul Fletcher to restrict the powers of social media companies, with a petition asking that he prevent platforms from fact-checking or banning content, reported The New Daily. Liberal MP Craig Kelly, who was warned by Facebook over his posts about unproven Covid treatments, suggested Twitter’s ban was a “threat to democracy” and “misleading the public” (Kelly posted about the drug hydroxychloroquine four times between midnight and 2:03am this morning). One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts tweeted a picture of the Twitter logo stamped with a hammer and sickle, while NSW leader Mark Latham also labelled the ban as censorship.
Unions and businesses are lobbying the government for vaccine priority for their workers, amid debate over what exactly constitutes “critical” work, The Age reports. Hotel quarantine and aged-care staff will receive the first round of vaccinations in February, while “critical and high-risk” workers – including emergency services personnel and meat workers – will come next. The ACTU, Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees' Association, Australian Retailers Association, Restaurant and Catering Association, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Australian Road Transport Industrial Organisation have, between them, called for this list to include supermarket staff, retail and hospitality workers, public transport and truck drivers, exporters, and tourism and travel industry managers. The list of workers needing a priority jab could be longer than the list of workers who don’t.
Former intelligence chiefs say Australia’s foreign aid budget is spread too thin, and are calling for a major update to our foreign policy in response to Covid, China and Trump, the Nine papers report. Richard Maude, the former director-general of the Office of National Assessments, says the aid budget of about $4 million a year is not enough to achieve our goals in South-East Asia, with the government’s Pacific “step-up” coming at the expense of other areas. Allan Gyngell, who headed the office before him, says the 2017 foreign policy white paper should be updated, arguing that the Coalition has not “articulated its thoughts about the world in any particularly formal way”. He agrees Australia needs to spend more on foreign aid, saying the government is not valuing diplomacy and soft power as highly as defence and intelligence. Successive budget cuts have put Australia at an all-time low when it comes to aid generosity.
The Twitter-less president, meanwhile, is planning a “defiant” final week in office, confident that Vice-President Mike Pence will not attempt to remove him under the 25th Amendment. He’s right to be: Pence is reportedly dismissive of the idea, though the two have not spoken since the day of the siege. Trump has no intention of resigning, even as a growing number of Republicans call for him to do so. The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives may vote on an impeachment article as soon as Tuesday, but will likely delay sending it to the Senate for trial, not wanting to tie up the first days of Joe Biden’s presidency, The New York Times reports. Former Republican governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has rebuked Trump, comparing the riot to Kristallnacht in a seven-minute video posted to Twitter. Trump is unable to respond.