Monday, November 09, 2020

Biden victory divides Republicans

US President-elect Joe Biden has vowed to unify America in his election victory speech, despite President Donald Trump and top Republicans refusing to concede defeat. To a chorus of cheers and car horns at a drive-in rally in Wilmington, Delaware, Biden declared he would be “a president who seeks not to divide, but to unify.” As Trump continued to make baseless claims of election fraud, top Republicans including Senator Lindsey Graham and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy urged him to continue the fight. Senator Mitt Romney and former President George W. Bush are among the Republicans to congratulate Biden on his victory. Biden did not mention Trump in his speech. Instead he made a direct appeal to Republican voters, urging both sides of politics to stop treating each other as “enemies”. His arrival on stage was preceded by a speech from Kamala Harris, the first woman, Black American and South Asian American to be elected vice president, who paid tribute to the women and particularly women of colour who paved the way. 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison joined a raft of world leaders in congratulating Biden on his election win. Morrison also thanked Trump for his “commitment to this part of the world”. The ABC reports Morrison intended to send an invitation to Biden to visit Australia for the 70th anniversary of the US-Australia alliance next year. Morrison rejected calls from Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese to contact Trump and urge him to concede, describing such an idea as “divisive”. Morrison said it was a time for America’s democratic institution to finalise the process “and for us to move on with the important work, because there are so many challenges whether here in the Indo-Pacific when it comes to world trade, or dealing with the global pandemic and the global recession."

Australians visiting Centrelink offices waited 30 per cent longer on average in the past financial year compared with 2015-16, reports Guardian Australia. Although the figures include the first half of 2020, in which the unemployment rate spiked due to the coronavirus pandemic, almost all Centrelink offices had fewer people through the doors in 2019-20 compared with four years earlier, when waiting times were lower. Services Australia’s past annual reports show the number of Centrelink offices had fallen to 326 in 2019-20, a reduction of 24 since 2015-16.

The increasing rate of Covid-19 cases overseas will strain Australia's hotel quarantine system and increase the chance of “leakage” into the community, according to leading epidemiologists. The number of positive cases in New South Wales hotel quarantine has doubled in the past two weeks.  University of NSW epidemiologist MaryLouise McLaws urged a transition away from hotel quarantine to national quarantine facilities set up outside city centres. “We really need to start getting returning Australian residents into spaces away from centrally populated cities such as Sydney and Melbourne,” she said. “If the numbers of positive return travellers become so high, without a purpose-built environment, without really good airflow change, without high-level trained staff, there will be a spillover and it will go into the community.” The federal government recently indicated it intended to scale up Darwin's Howard Springs Facility to process about 1000 international travellers a month.

How Australia will live with the virus
Australia has managed to effectively suppress Covid-19 but with more international arrivals, experts predict that outbreaks will continue. Today, Amy Coopes on the measures that will keep Australia safe from here on.

“Trump will not go graciously. The closeness of the result – likely a few tens of thousands of votes across a handful of states – will encourage his deluded loyalists to believe they were the victims of electoral fraud … No votes were being cast after polls closed: they were only being counted, as is the norm. The claim about stealing the election was actually an inversion of reality. It is Trump who is trying to steal it.”

“For some, the loneliness that ensued was a new experience, directly linked to Covid-19 lockdowns, working from home and more limited opportunities to socialise in person. But for others, it merely highlighted feelings they’d been dealing with for years … So, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, are people confusing spending time alone, disruptions to their social routines and lack of social interaction as loneliness?”

“You may not have noticed, and that was the whole idea. The moment it was clear Labor’s Annastacia Palaszczuk had won a thumping victory in the Queensland election, Scott Morrison disappeared from view … Morrison’s ducking for cover this week is a neat metaphor for his government’s aversion to scrutiny in general.”

“A long-delayed federal anti-corruption body has been slammed as ‘toothless’ and ‘compromised’ by critics, with claims the new commission wouldn’t even be able to investigate ... the Leppington Triangle airport land blowout. ‘Christian Porter’s proposal would be the weakest watchdog in the country,’ said Han Aulby, executive director of the Centre for Public Integrity.”

“New documents reveal a valuation of just $1.4 million for the water rights sold by Angus Taylor’s old company to Barnaby Joyce’s department. Unfortunately, the government was guided by a later, far higher valuation for the controversial water rights ... The department responsible for the Barnaby-Joyce inspired water buybacks rejected a valuation that valued the water holdings at one-fiftieth of what the government eventually paid for the buyback.”

“The bill is almost a direct copy of the UK framework. And what it proposes is a UK-style legislated long range emissions reduction target and then the same rolling five year carbon budgets, sector by sector in the economy, to make sure that there is a credible pathway to achieve that long range goal.”

“Donald Trump teased a ‘big’ press conference at the Four Seasons in Philadelphia on Twitter Saturday morning … Turns out, Trump’s lawyers were going to be speaking at Four Seasons Total Landscaping, a business located in the outskirts of Philadelphia, and nestled nicely between an adult bookstore and a cremation center.”

Max Opray is Schwartz Media’s morning editor and a freelance writer.