While the Biden presidency pushes forward international climate action, both the Morrison government and its Labor opposition are fractured over emissions policy.After a hiatus caused by coronavirus, the twin issues of climate change and energy have resumed their place, secured over two decades, as the most intractable and dangerous in Australian politics.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has criticised the closure of state borders to South Australia over a Covid-19 outbreak, with most states imposing mandatory quarantine requirements on the state. Queensland, the Northern Territory, and Tasmania followed Western Australia’s lead on closing borders to SA, with the ACT advising against non-essential travel after the SA outbreak grew to 17 cases. Victoria and New South Wales have stopped short of imposing quarantine requirements. Morrison and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said Australia needed to learn to live with occasional outbreaks without shutting down travel. A host of restrictions were imposed in SA overnight including the closure of gyms, as SA Health updates a detailed list of 41 locations at risk from contamination from the outbreak believed to have started in hotel quarantine. Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly held an emergency meeting of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee on Monday to discuss the rollout of mandatory testing of staff at quarantine hotels, which was not happening in SA.
Victims of the robo-debt welfare clawback payment scheme have called for ministers and top officials to face questioning at a royal commission, following the Morrison government’s record $1.2 billion settlement of a class action on Monday. The federal government agreed to pay $112 million in compensation, interest and legal costs to up to 430,000 people who were affected by the scheme, in addition to an agreement to drop $398 million in alleged extra debts and a reiteration of its commitment to repay an estimated $721 million taken in through the robo-debt program. Labor, the Greens, and the Australian Unemployed Workers Union also called for a royal commission into what Greens senator Rachel Siewert branded an “abominable action” that "went after the most vulnerable in our community to make savings”.
Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe has warned that risk averse spending could delay Australia’s recovery from recession. Speaking in Sydney on Monday, Lowe said for some time “people will be more cautious in their borrowing and spending decisions”. He noted that the Reserve Bank would be “watching carefully” how people adjusted their investment portfolios as they searched for yield in a low interest rate environment. He added that Australia had to cut interest rates to a record low 0.1 per cent and begin a $100 billion quantitative easing program because the “gravitational pull” of other central bank moves would have had serious implications for the economy and the local currency.
President Donald Trump's National Security Council is readying for “a very professional transition”, as it appears Joe Biden has won the election, national security adviser Robert O'Brien said. The president's top security official made the remarks last week, which were subsequently streamed on the web on Monday morning as part of a global security forum. O’Brien also repeatedly referenced the president leaving office, describing a peace deal Trump helped broker between Israel and some Gulf Arab countries “a great legacy for the president to have as he leaves office”. His remarks stood in stark contrast to Trump’s messaging, who tweeted falsely just before midnight Sunday, “I WON THE ELECTION”.