Labor leader Anthony Albanese will today claim Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s kowtowing to US President Donald Trump has damaged relations with the incoming Biden administration. On the final day of Trump’s presidency ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration, Albanese is set to deliver the accusations in a foreign policy speech at the USAsia Centre in Perth. The Opposition Leader will claim Morrison refused to directly criticise Trump over inciting the US Capitol mob because of “far-right extremist fringe dwellers who make up the bedrock of his personal support – and who he cultivates through the avatars of Trumpists and conspiracy theorists like [backbenchers] Craig Kelly and George Christensen.” Albanese will also say that Morrison’s lack of ambition on climate change will create tension with the US as Biden pursues more aggressive climate action. He will add that Australia needs to be more assertive in its relationship with the US, and could help shape Biden’s strategy in South-East Asia by expanding aid programs in the region.
Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley has contradicted Victorian health officials who say two tennis players in Melbourne for the Australian Open have tested positive for Covid-19. An update from the Department of Health and Human Services on Tuesday said two players were among three new cases of Covid-19 connected to the event. Tiley subsequently denied that players were among the positive cases, reports The Age, suggesting at a press conference that some of the total of six cases connected to the event so far were not acute, but incidents of viral shedding. Of those six, plus one – which was the flight attendant – none of them are players. “[It's] player entourages," he said.
The federal government’s HomeBuilder program is now likely to cost around $2 billion, more than twice the initial budget expectations of a $920 million cost. The ABC reports applications have far exceeded the government’s forecasts, with 75,143 households to date applying for a $25,000 grant under the HomeBuilder scheme by the end of December. Housing Minister Michael Sukkar said the expanded uptake of the scheme was “great news” and that the full cost of the scheme would be published “at the time of the Budget”. The program, initially due to end in December, has been extended until March 31, but the size of grants reduced from $25,000 to $15,000. The Courier Mail reports that Queenslanders are facing delays of more than four months in accessing the grant.
India has defied the odds in a record-breaking final day chase of 328 with three wickets and just 19 balls remaining to win the Test against Australia by three wickets and the series 2-1. Shubman Gill set up the chase with a quickfire 91 before Rishabh Pant saw the visitors home with 89 not out. The Indian squad bounced back after losing as many as 11 players through injury and unavailability for the final Test, and from the embarrassment of being dismissed for just 36 to lose the opening match in Adelaide in mid-December.