Federal Parliament resumes next Monday for the final run down to the end of the year. Two huge elections occurred in the last seven days, Queenslanders went to the polls on October 31 and the US Presidential Congressional and Senate elections on November 3.
On the local front, the Queensland ALP Government lead by Annastacia Palaszczuk increased their majority with a probable final count of 51 seats in the 93 seat Parliament. The “Keep Queensland Safe” mantra from COVID-19 and her strong stance on keeping the borders closed was overwhelmingly endorsed by voters, particularly by pensioners and retirees in South East Queensland.
However, the strong political and border policy response in Queensland did not have the same effect in the US for President Trump.
At the time of writing it was still unknown which Presidential candidate would be first to cross the magical 270 college votes required to become the next President of the United States. It's been a seesawing couple of days with millions of pre-poll and postal votes still to be counted in the race for the White House.
The Democrats were confident of a clean sweep focusing on the inept handling of the COVID-19 pandemic by the President, only to be disappointed by a major resurgence in votes for Trump in key Midwest rust belt States in the south, such as Texas and Florida. For Republicans, the frantic campaigning by the President and their laser like focus back on the “economy stupid” has proven the pollsters wrong again.
These are interesting times for Australia and the world as we wait to learn who will eventually take the White House - Joe Biden for the Democrats or Donald Trump for the Republicans.
Insiders in Canberra will be closely analysing what this means for the next four years for Australia US relations, our ANZUS bonds and our trading relationship.
For the Australian Federal Government this will be the focus next week, as well as on the economy and our fraught relationship with our largest trading partner, China.
Alarmingly, further restrictions by the People’s Republic of China on our $149 billion export market are imminent. Not only lobsters but copper, wine and many soft commodities as screws tighten on Australia.
Even a further cut by the Reserve Bank of Australia to record an official cash rate of .01 may not be enough to keep stimulating Australia’s economy through the COVID recession.
The next three weeks of sittings up until the 10th December are critical for the Government to maintain momentum from the October Budget and to navigate and encourage the final reopening of the borders on the East Coast, from Queensland to Victoria and New South Wales.
Two other issues that'll be central to the government’s focus in the lead up to the Christmas shut down is how to deal with the recommendations for a Federal Integrity Commission and the long-awaited cabinet reshuffle following the retirement of Finance Minister Matthias Cormann. Whilst his portfolio will go to the current Trade Minister Simon Birmingham it will also mean a further reshuffle as the government strengthens its ‘A team’.
While the Prime Minister has ruled out an early election for next year I would not be surprised if this is still an option as the inevitability of Commonwealth stimulus money starts to slow through Job Keeper and Job Seeker, both having political impacts on the beneficiaries.
It's too early to tell what the political landscape will be next year, just as we don't know what the final result will be in the United States.
However, what was impressive was seeing the Queensland Maroons come from 10 - nil behind at half time in the first State of Origin this week, in Adelaide of all places, to beat the Blues in an incredible second half performance.