Joe Biden must try to regain international respect by uniting a divided nation, writes Jeff Kennett.
Joe Biden must try to regain international respect by uniting a divided nation, writes Jeff Kennett.

This is why Joe Biden faces an enormous task: Kennett

OPINION

It is hard on a day such as this not to reflect on the changing of the guard, or President, in the United States.

Later today, our time the inauguration of the 46th President of the United States, Joe Biden, will occur, in circumstances never witnessed before - the national capital locked down, the National Guard out in force to protect citizens and property. A country very much divided.

The US is important to the world as a democracy, an economic powerhouse, a place of innovation and creativity. But also, today sadly a country of great social and economic divide.

It was perhaps the working class, the dispossessed, who turned to candidate Donald Trump four years ago for recognition, jobs, hope and security. But also, a section of the community who thought his Make America Great Again mantra had substance and would result in a stronger and more independent America.

Four years later, after many significant achievements, his erratic style of leadership and his appalling, almost denial of COVID-19, has led to his defeat by Biden, by the narrowest of margins.

Skip forward to the occurrences since the US election and we have witnessed behaviour by an outgoing elected leader of a democracy that I have never witnessed before.

A refusal to accept the outcome of a system that afforded him the greatest honour a community can bestow on an individual four years ago, to lead his nation. A period one can only describe as shambolic.

Not only has Trump denied and refused to accept the verdict, he has incited public insurrection. He has campaigned against the catchcry that elevated him to the presidency, to Make America Great Again.

President Biden starts his term in office with the enormous task of having to reunite Americans in order to rebuild international respect for the US.

 

I question the value of the current impeachment process, except for the political outcome of trying to prevent Trump offering himself as a candidate for the presidency in four years' time. Even if successful in the US Senate when it is dealt with there, the whole process of impeachment will only guarantee division in many parts of the community for years to come.

I would have thought it better for the Democrats and President Biden to allow the hourglass to empty, for Trump to leave office today.

I have said so many times before, it is not where you start a project in life that matters, but where you finish. The Trump administration is and will be judged as a failure, because of the leadership style and personality of its leader.

Australia's relationship with the US is and remains very important. We need America to be strong, politically and economically. We need the US through the way it conducts its affairs to be respected internationally, and while not often expressed as such, we need America to be seen to have a good heart.

Today, the day of presidential change, let us hope through President Joe Biden we witness a return to a degree of normality and peace within and among the citizens of a great country.

 

 

 

OPEN HYPOCRISY

I have always said we should manage COVID-19. Therefore, I support the efforts by Tennis Australia officials and the government to conduct this year's event.

What makes me furious is the hypocrisy that sees the Premier changing his rationale for managing the virus.

Daniel Andrews said we must hold the Open or risk losing it. That was and is a rubbish comment. Every sporting body around the world has been disrupted - many events cancelled, others delayed, like our Grand Prix or the Olympics.

Where has the Premier's concern been over the last nine months for the loss of Victorian businesses, of financial security for their owners, or those made redundant?

The many Victorians denied the opportunity to return to their homes having been caught interstate as the government continually changes the rules of re-entry?

Or the thousands of Victorians stranded oversees who want to come home but for whom no quarantine hotels rooms can be found, but we can for 1200 tennis players and support staff?

Premier Andrews' hypocrisy is mind-blowing. Up you, Victorians, but we will bend over backwards for tennis players and their support staff.

Daniel Andrews has again shown he simply does not care, nor does he represent those he was elected to serve.

I hope the Open continues to be contested. It was always going to be a challenge, but hopefully the government has learnt from the government's administrative mistakes of the past.

 

Daniel Andrews has again shown he simply does not care, nor does he represent those he was elected to serve. Picture: Luis Ascui
Daniel Andrews has again shown he simply does not care, nor does he represent those he was elected to serve. Picture: Luis Ascui

 

But what we have clearly witnessed is the Premier and his government now recognising that they have handled COVID-19 disastrously and it should always have been managed, as is the case in NSW.

Not only have we lost over 800 lives, businesses lost, individuals and families financial security again destroyed, but the Premier is now seeking help from the federal government to correct the impact of his failures.

One massive offer of help for tennis, but what about Victorian businesses? Those business people may one day forgive but they will never forget.

A last thought. There is something very Trump-like about our Premier. Both men are very controlling. For both Trump and Andrews, it has been their way or no way.

Both have ignored and overridden normal conventions of managing their jurisdiction. Both have refused to accept personal responsibility for their errors.

Both have done some things well, but others disastrously, with tragic, shocking and irreversible outcomes.

Daniel Andrews and most of his Cabinet have suffered loss of memory in a co-ordinated manner which I do not remember being the case with Trump or his administration, but maybe that was just a result of something in Victoria's water.

Yes, Daniel may have handled his PR better, but be assured, Victoria while hopefully overcoming through one challenge the coronavirus, the implications to Victoria's economy will become more obvious and severe in the next 12 months.

It might be said that Trump is of the Right and Andrews the Left. But their personalities have a great deal in common.

Bring on the next crop of leaders.

Have a good day.

Jeff Kennett is a former premier of Victoria

Originally published as Why Biden faces an enormous task



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