Afternoon Update: Ken Wyatt warns Liberals on opposing voice; NSW election race wraps up; and ‘city killer’ asteroid to pass us by

<span>Photograph: Matt Jelonek/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Matt Jelonek/Getty Images

We end the week with Ken Wyatt, the former Coalition Indigenous Australians minister, warning the Liberals that opposing the Indigenous voice to parliament could add to a “global perception” they are a “racist party”.

Ken Wyatt urged the opposition leader, Peter Dutton, to allow the Liberals a conscience vote on the referendum, saying he knew of many who would back it “if given the chance”.

Wyatt, a Yamatji man who is a member of the government’s referendum working group, believed it would be a mistake for the Liberals to not offer bipartisan support to a referendum. He said it would add to a perception the party was “racist”, citing incidents he had experienced as a minister under the Morrison government.

“One of the questions I got asked frequently, and the first was the BBC when I was first elected, and I had this from other countries as well: ‘What’s it like belonging as a member of the Australian parliament in the most racist country?’ And I always defused that. And then the second question they hit me with is: ‘How do you cope working in a racist party like yours?’,” Wyatt told Guardian Australia.

“That’s a global perspective. It’s not my perspective; it’s a global perspective.”

Top news

NSW Labor leader Chris Minns and NSW premier Dominic Perrottet shake hands during the final leaders debate.
NSW Labor leader Chris Minns and NSW premier Dominic Perrottet shake hands during the final leaders debate. Photograph: Justin Lloyd/AAP
  • NSW election race wraps up | The New South Wales Liberal leader, Dominic Perrottet, and Labor leader, Chris Minns, have wrapped up their last day on the campaign trail ahead of voting tomorrow. In Minns’ final press conference, he said the election would come down to the wire, pitching to voters that his party had been focusing “like a laser beam” on cost-of-living issues and would oppose privatising essential assets starting with Sydney water. Meanwhile, Perrottet urged voters to back the Coalition’s economic plan, spruiking the party’s election slogan that it would “keep NSW moving forward”.

  • New documents in Bruce Lehrmann defamation case | The former Liberal staffer Bruce Lehrmann told the tobacco giant he lobbied for that the public revelation of rape allegations against him had “not hindered the relations within my political network” and said he was still able to influence federal policy to “further the business financially”, documents show. New filings in Lehrmann’s defamation case against News Corp, Network Ten, Lisa Wilkinson and Samantha Maiden reveal Lehrmann’s correspondence with British American Tobacco Australia, his then employer, in the days and months after Brittany Higgins’ allegations were first made public in February 2021.

  • Mass fish kill clean up begins | The first signs of a cleanup of the millions of dead fish that blanketed the Darling-Baaka River in far west New South Wales began on Thursday afternoon when two men in a tinny began netting the carcasses. The mass fish kill, reported last Friday, saw millions of dead fish floating to the top of the river along a 70km stretch, centred on the town of Menindee, where locals – who are breathing in the smell of rotting fish – are angry and frustrated at river management and the delayed government response to the crisis.

  • Lidia Thorpe’s treatment ‘disturbing’ | The minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney, says an incident in which senator Lidia Thorpe was pulled to the ground, apparently by an Australian federal police officer, while protesting against an anti-trans rights rally was “disturbing and concerning”. On Thursday, Thorpe was pulled to the ground after she rushed towards a lectern at which anti-trans activist Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull was addressing a small crowd of supporters outside Parliament House in Canberra.

Senator Lidia Thorpe with an Aboriginal flag draped around her shoulders being blocked from accessing the lectern where Kellie-Jay Keen can be seen standing.
Independent senator Lidia Thorpe was manhandled after attempting to disrupt British anti-transgender rights activist Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull, also known as Posie Parker, at a ‘Let Women Speak’ rally. Photograph: Michelle Haywood/AAP
  • Organisations mask tobacco links in vaping inquiry | Organisations and executives with known links to big tobacco and vaping companies have failed to declare them in submissions to a major government consultation on vaping reforms aimed at protecting children from nicotine addiction.

  • ‘City Killer’ asteroid to pass by Earth | An asteroid big enough to wipe out a city will pass harmlessly between Earth and the moon’s orbit this weekend, missing both, while providing scientists a chance to study the object close up. Asteroid flybys are common but Nasa said it was rare for one so big to come so close and that events like this occurred only about once a decade. Scientists estimate its size to be somewhere between 40 and 90 metres in diameter.

  • French protest inflamed | Emmanuel Macron felt the full force of French anger on Thursday as protesters gathered across the country to demonstrate their opposition to the pension age being raised from 62 to 64. In Paris, union leaders claimed that a record 800,000 people took part in a mostly peaceful march through the city – the police gave the figure as 119,000 – to demand the government drop the fiercely contested change.

  • Scores arrested on Israeli day of protest | Israel’s two-month-old protest movement took to the streets for a “day of disruption” as the parliament passed the first part of the hardline government’s controversial judicial changes into law. The legislation, designed to protect the position of the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was approved early on Thursday after a heated all-night debate by 61 votes to 47 – the minimum majority required.

Full Story

Minister for climate change Chris Bowen and prime minister Anthony Albanese during Question Time.
Minister for climate change Chris Bowen and prime minister Anthony Albanese during Question Time. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

Does Labor’s climate policy meet this critical moment?

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has once again delivered the world a dire warning. This latest plea has cast fresh light on a long and fraught domestic debate. Is Labor’s key climate policy good enough to significantly curb emissions and will the Greens agree to a deal without a guaranteed ban on any new coal and gas projects?

Gabrielle Jackson talks to the climate and environment editor, Adam Morton, and live news editor, Patrick Keneally, about whether Labor’s key climate policy will address the urgent call to action from the IPCC.

What they said …

Country Liberal Party senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price and Warren Mundine before a press conference.
Country Liberal Party senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price and Warren Mundine before a press conference. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP


“It is like being asked ‘Would you like cake with your coffee?’ We like to know what is in the cake before we say yes to it.” – Warren Mundine

Mundine is the organiser of the “recognise a better way” group who will be campaigning for a no vote on the voice referendum. He was speaking to ABC News Breakfast about the announcement of the wording for the referendum question and the constitutional amendment.

In numbers

Despite the loss of 29 million hectares of forest since 1750 – an area larger than New Zealand – continued logging since 2000 has likely affected about 244 threatened species, a study has shown. Many species that depended on forests are being sucked into “an extinction vortex” because of logging, Prof James Watson, one of the study’s authors at the University of Queensland, said.

Before bed read

Patrick Lenton’s rescue greyhound, Basil, is a stickler for ritual. He refuses to tread anything but the same stretch of suburban street behind Lenton’s house. Twice a day, with undimmed excitement and enthusiasm, Lenton writes, “we sniff the same mailboxes, trot up the exact same sidestreets to piss on the same tree, choose the exact same conservative politician’s house outside which to poo”.

Recently, Lenton has found there’s something about Basil’s singleminded commitment to treading the same worn paths that foreshadows the drudgery of our everyday lives.

Daily word game

Today’s starter word is: SUP. You have five goes to get the longest word including the starter word. Play Wordiply.

Sign up

If you would like to receive this Afternoon Update to your email inbox every weekday, sign up here. And start your day with a curated breakdown of the key stories you need to know. Sign up for our Morning Mail newsletter here.