Morning mail: bid to halt $16bn gas project to protect Great Barrier Reef, questions over Barilaro job

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<span>Photograph: HOGP/AP</span>
Photograph: HOGP/AP

Good morning. The potentially disastrous effects of a massive gas development have sparked a legal challenge from environmentalists. And questions are being raised over the process that landed a former deputy premier a plum $500,000-a-year role as trade commissioner.

An environmental group has launched a legal bid to halt a $16bn gas development in WA, arguing the effect of its greenhouse gas emissions on the Great Barrier Reef will be significant and should be assessed under national environment law. Researchers at Climate Analytics have estimated that gas from Woodside’s Scarborough gas project could lead to 1.37bn tonnes of carbon dioxide – more than three times Australia’s annual emissions – being released into the atmosphere over 25 years.

The NSW government offered a plum trade commissioner job to a senior public servant with a stellar résumé, only to rescind the offer and later appoint the former deputy premier John Barilaro after readvertising the $500,000-a-year role. Barilaro’s New York appointment was not signed off by cabinet even though it had overseen a series of identical appointments to other cities, according to documents seen by Guardian Australia. It remains unclear why Barilaro’s appointment was not subject to the same scrutiny.

The head of the Kremlin’s security council has threatened the “population of Lithuania” in an escalation of the row over Lithuanian railway’s refusal to allow some goods to cross the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad. Nikolai Patrushev did not specify how Russia would retaliate, merely saying it would be “interagency”. Lithuania has already dropped Russian energy imports, leaving few other options for the Kremlin.


Opposition leader Peter Dutton during a shadow cabinet meeting in Perth
Liberal colleagues are urging Peter Dutton to take a new position on climate policy. Photograph: Trevor Collens/AAP

Liberal MPs are urging Peter Dutton to let the party room decide a new position on climate change policy in the wake of the Coalition’s devastating election loss, with calls for the conservatives to take more ambitious emission reduction targets to the next election.

A high court decision striking down the home affairs minister’s power to cancel citizenship of dual nationals suspected of terrorist activities could also call into question the legality of orders to ban citizens from re-entering Australia.

Anthony Albanese will ask Australia’s most senior intelligence chief to lead a review of the security threats posed by the climate crisis. The scope and terms of reference are being drawn up, but the assessment was expected to consider options such as setting up an Office of Climate Threat Intelligence.

An anti-lockdown protester has been jailed for throwing a heavy bollard at a mounted officer and hitting a police horse in the head during separate protests in Melbourne. Ex-Hells Angels biker Dennis Basic, 42, was sentenced to 26 months and 14 days in prison on Tuesday for a dozen offences including assaulting an emergency worker, animal cruelty and recklessly causing injury.

The town of Robertson is tiny and is most famous as the home of the Big Potato. But for the poet and schoolteacher Peter Ramm, it is the secret weapon that helped him win the UK’s biggest prize for unpublished poetry.

The world

SpaceX founder and chief engineer Elon Musk at a news conference in 2020
Elon Musk believes a US recession is inevitable and likely to come soon. Photograph: Joe Skipper/Reuters

Echoing a number of other big CEOs, Elon Musk has warned that a US recession is “more likely than not” to come soon, as the Tesla chief executive confirmed plans to cut 10% of salaried staff at the electric carmaker over the next three months. “A recession is inevitable at some point,” he said in an interview. “As to whether there is a recession in the near term, that is more likely than not.”

The suspected death toll in an attack by gunmen in Ethiopia’s western Oromia region has risen, with new witness testimony suggesting that between 260 and 320 civilians were killed on Saturday. Reports of the massacre surfaced on Sunday, as survivors described one of the deadliest such attacks in several years.

Unidentified operatives have been using the fitness tracking app Strava to spy on members of the Israeli military, tracking their movements across secret bases around the country and potentially observing them as they travel the world on official business, the Israeli open-source intelligence outfit FakeReporter says.

The biggest rail strike in 30 years is causing chaos in the UK, leaving students struggling to make it to exams and tourists facing 25km walks to fit in all the sights in their itineraries. The strike action is potentially the first of a string of industrial disputes as workers face double-digit inflation.

Recommended reads

Ashton Hardman-Le Cornu and Caleb Harper of Spacey Jane perform on a smoke-filled stage
Ashton Hardman-Le Cornu and Caleb Harper of Spacey Jane perform on stage. Photograph: Matt Jelonek/WireImage

WA’s indie rockers Spacey Jane are back with music for the Covid generation and they just want young people to know that someone out there understands them. In an interview with Brodie Lancaster, frontman Caleb Harper describes how he began writing Here Comes Everybody in the early days of the pandemic in a desperate attempt to shake off – or at least externalise – the confusion and panic he was living through. “I think that I just got sick of talking about myself,” he says.

In our weekly interview about objects, we speak to the singer Wendy Matthews about her sprawling acreage in northern NSW, and the family heirlooms she left overseas. “I live on 10 acres with my dog and there’s a lot of work for just one person,” she says. “And I know that many, many things have been told they’re a girl’s best friend. But I think a girl’s best friend is a trolley.”

In streaming news, Nathan Jolly makes the case that 50 First dates – now available on Netflix – is among Adam Sandler’s finest work. The goofball romcom, starring the endlessly bankable pairing of Sandler and Drew Barrymore, has its problems and plot holes but is still full of charm and chemistry.


The Albanese government is under pressure to end a legal fight over whether the government should have the power to deport Aboriginal non-citizens. The high court appeal – launched by the Morrison government – could see at least a dozen Aboriginal people face detention or deportation if they are not granted a visa. In today’s Full Story, Laura Murphy-Oates speaks to political reporter Paul Karp about the Aboriginal people caught in our immigration system, and why this is the high court’s most significant constitutional decision in years.

Full Story is Guardian Australia’s daily news podcast. Subscribe for free on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or any other podcasting app.


Shadow of rugby posts on rugby field
Rugby league’s international governing body has ruled that transgender women will be banned from playing for now. Photograph: Nick Podmore/Alamy

Transgender women will be barred from playing women’s international rugby league for the time being, after the sport’s governing body became the second this week to announce a shift in policy on the polarising issue. After Monday’s announcement that Fina has effectively banned transgender women from competing at elite female swimming events, the International Rugby League has decided to preclude athletes who have transitioned from male to female from international competition.

Media roundup

The Liberal party has begun paving the way for Josh Frydenberg to return to parliament, the Australian reports. Rooftop solar owners are facing huge bill increases up to $1,000 a year – because solar is just too popular in SA, the Advertiser reports.

Coming up

The defence minister, Richard Marles, will give a speech at the National Defence College in India.

Protesters will gather at the US embassy in Canberra to demonstrate against the decision to extradite Julian Assange to the US.

And if you’ve read this far …

In 1900 sponge divers pulled a giant but headless statue of Hercules from the sea off the Greek island of Antikythera. Archaeologists think they might have just found his head.

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