Good morning, this is Emilie Gramenz bringing you the main stories and must-reads on Monday 28 September.
Australia’s federal budget deficit is tipped to reach an extraordinary $200bn, but according to a new report from Deloitte Access Economics, the Morrison government should be prepared to go even deeper into the red to support the economic recovery. As the government made a series of pre-budget announcements – including hundreds of millions of dollars to extend funding for domestic airlines – Deloitte also predicted unemployment would remain high for years. On Monday the government will announce the extension of programs underwriting domestic and regional flight routes, declaring “planes in the air mean jobs on the ground”, and pledge $250m for a regional tourism package.
The Victorian government avoided any penalty for the “wanton destruction” of hundreds of trees that should have been protected to help save an endangered cockatoo species, after the federal environment department decided against taking action. Experts working on the recovery of the red-tailed black cockatoo repeatedly warned Victoria it needed approval under federal law for cutting down stringybark trees in the bird’s habitat that are crucial to its survival. Birdlife Australia said the breach highlighted the failure of national conservation laws and the risk of leaving major environmental decisions to the states, as the federal government plans to do.
The Spanish government and authorities in Madrid are locked in a standoff over how to tackle the second wave of Covid-19 in and around the capital. More than a third of the country’s 716,481 cases have been diagnosed in Madrid. The pandemic continues to grip the Americas, with cases in Colombia – nearly a month into a national reopening after a long quarantine – passing 800,000 and in Argentina infections passed 700,000. One of the UK government’s scientific advisers has said repeated “mini lockdowns” could be effective as a tool to bring Covid-19 cases under control. Experts believe inadequate tests for Covid-19, based on poor or dodgy data, are proliferating in the UK.
Melbourne’s nighttime curfew will end on Monday and coronavirus restrictions may ease faster than expected. Victoria would now base its decisions about public health restrictions on case numbers, rather than aspirational dates, the premier Daniel Andrews said.
Susan Ryan, the pioneering Labor senator who helped pass landmark laws to protect women from workplace discrimination, has died. She was 77.
Almost a week after the worst mass stranding on record in Australia, rescuers on Tasmania’s rugged west coast have rescued 110 pilot whales. Crews were swiftly working to dispose of some 360 carcasses at sea after the pod of 470 got into trouble early last week.
Donald Trump has said it “is certainly possible” supreme court nominee Amy Coney Barrett will be part of a supreme court decision overturning Roe v Wade. The 1973 ruling made abortion legal in the US.
Masked police dragged people into vans and fired stun grenades and teargas to disperse crowds, as tens of thousands marched for a seventh straight weekend to demand the resignation of veteran Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko.
Swiss voters have resoundingly rejected an attempt to tear up the country’s agreement with the EU on the free movement of people, in a referendum that echoed the Brexit vote.
Sri Lanka has shipped back to Britain container-loads of waste that the Colombo government said were brought into the island in violation of international laws governing the shipping of hazardous material. The 21 containers first arrived by ship in the capital Colombo’s main port between September 2017 and March 2018.
The zealotry of the unhinged, fact-free QAnon conspiracy theory is frustrating for professional fact-checkers and devastating for families of those caught up in it, writes Van Badham. But within the despair of those communities are also hopeful stories of reconnection from those who’ve left the cult, with experiences that affirm the best advice of experts in disinformation, deradicalisation and deprogramming. For those concerned by the creep of conspiracy-thinking into their friends and their world, there are things you can do.
Like everything else, the market for illegal drugs has been thrown into turmoil by the coronavirus pandemic. Border closures and lockdowns have radically changed patterns of supply and use. But the most troubling change in Australia is that social distancing has required a huge reduction in beds across residential facilities for those with substance abuse problems. Lucky Rich, who escaped a 21-year addiction three years ago, says: “When Covid hit, I literally could not believe how hard it would be for anybody that is going through the same sort of thing,” he said. “It would be a miracle if anyone got clean during this time.”
There’s nothing quite like the relationship of a child to their bicycle, the endless adventures two wheels and a pair of strong legs offers. No video game, Covid-19 lockdown or computer simulation can replace the liberation of being alone on a bicycle, writes Steven Herrick: “As parents and as a society, to deny children the simple pleasure of riding a bike is an abdication of our responsibilities to raise independent stable young citizens.”
A huge rescue effort kicked off when hundreds of pilot whales beached themselves in Macquarie Harbour off the west coast of Tasmania. Graham Readfearn explains how the rescue operation unfolded and reveals what a unique and intelligent species this is.
It was hardly the reunion Andy Murray envisaged. Three years after losing to Stan Wawrinka in a semi-final that few present will forget, there was little he could do against the power of the Swiss in three mercifully quick sets on the opening day of the 2020 French Open.
A Jamie Vardy hat-trick secured a Leicester win, stunning Manchester City and handing the hosts a loss in their first top-flight home league game of the season for the first time in 31 years. Vardy’s intervention – scoring penalties in the 37th and 58th minutes plus a sweet backheeled finish in-between – meant that before the hour the Foxes were cruising. The victory takes Leicester top of the table.
The Australian Financial Review, reports business groups and unions are proposing a bipartisan blueprint for a nationally coordinated Covid-19 recovery plan. The Herald Sun reports Labor MPs have been left “unsettled” by the sudden departure and treatment of Victoria’s former health minister Jenny Mikakos. The NSW deputy premier, John Barilaro, ignored pleas from the environmental watchdog to curb logging in an important koala habitat hit hard by last season’s fires, instead demanding the state firm meet its contracts, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
The aged care royal commission will deliver its report to the federal government on the measures needed to protect elderly residents from Covid-19.
Ardent Leisure is due in court in Brisbane for a sentencing hearing over the deaths of four people on the Thunder River Rapids ride at Dreamworld.
Cuts to the jobkeeper supplement come into effect.
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