Morning mail: Coalition’s $3bn marginal seat spend, Ukraine grain export crisis, plan to ‘electrify everything’

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<span>Photograph: Mick Tsikas/EPA</span>
Photograph: Mick Tsikas/EPA

Friday: Coalition promises $3bn for 10 marginal seats. Plus: the search for the perfect picture book of death


Good morning. The Coalition has made almost $3bn in spending promises across 10 marginal seats ahead of the election. Female candidates are being overlooked to run in safe seats by both major parties. And fiction writers reflect on how they can help galvanise readers to take action against the climate crisis.

Outgoing Liberal National party politician Andrew Laming says the expenses watchdog has done “nothing” since he publicly refused to pay back more than $8,000 in travel expenses he was found by it to have wrongly claimed. The Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority audited a single month of Laming’s travel in 2020, finding he had wrongly claimed 21 expenses and issuing an invoice. But Laming refused to pay the money back, and says he has heard nothing and expects to hear nothing.

The Coalition has made almost $3bn in spending promises across 10 marginal seats, including a surprising $300m to try to flip the Labor seat of McEwen in Melbourne’s outer north. The knife-edge seats of Bass in Tasmania and Gilmore on the New South Wales south coast have attracted the most pork-barrelling commitments from the Liberal party, with more than $500m promised to projects in Bass and $430m in Gilmore. Meanwhile, Labor says it will establish a national threatened species program and provide a full response to the independent review of national environmental laws if it forms government.

Urgent measures to break the Russian blockade of grain exports from Ukraine’s ports, including by trying to open routes through Romanian and Baltic ports, will be discussed by G7 foreign and agriculture ministers at meetings in Germany. The grain exports blockade is fast becoming one of the most urgent diplomatic and humanitarian crises in Ukraine. Meanwhile nearly 100 children have been killed in Ukraine since April alone, according to Unicef, which warned the war was creating a “child protection and child rights crisis”.

Female candidates are being overlooked to run in safe seats by both major parties, with new analysis showing just two in 10 female candidates have been put forward for winnable seats at this year’s election, while safe seats are “saved for the boys”. Research from the Australian National University’s global institute for women’s leadership shows that just 20% of female candidates running for the Coalition are contesting safe seats. For the Labor party it is 24%.

Australia

A plan to “electrify everything” with rooftop solar, batteries and electric vehicles would save households across the country more than $5,000 a year and particularly benefit those living in outer Melbourne suburbs, according to a new analysis.

Many more rural Australians may have no choice but to spend their final years away from their families and communities given two-thirds of regional aged care homes are operating at a loss.

With wine vintages wiped out by bushfire and workers ready to transition out of the coalmining industry, the electorate of Calare in the NSW central west could be ready to change from a Nationals MP to an independent one.

Economists and advocacy groups have seized on the Morrison government’s objection to lifting minimum wages by the inflation rate, noting benefits such as pensions are tied to how consumer prices change.

The world

Shireen Abu Aqleh, the Palestinian American journalist shot dead during an Israeli army operation, has been honoured with a full state memorial in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Meanwhile, Israel has approved 2,700 housing units in illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.

A delegation of influential US congressmen will fly to London within days amid growing concern in the White House about spiralling tensions over the Northern Ireland protocol. With the UK government poised to table legislation next week which could revoke parts of the protocol, arrangements are being made for at least half a dozen representatives from the US Congress to fly to Europe.

North Korea has declared a “severe national emergency” after confirming its first outbreak of Covid-19, prompting its leader, Kim Jong-un, to vow to quickly eliminate the virus.

After a month of crippling ransomware attacks, Costa Rica has declared a state of emergency invoking a measure usually reserved to deal with natural disasters or the Covid-19 pandemic to allow the government to react more nimbly to the crisis.

California’s governor has announced a new reproductive health spending plan, dedicating an additional $57m to prepare for an influx of people from other states seeking abortions in California.

Recommended reads

Writers aren’t science experts, Kate Grenville writes. But they may be able to influence their readers to cast their ballots for the climate. “A vote for climate will put it where it should be, and where polls say many people put it,” she says. “At the centre of every life.”

Acclaimed author Chloe Hooper seeks “the perfect children’s picture book of death” to help her sons – and herself – come to terms with their father’s illness.

The horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki made the whole world afraid of the atomic bomb – even those who might have launched one. Today that fear has mostly passed out of living memory, and with it we may have lost a crucial safeguard.

Listen

Each week of the election campaign, Guardian Australia’s politics team answers questions from listeners. This week we cover how minor party preferences will affect the outcome, who are the most talented politicians in the country and the blurring of lines between government grants and election promises.

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

Sport

The six team captains pose at the finals series launch at AAMI Park earlier this week
The six team captains pose at the finals series launch at AAMI Park earlier this week. Photograph: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

On paper, Melbourne City have the best team but their cross-town rivals Victory are in red-hot form, and don’t rule out the Mariners.

Our cartoonist casts his eye over Ange Postecoglou’s success in his first year at Celtic and the reaction to it on both sides of the world.

Australia will host the men’s 2027 and women’s 2029 Rugby World Cups in a gamechanger for the cash-strapped code Down Under.

Media roundup

Labor’s proposed national integrity commission will examine alleged misconduct from as far back as 15 years, with both former and current politicians eligible to be investigated under a broad definition of corruption, reports the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age. Mr Gurruwiwi, a renowned and celebrated master of the yidaki, more commonly known as the didgeridoo, has died in Arnhem Land after a long battle with illness, the ABC reports.

Coming up

The winner of the Archibald prize will be announced. The foreign affairs minister, Marise Payne, and her Labor counterpart, Penny Wong, will go head to head at the National Press Club. And the Northern Territory could have a new chief minister today if Labor caucus members make a unanimous decision after the resignation of Michael Gunner.

And if you’ve read this far …

You’ll want to vomit, cry, die or sleep forever: what happens when you finish writing your book.

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