Morning mail: integrity impatience, Ahmaud Arbery’s killers guilty, the good gift guide

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<span>Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian</span>
Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

Thursday: Liberal MP blasts Morrison government for failing to establish an anti-corruption watchdog. Plus: 130 local, sustainable or just plain delightful Christmas present ideas

Good morning. Scott Morrison faces more criticism from his backbench, Australia is accused of failing to provide international leadership over global vaccine access and Sweden’s first female PM lasts just 12 hours in the job.

A Liberal MP has condemned the government’s failure to draft legislation to establish a commonwealth integrity commission, almost three years after it promised to do so. A Tasmanian MP, Bridget Archer, said she was “perplexed” as to why little progress had occurred, and also that she was “a bit offended” that the religious discrimination bill had been prioritised. Archer also attacked “tribalism” within politics, warning she was “absolutely” prepared to cross the floor to back legislation introduced by the independent MP Helen Haines, saying integrity should be “above politics”.

The three white men who chased and killed Ahmaud Arbery as he jogged have been found guilty of murder, after his 2020 shooting death in south Georgia, which led to a wave of racial justice protests. Travis McMichael, his father, Greg McMichael, and their neighbour William “Roddie” Bryan were convicted of murdering Arbery, who was unarmed, after pursuing him and claiming, without evidence, he had been involved in a spate of burglaries. The trial has come to symbolise how the US legal system treats Black Americans and the experiences that many have of facing danger while doing ordinary things.

Amnesty Australia has accused the government of lacking “any substance” in the lead-up to a World Trade Organization vote to help speed up vaccine delivery to low-income countries. After months of lobbying, Australia has announced support for a proposed deal to waive intellectual property rights on Covid-19 vaccines, led by India and South Africa, but the trade minister, Dan Tehan, says he is pessimistic it will succeed. The Greens have said the government’s position is “a coward’s way out”.


A homeless man sits on the banks of the Yarra River
Government data shows homeless people are disproportionately affected by welfare suspensions under mutual obligation requirements. Photograph: Speed Media/Rex/Shutterstock

Welfare payment suspensions disproportionately harm homeless, disabled or Indigenous jobseekers, government data shows. More than half of jobseekers who have been identified as experiencing homeless in the last six months had their payments suspended under the mutual obligation regime.

Michaelia Cash has left the door open to making further changes to the Coalition’s proposed religious discrimination act, with the legislation set to go to a Senate committee once it passes the lower house.

A Natural Resources Commission report that called for the suspension of logging in three “extreme risk” areas was held back by the NSW government. The areas surrounding Narooma, Nowra and Taree were badly hit during the black summer bushfires.

Household electricity bills are set to fall by about $77 a year by 2024 due to the advance of renewable energy, the Australian Energy Market Commission has confirmed. Queensland and Victoria lead the way, with savings of more than $100.

The world

Sweden’s first female prime minister, the Social Democrat Magdalena Andersson, has resigned less than 12 hours into the job when her coalition collapsed, plunging the country into further political uncertainty.

The World Health Organization has warned that “no country or region is out of the woods” when it comes to Covid-19. Europe is once again the global centre of the pandemic, with coronavirus the No 1 cause of death, and tipped to surpass 2m fatalities by March.

At least 30 people have died trying to cross the Channel to the UK, French authorities have confirmed, after an inflatable dinghy capsized. An estimated 25,000 people have attempted the journey in 2021.

Olaf Scholz will be Germany’s next chancellor, with the Social Democratic candidate replacing Angela Merkel after 16 years in the position. Scholz will head the country’s first “traffic light coalition” of three parties, the Social Democrats, Greens and Free Democrats.

Recommended reads

“Between supply chain chaos, local delivery woes and the ongoing pandemic, getting your end-of-year gifts in order is going to take a bit of extra planning in 2021.” Guardian Australia has tried to help take the pain out of the process: with this extensive list of gift ideas that are “local, sustainable, socially minded or just plain delightful”.

Construction sector stimulus and low interest rates are still keeping Australia’s economy ticking over – but for how long once these measures are removed, Greg Jericho asks. “For now the market still expects the Reserve Bank to increase rates, with the yield of Australian government two-year bonds being well above the cash rate of 0.1%.” And coupled with news that construction fell in the September quarter, we could soon start to see more fully the economic effects of the pandemic.

While jigsaws and home-based craft projects now lie neglected, there’s one pandemic pastime of which Brigid Delaney remains incredibly fond: spending time connecting with music. “Each weekday for a couple of months I would wake up, pick one artist, and just stick with them all day: going on my little walk, or even just sitting in a chair listening, giving the music my total attention.” From Nina Simone to Madonna, she’s discovered a newfound respect for some of the greats.

Ash Flanders doesn’t refer to “internet content” because he’s 40. But as our guest curator of this week’s 10 funniest things on the internet, he’s unearthed some terrific stuff: including Werner Herzog on chickens and a very spoilt doll called Digby.


It was a cost blowout of epic proportions. But eight years on both Labor and Liberals are vowing to fix Australia’s problem-plagued NBN. On this episode of Full Story, reporter Josh Taylor details the scale of the failure.

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


The sixth season of the AFLW is shaping as a key one for clubs. With four new teams entering the competition in 2022-23, competition for existing players could be fierce, writes Marnie Vinall.

A landmark law change could offer hope for World Rugby’s “tier two” nations, with tweaks to eligibility rules meaning nations such as Fiji, Tonga or Samoa could see a return of former stars who have played for other national teams.

Media roundup

Gay teachers or students could be discriminated against unless the religious discrimination bill is “fixed”, Liberal MPs have warned Scott Morrison, according to the Age. WA Liberals are being urged by their federal counterparts not to replace their state leader before the federal election, for fears it will hurt the national campaign, the West Australian says. And VicForests has been accused of hiring a private investigator to spy on conservationists in order to discredit them, the ABC reports.

Coming up

A Human Rights Law Centre and Greenpeace report about climate activism in Australia is to be released.

The Victorian inquest into the death of residents at St Basil’s aged care home will continue.

And if you’ve read this far …

It’s an unconventional healing technique, but a South Korean sect leader who rids followers of “secular desire” by poking them in the eyes is being blamed for a local outbreak of Covid-19. More than 240 residents connected with the religious community have tested positive, accounting for more than half of the cases in Cheonan city.

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