Morning mail: Melbourne exits lockdown, Barnaby Joyce’s ‘carbon bomb’, ‘free land’ offer

·7-min read
<span>Photograph: William West/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: William West/AFP/Getty Images

Good morning. Melbourne exits its sixth lockdown today. Leaked documents show that high-polluting countries have been lobbying to water down a landmark UN climate report. And, as Australia’s big cities open up, eros is back.

After 262 days, Melbourne is emerging from lockdown with 70% of Victorians aged over 16 having received two doses of vaccine. Students will return to class part-time, fully vaccinated people can get haircuts, groups can gather outdoors in larger numbers and people can have visitors in the homes. While pubs and restaurants will be open for limited numbers, entertainment venues will not, making the reopening bittersweet for those working in the sector. “Everyone is celebrating about coming out of lockdown,” says band booker Georgia Farry. “But we still feel left behind.” And the AMA’s Victorian branch has suggested “Covid-deniers” and “anti-vaxxers” should opt out of care in the public health system if they catch the virus.

Countries that produce coal, oil, beef and animal feed have been lobbying to water down a UN climate report, according to a leak of documents seen by Greenpeace’s investigation team. Days before Cop26, the leaks show fossil fuel producers including Australia, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Japan are lobbying the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to remove recommendations that the world needs to phase out fossil fuels. According to the documents, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries also backed weakening the report’s recommendations on fossil fuels.

Barnaby Joyce’s push for a $3bn extension of the inland rail project to Gladstone would unlock a “carbon bomb” of nine new coalmines and an estimated 150m tonnes of carbon emissions a year, environmental groups claim. As the Nationals presented their final demands for signing up to net zero to the prime minister on Thursday, the Lock the Gate alliance said it was concerned the government was preparing to fund the “disgraceful” project spearheaded by Joyce, saying it would be a “Trojan horse”. It comes as the trade minister, Dan Tehan, has urged colleagues to back net zero emissions by 2050, declaring “the world is moving to decarbonise” and Australia must be at the table to fend off “protectionist forces”.

Australia

An inquiry into the integrity of the NSW environmental offsets scheme will begin today. Earlier this year Guardian Australia exposed multiple, serious failures in a system that is supposed to compensate for the environmental destruction that occurs as a result of development.

A tiny outback town’s offer of “free land” has attracted interest from the coast to Hong Kong. Quilpie council’s offer is part of a plan to address a housing crisis in the south-east Queensland town.

The prime minister’s office failed to meet deadlines for the majority of freedom of information requests made over the past year, according to the Office of the Australian Information Commission’s annual report.

Australia still prohibits gay men or trans women who have sex with men from donating blood. Meanwhile, nations around the world such as the UK, the Netherlands, Israel, Argentina, France and Germany are abolishing their ban on blood donations for particular groups.

The world

The Queen receives Dame Sandra Mason at Windsor Castle
The Queen receives Dame Sandra Mason at Windsor Castle. Photograph: Steve Parsons/PA

Barbados has elected its first president just weeks before the Caribbean island becomes a republic and ceases to recognise the Queen as its head of state. The island’s governor general, Dame Sandra Mason, was elected almost unanimously by parliament, with only one member declining to vote.

A Minneapolis police officer who fatally shot an Australian woman, Justine Damond, after she called 911 to report a possible rape happening behind her home has been re-sentenced to nearly five years in prison – the maximum allowed for manslaughter after his murder conviction was overturned.

Greta Thunberg has accused countries of being in denial over the extent of the climate and ecological crisis and using “creative carbon accounting” to augment their green credentials. In an opinion piece for the Guardian, the Swedish activist says world leaders have been responsible for “decades of blah, blah, blah”.

Shocking instances of sexual and physical abuse of asylum seekers by federal officers at the southern US border have been uncovered by Human Rights Watch. Documents released after a six-year battle to wrestle the information from the Department of Homeland Security reveal more than 160 cases of misconduct and abuse.

Facebook has reached agreement with a group of French newspapers to pay for content shared by its users. France had been battling for two years to protect the publishing rights and revenue of its press and news agencies.

Recommended reads

“Diane’s passing made me feel that every living individual should self-actualise to the maximum and insist on pursuing ideals with free thinking, free expression and proactivity,” writes the artist Ai Weiwei about the death of documentary producer Diane Weyermann. “It is the only way for us to feel that we, as individuals, are not alone.” Weyermann, who was 66, was the pioneering producer behind films such as RBG, The Square and An Inconvenient Truth. “Diane’s readiness to contribute to a cause she believes in is truly an inspiration to me,” Ai writes. “Her passing is a huge loss to like-minded people; like a bridge of hope and imagination washed away in the storm.”

“I was a single, isolated workaholic,” Saima Mir says. “Until I learned to love my own company.” When Mir found herself single after her second divorce, she experienced the loneliest period of her life. She had a great job in TV, kept busy and yet wondered how long it would take anyone to notice if she went missing – if she fell down the stairs, or had an accident. But with time and therapy, Mir learnt to trust herself. “What I learned was that no one was coming to rescue me – and that was OK,” she writes. “I know now that I actually needed to be lonely.”

“Eros is back,” declares Brigid Delaney as she recounts locking eyes with a stranger. “Chance encounters, serendipity, the glint in the eye – as we open up from lockdown, they’re back, baby!”

Listen

In Guardian Australia’s new weekly podcast, lifestyle editor Alyx Gorman, culture editor Steph Harmon and editorial assistant Michael Sun tackle the infinite scroll of the internet – and bring you the best of their tabs. In episode one, “real-life influencer” Flex phones in to explain how #sponcon is creeping into our every day – and Harmon and Gorman subject Sun to a gentle Succession-themed quiz.

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

Sport

Australia kick off their T20 World Cup campaign against South Africa
Australia kick off their T20 World Cup campaign against South Africa. Photograph: Aamir Qureshi/AFP/Getty Images

There was a time when Australia would mostly win its cricket matches. Not any more. “On average across a tournament Australia is hurt by a lack of specialisation,” writes Geoff Lemon after Australia kicked off their T20 World Cup campaign against South Africa. “Picking the biggest scorers means picking players who open the batting domestically, and some Australian teams have been packed with openers from one to seven.”

Media roundup

Less than half of Australia’s available Moderna supply has been used, the Sydney Morning Herald reports, and tens of thousands of doses are set to expire within weeks. International law enforcement agencies are on standby to help solve the suspected abduction of Cleo Smith, a four-year-old who went missing from a WA campsite, according to the West Australian.

And if you’ve read this far …

Have a look at Melbourne’s 20 months in and out of lockdown – in pictures.

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