Morning mail: NSW’s new premier, ATO investigates Pandora Papers, plover people

<span>Photograph: Joel Carrett/AAP</span>
Photograph: Joel Carrett/AAP

Good morning. The New South Wales Liberal party is set to get a new leader today after the shock resignation of Gladys Berejiklian on Friday. The climate crisis is taking the Australian military away from security issues to deal with severe weather events. And we’ll have plenty more from the Pandora Papers throughout the day.

Dominic Perrottet is expected to be elected leader of the NSW Liberal party today. Labor should not underestimate the new leader, who comes with a powerful alliance who can unite the Liberal factions. But can the new alliance sell themselves to the public? Perrottet has been working hard on building a profile in recent months but despite serving in the NSW government ministry since 2014, for many voters, Perrottet is a largely unknown quantity. Here’s what we know about the conservative MP set to take NSW’s top job.

Australia’s military will be less ready to confront other security crises if troops are increasingly required to respond to climate-related disasters, says former chief of defence Admiral Chris Barrie. He called on the Australian government to pledge at the Glasgow climate conference to cut emissions by more than 50% by 2030, and find alternatives to the defence force to deal with extreme weather events. Barrie said the ADF did not recruit people to fight bushfires and sweep up after floods, but was increasingly relied on for such purposes because it was a workforce the government controlled. “They’re the most expensive people you can buy to do this kind of work.”

Australia is among at least nine countries to announce investigations in response to the Pandora Papers, the largest offshore data leak in history. The Australian Taxation Office says it will investigate any links to Australians that emerge from the Pandora papers. About 400 Australian names are contained in the papers. ATO’s deputy commissioner Will Day said the secrets of anyone who tried to cheat the system were no longer safe and they could expect “serious consequences” for their actions. “No complicated money trail is too difficult for us to unravel,” he said. Edward Snowden, the whistleblower behind the biggest intelligence leak in history, has paid tribute to whoever leaked the Pandora papers. “Hats off to the source,” he said.


Barnaby Joyce comments about Icac are &#x002018;very silly&#x002019; says former judge Stephen Charles.
Barnaby Joyce comments about Icac are ‘very silly’, says former judge Stephen Charles. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

It was “very silly” for Barnaby Joyce to compare NSW’s Icac to the Spanish Inquisition, according to former senior judge Stephen Charles. He said the comments showed the federal government had no desire to be held accountable for its own integrity failings.

The Australian government has raised concerns about China’s increased incursions into Taiwan’s air defence zone and warned against “the threat or use of force”. Canberra weighed into dispute and said it wants “an Indo-Pacific region that is secure, prosperous and based on the rule of law”.

Australia has secured 300,000 courses of a new Covid treatment pill that could be used by early 2022. Molnupiravir has been shown to prevent serious illness and death, although it is still in late-stage clinical trials.

Australia’s proposed nuclear-powered submarines could be obsolete by the time they hit the water in the 2040s due to new technologies making underwater vessels “visible”, some experts argue.

The world

War crimes and crimes against humanity including murder, torture, enslavement, extrajudicial killings and rape have been committed in Libya since 2016, a United Nations investigation has found. The fact-finding mission says migrants and detainees have been particularly exposed to violations since the civil war.

Former White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham thinks Donald Trump will run for president again in 2024 and his return “will be about revenge”.

If you’re having trouble with social media this morning, it’s because Facebook’s network of services including Instagram and WhatsApp has been hit by an outage. The outage comes amid fallout from leaked documents that showed the company put profit over public good.

A woman with severe depression has been successfully treated with an experimental brain implant. The device works by detecting patterns of brain activity linked to depression and automatically interrupting them using tiny pulses of electrical stimulation.

Recommended reads

In the drab uncertainty of Sydney’s lockdown, silver linings can be hard to come by. But for Gadia Zrihan’s family, the ultimate silver lining arrived on their doorstep after a 16-month journey through six cities. Their dog, Luna, is back home after she was left stuck in the US when Covid restrictions barred pets on flights. “With Luna home, lockdown life has changed. We feel more energised, the world seems broader. She has literally grown the love in our home. Our sullen teens make multiple daily declarations of adoration as they bury their faces into her warm body. And our youngest finally has a playmate again – you can feel the joy bouncing back into her.”.

The story of the hooded plover is actually a story about people, Port Fairy author Jock Serong says. There are the people who are aware of the plovers and keep away and the people who don’t care and let their dogs run wild on the beaches, then there are the Plover People, as Jock describes them. Self-described “Plover People” can be often be spotted by their distinctive habit of lugging stakes, string and signs around on Australian beaches. The Plover People are a passionate band of conservationists who are trying to not just protect the hooded plovers from people – but the plovers from themselves.

When $750,000 is Australia’s average home loan, you know that not only have house prices soared, but people are also taking on massive debt, writes Greg Jericho. “As I have often noted, the growth of housing loans is a very strong indicator of property prices. And so the news that the value of housing loans in August fell 4.3% – the second-biggest fall in three years – might have people thinking some degree of sanity is about return to our housing market. Yeah, nah.”


The Guardian/Birdlife Australia bird of the year poll is in full swing and the once-crowded field of 50 is rapidly narrowing with each day of voting. In today’s Full Story we hear from journalists, comedians and a former prime minister about the bird they’re supporting. They also discuss their wildest feathered encounters and the race to save some native species from extinction. Inspired? Vote here.

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


A decision on the Ashes will be made this week, but the England and Wales Cricket Board has warned counterparts in Australia that the tour is not a done deal as it pushes to secure the best possible conditions for the players

Media roundup

The Pandora Papers reveal Australian properties were secretly purchased by wealthy, sometimes controversial foreign figures, reports the ABC. Covid contact tracing in Victoria will be scaled back and only the highest risk tier sites will be published as more of the state is vaccinated, says the Age. The Herald Sun reports growing fears that the riots in Melbourne that began at the CFMEU head office have turned into a superspreader event with more cases linked to the protests.

Coming up

Dominic Perrottet expected to be elected leader of the NSW Liberal party.

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