Morning mail: power bill update delayed, war crimes, Albanese meets Biden

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<span>Photograph: Brendan Esposito/AAP</span>
Photograph: Brendan Esposito/AAP

Good morning. Anthony Albanese has made his global debut, using his first meeting with world leaders as PM to indicate Australia is ready to take greater action on climate change.

The Morrison government delayed a key electricity pricing update until after the election, leaving Australian voters in the dark about upcoming changes to their bills. Dylan McConnell, an energy specialist at the University of Melbourne, said: “It’s hard not to see this through a political lens,” adding: “They didn’t want this increase [announced] during the election campaign.” A spokesperson for the outgoing energy minister, Angus Taylor, rejected the claims of a delay for political reasons. In any case, the Coalition lost, in part due to Labor’s hyper-local campaign in Western Australia, using a separate strategy group and different ads. Another election success story is the Legalise Cannabis party, with defence solicitor and Noosa yacht club member Bernie Bradley still a chance to claim a Queensland Senate spot.

The founder of a funeral insurance company that targeted vulnerable Aboriginal families and collapsed, leaving them without the means to pay for their funerals, collected more than $20m in tax-free income from the business through a complex web of offshore companies. The New Zealand-based businessman Ron Pattenden accumulated the millions from the operations of the Aboriginal Community Benefit Fund, later called Youpla, over 10 years from 2010, and continued to make money from it even after he sold it to new operators, Guardian Australia can reveal. ACBF’s collapse in March took with it most of the premiums paid by its Aboriginal policyholders.

A Ukrainian official has warned it is too late for thousands of civilians to be evacuated from Sievierodonetsk as it faced a sustained Russian effort to take the city and the parts of the province still held by Ukraine. And as prosecutors investigate alleged Russian war crimes in Ukraine, we reveal how the Guardian has documented Russia’s use of illegal weapons, from cluster bombs and fléchettes to unguided missiles on residential areas.

Australia

US president Joe Biden jokingly pretends to walk away as Anthony Albanese talks about his experiences years ago as a guest of a US state department program
US president Joe Biden jokingly pretends to walk away as Anthony Albanese talks about his experiences years ago as a guest of a US state department program. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Anthony Albanese emerged on to the world stage as Australia’s 31st prime minister this week, meeting with the US president, Joe Biden, the Japanese prime minister, Fumio Kishida, and the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, at the Quad meeting in Tokyo on Tuesday. “What a great way to begin,” Albanese said with a smile.

More than 40 Australian animals at the highest risk of extinction in the next two decades could be saved, according to research. A team of scientists has identified the 63 vertebrates they believe are most likely to go extinct by 2041 and found at least 47 can be brought back from the brink.

Australians face steep hikes under a proposed new pricing model for the NBN, with retailers warning it could lead to some of the highest internet access costs in the world.

Medical professionals are ramping up calls for the flu vaccine to be made free nationwide, saying governments needed to think about the coming flu peak as a looming “disaster” as it coincides with ongoing high rates of Covid infection.

The world

Boris Johnson emerges out of 10 Downing Street
Boris Johnson steps out from 10 Downing Street. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Pressure continues to build on the UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, as details emerge of new Downing Street lockdown event and it is alleged that parties there were so cramped that some people were forced to sit on each other’s laps.

A new trove of hacked Chinese police photographs and documents shedding light on the human toll of Beijing’s treatment of its Uyghur minority in Xinjiang has been published. It includes thousands of photographs of detained people and details a shoot-to-kill policy for those who try to escape.

Male TV presenters in Afghanistan are wearing face masks on screen to show solidarity after the Taliban issued an order that all women on news channels must cover their faces. In a protest dubbed #FreeHerFace on social media, men on Tolo News wore masks to mimic the effect of the face veil their female colleagues have been forced to wear after a Taliban crackdown.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine threatens to be the “beginning of the third world war” that could spell the end of civilisation, the veteran philanthropist and former financier George Soros has warned. In a ferocious attack on Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Soros warned that autocratic regimes were in the ascendant and the global economy was heading for a depression.

Recommended reads

Williamsdale solar farm near Canberra
Williamsdale solar farm near Canberra. ‘Acting on climate means creating huge economic prosperity,’ writes Nicky Ison. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

Australia can swiftly end the climate wars and become a renewable superpower, writes Nicky Ison. “Australia has some of the best renewable resources in the world. But how do we leverage this enormous comparative energy advantage to make Australia a renewable superpower, accelerating climate action in the process? Essentially, becoming a renewable superpower has four elements.”

In our weekly interview about objects, Insight’s host, Kumi Taguchi, discusses the significance of a googly eyed pet rock that she says would be top of her list of things to save from a fire. “It’s one of the very few things I have of my dad’s,” she says. “I remember being little and looking at the rock sitting on the bookshelves among journals and dictionaries. Later it migrated to a spot underneath the handbrake in Dad’s car, carefully stuck there with Blu-Tack. It stayed there until Dad died, at 84.”

“We weren’t planning to be this popular!” exclaim the members of Australian-Korean hip-hop group 1300 in an interview with Brodie Lancaster. “‘We never thought that Australian music people would pick our music up,’ Rako says. ‘You know, we write in Korean. We always thought, the language barrier is a pretty big fence to go over. It just doesn’t exist in your mind, like the possibility that it could work.’”

Listen

The Greens are set to gain several seats in the Senate and will probably win three lower house seats in Brisbane – the best election result for the party in Australian political history. In today’s Full Story, Guardian Australia’s Queensland correspondent, Ben Smee, explains how a years-long political experiment by the Greens helped deliver this stunning election result.

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

Sport

Jordan Thompson returns a ball
Australia’s Jordan Thompson lost in straight sets to Rafael Nadal. Photograph: John Berry/Getty Images

Jordan Thompson comes to terms with futile task of winning in “Rafa’s kingdom” at the French Open.What can I do?” asks the Australian after a straight-sets defeat to 13-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal.

Media roundup

Taxpayers are set to fork out more than $2m in golden handshakes to MPs and senators who were dumped by voters at the 21 May election, reports news.com.au. The newly elected independent MP Dai Le is facing questions over her eligibility to stand under section 44, reports the Australian. And the Sydney Morning Herald examines why Sydney University managed to up its revenue during the pandemic.

And if you’ve read this far …

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