Good morning, this is Richard Parkin bringing you the main stories and must-reads on Thursday 1 October.
Donald Trump has tried to walk back comments made during an acrimonious presidential debate in which he told a white extremist group to “stand back and stand by”. Joe Biden called his rival’s performance a “national embarrassment”, with Democratic staffers reporting that the challenger’s campaign had received a record $3.8m in fresh donations within an hour of the televised event. But Trump later instructed vigilantes to “stand down” after earning widespread condemnation for appearing to condone extrajudicial violence at Black Lives Matter protests. Even usually circumspect media analysts have called the debate “a shitshow”.
Pauline Hanson has hit back at the former One Nation senator Brian Burston, accusing him of unwelcome touching and sexual advances towards his staff, in her defence to his defamation suit. Burston is suing the One Nation leader for allegations of sexual harassment in social media comments, media interviews and a text to his wife, Rosalyn, in 2019 after an acrimonious split from the party. In the defence, filed in the federal court on Friday, Hanson argues that her comments were substantially true and are supported by allegations from two of Burston’s former female staffers. Burston told Guardian Australia he “categorically denies all the allegations of sexual harassment”, adding “that’s just not me”.
Next week’s federal budget is set to include a $1.4bn program to boost local manufacturing as well as significant income tax cuts, according to a copy of the prime minister’s budget “scene-setter” address at the National Press Club on Thursday. Scott Morrison is expected to allocate more than $1bn for grant funding related to six priority sectors, to help make Australian manufacturing internationally competitive. As Greg Jericho writes though, the idea that tax cuts might help power a post-Covid recovery is contestable: “Clearly there is a lot of spending yet to occur if the government is to stimulate the economy.”
The Reserve Bank may need to buy great swathes of state, territory and commonwealth debt, a leading ratings agency has warned, with several states facing credit rating downgrades. Australian state, territory and commonwealth debt reached $1tn for the first time in April. In Victoria, Daniel Andrews’ Covid-19 emergency measures will need to win crossbench support to pass the upper house – a scenario that appears unlikely, with one independent slamming the government as “bloody-minded”.
Cardinal George Pell returned to Rome from Australia on Wednesday for the first time since being jailed – and then acquitted – on child sexual abuse charges. The 79-year-old, wearing a face mask, briefly lifted his hand towards a crowd of waiting journalists at Rome’s Fiumicino airport but said nothing before climbing into a waiting car.
The private email addresses of hundreds of vulnerable Australian travellers stranded overseas have been accidentally revealed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The addresses were included in an email sent to multiple recipients before midday on Wednesday by the Covid-19 consular operations section of Dfat.
The Queensland police force has banned the wearing of “unapproved” patches after images emerged of an officer wearing an insignia that has been co-opted by far-right and extremist groups at a Black Lives Matter protest.
A former NSW judge has accused the state’s independent planning commission of being directed by the government after the body approved a controversial $3.6bn coal seam gas development near Narrabri.
Nearly 14,000 Australians applying for the disability pension were required to spend 18 months searching for jobs on a $40-a-day jobseeker stipend, has revealed. Only 6% of claimants were found to be fit for work and thus ineligible for the payments.
US intelligence reportedly discussed plans including attempts to poison or kidnap Julian Assange, a London court has heard. A former employee of a Spanish private security firm hired to install monitoring equipment inside the Ecuadorian embassy alleged that “our friends in the US” had suggested “more extreme measures”.
Three foreign fighters have been killed in skirmishes in Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed area between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The soldiers were Syrian nationals believed to be working for private Turkish security companies.
The Swiss city of Geneva is set to announce a minimum monthly wage of nearly A$6,200, after a popular vote ratified the measure. Approximately 300,000 workers commute from France to work in the city, regarded as the world’s second-most expensive.
He’s lived so much life it was never going to be easily encapsulated in just one book. For the Australian rocker Jimmy Barnes, the runaway success of his 2016 memoir, Working Class Boy, prompted a sequel – Working Class Man. Now he joins Andrew Stafford for Guardian Australia’s book club to discuss his third book, Killing Time, a collection of anecdote-laden short stories describing “all those years of drifting” on the road.
A hernia at birth nearly killed him but a lifetime of various physical afflictions never stopped Jason Whiter from his dream of opening a gym. He suffered vision deterioration, a burst appendix, osteoporosis, a lifetime with diabetes and asthma and eventually renal failure. But near blindness didn’t prevent him from competing as a bodybuilder, as he tells Jenny Valentish. “I’m generally on a mission to become an advocate for disability-inclusive activities. I keep a nice big list of my goals in different folders on my computer. They’re mainly goals around things people told me I couldn’t do.”
Aaron Chen has always offered an alternative approach to comedy (just ask fans of Australian football). And this week’s guest contributor to our “funniest things on the internet” is no exception. Especially if you love pedestrian crossings.
Full Story examines QAnon’s spread to Australia. Yesterday we charted the surging rise of a far-right conspiracy-peddling network that believes the world is run by a secret cabal of Satan-worshipping Democrats. On today’s episode we look at how one Australian politician became embroiled by a concerted campaign of vicious QAnon-fuelled lies.
As a cricketer Belinda Clark left an impressive legacy – but her work off the field as a passionate advocate for the women’s game also deserves plaudits, Megan Maurice writes.
LeBron James and Stephen Curry are better known as on-court adversaries – but Donald Trump’s failure to condemn white supremacist groups has united the two superstars.
China’s dramatic net-zero emissions shift could see Australia jeopardise future trade deals unless it drastically changes its own climate goals, a former climate diplomat has warned, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. Australian scientists are continuing to trial a controversial Covid-19 drug, writes the Australian. And, a trucking company boss has been convicted of masterminding South Australia’s biggest drug importation racket, a 313kg haul of methamphetamine smuggled inside a tow truck, reports the Adelaide Advertiser.
The MUA and Patrick Terminals will return to the negotiating table on Thursday in hopes of ending industrial action at Port Botany.
Eight peak Australian sporting bodies will release their policies and guidelines on the inclusion of trans and gender diverse people in their sports.
And if you’ve read this far …
What’s 652 days between friends? If you’re a citizen of Belgium, today marks the end of nearly two years without an official government after a succession of failed attempts to form a functioning majority. Alexander Croo will be sworn in as prime minister, leading a seven-party coalition. It’s a new world record, beating 589 days without a government set in 2010-11. By, you guessed it: Belgium.
If you would like to receive the Guardian Australia morning mail to your email inbox every weekday, sign up here.