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Morning mail: blood clot death investigated, environmental offsets windfall, ABC says sorry


Good morning. It’s Friday 16 April and this is Imogen Dewey with the headlines. National consensus on raising the age of criminal responsibility is looking less and less likely, several government transactions are under scrutiny, and the coronavirus vaccine continues to dominate national conversation.

Authorities are investigating the death of a 48-year-old diabetic NSW woman who developed blood clots after receiving a coronavirus vaccine – but experts suggest it would be unusual if the vaccine were responsible. Australians now eligible for a Covid vaccine have been frustrated at delays and lack of information. But doctors’ and nurses’ groups warn that the Coalition’s plans to set up mass vaccination clinics will put strain on the healthcare workforce, adding that there is little point opening them when questions remain about vaccine supply. Scott Morrison yesterday flagged allowing vaccinated Australians to travel overseas, and quarantine at home when they returned, but suggested that reopening international borders could lead to at least 1,000 Covid cases a week.

Environmental consultants from a company that advised governments on major developments in NSW made windfall gains of millions of dollars by selling what are known as conservation offsets for those very same developments to the state and federal governments, a Guardian investigation can reveal. The opposition climate change minister, Chris Bowen, has meanwhile warned that almost 1 million Australians will lose their jobs if the government fails to act on climate change, with Queensland to be worst-hit.

Agreement to raise Australia’s age of criminal responsibility to 14 is looking unlikely as states go their own way. The ACT plans to do so within a year but Queensland’s government made an election commitment to not change the law amid a sustained attack about being “soft on crime”. Other states remain noncommittal but have hit out at Queensland, and at whichever other jurisdiction leaked details of a draft report into the proposed changes.

Australia

Under Queensland laws that ban property developers from giving political gifts, the Liberal National party had decided it could not take money from Sam Chong’s company – but then banked more than $30,000 in donations.

The Liberal party has warned of “widespread voter confusion” if a rival party, the New Liberals, is allowed to register and run candidates with that name. Research claims up to two-thirds of voters wrongly believe the parties are connected.

Experts warn that cutting Asian language courses at Australian universities is hurting students’ job prospects, after four-tertiary level Asian languages were dropped in 2021.

The ABC has apologised after the twerking dancing troupe who performed at the launch of the Australian navy’s newest ship claimed the broadcaster’s coverage contributed to the group feeling “threatened” and “exploited”.

The world

Vladimir Putin
US sanctions have targeted six Russian cybersecurity companies deemed to be involved in the SolarWinds hack, as well as 32 individuals and entities deemed to be involved in efforts to influence the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.
Photograph: Alexei Druzhinin/Tass

The US announced the expulsion of 10 Russian diplomats and broad sanctions in retaliation for Moscow’s interference in elections and cyber-espionage campaigns. Russian officials reacted angrily, calling the sanctions “aggressive behaviour”, and adding that retaliation was “inevitable”.

The world is at risk of “a great polarisation” between autocracies and democracies, Scott Morrison told an audience in India yesterday, while also appearing to take aim at China for using “economic coercion” as “a tool of statecraft”.

A third of French wine will be lost this year after rare cold snaps devastated vines, raising concerns over the climate crisis. The government has called it “greatest agricultural catastrophe of the beginning of the 21st century”.

Derek Chauvin declined to testify in his murder trial over the killing of George Floyd as the defence wrapped up its case after just two days of testimony. Elsewhere in the US, white former police officer Kim Potter faced court over the traffic-stop shooting of Black motorist Daunte Wright that has engulfed a small Minneapolis suburb in four straight days of bitter conflict.

Prince Harry and Prince William will walk apart for their grandfather’s funeral, where the Queen is likely to sit alone. The BBC is not providing wall-to-wall coverage, after record complaints over its scheduling after Prince Philip’s death.

Recommended reads

Bees on a branch
‘European honeybees are one of the world’s most extraordinary pollinators.’ Photograph: Jennifer Johnston

Bees are precious and critical to our food supply. So how should you handle an unexpected swarm? When hundreds of unexpected guests set up camp in Jennifer Johnson’s Brisbane backyard, a local beekeeper advises her to “try and live harmoniously with them”. Here’s how that went.

“It’s been a place of small pleasures, of sandy feet and Uno games. Of watching surfers at sunset and fish and chips on the beach. Of walks along the coastline and ice creams after dinner.” Sometime in the late 70s, Alison Rourke’s father got a feeling Noosa was going to be the next “big thing”. He built some holiday flats and took some of his architect’s fees in timeshare weeks – and, for more than 40 years, her family has made memories there, “on the doorstep of the rainforest”.

One Sunday afternoon in 2019, 31-year-old Wil saw looked up and saw something. “At first I thought it was a bag,” he said. “But after a few seconds it turned into quite a large object, and it was falling fast.” Maybe a piece of machinery had fallen from the landing gear, he thought, or a suitcase from the cargo hold. But then he half-remembered an article he had read years before, about people stowing away on planes. Sirin Kale explores the mystery of the man who fell from the sky.

Listen

Scott Morrison’s reaction last year to revelations that Christine Holgate had rewarded Australia Post executives with Cartier watches was back in the spotlight this week when Holgate told a Senate inquiry she felt bullied and humiliated by the prime minister. Today on Full Story, Lenore Taylor asks whether Morrison overreacted and what can the media learn from this story.

Full Story

What does the Christine Holgate affair tell us about Scott Morrison’s leadership? – with Lenore Taylor

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

Sport

If the AFLW has proved one thing this season, it is that it is not riding the coattails of its male counterpart. There is one comparison worth drawing, though, and one that will play out in Saturday’s grand final: location.

A senior member of Japan’s ruling party has said that cancelling the Olympics “remains an option” if the pandemic continues to worsen, saying: “If it seems impossible to do it any more, then we have to stop, decisively.” Time is ticking as the Australian Olympic Committee waits for guidance on when its 1,400-strong Tokyo Games travelling party will receive the Covid-19 vaccine, with Swimming Australia acknowledging it must “prepare for the worst”.

The Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, warned Boris Johnson in a text message that UK-Saudi Arabian relations would be damaged if the British government failed to intervene to “correct” the Premier League’s “wrong” decision not to allow a £300m takeover of Newcastle United last year.

Media roundup

One of Australia’s largest churches took tens of millions in rent from an aged care home at the centre of a deadly Covid outbreak, the ABC reports. Scott Morrison is looking to the billionaire miner Andrew Forrest to help mend Australia’s fractured relationship with China, says the West Australian. Journalist Vicky Xu last night told Q+A Chinese agents detained her friends over her reporting on human rights abuses. According to the Australian, the government is considering extending the $25,000 homebuilder scheme – and, adds the Australian Financial Review, exploring budget options to bolster women’s retirement savings.

Coming up

Scott Morrison is expected to tour the areas affected by Cyclone Seroja.

NAB and ANZ bosses will face questions from the House of Representatives economics committee.

And if you’ve read this far …

The Gucci family has hit out against the “horrible, horrible” and “ugly” casting of the House of Gucci film, starring Lady Gaga and Adam Driver. Members of the family expressed shock after seeing paparazzi photos from the set, with one second cousin telling press that photos of a bald character dressed in a lilac suit were “horrible, horrible. I still feel offended.”

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