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Morning mail: mass vaccination hub empty, gas plant backed, Australian artists on NFTs


Good morning! What is it going to take to get Australians to roll up their sleeves and get a Covid jab? A firm date for reopening international borders might do the trick, as there finally appears to be plenty of the vaccinations in some areas, just a short supply of patients.

A nurse who administered just one vaccine in an eight-hour shift at one of Victoria’s mass vaccination hubs says she is “furious” at the “snail’s pace” of the rollout. The nurse said there were plenty of shots but people were not showing up to get them. “It’s slow, it’s frustrating for the nurses, and it’s concerning that Australia seems to take this attitude of ‘let’s just shut the borders for as long as possible’ while there is vaccine just sitting there.” Scott Morrison is facing mounting pressure to put a date on reopening the international borders and to accept that the health system will need to cope with new variants of the virus. The head of the Australian Medical Association, Dr Omar Khorshid, said a set date might encourage people to get the jab.

The government is backing a “gas-fired recovery” from the pandemic, spending $600m on a new power plant despite the head of the Energy Security Board, Kerry Schott, warning that it made little commercial sense. This comes as Australian politicians and companies are being urged to abandon plans for new coal power, gas and oil investments after a major report by the world’s leading energy agency found fossil fuel expansion must end now if the planet is to address the climate crisis.

More serious clashes have erupted in Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank as Palestinians took part in a day of protests and strikes over Israel’s bombardment of Gaza. A Palestinian man was killed and more than 70 wounded, including 16 by live fire. Areas that have escaped the worst of bombing in previous conflicts are bearing brunt this time around. Israeli television stations are providing security for some of their highest-profile reporters after physical attacks and death threats from far-right Jewish extremists. And Joe Biden’s expression of support for a ceasefire between Israeli forces and Hamas has not quietened calls for more decisive intervention.

Australia

Robert Pether with his sons Oscar and Flynn
Robert Pether with his sons Oscar and Flynn. Flynn says he has only spoken to his father once in the 41 days he has been behind bars in Baghdad

The teenage son of an Australian imprisoned without charge in Iraq has labelled his father’s treatment as “downright inhumane” and “criminal”. Robert Pether’s lawyer alleges he is being held as leverage in a dispute with the Central Bank of Iraq in an ordeal his son says is hitting the family hard.

An appeal has been granted against a family law decision that took a judge more than seven years to deliver after it was found the “gross and deplorable delay” contributed to “substantial errors” – and the judgment may have been made despite the court file being lost.

Federal and state governments have been accused of suppressing 88 non-confidential submissions of expert evidence that supports raising the age of criminal responsibility to 12, and sitting on a crucial report because they “lack the political will to act”.

The world

The 300-metre-tall SEG Plaza
The 300-metre-tall SEG Plaza after it began to shake. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

One of China’s tallest skyscrapers was evacuated on Tuesday after it began to shake, sending panicked shoppers scampering to safety. Officials are investigating what caused the SEG Plaza in Shenzhen to wobble.

A nurse who cared for Boris Johnson when he was gravely ill with Covid-19 has quit over the “lack of respect” shown by the government for the NHS and healthcare workers.

US officers will not face charges over the shooting death of Andrew Brown. A court found the death “while tragic, was justified” because three deputies “reasonably” believed deadly force was necessary.

Farmers are warning of “damage” to UK agriculture if Australian beef and lamb producers are granted tariff-free access to the UK as part of the first major post-Brexit trade deal.

Recommended reads

Since the $69m sale of Beeple’s digital artwork Everydays: the First 5,000 Days, the NFT phenomenon has been lauded as a democratisation of art and derided as an environmental menace due fossil-fuel heavy computational power required for the technology to operate. Throughout the excitement, Australian artists, collectors and galleries have been making their plays. Others remain conservative, concerned about environmental effects, confused by the concept, or wary of their involvement in what they see as a new epoch for art.

The tragic death of a woman after a CT angiogram offered by her workplace is a reminder that unnecessary tests have the potential to cause harm, writes Ranjana Srivastava. “With the profusion of medical tests marketed as convenient and non-invasive, it is tempting to consider them as the alternative to the time-tested advice of eating, exercising and resting in moderation. It is difficult for many people to understand how anything labelled medical could be harmful to health, but there is abundant evidence that unnecessary tests have the potential to cause harm.”

Amanda Hampson always dreamed of writing but it wasn’t until the age of 50, after a complicated life and “all sorts of jobs”, that she was able to publish her first novel. “When I was in my late 40s I realised that writing a novel had become like Everest. And the more wonderful books you read, the more intimidating it is. I thought, ‘I’ve just got to start, because if I don’t do this I’ll be really disappointed in myself.’ It was like a green flag moment. I just got on and did it, and ended up doing it for about five years.”

Listen

Last week new laws that allow the government to indefinitely detain refugees and give the immigration minister new powers to revoke a person’s refugee status, quietly passed through parliament. This episode of Full Story explores the government’s argument that this gives the minister greater oversight to protect human rights, and the criticism that these powers are undemocratic and may breach international law.

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

Sport

It is only the second round of Super Rugby Trans-Tasman but Saturday’s game between the Reds and Crusaders already has a finals feel to it. The Reds won the Super Rugby AU title this month while the Crusaders lifted the Super Rugby Aotearoa trophy. The trans-Tasman competition joins those two series together but there can only be one champion.

Media roundup

Penny Wong has accused Scott Morrison of “deliberately encouraging anxiety about conflict” with China to secure domestic political advantage, reports the Australian. Victorian universities might not see pre-pandemic levels of international students until at least 2028, according to the Age. In WA Today, the traditional owners of Juukan Gorge have called for a more meaningful seat at the table with the mining companies operating on their land in the lead-up to the one-year anniversary of the destruction of the sacred site.

Coming up

There will be a public hearing of a parliamentary committee examining the family law system.

There will be a pre-trial hearing in the case of the police officer charged with murdering Kumanjayi Walker.

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