Morning mail: WA urges federal quarantine, rapid firefighting plan, 'life' on Venus


Good morning, this is Emilie Gramenz bringing you the main stories and must-reads on Tuesday 15 September.

Top stories

Pressure is mounting on the federal government to set up a quarantine facility to help repatriate more than 25,000 Australians stranded overseas, with Western Australia now backing the proposal. The Northern Territory has also said it is in talks with the federal government and a facility near Darwin is “well set up” to take 3,000 international arrivals. WA’s health minister, Roger Cook, said there had been “minimal support from the commonwealth” for months in managing the state’s hotel quarantine system.

Reducing the coronavirus supplement for jobseeker recipients would damage economic growth and reduce employment, a report by Deloitte has found. Coalition MPs have increasingly claimed that the higher rate of benefits was creating a disincentive for the unemployed to take up work, but the report said the planned reduction to the supplement in two weeks – before it is removed entirely after Christmas – would cost the equivalent of 145,000 full-time jobs over two years, and hit hardest in already-disadvantaged remote and regional communities.

The Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden has labelled Donald Trump a “climate arsonist” as wildfires continue to burn in the US. Biden once again argued Trump had “failed the most basic duty to a nation” because he had failed to protect the American people. Nearly all the dozens of people reported missing after a devastating blaze in southern Oregon have now been accounted for, authorities said, as crews battled wildfires that have killed at least 35 people from California to Washington state.

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Australia

A firefighter near the NSW town of Nowra in 2019.



A firefighter tackles one of the summer bushfires near the NSW town of Nowra. Photograph: Saeed Khan/AFP via Getty Images

Australian firefighting agencies would have the technology and capability to identify and extinguish every dangerous bushfire within an hour, anywhere on the continent, by the end of 2025, under an audacious plan to be launched in Canberra with the support of Andrew Forrest’s Minderoo Foundation.

The Morrison government will announce further measures today to promote a “gas-led recovery” but wants to avoid imposing a formal gas reservation policy, a scheme the industry would strenuously oppose.

The NSW National party leader, John Barilaro, faces a vote of no-confidence when parliament resumes today. He is likely to survive but anger is still boiling among Liberals after last week’s public stoush over koala protections.

Victorian civil rights groups have called for an independent investigation after a man was hit by a police car and appeared to have his head stomped on by an officer while held down. The man was taken to hospital on Sunday afternoon and placed in an induced coma.

The world

People flock to the beach in Santa Monica, California, during a heatwave



People flock to the beach in Santa Monica, California, during a heatwave .

Photograph: Apu Gomes/AFP/Getty Images

This northern hemisphere summer was the hottest recorded, according to US government scientists. June, July and August were 1.17C above the 20th-century average, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Scientists have found gas linked to life in the atmosphere of Venus. Astronomers detected phosphine 50km up in the planet’s atmosphere and cannot identify a process other than life that could account for its presence.

After 37 years behind bars, a Florida man has been formally cleared of a 1983 rape and murder which DNA evidence proved he did not commit. Robert DuBoise was convicted at a trial that relied on a testimony from an unreliable jailhouse informant and faulty bite-mark analysis.

The BBC has given wage rises to more than 700 female employees who earned less than their male counterparts, revealing the scale of the equal pay scandal at the UK’s national broadcaster.

Reindeer herders in a Russian Arctic archipelago have found an immaculately preserved carcass of an ice age cave bear. The bear, revealed by the melting permafrost, was discovered on the Lyakhovsky Islands with its teeth and even its nose intact.

Recommended reads

Vida Goldstein speaks before a huge crowd



Vida Goldstein speaks before a huge crowd. Photograph: National Library of Australia

Vida Goldstein, born in the Victorian city of Portland in 1869, was the first woman in the western world to stand for a national parliament. All her life she fought for women’s equality – and her battle resonates to this day, writes Jacqueline Kent. Much of the popular press found the idea of a female parliamentary candidate hilarious; lawyers rushed to the constitution to see whether Vida was even eligible, and much of the press commentary was hostile. None of this fazed her.

Wanting the public sector to shrink, as some do, is wishing for less economic activity when it’s most needed, writes Greg Jericho: “While the belief that all should share the pain might sound good on talkback radio, it greatly misunderstands the role of the public sector and the need to keep as many people employed as possible.”

A woman running a wellness coaching business in Sydney’s eastern suburbs tells wellbeing veteran Sarah Wilson that Donald Trump is a “light worker”. Despite years of research in the internet’s dark corners, she wasn’t prepared for the latest pop-political mash-up – conspiritualism. “It’s certainly a Venn overlap that is hard to fathom. How did wellness warriors come to unite with the alt-right QAnon community? How did the ‘love and light’ go so dark?”

Listen

Neil Punchard is a police officer who leaked a domestic violence victim’s address to her violent ex-husband. The case shocked Australia and has campaigners asking why the officer is still employed by Queensland police. On Full Story, Ben Smee recalls all Julie has been through and raises questions the police force has yet to answer.

Full Story

How Julie was forced to fight the system that was supposed to protect her

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

Sport

A woman holds a portrait of Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari during a demonstration in Amsterdam



A woman holds a portrait of Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari during a demonstration in Amsterdam. Photograph: Evert Elzinga/ANP/AFP/Getty Images

The sporting world learned at the weekend that the wrestling champion Navid Afkari had been hanged by the Iranian regime for a crime which he claimed he confessed to under torture. The visibility of sport around the world means such barbarous acts become magnified, writes Craig Foster. But while the world came to know more about Iran’s treatment of its own people, the question Afkari might have asked was: where was sport when he needed it?

After years of misfortune at the Tour de France, Richie Porte is finally showing signs of turning the corner. Even if the veteran cyclist does not follow in Cadel Evans’ footsteps this week by becoming just the second Australian to finish the race wearing the yellow jersey, a spot on the podium is firmly within his grasp.

Media roundup

Anthony Albanese has been given the green light to go to the next election without specific climate change targets for 2030, the Australian reports. The Age says restrictions may be eased soon in Victoria’s regions after Daniel Andrews indicated he would make an announcement today. And the Australian Financial Review reports that the global buyout firm TPG Capital is in exclusive talks to acquire the Australian boots, saddles and outdoor clothing manufacturer RM Williams.

Coming up

NSW parliament resumes, fraught with tension after last week’s dispute within the Coalition about the state’s koala protection policy.

Victoria’s Covid-19 hotel quarantine inquiry will hear from the emergency management commissioner, Andrew Crisp, who signed off on the decision to use private security guards.

And if you’ve read this far …

People hoping for a peaceful walk through the Canada’s largest cemetery have instead made a series of grisly discoveries among the graves of Notre Dame des Neiges: splintered pieces of caskets and human bones scattered throughout the grass. The culprits are groundhogs.

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