Morning mail: Hannah Clarke family’s plea, new Covid vaccine, female prison population soars |

Good morning, this is Tamara Howie bringing you the main stories and must-reads on Tuesday 17 November.

Top stories

The family of Hannah Clarke, who was murdered with her three children by her former partner, are calling for coercive control laws in Australia. Coercive control includes 25 types of behaviours including isolation, deprivation and demeaning behaviour, which are already recognised as crimes in the UK. Hannah’s parents, Lloyd and Sue Clarke want to increase awareness to help other people in dangerous situations seek help. “We want to make sure the community gets to know about coercive control,” Lloyd says. “Education needs to be brought in – not just state, but nationally.” Sue says: “We want people to be aware of what Hannah went through. And if there’s anybody going through similar things, to be aware that it can be quite dangerous and to seek help.”

A looming war crimes inquiry report is affecting the mental health of veterans and their families, with inflammatory media coverage blamed for tarnishing the reputation of military personnel. Prior public reporting has shown a small number of Australian special forces troops engaged in heinous acts, including the execution of an unarmed Afghan villager in a field. But the Defence Force Welfare Association says the media has not adequately distinguished that allegations of war crimes only concern a small group of special forces soldiers and are not reflective of the broader ADF. The findings of the report will be released on Thursday, and are expected to force a fundamental change of special forces’ culture to address attitudes that allowed misconduct to occur unchecked.

A new Covid vaccine candidate is almost 95% effective. The vaccine from US-based biotech firm Moderna plans to apply to the US regulator for emergency-use authorisation in the coming weeks but the vaccine is not expected to be available outside the US until next year. A globally accessible vaccine can’t come fast enough, with Adelaide increasing lockdown measures today after reporting 17 new cases. Globally numbers continue to rise with Russia and Iran reporting the worst caseload increases overnight, and other nations tightening restrictions in the lead-up to Christmas.


Jenna Hughes
Jenna Hughes, a former police officer, spent three months of her 12-month sentence in an isolation cell in an effort to protect her from the other prisoners. Photograph: Russell Shakespeare/The Guardian

Changes to state bail laws intended to target violent men have instead contributed to an alarming growth in the female prison population in Australia. The female prison population increased 64% between 2009 and 2019, while the male prison population grew by 45%, in what one advocate is calling a “mass imprisonment crisis”.

Proposed laws that would allow NSW police to “stop, detain and search” anyone convicted of a serious drug offence in the past decade are “unjust” and would give police “extraordinary” power to target marginalised groups, legal and civil liberties groups have warned.

“Iso”, the Australian slang for self-isolation, has been named the 2020 word of the year by the Australian National Dictionary Centre. It beat other shortlisted words including “Covid-normal” and “bubble”.

The publisher of Pete Evans’ books, Pan Macmillan, is “finalising” its relationship with the former celebrity chef after he posted a cartoon on his social media accounts that included a neo-Nazi symbol.

The world

Trump’s national security adviser Robert O’Brien has inched towards admitting president-elect Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election and predicted a “very professional transition” of power.

The EU is facing a crisis after Hungary and Poland vetoed the bloc’s historic €1.8tn budget and coronavirus recovery plan over attempts to link funding to respect for democratic norms. Without agreement among the 27 member states, projects financed by the bloc’s seven-year budget will go without funds and the €750bn plan to rebuild Europe’s shattered economy will not be activated.

Western security agencies believe the Kremlin intended to kill the opposition leader Alexei Navalny and only failed to achieve the deadly goal because of quick thinking by first responders when he suddenly fell ill in August.

Italian police have arrested 40 suspects in dawn raids on a mafia racket extorting €50 a coffin from funeral homes. “The mafia even managed to bribe an employee of the local administration who provided them every day with a list of people who died in the city,” said Ludovico Vaccaro, head prosecutor of Foggia.

Recommended reads

Rhonda Davis
Rhonda Davis spoke to Guardian Australia about her time in prison and how she has coped after release. Photograph: Russell Shakespeare/The Guardian

“I fell asleep at the wheel. The car collided with a telegraph pole, then flipped several times. Mat unfortunately didn’t make it, and that day my life was changed forever.” Rhonda Davis was jailed for five years. She is one of six women to write about her experience in prison and how she coped after her release for a new Guardian Australia series. “I believe that if telling my story to people could help in any way, it would be a feeling of achievement. I know firsthand the detrimental outcomes that women face due to incarceration, but if you have the drive, determination and will to make something useful out of your punishment and take every opportunity offered, you never know what may come from it.”

There’s one phrase we’ve heard a lot this year: “Stay safe and see you in 2021.” This message on the Falls festival website has been echoed by Bluesfest, Groovin the Moo, Meredith and many more of Australia’s favourite festivals. Despite all this, there are some events to put in your calendar – many of which have been designed to support the struggling live music scene. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of the Covid-safe festivals coming up near you – providing all goes to plan.

Gas won’t fuel Australia’s economic recovery or reduce emissions, writes Greg Jericho. “It’s a mirage. The truth is gas is both too expensive and too dirty. We’ve known this for nearly a decade. We have long known that renewables are cheaper than both coal and gas and the Grattan report finds that over the past year the reason for a fall in energy prices has not been due to an increase in gas but a shift from brown to black coal and, importantly, to renewables.”


Hannah Clarke with her children Aaliyah, Trey and Laianah.
Hannah Clarke, who along with her children Aaliyah, Laianah and Trey was killed by her former partner. Photograph: David Kelly/the Clarke family

The murder of Hannah Clarke and her three children by her former partner in February provoked widespread soul-searching about the lives lost to domestic violence in Australia. In this episode of Full Story, Clarke’s parents talk about Hannah’s relationship with her ex-partner and what they wish they had known about coercive control.

Full Story

Coercive control: Hannah Clarke’s parents on the abuse that preceded their daughter’s murder

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


When Robert Whittaker lost his UFC middleweight title to New Zealand’s Israel Adesanya in front of a record crowd at Marvel Stadium last October, it was a bitter pill to swallow for the Australian MMA star. But the immense disappointment that his 22-month reign of the division had ended on home soil, in what was billed as the biggest trans-Tasman combat sports event in history, paled into insignificance shortly afterwards.

Media roundup

Residents in Melbourne were in shock to hear they may lose their homes for the $50bn Suburban Rail Loop, which could affect 300 homes, the Age reports. A pair of private school boys planned to get married last week in an attempt to dodge Covid restrictions and throw a year 12 formal after-party with 150 guests, according to the Daily Telegraph. And the ABC reports that Asio is warning that foreign spies are using social media to groom potential targets.

Coming up

Scott Morrison and his Japanese counterpart, Yoshihide Suga, will hold talks about a defence rules agreement in Tokyo.

Public hearings continue into Juukan Gorge destruction.

And if you’ve read this far …

A French public radio station has apologised for mistakenly publishing the obituaries of 100 very-much alive celebrities including the Queen, Brigitte Bardot and Pelé. The broadcaster blamed a technical problem for the stuff-up.

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