Morning mail: Morrison retracts Rudd falsehood, mystery illness in India, Indigenous gifts |

Good morning, this is Tamara Howie bringing you the main stories and must-reads on Tuesday 8 December.

Top stories

Scott Morrison has written to the clerk of the House of Representatives correcting the record and apologising to Kevin Rudd after declaring erroneously in question time that the former Labor prime minister had been allowed to leave and re-enter Australia during the pandemic. Morrison made the unfounded comment in response to Labor asking why Tony Abbott and Alexander Downer had been able to leave and re-enter the country multiple times this year. Rudd declared Morrison’s comments “an utter falsehood”. “I have not left Australia since returning home from New York in March. I haven’t even left Queensland. The Morrison government’s own records will prove this.”

While Morrison may have spoken too much in question time, he’s yet to be granted a speaking slot at this weekend’s global climate ambition summit, despite telling parliament last week he intended to use an appearance at the event to “correct mistruths” about the government’s heavily criticised record on emissions reduction. The countries hosting the summit wrote to national leaders in October calling on them to make ambitious new commitments in return for a speaking slot, as there would be “no space for general statements”. Diplomatic sources said there had been debate among the co-hosts over whether Morrison should be approved to speak at the summit given the widespread view Australia is a laggard on climate commitments.

Georgia is moving forward with recertifying Joe Biden’s victory after a second recount confirmed his win, and a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the victory. Georgia’s Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, said “We have now counted legally cast ballots three times, and the results remain unchanged.” In Washington, Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, has tested positive for Covid. Trump said Giuliani was “doing very well” in hospital.


Environmentalists say all logging by VicForests should stop while biodiversity concerns raised by the state’s conservation regulator are reviewed. Photograph: Melanie Stetson Freeman/Getty Images

Victoria’s publicly owned forestry agency has been allowed to restart logging in bushfire-ravaged east Gippsland despite a warning from a regulator there was a risk of “serious and irreversible damage” to the state’s biodiversity. “It’s madness. I just don’t understand how they can justify continuing to log,” said a campaigner, Chris Schuringa.

Many Rockhampton locals say they’ll support mayoral candidate “Pineapple” Hooper, the eccentric barefoot climate activist, even though they don’t agree with many of his views. “At the end of the day, whether he’s got sandshoes or polished black shoes or no shoes, as long as he does a good job, who cares?” says one.

Australia would be shooting itself in the foot if it tried to untangle itself from economic reliance on China, politicians from both major parties have declared. The Labor MP Tim Watts said economic decoupling from China would be “an unprecedented act of national self-sabotage”.

The practice of capturing flood waters moving across plains using levees and dams is almost certainly illegal in NSW, the state government has been told. Floodplain harvesting is common among irrigators but most do not have the permits required.

The world

Patients waiting for treatment at the district government hospital
Patients wait for treatment at the district government hospital in Eluru, Andhra Pradesh state, India. Photograph: AP

One person has died and more than 450 have been admitted to hospital with a mystery illness in India. At the weekend hundreds of people collapsed and experienced seizures and nausea, with some reportedly foaming at the mouth. Officials are looking into possible food or water contamination.

Boris Johnson will travel to Brussels for a face-to-face summit with the European commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, in an eleventh-hour attempt to break the impasse in the Brexit negotiations, raising hopes of agreement on a trade and security deal. A long-awaited crunch meeting will be held in the “coming days”, the two leaders said.

The shooting of two young black girls, aged four and seven, has sparked outrage in Brazil and intensified the debate over police violence and structural racism in a country still grappling with the legacy of slavery.

The family of a 23-year-old black man shot dead by a white police officer in Ohio on Friday have accused police of lying about the circumstances of the killing and demanded accountability for his death. Casey Goodson Jr was shot three times in the back as he entered his home and died with his keys in the door, according to family.

Recommended reads

acrylic earrings
Jewellery designs by Kristy Dickinson of Haus of Dizzy. Photograph: Annette Ruzicka/The Guardian

Olivia Williams has set herself a Christmas challenge this year – to buy 90% of her gifts from Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander businesses. Williams shares her tips for how everyone can to do it. “Buying from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-owned businesses means money is going directly into our communities,” she says. “It supports efforts towards self-determination, and the establishment of intergenerational wealth; opportunities we have been historically and systematically denied.”

Household spending is key to Australia’s economy but it is still too early to know what will happen next year and if shopping habits will hold up, writes Greg Jericho. “Some of the spending is due to things being reopened, some of it appears to be some quick buying of essentials (either actual or perceived), some of the increase might be due to the inability to spend elsewhere on things such as travel. Overall we are buying much more than we were prior to the pandemic. But there is no real reason why that should continue, and so possibly next year might be a return to “normal” (and thus fall).”

“I feel like I’m fighting for my future. It’s exhausting being young,” says Michelle Lim, who is part of a generation of young Australians whose lives are being shaped by Covid. “Navigating the world when you’re young and unemployed feels like being in a maze. A maze with a time bomb and hurdles to jump, too. It’s a strange world to live in. I’m too young for some jobs, I’m too old for others. We’re told to follow our dreams, but society tells us that we’re too radical and inexperienced. It’s exhausting to be young.”


As the US justice department investigates an alleged “bribery for pardon” scheme at the White House, Jonathan Freedland and David Smith delve into the many possible legal issues Donald Trump could face after 20 January.

Full Story

Could Trump be indicted? And could he pardon himself?

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


The Shayna Jack drug drama continues with Australia’s anti-doping watchdog appealing the downgrading of the swimmer’s two-year doping ban. Sport Integrity Australia on Monday lodged a statement of appeal with the court of arbitration for sport, which suspended Jack for two years after she tested positive to the banned substance Ligandrol.

England’s cricket tour of South Africa has been called off without the one-day series being played after the outbreak of Covid at the team hotel.

Media roundup

Queenslan’s premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, has been caught in a potentially damaging new email scandal, according to the Courier-Mail. NSW and Victoria have been stripped of their coveted AAA credit ratings after increasing debt levels in big-spending budgets, reports the Australian, but the state downgrades would have “no direct or immediate effect on the sovereign rating at this stage”. And the Age reports that Victorian GPs working in quarantine hotels will continue to treat their usual patients after doctors pushed back against government demands that they work exclusively in the hotels.

Coming up

The New Zealand government will release the final report of the royal commission into the Christchurch mosques attacks, along with the government’s response.

The NSW premier, Gladys Berejiklian, will speak at the annual Corporate Club Australia business lunch after a tumultuous year and before the Independent Commission Against Corruption’s release of its findings into its investigation of the dealings of her former boyfriend Daryl Maguire.

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