Morning mail: union condemns anti-corruption proposal, Trump under pressure, NSW victory | Australia news

Good morning, this is Richard Parkin bringing you the main stories and must-reads on Thursday 12 November.

Top stories

The police union has issued a startling repudiation of the federal government’s proposed anti-corruption commission, saying the body would act as “a protection racket” for government MPs. The president of the Australian Federal Police Association decried the idea that politicians or senior public servants could avoid public hearings, while law enforcement officials remained subject to open grilling. “If you’re going to create a system for integrity, then it needs to be one rule for everybody,” Alex Caruana said. The attorney general, Christian Porter, has defended the need for police but not politicians to face public hearings, saying there’s a “greater threat from corruption inside law enforcement agencies”.

Donald Trump is under increasing pressure to accept that he has lost the US presidential election, as Joe Biden’s lead in the popular vote surpasses 5m. The failure by the current administration to issue a letter of “ascertainment” is preventing Biden from beginning the transfer of power before his inauguration on 20 January, denying him the ability to liaise with federal agencies. Meanwhile, Democrats have condemned “downright dangerous” changes of personnel inside the Pentagon amid fears Trump is trying to stack key positions with loyalists. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic represents just one significant challenge Biden’s government faces, with the US recording 1m new infections over the past 10 days.

Eighty-six thousand fewer women are studying at Australian universities in 2020 – a reduction more than four times as stark as for men – with older women especially bearing the brunt of Covid-19. “This recession has overwhelmingly been a pink-coloured recession,” the economist Shirley Jackson said, with job losses disproportionately falling along gender lines, and additional unpaid care work, either for children or for elderly people, being absorbed predominantly by women. Conversely, university enrolments among men over 25 have increased as a tightening job market drives many newly unemployed to look to up-skill.

Australia

An older person is assisted up some stairs



The Health Services Union is seeking a pay rise in the aged care sector that would see a qualified personal carer receive $28.86 an hour, up from $23.09. Photograph: Design Pics/Alamy

More than 200,000 aged care workers could receive a pay rise of more than $5 an hour if a work value case brought by the Health Services Union is successful. A pay increase in the sector was a key measure flagged by the aged care royal commission.

A 3.3% reduction in official cash rates over the past eight years has failed to translate into reduced credit card charges, with research showing lenders continuing to charge rates of nearly 20%; a reduction of just 0.01%.

A councillor at Sydney University has shocked a meeting of the student representative body, announcing a $50,000 personal donation after being censured for the dereliction of her duties and ordered to pay back a third of her yearly pay, a fine of $3,000.

City dwellers are being encouraged to become citizen scientists through a new bird-tracking app, which researchers are hoping will assist with vital data collection about common urban birds like the sulphur-crested cockatoo and the Australian white ibis.

The world

Amhara militias in Ethiopia



Members of Amhara militias head to face the Tigray People’s Liberation Front in Sanja. Photograph: Tiksa Negeri/Reuters

Fears are growing of a major humanitarian crisis in Sudan as thousands of refugees flee from neighbouring Ethiopia after major military offensives by the government in the northern province of Tigray last week. Hundreds of thousands more could follow, aid officials have warned.

An explosion at a Remembrance Day event in Saudi Arabia organised by the French embassy has injured several people as tensions between many Muslim-majority nations and France continue since Emmanuel Macron’s refusal to “renounce caricatures” of the prophet Muhammad.

A new study has revealed that hurricanes are remaining more destructive once reaching landfall, after the US was battered by a record number of Atlantic hurricanes this year, with storms such as Eta still representing a “life-threatening storm surge”.

Barcelona has announced an ambitious 10-year-plan to reclaim the city from cars, with one in three streets to become green zones, prioritising pedestrians and cyclists, and with 21 new public squares to be created.

Recommended reads

Australian artist Janet Laurence



Australian artist Janet Laurence preparing for her new work, Theatre of Trees, at the MCA. Photograph: Jacquie Manning/MCA

If Australian women in the arts hadn’t had enough bad news in 2020, research from Macquarie University has confirmed another grim statistic: while the gender pay gap across other sectors has reduced to just under 14%, in the arts that figure remains nearly double. And as the study’s co-author tells Kelly Burke, with no concrete disparities in hours worked or educational standards attained: “We’re left with the conclusion that women seem to be the subject of gender-related discrimination.”

“The fight against inflation”, “inflation banding” – they’re catchphrases that have preoccupied much of modern economics, and while data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics has showed that the inflation rate has slowed over the past decade, other factors such as non-discretionary spending have risen, rendering the gains often unnoticeable, Greg Jericho explains. “In 2013 and 2017 the rise in the cost of essential items easily outpaced that of wages, and in 2012 and 2016 the rise was essentially the same.”

“My husband’s chewing makes me want to scream. I’m living with a horse. How do I navigate it?” If your Mr Right has turned into Mr Ed, our advice columnist Eleanor Gordon-Smith might just have the solution for you: “You don’t need to make it feel like criticism. Don’t let it become a battle between ‘you’re insufferable’ and ‘you’re too sensitive’. Make it, ‘This matters to me.’” And framing something as a favour, rather than an obligation, might just make all the difference.

From objectively awful homemade Rube Goldberg machines to inadvertent Accidental Partridge, if you like funnies on the internet, we give you Guy Montgomery’s 10 funniest things.

Listen

A Covid-19 vaccine by March? News of Pfizer’s self-acclaimed successful vaccine has raised hopes around the world of a remedy against the coronavirus by early 2021. But how much do we actually know about this trial and who will get it first? Melissa Davey takes a look on this episode of Full Story.

Full Story

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/nov/11/downright-dangerous-democrat-alarm-as-trump-stacks-pentagon-with-loyalists

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

Sport

NSW Blues players celebrate



NSW Blues players celebrate after their Game II win. Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/AAP

New South Wales have banished any prospect of a State of Origin whitewash after a commanding 34-10 win over Queensland. Nathan Cleary hit back at critics, with a hand in several tries and some fine kicking.

“How is it that so many Australians are ignorant to the experiences of Indigenous Australia?” In her column for Guardian Australia, the international cricketer Megan Schutt weighs in on taking a knee in the WBBL, the Faith Thomas trophy and the need to expand awareness within cricket to more than a few symbolic events each season.

Media roundup

The Labor party is set to expel more than 1,800 members – more than one-10th of its Victorian membership – after the investigation into branch stacking handed down its chief findings, according to the Age. CEO bonuses have dropped by nearly a quarter this year due to the coronavirus, the Australian Financial Review reports. The top 50 CEOs by earning averaged just over $5m in 2020. And diabetics could look forward to a life without insulin injections if a new drug trial in Victoria proves successful, the Herald Sun writes.

Coming up

The Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO will provide a media briefing on the latest instalment of their State of the Climate report.

The premier and treasurer of Tasmania, Peter Gutwein, will hand down the island’s budget in state parliament.

And if you’ve read this far …

Bears. They’re pretty scary. But you know what’s even more terrifying? Robot wolves. That’s the thinking of the town of Takikawa in Japan, after bear sightings rose to a five-year high. Enter the Monster Wolf. And, with its glowing eyes and fiendish animatronic howling, it’s no wonder the bears have cleared out.

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