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Morning mail: committee says Porter didn’t break rules, David Dalaithngu dies, Dungeons & Dragons

·7-min read
<span>Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian</span>
Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

Tuesday: Christian Porter didn’t break rules over secret donors, but MPs should provide the ‘greatest’ transparency regarding source of gifts, committee says. Plus: legendary Indigenous actor dies


Good morning. Tributes are flowing in for legendary Indigenous actor David Dalaithngu, who died last night. Rules that let Christian Porter keep his legal fee donors secret should be overhauled, says the committee that found he did not breach any regulations. And if you’re feeling anxious about heading out into the post-lockdown world, you might find some solace and new communities playing Dungeons & Dragons.

Christian Porter’s declaration that part of his legal fees in a defamation case were paid by a “blind trust” did not breach parliamentary rules, a privileges committee has concluded. A report by the committee calls for the rules to be overhauled to uphold the “intent and integrity” of the register of interests and says MPs should provide the “greatest” transparency on the source of gifts. Porter maintains he has properly disclosed his interests in accordance with both the rules and the ministerial standards, but he resigned as a minister in September on the basis the issue had become an “unhelpful distraction” for the government.

Natalie Baini, who nominated as a Liberal candidate for the marginal Sydney seat of Reid, is quitting the party to run as an independent, partly to protest against the handling of an internal complaint in which she alleged “inappropriate” behaviour by some senior men within the party. She accused the Morrison government of paying “lip service” to women’s issues, saying she had raised “serious concerns” with the NSW state division and she was yet to receive a response. Her decision is also due to her concerns about the preselection process. “I believe that nominations were sought in bad faith by the party and I am calling it out.”

Indigenous actor David Dalaithngu has died four years after he was diagnosed with lung cancer. Dalaithngu, of the Mandhalpuyngu clan in Arnhem Land, made his name in the 1971 movie Walkabout and 1976’s Storm Boy. With his trademark dry humour, Dalaithngu told film-maker and friend Molly Reynolds in 2020 that he was “going back to country on a one-way ticket”. He died on Monday aged 68.

The Omicron Covid variant poses a “very high” global risk, and highlights what a “perilous and precarious” situation the world is in, says the head of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in his first substantial comments since the new variant emerged. He warned the pandemic would not be over until what he called the “vaccine crisis” had ended, highlighting that low-income countries had received just 0.6% of the world’s Covid vaccines.

Australia

An annual survey of social cohesion in Australia finds more of us believe racism is a problem and that the country benefits from multiculturalism.
An annual survey of social cohesion in Australia finds more of us believe racism is a problem and that the country benefits from multiculturalism. Photograph: Jono Searle/AAP

There has been an “almost unprecedented’ spike in the number of Australians who see racism as a problem in their country, according a social cohesion survey. Respondents who thought racism was a problem in the country jumped from 40% to 60% in 12 months.

The Australian Medical Association has joined a growing push for better welfare support for those with incapacitating but “unstabilised” conditions, such as cancer or poor mental health. Advocates say there are many options, including raising jobkeeper payments to the poverty line, or easing the eligibility for the disability support pension to allow people with temporary conditions.

Critics have blasted the Coalition’s attempt to shield Australia’s Future Fund from freedom of information requests about its investments, such as the one that revealed the sovereign wealth fund is investing in weapons manufacturers that sell arms to the Myanmar military.

Suppliers of storage capacity on Australia’s main electricity grid warn proposed rule changes amount to a tax on their operations that will deter investors and slow the decarbonisation of the industry.

The world

Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey has stepped down as chief executive at the social media company and will be replaced by chief technology officer (CTO) Parag Agrawal.

Excerpts from secret documents urging population control, mass round-ups and punishment of Uyghurs in China have been put online.

Senior French ministers have accused the UK of operating a labour market akin to slavery and called on London to open safe routes for migrants.

Students at Arizona State University are demanding Kyle Rittenhouse be removed from online classes, despite the teen’s acquittal of murder charges.

Recommended reads

For neurodiverse players of Dungeons &amp; Dragons, the therapeutic potential of the tabletop role-playing game has long been known.
For neurodiverse players of Dungeons & Dragons, the therapeutic potential of the tabletop role-playing game has long been known. Photograph: Esther Derksen/Alamy

As pandemic restrictions lift across Australia and more face-to-face activities resume, socialising can be a source of profound anxiety for many people. But what if, when you met up with others, you don’t have to be yourself? Tabletop role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons is providing a safe space for a diverse array of people worldwide, including queer and neurodiverse players. “It has always been a safe haven for folks who might not feel at home elsewhere,” says the game’s principle rules designer, Jeremy Crawford. “D&D is about a group of people with wildly different pasts coming together to create an intentional family and overcome adversity. A group of players are stronger because of their differences from each other.”

More so than other fabrics, the history of silk is shrouded in mystery and folklore, which feels apt for a fibre that is drawn from the cocoon of the silkworm. Legends date back to 2640BC and the fabric is still a popular choice in the modern day, though also still tricky to keep in good condition. We asked some experts for advice on the best way to care for this ancient fabric.

This week’s GDP figures are expected to be terrible, and it would be a mistake to assume our economic malaise is behind us, writes Greg Jericho. “Whenever I hear talk about how we are moving on from the pandemic and things might be getting back to normal and so perhaps we need to start focusing on other things such as inflation or government debt, I draw people’s attention to the retail trade figures. You don’t need to be an economist to know that something weird is still happening out there.”

Listen

The Coalition has introduced its religious discrimination bill almost three years after it was first promised. Despite a third draft watering down a number of contentious provisions, some MPs still think it doesn’t go far enough to protect certain groups. In today’s Full Story, political reporter Paul Karp explains what’s in the bill and whether it will be passed before the next election.

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

Sport

Australian winger Hayley Raso is back in Australia for the first time in a long time after being shut out due to strict Covid border closures. Now back in Sydney, Raso discusses her trademark hair ribbons that inspired her writing and why City are the perfect team for her.

Media roundup

The Victorian government has agreed to six amendments to get its contentious pandemic legislation over the line, including the establishment of a new panel that will independently review appeals to detention enforced by public health orders, according to the Herald Sun. New guidance recommends GPs stop referring couples to therapy if domestic violence is suspected within a relationship, reports the Brisbane Times.

Coming up

National cabinet will meet to discuss the Omicron Covid variant.

And if you’ve read this far …

Angela Merkel has left Germans wondering how well they really know the chancellor after picking a song by the punk rocker Nina Hagen as the soundtrack for her military leaving ceremony.

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