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Morning mail: new details of Christian Porter investigation, vaccine uncertainty, Cyclone Seroja hits WA

Imogen Dewey
·7-min read
Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/AAP
Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/AAP

Good morning. New information has emerged about the police handling of allegations against Christian Porter, Scott Morrison is accused of “gaslighting” Australians over the vaccine rollout and, as the Queen mourns her husband’s death, speculation she is about to abdicate has been quashed. Here are the headlines on Monday 12 April.

NSW police passed up an offer by South Australian police to take a statement alleging sexual assault against Porter – apparently without putting the option to the alleged victim – new documents reveal. The documents, provided to the NSW Legislative Council after a motion by the MP David Shoebridge, also reveal how a request to travel interstate to take the statement was rejected in March 2020 because it was not deemed essential. Shoebridge told Guardian Australia the documents show NSW police “made two separate decisions to delay taking a statement, neither of which appears to have had a valid basis”. Porter strenuously denies the allegations.

Kevin Rudd says Scott Morrison is “trying to gaslight us” over the federal government’s Covid-19 vaccination strategy. In a column for Guardian Australia, the former Labor prime minister has accused the current PM of “a breathtaking level of political complacency that borders on professional negligence” – and given him some direct advice. After last week accepting advice that the AstraZeneca vaccine should not be recommended for under-50s due to blood clot fears, Morrison yesterday admitted that all Australians might not be vaccinated by end of the year. Due to “many uncertainties”, he said the government would not set a new timetable to replace the previous October target. In New Zealand a diagnosis in another hotel quarantine worker has taken Auckland’s new case cluster to three. And in Canada the Whistler ski resort has been linked to the largest outbreak of the highly contagious P1 Covid variant outside Brazil.

Royal observers have dismissed any speculation that the newly widowed Queen will step down. The death of the Duke of Edinburgh has left “a huge void” in her life, Prince Andrew revealed on Sunday, after Australian dignitaries commemorated Prince Philip’s life at a service in Sydney. There’s already conversation about the prince’s “chequered legacy”, however. And the BBC has taken down an online form used to process complaints about blanket coverage of his death after the number of complaints reached a peak.

Watch: The wonderful life of Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh


The government is missing out on valuable sources of advice on the increasingly complex relationship with China because Chinese-Australians are under-represented in the public service, a new policy paper says.

Australia’s living standards have risen and the economy is “roaring back”, according to a Deloitte report released today. Despite jobkeeper expiring at the end of March, it predicts unemployment will decrease through 2021, albeit gradually.

Tropical Cyclone Seroja has slammed into the coast of Western Australia and torn through townships in the night, leaving a trail of damage and power outages. The cyclone will weaken as it travels further inland today but it is still likely to bring damaging winds and heavy rain.

The world

Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility
Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility, south of Tehran. The apparent attack took place hours after what had been billed as a pivotal moment in Iran’s nuclear program. Photograph: Maxar Tech/AFP/Getty Images

Israel appeared to confirm claims that it was behind a cyber-attack on Iran’s main nuclear facility on Sunday, which Tehran’s nuclear energy chief described as an act of terrorism that warranted a response.

Joe Biden’s secretary of state, Antony Blinken, said on Sunday the US is concerned about China’s aggressive actions against Taiwan and warned it would be a “serious mistake” for anyone to try to change the status quo in the western Pacific by force.

Boris Johnson will not oppose a second independence referendum if the Scottish National party wins a majority in the election next month, Nicola Sturgeon has said, with some UK government ministers reportedly conceding it is an inevitability.

The Ukrainian military said a soldier had been killed and another seriously wounded in artillery fire from Russia-backed separatist rebels, as hostilities rose sharply in the east of the country.

Recommended reads

Police marching
Veronica Gorrie joined the police force to ‘break the cycle of fear’ she grew up with. By the time she left, she was carrying additional burdens. Photograph: Dave Hunt/AAP

Pre-sales for Veronica Gorrie’s memoir were greater than for any other title in the history of its Melbourne-based publishing house. The book details her time as one of the few Aboriginal members of the police force – and the additional stress, guilt and trauma she experienced on the job – with “stringent honesty”. “I had not one friend in the job to debrief with,” she tells Jenny Valentish. “I had no one. It’s really hard for Aboriginals to work in white organisations. It’s not culturally safe for us.”

“We thought we were in with a chance. A lot of people our age had brought their parents. Bad sign. It ended up going for half a million over the price guide.” Buying a first home amid soaring real estate prices feels grimly Beckettian, writes Josephine Tovey. For Australians in their 30s, auction horror stories dominate the conversation, while others are left out entirely.

Britain is damaging its reputation by keeping Julian Assange in jail, his partner, Stella Moris, has told the Guardian, in an interview coinciding with the second anniversary of his detention. “The treatment of Julian is compromising the UK constantly all round the world. It’s giving authoritarian governments points to score all round the world both privately and in international fora like the UN. You cannot start a new values competition with China with Julian Assange in Belmarsh for publishing war crimes. It just does not work. You don’t get to take the moral high ground with this as your starting point.”


The death of George Floyd after being restrained by Minneapolis police last year sparked a wave of outrage that swept across the US and the world. Now the police officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes is on trial for his murder. Amudalat Ajasa tells Anushka Asthana that for black people across the US the whole thing is difficult to watch. And Oliver Laughland, who has been following proceedings inside the courtroom, explains the key evidence and arguments so far.

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


Saturday night’s clash with Greater Western Sydney should have been a chance for Collingwood to get their season on track against a winless opponent beset by injuries. “In many ways this was a test. A test of the Magpies’ bona-fides.” And they failed miserably, writes Scott Heinrich.

Kyra Cooney-Cross scored the winner in the final seconds of extra time as Melbourne Victory ended their seven-year W-League title drought last night with a deserved 1-0 grand final win over Sydney FC.

And if you’re interested in the Premier League, here’s how it played out overnight.

Media roundup

The federal government has been accused of pressuring experts who questioned its gas-fired recovery plan, the ABC’s Four Corners reports. Andrew Laming is still fighting for preselection for the Liberal National party, “in apparent defiance of Scott Morrison”, the Australian reports. And the Australian Financial Review takes a look at a $1.7bn power project Bob Katter wants the government to support – built by his brother-in-law.

Coming up

Malcolm Turnbull will appear at the media diversity inquiry’s public hearing, followed by media executives from Facebook and major networks.

Tonight is the first night of Ramadan ahead of the official start of the Muslim holy month in Australia tomorrow.

And if you’ve read this far …

Donald Trump is still nursing plenty of grudges. He devoted part of a speech to Republican donors on Saturday night to insulting the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell. According to multiple reports of the $400,000-a-ticket, closed-press event, the former president called the Kentucky senator “a dumb son of a bitch”. He also attacked McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao, and went after Mike Pence. “It was horrible, it was long and negative,” a source at the event was quoted as saying.

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Watch: How England will leave lockdown