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Morning mail: domestic violence surge, China rejects apology demand, Aacta awards

Tamara Howie
·7-min read
<span>Photograph: Albert Perez/EPA</span>
Photograph: Albert Perez/EPA

Good morning, this is Tamara Howie bringing you the main stories and must-reads on Tuesday 1 December.

Top stories

Domestic violence incidents have spiked in Australia this year due to the impact of Covid, and frontline workers say support services are struggling to help those in need. “2020 will be remembered as the worst year for domestic violence that any of us who are in the sector now have ever experienced,” says Hayley Foster, chief executive of Women’s Safety. Ten percent of Australian women in a relationship had experienced domestic violence during the coronavirus crisis and 48 women died as a result of violence in Australia this year. Of those, three international students were killed in suspected domestic violence incidents as advocates urged the government to “act immediately” to resolve systemic injustices against women on temporary visas, and provide those experiencing violence with access to Medicare, social security and housing.

China has rejected Scott Morrison’s call to apologise for a ‘repugnant’ tweet of a digitally altered image that depicted an Australian soldier cutting the throat of a civilian in Afghanistan. China’s foreign ministry instead insisted it is Australia that should be saying sorry for the loss of life in Afghanistan. As the outrage over the digitally altered image threatened to sink already tense relations between the two countries to a new low, Morrison said on Monday the Chinese government “should be totally ashamed of this post”. “It is a false image and a terrible slur on our great defence forces and the men and women who have served in that uniform for over 100 years. There are undoubtedly tensions that exist between China and Australia, but this is not how you deal with them,” he said. Australian MPs from all sides of politics have condemned the tweet, but some are urging the Morrison government to go further in its response.

A Covid vaccine is one step closer with the approval process for Moderna’s vaccine beginning around the world. Final results from the trials confirm it has 94% efficacy and 100% success rate in preventing severe cases, according to the company. “We believe that we have a vaccine that is very highly efficacious. We now have the data to prove it,” Moderna chief medical officer Dr Tal Zaks said. “We expect to be playing a major part in turning around this pandemic.” The US company is submitting the data to the regulators in the US, Europe and the UK for an emergency licence. The news comes as infection rates and the death toll continues to climb around the world.


Support for climate change action is now higher than during last summer&#x002019;s bushfires.
Support for climate change action in Australia is now higher than during last summer’s bushfires. Photograph: Regi Varghese/AAP

Public support for action on climate change is higher now than it was at the peak of the catastrophic bushfires last summer, according to the latest Guardian Essential poll, which shows 75% support for setting a net zero by 2030 target for emissions, and 81% support for net zero by 2050.

An increase in women being diagnosed with depression is partly behind a significant rise in prescriptions of the antidepressant commonly known as Zoloft, which has entered the list of the 10 most commonly prescribed drugs in Australia for the first time.

The president of the Queensland Liberal National party women’s branch, Jenny Goodwin, has emailed fellow officials to warn of a “culture of anger and mistrust”. In the email Goodwin said she had been unable to have questions answered or to raise concerns about its disciplinary process.

The world

Joe Biden announced his economic team on Monday, which could include the first female secretary of the Treasury. Official nominations came after the president-elect announced an all-female communications team and are likely to draw Republican opposition.

Senior Iranian security official Ali Shamkhani has accused Israel of using “electronic devices” to carry out a remote assassination of Iran’s top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, on Friday.

The California governor has reversed parole for Charles Manson follower Leslie Van Houten, marking the fourth time a governor has blocked her release.

Four French police officers have been charged over the beating of a black music producer, Michel Zecler, a week after their allegedly unprovoked attack was exposed in a video that showed police punching, kicking and using a truncheon on Zecler.

Recommended reads

The Cate Blanchett-led refugee drama Stateless and Shannon Murphy’s coming-of-age film Babyteeth have blitzed the 2020 Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (Aacta) awards, sharing 22 wins between them at an unusual ceremony capping off an unusual year. The academy president, Russell Crowe, addressed the socially distanced ceremony remotely – from a locale he referred to only as “the bush” – saying he hoped to see more federal support for film and television in post-Covid Australia. “Twelve months ago this area around here was scorched and burnt. I imagine there’s a lot of you feeling the same way for what has been a very challenging year for the arts. Just as these paddocks and trees have new growth, the same thing will happen with our screen industry,” he said.

Does Australia really have to be so strident when it comes to China? Hamish McDonald says Scott Morrison’s response to the controversial tweet by Zhao Lijian could have been more diplomatic. “The tweet … was a cheap shot, especially as Zhao’s text called for action Canberra was already taking: prosecution of the soldiers accused of war crimes. But the illustration was no more offensive than numerous examples by graphic artists and cartoonists in the Australian media – and no more than a stretch on what Justice Brereton said allegedly happened: special forces soldiers cutting the throats of two Afghan 14-year-olds in their custody.”

Wednesday’s GDP figures are expected to show that the Australian economy grew in the September quarter but the recent data on investment, profits and wages show that we are not out of the woods yet, writes Greg Jericho: “Of course we are still in a recession. It’s one of those occasions where you don’t need to be an economist to know such things; you just need to look around you to know the reality of life at the moment.”


Australia is lagging behind many countries on the uptake of electric vehicles. Environment editor Adam Morton explains that there are a lot of practical reasons for this, but it’s also because of government-led scare campaigns and disincentives.

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


The year’s rugby in New Zealand will be remembered for the trials of the new All Black leadership regime, whose 38-0 wipeout of Argentina at the weekend could not disguise the fact they had achieved just a 50% win rate against teams ranked sixth and 10th in the world. NZ rugby missed an opportunity to reset as curtain falls on rough year.

The argument for playing one-day matches before a Test series has always been straightforward. You have an entree before the main. For spectators, shorter matches rouse the appetite. For players, it follows the principle of building up training loads, working their way into the most demanding format a day at a time.

Media roundup

Water restrictions have been lifted in parts of New South Wales and replaced with guidelines – saving the pain of a fine for only ­“extreme cases” of waste, reports the Daily Telegraph. Tasmania has weighed in as the most obese state or territory in Australia, according to the Hobart Mercury. And the Courier Mail reports that Australian schools are in decline despite record funding.

Coming up

The Reserve Bank board will hold its monthly board meeting, its final gathering until February next year.

And if you’ve read this far …

The “world’s loneliest” elephant has arrived in Cambodia and been greeted by a new friend – Cher. The US star joined the campaign for Kaavan to be moved from Islamabad zoo after global uproar from animal rights groups who say the overweight, 36-year-old bull elephant was receiving substandard care.

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