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Morning mail: federal corruption fears, Taylor isolated on coal, learning to love beige food

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

Good morning, this is Imogen Dewey bringing you the main stories and must-reads on Monday 30 November.

Top stories

Australians increasingly view corruption as a major problem and their faith in the federal government’s ability to handle it is greatly diminishing, a new report has found – even as overall trust in federal and state governments improved amid the pandemic. Griffith University and Transparency International Australia’s report identifies the lack of a federal anti-corruption watchdog as “the biggest institutional gap in our system”. As well as recommending $100m per year in funding for a federal integrity commission, corruption prevention and whistleblower protection, the report calls for caps on campaign expenditure during election, limits on political donations, and an overhaul of the lobbying system. It also suggests new shield laws should be implemented for public interest journalism and disclosure.

Donald Trump has blasted a decision by Pennsylvania’s highest court to throw out a lower court’s order preventing the state from certifying results from the 3 November US elections. Saturday’s case – which had attempted to throw out 2.5m mail in votes in the crucial state – was the latest of dozens of failed lawsuits by Trump’s lawyers, with judges castigating his lawyers for failing to present evidence of fraud. On Sunday, the president phoned into Fox News to blame the courts for his campaign’s so-far-unsuccessful legal challenges, which are based on a series of debunked conspiracies alleging widespread voter fraud. “We’re not allowed to put in our proof. They say you don’t have standing,” Trump told Fox’s Sunday Morning Futures.

Meanwhile, a Donald Trump supporter who donated $2.5m to help prosecute claims of fraud in the presidential election now wants his money back after what he says are “disappointing results”.

More Australians want an Indigenous voice protected in the constitution so it can’t be removed by future governments, according to the latest two-year survey of attitudes to reconciliation. But the Reconciliation Barometer 2020 also found Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s experiences of race-based prejudice had steadily worsened over the past six years. Some 60% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander respondents and 43% of non-Indigenous respondents agreed that “Australia is a racist country”. Reconciliation Australia chief executive Karen Mundine said changing community attitudes provide “a basis for demanding more of our political leaders.”


Shadow attorney general Mark Dreyfus said the Coalition&#x002019;s plan &#x002018;has been rejected by the entire family court sector and a recent Senate inquiry found the proposal was friendless.&#x002019;
Labor says the Coalition’s bill to unite the family and federal courts would effectively abolish the family court. Photograph: Takatoshi Kurikawa/Alamy Stock Photo

Federal Labor has said it will fight a “friendless” Coalition bill to combine the federal and family courts – which, it argues, would effectively abolish the family court – as the parliament enters its last sitting days of the year.

NSW’s clean energy plan means the federal government is even more isolated on fossil fuels, writes Adam Morton: “Angus Taylor’s dire warnings about abandoning coal are going unheeded as the states forge their own path towards renewables.”

Bushfires threatened Sydney homes this weekend after the city sweltered through its hottest November night on record. The RFS deputy commissioner warned it was “the first time since the devastating season last year we’ve seen widespread elevated fire danger”, and urged NSW residents to have fire plans ready.

South Australian health authorities are urging anyone who visited a Flinders University campus and three other “high-risk” locations to get tested immediately after a Covid-19-positive man broke his required home quarantine and wandered “out and about” in Adelaide.

The world

At least 110 people have been killed in a suspected Boko Haram attack on a village in north-east Nigeria, according to the UN. The attack took place near the main city of Maiduguri, with assailants targeting farmers on rice fields.

The body of Iran’s most senior nuclear scientist has been prepared for burial as anger at Israel and the US boiled over in the country following his assassination.

Nearly a year after doctors identified the first cases of a worrying new disease in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the country appears to be stepping up a campaign to question the origins of the global Covid-19 pandemic.

A tall, shiny, metal structure discovered in Utah last week, has, almost as mysteriously as it appeared, been removed by what local officials called “an unknown party”.

Recommended reads

When Rosheen Kaul first moved to Australia, she struggled to relate to Assorted Creams and cereal. “My world before was a riot of colour: little bags of fried anchovies doused in curry sauce from my primary school canteen, curry puffs from the ‘green shop’ around the corner from our home with a perfectly halved boiled egg in the centre. I remember the tiny, crispy baby squid from the beachside seafood restaurants, and the fruit tiles on the walls of the Nyonya restaurant we used to go to with my grandparents.” Then one day, after a salad sandwich-induced teenage rage, she finally began to see the nuances in “beige food”.

“As lockdowns lift across Australia, families are being reunited. But not us migrants,” writes Maliha Aqueel, whose daughter was born in July and is still cut off from the family desperate to meet her, not just by oceans but by closed international borders. “My mum had planned to come for the birth, to care for me, to listen and to give advice. But as I was about to apply for her visa in April – we brown migrants have to plan ahead – the lockdowns started … I’m no stranger to living alone, but I don’t think I have ever felt this isolated in my life.”

Meet the women who’ve given up grooming in 2020. From shaving to threading to dyeing to painting, the little touches that used to seem so important have been squeezed out by the pandemic. Whether it’s finally having the chance to drop the weight of social expectations, or just about saving time, giving up on these previously “indispensable” rituals has proved surprisingly liberating.


Some modelling insiders say former Elite boss Gérald Marie may be the Harvey Weinstein of the fashion industry. Wendy Walsh was 17 when she moved to Paris to be a model. Within weeks of arriving, Walsh alleges, she was raped by Marie. She is one of 16 women to speak to investigative reporter Lucy Osborne, who has spent the past year looking into whether Marie – who has firmly denied the allegations – was a sexual predator. In this episode of Full Story, Osborne talks about the women’s stories, and asks how Marie was allegedly able to abuse models for decades.

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


Lewis Hamilton’s win at the Bahrain Grand Prix has been overshadowed by a huge crash, after which Romain Grosjean managed to walk away unscathed from the flaming wreck of his car.

Australia sealed the one-day series 2-0 with a 51-run victory over India and a match to spare. Steve Smith was at his imperious best with a second successive 62-ball century at the Sydney Cricket Ground – but David Warner’s injury has thrown the Test lineup into disarray.

Argentinian justice officials are investigating the death of Diego Maradona and have ordered the search of properties of his personal doctor on Sunday, a local prosecutor’s office said. The football icon died at the age of 60 of a heart attack on Wednesday.

Media roundup

Criminals are targeting poker machines in NSW amid the pandemic, the Sydney Morning Herald reports. Also in the Herald: the former foreign affairs minister Alexander Downer has savaged Britain’s “golden era” China policy. And according to the Australian, a Melbourne-based company’s technology “can kill legionella bacteria in cooling systems in hospitals and shopping centres, create drinkable water straight from the tap in developing countries and potentially wipe out Covid-19”.

Coming up

Federal parliament starts its last sitting fortnight of 2020, with the prime minister, Scott Morrison, to appear via video link due to Covid quarantine.

The parliamentary inquiry into Victoria’s contact tracing system is due to release its interim report.

And if you’ve read this far …

The UK’s culture secretary plans to ask Netflix to play a pre-show “health warning” that The Crown is fictional. In an intervention that has already prompted criticisms of its own, Oliver Dowden said younger viewers who did not live through the events in the series might otherwise “mistake fiction for fact”.

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