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Morning mail: overhaul of banking stalls, Trump's final pardons, RuPaul 'down under'

Tamara Howie
·7-min read
<span>Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP</span>
Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

Good morning, this is Tamara Howie bringing you the main stories and must-reads on Tuesday 19 January. Today we examine the lack of action on the banking royal commissions recommendations and the controversial ways Donald Trump is seeing out his days in power. Plus we’re expecting more news from the Australian Open Covid chaos.

It has been almost two years since Kenneth Hayne, the banking royal commissioner, handed his final report to the treasurer, yet more than half of the recommendations from the inquiry have been abandoned or delayed. Analysis by Guardian Australia of all 76 of Hayne’s recommendations shows that 44 recommendations have yet to be implemented and five have been abandoned, despite the treasurer’s claims that more than 70% of the recommendations had been implemented. Ben Butler’s analysis says Josh Frydenberg has linked the dumping of key recommendations to stimulating the economy as consumer advocates fear lessons from royal commission have been lost.

Victorians stranded in Sydney can look forward to returning home after border restrictions were eased for most parts of Sydney, the Blue Mountains and Wollongong. While it’s good news for some, Daniel Andrews is standing firm on quarantine for Australian Open players. “There’s no special treatment here, because the virus doesn’t treat you specially. So neither do we,” Andrews told the players. Andrews isn’t the only one standing firm against tennis players seeking special treatment: Nick Kyrgios called Novak Djokovic “a tool” on Twitter after the world No 1 reportedly wrote to Australian Open organisers asking them to ease quarantine restrictions for players. Meanwhile, health authorities in Norway say there’s no evidence of a direct link between the recent string of deaths among elderly people inoculated against Covid-19, and the vaccine they received.

Trump’s time in the White House is winding down, but he is expected to use those final hours in power to issue more than 100 presidential pardons, potentially including himself. White House officials say Trump has privately debated with aides whether he should take the extraordinary step of pardoning himself. Some insiders have warned against it, arguing that it would make Trump look guilty, and other scholars believe it would go against the US constitution. There are fears of an insider attack at Biden’s inauguration, prompting the FBI to vet all 25,000 national guard troops coming into Washington for the event. Meanwhile, a rioter facing federal charges, Jenna Ryan, says she has “no guilt in [her] heart” and was following Trump’s orders when she took part in the attack at the US Capitol.

Australia

Nationals senator Bridget McKenzie
Nationals senator Bridget McKenzie has promised to ‘fulsomely cooperate’ with the Labor-led inquiry into sports rorts. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

The former federal sports minister Bridget McKenzie has offered to give evidence before the sports rorts inquiry for just one hour, but has rejected claims she had “declined to appear” before the committee and labelled the call for her appearance a “cheap political stunt.”

The United States has urged the Australian government to ditch draft media laws that would force tech companies Google and Facebook to pay news organisations for sharing their content. The US said that the proposed legislation was unreasonable, impractical, “fundamentally imbalanced” and could run counter to the US-Australia free trade agreement.

The university sector has said excluding international students from Australia will have a detrimental effect on the country’s workforce and diminish its standing in the region. The Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, has said it would be “impossible” to facilitate the arrival of almost 165,000 international students, particularly when 40,000 Australian residents are still waiting to be repatriated.

Humanitarian groups have called for more transparency after Australia approved more than a dozen permits to export military goods to Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Turkey in the last 18 months, despite concerns about each country’s involvement in conflicts causing humanitarian crises in Yemen and Syria.

The world

A judge in Moscow has ordered that Alexei Navalny be held in custody for 30 days until a parole review that could imprison him for years. Russia has defied international pressure to release the Kremlin critic after he was arrested when he returned to Russia on Sunday.

Two months after a one-year-old boy was killed in a police shooting in rural Ontario, none of the officers who opened fire have agreed to speak to investigators, and are under no legal obligation to do so.

Fishing lorries from Scotland and Devon descended on Westminster to protest against Brexit red tape, but stopped short of carrying out their threat to dump fresh fish close to the prime minister’s residence at No 10 Downing Street. The protesters says red tape is either delaying or ruining exports of their fresh shellfish to the EU.

Recommended reads

Edible hemp is hitting Australian menus, and customers are still wondering “will it get me high?” Short answer: no. Hemp growers have mandated testing when crops come to flower, the time when THC (the psychoactive element) levels are highest. “Everybody grows from seed that doesn’t give you high THC because you’ll lose your crop if it goes over,” says Georgina Wilkinson of Margaret River Hemp Co. Wilkinson says it’s best if THC levels are below 0.5% so it can be used in food – a growing industry where hemp is being featured in all sorts of recipes, from granola to icy poles and even in wine.

RuPaul’s Drag-Race is heading down under (albeit in New Zealand), and the Australian iteration of the franchise will be hosted by RuPaul and feature longtime co-star Michelle Visage on the judging panel. “I cannot wait for everyone to see that Down Under queens have some of the biggest charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talents in the world,” said RuPaul. Of Drag Race’s seven international franchises, the Down Under edition is only the second – after Drag Race UK – to be judged by two of the American production’s original cast members.

The gap between Australian house prices and incomes is only likely to grow, writes Greg Jericho. “Australians’ love of housing continues with even more vigour during the Covid recession – powered by government incentives and record low interest rates, rates which look set to remain low for many years. In November a record $23.96bn in new housing loans was taken out. This reveals how weird this recession is – there is higher unemployment, but it is mostly driven by forces that have little to do with the underlying strength of the economy.”

Listen

In this episode of Full Story climate scientist and writer Joëlle Gergis speaks about the incalculable loss already suffered due to climate change and why the only way forward is to acknowledge the grief rather than ignore it.

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

Sport

Melbourne City goalkeeper Teagan Micah removes a can thrown onto the pitch by Victory fans at the weekend
Melbourne City goalkeeper Teagan Micah removes a can thrown onto the pitch by Victory fans at the weekend. Photograph: Graham Denholm/Getty Images

When projectiles were thrown on to the pitch during Sunday’s W-League Melbourne derby, the two worlds of men’s and women’s fan culture collided – and that is concerning for the women’s game.

Australia are looking for the win over India that will secure the Test series, but they will have to bowl out the tourists on the final day of the fourth Test in Brisbane to do so.

Media roundup

Australia’s tourism industry is demanding more financial support after talks of extended international border closures, reports the ABC. The Sydney Morning Herald expands on the story, saying the border closures are likely to remain because of the risk of travellers spreading Covid, even after being vaccinated. And Professor Allan Cheng, co-chair of the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation, has told the Australian more than one immunisation program might be necessary to attain the long-term goal of herd immunity.

Coming up

Miner Rio Tinto will give its fourth-quarter review to the ASX. The report may give clues to its full-year earnings due in February.

More news expected on Australian Open players in hard quarantine due to positive Covid tests.

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