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Morning mail: ‘unfair’ Covid fines, sympathy for Gladys Berejiklian, caring for swimmers

·7-min read
<span>Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Tuesday: NSW legal services say penalties have disproportionately hurt vulnerable groups. Plus: how to make swimwear last longer

Good morning. Covid fines in NSW are disproportionately hurting disadvantaged Australians. The US will stage a diplomatic boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics. And how to look after your swimwear.

An alliance of legal services have urged the NSW government to stop chasing people to pay Covid fines over fears they have been issued incorrectly, unfairly and in a way that have hurt Indigenous Australians, homeless groups and people living with a disability. The Redfern Legal Centre, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre and the Aboriginal Legal Service are among 33 groups who have written to the finance minister, Damien Tudehope, calling for him to take “urgent action” to address the hardship caused by the fines.

The White House will stage a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing in response to China’s “genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang” and other abuses. The announcement comes two months before the Games are to begin. US athletes are still expected to compete in the Olympics, despite the Biden administration not sending any representatives to Beijing. Before the announcement, China said a diplomatic boycott would be “a stain on the spirit of the Olympic charter”. The last time the US staged a full boycott of the Olympics was during the cold war in 1980, when Jimmy Carter snubbed the Moscow summer Games along with 64 other countries and territories.

Voters in NSW remain sympathetic to Gladys Berejiklian despite the former premier having to front the state’s anti-corruption commission to answer serious questions, according to the latest Guardian Essential poll. And legal experts have labelled Scott Morrison’s latest attacks on the NSW corruption watchdog “disgraceful” and “stupid”, as the Liberal party ramps up efforts to have Berejiklian contest the federal seat of Warringah. On Monday the prime minister doubled down on his comments in parliament last week when he called Icac a “kangaroo court” and accused it of trying to “publicly humiliate” the former NSW premier.


An NAB sign
NAB staff say they are suffering from depression, self-harm, physical health problems and relationship breakdowns over unpaid overtime. Photograph: William West/AFP/Getty Images

While incomes received a boost before the pandemic, inequality remains little changed in Australia, according to the latest Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey, released today. The report found that poverty is on the rise and the casualisation of work is becoming endemic. It also found women are doing 21 hours more unpaid work than men a week and experienced higher levels of psychological distress in the year before the pandemic.

National Australia Bank staff say they are suffering from depression, self-harm, physical health problems and relationship breakdowns over unpaid, onerous overtime that in some cases can amount to an extra three days a week of work.

Booming housing wealth, unspent superannuation and lower fertility are increasing the size of Australians’ inheritances, according to the Productivity Commission. Despite helping the rich get richer, inheritances are nevertheless shrinking relative inequality by giving a bigger boost to poorer households’ wealth.

The world

&#xc9;ric Zemmour
French far-right presidential candidate Éric Zemmour on Sunday. Photograph: Rafael Yaghobzadeh/AP

French prosecutors have opened an investigation into violence that erupted at the first major campaign rally held by the far-right French presidential candidate Éric Zemmour. Shortly after he began speaking on Sunday, some of his supporters attacked a group of protesters from the campaign group SOS-Racism.

Nigeria’s inclusion on England’s red list after cases of the Omicron Covid variant were linked to travel from the country has been condemned as “travel apartheid”. People arriving in the UK from Nigeria have to spend 10 days in hotel quarantine at a cost of at a cost of £2,285 and have two negative PCR test results, as part of measures that came into force yesterday.

The World Health Organization has called for a “massive, urgent” effort to get the new malaria vaccine into the arms of African children as it warned that about 180,000 more people were dying annually from the disease than had previously been thought.

Recommended reads

Netflix’s Christmas universe is an inescapable one, and two of its most successful franchises are A Christmas Prince and The Princess Switch – which saw the release of the series’ third film. Both these franchises take place in a particularly interesting non-place: their US heroines travel to a made-up country which is a perfect synthesis of a certain Europe as seen through certain eyes. This territory – whether it’s named Belgravia, Montanero or the famous land of Genovia from The Princess Diaries – does not exist on the map and yet gets built again and again. It is a curious mishmash of Romania, Switzerland, Italy and everything in between, topped off with a healthy dose of bad British accents.

After suffering bereavements and a dark period in her 50s, Siobhan Daniels, 62, decided to embrace adventure. So she swapped her flat for life on the road. Now she is determined to change the narrative around ageing. “It’s a privilege to age,” she says. “I’ve got loads of wrinkles around my lips but that’s not a negative. I’ve earned those. I’ve lived, I’ve laughed, I’ve loved, I’ve cried.”

The creation of the modern, interconnected world is generally credited to European pioneers. But Africa was the wellspring for almost everything they achieved – and African lives were the terrible cost. In this podcast, Howard W French explores how Africa was erased from the history of the modern world.


Barbados has replaced the Queen with President Sandra Mason. While some are celebrating the change, others ask if a symbolic shift is enough to reckon with the legacy of colonialism. Michael Safi visits Bridgetown to ask whether the country can free itself from its history and what Britain owes to its former colonies and the people whose ancestors were enslaved.

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


Rebekah Ashley Stott
Rebekah Ashley Stott has returned to the field for the first time since surviving cancer. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP

Rebekah Stott returned to the field for the first time after surviving cancer, giving Melbourne City a win before even kicking a ball. The defender proved those diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma not only can survive, they can also thrive.

The fifth Ashes Test will not be played in Perth, Cricket Australia has confirmed, and will be relocated due to the strict Covid-19 border policies imposed in WA.

Media roundup

Traditional owners in SA’s north have complained about work starting on two major projects despite heritage assessments showing the areas are scattered with artefacts, the ABC reports. George Christensen has urged viewers of a far-right US conspiracy theorist’s online show to hold rallies outside Australian embassies to protest over coronavirus restrictions, despite the fact that the show has been banned by Facebook and YouTube, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

Coming up

The Australian Bureau of Statistics is releasing for the first time data on sexual harassment.

And if you’ve read this far …

Tempting as it may be to leave swimmers rolled up in a towel at the bottom of your beach bag, they’ll last far longer if you treat them better. Make sure to rinse, don’t wring, and shade dry, to keep swimwear in great condition.

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