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Morning mail: vaccine rollout fails elderly, Tokyo glory, a centre of pride

·7-min read
<span>Photograph: Mike Egerton/AAP</span>
Photograph: Mike Egerton/AAP

Good morning. Australia’s vaccine rollout still leaves many elderly people behind, a golden day in and on the water at the Tokyo Olympics, and Melbourne’s Victorian Pride Centre has finally opened its doors. Those stories, and more in Thursday’s morning mail.

More than 1 million people over 70 in NSW and Victoria remain partially or fully unvaccinated, with the nation’s two most populous states badly lagging most other states or territories. Scott Morrison has heralded vaccine take-up as like a “gold medal run”, stating that “by Christmas”, “everyone who’s had the opportunity for a vaccine will have had it”. Australia remains last in the OECD by rates of vaccination, with just 14% of people fully vaccinated. Hundreds of thousands of Sydney-based welfare recipients will receive support for lost income in news that has come as welcome relief to many, after Gladys Berejiklian’s announcement of a four-week lockdown extension across greater Sydney. The state recorded 177 new infections on Wednesday, with the number of active cases also increasing in Victoria, Queensland and South Australia.

Australia sits fifth on the medal tally at the Tokyo Olympics after a medal-laden day at both the rowing and the swimming. The women’s and men’s coxless fours led a blitz of four medals inside an hour at the rowing, with the men’s and women’s quadruple sculls both landing bronze. In the pool, Ariarne Titmus made it a brace of victories over the US great Katie Ledecky, with the men’s 4x200m freestyle relay beating the US team into bronze. The cyclist Rohan Dennis also marked a happy return to the world stage, finishing third in the men’s road time trial.

Tunisia has continued its descent into political chaos with President Kais Saied sacking a raft of officials and seizing judicial powers. The move comes just days after the 63-year-old dismissed the prime minister and elected government, before imposing emergency law. Seen by many as the “poster child” for the 2010 Arab Spring, the north African nation appears to be returning to autocratic rule, in the face of a stagnant economy and a slow response to the Covid-19 pandemic.


March4Justice protests outside Parliament House in Canberra
It has been four months since 100,000 people attended the March4Justice rallies, and advocates are calling for concrete commitments from governments. Photograph: Xinhua/Rex/Shutterstock

Nearly two dozen advocacy groups have called on Australian governments to do more to prevent sexual violence after the postponement of a women’s safety summit that has been delayed two months due to Covid-19.

Labor has accused Peter Dutton of seeking to avoid scrutiny after it was revealed that the defence minister’s office briefed staff to limit responses to media inquiries to three paragraphs “regardless of breadth of the question(s)”.

The ALP’s support for the Coalition government’s higher income tax cuts could worsen the gender pay gap, the Greens say, with new parliamentary modelling suggesting that men will receive $2 for every $1 women do under the proposed changes.

The world

Peru’s poor and rural citizens have swept a political outsider to power, with former teacher Pedro Castillo facing immediate obstacles to his campaign platform of lifting up the nation’s less affluent. The South American nation has been beset by political instability during the past year, including announcing three presidents in one week last November.

Myanmar is at risk of becoming a super-spreader Covid state, the nation’s UN special rapporteur has warned, after a collapse in testing, the vaccine rollout and functioning hospitals amid the country’s ongoing political crisis.

A county in Washington state has become the first US jurisdiction to ban new fossil fuel infrastructure after its council unanimously passed a ban on the construction of new refineries or coal-fired power plants.

The US government has seized a 3,600-year-old tablet depicting the epic of Gilgamesh from the owner of an arts and craft chain. The antiquity is believed to have been imported illegally from Iraq and will be returned to its country of origin.

Recommended reads

It’s one of the world’s largest, and the only one of its type in Australia. But Melbourne’s Victorian Pride Centre – a dedicated multi-organisational queer community space – has finally opened its doors. With its stunning architecture, and an archive of more than 200,000 items chronicling Australia’s LGBTIQ history, as David Blakeley tells James Norman, it’s not so much a coming out as a coming home. “From the Jewish cake shops on Acland Street, to the live music scene, and the gay history here – it means many different things to different people. So the Pride Centre has a natural residency.”

“Watching grand prix dressage I can identify all of the movements and tell you how to ride maybe a third of them.” For anyone aspiring to actually understand what’s going on during Olympic dressage, one-time pony club blue-ribbon winner Calla Wahlquist has a hot tip: forget your TV follow the sport on TikTok. “I couldn’t tell you why German rider Isabell Werth scored 10s for her piaffe on the impossibly leggy Bella Rose 2, while other – to me more classically correct – attempts scored less.” Which is why you need Equestrian TikTok.

Lucinda Price has waited a long time to get the call from Guardian Australia. And 14 months after she started compiling her own spreadsheet of funniest things on the internet, the phone finally rang. From George Calombaris’ most earnest review, to awkward showdowns with your dad(s) at a chicken shop, the comedian known as Froomes has you covered.


It was an evening that divided a community for years in the 1990s, after a relatively benign Scandinavian Bonfire Night turned violent. On this episode of Full Story, the woman dubbed “the witch of Darwin” explains what transpired, to Brigid Delaney.

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


Graham Arnold
Olyroos coach Graham Arnold during Australia’s 2-0 loss to Egypt. Photograph: André Penner/AP

The Olyroos have crashed out of the men’s football tournament, losing 2-0 to Egypt in the final group stage match. A tournament that started with a win over Argentina failed to maintain momentum. Here’s the rest of the Olympic news from day five.

With the Australian women blitzing the pool in Tokyo, Thursday could loom as the day the men taste gold as well, writes Kieran Pender. And while Ariarne Titmus and Kaylee McKeown have shown the way, Jack McLoughlin, Kyle Chalmers and Zac Stubblety-Cook could be Australia’s next golden swimmers.

Media roundup

As many as one in 10 Sydney workers could lose their jobs due to the extended lockdown, the Sydney Morning Herald reports, with fresh fruit and vegetable prices set to outgrow wages by 200%. The federal and NSW governments will spend $1bn a week ($) as part of the greater Sydney lockdown package, according to the Australian, with a return to the jobkeeper wage subsidy scheme ruled out. And Fortescue Metal will conduct a major “integrity review” ($) after the allegation of an attempted rape at one of the company’s Pilbara sites, reports the West Australian. It follows a spate of sex attack claims industry-wide that have prompted a state parliamentary inquiry into the sector.

Coming up

The House of Representatives standing committee on economics will hear from the Association of Financial Advisers, the Financial Planning Association, the Finance Brokers Association, Easton Investments, Synchron, Aussie Home Loans and IFM Investors.

And if you’ve read this far …

It was an image that shocked and delighted the world in near equal measure. “Rotund and naked German man has laptop pinched by wild boar” was also a headline writers’ delight, but one intrepid manufacturer has taken the scene a step further: producing a model railway figurine version of the incident. It has not delighted everyone, however, with the image’s photographer now suing the company for profiteering off her chance snap.

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