Morning mail: $150m more in sports grants, Trump hits back, Viking treasure

Richard Parkin
Photograph: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

Good morning, this is Richard Parkin bringing you the main stories and must-reads on Friday 7 February.

Top stories

The federal government spent an additional $150m on community sport infrastructure outside its controversial sport grant scheme, with the Department of Health confirming that the money was committed in the lead-up to the 2019 election campaign, and administrated under the female facilities and water safety stream program. Forty-one projects secured funding, including a grant of $25m for a new pool in the marginal Western Australian seat of the attorney general, Christian Porter, and other marginal electorates including Corangamite, Swan and Gilmore also scored. An inquiry into the original $100m community sport infrastructure program, which was overseen by Bridget McKenzie, has been announced by the Senate.

Donald Trump has been acquitted of abusing his power and obstructing Congress, bringing the impeachment process to a close. Mitt Romney crossed the aisle and became the first senator in history to vote to remove a president from his own party in an impeachment trial, but the vote was carried otherwise along party lines 52-48 and 53-47 on the respective charges. Trump immediately went on the offensive on Friday morning, calling the process “evil” – saying it had been drummed up by “dirty cops”, “leakers” and “liars”. The international press has been scathing in its reaction, with France’s Libération calling the impeachment process a “hollow pretence of justice”. Meanwhile in the Democratic primaries, Bernie Sanders has claimed a “strong victory” in the Iowa caucuses, even though he is trailing Pete Buttigieg in the first voting state.

A Chinese doctor who was among the first to raise concerns about the spread of the coronavirus is critically ill, after becoming infected treating early cases of the then undiagnosed respiratory infection. Le Wenliang, 34, was accused by authorities of “making false comments” and “spreading rumours” after posting a warning on social media in late December about a cluster of cases of a flu-like disease at his hospital. The official death toll has risen to 563, with more than 28,000 reported cases. The World Health Organization has called for $675m to stop the outbreak, cautioning that the bill will be much larger “if we do not invest in preparedness now”.


Public health officials have fought back tears at an emotional parliamentary hearing in NSW, urging the state government to drop proposed laws that aim to curtail planning authorities’ ability to block projects based on their climate emissions.

A 44-year-old Australian national and two Chinese have been stabbed in the Maldives, in an attack claimed by Islamic State sympathisers. Three people have been arrested.

The incoming chancellor of the Australian National University, Julie Bishop, has counselled the federal government to lead the world on climate despite “missteps”, offering the “evidence-based” work of her university’s 300-plus climate scientists and disaster management experts to inform any bushfires response.

Labor has asked the Australian Electoral Commission to investigate why the Liberal party declared and then removed a $165,000 donation from the company of a Scott Morrison ally and key bidder for a $1bn government contract.

The world

A tiny piece of fashioned glass discovered on Lindisfarne is being hailed as a rare archeological treasure, linking the Northumbrian island with the Vikings around the time of the AD793 raids that heralded three centuries of destruction and occupation.

Protected Indigenous lands could be subject to commercial mining under a controversial new bill from Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro. The far-right leader has long alleged that Indigenous land ownership has held back economic development.

The FBI has warned that Chinese theft of corporate intellectual property constitutes the biggest law enforcement threat to the US, with one agency director alleging trade secrets worth “$300bn to $600bn” a year are being stolen.

Christina Koch has returned to Earth after 328 days aboard the International Space Station, hoping her protracted mission can help promote gender equity within a traditionally male-dominated field.

Recommended reads

Newly appointed Greens leader Adam Bandt: ‘My strategy is going to be about getting to those new groups to explain what it is that we stand for.’ Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

With the election of a new leader, Adam Bandt, for the first time in the Australian Greens’ history, its leader will sit in the House of Representatives, not the Senate. Being more directly accountable to your constituents requires a lot more listening, the former industrial lawyer tells Katharine Murphy, with Bandt emphasising the need to marry the science and moral imperatives of climate change with a credible story of economic transformation that doesn’t leave workers in industries like coal behind. Starting with his policy centrepiece, a Green New Deal, Bandt outlines his desire for “a government-led plan of investment and action to build a clean economy and a caring society”.

New year’s resolutions notoriously don’t stick. And so 30-odd days into the fresh year, you’re forced once again to contemplate your inadequacies. “Maybe it’s because humans are essentially lazy creatures of habit,” writes Brigid Delaney. But could a little bit more stick help the carrot of self-improvement? Our intrepid columnist roadtests six scenarios.

No pain, no gain – an oft-quoted maxim in sport, but perhaps equally fitting for fashion, especially when it comes to women’s lingerie. But is there a movement to reject the wire and extra padding in bras that prioritise the external gaze rather than the internal feel? “There is a new way of thinking about what sexy is today, and it’s very much about being comfortable in your own skin,” one Brisbane lingerie designer says.


They’re the characters that make us fall in love with TV shows – so why do writers keep killing them off? Continuing Guardian Australia’s focus on unforgettable moments in Australian TV, on this episode of Full Story, Laura Murphy-Oates discusses with our culture editor, Steph Harmon, why fictional deaths move us so much.


An increasingly frustrated Lionel Messi could leave Barcelona without a transfer fee at season’s end. Photograph: Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

In football the names Messi and Barcelona have become almost synonymous. But could the Blaugrana’s greatest be set for a shock exit? Former coach Pep Guardiola’s presence at Manchester City makes the English club a likely suitor, after a situation that, as Sid Lowe explains, grows more untenable by the week.

And, it wouldn’t be Friday without David Squires on ... an easy start to life for the FFA’s new chief executive.

Media roundup

Barnaby Joyce has warned Scott Morrison that a rebel group within the Nationals could block Coalition legislation as payback for leader Michael McCormack’s failure to promote any of Joyce’s supporters, the Australian is reporting. The coronavirus has stopped a Hong Kong-based company from taking out an $880m share in James Packer’s Crown Resorts, claims the Financial Review, due to a predicted downturn in Asian tourism. And almost 50% of children under the age of two are in regular childcare, writes the West Australian, citing an increase on economic pressures that has parents returning to work at an earlier stage.

Coming up

The Matildas’ Olympic qualifying tournament gets under way in Campbelltown tonight. Follow the clash against Taiwan with our live blog from 7pm AEDT.

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