Morning mail: cash for drought, impeachment moves closer, straight to Netflix

Helen Sullivan
Photograph: Dan Peled/AAP

Good morning, this is Helen Sullivan bringing you the main stories and must-reads on Thursday 7 November.

Top stories

Drought relief worth more than $1.5bn that puts “money in the pockets of farmers” will be unveiled by the Coalition on Thursday, as the government moves to stem anger in the bush about its response to the record dry spell. The announcement of a substantial new stimulus package, which comes after months of internal wrangling about the government’s drought response, will include a centrepiece $1bn concessional loan package for farmers and small businesses affected by the drought.

A woman who was subjected to a potentially illegal strip-search as a 15-year-old has described it as an “intimidating” and “traumatic” experience. Guardian Australia revealed on Wednesday that police in New South Wales have strip-searched 122 girls, including two 12-year-olds, in the past three years. The shocking figures come as the state’s police watchdog investigates the potentially illegal strip-search of a 16-year-old girl at a music festival in 2018 and have led to calls from the Redfern Legal Centre – which first obtained the data – for a ban on strip-searching minors unless a court order is obtained.

Scientists have detailed serious deficiencies by Australia’s chemical regulator that failed to prevent pollution of the Great Barrier Reef catchment, where they found excessive levels of several pesticides banned by other countries. A new paper, co-authored by reef water quality expert Jon Brodie and fisheries veterinarian Matt Landos, found that pesticide regulation and management in the reef catchment areas of Queensland had failed to prevent the exposure of ecosystems to the significant risk of agricultural chemicals.


Labor needs to fire up on behalf of working people to punch through the “pandemic of populism” locking progressive parties out of government, and it needs to pitch an “Australian new deal” grounded in the Hawke/Keating principles of economic reform with a social dividend, according to Chris Bowen.

The price of lamb has soared by 200% since the 90s – now the drought is sending it even higher. Looking at the production of lamb is a very good indicator for monitoring the severity of a drought, writes Greg Jericho.

Communications minister Paul Fletcher has suggested the Morrison government will extend and restructure taxpayer assistance for regional newspapers, but rebuffed a push to water down media ownership rules or cut licence fees for regional TV.

The world

The chairman of the US House permanent select committee on intelligence, Adam Schiff, announces the first public hearings of the Trump impeachment inquiry. Photograph: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA

Public impeachment hearings will begin next week, it has been announced in Congress, marking a new phase in the investigation into Donald Trump’s effort to compel Ukraine to investigate his political opponents.

A woman married to the slain Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been captured and is in Turkish custody, Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said.

Eight people including four foreign tourists were stabbed on Wednesday in Jordan, at the ancient Roman city of Jerash, one of Jordan’s most popular sites for visitors.

The world will be dealing with ever-rising sea levels into the 2300s, regardless of prompt action to address the climate crisis, according to the new study.

The distinctive human habit of walking upright may have evolved millions of years earlier than thought, according to researchers who uncovered the remains of an ancient ape in southern Germany.

Recommended reads

Martin Scorsese’s the Irishman won’t be coming to a cinema near you, writes Stephanie Convery. “If there was ever a sign that cinema-going was becoming a niche experience, it must be that a major feature directed by one of the godfathers of modern film will grace only a handful of big screens around the world. Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, a crime drama starring Robert De Niro and Al Pacino, is not the first likely blockbuster to bypass wide theatrical release before heading to the binge-box of home entertainment, but it is perhaps the most notable.”

Would you let an AI rephrase the tone of your emails? asks Aleksandra Bliszczyk. “You install the artificial intelligence-powered plugin on to your web browser, where it scans your emails and grades them as ‘confident’, ‘optimistic’, ‘worried’ or ‘sceptical’ – it claims to identify 40 tones. Much like a spellchecker, it will read through your text and then make suggestions at the bottom of your screen, or when you hover your mouse over a grumpy red underline. It feels neat and familiar, but the software raises a broader question than the one it asked its users: to what standard are our interactions being steered?”


On Today in Focus, Tom Phillips joins the search for some of the thousands of people who have gone missing or been murdered in Mexico’s bloody drug wars. Plus Luke Harding on the government’s delay in releasing a report on Russian meddling in UK politics.


The history of Indigenous women in football is often overlooked, but there is much to be gained by listening to the stories of the current crop of Aboriginal players in the W-League, especially during Indigenous Football Week.

Women’s cricket in Australia has burgeoned in the past five years, since the WBBL provided a forum for players and the pay deal of 2017 provided professional contracts. And with the emergence of players such as 16-year-old Phoebe Litchfield this season, the growth and development of the game is showing no signs of slowing down.

Media roundup

The Australian reports that Karl Stefanovic will return to the Today show next year, “if he is willing to take a major pay cut”. NSW treasurer Dominic Perrottet has told the Sydney Morning Herald that “state and federal governments must “break the emergency glass” and pursue major structural reforms in a bid to revive economic growth.

Coming up

Labor will release its much-heralded review into why it lost the May federal election.

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