Morning mail: climate crisis frontline, New Hampshire results, giving up milk

Richard Parkin

Good morning, this is Richard Parkin bringing you the main stories and must-reads on Thursday 13 February.

Top stories

This bushfire season has changed how many Australians think about the climate crisis – what was once an abstract idea set in the future now feels like a dystopian reality. The Frontline, a major new multimedia series from Guardian Australia, is about everyday Australians who are already living in the climate emergency. Tony and Lisa Groom live in a part of Australia that used to be too wet to burn, but in September 2019 the historic Binna Burra Lodge in the Gold Coast hinterland they owned was razed to the ground by a bushfire. About 450 hectares of rainforest burned around Binna Burra that day. Upcoming stories from The Frontline explore how the climate crisis is changing the water we drink, the air we breathe, the food we eat, the health of our oceans, as well as the impacts of rising heat.

Bernie Sanders has declared victory in the New Hampshire primary, with Pete Buttigieg polling narrowly behind the veteran senator from Vermont and Amy Klobuchar in third with more than 90% of the voted reported. It was another disappointing result for former vice president Joe Biden, with Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren also underperforming. The 38-year-old Buttigieg appeared to offer a thinly veiled criticism of his 78-year-old opponent, saying voters should not have to choose between “revolution” and the “status quo”. The meeting of 15 caucuses on 3 March could prove the decisive day of Democratic presidential preselection.

Minister for Indigenous Affairs Ken Wyatt insists the Morrison government will continue its push to recognise Indigenous Australians in the constitution, despite acknowledging that deep divisions exist inside the party room and that some colleagues will cross the floor to vote against any such moves. Wyatt told Guardian Australia that a majority of Australians strongly support recognising first Australians in the constitution, even within conservative states such as Western Australia, but that he respects colleagues’ “right to mount a ‘no’ argument”.


John McVeigh, whose brother Michael won a $1.65m contract from a Coalition donor awarded a $5.5m grant. The former minister excused himself from the panel decision about the company. Photograph: Lisa Alexander/AAP

A regional jobs grant to a Liberal National party donor has indirectly benefitted the brother of former Coalition minister John McVeigh. The then minister for regional development had excused himself from the ministerial panel that elected to award a $5.5m grant to Nolan Meats, from which $1.65m went as a contract to his brother Michael’s consultancy firm.

The New South Wales police force treated millions of dollars paid in damages each year as “the cost of doing business”, a former commissioner of the police watchdog has claimed. Patrick Saidi was removed from his position last month amid accusations of tension between senior leadership of the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission.

Federal opposition leader Anthony Albanese will give evidence at the trial of former NSW ministers Eddie Obeid and Ian Macdonald. The pair are accused of an alleged conspiracy to commit an offence while in office between 2007 and 2009.

Damaging swells have caused “devastating” erosion at Newcastle’s Stockton beach, with over 5,500 tonnes of sand washed away during a recent storm. Lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes has called upon the NSW government to declare a natural disaster.

The world

The world’s largest mobile phone trade fair, Mobile World Congress, has been cancelled after scores of the world’s biggest technology and telecommunications companies – including Facebook, Nokia, Intel and Amazon – pulled out over fears of the spread of coronavirus.

Italy’s senate has authorised a criminal case of kidnapping to be brought against former deputy prime minister and far-right leader Matteo Salvini over his 2019 handling of a migrant vessel arrival which he prevented from disembarking.

A Dutch government scientist has proposed two massive dams to completely enclose the North Sea, in order to protect an estimated 25 million Europeans from the consequences of rising sea levels. The 475km and 160km dam wall is estimated to cost between €250-500bn.

The United Nations has published a list of companies with business ties to Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, including Airbnb and TripAdvisor. Palestinian officials have welcomed the publication, while Israel’s foreign minister has called it a “shameful capitulation”.

Recommended reads

From cappuccinos and lattes to black coffee. How easy is it to give up milk in your coffee? Photograph: Pablo Paul/Alamy Stock Photo

The modern worker seems powered by coffee – but is there a way to save money, reduce weight gain, help the environment and still savour the black elixir? Yes! Don’t quit coffee – just quit milk, writes Brigid Delaney. “If you buy three small full-cream lattes a day at $4 a latte, you’re spending $84 a week and adding (at about 130 calories a latte) 2,730 calories a week. Giving up milky coffee is the equivalent of having an extra day of calories spare each week.”

It’s been a much-vaunted promise of the Coalition but the prospects of a budget surplus look increasingly unlikely, as the coronavirus’ effect on tourism and retail becomes just the latest factor, writes Greg Jericho. From “the budget is back in black” to “delivering a budget surplus is not our primary focus” treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s more cautious language matches the deteriorating terms of trade with China.

Amy Klobuchar garnered nearly 20% of the New Hampshire primary – well ahead of former front-runner Joe Biden – prompting the questions: who is the 59-year-old Minnesota senator? Paul Owen takes a look.


Constitutional recognition for Indigenous Australians has long been a polarising topic among the Coalition, with minister Ken Wyatt admitting some party room colleagues “won’t budge” on the topic. On this episode of Australian politics live, he joins Katherine Murphy to discuss this and how to address the Closing the Gap report.


Sam Kerr, seen here playing for the Matildas, joins Lucy Bronze, Julie Ertz, Megan Rapinoe and Vivianne Miedema on the BBC’s five-woman shortlist. Photograph: James Elsby/AAP

Matildas captain Sam Kerr is in the running to scoop another individual accolade after being named on a five-woman shortlist for the BBC’s prestigious women’s footballer of the year award.

It’s a game of rugby involving big name Wallabies, Springboks and All Blacks – but it’s not taking place in the southern hemisphere. Since the 2019 Rugby World Cup Japan’s rugby mania has spread to the domestic competition, writes Matt McILraith.

Media roundup

Australian scientists have a ten-year plan to eradicate deaths from breast cancer, reports the Herald Sun, with a team from University of South Australia leading a study into identifying treatment gaps. NSW Police conducted nearly a quarter of a million personal searches last financial year, writes the Sydney Morning Herald, with the Council of Civil Liberties slamming the setting of quota targets by police management. And, “cultural problems” between the French company building Australia’s $80bn submarines and local contractors could see the Australian industry content slip below 50%, prompting concerns for local jobs, claims the Australian.

Coming up

Cyclone Uesi is expected to bring large and powerful surf and powerful to the southeast Queensland and New South Wales coasts from today.

The Matildas face China during qualification for Tokyo Olympics in Sydney this evening. Follow the match with our liveblog, kick-off 7.30pm (AEDT).

And if you’ve read this far …

A 101-year-old Italian man who has been in London since 1966 was asked to get his parents to confirm his identity after he applied to stay in the country post-Brexit. Unsurprisingly, they’re no longer around, but Giovanni Palmeiro does have four children, eight grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren to confirm his identity.