Morning mail: coronavirus toll rises, gun club grant, how TV sidelines Asian Australians

Richard Parkin
Photograph: Xinhua/Barcroft Media

Good morning, this is Richard Parkin bringing you the main stories and must-reads on Thursday 30 January.

Top stories

Japan and the US have airlifted hundreds of their citizens from Wuhan, with China confirming a sharp escalation in the death toll from the coronavirus outbreak, with the official figure now 132. Nearly 1,500 new cases have been identified across the nation, as McDonald’s announced it would shut 300 restaurants throughout China. Germany is expected to repatriate its nationals in coming hours, as health officials have confirmed the virus’ spread to the UAE and Finland. It comes a day after Australia announced plans to quarantine citizens airlifted from Hubei on Christmas Island for two weeks. Queensland confirmed its first case on Wednesday evening, bringing the number of confirmed cases in Australia so far to seven.

A Northern Territory shooting club that boasted the former Coalition senator Nigel Scullion as a “diehard” member received $500,000 under the sport grants program, with the embattled former sport minister Brigid McKenzie, a keen recreational shooter, allocating nearly $1m in funding to gun clubs around Australia. A spokesman for Scullion said the club was “very deserving” of the grant, with shooting one of the fastest growing sports in the NT. On Tuesday it was revealed that Sport Australia had written to McKenzie before the last election, lodging its concerns that the grants program was being politicised.

Newstart recipients are able to cover only 75% of their basic living costs, research has revealed. The Australian Council of Social Services has called it “senseless cruelty” to ignore calls for an increase, campaigning for a $100-a-week boost to the unemployment benefit. The Newstart allowance has not increased in real terms in 25 years. Acoss’s proposal would cost $3.8bn a year, boosting payments for 850,000 people across the country. The accounting giant KPMG called for a $92-a-week raise last year but its proposal was rejected by the federal government.

Australia

Vulnerable dolphin species are facing increasingly harmful levels of long-banned chemicals, with pesticides such as DDT that are linked to mass mortality events within snubfin or humpback populations being detected at record levels.

Australia’s reliance on temporary migration is creating an economic underclass, Labor’s Kristina Keneally has warned, predicting that on current trends there could soon be 3 million temporary migrants working in Australia, causing wages to stagnate.

The federal government has begun the process for 50,000-year-old rock art on the Burrup Peninsula to become Unesco heritage-listed, lodging a submission for the Murujuga cultural landscape in Western Australia to be added to the global watch list.

The world

Millions turn out to resist new laws that discriminate against Muslims taking out citizenship in India. Photograph: Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Strongmen leaders across the Asia-Pacific region have led to a year dominated by repression, Amnesty International’s annual human rights review has found, with China and India singled out for seeking to impose a “bleak domineering vision” across the region.

The Palestinian town Donald Trump earmarked as the future capital has strongly rejected the idea, with its mayor, Ahmed Abu Hilal, emphatically stating: “Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine”. Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has also strongly condemned Trump’s proposed two-state plan as “legitimising Israel’s occupation”.

Trump has launched a scathing attack on his former national security adviser John Bolton, with analysts suggesting Republicans may not have the votes to block the Democrats from calling Bolton as an impeachment trial witness.

The Inouye solar telescope has captured images of the surface of the sun in unprecedented detail, showing the turbulent churning plasma exterior in sharp focus, revealing a hidden level of structure to how the sun operates.

Recommended reads

When Guardian Australia asked readers to nominate their most memorable moments of Australian television history, the TV presenter and author Yumi Stynes was struck by the absence of Asian representation in the avalanche of replies. “Australian TV has always been like that: it’s great until you notice what’s missing. And once you notice that absence, it becomes all you see.”

Love the sea but face it with trepidation as well? Then, as Jo Tovey writes, ocean pools can be a revelation. “Discovering more ocean pools over the years has opened up the city and the surrounding regions for a beach novice like myself. Best of all though, ocean pools have made intimidating beaches like Bronte truly enjoyable for the first time.”

After four years of inflation growth below the Reserve Bank’s target the Australian economy is definitely appearing sluggish. As Greg Jericho writes, upticks in growth have come about not due to an increase in demand but rather a reduction in supply – notably, of food.

Listen

After 46 years of membership, the UK is preparing to leave Europe. John Palmer was the Guardian’s Brussels correspondent in 1973 at a time when Britain was excited about joining the union. On this episode of Today in Focus, he speaks with Anushka Asthana about how the mood changed.

Sport

Rafael Nadal has crashed out of the Australian Open, going down in four sets to Austria’s Dominic Thiem, 7-6, 7-6, 4-6, 7-6. Looking to equal Roger Federer’s men’s record of 20 grand slams, the Spaniard finally succumbed to the opponent he’d beaten during the last two French Open finals.

The regular BBL09 season has drawn to a close but with the on-field product providing few clear narratives is the Big Bash in the doldrums or is the angst overstated? Sam Perry prosecutes the numbers.

The age of entitlement is over for Australian rugby. As the code faces a potential plummet in broadcast revenue the 2020 season looms as decisive for the game’s future, writes Bret Harris.

Media roundup

The Victorian attorney general has called for the men’s rights activist Bettina Arndt to be stripped of her Order of Australia award, reports the Age, writing to urge the governor general, David Hurley, to overturn the decision. The Chinese tech giant Huawei is planning a “charm offensive” to overturn its ban on taking part in Australia’s 5G network, writes the Australian, after Britain’s partial approval for its 5G rollout. And south-east Queensland is bracing for a bat invasion as little red flying foxes hunt for food escaping areas ravaged by bushfires and drought, according to the Courier-Mail.

Coming up

Australians trapped in Wuhan due to the coronavirus will be evacuated to Christmas Island.

World No 1 Ash Barty bids to reach the Australian Open final when she plays 14th seed Sofia Kenin at Melbourne Park. Follow the match in our live blog from 2pm (AEDT).

A memorial service will be held in Sydney for John Morrison, Scott Morrison’s father.

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