Morning mail: Johnson loses election bid, Essential poll, Albanese climate shift

Helen Sullivan
Photograph: Matt Dunham/AP

Good morning, this is Helen Sullivan bringing you the main stories and must-reads on Tuesday 29 October.

Top stories

Boris Johnson has lost his third bid for a general election after Labour abstained and he failed to reach the two-thirds majority of MPs he needed for a poll. The result was 299 for and 70 against. Johnson is now expected to back a Liberal Democrat plan to change the law in order to secure an early election, although the parties do not yet agree on a date. Downing Street earlier indicated it would back a plan by the Lib Dems to change the law to hold a December election if Labour refused to back Boris Johnson’s motion for an early poll. The EU has agreed to a Brexit extension to 31 January 2020, with the option for the UK to leave earlier if a deal were ratified, clearing the way for opposition parties to back a general election. Johnson, who said he would rather die in a ditch than delay Brexit, is now under an obligation to agree to the terms, breaking his pledge to leave on 31 October, “no ifs, no buts … do or die”.

Voters are inclined to argue that the Morrison government should stimulate the economy to avoid a downturn, rather than preserve the long-promised budget surplus at all costs, according to the latest Guardian Essential poll. The survey of 1,033 respondents suggests more than half the sample, 56%, would prioritise stimulating the Australian economy and delaying the surplus to help prevent a downturn over pushing the budget back into black at all costs (33%), with 12% unsure.

A key company in the business empire of Australia’s richest man, Anthony Pratt, has paid very little tax since 2013 despite reaping profits totalling more than $340m over the same period, corporate and tax records show. Pratt, who is ranked No 1 on rich lists maintained by the Australian Financial Review and the Australian, runs a globe-spanning packaging business and has raised money for both sides of politics.


Anthony Albanese has sought to recast Labor’s climate policy as part of a new industrial “revolution”, saying the shift to clean energy will underpin an Australian manufacturing boom that unlocks new jobs and export opportunities.

Workers stand to lose hundreds of dollars a year in wages if employer demands for reforming collective bargaining are met and more people are pushed on to non-union deals, the Centre for Future Work has warned.

Councils with fewer than 300 people are among those to have received millions of dollars in federal government drought funding, as the Coalition prepares to sign off on new measures to help drought-affected communities.

The world

Matteo Salvini celebrates with the victorious candidate for president of Umbria, Donatella Tesei, in Perugia. Photograph: Matteo Crocchioni/AP

A coalition led by the far-right former interior minister Matteo Salvini has swept to power in the central Italian region of Umbria, ending 50 years of leftwing rule and further shaking the resilience of the national government.

The lorry driver accused of the manslaughter of 39 people was part of a “global ring” of smugglers trafficking people into the UK, a court has heard.

A gay Missouri police sergeant has been awarded nearly US$20m in damages after he was told if he wanted to be promoted he should “tone down the gayness”.

Australian scientists may have discovered the home of modern humans in Botswana. The scientists claim to have traced the ancestral home region of all living humans to a vast wetland that sprawled over much of modern-day Botswana.

Recommended reads

A pair of galahs in outback Queensland. Photograph: Alamy

Tracy Sorenson is voting No 1 galah in the bird of the year poll, and here’s why: “I was about five years old when my parents acquired the baby girl galah with her pink eyes, vigorous dance moves, biting potential and propensity for ear-splitting loudness. She learned to call ‘DEBBEH! DEBBEH!’, copying my mother trying to get the attention of my sister, Deb. She made a dock-dock-dock noise which we finally worked out was the sound of ladies’ shoes on the concrete floor as they passed her cage on the way to the toilet during fittings (Mum was a dressmaker). Her pièce de résistance was a beautiful rendition of the flushing toilet: ‘FLLL-USH!’”

The government and Reserve Bank consider “unconventional” policy measures such as negative interest rates, writes Greg Jericho. “Essentially the government is hoping that while record low interest rates have not yet spurred an increase in demand, even lower record rates will do so. No one suggests we are at a point where we should be pursuing extreme fiscal stimulus as occurred during the GFC, and yet there appears to be willingness within the government for extreme monetary policy to be pursued.”


The Guardian has produced a visual guide to the raid that killed the Isis leader Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi, who died in a US attack on a compound near the village of Barisha in north-west Syria. “The US began to receive intelligence on the whereabouts of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi about a month ago, according to Donald Trump. Intelligence officials were able to scope out his exact location – near the village of Barisha in north-west Syria – two weeks ago, and Trump was made aware of the planned raid.”


Ben Curry is excited to watch his twin, Tom, in the rugby World Cup final, writes Sean Ingle. If circumstances had played out differently, it might have been Ben lining up against South Africa on Saturday.

The NBA star LeBron James was among evacuees of a California fire that by Monday morning engulfed the hills near the Getty Museum in Los Angeles in flames.

Media roundup

The West Australian leads with the news that top Perth public schools are involved in a “cash for Chinese students scheme”. Police tried unsuccessfully eight times to get Ivan Milat to confess to crimes in the last months of his life, the Sydney Morning Herald reveals. The Australian reports that private health insurers “are ­pushing for reform of the healthcare system to allow them to pay the bills of patients treated outside the hospital system, including ­visits to general practitioners and specialists”.

Coming up

The foreign minister, Marise Payne, will deliver a foreign policy speech in Sydney this evening on Australia’s role in its region and beyond.

The RBA governor, Philip Lowe, will give the annual Sir Leslie Melville lecture at the Australian National University in Canberra.

And if you’ve read this far …

The Queen’s wardrobe is often interpreted as relaying coded messages from a monarch constitutionally bound to remain mute on political issues of the day. So when she wore a bold blue hat with yellow flowers bearing an uncanny resemblance to the EU flag during the state opening of parliament in 2017, many thought it carried serious import. Could it be, Twitter asked, that Her Majesty was a remainer? A new book has the answer.