Morning mail: Morrison's worst week, reef plan pressure, Guardian wins Walkley

Richard Parkin
Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

Good morning, this is Richard Parkin bringing you the main stories and must-reads on Friday 29 November.

Top stories

Labor have denied Angus Taylor a voting pair to enable the besieged energy minister to attend key climate talks in Europe next week, telling the member for Hume it would be inappropriate for him to miss the final sitting week of parliament for the year while there was a live police investigation against him. Taylor faces intense scrutiny over attacks he made on Sydney’s lord mayor, Clover Moore, based off a potentially falsified version of a Sydney city council report. It follows a bad evening in federal parliament for the Coalition after One Nation stunningly rejected its “ensuring integrity” bill at the 11th-hour, a bill that critics had called draconian in its powers to deregister unions and disqualify union officials. As political editor Katharine Murphy writes, the unexpected defeat tops Scott Morrison’s worst week as prime minister.

Employment and skills minister Michaelia Cash has defended the appointment of a former Liberal staffer to a $500,000-a-year-job via limited tender, telling Guardian Australia he had an “impressive CV” and was appointed after an “open, merit-driven, competitive process”. Adam Boyton was originally awarded the role as interim national skills commissioner “due to an absence of competition for technical reasons”, but this was later amended in the Austender entry. The former chief of staff to NSW Liberal leader John Brogden has also been the chief economist at the Business Council of Australia, with the ACTU raising concerns over his suitability for the role.

Australia is under pressure from conservationists to revise its Great Barrier Reef policy, with the World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia accusing the island nation of “not walking the walk” in its climate change commitments. A report released today by WWF-Australia and the Australian Marine Conservation Society says the country must show it has fresh plans to attack the Great Barrier Reef’s two key threats – climate change and water quality – in its official government report to the UN’s world heritage committee to be released next week. Today’s report details what they say Australia needs to do to avoid the committee placing the reef on its “in danger” list when it meets in China next year.


Nationals party whip Michelle Landry in parliament during question time.
Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP

A heated Nationals party room meeting ended with Queensland LNP MP Michelle Landry lodging an “informal” complaint of bullying against a fellow LNP MP, a matter which Nationals president Larry Anthony told Guardian Australia was “in the past”.

Australian Gondwana-era rainforests may have lost their world heritage value, with Unesco monitoring “closely” the damage inflicted by recent bushfires across Queensland and New South Wales.

Guardian Australia has picked up a Walkley award for coverage of Indigenous affairs for its landmark Killing Times report, which mapped 270 frontier massacres over 140 years in every state and territory.

The world

Former Navy secretary Richard Spencer at a commissioning ceremony for a missile destroyer. Photograph: Lynne Sladky/AP

Recently sacked Navy secretary Richard Spencer has penned a scathing attack on president Donald Trump, saying the US leader had “very little understanding” of how the US military worked after tweeting his support for an officer involved in a war crimes case. Meanwhile, Trump has made an unannounced visit to US troops in Afghanistan and will reportedly restart peace talks with the Taliban.

The European Parliament has declared a global “climate and environmental emergency”, urging all EU countries to commit to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Police in Italy have arrested 19 far-right extremists reportedly looking to form a new Nazi party, with Third Reich paraphernalia, weapons and explosives seized during raids across the country.

Conservative candidates across the UK have been issued a detailed dossier on how to smear Labour or Liberal Democrat opponents, the Guardian can reveal, including numerous rehashed and potentially misleading claims.

Recommended reads

Mention “earthships” and it sounds like you’ve wandered deep into a hippie alternative paradigm. But for a regular South Australian couple, facing a $450,000 bill to join the grid, suddenly a sustainable house wasn’t just a Mother Gaia-approved option but also a big money saver. So what are earthships? Effectively a passive solar shelter made from recycled materials with an emphasis on passive heating, writes Natalie Parletta.

A chance encounter on a train brings Brigid Delaney face to face with a woman grieving profoundly. How do you respond? And what can you do to help that person – a stranger – in this time of loss? “The asymmetry lies in the moment the bereaved looks into the face of the stranger and sees her much-missed son or her sister, and the stranger looks back and sees just another stranger,” writes Delaney.


New South Wales police is investigating the origins of an altered document, used by energy minister Angus Taylor to attack the Sydney lord mayor, that included grossly inflated travel figures for the council. How did the scandal unfold and is there a plausible explanation for this mystery document? On this episode of Full Story, Laura Murphy-Oates speaks with investigative reporter Anne Davies.


Australian captain Tim Paine chats with batsman Steve Smith before the second Test against Pakistan. Photograph: William West/AFP via Getty Images

Having won the opening Test at a canter, Australia will send out an unchanged team in the second and final match of the series against Pakistan at Adelaide Oval today. Follow every ball of the day-night Test with our liveblog. Play starts at 2pm local time, (2.30pm AEDT).

The police chief on duty the day of the Hillsborough tragedy has been found not guilty of manslaughter, following a retrial more than 30 years after the football match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at which 96 people died, writes David Conn.

And it wouldn’t be Friday without David Squires … on the second coming of Ange Postecoglou.

Media roundup

The issue at the heart of Westpac’s recent Austrac scandal was identified by a staff member in 2017, writes the Financial Review, but the warnings got lost in a complex internal hierarchy. A two-part podcast launching in the Courier Mail will examine the re-opening of Australia’s second oldest cold case, the disappearance in 1972 of policewoman Gaye Baker. And tributes have flowed around the world for Dutch football coach and former Socceroos manager Pim Verbeek, who died following a battle with cancer aged 63, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

And if you’ve read this far …

The world’s longest-running animated TV show, the Simpsons, could be “coming to an end” – more than 30 years after it first aired on the Tracey Ullman Show. Composer Danny Elfman suggested the 670-episode show was “in its last year”.

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