Morning mail: Rush damages 'excessive', Trump taxes, Melbourne Cup hyperbole

Helen Sullivan
Photograph: Joel Carrett/AAP

Good morning, this is Helen Sullivan bringing you the main stories and must-reads on Tuesday 5 November.

Top stories

The lawyers for Sydney’s Daily Telegraph have argued that $2.9m in damages awarded to Geoffrey Rush in his defamation case against the paper were “manifestly excessive” and out of line with other high-profile cases. The Telegraph through its parent company, Nationwide News, began its appeal on Monday against the federal court judge Michael Wigney’s ruling that the Rupert Murdoch-owned newspaper had defamed Rush by alleging he “engaged in inappropriate behaviour” during a Sydney Theatre Company production of King Lear in 2015. The first day of a two-day appeal ended on a dramatic note, when in an 11th-hour change of heart the newspaper dropped its claim that Wigney’s conduct in the case “gave rise to an apprehension of bias”.

Donald Trump’s accounting firm must hand over eight years of his tax returns to New York prosecutors, a US appeals court tuled on Monday in the latest setback for the US president in his attempts to keep his finances secret. Jay Sekulow, a lawyer for Trump, said: “We will be taking this case to the supreme court.” That will preclude the immediate release of the information. Meanwhile, E Jean Carroll, the widely respected New York journalist who alleges Trump raped her in the Bergdorf Goodman department store in the mid-1990s, is suing the president for defamation after he ridiculed her claim on the grounds she was “not my type”.

The animal cruelty scandal has not diminished the coverage of the Melbourne Cup, writes Amanda Meade. The race is “in every sense a sacred occasion, unique to the Western world”, a commentator in the Australian wrote yesterday. There is no shortage of hyperbole when it comes to the print media’s obsession with the Melbourne Cup and Sydney’s Everest. The horse racing writer Ken Callander says race attendances are down but gambling keeps the sport alive. “You’ve only got to look at the money that’s invested in horse races with the corporate bookmakers and you realise that there’s still a great interest,” Callander told Guardian Australia. “If you go into any hotel or club on a Saturday afternoon … you’ll be amazed by the interest of the punters in the TAB areas.”


The move to eschew cash has come more quickly than the mint expected. Photograph: Joel Carrett/AAP

Australia’s embrace of a cashless society has seen coin production at the Royal Australian Mint plummet, with revenues from coin sales down more than 30% compared with last year.

A 10-year-old girl who lives with Asperger syndrome was hit over the head, pushed from a pier and began hiding in a garbage bin to avoid further bullying, the disability royal commission has been told.

Australia is failing its birds headed for extinction. A 2018 report by the National Threatened Species Hub indicated that some of the birds in this year’s bird of the year poll may not exist in the wild if the vote were to be run in 20 years’ time.

A unique private sponsorship program has relocated dozens of refugees who had sought asylum in Australia from Papua New Guinea to Canada, giving them a chance “to be human again”.

The world

Nasa’s Voyager 2 has sent back its first message from interstellar space. It’s the most detailed look yet at the edge of our solar system – despite Nasa scientists having no idea at the outset that it would survive to see this landmark.

Hillary Clinton has said Mark Zuckerberg “should pay a price” for what he is doing to democracy, as she expressed doubts about whether free and fair elections were even possible in the wake of Facebook’s decision to not factcheck political advertising.

Downing Street has effectively blocked the publication of a potentially explosive parliamentary report on the security threat that Russia poses to the UK until after the general election.

The US has condemned Chinese “intimidation” in the South China Sea, alleging it has bullied smaller south-east Asian nations by militarising the resource-rich waters and seeking to control the global trade route.

Greek police have found 41 people alive in a refrigerated truck. At least a third had developed breathing problems and seven were taken to a nearby hospital with respiratory problems.

Recommended reads

Lucy Clark has drawn back the curtain on Helen Garner’s mind. “Marry the forbidden, voyeuristic pleasure of reading a person’s diaries with the well-known predilections of a writer like Garner, whose reputation for unflinching self-interrogation precedes her, and the anticipation is almost too much,” she writes for Guardian Australia’s The Unmissables. “Is it safe to go in? Do you really want to see the things you will find here?”

The past year has been the worst for Australian retail since the 1990 recession, writes Greg Jericho: “It is clear the tax cuts and interest rate cuts alone are not enough. The latest retail figures are yet more evidence that if the Morrison government wants to have any economic credibility, the mid-year economic and fiscal outlook to be released next month must contain some fiscal stimulus measures. And really, given the state of the economy, the government shouldn’t even wait that long.”


At a BBC editorial meeting in the 80s, managers discussed how to approach the subject of David Attenborough’s retirement. How would they replace the presenter who had become synonymous with their natural history programs but who was now in his 60s? They never found an answer and Attenborough has proved irreplaceable. On Today in Focus, The Guardian’s Patrick Barkham speaks to David Attenborough before his major new series Seven Worlds, One Planet, and tells Anushka Asthana how he became such a cherished figure.


Lewis Hamilton’s hunger for success is still nowhere near sated, even after passing Juan Manuel Fangio to become second in the all-time rankings, one shy of Michael Schumacher’s seven titles. Hamilton will celebrate his 35th birthday in January then set his sights on matching the German’s record.

It’s time for the all-important Guardian Rugby World Cup awards. From Japan’s Michael Leitch and England’s win over the All Blacks to TJ Perenara’s try of the tournament, the Guardian’s rugby experts deliver their verdicts.

Media roundup

Australia has joined the world’s largest trade pact, with 15 countries agreeing to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, reports the Australian. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is planning to sue Google, according to the Australian Financial Review. And a list of buildings across NSW potentially clad in flammable material totals 444, but will be kept secret from the public, the Sydney Morning Herald reveals.

Coming up

It’s the first Tuesday in November and that means it’s time for the race that stops – and divides – a nation to take place at Flemington.

The Reserve Bank will hold its monthly board meeting to decide on the cash rate.

And if you’ve read this far …

In the basement food halls of Japan’s ritzy department stores you’ll find some of the world’s most expensive fruit – single melon can sell for upwards of 15,000 yen (about A$200) and a bunch of 15 or so grapes for 8,000 – writes Adam Liaw.

Sign up

If you would like to receive the Guardian Australia morning mail to your email inbox every weekday, sign up here.