Morning mail: voters mark Morrison as 'arrogant', ocean emergency, Sanders surge

Helen Sullivan
Photograph: Kelly Barnes/AAP

Good morning, this is Helen Sullivan bringing you the main stories and must-reads on Tuesday 14 January.

Top stories

Voters have marked down Scott Morrison for his handling of the bushfire crisis, and increasingly see him as arrogant and out of touch, according to the latest Guardian Essential poll. The survey, undertaken from 7 to 11 January, also shows Anthony Albanese has overtaken Morrison as preferred prime minister for the first time since he became leader of the Labor party following the May election. The survey of 1,081 voters shows a shift in the number of people who disapprove of Morrison’s performance, which has increased from 43% in December to 52%. This has been driven by an increase in those who strongly disapprove – up from 22% in December to 32%.

The heat in the world’s oceans reached a new record level in 2019, showing “irrefutable and accelerating” heating of the planet. The world’s oceans are the clearest measure of the climate emergency because they absorb more than 90% of the heat trapped by the greenhouse gases emitted by fossil fuel burning, forest destruction and other human activities. The new analysis shows the past five years are the top five warmest years recorded in the ocean and the past 10 years are also the top 10 years on record. The amount of heat being added to the oceans is equivalent to every person on the planet running 100 microwave ovens all day and all night.

The Australian government is keeping draft versions of its strategy for helping the Pacific deal with climate change secret, prompting concerns it may be hiding changes that weakened the final report. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s climate change action strategy was released in in November. The department’s draft report had languished in the office of the foreign affairs minister, Marise Payne, for nine months. Seeking to understand whether the minister’s office influenced the final version, the Greens senator Mehreen Faruqi lodged a freedom of information request for the draft copy, which the department gave to the minister’s office in February last year. But the government is now refusing to release the draft, arguing it is not in the public interest and would “undermine the value and authority of the final climate change strategy”.


The business community will push for the extension of recovery grants to those affected by bushfires in Victoria as well as government support for “exceptional circumstances” faced by businesses indirectly affected by the national crisis.

Humane Society International staff have described what they say are apocalyptic scenes on fire-ravaged Kangaroo Island in South Australia, where they have set up a base rescuing injured wildlife.

Heavy rains forecast for this week are unlikely to end Australia’s long-running bushfire threat, despite pockets expected in bushfire-affected areas.

The world

Senator Bernie Sanders’ slogan of ‘Not me. Us’ has captured how his loyal supporters have propelled him to the top of an influential poll of Iowa caucus goers. Photograph: Jeff Kowalsky/AFP via Getty Images

Support for Bernie Sanders is surging in Iowa and New Hampshire as his campaign touts new signs of growth in his support, particularly among young people of colour. Things are faring less well for Cory Booker, who has dropped out of the race.

Iranian authorities fired live ammunition to disperse protesters in Tehran on Sunday night, wounding several people, according to witness accounts provided to the Guardian and footage circulating on social media.

Joker leads the Oscars 2020 pack, with 11 nominations. 1917, The Irishman and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood are up for 10, and Parasite and Little Women have six nominations. Here’s the full list.

A group of US environmental activists were listed as “extremists” in Department of Homeland Security documents and some of its members listed alongside white nationalists and mass killers, documents obtained by the Guardian reveal.

Recommended reads

A wallaby eats a carrot air-dropped in bushfire-hit areas around Wollemi and Yengo national parks in NSW. Photograph: Nsw Dpie/Reuters

The ecologist Chris Dickman has estimated more than a billion animals have died in the Australian bushfires – a figure that excludes fish, frogs, bats and insects. On Monday, the government announced $50m to help rescue and protect wildlife affected by the crisis and environment groups released a list of fauna species for which they hold immediate concerns. But the list is far from exhaustive and there won’t be a clear picture of the extent of the impact on plant and animal life until experts can access fire-ravaged habitats and conduct assessments.

Nothing Scott Morrison has said suggests any change in policy that will actually involve emissions reductions, writes Greg Jericho. “Instead he has quickly adopted the new go-to response of climate change deniers – that of the need to adapt and ‘improve resilience’. The new argument is that yes climate change is probably to blame, but we can’t do anything about it, and anyway it’s too late now, so let’s ‘adapt’. And what does that adaptation involve? According to Morrison, ‘Building dams is key to that. Native vegetation management is key to that. Land clearing is key to that.’ In other words doing the very things conservatives have been desirous of for the past century – building dams, reducing national parks and increasing land clearing.”


Newcastle Jets’ W-League game against Adelaide United being postponed due to air quality and temperature concerns was a touch serendipitous, writes Ella Reilly. “Coach Craig Deans – who has taken the reins of the club’s A-League team following the dismissal of Ernie Merrick – would not have been at the helm of the women’s team had the match been given the green light.”

The Rabbitohs now have arguably the most potent backline in the NRL, having landed the most dynamic player on the market, writes Nick Tedeschi. Latrell Mitchell will now follow up playing for Trent Robinson by learning at the feet of Wayne Bennett while playing for a club that has long been renowned as a leader in mentoring Indigenous talent.

Media roundup

Fire retardant dropped across New South Wales could contaminate the water supply and threaten aquatic life, the Sydney Morning Herald reveals. “A coronial inquest into the rape and murder of South Australian outback nurse Gayle Woodford has heard ‘a catalogue of blunders’ allowed her killer to ‘slip through the cracks’,” reports the ABC. The Australian leads with the headline Renewables key to carbon cuts, writing that Scott Morrison’s plan to further reduce emissions “will consider more than 100 new technologies, predicts a doubling of renewable energy in the electricity grid within 10 years and aims to modernise high-­polluting industries”.

Coming up

The Australian cricket team begins its tour of India in Mumbai tonight with the first of three one-day internationals. Play gets under way at 1900 AEST; follow every ball with our cricket liveblog.

And if you’ve read this far …

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