Morning mail: Hekmatullah living as ‘hero’ in Kabul, Barilaro at inquiry, Australia’s best musicals

·6 min read
<span>Photograph: EPA</span>
Photograph: EPA

Good morning. The former NSW deputy premier John Barilaro will appear before an inquiry examining his controversial appointment to a lucrative US trade role and Australia is nudging towards becoming the first country to approach 1,000 gold medals in the penultimate day of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

A rogue Afghan soldier who killed three unarmed Australian soldiers in Afghanistan a decade ago is living in a luxury home in the capital Kabul after being treated as a “returning hero” after being released from prison in 2020 by the Taliban. “[Hekmatullah] was welcomed back to Kabul as a hero … with a house, car, guards, an amnesty for his crimes, his expenses are being paid for,” a former Afghan government official confirmed to the Guardian. “He is being treated as a hero.” Hekmatullah has previously said he does not regret the murders and vowed to kill anyone who opposes the Taliban. “I will continue killing Australians. I am among my brothers, we will be free, Afghanistan will be free. We will kill you.”

China has wrapped up its unprecedented four days of drills that showcased Beijing’s growing military prowess and determination to challenge what it called “any attempt to separate Taiwan from China”, after the controversial visit to the island democracy last week by the US House speaker, Nancy Pelosi. Chinese and Taiwanese warships shadowed each other on Sunday in the hours before the scheduled end of the military exercises. On Sunday, a Chinese state television commentator said the Chinese military would now conduct “regular” drills on the Taiwan side of the line, saying the “historic task” of China’s “reunification” could be realised.

Motorists could have saved $5.9bn in fuel costs over the last six years if Australia had adopted fuel-efficiency standards in 2015, according to a new report released as part of a push for Labor to adopt standards as a means to cut emissions and decrease reliance on foreign oil. The conclusion of the Australia Institute’s Fuelling Efficiency report finds that the release of 9m tonnes of carbon dioxide would have been prevented, similar to a year’s worth of emissions from domestic aviation, and that Australia would have needed to import 4,000 megalitres less fuel.


Former NSW deputy premier John Barilaro.
Former NSW deputy premier John Barilaro. Photograph: Bianca de Marchi/AAP

The NSW Labor opposition will seek to expand an inquiry into the appointment of former deputy premier John Barilaro to a US trade job to also look at other lucrative overseas-based roles.

Australians will be challenged to stop resisting solutions “in their back yard” to the homelessness crisis, as the Albanese government attempts to drive social housing construction.

Education ministers will attempt to address the national teacher shortage in a meeting this Friday, as universities call for longer school placements, teaching apprenticeships and collaboration between government, schools and unions in tackling the problem.

The world

Palestinian rockets streak into the sky in a picture taken from the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon.
Palestinian rockets fired from the Gaza Strip on to the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon on 7 August. Photograph: Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images

Israel and the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad have agreed to a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip after three days of cross-border fighting triggered by surprise Israeli airstrikes, according to reports.

Russia is strengthening its positions and numbers on Ukraine’s southern front to ready itself for a Ukrainian counteroffensive and is likely to be preparing the ground to attack, according to British and Ukrainian military authorities.

Following decades of political rancour and fossil fuel industry obfuscation, the US is almost certain to make its first significant attempt to tackle the climate crisis. Experts say it will help rewire the American economy and act as an important step in averting disastrous global heating.

Despite promises of peace and stability, Afghanistan is on its knees and its people are desperate. Emma Graham-Harrison reports from Kabul nearly a year after the Taliban seized control of the country.

Recommended reads

Musicals speak the language of the heart so we followed ours to create a list of the greatest Australian musicals of stage and screen. It was a challenge to pick these 15 absolute gems – from the glittery fun of Priscilla to a whole show about the career of Paul Keating.

How do you stay active during a wet Covid winter when the gym has never looked so uninviting? Guardian Australia readers and experts tell us how they’re exercising when it’s cold, wet and miserable.


Labor’s climate bill, enshrining their emissions reduction targets into law, is set to pass both houses of parliament. The support of the Greens – which now holds considerable power in the Senate – was hard-won, but Greens leader Adam Bandt warns “the fight to stop Labor opening new coal and gas mines continues”. In today’s Full Story, environment editor Adam Morton explores what this moment means for climate action in Australia and how the Greens party could shape climate politics in the 47th parliament.

Full Story is Guardian Australia’s daily news podcast. Subscribe for free on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or any other podcasting app.


Jordan Petaia dives through the air as he scores one of the Wallabies’ tries in the Rugby Championship win over Argentina at Estadio Malvinas Argentinas.
Jordan Petaia scores one of the Wallabies’ tries in the Rugby Championship win over Argentina at Estadio Malvinas Argentinas. Photograph: Daniel Jayo/Getty Images

The Wallabies have opened their Rugby Championship campaign with a rousing 41-26 victory over Argentina, dedicating the win to absent skipper Michael Hooper. But the win looked to have come at a cost with playmaker Quade Cooper assisted from the field with an apparent ankle injury.

Another rush of gold on a tense day in Birmingham has Australia within reach of two major achievements as the 2022 Commonwealth Games reaches its conclusion. Australia holds a decisive lead on host nation England on the medal table and, with T20 cricketers claiming victory over India, are also within reach of becoming the first nation to claim 1,000 Commonwealth Games gold medals.

Ollie Hoare swooped at the last to win Australia’s first middle-distance gold at the Commonwealth Games since Herb Elliott in 1958. Hoare promised to buy the legendary Elliott, who is now 84, a drink. It will surely be quite some celebration.

Media roundup

Sophie Scamps, a GP before joining parliament, is demanding action on junk food advertising, claiming Australia’s obesity epidemic threatens to overwhelm the nation’s health system, the Sydney Morning Herald reports. And according to the Daily Telegraph, Sydney’s gang war has seen Rookwood Cemetery fill up so quickly, police fear it may become a new battleground for rivals who bump into each other as they pay their respects.

Coming up

The Albanese government will lodge a “significant” and “meaningful” aged care wage rise submission with the Fair Work Commission.

And if you’ve read this far …

Find out why one of the more unexpected effects of the Covid pandemic in the UK has been the rise of … naturism.

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