Morning mail: two local Covid cases in Sydney, Labor backs gas, Sky News goes regional

·7 min read

Good morning. Sydney has recorded two new Covid cases, Joe Biden has met Vladimir Putin in Europe and a giant diamond has been found in Botswana. These stories and more make up our Thursday headlines.

A man who lives in Sydney’s eastern suburbs and works as a driver for international flight crews has tested positive to Covid, as has a household contact, with NSW Health listing a string of hotspot venues they visited while potentially infectious. This comes after Victoria announced it would significantly ease coronavirus restrictions from Friday despite a cluster of new cases, with the mandatory wearing of masks outdoors and onerous travel restrictions for Melburnians lifted. Internationally, the UK has recorded its highest one-day tally since February with 9,055 new infections, raising concerns that the Delta variant is spreading aggressively. The EU has once again excluded the UK from its travel “white list” but has added the US and Hong Kong.

Labor is set to tell oil and gas executives that gas remains “critical” to Australia’s transition to a zero carbon economy, with the party’s resources spokesperson, Madeleine King, criticising activists who “demonise all fossil fuels”. King will use a speech to the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association conference in Perth to champion gas jobs, gas exports and gas as “a critical feedstock for Australia’s manufacturing industry, as well as in electricity generation” and the opening up of new reserves, including the Beetaloo basin.

Australian tenants are being encouraged to foot additional costs for their own rent collection, a financial literacy expert has warned, amid the rise of third-party rent payment processors – despite legislation designed to limit the practice. Some tenants pay hundreds of dollars extra at year due to the use of credit cards to meet rent repayments, with incentives such as frequent flyer points offered in return. “It’s a big issue and one that’s been going on for a long time,” the Tenants’ Union of New South Wales chief executive, Leo Patterson-Ross, told Guardian Australia.


Sky News Australia will launch a new free-to-air channel, Sky News Regional, in August after securing deals with two regional broadcasters which can potentially reach more than 7 million viewers. This comes as the federal government refuses to say whether Win will be penalised for shedding up to 20 staff and axing local TV news bulletins months after receiving $4.5m in journalism grants.

The defence whistleblower Witness K faces the “very real prospect” of jail time, according to supporters, three years after the prosecution of the former Australian secret intelligence officer began, as he finally faces sentencing in Canberra.

Scott Morrison has called for global cooperation to ensure peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific, lashing China for undermining the rule of law and threatening a world order that “favours freedom”. In a speech to the council of the OECD in Paris, the PM called for other countries to join in addressing instability, saying an “inclusive and resilient” region would benefit the globe.

A report into sexual harassment inside corporate Australia has found that fewer than half of company boards are regularly discussing the issue, with fewer than one-in-five major companies assigning responsibility for preventing harassment directly to directors.

Australian cotton farmers are trialling the use of shredded old textiles as a means of improving soil, through a major initiative to reduce and reuse waste. An estimated 780,000 tonnes of textile waste is generated in Australia each year.

The world

US president Joe Biden waves before boarding Air Force One
US president Joe Biden waves before boarding Air Force One after the US-Russia summit with Vladimir Putin. Photograph: Martial Trezzini/AFP/Getty Images

Joe Biden has raised the treatment of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny with Vladimir Putin during a face-to-face summit in Geneva. The two world leaders held discussions over three hours spanning topics including Afghanistan, cyber-attacks, and Russian aggression towards the Ukraine, with the US leader calling the talks “positive” and the Russian leader calling them “quite constructive”.

Thousands of homes have been demolished in Karachi as part of works clearing the Pakistani city’s narrow waterways – the blocking of which was seen as a significant factor in the 2020 floods that ravaged the world’s 12th largest city.

The world’s third-largest diamond has been unearthed in Botswana, with the discovery of a 1,098-carat stone, which was unearthed this month. Botswana is Africa’s leading diamond producer.

A man who murdered the mother of their two children has been sentenced in France to life in prison. The killing of Julie Douib by her former partner sparked an outcry over femicide in France. Douib was one of 146 people killed by a partner across the nation in 2019.

Harvey Weinstein will be extradited to California to face additional sexual assault charges after a New York judge ordered his transfer. The disgraced Hollywood mogul is already serving 23 years for two rape convictions.

Recommended reads

Gawen Hamilton's painting, Portrait of John, 2nd Duke of Montagu, his Wife and their Younger Daughter
‘It’s natural to want to share our mental life ... But not everyone’s a good interlocutor.’ Photograph: Heritage Image Partnership/Alamy

“Keeping things private is not the same as keeping them secret.” It’s an important distinction, as advice columnist Eleanor Gordon-Smith cautions in response to the question of whether to disclose newly discovered information about a neurodevelopmental diagnosis. “A hazard of our confessional culture is that we risk wearing our suffering on a badge – as though disclosing it is the only way to purchase legitimacy for our preferences.” And while it’s natural to want to share, the timeline as to when that happens should entirely be dictated by yourself.

The coronavirus pandemic managed to grind most things to a halt, that is except for the inexorable rise of Australian house prices. As Greg Jericho explains, keeping values ticking up has been a central plank of federal government policy for decades, and it’s no different now. “So rather than look to use the recession as a time to push public works or (God forbid) renewable energy projects, instead through the government’s “HomeBuilder” policy the emphasis has been on subsidising private home building.” This time the boom is being fuelled by houses, not apartments.

The internet is a giant cluster of cul-de-sacs. But helping you sort the wheat from the chaff this week on our 10 funniest things on the internet is the writer and poet Alex Gallagher. So whether it’s Grimes’ carbs and fat guide to pregnancy eating, or Richard Dawkin’s bizarre claim of Bin Laden’s ultimate success, sit back and enjoy.


Biloela v the federal government. For three years, residents of the Queensland community have lobbied for the release of a family of Tamil asylum seekers kept in detention. On this episode of Full Story, Ben Smee talks to residents about the bond between the family and their small town.

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


Wales v Turkey, Euros Group A clash
Aaron Ramsey scores the opening goal for Wales against Turkey. Photograph: Naomi Baker/Getty Images

A Socceroos-style green and gold kit has buoyed Wales’ hopes of surviving the group stage after Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey helped mastermind a famous 2-0 win over Turkey, in Group A, in the Azerbaijani capital, Baku.

Paul Pogba has followed Cristiano Ronaldo’s lead in taking exception to official beverage partners of Euro 2020, removing a bottle of Heineken beer from in front of him at a post-match press conference.

Media roundup

School leavers are finding it increasingly hard to find further training or work, the Sydney Morning Herald writes, with the Department of Education’s own annual report showing standards are declining since the introduction of strict targets. Residents in the storm-ravaged Dandenong Ranges could face an additional three-week wait for power, claims the Herald Sun.And the sharp exodus of short-term foreign workers could be masking Australia’s positive employment rates, the ABC reports, with the departure of nearly 300,000 overseas workers undermining the seemingly positive trend in local unemployment rates.

Coming up

The Ben Roberts-Smith defamation case continues.

Federal parliament will sit.

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