Hello, and happy Monday. Sydney is on Covid standby, China’s rocket (or parts of it) landed, en die federal begroting comes out tomorrow (which people already have plenty to say about). It’s Imogen Dewey with the main stories for you this morning, plus a podcast about those plummeting sperm counts.
The Morrison government will allocate more than $4bn to infrastructure projects in Tuesday night’s budget as part of efforts to lock in economic recovery after the pandemic and drive down unemployment. While such investments improve the productive capacity of the Australian economy, the program will also help lay the groundwork for an election contest either late in 2021 or early next year. New analysis meanwhile shows the government last year spent just 16 cents out of every $100 addressing the climate crisis, and that spending on the environment and climate programs has fallen by nearly a third since the Coalition was elected eight years ago. (The Australian Conservation Foundation is calling for policy reform matched by investment.) The government preannounced a number of measures op Sondag, including $353.9m in spending for women’s health initiatives, and signalled that more than $10bn will be committed to aged care. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg yesterday told the ABC the royal commission had confirmed the sector was “in dire need of reform”.
Frydenberg also confirmed the budget is based on the assumption that Australia’s international borders will remain shut until 2022. As the Morrison government continues to cop flack for its delayed vaccine rollout, die premier agreed that the borders will stay closed for the foreseeable future. At home, New South Wales is extending most of its Covid-19 restrictions for another week. There were no new cases yesterday, but authorities are still struggling to identify the missing link between a quarantine case and the recent, small outbreak.
In ander nuus, the federal government is eyeing a Canadian model of community sponsorship of refugees after a review of Australia’s support program. Guardian Australia understands the government is looking favourably at some elements of the Canadian scheme where private groups or community organisations cover the financial costs and settlement support for humanitarian entrants. Canada has welcomed more than 300,000 refugees since the community sponsorship program has been in place since the 1970s.
A property developer has been accused of not being honest about its plans in the Toondah harbour wetlands, after new documents reveal it assured an international environment group it would do no harm to the protected site while lobbying the Coalition with plans to build on it.
Alleged Isis recruiter Mohamed Zuhbi was arrested and charged with terrorism offences on his return to Australia on Saturday. The Sydney man allegedly travelled to Turkey in 2013 and on to Syria, where police say he recruited foreign fighters.
Volleyball on Sydney’s Bondi and Tamarama beaches is under review after complaints of risk to beachgoers. Waverley Council is reconsidering the popular practice, which could lead to new restrictions, a reduction in nets or a ban on the sport.
Israel’s supreme court delayed a deeply contentious decision on whether Palestinians can be evicted by force to make way for Jewish settlers, na hundreds of Palestinians were wounded in some of Jerusalem’s worst unrest in years.
Remnants of China’s biggest rocket have landed in the Indian Ocean, ending days of speculation over where the debris would hit and drawing US criticism over a lack of transparency and “failing to meet responsible standards”.
Dozens of girls were buried on Sunday at a desolate hilltop cemetery in Kabul, a day after a secondary school was targeted in the bloodiest attack in Afghanistan in over a year.
Nicola Sturgeon has told Boris Johnson that a second independence referendum is “a matter of when, not if” after the Scottish National party secured a historic fourth term on Saturday.
“Wherever you are on the planet, the last 12 months have been very difficult. In seeking the strongest economic recovery from the pandemic, it is understandable that many on the centre-right in particular want to focus on boosting existing industries.” But as Liberal MP Trent Zimmerman and UK Tory MP Philip Dunne write in this joint piece: “When it comes to the energy sources of the future, investing in coal power would be an expensive mistake, not just for the environment but for the economy too.”
“Are we progressive? My oath we are!” In Albany, on the wild southern coast of Western Australia, granite peaks and bushland studded with wildflowers have sheltered the Menang Noongar people for up to 80,000 jare. And alongside the area’s ancient Indigenous heritage and a wealth of more recent historic sites, the cafes aren’t bad either. Carolyn Beasley gets to know the locals.
Oor die verlede 40 jare, average sperm counts among western men have more than halved. Aan today’s episode of Full Story, Dr Shanna Swan, a professor of environmental medicine and public health at Mount Sinai school of medicine in New York City, talks to Rachel Humphreys about why.
“Doing nothing with a deal of skill,” is how the 18th-century poet William Cowper expressed the concept of masterly inactivity. It’s commonplace in healthcare and parenting, where outcomes can be negatively affected by unnecessary interference. But in sport, writes Jonathan Howcroft, doing nothing skilfully is more challenging than it sounds – especially if your name isn’t Lionel Messi.
Hundreds of athletes participated in a test event at Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium yesterday as organisers fine-tuned operations and Covid countermeasures with less than three months to go before the Games. No spectators were present, as Tokyo remains under a state of emergency because of a rise in coronavirus cases.
Casino operator The Star Entertainment Group has proposed a $12bn merger with James Packer’s Crown Resorts, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. Facebook is investing $15m in regional Australian newsrooms, reports the Australian Financial Review. According to the Advertiser, 841 workplace harassment claims by SA public servants – close to $40m – have been paid out over the past five years. Experts have told the ABC NSW police needs to urgently overhaul the way it deals with perpetrators of domestic violence in its ranks, as victims face ongoing issues getting help. Meanwhile this weekend in the Saturday Paper, Hugh White warned that a conflict with China would be likely to go nuclear – and that the Morrison government’s nonchalance is “disconcerting”.
The federal budget is out tomorrow, and parliament will meet in Canberra.
How private is your Gmail, and should you switch? You might be surprised how much Google’s email service – and others – know about you. Kate O’Flaherty has some tips on how to set some boundaries.
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