Good morning. Poor Covid support payment access causes community anger, the World Health Organization confirms the rapid global spread of the Delta variant, and Brisbane gets ready for Olympic fever … in 2032. Those headlines and more, in Thursday’s morning mail.
Locked-down and out-of-work Australians are struggling to access Covid-19 support payments, with online systems and in-person services overwhelmed with demand. Requirements including in-person identification have been slammed by the union representing Centrelink workers as “unacceptable”, leaving staff liable to infection and causing queues at branches. New retail figures suggest lockdowns in Sydney and Melbourne will drive economic contractions, with the construction industry hit especially hard, affecting nearly half a million workers in Sydney alone. But a Perth-based private boys’ school has announced an operating surplus of $8m last year, after receiving $7m worth of jobkeeper subsidies. The Hale school has not yet clarified whether it will return the funds.
Brisbane will host the 2032 Olympic Games after formally being endorsed by the International Olympic Committee in Tokyo. Led by the Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, Australia’s bid committee made an in-person submission to the IOC, before being grilled on issues including the Games’ sustainability. Australia’s third Games, after Melbourne 1956 and Sydney 2000, are expected to cost $5bn, but ticket revenue, sponsorship and broadcast rights are expected to recoup a substantial percentage of this. Brisbane will also host the Paralympic Games.
An Afghan intelligence operative who aided coalition forces against the Taliban is suing the Australian government, concerned about the welfare of his immediate family who he has been unable to protect, having spent the past eight years in mandatory detention. The now 37-year-old fled Afghanistan in 2013, after Taliban troops attacked his house with grenades, but his wife and four children remain there. The man was recognised for his service to US troops but is now suffering reprisals, with 15 members of his extended family killed by the Taliban. The Australian government has rejected his application to be released, saying it does not have a legal obligation towards Afghan citizens in Kabul who had not made a claim for protection in Australia.
Australia could generate significant new electricity capacity through offshore windfarms, a new report has argued. Massive ocean-based windfarms could add 2000GW to Australia’s energy supply: about 80 times the size of current new wind projects.
Qantas is to receive $2bn in Covid-related government support, leaving the Morrison government facing criticism as to why it hasn’t sought to receive equity in the private company in exchange for public funds.
The Labor frontbencher Kristina Keneally has accused the federal Coalition of “normalising misconduct” after the prime minister was given final say over the allocation of $800m in manufacturing grants, despite previous backlash over the sports rorts and commuter car park fund controversies.
Rescue workers in Germany do “not expect” to find any more survivors of the 155 people missing a week on from devastating floods in the country’s west. One hundred and seventy-one people have been confirmed dead after affected areas received two months’ worth of rain in two days.
The World Health Organization has confirmed that it expects the Delta variant to become dominant globally “within months”. The more virulent strain of Covid-19 has reached 124 territories around the world, with India, the UK, Russia and Brazil especially badly effected.
Turkey has been condemned for its pledge to resettle an abandoned Greek town in northern Cyprus, with the US joining EU condemnation of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s announcement.
Israel is reportedly forming a taskforce to manage the fallout from the Pegasus project revelations, after allegations that a leading Israeli firm sold sophisticated surveillance technology to authoritarian states.
Even by his own standards of spinning and deflecting, Scott Morrison’s press performances on Wednesday were “really quite something”, writes political editor Katharine Murphy. “In this story the prime minister was intent on crafting – the story of how Australia’s very obviously suboptimal vaccination rollout was ‘challenging’ but the problems, fundamentally, were not his fault – Morrison wanted to be both active and passive. A plucky persevering hero and a victim: apparently not comprehending that both logic and confidence could be a casualty of this self-serving narrative.”
“Is it normal to feel depressed after having the vaccine?” That’s the question posed this week to advice columnist Eleanor Gordon-Smith. In the absence of certainty about the future, physical and emotional slumps can be expected. “Though the pandemic is a long way from over, many of us are crossing things that feel like emotional finish lines – the vaccine, returning to work or school, booking a flight to go home. Those moments uncork our reserves of exhaustion.” But there are solutions: rest; working with hands; or just plain silliness.
Patrick Lenton has been “forced to guzzle down” internet culture “every day like a thirsty orphan lamb”. Thankfully so for us, as he’s this week’s curator of the 10 funniest things on the internet. But you can pretty much stop at No 1 on his list: Kristin Wiig as Liza Minnelli? Chef’s kiss.
They’re the subjects of strict lockdown policing. But on this episode of Full Story we hear from five residents from three affected western Sydney local government areas on how they think the state government, media and police have responded to the latest Covid-19 wave.
The Matildas have started their Olympics campaign brightly, with only a late consolation goal blotting their copybook against New Zealand, as they ran out 2-1 winners. Elsewhere in Group G, Sweden delivered a major tournament shock, beating perennial favourites United States 3-0. In softball, Australia needed the “mercy rule” against hosts and favourites Japan.
The first women’s game of the Hundred is under way, with the new shortened form of cricket showcasing international talent as the Oval Invincibles take on the Manchester Originals. Follow the latest in our liveblog.
Two founders of the NDIS disability payments scheme have lambasted both state and federal governments’ failures to handle the $25bn program, the Australian reports, slamming a “combination of arrogance, incompetence and power” in botching implementation. The NSW deputy premier, John Barilaro, has criticised his own government’s decision not to allow council demergers in the state, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. And Scott Morrison says Australia should avoid a second recession, writes the Financial Review, with the precedent of last year’s economic recovery cited as the basis for his confidence.
A study on how Covid has affected women’s choices on whether to have children will be released.
A decision will be made on whether NT police officer Zachary Rolfe’s murder trial will go ahead next week.
There’s a new way to stand out on your online dating profile. With hungry “swipers” often only giving prospective mates a cursory glance, dating app Bumble has announced a feature that could help some stand out in the crowd: a “vaccination badge”. So if you like your strangers tall, dark and jabbed, get ready to swipe right.
If you would like to receive the Guardian Australia morning mail to your email inbox every weekday, sign up here.
If you have any questions or comments about any of our newsletters please email email@example.com.