Good morning, this is Emilie Gramenz bringing you the main stories and must-reads on Friday 4 September.
There are growing fears for missing crew on board a cargo ship carrying 6,000 cattle that sank in stormy weather off the Japanese coast on Wednesday. The vessel was carrying 39 Filipinos, two Australians and two New Zealanders. One of the missing Australians is Queensland father Lukas Orda, 25, who was working on the live export ship as a veterinarian, a job he had only begun in June after leaving a horse veterinary practice on the Gold Coast. Michael Lowcock, a Catholic priest from the town of Mount Isa in Queensland, said Orda’s family were “very devastated” by news the ship had sunk. The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is providing consular assistance to the families. New Zealand has suspended live cattle exports in the wake of the tragedy.
Border controls are top of the agenda as Scott Morrison meets with state and territory leaders today, and a review of the current cap on international arrivals will also be considered. The head of the Victorian Chamber of Commerce says Covid-19 roadmap templates for business are based around a four-step “traffic light” system, as Victorians eagerly await the exit plan from lockdown on Sunday. Diarrhoea and vomiting could be an important sign of Covid-19 in children, according to a yet-to-be-peer-reviewed study by researchers at King’s College London. Health officials are worried the US isn’t ready for Covid vaccines due to a lack of staff, funds and tools. India reported a record daily rise of 83,883 coronavirus infections on Thursday, taking its total to 3.85m cases.
An Australian writer who has been detained by Chinese authorities for more than 19 months has revealed he’s been interrogated more than 300 times and taken to meetings handcuffed and blindfolded. Yang Hengjun, in his first external communication in months, has rejected Chinese reports he had confessed to espionage, stating: “I am innocent and will fight to the end.” Yang, who has been held in China on spying charges without facing trial, has been allowed meetings with his lawyer and Australian diplomats this week.
Environment minister Sussan Ley has appointed an auditor to investigate her own department over the export of hundreds of native and endangered parrots to Germany. The Berlin-based Association for the Conservation of Threatened Parrots received permission to receive 232 birds between 2015 and November 2018. Guardian Australia revealed in 2018 that the Australian government permitted the export of hundreds of birds to a German organisation despite concerns they were being offered for sale rather than exhibited.
A company founded and run by a man the prime minister, Scott Morrison, describes as “a very dear friend” has received more than $43m in government contracts since 2015, mostly from defence, while being a registered charity helping Indigenous businesses with advice.
Property developers have demanded about $194m in compensation from the Victorian government, claiming the value of land they owned was slashed by the establishment of a troubled grasslands reserve. Five companies run by Bert Dennis filed claims in the state’s supreme court on Tuesday.
The Australian government’s marine park authority has found under-regulated fishing along the Great Barrier Reef is putting the world’s biggest coral reef system at risk. Queensland’s fisheries minister, Mark Furner, said the government remained committed to fishery reforms and they were still “on track”.
Boris Johnson is under mounting pressure to backtrack over the appointment of Tony Abbott as a trade adviser. Facing the prospect of another potentially embarrassing U-turn, Downing Street last night insisted that “no decisions” had been taken over the choice of the former Australian prime minister.
Actor Robert Pattinson has tested positive for Covid-19, according to US media reports, halting production of his film The Batman just days after it resumed following lockdown.
The Trump administration has identified dozens of major fossil fuel, energy and water projects that could be fast-tracked by expediting environmental reviews amid the pandemic, according to internal government documents.
The president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, has claimed that his security forces intercepted German calls showing that the Kremlin foe Alexei Navalny’s poisoning was faked. Lukashenko provided no further details but said he would hand over transcripts to Russia’s security services.
Australia is one of the only democracies in the world that has effectively banned its citizens from leaving, ending a long run of hyper-mobility, writes Brigid Delaney: “The idea of keeping its citizens in, and outsiders out (even if these outsiders are Australians travelling or living abroad), is profoundly alien to a generation that has taken unfettered freedom of movement for granted. A shift in the national psyche is sure to follow.”
Burning bush, melting Arctic, a deadly virus: nobody said the end times would be boring. John Birmingham has penned a response to 2020. “For a few months there you could finally see the world accelerating towards the existential discontinuity of irreversible, devastating climate change. No more projections. No theories. No modelling or arcane math. The future had arrived.”
The first line of a novel is like the first notes of a song. It sets the mood, establishes the tempo, inaugurates the particular quality of what’s to follow. SL Lim’s second novel, Revenge, opens with a disturbing act of violence. The first line drops with an assertion: “I’m the one who’s in charge around here.”
What has four years of Donald Trump meant for the climate crisis? On Full Story, Guardian US reporter Emily Holden looks at the Trump administration’s impact on the environment, and the consequences if he wins another term.
In present form the Brisbane Lions are as good a shot as any to lift the premiership trophy on 24 October – but they will be doing no such thing unless they fix their wretched kicking for goal. Despite modern AFL’s advancements in coaching and mindfulness, inaccuracy in front of goal continues to plague the professional footballer.
To finish the international summer, a clash of Ashes rivals but not quite as we know it. At the Rose Bowl on Friday there is the first of three Twenty20 games between England and Australia. Both sides are being incredibly polite to one another.
Guardian Australia cartoonist David Squires looks at a fittingly unique climax to a campaign like no other, with the final word on the A-league season.
Environmental water buybacks will be axed and the Murray-Darling Basin Authority will be stripped of its enforcement role in the biggest shake-up of the river system’s management in a decade, according to The Australian. The Age is reporting contact tracing would shift from Victoria’s Health Department to local hubs under a plan put forward by infectious disease experts and community leaders. In the Courier Mail, health authorities say the risk to aged care home residents in Laidley, west of Brisbane is “very low” despite a staff member working for about two days while infectious with Covid-19.
National Cabinet will meet to discuss border closures and other Covid-related issues.
Victoria’s Covid-19 hotel quarantine inquiry continues.
The Northern Territory Electoral Commission is set to finalise the election result.