Morning mail: Greek inferno, My Health warning, Trump brand dumped | Australia news
Top storiesThe worst wildfire to hit Greece in more than a decade has claimed 74 lives, injured 200 and forced 700 people to flee into the sea for safety. Huge, fast-moving flames trapped familiesas they tried to flee from Mati, 29km east of Athens. Alexis Tsipras declared a state of emergency in the Attica region and ordered three days of national mourning. “Greece is going through an unspeakable tragedy,” the prime minister said as the country activated an EU agreement to request help from fellow member states.
Twenty-six people who died close to the beach “had tried to find an escape route but didn’t make it in time”, Nikos Economopoulos, the head of Greece’s Red Cross, told Skai TV. “Instinctively, seeing the end nearing, they embraced.”
Greg Hunt was wrong to claim that patients’ My Health Record can only be accessed by police with a court order, according to advice from the parliamentary library. The library has warned that the law governing the scheme represents a “significant reduction” in safeguards on police getting medical records because the operator cannot routinely require them to get a warrant. The advice by Nigel Brew, director of foreign affairs defence and security, notes that under section 70 of the My Health Records Act 2012 the Australian Digital Health Agency can disclose health information when it “reasonably believes” it is necessary to investigate or prosecute a crime, to counter “seriously improper conduct” or to “protect the public revenue”. The health minister and the agency both maintain that it “will not release any documents without a court/coronial or similar order”.
Hundreds of people are missing after a hydroelectric dam collapsed in southern Laos, destroying thousands of homes. Five billion cubic metres of water – the equivalent of 2m Olympic swimming pools – swept through the countryside after the accident at the Xepian-Xe Nam Noy hydropower dam, a key component of the country’s controversial ambition to become the “battery of Asia” by selling power to its neighbours.
Activist groups are intensifying efforts to persuade Australian states to demand the 26% emissions reduction target in the national energy guarantee be ramped up, with new analysis suggesting jobs in renewable energy will be lost. A projection from Green Energy Markets, funded by GetUp, says up to 15,000 jobs in large-scale projects in Queensland and Victoria are under threat if the Neg’s emissions reduction targets are not increased. A separate analysis by the the Australia Institute warns that a 26% target for pollution in the electricity sector will increase pressure on sectors including agriculture to reduce emissions to comply with international climate change commitments. Imposing a 26% target in agriculture would mean farmers would have to cull their herds, it says.
Ivanka Trump has been forced out of fashion, with her clothing company folding after a growing consumer boycott. The Trump family has faced intense criticism since the 2016 presidential election that they are using the president’s position to further their own business interests. “After 17 months in Washington, I do not know when or if I will ever return to the business, but I do know that my focus for the foreseeable future will be the work I am doing here in Washington,” Trump said. She started her fashion line in 2007 but last year Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom dropped it, citing “poor performance”.
SportWhen Australian teams do well at Super Rugby level, it can have a knock-on effect. The Waratahs’ appearance in the semi-finals of this year’s competition could have wider ramifications, with their run set to give the Wallabies their best chance in four years of beating the All Blacks in the opening Bledisloe Cup Test.
Geraint Thomas has retained the yellow jersey after a late crash deprived Adam Yates a shot at a stage victory in the Tour de France. It ended a dramatic day in which some riders were sprayed with police foam aimed at a farmers’ protest. Chris Froome was among those requiring medical treatment.
Thinking time“It’s not safe for us.” After Malcolm Turnbull joined other conservative politicians in talking about a so-called “African gangs crisis” in Melbourne, Guardian Australia reporter Luke-Henriques Gomes spent several days in the city’s western suburbs. He found a South Sudanese-Australian community dealing with complex social issues, high unemployment and frustration about parenting in line with modern Australian attitudes. But community leaders remain united in their belief that the media and political storm focused on ethnicity is making things worse. “We feel like we don’t have any back-up in this country,” said Pastor Nathan Kuku. “If even the prime minister uses us as a shield to win votes, who can we go to?”
Dead Lucky, SBS’s new miniseries, has all the promise of being a prestige show. It’s a missing girl tale set in seedy Sydney, involving A-list talent including Rachel Griffiths. Marketing material speaks of a cinematic, fast-paced “gripping thriller”. So why does it lack the golden glow of so much longform storytelling?
In the lead-up to Super Saturday both major parties are playing to their traditional strengths and and are test driving policies for the next federal election, writes Paula Matthewson. “It will be health, education and fairness for Labor, while the Coalition will stick to its credentials as the better economic manager and protector of the nation. However, an unexpected result in any one of the five byelections might change that plan.”
What’s he done now?A week after downplaying Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump has concerns about the mid-terms. “I’m very concerned that Russia will be fighting very hard to have an impact on the upcoming Election,” he tweeted. “Based on the fact that no President has been tougher on Russia than me, they will be pushing very hard for the Democrats. They definitely don’t want Trump!”
Media roundupThe West Australian splashes with a jail breakout at Geraldton’s Greenough regional prison, with 12 inmates escaping after a “disturbance” inside. Police urged nearby residents to lock windows and doors, while a search took place overnight. Oil and gas investment in the Great Australian Bight could provide an economic boon for South Australia, the Advertiser reports, with resources there believed to be equal too or greater than those in Bass Strait. And the ABC reports that a fundraising event held at the Powerhouse Museum for the country’s fashionistas ended up costing the taxpayer $140,000. The event was billed as Australia’s Met Gala.
Coming upThe AMA’s federal president, Dr Tony Bartone, will speak to the National Press Club about health reform. He is likely to face questions about privacy concerns over My Health Record.
Three men will appear in court charged with public nuisance and trespass after allegedly badgering worshippers at two Brisbane mosques.