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Feb 24, 2019

Morning mail: boat scare founders, Brexit delay, Dolly Parton's world

Helen Sullivan

Good morning, this is Helen Sullivan bringing you the main stories and must-reads on Monday 25 February.

Top stories

The Morrison government’s border protection offensive has failed to turn around negative voter sentiment, according to the latest Newspoll, with Labor still ahead on the two-party-preferred measure 53% to 47%. The latest survey, published by the Australian on Sunday night, has Labor’s primary vote on 39% and the Coalition’s on 37%. The survey was taken at the tail end of a brutal parliamentary week, where senior government figures were embroiled in controversies, ranging from the finance minister, Mathias Cormann, forgetting to pay for private travel arranged through a Liberal party office holder and donor, and Michaelia Cash facing a fresh barrage of criticism for failing to provide a witness statement to police investigating a leak from her office. Scott Morrison will today deliver a speech in Melbourne announcing that he’s rebadging Tony Abbott’s emissions reduction fund as a “climate solutions fund” – with $2bn to be rolled out over 10 years. The emissions reduction fund is a vestige of Abbott’s heavily criticised Direct Action policy. Morrison’s fund will partner with farmers, local governments and businesses to deliver “practical climate solutions” across the economy that reduce carbon emissions.
Labor will commit to a new fund to support measures including 500 new counsellors to help victims of financial services scandals pursue compensation as part of its response to the Hayne royal commission. The banking “fairness” fund, worth $640m over four years, adds to last week’s announcement of a new compensation scheme allowing some victims of banking scandals to have their cases reopened, with the caps for potential payouts lifted to up to $2m. As well as pressing on with Labor’s banking response, Bill Shorten has told Scott Morrison the opposition intends to begin “exercising its right to seek public service briefings” under guidelines associated with the caretaker conventions.
An inquest into the death of the Iranian refugee Omid Masoumali is expected to examine why it took more than a day to medically evacuate him to Australia. Masmoumali set himself on fire after almost three years in detention on Nauru. The hearing will begin in Brisbane on Monday morning. It comes amid national debate about medical evacuations, and the passage of independent-led legislation to allow for medically necessary transfers from offshore detention. Masoumali died in Brisbane in April 2016. He was initially treated in hospital in Nauru and later was taken to Brisbane for specialist burns treatment.


Brexit could be delayed until 2021 under plans being explored by the EU’s most senior officials, at a time of growing exasperation over Theresa May’s handling of the talks, the Guardian can reveal. A lengthy extension of the negotiating period is said by EU sources to be favoured by Donald Tusk, the European council president, should the Commons continue to reject May’s deal.
Donald Trump and his most senior diplomat moved on Sunday to lower expectations for this week’s summit with North Korea, having previously overstated their progress in blocking its pursuit of a nuclear weapon.
The African Union is seeking to kill off the EU’s latest blueprint for stemming migration, claiming that it would breach international law by establishing “de facto detention centres” on African soil, trampling over the rights of those being held.
Venezuela’s opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, is set to meet the US vice-president, Mike Pence, on Monday, after asking other countries to consider “all options” to remove President Nicolás Maduro from power. Guaidó’s comments came after a day of violence, as opposition supporters spent hours trying to break a government blockade and carry food and medical supplies into Venezuela.
It’s Oscars time, and what a time it will be. Hopefully. Things certainly haven’t gone well so far. But never fear, the Guardian has Oscars Bingo, a live blog and (ahem) a nomination. Here’s everything you need to know before the awards show.

Opinion and analysis

From stab vests to car crashes, the world is built for men. It’s deadly for women, writes Caroline Criado-Perez:When broadcaster Sandi Toksvig was studying anthropology at university, one of her female professors held up a photograph of an antler bone with 28 markings on it. ‘This,’ said the professor, ‘is alleged to be man’s first attempt at a calendar.’ Toksvig and her fellow students looked at the bone in admiration. ‘Tell me,’ the professor continued, ‘what man needs to know when 28 days have passed? I suspect that this is woman’s first attempt at a calendar.’ ”
For most of his life, Donald Trump has managed to stay a step ahead of the courts, the cops and the accountants. Two years into his presidency, however, he appears to be nearing a crossroads of accountability. Reports flew this week that the special counsel Robert Mueller was preparing to close up shop. The former Trump crony Michael Cohen, meanwhile, is scheduled to give testimony to three congressional committees in the week ahead. Either development could set in motion legal or congressional proceedings that threaten the president in new ways.


If Liverpool wished to signal serious intent of ending their 29-year wait to be champions, they failed. But the draw with Manchester United does leave Liverpool as outright leaders by a point, with 11 matches left of the title race. Meanwhile, Manchester City have beaten Chelsea on penalties to win the Carabao Cup.
Ante Milicic has spoken for the first time since taking over as head coach of the Matildas after naming a 23-player squad for the upcoming Cup of Nations. Our cartoonist David Squires casts his satirical eye (and pencil) over the latest in the turbulent saga.

Thinking time: ‘I’ve probably hit on some people myself!’

When Dolly Parton was 19, instead of the frankly unbelievable 73 she is now, she and a girlfriend travelled from Tennessee to New York City. They ended up in what she describes today as “a bad area”. “I think we were on 52nd Street and, because I looked like a tramp – a country girl, all overdone and tacky – this man thought I was a prostitute,” she recalls today, her signature blond bouffant bouncing with her giggles. But 19-year-old Parton, even when lost in the big city, was unflappable. When the man wouldn’t leave her alone she whipped out a little pistol her father had given her in case of emergencies: “If you touch me one more time, you’ve had it!” she shouted.
The encounter was later immortalised in Parton’s first, and probably most enduring movie, the 1980 feminist classic 9 to 5. It is used in the scene that establishes Parton’s character, when she takes a gun out of her purse, points it at her sexist boss, Mr Hart and tells him if he doesn’t stop harassing her she will turn him “from a rooster to a hen with one shot”. It is also, like all anecdotes Parton tells about herself, calculated to fit her superbly crafted and universally adored image, writes Hadley Freeman. The story makes her sound homespun, but worldly; sexy, but self-mocking; sassy, but safe. Whatever your gender or political persuasion, you are going to enjoy a story about Parton pulling a gun on a catcaller, and Parton knows that – which is why she tells it with such relish.

Media roundup

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Facebook will review a policy allowing advertisers to target Australians who expressed an interest in fascism and other extremist ideologies. The Sydney Morning Herald and the Age also report that Ita Buttrose is poised to become the next chair of the ABC after the departure of Justin Milne nearly six months ago. The West Australian front page features the federal attorney general, Christian Porter, with his campaign bus, which was lent to him by his former state Liberal colleague Joe Francis. Porter later gave Francis a plum six figure-salary job with the administrative appeals tribunal.

Source: The Guardian

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