A coal truck

Morning mail: India passes 18m, concussion ‘time bomb’, the end of glaciers? |


It’s Friday, the last day of April, and this is Imogen Dewey with today’s main stories: the conversation about workplace harassment is far from over, Covid infections in India have passed 18m, and the Tasmanian premier is keeping notably quiet about poker machines before tomorrow’s state election.

India’s second wave of Covid-19 continues to overwhelm hospitals, claiming the lives of thousands each day. Offers of aid and medical supplies, including from Australia, have flooded in from around the world, but the real issue at hand is the mammoth task of vaccinating the country’s 1.4 billion citizens – and the ultimate effort to protect the country from future outbreaks. More than 100 countries are pushing for a temporary waiver of intellectual property rules to boost vaccine access for developing nations. But Australia, along with a handful of other wealthy nations, is so far refusing the plea. Elias Visontay asks why.

The treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, haas signalled the looming federal budget will contain measures to boost the workforce of female-dominated professions such as aged and disability care, and also in the critical field of cybersecurity. A union survey released today will put (extra) pressure on the Morrison government to do more to combat workplace harassment: it reveals that while almost one in six public servants have experienced sexual harassment, only one-third of incidents were reported. Canberra police have received a complaint of potential revenge porn related to the sharing of intimate images taken at Parliament House. The report was received on 30 March, one week after a Liberal staffer was sacked for performing a solo sex act on the desk of a female MP – amid a storm over the government’s handling of sexual harassment.

The AFLW player Jacinda Barclay, who died last year aged 29, has become the first contact sportswoman in Australia to donate her brain for concussion research. Researchers have uncovered neurological damage they described as a “ticking time bomb” – the kind understood to be the consequence of repetitive head injury from contact sports. “She always wanted to help people,” her family said. “Her donation means she can be a shining light for other women in the games that meant so much to her.”


Kerry Schott told Guardian Australia that putting more gas into the energy market to support renewables was questionable when gas was ‘expensive power’. Photograph: Jason Reed/Reuters

The chair of Australia’s Energy Security Board says a taxpayer-funded gas-fired power plant in the Hunter Valley “doesn’t stack up”, given the abundance of cheaper alternatives flooding the market.

The head of Australia’s drug regulator says the deaths of two men after they received the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine were unlikely to be linked to the jab.

The Tasmanian premier, Peter Gutwein, has refused to provide key details about poker machine policy before tomorrow’s state election – policy critics say could result in a financial windfall for the state’s casino operator.

The federal government’s controversial $30m purchase of airport land at the Leppington triangle site was either the result of “gross incompetence or corruption”, a parliamentary inquiry heard yesterday.

Only 7% of international students are willing to complete Australian courses online, a survey shows. As they become impatient for border restrictions to lift, there are warnings that the economic cost from the lack of international students could reach $20bn next year.

The world

The White House
Dozens of American diplomats and spies abroad have suffered symptoms including hearing strange sounds followed by dizziness, nausea, severe headaches and loss of memory, which in some cases can go on for years. Photograph: Alamy

The White House is investigating “unexplained health incidents” after two US officials reportedly experienced symptoms similar to “Havana syndrome” – mysterious brain injuries believed to be the result of a directed energy device.

At least one person has died and 18 others were wounded after clashes erupted between the military forces of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan at a disputed section of the central Asian nations’ border.

The Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny made his first public appearance since holding a 24-day hunger strike, appearing gaunt but spirited during a courtroom appeal against a defamation conviction he has called politically motivated.

Germany’s supreme constitutional court has ruled that the government’s climate protection measures are insufficient to protect future generations. The “historic” decision followed a complaint brought by environmentalist groups.

Recommended reads

Franz Josef glacier in New Zealand
Franz Josef glacier in New Zealand. Photograph: imageBROKER/Alamy

Glaciers have drawn people to New Zealand’s west coast for decades but now the ice is retreating and it could be too late to save them. By nature, glaciers go through phases of advance and retreat. But lately these immense bodies of ice – so vast and ancient as to have carved the surface of the Earth – have been losing ground in a warming world. A new analysis of more than 200,000 global glaciers found that those in New Zealand showed record thinning of 1.5m a year from 2015-19 – a nearly sevenfold increase compared with 2000-04. Cliff Goodwin has been studying changes in the country’s Franz Josef glacier for the past 20 years. Now he says: “I look up at those mountains every day, and I feel sad.”

“I’m homesick for Australia, but it isn’t mine any more. It’s an unwell country in crisis.” The Miles Franklin winner Tara June Winch is stranded in Paris – but from the outside, she reflected this week, her country looks one in denial. “All egalitarian, but none of the justice. All words, no action. All that open space, and so many confined in cells. All the freedom of speech, and none of the critique. All those mates, yet all that violence.”

“My chat groups from India are flooded with requests for convalescent plasma, Remdesivir, oxygen tanks and hospital beds,” writes Krati Garg. “Here in Melbourne, I feel so helpless. My family is ideologically divided. Dad, a fearless journalist, and Mum, a conservative who will not listen to a word against Modi. But the lack of empathy and the shambolic management of this crisis has changed her mind. This is a big deal.”

Every morning for years the portrait artist Anastasia Pollard has started her day with the same meal. She’s one of innumerable people around the world resisting a food culture that’s come to venerate variety as a virtue, writes Celina Ribeiro.

Plus: From the in-jokes and lip syncs to this season’s guest stars (both Minogues!), here’s everything you need to know about Drag Race Down Under.


As Covid deaths soared in India, Scott Morrison offered an aid package to help the country’s health system cope with demand and suspended all direct flights to Australia. Today on Full Story, Gabrielle Jackson talks to Lenore Taylor and David Munk about the moral implications of Australia’s response and what needs to happen to bring citizens home.

Assessing Australia’s response to India’s Covid crisis – with Lenore Taylor

Assessing Australia’s response to India’s Covid crisis – with Lenore Taylor

Full Story is Guardian Australia’s daily news podcast. Subscribe for free on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or any other podcasting app.


After taking a financial hit to relocate Super Netball to a Queensland hub in 2020 – a season marred by a series of controversies – league bosses are hoping for a return to normality come round one of the 2021 campaign this weekend … while also quietly planning to pivot if necessary.

Past the screaming, adoring fans, New Zealand rugby has also been struggling to survive. With dwindling participation numbers country-wide, and the ever-growing lustre of foreign clubs hand-picking the best All Blacks, New Zealand Rugby is now – partially at least – up for sale.

Media roundup

According to the Age, Scott Morrison last night told a donor dinner society is being undermined by identity politics and social media misuse. Four women have told the ABC the alleged behaviour of the government MP Andrew Laming made them feel uncomfortable. The NSW premier, Gladys Berejiklian, signalling a renewed focus on privatisation, “will go it alone on fast rail” rather than wait for state and federal government consensus, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

Coming up

Brittany Higgins is meeting with the prime minister.

Scott Morrison will also meet with state and territory leaders at the national cabinet to discuss Australia’s pandemic response.

South Australia is due to open a mass Covid-19 vaccination clinic.

And if you’ve read this far …

The Warsaw team said the finding was its most important to date.
The Warsaw team said the finding was its most important to date. Photograph: Bartosz Bajerski

Polish researchers examining an ancient Egyptian mummy were surprised when X-rays and computer tests revealed it was woman who had been seven months pregnant – they had expected a male priest.

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