Morning mail: Morrison funeral row, Trump on defence, Chinese investment plummets

Good morning, this is Lauren Waldhuter bringing you the main stories and must-reads on Monday 14 September.

Top stories

The daughter of a Queensland man whose funeral was at the centre of a federal-state brawl about border closures has accused Scott Morrison of using the case to “advance his political agenda”. When another daughter was denied an exemption from hotel quarantine to attend the ceremony, Scott Morrison asked Queensland authorities to change their minds. In an open letter Alexandra Prendergast said the spat lead to a “media circus” outside the ceremony. “I am devastated that the final memories of my father have been marred by the media you have used to prosecute your political agenda,” she wrote.

Key aides of Donald Trump have desperately defended him after revelations he downplayed the pandemic. The chair of the Republican national committee, Ronna McDaniel, was among those appearing on US talkshows to defend Trump’s handling of the crisis, insisting “history will remember him well”, despite Trump’s taped confessions to the Watergate journalist Bob Woodward that he had misled the public about the threat of the virus. Covid-19 has killed more than 190,000 Americans.

The Greens say they might back a code forcing Google and Facebook to pay for news, if the ABC is included, and if the Coalition comes up with a rescue package for the news wire service AAP. Their communications spokeswoman, Sarah Hanson-Young, told Guardian Australia the party was reserving its position until it saw whether the legislation delivered “more than a sugar hit to Murdoch”. Google and Facebook are lobbying politicians not to support the draft code for digital platforms, which could force them to pay for using news stories.


Chinese investment in Australia has plunged almost 50% in a year, ANU analysis has found. Souring relations between Canberra and Beijing have contributed to a rapid drop in investor confidence.

The company that owns rights to the certain uses of the Aboriginal flag will speak publicly at length for the first time today. WAM Clothing, which has issued infringement notices to the AFL, NRL and Aboriginal organisations for their use of the design, will appear before a Senate inquiry.

Motorists could pay to keep Australia’s struggling oil refinery industry afloat, through a fuel tax rise, if the government agrees to proposals from the Australian Workers’ Union.

Tensions abouit the policing of Melbourne’s lockdown spilled over on Sunday as 74 people were arrested at protests in the city, and a woman was charged after being dragged from her car at a regional checkpoint.

The world

The death toll from huge wildfires choking America’s west coast has risen again with authorities warning the public to expect a “mass fatality incident”. At least 33 people are known to have died since the fires broke out across three states.

Israel has become the first country to impose a second nationwide Covid-19 lockdown after a dramatic resurgence of infections.

Greece is promising to resettle thousands of migrants left homeless after fire destroyed Europe’s biggest refugee camp on the island of Lesbos.

Huge crowds of protesters have again defied riot police in Belarus during another weekend of rallies against the country’s embattled president. Alexander Lukashenko is due to meet his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, on Monday as he faces further pressure to step down.

Recommended reads

As Australians struggle with weeks in quarantine, the asylum seeker Mardin Arvin reflects on almost eight years in immigration detention. There is no light at the end of the tunnel for the Kurdish Iranian writer, who is confined to level three of a hotel: “I have been in ‘quarantine’ for almost eight years, not because of Covid-19 but because I asked for asylum. I want to enter a long dream in which I can walk as far as my legs can carry me, to go on a long trip, with snow or rain or sunshine. It does not matter. I just want to be alone in an open landscape without the guards.”

Could the UK’s shambolic handling of the pandemic usher in a vote for Scottish independence? The down-to-earth approach of Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has contrasted favourably with the chaos at Westminister, leading some diehard supporters of the union to consider changing their minds, writes Libby Brooks.

Hairdressers give their take on the worst DIY disasters of lockdown – and how to avoid them. Kate Cunningham writes that some matters of personal grooming are best left in the hands of the professionals but that’s not always possible in lockdown. From dye-induced disasters to fashioning a very bad new fringe, here are the mistakes to learn from – unless it’s already too late.


Is US democracy under threat? As the election draws closer, the Guardian’s Ed Pilkington hears from civil leaders on their fears for the integrity of the process and the future of their democracy.



England have beaten Australia by 24 runs in the second one-day international at Old Trafford, to level the series at 1-1. Chasing a modest total of 232 for victory, Australia lost their last eight wickets for 63, after 73 from Aaron Finch appeared to have put them in position to win comfortably.

Lewis Hamilton has won his first Tuscan Grand Prix after an action-packed race that was stopped twice, once due to a major multi-car crash.

Media roundup

In the Australian, the chief executives of some of the country’s largest companies have demanded the end of Melbourne’s “wartime” curfew to avoid what they say is irreparable economic damage. The ABC reports on mass surveillance by China after a huge database including the details of 35,000 Australians was leaked. Josh Frydenberg has told Rio Tinto to hire an Australian CEO, according to a report in the Australian Financial Review.

Coming up

The former prime minister Paul Keating is listed to give evidence at the aged care royal commission about financial reforms needed to support an ageing population.

The NSW government is to announce a program to revive Sydney’s night life to encourage investment, create jobs and attract more businesses to the CBD.

And if you’ve read this far …

The makeover of a lighthouse in northern Spain is at the centre of a cultural row after a dazzling paint job by a local artist added a riot of colours, geometric shapes and animals to the 90-year-old structure.


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