Morning mail: national cabinet meets, east coast lockdown, Olympic medal haul


Good morning. The national cabinet will today discuss easing restrictions for the vaccinated. Victoria has woken up to another seven-day lockdown, while the Sydney outbreak has spread to the regions. And Sky News Australia faces a Senate inquiry after a week-long YouTube suspension for Covid misinformation.

The prime minister, Scott Morrison, will meet with state and territory leaders today to discuss easing restrictions for the vaccinated with 16 million Australians now in lockdown. Victoria entered its sixth snap lockdown on Thursday evening, for seven days this time, after recording eight new cases. South-east Queensland is also under tight restrictions, hoping the lockdown could end on Sunday. The decision is still in the air, however, as the state recorded 16 new local cases.

The New South Wales outbreak worsened and is spreading to the regions. Sydney reported a record 262 news cases and five deaths on Thursday. And a beach party in Newcastle attended by young people from western Sydney triggered a snap lockdown in eight new hotspots. Residents of Newcastle and the Hunter have expressed anger at the decision of state authorities to divert Pfizer doses away from the regions to vaccinate school students in Sydney, while they are left unvaccinated and in lockdown. Ahead of the national cabinet meeting, the NSW premier, Gladys Berejiklian, said that more vaccines were needed for the state to exit lockdown. She asked residents to get “urgently” vaccinated as NSW targets 6m jabs by the end of August, and gave the strongest indication yet that Covid vaccinations could be required for workers in some industries to return from the Delta outbreak.

It was another great day for Australia at the Olympics. The team boasts 17 gold medals so far, equal to their 2004 Athens Games haul. On Thursday, skateboarder Keegan Palmer won the men’s park final, and Jean van der Westhuyzen and Tom Green won the men’s K2 1,000m canoe sprint. Four-time Olympian Melissa Wu won bronze in the diving, while the Kookaburras collected silver after losing the gold medal clash with Belgium in a nail-biting penalty shootout. Ashley Moloney won Australia’s first track and field medal of Tokyo 2020, collecting bronze at the end of the 10-event decathlon.

Sky News Australia will face a Senate inquiry next week after the broadcaster was suspended for seven days for posting numerous videos that violated YouTube’s Covid medical misinformation policies. The hearing comes as former prime minister Kevin Rudd calls on the Australian media regulator to take a tougher line on the broadcasting of contentious Sky News material on subscription TV and free-to-air television in regional areas.


New sanctions expected to be presented to parliament by the end of the year will allow Australia to target foreign individuals for “gross human rights violations” or serious corruption.

Hillsong founder Brian Houston has been charged with knowingly concealing information related to alleged child sexual abuse by his father. There is no suggestion Houston was involved in offending against the child.

Misinformation surrounding the death of 27-year-old Sydney man Aude Alaskar, who died from Covid-19, is circulating in Arabic WhatsApp groups, Instagram and Facebook pages.

The world

Facebook Twitter Melting freshwater from Greenland’s ice sheet. Photograph: Ulrik Pedersen/NurPhoto/REX/Shutterstock

Climate scientists have detected warning signs of the collapse of the Gulf Stream. The currents are already at their slowest point in at least 1,600 years, but the new analysis shows they may be nearing a shutdown, which would have catastrophic consequences around the world.

New York state lawmakers announced on Thursday that their impeachment investigation of Governor Andrew Cuomo over sexual harassment allegations is nearing an end. Cuomo has resisted numerous calls for his resignation and now has a week to provide any additional evidence to the lawmakers.

A Belarusian sprinter, Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, arrived in Poland under diplomatic protection after seeking help in the Tokyo airport as she feared punishment at home for criticising her coaches’ “negligence”. The scandal has led to an inquiry by the International Olympic Committee that could lead to sanctions on Belarus’ participation in international sport.

Afghans who flee the Taliban are met with rising anti-refugee hostility in Turkey, which is already a host to 3.6 million Syrian refugees and deals with its own economic problems.

Recommended reads

There is not much solace in lockdown, but the Tokyo Olympics have been a ray of sunshine in an otherwise gloomy news cycle. The Games arrived just in time to lift locked-down Australia out of its funk, Brigid Delaney writes.

It was perfect television, coming out of nowhere but immediately cementing itself as a classic. It was funny, but it also broke your heart. It felt freakishly true to life. And it only lasted for two glorious seasons. No, it’s not Fleabag but its precursor from 20 years earlier: the British 1990s classic This Life.

Imagine being raised on a remote property, all alone with only your father and a small herd of sheep for company. You know that there are others out there, but they are infected with a disease that wiped out most of humanity, and if they find you, they will kill you. Such is the premise of The Others, the third novel from Mark Brandi, bestselling author of Wimmera and The Rip. It is another engaging read; a story that hinges on a masterful thread of sinister unease running throughout.


After Sky News Australia was restricted from uploading new content to YouTube for a week for violating the site’s medical misinformation policy, some of its commentators claimed the ban was another example of cancel culture, and a violation of their right to free speech. Gabrielle Jackson talks to editor Lenore Taylor and head of news Mike Ticher about the Sky News Australia business model and the complexities of regulating misinformation in a pandemic.

Full Story Sky News Australia, YouTube and misinformation in a pandemic – with Lenore Taylor Sorry your browser does not support audio – but you can download here and listen 00:00:00 00:26:28

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


Facebook Twitter Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho del Solar of Australia celebrate victory over Latvia in the Olympic semi-final. Photograph: Rungroj Yongrit/EPA

The Matildas lost 3-4 to the US women’s soccer team, missing out on a bronze.

Mariafe Artacho del Solar and Taliqua Clancy are one match away from Australia’s first beach volleyball gold medal after beating Latvia in their semi-final. They will play the USA for a gold medal on Friday.

Harry Garside, the 24-year-old plumber from Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, is fighting in the men’s lightweight semi-final on Friday. But whatever the outcome against two-time world champion Andy Cruz, Garside has already made history by breaking gender stereotypes in the traditionally hyper-masculine sport.

The Australian men’s basketball team was defeated by the USA in the Olympic semi-final and will play Slovenia for a bronze medal on Saturday.

In non-Olympic news, the Wallabies face a tough game against All Blacks in the Bledisloe Cup on Saturday. And Lionel Messi is leaving FC Barcelona, where he spent his whole career, after “financial and structural obstacles” made it impossible to renew his contract.

Media roundup

Starting 11 August, Australians who normally reside abroad will need to apply for an exemption to leave Australia, Sydney Morning Herald reported. Two Australian companies developed rapid Covid tests but, instead of being used at home, they have been sent overseas – the Australian digs into why it happened. The Northern Territory’s stolen generations celebrate victory after the government announced a one-off payment of $75,000 to Indigenous Territorians forcibly removed from their families before 1978, NT News reported.

Coming up

Joe Biden and Scott Morrison, as well as the leaders of Japan and India, will meet at the virtual Pacific summit.

And if you’ve read this far …

Using data collected from Nasa’s Kepler space telescope in 2017, researchers recorded the earliest moments of a supernova – the cataclysmic explosion of a massive star – in unprecedented detail. This could help us better understand what happens to stars when they die.

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