Morning mail: anger over ivermectin spruiker, NSW Covid roadmap, internet gold

Good morning. NSW is due to reveal its roadmap out of Covid today, which is expected to hinge on the state’s vaccination rates. The UK has been criticised for reportedly dropping Paris climate goals in its trade deal with Australia. And the US walks a delicate line trying to seek a consensus position for negotiations with the Taliban.

The NSW government will reveal its roadmap to economic recovery on Thursday at the 11am press conference. It is understood premier Gladys Berejiklian will unveil the plan, which will involve a cautious reopening of restaurants, cafes, pubs and clubs for fully vaccinated patrons. It is expected that citizens will be allowed to attend pubs and clubs, get their hair cut and sit in cafes once the state reaches 70% double vaccination rates – most likely by 18 October.

Locals in the Covid-ravaged western NSW town of Wilcannia have reacted angrily to an ivermectin spruiker posing as a doctor and offering to “treat” the town with the anti-parasitic drug that the Therapeutic Goods Administrator has explicitly warned not to use. State-commonwealth tension over vaccine distribution is set to continue, after new figures suggested Victoria and Queensland received fewer Pfizer shots combined then NSW last month. Lagging vaccine rollouts across the NSW prison system are being blamed for a spate of infections, with 166 inmates across the state, including 40 Indigenous Australians, contracting the virus. Corrections officials have announced a 70% first-dose vaccination target by the week’s end, despite the Justice Health department reporting a 26.1% current rate on Monday.

The United States is leading talks with around 20 western nations in order to draft a possible cooperation framework with the Taliban. There is reluctance to isolate Afghanistan’s new regime – who have announced an all-male, Pashtun-dominated caretaker government – but hopes that the Taliban will meet expectations surrounding the rights of women and freedom of passage for Afghans and foreign nations remain slim. It comes as a spokesman for the regime confirmed that women will be banned from playing sport, and an announcement that any public demonstrations without government approval will be dispersed. Meanwhile, the last member of Afghanistan’s Jewish community has left the country.

The UK government has been criticised for reportedly removing Paris climate goals from a prospective bilateral trade deal with Australia. The deal, which has been agreed to in principle in June, was set to include Paris goals of a 2C global heating limit, as well as an aspiration towards a 1.5C target. But Sky News has reported these were cut in order to secure the deal with Australia. Greenpeace UK has said, if true, the report undermines the nation’s credibility as the host of forthcoming Cop26 UN climate talks in Glasgow, in November.


Foreign minister Marise Payne and defence minister Peter Dutton
Marise Payne and Peter Dutton have set off on a two-week trip that will include meetings with their counterparts in the US, India and South Korea. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

Australia’s defence and foreign ministers are expecting further climate-related diplomatic pressure from the US, as the duo head to Washington for face-to-face meetings. Senior US climate envoys have repeatedly told Australia its 2030 targets of a 26-28% reduction are not sufficient.

Former Liberal MP Julia Banks will join Climate 200 in an advisory capacity, lending her support to the group that aims to encourage the election of climate-focused independents. Banks criticised both Labor and the Liberals for overseeing “a lost decade on climate change”.

Young Australians who use e-cigarettes are more likely to take up tobacco cigarettes, a review of dozens of health studies has concluded. The researchers have said there is an “urgent need” for governments to take action against marketing vapes to youths.

The world

Texas governor Greg Abbott
Texas governor Greg Abbott has found himself facing heavy criticism after attempting to defend his state’s controversial new abortion laws. Photograph: Eric Gay/AP

Texas governor Greg Abbott has been criticised by leading Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for his “disgusting” and “deeply ignorant” claim that women would still have six weeks to seek an abortion under new laws. Abbott also pledging to “eliminate all rapists” from Texas, in response to accusations the state’s new legislation would force rape victims to carry a child to term.

Canada has registered its biggest cumulative act of civil disobedience, with 866 arrests over the past six months during a string of protests against old-growth forest logging in the country’s west.

Russia’s emergencies minister has died during a training exercise in the Arctic, with officials reporting Yevgeny Zinichev, a former bodyguard and personal aide to Vladimir Putin, died attempting to rescue a camera operator who had fallen off a cliff.

Recommended reads

A courier delivers a parcel during the coronavirus era
Covid is placing a strain on postal services, but there are plenty of alternatives to Australia Post. Photograph: Daria Nipot/Getty Images/iStockphoto

According to Australia Post, a locked-down east coast of Australia is sending parcels at around Christmas 2020 volumes. Such are the backlogs, the nation’s postal service had to suspend parcel collection for three days. But talking to small business owners, they’re not the only one’s feeling the strain. There are plenty of parcel-sending alternatives if you need to ensure something gets somewhere fast – including courier services, and if you’re really stuck, taxi drivers.

“Things are decidedly not normal.” As new figures reveal a record number of Australians are working multiple jobs, Greg Jericho wonders if, post-Covid, whether “normal” will ever return. “We currently have decade-low unemployment and yet now we have around a quarter of a million fewer people working than would have been expected prior to the pandemic.” And whether it’s interest rates, the price of household goods or new box office releases, few metrics are escaping unscathed.

It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for the funniest things on the internet. This week’s curator, Christian Hull, has unearthed a few hoary old chestnuts of internet gold. So whether you’re in the mood for a succulent Chinese meal, or something prepared by a linguistically confused Italian chef, it’s all very tasty fodder.


Scott Morrison’s empathy gap. The National Summit on Women’s Safety, hosted by the federal government, was an opportunity to champion gender equality and violence against women. But as Katherine Murphy explains on this episode of Full Story, the prime minister’s tin ear on the subject has left many furious.

Full Story

How the women’s safety summit laid bare Morrison’s empathy gap

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


Australian surfer Stephanie Gilmore
Stephanie Gilmore will attempt to make history and win her eighth world title at the WSL finals event at Lower Trestles but she faces tough competition. Photograph: Lisi Niesner/Reuters

She was just a teenager when Layne Beachley ruled women’s surfing, but as Stephanie Gilmore eyes an eighth world title, she could surpass her fellow Australian’s mark and definitively etch her name as surfing’s “GOAT”, Mike Hytner writes.

It’s a case of “out of the frying pan and into the fire” for the Wallabies, who after another bruising Bledisloe Cup will now face a rampant Springboks in the Rugby Championship. And they will need to step up if they’re to meet the physical challenge, Bret Harris explains.

Media roundup

Gladys Berejiklian overruled her chief health advisors in announcing the state would reopen once a vaccination rate of 70% was reached, reports the Australian, with leading officials calling for an 80-85% figure instead. Ventilation experts have cautioned that plastic screens installed in supermarkets to prevent staff from infection could have the opposite effect, claims the Sydney Morning Herald, with the screens blocking airflow and creating “stagnation regions”. And Hobart’s historic Australia-Afghanistan cricket Test is likely to be scrapped, writes the Mercury, with the Taliban’s announcement that it would forbid women from playing sport likely to see the country’s ICC status revoked.

Coming up

Former NSW Labor ministers Eddie Obeid and Ian Macdonald will face sentence hearings, having been found guilty of a coal exploration licence conspiracy.

Australia will receive a World Literacy Award for its Closing the Gap and Naplan literacy initiatives at an event in London marking International Literacy Day.

And if you’ve read this far …

It’s the waxy residue that can make a cup of tea go from desirable to disgusting. But what exactly is “tea scum”? Thankfully, a scientific journal – the Physics of Fluids – has solved the age-old conundrum: and it’s all to do with the hardness of your water. When polyphenols in tea mix with water with high rates of calcium carbonate, it creates a film. But there’s good news: a drop of lemon juice in your tea will act as a natural scum thinner.

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