Morning mail: Great Barrier Reef listing stoush, NZ travel bubble paused, re-reading novels |

Good morning. Politics are at play with the future of the Great Barrier Reef and the Australian-New Zealand travel bubble on ice as the Bondi Covid cluster grows. And if you want to hear more about Barnaby Joyce’s return to the Nationals’ top job, we’ve also got that covered for you in today’s morning mail.

A senior Unesco official has rejected the Australian government’s claims it bowed to political pressure when deciding to recommend the Great Barrier Reef be placed on the world heritage “in danger” list. Fanny Douvere also rejected a suggestion that the UN body had told the government a week ago it would not be recommending the listing. The Australian government says it has been blindsided by the “in danger” recommendation and will fight the decision. But Australian Marine Conservation Society environmental consultant Imogen Zethoven writes: “Unesco has absolutely made the right decision. The reef is in danger. It is time for the Australian government to take ambitious climate action for the reef.” It’s not the first time the reef has faced the threat of an “in danger” listing. But what does it mean and why is this time different? Here’s an explainer and a timeline of the decades of damage and Australia’s fight to rectify the issues.

New Zealand has paused quarantine-free travel with New South Wales after the state recorded 10 new locally acquired Covid cases. NSW Health said a confirmed case had flown from Sydney to Wellington on Friday 18 June and from Wellington to Sydney on Monday morning. There are now 21 cases linked to the Bondi cluster. Two cases are causing particular concern among authorities. One is a a school student and the other is a woman who works at Bondi Junction Westfield who was likely exposed through “fleeting” contact.

China has ramped up its use of secret detention without trial, creating one of the most far-ranging systems of forced disappearance in the world, human rights activists warn. Tens of thousands of people have been subjected to “residential surveillance at a designated location”, which allows security forces to hold people for months without charges or trial and have been described as “state-sanctioned kidnappings”. Meanwhile, the Australian public’s trust in the Chinese government has collapsed after a year of trade sanctions while the Morrison government has received a mediocre score for its handling of the worsening relationship. The Lowy Institute’s annual poll shows that, for the first time, more Australians view China as a security threat than an economic partner.


Female members of the government were angered by one MP who suggested working women were ‘outsourcing parenting’.
Female members of the government were angered by one MP who suggested working women were ‘outsourcing parenting’. Photograph: Dave Hunt/AAP

Labor has condemned the Coalition for holding “completely archaic” views on childcare after a fierce debate erupted among government MPs about a $1.7bn childcare package. One MP suggested working women were “outsourcing parenting”. The comment “fired up” Liberal MP Hollie Hughes, who shot back: “Thank you, boys, for telling us how to best raise our children.”

Nearly three-quarters of Australians are concerned the country will not have plans in place to transition from coal power plants when the time comes, a new survey has revealed.

The average Australian worker would be earning $254 more a week if wages growth had continued at the rate achieved under the last Labor government, according to a new study.

The world

The Vatican has made an unprecedented intervention urging the Italian government to stop an anti-homophobia law over concerns it will infringe upon the Catholic church’s “freedom of thought”.

The death of a Romany man who was knelt on by Czech police has been compared to the treatment of George Floyd. Video footage challenges official claims that the cause of death was unrelated to man’s arrest.

Venice has renewed crackdowns on tourists behaving badly as they flock back to the city. Venice’s local police unit said the return of tourists had coincided with “signs of urban degradation”.

A lab test has failed to identify any tuna DNA in a series of Subway tuna sandwiches.

Recommended reads

Charmian Clift and George Johnston, left, with Marianne Jensen and Leonard Cohen in Hydra, Greece, in 1960.
Charmian Clift and George Johnston, left, with Marianne Jensen and Leonard Cohen in Hydra, Greece, in 1960. Photograph: James Burke/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Sometimes, re-reading a novel is like slipping on a favourite old jumper. You know you’re going to get warmth and comfort. Other times it can be as discomfiting as plunging into an ice bath. Either way, you know what you’re in for. “I love reading new books. Or long-ago published works for the first time. But for every 10 new acquaintances there is likely to be one old friend – or frenemy,” writes Paul Daley. “One new friend is Charmian Clift’s Mermaid Singing, a memoir of trauma and self-discovery and a reminder of what could have been.”

Scott Morrison’s free trade agreement with the UK is a win for the Nationals, but the return of coal-loving Barnaby Joyce presents a new challenge for the PM, writes Katharine Murphy. “Morrison has to deal with his persistent international problem on climate change … [He] has tried to neutralise persistent calls from the UK and the US with his formulation that Australia wants to achieve net zero as soon as possible, and ‘preferably’ by 2050. But just when it seemed safe to exhale, disagreements within the Coalition government flared up.”

“Battlestar Galactica is many things. Space opera. Political drama. Dystopian fiction. But at its core, it is a melodrama – and one of the best that television has to offer,” argues Luke McCarthy. “It’s a high-stakes premise, but early episodes of Battlestar Galactica do much to emphasise the sheer mundanity of space-bound survival. Episodes revolve around very practical questions: what does a functional government now look like? How does the fleet reckon with a water crisis? What happens to a ship’s prison population?”


On Monday, Australian politics once again found itself dealing with a leadership crisis – with the National party voting to return Barnaby Joyce as leader and deputy prime minister. This is the second time he has held this office, after a series of scandals prompted his resignation in 2018. Political editor Katharine Murphy explores the backlash – particularly among women – to this controversial move, and analyses how political division within the National party brought Joyce back to power.

Full Story

Why is Barnaby back?

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


Munich’s mayor had hoped to light the Allianz Arena in rainbow colours for Germany’s game against Hungary.
Munich’s mayor had hoped to light the Allianz Arena in rainbow colours for Germany’s game against Hungary. Photograph: Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Munich’s mayor has attacked the “shameful” decision by Uefa to quash his city’s plans to illuminate its Allianz Arena in rainbow colours in support of LGBTQ+ rights for Germany’s Euro 2020 match against Hungary on Wednesday.

Crowds or not, Melbourne City should have the right to host an A-League grand final, says Emma Kemp. “The premiers should not have to be granted permission to exercise a privilege they have already earned.”

Media roundup

The option of taking a proposal for nuclear power in Australia to the next election has been considered in cabinet-level discussions, reports the Australian. The Brisbane Times says Queensland MPs are being urged to pass euthanasia laws with a clear majority to “avoid scaring people into choosing to end their lives early” if the government changes. Elderly and terminally ill survivors of child sexual abuse will be able to access advance compensation payments of up to $10,000, after an inquiry found the scheme designed to support victims is a bureaucratic nightmare, says the ABC.

Coming up

Federal parliament sits.

The National Press Club will be addressed by Dfat secretary Frances Adamson.

And if you’ve read this far …

More than 77,000 people have signed a petition to demand Amazon founder Jeff Bezos be kept from returning to Earth after participating in his company’s human space flight in July.