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.
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.”
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