The Guardian 2024-03-04 22:31:30


Dutton outlines Coalition energy policy; Butler announces private health insurance premium rise

The opposition leader, Peter Dutton, has this morning outlined the Coalition’s pre-election energy policy, which would include large-scale nuclear power plants and small modular reactors.

He was spruiking nuclear energy on Sunrise, and argued that nuclear plants could be built at retiring coal assets:

So [if] there’s a coal fired generator that’s already got an existing distribution network, [it has] wires and poles there to distribute the energy across the network to homes and businesses, [and] that’s what we’re interested in.

Sunrise host:

Australia is starting from ground zero on this. Why didn’t the Coalition get the ball rolling on nuclear while in government for 11 years?

Dutton argued the technology of today “doesn’t resemble anything that you have seen in the past”, and the technology is “unbelievable” compared to what it was 50 or 70 years ago. He wouldn’t name a specific suburb where these plants would be located, instead pointing to any suburb with an existing coal-fired power generator.

Last October, centre-right thinktank Blueprint Institute was calling for a “drastically accelerated deployment” of renewable energy, batteries and electricity transmission infrastructure and argued there is no prospect of nuclear energy playing a role in Australia before 2040. You can read the full story from our climate and environment editor Adam Morton below:

Asean summitAustralia to launch $2bn fund to ‘turbocharge’ trade with south-east Asia

Australia to launch $2bn fund to ‘turbocharge’ trade with south-east Asia

Anthony Albanese plans to boost clean energy and infrastructure exports, and increase visas for travellers from the region

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Australia will set up a $2bn fund to “turbocharge” trade and investment in south-east Asia, with a focus on clean energy and infrastructure.

The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, will announce the fund in Melbourne on Tuesday when he addresses a gathering of 100 chief executives from Australia and south-east Asia.

Albanese will say in a speech that he is pursuing “the most significant upgrade of Australia’s economic engagement with Asean for a generation”, referring to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

He will also promise to improve access to longer-term visas for south-east Asian travellers, saying this “demonstrates unequivocally that Australia is open for business, tourism and trade”.

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The $2bn south-east Asia investment financing facility is to be managed by Export Finance Australia. It is expected to provide loans, guarantees, equity and insurance to increase Australian trade and investment in south-east Asia.

“The government I lead has made it clear: more than any other region, south-east Asia is where Australia’s future lies,” Albanese will tell business leaders, according to speech notes distributed to media in advance.

He will say Australia’s two-way trade with Asean member states topped $178bn in 2022 – and two-way investment was worth $307bn – “but we want to do more to support regional growth and to realise mutual benefits”.

The treasurer, Jim Chalmers, said he would speak to the same gathering of investors on Tuesday “because we really believe we can turbocharge these relationships with Asean countries”.

Chalmers said Asean was “the hope of the side when it comes to two-way trade”. As a bloc, he said, it was already Australia’s second-biggest trading partner.

“[It is] bigger than the US, bigger than Japan, bigger than the EU, second only to China,” Chalmers told Sky News.

“This is where the action is – in Asean – and we want to get a bigger slice of that action.”

On Tuesday the government will also earmark $140m over four years to extend the Partnerships for Infrastructure Program. The program has helped fund transport, clean energy and telecommunications projects since launching in 2021.

Australia will set up regional “landing pads” in Jakarta and Ho Chi Minh City to “provide on-the-ground support to help Australian businesses to boost technology services exports to south-east Asian markets”.

Trade and investment are a major focus of this week’s special summit in Melbourne, held to mark 50 years since Australia became Asean’s first dialogue partner.

But security and great power rivalry between China and the US also loom large.

China, like Australia, is not a member of Asean but is a dialogue partner to the regional bloc.

Some Asean members have tensions with China over competing maritime and territorial claims in the South China Sea, but the regional bloc resists taking sides in the strategic contest between Beijing and Washington.

The Australian foreign affairs minister, Penny Wong, warned on Monday that “the region’s character” was under challenge, including in the South China Sea.

In a veiled reference to China, Wong said: “We face destabilising, provocative and coercive actions, including unsafe conduct at sea and in the air and militarisation of disputed features.”

Addressing a maritime cooperation forum at the special summit, Wong called for a regional balance “where no country dominates and no country is dominated” and “where each country can pursue its own aspirations”.

Wong welcomed the resumption of leader-level and military-level dialogue between China and the US as “important steps on the path towards stability that the region has called for”.

But she said all countries, not just the major powers, must “shape habits of cooperation that sustain the character of our region”.

She said all countries should “insist differences are managed through dialogue, not force” and “insist that communication never be withheld as a punishment or offered as a reward”.

“We want to support Asean member states to ensure, collectively, we all have the practical tools we need to be able to rapidly and effectively deescalate tensions and crises.”

Wong said the government would commit $64m over the next four years to help Asean countries “increase resilience to coercion and ensure waterways that serve us all remain open and accessible”.

Albanese met the Malaysian prime minister, Anwar Ibrahim, in Melbourne on Monday and promised closer collaboration on issues including cybersecurity and nuclear non-proliferation.

Malaysia was an early critic of Australia’s plan to acquire nuclear-powered submarines, but Anwar avoided direct criticism of the Aukus pact at his joint press conference with Albanese.

Anwar expanded on his recent comments about a rise of “China-phobia” in the west.

“We are an independent nation. We are fiercely independent. We do not want to be dictated by any force,” Anwar told reporters.

He said Malaysia remained “an important friend to the US and Europe and here in Australia” but that “should not preclude us from being friendly to one of our important neighbours, precisely China”.

“And if they have problems with China, they should not impose it upon us. We do not have a problem with China.”

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After Scott MorrisonLiberals pick management consultant Simon Kennedy for Cook byelection

Liberals pick management consultant Simon Kennedy for Cook byelection

The party misses the chance to have a female candidate in the safe seat vacated by former prime minister Scott Morrison

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Simon Kennedy will contest Scott Morrison’s seat of Cook for the Liberals in the byelection triggered by the former prime minister’s resignation.

Kennedy, a consultant and the former candidate for Bennelong, won preselection in the first round on Monday night with 158 out of 296 votes, beating the mayor of Sutherland shire, Carmelo Pesce, and war widow and veteran family advocate commissioner, Gwen Cherne.

Morrison announced his resignation in January to take on “new challenges in the global corporate sector” and formally resigned in late February, although no date has yet been set for the byelection.

Kennedy will be prohibitive favourite in the poll, given Morrison’s 12.5% margin, the inclination within Labor not to field a candidate, and the lack of a strong independent challenge.

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In the preselection stoush Cherne fell short, winning just 35 votes, despite backing from the moderate faction and former prime minister John Howard.

Morrison largely sat out the preselection, despite expressing in 2021 that he would “would love to see a woman follow me as the member for Cook when I choose to retire from politics”.

Kennedy is a former partner at McKinsey who moved from Maroubra in south Sydney to contest Bennelong in 2022. He lost the northern Sydney seat to Labor’s Jerome Laxale by 1,954 votes, or 49-51% in two-party preferred terms.

Earlier on Monday the prime minister, Anthony Albanese, said Labor hasn’t “made a final decision” on whether or not to contest the election, a call to be made by the New South Wales branch.

“Cook is not a seat that it would be expected that we would win, but we’ll wait and see,” he told ABC Sydney.

“I noticed that the Liberal party have the opportunity to finally select a woman candidate today for Cook.

“But we’ll wait and see whether they actually do or whether it’s yet another bloke sitting behind Peter Dutton just saying no to everything.”

A Liberal party review into the 2022 election recommended a target of 50% female representation in parliament within 10 years or three terms, but the party has made little progress at boosting women in its ranks.

After Roshena Campbell lost the Aston byelection, the Liberals preselected Cameron Caldwell in Fadden, who went on to win the seat, and Nathan Conroy in Dunkley, who lost Saturday’s byelection but will re-contest the seat at the federal election after achieving a moderate swing of more than 3%.

In February the independent MP for Wentworth, Allegra Spender, said the Coalition “can’t just say we’d love to see women – they need to take action on this”.

“You’re seeing in the House of Representatives about one in five Liberal MPs are women, so … the electorate [will] judge whether that turns into action in terms of pre-selection,” Spender said.

Simon Holmes à Court, the founder of the Climate 200 fundraising body for independent candidates, has been spruiking for months for a local campaign group to approach seeking support in Cook.

A Climate 200 spokesperson told Guardian Australia that “nobody has approach for our support yet”.

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‘We need to go again’Australian who led MH370 search joins calls for fresh effort to find plane

‘We need to go again’: Australian who led MH370 search joins calls for fresh effort to find plane

Peter Foley, the program director for search led by Australian Transport Safety Bureau, says any chance of success needs the government to invest

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The man who led Australia’s search for MH370 has urged the Australian government to support any new effort to find the plane, which disappeared 10 years ago on Friday.

On Sunday the Malaysian government said it was in talks with the US marine robotics company Ocean Infinity to discuss a new search. The company says it is willing and able to return to the search and has submitted a proposal to the Malaysian government.

The Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 departed Kuala Lumpur on 8 March 2014, bound for Beijing with 12 crew and 227 passengers on board – including seven Australians. About 40 minutes later it disappeared from the radar and its fate remains unknown.

The Malaysian government initially did a surface search in the South China Sea and the Strait of Malacca. But electronic blips picked up by satellites indicated the plane had turned around, flown until it ran out of fuel, then plunged into the Indian Ocean between Western Australia and Antarctica.

At that point Australia took over, with the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) leading the Indian Ocean underwater search effort from May 2014 to early 2017.

Peter Foley, the program director for the ATSB-led search, said the longer any search was delayed, the smaller the chance that flight data recorders would still be useful. He would like to see the Australian government support a new effort.

“It’s been six years,” Foley said.

“We know that it’s close to the seventh arc in the southern Indian Ocean,” he added, referring to a band of water where the plane made its final satellite “handshakes”.

“We just need another search.”

During the ATSB search period, debris washed up on islands in the Indian Ocean and along the African coast, which helped CSIRO drift modellers narrow down the possible crash site.

In 2018, the Malaysian government commissioned Ocean Infinity to do a second search on a “no find, no fee” basis. That was unsuccessful. Until now, Malaysia has consistently said it would not start a new search unless there was “new and credible information”.

The chief executive of Ocean Infinity, Oliver Plunkett, said the company also wanted to resume the search and was hopeful it would happen this year.

“We remain interested in returning to the search for MH370 and are actively engaged in trying to make this happen,” he said in a statement. “We now feel in a position to be able to return to the search for missing aircraft MH370, and have submitted a proposal to the Malaysian government.

“We hope to get back to the search soon.”

Malaysia’s transport minister, Anthony Loke, said Malaysia was committed to finding the plane and “cost is not the issue”.

He said he would meet Ocean Infinity officials to discuss a new operation.

“We are now awaiting for them to provide suitable dates and I hope to meet them soon,” he said.

The victims’ families have never stopped calling for more to be done.

On Sunday hundreds of relatives and supporters gathered near Kuala Lumpur to remember the missing and support calls for a fresh search.

Chinese families have also written to the Malaysian government calling for the investigation to be reopened.

Not only is the plane’s whereabouts unknown, so is the reason for its disappearance. Much suspicion has fallen on one of the pilots, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, and the possibility of a mass murder/suicide. Others have speculated about a “controlled ditching” or long glide, which might mean the plane travelled further than previously thought, and was under control, before hitting the water.

The ATSB has pushed back on that theory. It believes the speed of the plane’s descent meant it was freefalling and the pilot was unconscious.

In the absence of answers, theories are rife. Expert and amateur investigators have continued their own analyses.

Richard Godfrey is a founding member of the MH370 Independent Group and has worked to debunk many conspiracy theories.

He has been studying the weak signal propagation reporter network, a global database of amateur radio waves that can be disturbed by aircraft, for clues. He said those clues, along with the satellite handshakes and drift modelling, pointed to areas of the Indian Ocean that have not yet been searched.

He said he thought the plane would be found this year.

“I would like to see governments do something, rather than nothing,” he said. “The flying public … the aviation industry and the MH370 next of kin are all looking for answers.”

Foley said he was “always hopeful” the plane would be found but that required investment from the Australian government.

“Because I know there’s absolutely no chance that the aircraft would be found unless we’re looking for it,” he said.

“The last search was 2018, that’s six years ago. And I feel desperately sad for the families of the 239 people on board that aircraft who still have no answers. It’s an absolute tragedy.

“We need to go again.”

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Matildas star charged with racially aggravated harassment of London police officer

Footballer Sam Kerr charged with racially aggravated harassment of London police officer

Chelsea player and Matildas captain faces trial over January incident involving officer responding to taxi fare dispute

Sam Kerr, the Chelsea and Australia footballer, is to face trial in the UK accused of the racially aggravated harassment of a police officer.

The 30-year-old appeared in court on Monday accused of using insulting, threatening or abusive words that caused alarm or distress to an officer who was responding to a complaint over a taxi fare in Twickenham, south-west London, on 30 January 2023.

Kerr, who appeared at Kingston crown court via video link, spoke only to confirm her name and to enter a not guilty plea to the charge, the Daily Mail reported.

In a statement, the Metropolitan police said: “Samantha Kerr, 30 (10.09.93) of Richmond was charged via postal charge requisition on 21 January with a racially aggravated offence under Section 4A Public Order Act 1986.

“The charge relates to an incident involving a police officer who was responding to a complaint involving a taxi fare on 30 January 2023 in Twickenham.”

Kerr is expected to go to trial in February next year with two police officers scheduled to give evidence. The trial is due to last four days.

A statement from Football Australia said it was “aware of the legal proceedings involving Sam Kerr in the United Kingdom.

“As this is an ongoing legal matter, we are unable to provide further comment at this time,” it added. “Our focus remains on supporting all our players, both on and off the field. We will continue to monitor the situation and provide support as appropriate.”

As Australia’s captain, the striker is one of the country’s most recognisable sportspeople after the Matildas’ run to the semi-finals of the Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand last year.

In May, the footballer carried her country’s flag at the coronation of King Charles in Westminster Abbey.

Last month, Kerr agreed a contract extension with the current Women’s Super League champions, Chelsea. The forward will miss the remainder of the current season after tearing an anterior cruciate ligament on a mid-season training camp in Morocco.

Kerr joined Chelsea midway through the 2019-20 season and has scored 99 goals in 128 games for the team.

She has also won the Golden Boot twice, was runner-up to Spain’s Aitana Bonmatí at the Ballon d’Or awards last year, and finished second on the Guardian’s list of the top 100 female footballers in 2023 after being third in 2021 and 2022.

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Five key takeaways from the US supreme court ruling on Trump ballot ban

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US supreme court ruling on Trump ballot ban: five key takeaways

Donald Trump can remain on the presidential ballot but the question of whether he was guilty of insurrection unresolved

The US supreme court ruled on Monday that former president Donald Trump cannot be kept off the ballot in Colorado, foreclosing a series of legal challenges the Republican frontrunner faced in multiple states as he seeks a return to the White House.

The 14th amendment’s third clause, enacted after the US civil war, seeks to prevent people who were elected officials who engaged in insurrection from then holding office again. It has been rarely used since, but was resurrected by advocacy groups and voters who claim it applies to Trump because of his attempts to overturn the 2020 election results.

The court’s nine justices agreed that a state can’t remove a federal candidate from its ballot. Though the decision was unanimous, briefs filed separately indicate tension among the justices about how far the majority opinion went.

Because the case involved an obscure part of the constitution, the court had to parse questions of how the clause works and to whom it applies. And, perhaps most critically, the court’s decision held tremendous capacity for disruption during an election year with a leading candidate known to rile up his followers.

Here are some key takeaways from the decision and the broader context at play.

State v federal rights at heart of issue

The core of the decision rests simply on the interplay between state and federal rights.

Though states administer federal elections, the court decided states have no authority to remove a candidate from the running under Section 3. Instead, the majority opinion noted, the 14th amendment “expanded federal power at the expense of state autonomy”. Allowing states to do as Colorado did would “invert the Fourteenth Amendment’s rebalancing of federal and state power”.

The language of the clause doesn’t include any direction on how a state could enforce it, the majority said. Only Congress is mentioned as an enforcer, they argue.

States could, and did, use the section to disqualify state candidates from holding office if they violate the insurrectionist clause, the majority wrote.

This federalism argument was clearly agreed to by all nine justices – though the majority opinion goes on further to suggest how Congress might act to enforce the clause in the future.

Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson all wrote, in two separate opinions, that the majority opinion went too far.

The decision that states lack the authority here “provides a secure and sufficient basis to resolve this case”, the liberal justices (Sotomayor, Kagan and Jackson) wrote. “The Court should have started and ended its opinion with this conclusion.”

Tension among the justices on how far the ruling goes

The justices’ unanimity in the belief that the Colorado court couldn’t remove Trump was fractured by two addendums that strike at the extension of the case beyond its scope.

The court’s majority – conservative justices John Roberts, Brett Kavanaugh, Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch – specified how the insurrectionist clause would need to be enforced. It would require an act of Congress to determine who would be ineligible to hold office because of insurrection, they wrote, relying on another section of the 14th amendment to make the case.

The liberal justices, in one separate opinion, and the conservative Barrett, in her own, said the majority went too far by prescribing what kind of process would be needed.

The case did not require the justices to “address the complicated question whether federal legislation is the exclusive vehicle through which Section 3 can be enforced”, Barrett wrote. Because of the sensitivity of the issue and its context, the justices should have left it with the federalism justification alone. “In my judgment, this is not the time to amplify disagreement with stridency,” she wrote.

The liberal justices took this disagreement further, saying the majority opinion moved into constitutional questions it didn’t need to as a way to “insulate this court and petitioner from future controversy”.

The case did not involve federal action; it was a state court in Colorado that decided Trump could not be on the ballot there. The majority did not need to move into contested federal issues, the liberals said. “These musings are as inadequately supported as they are gratuitous.”

No decision on whether Trump engaged in insurrection

What’s left entirely unsaid in the court’s opinions issued on Monday: whether Trump engaged in insurrection.

A finding that Trump had himself engaged in insurrection would have been required for keeping the former president off the ballot. The clause says that a person could be disqualified from holding office again if they had “engaged in insurrection or rebellion”.

Trump and his team fought against this claim, saying his actions after the 2020 election did not constitute an insurrection. Instead, he argued, 6 January was more akin to a “riot” and his comments to his followers, which some have contended amounted to incitement, were protected by the first amendment. In Colorado, the state supreme court had concluded that he incited his followers to engage in insurrection, which met the definition for engaging in insurrection.

The legal cases against Trump over his election subversion will continue unabated by any opining by the high court about whether he is an insurrectionist.

The potential for mayhem/violence was high because of this case

The 2024 election was already marked by tension because of the presence of Trump; his ability to direct his followers is unparalleled in American politics.

The cases against Trump in several states – for election subversion, hush-money claims, keeping classified documents and business fraud – have not injured his standing with his followers, but instead seemingly solidified or even amplified their support.

The 14th amendment cases entered into this fraught dynamic, throwing yet another legal bomb, albeit an obscure one, that gave Trump’s followers further belief that there is a conspiracy against Trump’s ability to run for re-election.

On the campaign trail, Trump has used these legal liabilities to his benefit, claiming they are evidence of election interference and a sign that President Joe Biden, not he, is a threat to democracy.

A survey focused on political violence conducted by the University of Chicago’s Chicago Project on Security & Threats in January showed that the court’s decision on the 14th amendment held the potential for further support of political violence, regardless of how the court decided, because of the extreme partisan divide on the issue.

Trump called the decision “very well-crafted” and said he thought it would bring the country together. Most states were “thrilled” to have Trump on the ballot, he said, but others didn’t want him on there for “political reasons” and because of “poll numbers”.

The court clearly considered the political implications

While courts often claim to avoid wading in on political questions, politics clearly played into how the court decided on this case. The implications of how removing Trump could play out electorally are contemplated throughout the opinions.

The potential that a candidate could be ineligible in some states, leading to a “patchwork” effect, would disrupt voters, the majority wrote in their opinion.

“An evolving electoral map could dramatically change the behavior of voters, parties, and States across the country, in different ways and at different times,” the majority wrote. “The disruption would be all the more acute – and could nullify the votes of millions and change the election result – if Section 3 enforcement were attempted after the Nation has voted. Nothing in the Constitution requires that we endure such chaos – arriving at any time or different times, up to and perhaps beyond the Inauguration.”

It wasn’t just politics with the election itself or the public at large that came into view; the political dynamics between the justices showed through as well.

The liberal justices jabbed at the majority opinion for its extension of the case into how Congress would need to act, claiming that was an attempt to “insulate all alleged insurrectionists from future challenges to their holding federal office”.

Barrett, in her separate opinion, tried to strike a conciliatory note. She called attention to the fact that the court unanimously decided on a “politically charged issue in the volatile season of a Presidential election”. The court’s goal, she said, should be to turn down the national temperature instead of inflame it.

“For present purposes, our differences are far less important than our unanimity: All nine Justices agree on the outcome of this case,” she wrote. “That is the message Americans should take home.”

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Donald TrumpEx-president was wrongly removed from Colorado ballot, supreme court rules

Trump was wrongly removed from Colorado ballot, US supreme court rules

Court’s decision clears way for ex-president to appear on primary ballot in all states

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Donald Trump was wrongly removed from Colorado’s primary ballot last year, the US supreme court has ruled, clearing the way for Trump to appear on the ballot in all 50 states.

The court’s unanimous decision overturns a 4-3 ruling from the Colorado supreme court that said the former president could not run because he had engaged in insurrection during the January 6 attack on the US Capitol. The Colorado decision was a novel interpretation of section 3 of the 14th amendment, which bars insurrectionists from holding office.

“We conclude that States may disqualify persons holding or attempting to hold state office. But States have no power under the Constitution to enforce Section 3 with respect to federal offices, especially the Presidency,” the court wrote in an unsigned opinion. Congress, the court said, had to enact the procedures for disqualification under Section 3.

“State-by-state resolution of the question whether Section 3 bars a particular candidate for President from serving would be quite unlikely to yield a uniform answer consistent with the basic principle that the President … represent[s] all the voters in the Nation,” the court added.

Colorado’s presidential primary is on Tuesday, and Trump had been allowed to appear on the ballot while the case was pending. As of midnight on Monday, about 500,000 ballots had been cast in the Republican primary, Griswold said in an interview.

“I am disappointed in the decision. I believe Colorado or any state should have the right to bar oath-breaking insurrectionists from our ballots. And I’m concerned that the implications of the decision mean that federal, oath-breaking candidates have a free pass to run for office again,” she said.

Still, she said, she was glad the decision was issued because voters in Colorado and throughout the country deserved to know whether Trump was eligible to be on the ballot.

“I think the bigger picture is that Americans should not have been waiting, nor was I waiting, for the supreme court to save American democracy,” she said. “It will be up to American voters to save our democracy in November.”

Since the case was filed, Griswold, who did not file the case, said she has received more than 600 violent threats, an indication of the extreme potential for political violence the 14th amendment carried.

Maine and a judge in Illinois had also excluded Trump from the ballot – decisions that are now likely to be quickly reversed.

All nine justices agreed with the central holding in the case: that the Colorado supreme court had wrongly barred Trump from appearing on the ballot. But agreement did not extend beyond that.

The majority opinion went on to say that the only way to enforce section 3 was by specifically tailored congressional legislation to determine which individuals should be disqualified for insurrection.But Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson all said that finding went beyond the scope of the case, with the liberal justices specifically saying the court was shielding insurrectionists from accountability.

“The Court continues on to resolve questions not before us. In a case involving no federal action whatsoever, the Court opines on how federal enforcement of Section 3 must proceed,” the liberal justices wrote. ‘“These musings are as inadequately supported as they are gratuitous.”

The court’s conservative majority, the liberal justices said, had made it nearly impossible to hold insurrectionists accountable. The court “forecloses judicial enforcement” of the provision, they wrote, and was “ruling out enforcement under general federal statutes requiring the government to comply with the law”.

“By resolving these and other questions, the majority attempts to insulate all alleged insurrectionists from future challenges to their holding federal office,” they wrote.

Barrett, a conservative also appointed by Trump, also did not fully embrace the majority’s opinion. “I agree that States lack the power to enforce Section 3 against Presidential candidates. That principle is sufficient to resolve this case, and I would decide no more than that,” she wrote.

But she went on to rebuke her liberal colleagues for amplifying disagreement on the court.

“In my judgment, this is not the time to amplify disagreement with stridency. The Court has settled a politically charged issue in the volatile season of a Presidential election. Particularly in this circumstance, writings on the Court should turn the national temperature down, not up,” she wrote.

Speaking at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, Trump praised the supreme court’s decision. “I want to start by thanking the supreme court for its unanimous decision today. It was a very important decision, very well crafted. I think it will go a long way toward bringing our country together, which our country needs,” he said.

None of the opinions addressed a central and politically charged issue in the case – whether Trump engaged in insurrection on January 6.

“While the supreme court allowed Donald Trump back on the ballot on technical legal grounds, this was in no way a win for Trump. The supreme court had the opportunity in this case to exonerate Trump, and they chose not to do so,” Noah Bookbinder, the president of Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington, the left-leaning group that backed the Colorado case, said in a statement. “The supreme court removed an enforcement mechanism, and in letting Trump back on the ballot, they failed to meet the moment. But it is now clear that Trump led the January 6 insurrection, and it will be up to the American people to ensure accountability.”

Enacted after the civil war, section 3 of the 14th amendment says that any member of Congress or officer of the United States who engages in insurrection after taking an oath to the constitution is barred from holding office. It has never been used to bar a presidential candidate from office.

During oral argument in February, nearly all of the justices signaled skepticism of Colorado’s authority to remove Trump from the ballot. They worried about the chaos it would cause if states had the unilateral authority to determine a candidate had engaged in insurrection and worried it could result in a chaotic, partisan tit-for-tat.

“I would expect that a goodly number of states will say whoever the Democratic candidate is, you’re off the ballot, and others, for the Republican candidate, you’re off the ballot. It will come down to just a handful of states that are going to decide the presidential election. That’s a pretty daunting consequence,” the chief justice, John Roberts, said during oral argument.

The Colorado supreme court reached its conclusion after a Denver trial court judge held a five-day hearing and ruled that Trump had engaged in insurrection on January 6, but was not disqualified from the ballot because he was not an officer of the United States.

At the end of their opinion, the three liberal justices offered a full-throated defense of why section 3 was still needed.

“Section 3 serves an important, though rarely needed, role in our democracy. The American people have the power to vote for and elect candidates for national office, and that is a great and glorious thing. The men who drafted and ratified the Fourteenth Amendment, however, had witnessed an “insurrection [and] rebellion” to defend slavery. They wanted to ensure that those who had participated in that insurrection, and in possible future insurrections, could not return to prominent roles,” they wrote.

“Today, the majority goes beyond the necessities of this case to limit how Section 3 can bar an oathbreaking insurrectionist from becoming President.”

Rachel Leingang contributed reporting

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Donald Trump case trackerWhere does each investigation stand?

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Donald Trump case tracker: where does each investigation stand?

The ex-president faces criminal charges in New York, Florida, Washington DC and Georgia

After four arrests in as many months, Donald Trump has now been charged with 91 felony counts across criminal cases in New York, Florida, Washington DC and Georgia. The former president and current frontrunner in the 2024 Republican presidential primary faces the threat of prison time if he is convicted.

As Trump attempts to delay his criminal trials, he’s already been hit with more than a half-billion dollars in penalties from a pair of New York civil trials. Trump has twice been found liable for sexually abusing and defaming E Jean Carroll by juries, awarding her a combined $88m in damages. In his New York civil fraud trial, a judge decided that Trump and the Trump Organization had lied about the value of their assets to secure better loan terms and fined him more than $350m plus interest, which has accrued to an additional $100m and counting.

Classified documents case in Florida

Status: Trump pleaded not guilty; trial tentatively scheduled for May 2024 but likely to be moved.

Key figures:

Charges: 40 counts, including willful retention of national defense information under the Espionage Act and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

Summary: In the weeks before he left the White House in January 2021, Trump and his aides allegedly packed up hundreds of classified documents with his personal belongings and transported those documents to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. Federal officials repeatedly tried to recover the classified materials, but prosecutors say Trump intentionally withheld dozens of documents from investigators and misled them as they attempted to locate the missing files.

Hush-money case in New York

Status: Trump pleaded not guilty; trial scheduled for late March 2024.

Key figures:

Charges: 34 felony charges of falsifying business records.

Summary: The case involves a hush-money scheme during the 2016 presidential election. Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen paid $130,000 to the adult film star Stormy Daniels to quash her story about having an extramarital affair with the former president. Trump has denied the affair took place. Prosecutors accuse the former president of illegally reimbursing Cohen for the hush-money payment by falsely classifying the transaction, executed by the Trump Organization, as legal expenses. The trial is set to begin on 25 March, making it the first of Trump’s criminal cases to head to trial.

January 6 case in Washington

Status: Trump pleaded not guilty; trial date on hold pending US supreme court ruling.

Key figures:

Charges: Four counts: conspiracy to defraud the US, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding, and conspiracy against rights in his relentless pursuit to reverse the outcome of the 2020 election and remain in office.

  • Summary: On 6 January 2021, a group of Trump’s supporters staged a violent attack on the US Capitol in an effort to disrupt the congressional certification of Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election. A bipartisan Senate report later concluded that seven people died in connection to the insurrection. The House impeached Trump for inciting the insurrection, but the former president was acquitted by the Senate. He now faces criminal charges for attempting to overturn his 2020 election loss–including his actions leading up to and during the the attack.

2020 election meddling case in Georgia

Status: Indictment unsealed.

Key figures:

Charges: Against Trump: 13 counts including racketeering, forgery, perjury, filing false documents, false statements and others.

Summary: As part of his frantic efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, Trump infamously instructed the Georgia secretary of state, Republican Brad Raffensperger, to “find” enough votes to rob Joe Biden of his win in the battleground state. The Fulton county district attorney, Fani Willis, had been investigating Trump’s efforts to overturn Biden’s victory in Georgia for more than two years before charging Trump and more than a dozen co-defendants with attempting to illegally overturn Georgia’s 2020 election results.

E Jean Carroll lawsuits in New York

Status: Trump found liable for defamation in two separate lawsuits and ordered to pay more than $88m in combined penalties.

Key figures:

Charges: Defamation and sexual abuse.

Summary: The case centered on Trump’s response to allegations by writer E Jean Carroll that he sexually assaulted her at a department store in 1996. Trump denied the allegations while repeatedly attacking Carroll’s character. He was ordered to pay $5m in fines after losing his first case, but continued to attack Carroll, which led to a second trial where the judge ruled he’d intentionally defamed her again and ordered him to pat an additional $83m.

Trump Organization civil fraud case

Status: Trial scheduled for 2 October.

Key figures:

Charges: Financial fraud.

Summary: In February 2019, Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, testified to Congress that the then president had repeatedly lied on financial forms about the value of his assets to procure better tax and loan terms. “It was my experience that Mr Trump inflated his total assets when it served his purposes, such as trying to be listed amongst the wealthiest people in Forbes, and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes,” Cohen told the House oversight committee.

His testimony triggered a civil inquiry, led by New York attorney general Letitia James, into the Trump Organization’s business practices. That led to a civil trial against Trump, his two eldest sons and the Trump Organization. They lost the case and were ordered in February 2024 to pay more than $350m in penalties plus interest, a combined sum that had grown to more than $450m by the time of the ruling. Trump is appealing the ruling.

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ExplainerThe case hinged on the 14th amendment – what it actually means

Trump’s supreme court case hinged on the 14th amendment – what it actually means

The supreme court determined if section 3 of the 14th amendment – which bars insurrectionists from holding office – applied to Trump

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  • Supreme court allows Trump on Colorado ballot – live updates
  • Full report – Trump was wrongly removed from Colorado ballot, supreme court rules

A former US president could have been kicked off the ballot in his quest to return to the White House because of a rarely used provision in an amendment created in the aftermath of the civil war.

A lawsuit out of Colorado that sought to oust Donald Trump in his re-election bid went before the US supreme court, which decided Trump could not be removed from seeking office there over the 14th amendment’s third clause.

The clause was intended to ensure that people who participated in the civil war and other acts against the US weren’t allowed to keep or resume holding positions of power in government. In essence, it says that people could not again hold office if they had participated in insurrection or rebellion against the country while they were in office.

Trump’s team argued the clause doesn’t apply to him for a handful of reasons, based on both esoteric readings of the clause itself and on larger questions like what constitutes an insurrection.

The justices sided with Trump, saying states could not try to keep a federal candidate off the ballot because it was beyond their power. The case involved several issues of legal reasoning the justices had to weigh.

Here are the clause’s big questions.

No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State …

The first part of the clause essentially says that a person can’t hold office again if they were an officer of the US when they participated in an insurrection. It specifies that it applies broadly – to the presidency, Congress and “any office … under the United States”.

Trump’s team argued, though, that this means he couldn’t hold office again, not that he can’t run for office again, so he can’t be disqualified from appearing on the ballot. The legal question would then be raised anew if he won and therefore “held office” again. The case is therefore premature, they said.

In Colorado, the court concluded that because Trump is disqualified from holding the office of president, it would be a “wrongful act” for the secretary of state there to list him as a candidate in the presidential primary.

… who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States …

Trump’s arguments related to this part of the clause involve twists of plain language to conclude the president is not an “officer of the United States” and therefore the clause doesn’t apply because anything Trump did happened when he was president.

His attorneys argued that because the presidency isn’t explicitly listed in the clause, it wasn’t intended to include the presidency. They’ve also said that the presidency is not “under” the United States because it is the government, and because the president is an officer of the constitution, not of the United States.

These arguments go hand in hand with the earlier provision in the clause, about whether someone could hold office. Trump’s team argued that because the presidency isn’t specifically mentioned, like “member of Congress” is, it doesn’t apply to him.

The Colorado supreme court essentially said the plain language of the amendment and how the presidency is viewed overall show that the presidency is an office of the US, and the president would be considered an “officer” of the US.

“President Trump asks us to hold that Section Three disqualifies every oath-breaking insurrectionist except the most powerful one and that it bars oath-breakers from virtually every office, both state and federal, except the highest one in the land,” Colorado’s ruling says.

… shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.

The insurrection part of the clause involves perhaps the more political questions of the case: whether the associated events of 6 January 2021 to overturn Trump’s loss would constitute an “insurrection” and, if so, if Trump himself “engaged” in it.

In Colorado, the case went before a jury for a trial, with evidence submitted that backed up the claims both that the events of 6 January 2021 were an insurrection and that Trump engaged in it. Among the evidence were many months of claims made by Trump that the election was stolen and specific callouts to his supporters to protest the results.

Using definitions of what was considered an insurrection when the clause was written, the Colorado court said basically that it would entail a public use or threat of force by a group of people to hinder some execution of the constitution – in this case, the awarding of electors and the peaceful transfer of power. By that definition, the events of 6 January constituted an insurrection.

Trump’s team argued both that the events of 6 January were not an insurrection and that the former president didn’t engage in it anyway. His attorneys instead described the events as a “riot” and said the president’s speech was protected by the first amendment. They also pointed to comments he made telling the mob to go home eventually on 6 January, in which he said they should “go peacefully and patriotically”.

Colorado’s justices concluded that free speech rights don’t allow for incitement and that his intent was to call for his supporters to fight his loss, which they responded to.

“President Trump’s direct and express efforts, over several months, exhorting his supporters to march to the Capitol to prevent what he falsely characterized as an alleged fraud on the people of this country were indisputably overt and voluntary,” the ruling said. “Moreover, the evidence amply showed that President Trump undertook all these actions to aid and further a common unlawful purpose that he himself conceived and set in motion: prevent Congress from certifying the 2020 presidential election and stop the peaceful transfer of power.”

But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

Finally, there’s the matter of what role states play in assessing eligibility for federal offices and whether a state can decide not to put a candidate on the ballot because they haven’t met federal constitutional requirements for running, which include factors like age and citizenship as well as the broader insurrection question.

Even for federal elections, states manage the electoral process of who can vote, how they vote and how results are counted.

Trump argued that eligibility in this case is a political question that Congress should decide, not one for state courts – and not one for courts in general, which tend to stay away from purely political questions.

His team tried to make the case that Congress would need to put the process in motion to keep him off the ballot, saying that the clause is not “self-executing”, or something that goes into effect upon its creation.

The clause itself doesn’t say anything about whether Congress would initiate such a proceeding. Instead, it says Congress could remove a finding that kept an insurrectionist off the ballot with a two-thirds vote, thus allowing that person to hold office again.

The Colorado court rejected the idea that the clause needs congressional action to be implemented, relying on other Reconstruction-era amendments that went into effect without congressional action. If those other amendments needed Congress to go into effect, it “would lead to absurd results”.

“The result of such inaction would mean that slavery remains legal; Black citizens would be counted as less than full citizens for reapportionment; nonwhite male voters could be disenfranchised; and any individual who engaged in insurrection against the government would nonetheless be able to serve in the government, regardless of whether two-thirds of Congress had lifted the disqualification,” the court wrote. “Surely that was not the drafters’ intent.”

Elle Macpherson makes runway return at Melbourne fashion festival

‘Her hair was luscious’: Elle Macpherson makes runway return at Melbourne fashion festival

Australian supermodel appears in a fashion show for the first time in over a decade. Plus, high-end ‘happy shoes’, two blockbuster fashion exhibitions, and more this March in Australian style

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On Monday night, arguably Australia’s most famous supermodel walked the runway for the first time in over a decade, then did it all again two hours later. After QR codes flashed on enormous screens beside the words “shop the runway”, Elle Macpherson, who will be 60 at the end of March, opened Melbourne fashion festival.

Her first outfit was a floor-length brown coat layered over orange knitwear and silk terracotta trousers by Viktoria & Woods. Later, she wore a pale yellow trench coat with matching pants by Bianca Spender, then closed the show in a floaty, black boho dress and oversized blazer by Aje.

At the 8.30pm show, the second of the night, each of her walks was met with light applause. The multi-brand runway shows were the first of more than a dozen taking place this week in Melbourne and also featured designers Martin Grant, Ngali, Anna Quan and Oroton.

The supermodel’s appearance at the Royal Exhibition Building was bankrolled by PayPal, who are sponsoring this year’s event. A representative from PayPal refused to disclose the cost of getting Macpherson (who is known as “The Body”) back on the catwalk.

When asked about Macpherson’s catwalk appearance post-show, podcaster and writer Maggie Zhao said: “Her hair was luscious.”

Zhao also enjoyed the crowd reaction: “I loved how the audience got behind her … It felt like a moment of support.”

Celebrity participation has become a hallmark of Melbourne fashion festival, which is a consumer event selling tickets to see-now, buy-now runway shows. Though a third-row ticket to the event cost $139, the festival is largely snubbed by industry insiders, whose focus is on the international fashion calendar where next season’s collections are showcased to businesses and press.

The last time Macpherson, who spends most of her time in the United Kingdom, was seen on a fashion week catwalk was for Louis Vuitton in Paris in 2010.

Macpherson’s career has spanned four decades and various professions, including stints as a producer and host of Britain and Ireland’s Next Top Model, alongside a range of business ventures including lingerie and wellness products, and philanthropic work with Unicef.

Winter is the new summer for fashion blockbusters

The most comprehensive exhibition of African fashion ever shown in Australia will open on 31 May, NGV International has announced.

Travelling from the V&A in London, Africa Fashion will feature nearly 200 works of couture, bespoke and ready-to-wear garments, as well as body adornments by over 50 designers, from more than 20 countries. The show examines the role fashion played in the African independence movement and features pieces by Thebe Magugu, Imane Ayissi, Iamisigo, Moshions, Shade Thomas-Fahm and Kofi Ansah. For the Melbourne exhibition, members of Australia’s African community are being invited to share their own stories and images through a public call-out.

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Another major fashion exhibition is also coming to Australia over winter. Iris van Herpen: Sculpting the Senses opens at Brisbane’s Qagoma on 29 June. The exhibit will display almost 100 garments by the Dutch fashion designer, whose work is architectural, surreal and darkly fantastical. Outfits worn by the likes of Beyoncé, Björk, Cate Blanchett, Lady Gaga and Tilda Swinton will be shown alongside artwork, artefacts, a model of the designer’s Amsterdam studio and a soundscape by artist Salvator Breed.

Aja Barber’s message for Australians: ‘You have to change your lifestyle’

Fast fashion, colonialism and consumption will be under the spotlight at the Sydney Opera House on 10 March when Aja Barber, a leading figure in sustainable fashion and author of Consumed, joins journalist Jan Fran in conversation at the All About Women festival.

Australians are some of the most avid consumers of cheap fashion in the world. Barber told Guardian Australia these shopping habits “absolutely” reflect the country’s colonial past. “Would we treat fair wages like it was some sort of debate if it was our friends and family fighting to pay themselves so they can eat? No, we wouldn’t,” she said.

“People need to know that fast fashion isn’t good for anyone. You think it’s good for you because you can afford it, but it’s trashing your planet too.”

Her advice on how to change overconsumption at an individual level is to consider what’s getting your energy and attention. “You have to change your lifestyle. You have to change your social media. You have to unsubscribe,” she said. “Drowning out the things which prompt us to spend … is very effective in habit change.”

Australian fashion’s richest prize goes to textile recycler

Late last month, eBay announced startup Dempstah was the winner of its inaugural Circular Fashion Fund, taking home a prize of $100,000 – the largest in Australian fashion by a wide margin. Dempstah founder Guy Dempster has a plan to build a micro textile recycling plant in Tasmania, although when Guardian Australia asked at the award ceremony, he could not go into specifics about the machinery he will procure to sort and process fibres. His pilot program mechanically recycled 500kg of old clothes into yarn using facilities in China.

The announcement was made just days before the world’s only commercial-scale textile-to-textile recycler, Renewcell, said it had filed for bankruptcy in Sweden. Recycling textiles at scale is incredibly challenging, and Renewcell’s closure casts doubt on the fashion industry’s plans for circularity.

Two runners-up – Rcycl and The Very Good Bra – were awarded $50,000 each by eBay. Rcycl also sends textile waste offshore to be processed and recycled, while The Very Good Bra sells a range of plastic-free bras and knickers, and is working with Standards Australia to establish the world’s first standard for compostable textiles.

Happy shoes’ high-end revival

Described as the “shoe of the summer” by Vogue, Mary Jane ballet flats have been spotted on the feet of everyone from Alexa Chung to Zoë Kravitz, and have made a welcome return to street style in Australia too.

The semi-square-toed shoes are constructed from cloth, velvet or mesh, with a strap across the foot. While they’re being described as “ballet flats” now, if you remember Australia in the 1980s, you might know them by a different name: happy shoes. The affordable fabric slippers were (and still are) sold in Chinatown malls across the country.

Chanel, Miu Miu, Aeyde and The Row are currently selling their takes on happy shoes, while Reformation has five different styles, from AU$465 a pair. Whether the newer iterations offer any more arch support than the originals remains to be seen.

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Elle Macpherson makes runway return at Melbourne fashion festival

‘Her hair was luscious’: Elle Macpherson makes runway return at Melbourne fashion festival

Australian supermodel appears in a fashion show for the first time in over a decade. Plus, high-end ‘happy shoes’, two blockbuster fashion exhibitions, and more this March in Australian style

  • Get our weekend culture and lifestyle email

On Monday night, arguably Australia’s most famous supermodel walked the runway for the first time in over a decade, then did it all again two hours later. After QR codes flashed on enormous screens beside the words “shop the runway”, Elle Macpherson, who will be 60 at the end of March, opened Melbourne fashion festival.

Her first outfit was a floor-length brown coat layered over orange knitwear and silk terracotta trousers by Viktoria & Woods. Later, she wore a pale yellow trench coat with matching pants by Bianca Spender, then closed the show in a floaty, black boho dress and oversized blazer by Aje.

At the 8.30pm show, the second of the night, each of her walks was met with light applause. The multi-brand runway shows were the first of more than a dozen taking place this week in Melbourne and also featured designers Martin Grant, Ngali, Anna Quan and Oroton.

The supermodel’s appearance at the Royal Exhibition Building was bankrolled by PayPal, who are sponsoring this year’s event. A representative from PayPal refused to disclose the cost of getting Macpherson (who is known as “The Body”) back on the catwalk.

When asked about Macpherson’s catwalk appearance post-show, podcaster and writer Maggie Zhao said: “Her hair was luscious.”

Zhao also enjoyed the crowd reaction: “I loved how the audience got behind her … It felt like a moment of support.”

Celebrity participation has become a hallmark of Melbourne fashion festival, which is a consumer event selling tickets to see-now, buy-now runway shows. Though a third-row ticket to the event cost $139, the festival is largely snubbed by industry insiders, whose focus is on the international fashion calendar where next season’s collections are showcased to businesses and press.

The last time Macpherson, who spends most of her time in the United Kingdom, was seen on a fashion week catwalk was for Louis Vuitton in Paris in 2010.

Macpherson’s career has spanned four decades and various professions, including stints as a producer and host of Britain and Ireland’s Next Top Model, alongside a range of business ventures including lingerie and wellness products, and philanthropic work with Unicef.

Winter is the new summer for fashion blockbusters

The most comprehensive exhibition of African fashion ever shown in Australia will open on 31 May, NGV International has announced.

Travelling from the V&A in London, Africa Fashion will feature nearly 200 works of couture, bespoke and ready-to-wear garments, as well as body adornments by over 50 designers, from more than 20 countries. The show examines the role fashion played in the African independence movement and features pieces by Thebe Magugu, Imane Ayissi, Iamisigo, Moshions, Shade Thomas-Fahm and Kofi Ansah. For the Melbourne exhibition, members of Australia’s African community are being invited to share their own stories and images through a public call-out.

  • Sign up for the fun stuff with our rundown of must-reads, pop culture and tips for the weekend, every Saturday morning

Another major fashion exhibition is also coming to Australia over winter. Iris van Herpen: Sculpting the Senses opens at Brisbane’s Qagoma on 29 June. The exhibit will display almost 100 garments by the Dutch fashion designer, whose work is architectural, surreal and darkly fantastical. Outfits worn by the likes of Beyoncé, Björk, Cate Blanchett, Lady Gaga and Tilda Swinton will be shown alongside artwork, artefacts, a model of the designer’s Amsterdam studio and a soundscape by artist Salvator Breed.

Aja Barber’s message for Australians: ‘You have to change your lifestyle’

Fast fashion, colonialism and consumption will be under the spotlight at the Sydney Opera House on 10 March when Aja Barber, a leading figure in sustainable fashion and author of Consumed, joins journalist Jan Fran in conversation at the All About Women festival.

Australians are some of the most avid consumers of cheap fashion in the world. Barber told Guardian Australia these shopping habits “absolutely” reflect the country’s colonial past. “Would we treat fair wages like it was some sort of debate if it was our friends and family fighting to pay themselves so they can eat? No, we wouldn’t,” she said.

“People need to know that fast fashion isn’t good for anyone. You think it’s good for you because you can afford it, but it’s trashing your planet too.”

Her advice on how to change overconsumption at an individual level is to consider what’s getting your energy and attention. “You have to change your lifestyle. You have to change your social media. You have to unsubscribe,” she said. “Drowning out the things which prompt us to spend … is very effective in habit change.”

Australian fashion’s richest prize goes to textile recycler

Late last month, eBay announced startup Dempstah was the winner of its inaugural Circular Fashion Fund, taking home a prize of $100,000 – the largest in Australian fashion by a wide margin. Dempstah founder Guy Dempster has a plan to build a micro textile recycling plant in Tasmania, although when Guardian Australia asked at the award ceremony, he could not go into specifics about the machinery he will procure to sort and process fibres. His pilot program mechanically recycled 500kg of old clothes into yarn using facilities in China.

The announcement was made just days before the world’s only commercial-scale textile-to-textile recycler, Renewcell, said it had filed for bankruptcy in Sweden. Recycling textiles at scale is incredibly challenging, and Renewcell’s closure casts doubt on the fashion industry’s plans for circularity.

Two runners-up – Rcycl and The Very Good Bra – were awarded $50,000 each by eBay. Rcycl also sends textile waste offshore to be processed and recycled, while The Very Good Bra sells a range of plastic-free bras and knickers, and is working with Standards Australia to establish the world’s first standard for compostable textiles.

Happy shoes’ high-end revival

Described as the “shoe of the summer” by Vogue, Mary Jane ballet flats have been spotted on the feet of everyone from Alexa Chung to Zoë Kravitz, and have made a welcome return to street style in Australia too.

The semi-square-toed shoes are constructed from cloth, velvet or mesh, with a strap across the foot. While they’re being described as “ballet flats” now, if you remember Australia in the 1980s, you might know them by a different name: happy shoes. The affordable fabric slippers were (and still are) sold in Chinatown malls across the country.

Chanel, Miu Miu, Aeyde and The Row are currently selling their takes on happy shoes, while Reformation has five different styles, from AU$465 a pair. Whether the newer iterations offer any more arch support than the originals remains to be seen.

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Fury after Exxon chief says public to blame for climate failures

Fury after Exxon chief says public to blame for climate failures

Darren Woods tells Fortune consumers not willing to pay for clean-energy transition, prompting backlash from climate experts

The world is off track to meet its climate goals and the public is to blame, Darren Woods, chief executive of oil giant ExxonMobil, has claimed – prompting a backlash from climate experts.

As the world’s largest investor-owned oil company, Exxon is among the top contributors to global planet-heating greenhouse gas emissions. But in an interview, published on Tuesday, Woods argued that big oil is not primarily responsible for the climate crisis.

The real issue, Woods said, is that the clean-energy transition may prove too expensive for consumers’ liking.

“The dirty secret nobody talks about is how much all this is going to cost and who’s willing to pay for it,” he told Fortune last week. “The people who are generating those emissions need to be aware of and pay the price for generating those emissions. That is ultimately how you solve the problem.”

Woods said the world was “not on the path” to cut its planet-heating emissions to net zero by 2050, which scientists say is imperative to avoid catastrophic impacts of global heating. “When are people going to willing to pay for carbon reduction?” said Woods, who has been Exxon’s chief executive since 2017.

“We have opportunities to make fuels with lower carbon in it, but people aren’t willing to spend the money to do that.”

Experts say Woods’s rhetoric is part of a larger attempt to skirt climate accountability. No new major oil and gas infrastructure can be built if the world is to avoid breaching agreed temperature limits but Exxon, along with other major oil companies currently basking in record profits, is pushing ahead with aggressive fossil-fuel expansion plans.

“It’s like a drug lord blaming everyone but himself for drug problems,” said Gernot Wagner, a climate economist at Columbia business school.

“I hate to tell you, but you’re the chief executive of the largest publicly traded oil company, you have influence, you make decisions that matter. Exxon are at the mercy of markets but they are also shaping them, they are shaping policy. So no, you can’t blame the public for the failure to fix climate change.”

Troves of internal documents and analyses have over the past decade established that Exxon knew of the dangers of global heating as far back as the 1970s, but forcefully and successfully worked to sow doubt about the climate crisis and stymie action to clamp down on fossil fuel usage. The revelations have inspired litigation against Exxon across the US.

“What they’re really trying to do is to whitewash their own history, to make it invisible,” said Robert Brulle, an environment policy expert at Brown University who has researched climate disinformation spread by the fossil-fuel industry.

A 2021 analysis also demonstrated that Exxon had downplayed its own role in the climate crisis for decades in public-facing messaging.

“The playbook is this: sell consumers a product that you know is dangerous, while publicly denying or downplaying those dangers. Then, when the dangers are no longer deniable, deny responsibility and blame the consumer,” said Naomi Oreskes, a Harvard historian of science and co-author of the 2021 paper.

Last year, another study co-authored by Oreskes found that Exxon’s own scientists “correctly and skillfully” predicted the trajectory of global warming, then spent decades sowing doubt about climate science and policies in order to protect its business model.

In the Tuesday interview, however, Woods says the world “waited too long” to develop carbon-free technologies. He said Exxon “recognized the need to decarbonize” and that a carbon tax would help achieve this, while also defending the oil giant’s comparatively meager investment in renewable energy, pointing to focus upon more nascent technologies, such as carbon capture and hydrogen fuels.

Exxon does not “see the ability to generate above-average returns for investors” from established clean energy generation such as wind and solar, Woods said.

“We recognize a need for that. We just don’t see that as an appropriate use of ExxonMobil’s capabilities,” he added.

Woods does not mention that his company lobbied to fend off provisions in an earlier version of the legislation that would have levied heavy taxes on polluting companies to pay for climate efforts, or that a top Exxon lobbyist was filmed saying that the firm’s support for a carbon tax was a public relations strategy meant to stall more serious climate policies.

“For decades, they told us that the science was too uncertain to justify action, that it was premature to act, and that we could and should wait and see how things developed,” said Oreskes. “Now the CEO says: oh dear, we’ve waited too long. If this isn’t gaslighting, I don’t know what is.”

Wagner said that Exxon was touting its ambition to slash the emissions of its own operations while also betting that the rest of the world won’t do the same, in order to continue selling oil.

“He can’t have it both ways in saying ‘we are an energy company’ but then basically ignoring the cheapest source of electricity in history as something Exxon should be investing in,” he said.

The video interview comes as Exxon is pursuing a lawsuit against activist shareholders who are aiming to push Exxon to take up stricter environmental standards. Those shareholders, Woods said, were trying to stop Exxon’s central business model of selling oil and gas, which it won’t accede to.

“We want to cater to the shareholders who are real investors, who have an interest in seeing this company succeed in generating return on their investments,” he said. “We don’t feel a responsibility to activists that hijack that process … and frankly, abuse it to advance an ideology.”

Exxon has received subsidies to build out its clean energy business from the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act, Fortune chief exceutive Alan Murray pointed out in the interview. But Woods argued that “building a business on government subsidy is not a long-term sustainable strategy”.

“The way that the government is incentivized and trying to catalyze investments in this space is through subsidies,” he said. “Driving significant investments at a scale that even gets close to moving the needle is going to cost a lot of money.”

But the vast majority of Exxon’s own investments are still being put toward fossil fuel expansion, said Brulle.

“This is what they do: they’re going to basically blame the victim, the American public,” he said.

“They spend on fossil fuels and they spend billions trying to influence public opinion, but we’re supposed to foot the bill for the damage.”

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Spill or no spill, Victoria’s Liberal party can agree on one thing: no more messiahs

Analysis

Spill or no spill, Victoria’s Liberal party can agree on one thing: no more messiahs

Benita Kolovos

As discontent with leader John Pesutto rises, the fractured party is casting around for a replacement that will unite them

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By all accounts, the Victorian Liberals are heading for another leadership spill. But true to form, the party room is divided over the details.

Following a month of discipline during the federal byelection in the seat of Dunkley, the disunity returned on Sunday as the state opposition leader, John Pesutto, announced two of his most senior staff had left his office.

Several Liberal MPs were quick to describe the departure of communications director Nick Johnston and chief of staff Rodrigo Pintos Lopez as akin to “shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic” or “rats jumping off a sinking ship”.

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They said Pesutto had been issued an ultimatum by both Liberals and Nationals MPs unhappy with the pair’s performance: either they go or you do.

Other sources close to the pair said they chose to resign having become “fed up” with division in the Liberal party room and “constant criticism” levelled against them. They said the announcement was delayed to avoid any impact on the result in Dunkley.

On Monday, Pesutto sought to play down the saga.

“People come and go in political roles,” he said. “I’m sorry to see them go and they go with my best wishes.”

But Pesutto’s relaxed front belies his private efforts to shore up his leadership. Guardian Australia understands he has meetings planned with several MPs this week, ostensibly to “talk about priorities”.

Deeming saga a setback

Pesutto was elected leader of the Victorian Liberals in December 2022 – winning the party room ballot by one vote against Berwick MP Brad Battin.

At the time, he promised to bring the party room back together, after years of factional infighting between socially progressive and conservative members.

“People have different views. Those views need to be respected and they need to be heard and acted upon,” Pesutto said.

“I expect and embrace the idea that there are going to be different views about how we go forward.”

Three months later, his push to expel first-term MP Moira Deeming from the party room further deepened the divide.

Conservatives, as well as some moderate MPs unhappy with the handling of the expulsion, rallied around Deeming.

Several MPs told Guardian Australia on Monday the months-long saga was the “beginning of the end” for Pesutto.

“He staked everything on Deeming’s expulsion and in the end completely misread his level of authority over the party room,” said an MP who supports Pesutto.

Other issues raised by MPs included Pesutto’s lack of consultation, poor communication and bungled handling of major policy decisions, such as the party’s decision to walk back its support for a treaty with the state’s Indigenous people.

When questioned about the issues at a press conference on Monday, Pesutto said his party had “robust debates”.

“That’s the best way to arrive at common positions, and I have a party room that’s locked in behind some serious decisions that we’ve already announced this year and we’ll continue to do so.”

‘We’ve had enough messiahs’

Working in Pesutto’s favour, however, is the lack of a frontrunner to replace him.

While Battin remains the preferred candidate of the conservatives, Sandringham MP Brad Rowswell and Nepean’s Sam Groth have also been named as potential contenders.

Rowswell, currently the opposition’s shadow Treasury spokesperson, ran unsuccessfully in December 2022 for the deputy leader role, losing out to the incumbent David Southwick. Some MPs suggest he has more of a “broad appeal” in the party room than Battin.

Groth, meanwhile, is a former professional tennis player and one of two Liberals to win a seat from Labor at the election. Part of the “new guard” of MPs elected in 2022, he has previously urged the party to remain “modern and moderate”.

“He’s got the profile, he’s got the media experience and he’s got no baggage,” one MP said.

Another described Groth as “affable, articulate and driven – without a messiah complex”.

“We’ve had enough messiahs thinking they alone can turn the party’s fortunes around,” they said.

All three – Battin, Rowswell and Groth – denied they were planning to spill Pesutto when they arrived at a shadow cabinet meeting on Monday.

The timing of any potential spill remains contested among MPs, with some advocating for immediate action to avoid months of speculation and negative headlines while others suggested waiting until Pesutto had “no choice but to resign himself”.

One thing all MPs can agree on is that unlike the 2022 contest, when Pesutto scraped through, the result must be decisive.

Pesutto, however, remains resolute, stating on Monday: “I’m a fighter, I’m not going to be pushed around like this.”

Only time will tell.

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Hamas negotiators under pressure to produce list of hostages to be released

Hamas negotiators under pressure to produce list of hostages to be released

Officials at Cairo talks say list is first step in truce deal as militant group demands aid into Gaza

Egyptian and Qatari officials are putting pressure on Hamas negotiators in Cairo to produce a list of hostages to be released as the first step in a phased ceasefire agreement with Israel, according to officials familiar with the talks.

Israel has not sent a delegation to the second day of talks in Cairo, demanding that Hamas present a list of 40 elderly, sick and female hostages who would be the first to be released as part of a truce that would initially last six weeks, beginning with the month of Ramadan, the officials say.

Hamas is meanwhile demanding that large-scale humanitarian aid should be allowed into Gaza and that Palestinians displaced from their homes in the north of the coastal strip should be allowed to return.

US officials have said that Israel had “more or less” accepted the six-week ceasefire deal, which John Kirby, the White House national security spokesperson, confirmed would involve a six-week truce and begin with the release of sick, elderly and female hostages.

Diplomatic sources in Washington said it was unclear what was stopping Hamas from producing a list identifying the first 40 hostages, noting that uncertainty about lists and identities had dogged the last successful hostage negotiations in November. They suggested it could reflect problems of communication between Hamas units inside and outside Gaza, that some hostages could be held by other groups including Palestinian Islamic Jihad, or that elements of Hamas were withholding the information as a way of obstructing a deal.

Washington does not believe the absence of an Israeli delegation was necessarily bad news for a ceasefire hopes, as Israeli negotiators could arrive within a couple of hours if agreement was reached on a list. Egypt and Qatar have assured Joe Biden’s administration that they were putting pressure on the Hamas representatives in Cairo to come up with the identities of the hostages involved.

The US is also stepping up pressure on Israel to open new land routes, as well as a new sea corridor, to allow a far greater flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza to prevent a famine that UN agencies have warned is imminent. The US vice-president, Kamala Harris, said on Sunday that Israel must “significantly increase the flow of aid”.

Biden used similar language in a tweet on Monday, saying: “The aid flowing into Gaza is nowhere near enough – and nowhere fast enough.” Unlike Harris, however, he did not name Israel as the responsible party.

At the White House, Kirby said truck deliveries into Gaza had been slowed by opposition from some members of Israel’s cabinet.

“Israel bears a responsibility here to do more,” he said.

Israel meanwhile stepped up its allegations against the UN relief agency for Palestinians (Unrwa), saying that Unrwa in Gaza had employed over 450 “military operatives” from Hamas and other armed groups, and that Israel had shared this intelligence with the UN.

“Over 450 Unrwa employees are military operatives in terror groups in Gaza,” the Israeli military spokesperson, R Adm Daniel Hagari, said on Monday evening. “This is no mere coincidence. This is systematic.”

“We sent the information that I am sharing now, as well as further intelligence, to our international partners, including the UN,” he said.

A preliminary report by the UN office of internal oversight services (OIOS) into alleged Unrwa-Hamas links delivered to the secretary-general last week, said the investigators had received no evidence from Israel since the initial allegations in January that a dozen Unrwa employees had taken part in the 7 October Hamas attack. But the OIOS said it expected to receive information from Israel shortly.

Pramila Patten, the UN special envoy on sexual violence in conflict, reported on Monday that there were “reasonable grounds” to believe Hamas committed rape, “sexualised torture”, and other cruel and inhumane treatment of women during the 7 October attack. In her report, Patten, who visited Israel with a nine-person team in the first half of February, added there were also “reasonable grounds to believe that such violence may be ongoing”.

As the talks were under way in Cairo, a top Israeli minister, Benny Gantz, arrived in Washington for talks with Harris, the US national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, and the secretary of state, Antony Blinken, to the undisguised irritation of Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu invited his longstanding political rival into a coalition government after the 7 October Hamas attack on Israel, but that has done little to improve the tense relations between the two men.

US officials acknowledged that Gantz’s meetings in Washington, enhancing his own status as a would-be prime minister, was likely to inflame those tensions further. Netanyahu has yet to be invited to the White House since he returned to office at the end of 2022, at the head of the most rightwing coalition in Israeli history.

Gantz is said to have asked for the visit to Washington, rather than having been invited, but US officials said they welcomed an opportunity to talk to a member of the five-man Israeli war cabinet.

“For our part, we find him an important figure inside the Israeli government to engage with and, given the number of issues that we have currently that we are in discussion with the government of Israel about, including the need to surge humanitarian assistance in, for our purposes it’s an important meeting to have,” the state department spokesperson, Matthew Miller, said.

The Biden administration is pushing for more crossing points into Gaza to be opened for humanitarian relief, especially Erez in the north, which is is seen by aid organisations as an urgent priority.

“The disparity in conditions in the north and south [of Gaza] is clear evidence that aid restrictions in the north are costing lives,” warned Adele Khodr, the regional director of the UN children’s relief organisation, Unicef. Unicef says 16% of children in the north are acutely malnourished, compared with 5% in the south of the strip.

US officials said that organising a sea route was more complicated.

“There are a number of different ways to do it. We’re trying to find the most efficient way to get as much aid in as possible,” said Miller, but he declined to give details, citing the sensitivity of the arrangements.

Asked why the US did not restrict arms deliveries as a way of gaining leverage on Israel to allow greater humanitarian access, Miller replied: “We continue to support Israel’s campaign to ensure that the attacks of 7 October cannot be repeated. We have provided military assistance to Israel because it is consistent with that goal.”

The White House is seeking to help resolve rifts within the Israeli coalition, suggesting Netanyahu should seek a compromise over his coalition’s bitterly contested judicial overhaul, introduced early last year. After unprecedented street protests over the measures, in which demonstrators said they feared for Israel’s democratic future, the US president went even further, telling reporters in March 2023: “I hope he walks away from it.”

Netanyahu has faced significant pressure to step down over his ongoing trials for corruption charges, which he denies, as well as for instigating the judicial overhaul, which has been suspended since the outbreak of war.

It is widely believed in Israel that Netanyahu is slow-walking ceasefire talks, as well as talking up threats of an Israeli offensive on Rafah and Lebanon, because he believes he stands a better chance of beating the charges if he remains in office, and elections are unlikely while Israel is still at war.

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Hamas negotiators under pressure to produce list of hostages to be released

Hamas negotiators under pressure to produce list of hostages to be released

Officials at Cairo talks say list is first step in truce deal as militant group demands aid into Gaza

Egyptian and Qatari officials are putting pressure on Hamas negotiators in Cairo to produce a list of hostages to be released as the first step in a phased ceasefire agreement with Israel, according to officials familiar with the talks.

Israel has not sent a delegation to the second day of talks in Cairo, demanding that Hamas present a list of 40 elderly, sick and female hostages who would be the first to be released as part of a truce that would initially last six weeks, beginning with the month of Ramadan, the officials say.

Hamas is meanwhile demanding that large-scale humanitarian aid should be allowed into Gaza and that Palestinians displaced from their homes in the north of the coastal strip should be allowed to return.

US officials have said that Israel had “more or less” accepted the six-week ceasefire deal, which John Kirby, the White House national security spokesperson, confirmed would involve a six-week truce and begin with the release of sick, elderly and female hostages.

Diplomatic sources in Washington said it was unclear what was stopping Hamas from producing a list identifying the first 40 hostages, noting that uncertainty about lists and identities had dogged the last successful hostage negotiations in November. They suggested it could reflect problems of communication between Hamas units inside and outside Gaza, that some hostages could be held by other groups including Palestinian Islamic Jihad, or that elements of Hamas were withholding the information as a way of obstructing a deal.

Washington does not believe the absence of an Israeli delegation was necessarily bad news for a ceasefire hopes, as Israeli negotiators could arrive within a couple of hours if agreement was reached on a list. Egypt and Qatar have assured Joe Biden’s administration that they were putting pressure on the Hamas representatives in Cairo to come up with the identities of the hostages involved.

The US is also stepping up pressure on Israel to open new land routes, as well as a new sea corridor, to allow a far greater flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza to prevent a famine that UN agencies have warned is imminent. The US vice-president, Kamala Harris, said on Sunday that Israel must “significantly increase the flow of aid”.

Biden used similar language in a tweet on Monday, saying: “The aid flowing into Gaza is nowhere near enough – and nowhere fast enough.” Unlike Harris, however, he did not name Israel as the responsible party.

At the White House, Kirby said truck deliveries into Gaza had been slowed by opposition from some members of Israel’s cabinet.

“Israel bears a responsibility here to do more,” he said.

Israel meanwhile stepped up its allegations against the UN relief agency for Palestinians (Unrwa), saying that Unrwa in Gaza had employed over 450 “military operatives” from Hamas and other armed groups, and that Israel had shared this intelligence with the UN.

“Over 450 Unrwa employees are military operatives in terror groups in Gaza,” the Israeli military spokesperson, R Adm Daniel Hagari, said on Monday evening. “This is no mere coincidence. This is systematic.”

“We sent the information that I am sharing now, as well as further intelligence, to our international partners, including the UN,” he said.

A preliminary report by the UN office of internal oversight services (OIOS) into alleged Unrwa-Hamas links delivered to the secretary-general last week, said the investigators had received no evidence from Israel since the initial allegations in January that a dozen Unrwa employees had taken part in the 7 October Hamas attack. But the OIOS said it expected to receive information from Israel shortly.

Pramila Patten, the UN special envoy on sexual violence in conflict, reported on Monday that there were “reasonable grounds” to believe Hamas committed rape, “sexualised torture”, and other cruel and inhumane treatment of women during the 7 October attack. In her report, Patten, who visited Israel with a nine-person team in the first half of February, added there were also “reasonable grounds to believe that such violence may be ongoing”.

As the talks were under way in Cairo, a top Israeli minister, Benny Gantz, arrived in Washington for talks with Harris, the US national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, and the secretary of state, Antony Blinken, to the undisguised irritation of Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu invited his longstanding political rival into a coalition government after the 7 October Hamas attack on Israel, but that has done little to improve the tense relations between the two men.

US officials acknowledged that Gantz’s meetings in Washington, enhancing his own status as a would-be prime minister, was likely to inflame those tensions further. Netanyahu has yet to be invited to the White House since he returned to office at the end of 2022, at the head of the most rightwing coalition in Israeli history.

Gantz is said to have asked for the visit to Washington, rather than having been invited, but US officials said they welcomed an opportunity to talk to a member of the five-man Israeli war cabinet.

“For our part, we find him an important figure inside the Israeli government to engage with and, given the number of issues that we have currently that we are in discussion with the government of Israel about, including the need to surge humanitarian assistance in, for our purposes it’s an important meeting to have,” the state department spokesperson, Matthew Miller, said.

The Biden administration is pushing for more crossing points into Gaza to be opened for humanitarian relief, especially Erez in the north, which is is seen by aid organisations as an urgent priority.

“The disparity in conditions in the north and south [of Gaza] is clear evidence that aid restrictions in the north are costing lives,” warned Adele Khodr, the regional director of the UN children’s relief organisation, Unicef. Unicef says 16% of children in the north are acutely malnourished, compared with 5% in the south of the strip.

US officials said that organising a sea route was more complicated.

“There are a number of different ways to do it. We’re trying to find the most efficient way to get as much aid in as possible,” said Miller, but he declined to give details, citing the sensitivity of the arrangements.

Asked why the US did not restrict arms deliveries as a way of gaining leverage on Israel to allow greater humanitarian access, Miller replied: “We continue to support Israel’s campaign to ensure that the attacks of 7 October cannot be repeated. We have provided military assistance to Israel because it is consistent with that goal.”

The White House is seeking to help resolve rifts within the Israeli coalition, suggesting Netanyahu should seek a compromise over his coalition’s bitterly contested judicial overhaul, introduced early last year. After unprecedented street protests over the measures, in which demonstrators said they feared for Israel’s democratic future, the US president went even further, telling reporters in March 2023: “I hope he walks away from it.”

Netanyahu has faced significant pressure to step down over his ongoing trials for corruption charges, which he denies, as well as for instigating the judicial overhaul, which has been suspended since the outbreak of war.

It is widely believed in Israel that Netanyahu is slow-walking ceasefire talks, as well as talking up threats of an Israeli offensive on Rafah and Lebanon, because he believes he stands a better chance of beating the charges if he remains in office, and elections are unlikely while Israel is still at war.

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Program to eradicate red fire ants is a ‘shambles’, Senate inquiry told

Australian program to eradicate red fire ants is a ‘shambles’, Senate inquiry told

Invasive species could be worse than rabbits, cane toads, foxes, camels, wild dogs and feral cats combined, committee hears

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A Senate inquiry into the spread of fire ants in Australia has heard that the government program tasked with their elimination is an “absolute shambles” and that an independent eradication body is urgently needed.

The highly invasive insect is believed to have entered Australia in the 1990s and was discovered at Brisbane port in 2001. A program spanning state, territory and federal governments was created to eradicate red imported fire ants and it has received more than $1.2bn of federal and state funding. Of that, $593m covers 2023 to 2027.

But the program was heavily criticised by stakeholders, academics, local government and community members on the first day of public hearings in Brisbane on Monday, with delays in funding blamed for allowing the insects to spread to more than 700,000 hectares in south-east Queensland and for recent outbreaks in northern New South Wales.

A lack of transparency and wastefulness within the program were also detailed, with a 2021 strategic review not made public until two years after its completion, the committee, chaired by Nationals senator Matt Canavan, heard.

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When asked by Peter Whish-Wilson of the Greeens why the report’s publication – which mentioned the word “urgent” 18 times – was delayed until 2023, Dr Helen Scott-Orr, who led the review, said she had “no idea” and was “extremely frustrated”.

“My understanding is it would not have been released at all had there not been the threat it would be leaked,” said Whish-Wilson.

The ants are native to parts of South America and can kill people and livestock, as well as causing damage to infrastructure and ecosystems. Platypus, echidna and koalas are particularly vulnerable, according to the federal environment department.

Stephen Ware, executive director of the Australian Environmental Pest Managers Association, described learning that the program bought 85 new vehicles early in the pandemic because of social distancing rules.

The scope of the problem was immense, the committee heard. Should the ants spread through Australia’s habitat, the impact would be worse than the combined effects of rabbits, cane toads, foxes, camels, wild dogs and feral cats. Up to 650,000 Australians could be stung each year and the beef industry could be slashed by 40%.

The eradication objective is so large, said Richard Shannon, who formerly worked on the program, that “it’s the equivalent of putting man on the moon”.

“We are further away from eradication than we were five or six years ago when I was part of the program,” he said, adding that it was “too clandestine”.

“The national fire ant eradication program has been a complete shambles,” Dr Pam Swepson told the committee.

The inquiry is the first time stakeholders have been able to give formal feedback on the program.

Officials from the Gold Coast said the ant was “the greatest existential threat” to the city’s lifestyle and that aspects of the program had been “diabolical”.

Attempts by Gold Coast council to share data around the location and treatments of nests with the program had been unsuccessful, the committee heard. According to the city’s submission, the number of Gold Coast suburbs infested by the ants had risen from 17 in 2016 to 76 in 2023.

Jack Gough of the Invasive Species Council said the ants “will probably go down in history as one of the most devastating” invasive species.

He is one of a number of witnesses who called for local government funding for fire ants eradication, as well as the formation of a fire ants authority that sits separately to government and has full independence, similar to an Olympics delivery authority.

It should work with environment, health and agriculture ministers around the country, as well as advocate for itself and be transparent, the council urged.

When asked why the ants had not been eradicated, Ashley Bacon, program executive from the national program, said the matter was “really complicated”.

“It’s a highly complex program and we’re dealing with something that is biological and evolves,” he told the panel.

Lessons learned from the past 20 or so years were being put into practice and eradication was “the only option to maintain the Australian way of life”, he said.

“Things are happening [in the program] that we don’t understand – and we are allies,” the Invasive Species Council’s Reece Pianta said after he was heard by the committee on Monday. “The program needs an overhaul – we’re here to help, let us help.”

Hearings will continue in Newcastle on Tuesday and in Canberra later in the month.

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Abortion made a constitutional right in historic Versailles vote

France makes abortion a constitutional right in historic Versailles vote

Eiffel Tower lit up to mark change, seen as way of protecting law that decriminalised abortion in 1975

The French parliament has enshrined abortion as a constitutional right at a historic joint session at the Palace of Versailles.

Out of 925 MPs and senators eligible to vote, 780 supported the amendment, which will give women the “guaranteed freedom” to choose an abortion.

There was thunderous applause in the chamber as the result was announced on Monday; in central Paris, the Eiffel Tower was illuminated to mark the occasion.

The measure had already been passed by the upper and lower houses, the Sénat and the Assemblée Nationale, but final approval by parliamentarians at the joint session at Versailles was needed to effect constitutional change.

The prime minister, Gabriel Attal, told those gathered in the opulent Congress Hall in the palace’s Midi wing: “We are haunted by the suffering and memory of so many women who were not free. We owe a moral debt [to all the women who] suffered in their flesh.

“Today, the present must respond to history. To enshrine this right in our constitution is to close the door on the tragedy of the past and its trail of suffering and pain. It will further prevent reactionaries from attacking women.

“Let’s not forget that the train of oppression can happen again. Let’s act to ensure that it doesn’t, that it never comes this day.”

He added: “I say to all women within our borders and beyond, that today, the era of a world of hope begins.”

Mathilde Panot, an MP from the hard-left France Unbowed, who proposed inscribing the abortion rights in the constitution, told the meeting it was “a promise … for all women fighting [for them] everywhere in the world”.

She added: “Your fight is ours. This victory is yours.”

The president, Emmanuel Macron, said he had promised to make women’s freedom to choose an abortion “irreversible”. Writing the right to abortion into the constitution, which involved amending the 17th paragraph of article 34 that defines the law and its limits, was seen as a way of protecting the law that decriminalised abortion in France in 1975.

During the national assembly debate on the law in January, the justice minister, Éric Dupond-Moretti, told MPs that abortion rights were not simply a liberty like any other, “because they allow women to decide their future”.

Aurore Bergé, the minister in charge of equality and the fight against discrimination, added: “This vote will be one of the most important and remarkable of this parliament.”

Once the two houses had agreed the wording of the legal text, Macron had the choice to hold a national referendum or call a joint parliamentary “congress” made up of 577 MPs and 348 senators at Versailles where it required three-fifths of votes cast to pass.

Monday’s session is the first to be held to change the constitution since 2008, when Nicolas Sarkozy took steps to modernise French institutions, including limiting presidents to a maximum of two consecutive five-year terms in office.

Since 1958, the parliamentary congress has met 16 times and made 21 changes to the constitution.

The congress was overseen by Yaël Braun-Pivet, from Macron’s Renaissance party, who is the equivalent of speaker of the lower house, and parliamentarians were seated in alphabetical order.

The leaders of 18 political groups – 10 from the lower house, eight from the upper – were invited to each speak for five minutes on the change before the vote.

The text will now be authenticated by a “seal of congress” and sent to the government. Macron will attend a ceremony to finalise the constitutional amendment on Friday, International Women’s Day.

Political impetus was given to the constitutional change after the US supreme court’s 2022 decision to overturn Roe v Wade, a ruling that had recognised women’s constitutional right to an abortion and had legalised it nationwide.

Rightwing senators from the Républicains party voted against a first attempt to change the constitution in October 2022. Later that year, the French parliament voted to extend France’s legal limit for ending a pregnancy from 12 to 14 weeks, amid anger that thousands of women were forced to travel abroad each year to terminate pregnancies in countries including the Netherlands, Spain and the UK.

Anti-abortion protesters gathered in Versailles near the palace to oppose the constitutional change.

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Four dead after masked men open fire at party

Four dead after masked men open fire at party in California

Four others injured in shooting at outdoor party in King City on Sunday evening

A group of masked men opened fire at an outdoor party in central California, killing four people and injuring three others on Sunday evening, police said.

Officers responded to a reported shooting at about 6pm in King City and found three men with gunshot wounds who were pronounced dead in a front yard, the King City police department said.

Four other people sustained gunshot wounds, including a woman who died after being transported to Mee Memorial hospital, about 106 miles (170km) south of San Jose.

The three men were transported to Natividad hospital in Salinas, police said.

Several people were at the party outside a residence when three men in dark masks and clothes got out of a silver car and fired at the group. The suspects, who were not immediately identified, fled the scene in the vehicle.

The investigation was ongoing, police said.

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Shock as great white shark washes up on NSW beach

‘Haven’t seen anything like it’: shock as great white shark washes up on NSW beach

Four-metre shark euthanised after becoming beached on shore at Kingscliff on Tweed Coast

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A great white shark washed up on to a beach on the New South Wales north coast, shocking locals and attracting a crowd of beachgoers.

The 4m shark was seen swimming close to shore near Kingscliff beach on the Tweed Coast on Monday morning, with lifeguards tracking its progress until it was beached.

The female shark had been thrashing along the shore before washing up on the beach, with authorities attending soon after.

A veterinary team from Sea World on the Gold Coast went to the scene and found the shark struggling.

The shark was euthanised on the beach, and a bulldozer was brought in to safely move it off the sand.

“Sadly, the shark was in a poor condition after beaching and the Sea World veterinary team administered medications to make the shark comfortable while it was humanely euthanised,” a Sea World spokesperson said.

“The shark appeared to have underlying health issues, with the thrashing behaviour seen in the shallows prior to the beaching not typical for the species.”

There were “no unusual marks on the shark”, but the NSW Department of Fisheries would conduct a necropsy to try to identify a cause for the beaching, the spokesperson said.

While sharks have been spotted in the waters around Kingscliff beach, it was highly unusual to see one on the beach.

The general manager at Cudgen Headland surf life saving club, Greg Swift, said he had never seen anything like it in his life.

“I noticed the shark, which was quite large, rolling around the surf directly in front of the club. It brought a great deal of commotion as it was in shallow water and you could see its fins sticking up,” he said.

“I haven’t seen anything like it in my 35 years at the club, and certainly nothing like this has happened in living memory. It was a shock.”

Swift said between 60 and 70 people surrounded the shark as it was beached, with many people stopping on their morning walks.

“It was in the middle of the beach, so lots of people stopped to watch and help if they could,” he said.

“It’s a majestic creature, it was very sad to see it that way.”

Local mortgage broker Suzy Martin saw the shark as she was having her morning coffee with her husband, and could barely believe her eyes.

“We thought it was dolphins at first, but as it got closer, we saw it was a shark. Our first reaction was honestly fear, but it became clear it wasn’t doing too well. It was thrashing about quite aggressively,” she said.

“It was a bit surreal to be honest. It was massive, and it was shocking to see it that way.”

The shark’s remains were taken to Coffs Harbour for the necropsy.

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