Morning Mail: doctors warn of long Covid, green light for giant grid batteries, Bali bomber released

In today’s newsletter: AMA says ‘weak political leadership’ has opened the door to ongoing virus risk; ‘abhorrent’ Umar Patek out on parole; David Warner launches spray at Cricket Australia

Morning everyone. Even as the spectre of Covid recedes for many Australians, a lot of people are living with serious and chronic after-effects of the virus. Australia’s peak doctors’ body is so concerned about the impact of long Covid on the population and the health system that it thinks governments should reconsider mask mandates to address the problem.

Energy ministers are gathering in Brisbane today to discuss long-term changes to the power grid, and David Warner proves the scars of cricket’s ball-tampering scandal still run deep.


Brittany Higgins
Brittany Higgins leaves the ACT supreme court in Canberra. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP
  • ‘Defend the truth’ | Brittany Higgins has spoken for the first time since the planned retrial of Bruce Lehrmann was abandoned, tweeting last night that she would be willing to “defend the truth” as a witness in “any potential civil cases brought by Mr Lehrmann”.

  • Covid ‘weakness’ | The Australian Medical Association has blasted “weak political leadership” for what it sees as the premature relaxation of anti-Covid measures, saying that the health system is “not prepared” to deal with long-term issues stemming from the pandemic.

  • Heatwave warning | Homes in remote communities that are so poorly insulated they rise to temperatures that can “cook bodies” will put people’s lives at risk in the coming days as a dangerous heatwave pushes the mercury over 40C in northern Australia.

  • Battery pack | Australia’s energy ministers are expected to sign off on a scheme to accelerate the take-up of giant batteries to support the decarbonisation of the grid when they gather in Brisbane today, but are unlikely to make a decision on any Albanese government proposal to impose price caps on coal and gas.


Umar Patek
Umar Patek, one of the Bali bomb makers, has been released from prison. Photograph: Enny Nuraheni/Reuters
  • Bomber released | Umar Patek, one of the bomb makers in the 2002 Bali attacks that killed more than 200 people, including 88 Australians, has been released on parole. The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, described Patek as “abhorrent” when the release plan was announced in August.

  • Putsch plan | German police have arrested 25 people, including a 71-year-old aristocrat on suspicion of a terrorist plan to overthrow the state and renegotiate the country’s post-second world war settlement.

  • Wong plea | The foreign affairs minister, Penny Wong, will use a speech in Washington today to urge China to embrace US plans to prevent growing tensions from spiralling into war, while rejecting claims that Australia’s plan to acquire nuclear-powered submarines is driving a regional arms race.

  • China U-turn | China’s government has said people with Covid-19 who have mild or no symptoms can quarantine at home, in a significant sign Beijing has abandoned its zero-Covid policy.

Full Story

Protesters hold placards as they participate in a demonstration against climate activist Violet Coco’s prison sentence
Violet Coco was the first person to be sentenced to prison under NSW anti-protest laws introduced in April. Photograph: Bianca de Marchi/AAP

The draconian laws that jailed climate activist Violet Coco

Guardian Australia’s environment editor, Adam Morton, explains how the decision to jail Violet Coco for 15 months for demonstrating on the Sydney Harbour Bridge will affect the future of climate protest.


A graph showing that household living standards have started falling since the end of the pandemic stimulus

It’s been a big week for the economy after the Reserve Bank of Australia raised rates for the eighth month in succession in the face of ever-rising inflation. Our resident economics expert, Greg Jericho, says indicators such as household disposable income show the economy is already slowing fast, so the central bank must be careful not to strangle growth.

Not the news

A Christmas wreath hanging on a red front door
Never hosted a Christmas event before? We have some tips for first-timers. Photograph: Grant Rooney Premium/Alamy

Brittney Rigby has got three weeks to go before her debut at hosting her family’s Christmas gathering. She has been collecting advice on how to decorate the tree, set the table, what to cook and, most important, why you must not sweat the small stuff. Talking of decorations, check out our roundup of the worst-ever Christmas trees – from Port Macquarie’s viral disaster to an office coat rack.

The world of sport

Steve Smith
Steve Smith will captain the Australian Test cricket team today. Photograph: William West/AFP/Getty Images

Media roundup

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the Albanese government has asked the states to cap the price of coal at $125 a tonne, which is less than half the market rate, to fix the energy crisis. The Age says Victorian Liberal leadership contenders are “sweating” on the outcome of a secret ballot of party kingmakers. The Adelaide Advertiser leads with the plans to amalgamate the universities of Adelaide and South Australia to create the country’s biggest university. The sister of a woman found dead in Fremantle harbour has pleaded with anyone who knows what happened to her to speak to police, the West Australian reports.

What’s happening today

  • Press club | The home affairs minister, Clare O’Neil, speaks at the National Press Club.

  • Boomtown summit | The Boomtown property and infrastructure summit in Sydney will be attended by the NSW premier, Dominic Perrottet.

  • Plibersek plan | The environment minister, Tanya Plibersek, launches Labor’s “nature positive plan” in Brisbane and later addresses the Queensland Conservation Council symposium.

Sign up

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Brain teaser

And finally, here are the Guardian’s crosswords to keep you entertained throughout the day – with plenty more on the Guardian’s Puzzles app for iOS and Android. Until tomorrow.


Martin Farrer

The GuardianTramp

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