Morning Mail: hopes for China ‘off-ramp’ in trade talks, David Jones sale, Victory’s reckoning

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Morning, everyone. Penny Wong flies to Beijing today for the first visit to China by an Australian foreign affairs minister since 2018. She will discuss sanctions, human rights and Taiwan and, although Australia views the trip as merely a small step in the stabilisation of the relationship with China, hopes are growing for a breakthrough on the trade issues that have blighted ties for years.

Elsewhere, Melbourne Victory is facing a reckoning over the weekend’s crowd trouble, and Twitter users have issued their verdict about Elon Musk’s position as chief executive.


Police face Melbourne Victory fans on Saturday night
Police face Melbourne Victory fans on Saturday night. Photograph: Future Publishing/Getty Images
  • Defeat from Victory | As three men were charged over the Melbourne Victory pitch invasion on Saturday, the club faces a reckoning with fan violence after the actions of a few supporters undid years of good work and the positive bounce of the Socceroos’ World Cup heroics.

  • China’s ‘off-ramp’ | The Albanese government hopes that its improving relations with Beijing will pave the way for a settlement on Australia’s complaints about sanctions on barley, giving China an “off-ramp” to enter direct talks rather than risk an unfavourable ruling by the World Trade Organization.

  • AAT payouts | Taxpayers could be on the hook for up to $10m in compensation payouts as the Albanese government pursues its plan to scrap the administrative appeals tribunal, with full-time members possibly entitled to payouts.

  • Deaths in custody | Australia recorded 106 deaths in custody between July 2021 and June 2022 – a slight increase – with the number of Indigenous people who died in custody rising to 516 in the 31 years since the royal commission.

  • DJs sold | David Jones is back in Australian hands after its South African owners sold it to a private equity firm for about $100m, eight years after buying the department store chain for $2.1bn.


Applause greets the agreement of the biodiversity Cop15 deal in Montreal
Applause greets the agreement of the biodiversity Cop15 deal in Montreal. Photograph: Julian Haber/Reuters
  • Good Cop | Nearly 200 countries have signed a deal to halt the destruction of Earth’s ecosystems at the biodiversity Cop15 in Montreal, with a target to protect 30% of nature by 2030. But the agreement seems to have been forced through by the summit’s Chinese president, ignoring the objections of some African states.

  • Slavery apology | Mark Rutte has offered a formal apology on behalf of the Dutch state for the Netherlands’ historical role in the slave trade, saying it must be recognised as a crime against humanity.

  • Twitter | Twitter users have voted decisively in favour of Elon Musk standing down as chief executive after the site’s billionaire owner ran a poll promising to to quit if the public voted against him.

  • Ukraine fear | Vladimir Putin has met the Belarusian leader, Alexander Lukashenko, as fears grow in Kyiv that Moscow is pushing its closest ally to join a new ground offensive against Ukraine.

  • Family fire | A Republican elected officeholder from New Jersey is trying to throw out the absentee ballot of his daughter who voted for his Democratic opponent, according to a report.

Full Story

This year’s Splendour in the Grass festival
This year’s Splendour in the Grass festival. Photograph: Matt Jelonek/Getty Images

2022 in culture: Australian music, prestige TV and awards show fiascos

Guardian Australia’s culture editor, Steph Harmon, and culture editorial assistant, Michael Sun, dive into the year in culture and the arts, and discuss the most exciting things coming up in 2023.


A store worker prepares grapes for sale at Paddy’s Market in Sydney
The expectations to limit movement, wear masks and take strong hygiene measures were much stronger a year ago, despite a fraction of the cases. Photograph: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

A year ago Australians were facing up to another Covid Christmas. Today there are still lots of cases but nothing like the anxiety and fear of disease. Our health editor, Melissa Davey, looks at what has changed, how we learned to live with Covid, and how what the medical profession is learning about containing the disease and dealing with the long-term effects such as the “huge” impact on mental health.

Not the news

Best of books 2022
Some of the best novels of 2022. Composite: Hardie Grant Publishing / PR / Simon & Schuster / Allen and Unwin / Black Inc

Guardian Australia’s critics and staff pick out the best 25 Australian novels of the year just in time for you to select them as last-minute Christmas present, perhaps, or just for your own enjoyment over the summer. They include works by Gina Rushton, Jessica Au and George Haddad.

The world of sport

Football fans celebrate in Buenos Aires
Football fans celebrate in Buenos Aires. Photograph: Rodrigo Abd/AP

Media roundup

The Daily Telegraph claims that medical marijuana is being home-delivered in NSW with just a few phone calls. The Australian Financial Review says gas markets are in limbo ahead of the introduction of price caps. Territory politicians have paid tribute to a politician who died suddenly at the weekend aged 52, the NT News reports, highlighting the issue of Indigenous health. Queensland police are a searching for a woman and her three children after they disappeared, the Courier-Mail says.

What’s happening today

  • RBA minutes | Minutes of December monetary policy meeting of the Reserve Bank board will be released, giving more insight into the direction of rates.

  • Donor shortage | Melbourne’s first new blood donor centre in 10 years will open.

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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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