Good morning. Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese will push hard on their campaigns today before the Easter break, with the prime minister in Tasmania to announce a forestry package, and the Labor leader in New South Wales to propose health reforms. Meanwhile delays are expected in domestic airports as Australians take advantage of the long weekend.
Scott Morrison has effectively abandoned his promise to establish a federal anti-corruption watchdog, confirming he would only proceed with legislation in the new parliament if Labor agreed to pass the Coalition’s heavily criticised proposal without amendments. Morrison pledged before the 2019 election to legislate a federal integrity body in the parliamentary term that has just endedbut failed to introduce his own proposal before the 46th parliament was prorogued. On the hustings on Wednesday, Morrison was asked – given his previous undertaking to create the body – whether he would promise to put his proposal to a vote in the next parliament in the event the Coalition won the 21 May election. The prime minister said: “Our position on this hasn’t changed. Our view has been the same – when the Labor party is prepared to support that legislation in that form, then we will proceed with it.”
Ukrainian authorities have collected the bodies of 765 civilians, including 30 children, in the Kyiv area since Russian forces were routed there at the start of April, a senior prosecutor in the region has said. The Kyiv region’s deputy head prosecutor, Oleh Tkalenko, said officials expected that many more bodies would be found in the coming weeks. “This is only the beginning,” Tkalenko said. “There’s a lot we haven’t dug up yet.” Meanwhile the head of the World Health Organization has criticised the global community’s focus on the war in Ukraine, arguing that crises elsewhere, including in his home country of Ethiopia, are not being given equal consideration, possibly because the people affected are not white.
The Morrison government has argued that Labor cannot be trusted to manage the federal budget. Scott Morrison and the finance minister, Simon Birmingham, have both claimed Labor’s pandemic policies would have cost an extra $81bn since 2020. But where did this $81bn figure come from and is it an accurate reflection of the net impact of Labor’s policies?
Companies linked to the proponent of the Urannah Dam project in north Queensland have given more than $150,000 to the Liberal National party, including a donation made a week after the Morrison government promised to spend $483m on its construction.
NSW Liberal candidate Katherine Deves described a campaign supporting LGBTQ youth as a “grooming tactic” used by “gender extremists”.
Queues and delays at Australian airports are expected to be at their worst before the Easter long weekend and security providers have warned the chaos stemming from staff shortages will continue into the second half of the year.
Plans to accelerate the closure of Australia’s biggest coal-fired plant have the potential to create electricity shortages in three states unless enhancements to the grid proceed and new generation and storage capacity is added, the market operator said.
Record crowds at Melbourne’s grand prix and comedy festival have boosted foot traffic in the CBD, with pedestrian activity in the heart of the city exceeding pre-pandemic levels by 15% over the weekend.
Roman Abramovich has had more than £5.4bn (AU$9.5bn) of his assets frozen in Jersey and 12 luxury properties – including a near-£100m (AU$176m) villa on the Riviera that was once the holiday home of King Edward VIII – seized by the French government.
A senior US military general has warned during a visit to Australia that China’s offer to deepen security ties with Solomon Islands will come with strings attached, suggesting the Pacific island country may come to regret the planned deal.
Devastating floods have killed 259 people in the South African city of Durban and surrounding areas, a senior government official said on Wednesday, after hillsides were washed away and homes collapsed, with more people still feared missing.
Indonesia has passed a landmark bill that outlaws forced marriage and sexual harassment. The new law includes 15-year prison sentences for sexual exploitation, nine years for forced marriage and four years for circulating non-consensual sexual content.
Myanmar jailed more writers and public intellectuals in crackdowns last year than any other country, according to a freedom of expression advocacy group.
Sri Lanka’s doctors have warned they are almost out of life-saving medicines and say the country’s economic crisis threatened a worse death toll than the coronavirus pandemic.
Work is the master of the modern world. For most people, it is impossible to imagine society without it. It dominates and pervades everyday life more completely than at any time in recent history. An obsession with employability runs through education. Corporate superstars show off their epic work schedules. Tech companies say round-the-clock work is play. Gig economy companies claim that round-the-clock work is freedom. Workers commute further, strike less, retire later. The point is: work has ruled our lives for centuries, and it does so today more than ever. But a new generation of thinkers insists there is an alternative.
For many western Sydney restaurants, the month of Ramadan is the busiest time of year. For fasting staff, that means a day spent around food without stopping to eat. “It’s not particularly hard cooking while fasting, but it is tempting.”
With the election under way, the Guardian’s political reporters have been travelling across the country talking to voters and candidates. In Western Australia, the 2021 state election – returning just two Liberals to the WA lower house – sent shock waves through the Liberal party, and put WA on the map as a state that could deliver a rich return for federal Labor.
Political reporter Paul Karp speaks to voters in three WA seats about the issues that will decide their vote. He also speaks to candidates in the seat of Hasluck, where a moderate swing to Labor could knock out a current cabinet minister.
Scott Morrison has backpedalled after flagging the Coalition might support a bill banning transgender women from playing women’s sport, after backlash from Liberal moderates and independents.
An Australian intelligence officer reportedly ordered interrogators to extract a videotaped confession from a Timorese man after he was allegedly tortured in a secret interrogation centre in Timor-Leste in 1999, according to the ABC. Warringah MP, Zali Steggall, has criticised her Liberal rival Katherine Deves for recruiting her ex-husband’s wife, high-profile Sydney barrister Bridie Nolan, as a key figure in her campaign to win the seat, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
And if you’ve read this far …
Comedian Floyd Alexander-Hunt on the 10 funniest things she has ever seen (on the internet).
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