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Morning mail: Nato says no signs of Russian de-escalation, tax cuts would ‘favour men’, Sydney shark attack

Shark attack at Little Bay beach
Police and rescue helicopters have been searching for human remains at Little Bay beach after a shark attack. Photograph: Blake Sharp-Wiggins/The Guardian

Good morning. The Ukraine crisis is developing as Nato contradicts Putin’s claim of a troop drawdown, Australian economists warn of vastly unequal tax outcomes and Sydney’s first fatal shark attack in nearly 60 years has left the city’s beaches closed.

Tax cuts planned to take effect in 2024-25 would pay male beneficiaries twice as much as women, separate analyses by the Australia Institute, the Greens and the Australian Council of Social Service have found. “Men in the top 10% of taxpayers [would] get almost 40% of the tax cut,” the Australia Institute said, with a parliamentary budget office report also suggesting the top 1% of earners would receive $11.8bn back, compared with $12.7bn for the lowest 60% of earners. The treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s office released “unpublished” data this month that said 5.2 million women had benefited from $14.4bn in tax relief across the past two and a half years.

Nato’s secretary general has contradicted Vladimir Putin’s claim of a “partial” withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine’s border, saying the Kremlin “maintains a massive invasion force” that continues to represent “the biggest concentration of forces in Europe since the cold war.” Jens Stoltenberg, the former prime minister of Norway, also suggested Nato might deploy further battle groups across eastern and central Europe, depending on military advice. In Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed his people “will defend ourselves”, while in Russia pundits marked the day western experts had forecast as “invasion day” with derision.

International airfares for Australians eager to travel overseas after two years of pandemic border restrictions could cost more than 50% more than pre-pandemic prices, new analysis suggests. Services remain at about a fifth of pre-pandemic volumes, with New Delhi, Denpasar and London the most highly sought destinations, all coming at a significant price premium. Qantas has defended itself over customer criticisms that pandemic-era flight credit vouchers were now not sufficient to cover fares on identical routes.


Land clearing near Moree, NSW
Land clearing near Moree in NSW. Clearing of woody vegetation increased to an annual average of 35,000ha between 2017 and 2019. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

Land clearing in NSW has increased threefold over the past decade, a government report has revealed. Excessive clearing has also put 62% of vegetation across the state under pressure from fire, with 64% of mammals suffering habitat loss.

A swimmer has died from “catastrophic injuries” after being attacked by a shark off Little Bay, a beach in Sydney’s south-east, in the city’s first fatal shark attack since 1963. Police will resume the search with divers at sunrise on Thursday.

The Liberal MP John Alexander has revealed he would “seriously consider” crossing the floor to support Helen Haines’ federal integrity commission bill, but the attorney general, Michaelia Cash, this week confirmed the government was “not progressing” with the issue before the next federal election.

The ABC managing director, David Anderson, has launched a heartfelt defence of the public broadcaster, a week after the Morrison government called for there to be more accountability within Australia’s public broadcasters, saying: “The critics don’t deter us.”

The world

Former UK deputy prime minister Nick Clegg
Nick Clegg will ‘lead our company on all our policy matters’, Mark Zuckerberg said. Photograph: Dpa Picture Alliance/Alamy

Mark Zuckerberg has announced he will step down from leading Meta’s policy decisions, elevating the company’s top policy executive and former UK deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, to “lead our company on all policy matters”.

Spain is mourning its worst fishing disaster in almost four decades, with just three of a 24-person crew confirmed rescued after a 50m trawler sank in rough seas off Newfoundland.

The last Japanese town to reopen after the Fukushima nuclear disaster has welcomed back its first residents. Yoichi Yatsuda was one of an estimated 160,000 residents who fled the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, believing they’d be back within weeks. Late last month he slept in his own home for the first time in more than a decade

Recommended reads

Steve Bracks, Bill Shorten and Daniel Andrews have a Hawkes Beer at the John Curtin hotel
Melbourne’s John Curtin hotel, now almost synonymous with Bob Hawke, is closing its doors. Photograph: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

It was the favoured watering hole of Australia’s most beloved larrikin PM, but Melbourne’s John Curtin hotel, now almost synonymous with Bob Hawke, is closing its doors, Caitlin Cassidy writes, facing the prospect of being sold to developers for new apartments. Can a crowdfunding campaign launched by the labour movement save the historic venue?

It was the art collection worth $40m that was nearly destroyed by bushfire but the inestimable value to Australian art of Arthur Boyd’s 3,800-piece collection is now being celebrated at a sustainable new gallery space that’s looking to turn the Shoalhaven into an art destination. Kelly Burke has the story.

As market expectations continue to point to a rising RBA cash rate, it becomes increasingly likely interest rates will be a hot election topic. But as Greg Jericho explains: “Questions about interest rates always go to the issue of the budget deficit and government debt – and the belief that deficits and growing debt levels lead to increased interest rates.” But where does government spending fit in this picture?

David M Green has been a fan of the internet ever since the days of pranking people via modem. And as guest curator of this week’s 10 funniest things on the internet, he’s uncovered gems ranging from some concerning gameshow graphics to a beloved Australian chef with a penchant for colourful language.


Can Australia save the koala? The federal government has pledged an additional $50m and pushed through a national recovery plan but, with the koala listed as endangered in NSW, Queensland and the ACT, is it too little, too late? On this episode of Full Story, Guardian Australia environment reporter Lisa Cox explains why there’s a race against time.

Full Story is Guardian Australia’s daily news podcast. Subscribe for free on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or any other podcasting app.


Kevin Durant and Ben Simmons
Ben Simmons, right, speaks with new Brooklyn teammate Kevin Durant during a Nets home game this week. Photograph: Corey Sipkin/AP

Ben Simmons has alluded to his declining mental health before his unhappy departure from the 76ers but told Brooklyn Nets fans the prospect of the fit again former No 1 draft pick lining up alongside Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving was “scary”.

Kylian Mbappé almost single-handedly condemned Real Madrid to bitter defeat – but left many of their fans still purring, Sid Lowe writes, given next season’s long-anticipated move to the Bernabéu; to the delight of opposition players and coach as well.

Media roundup

The NSW government was warned the new Western Harbour Tunnel would not be financially viable unless tolls on the Sydney Harbour Bridge and existing motorway tunnel went up significantly, the Sydney Morning Herald reports. Leading CEOs have declared they’re “very optimistic” about 2022, the Financial Review writes, with businesses across multiple sectors declaring confidence, despite higher fuel and raw material costs, and ongoing supply chain issues.

Coming up

NSW paramedics will go on strike over better wages and resourcing after “doing the impossible” over the past two years.

The royal commission into defence and veteran suicide will hold a royal commission.

And if you’ve read this far …

Joe Biden’s name has often been prefaced with “gaffe-prone”. But the jury’s still out on his latest colourful recollection, in which the now president recalled placing a dead dog on the doorstep of a disgruntled Republican voter.

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