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Julia Bergin

What’s the world coming to?


World leaders have moved from the UK to the US for the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). In London they paused to honour the past. In New York the focus is on the future. Secretary-General António Guterres opened the affair with an optimistic tone, confirming that “we are gridlocked in colossal global dysfunction”, The New York Times ($) reports. Australia was a little more upbeat, with Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen declaring “Australia is back”, writes the SMH ($). Out with the Coalition’s climate wars and in with a can-do attitude. Climate-conscious mining magnate Andrew Forrest is also in New York to talk decarbonisation. But he got a little fired up at fellow billionaire Elon Musk, calling him a “businessman”, not a “climate avenger”, The Australian ($) says.

Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong is attempting to address Australia’s other big-C conundrum — China — with plans to meet Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on the sidelines of the UNGA, the ABC reports. If all goes to plan, that would be two meetings in less than two weeks between the two ministers, who exchanged pleasantries in Bali after the G20 foreign ministers meeting. The war in Ukraine is also tipped to dominate the agenda, The Guardian reports, with “the US and its allies on one side and Russia on the other”. There are fears that the diplomatic divide might drown out other urgent issues including famine, mass displacement and dislocation, and human rights.


A damning interim report reveals Queensland Police routinely discarded thousands of DNA samples that should have been included in case files and criminal proceedings, Guardian Australia reports. DNA was omitted on the basis that it was either insufficient or defunct, but report commissioner Walter Sofronoff revealed forensics frequently falsified this information, presenting “untrue statements as true expert evidence”. The final report is not due until December, but Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has jumped the gun and demanded action be taken “straightaway”, ordering mass retesting at the state’s crime laboratory. The government-run lab has been ­ordered to ­amend all expert witness statements issued in the past five years, says The Australian ($), including forensic evidence collected in the case of Shandee Blackburn. Her murder featured in an investigative podcast series that first shone the light on laboratory malpractice.

Further south, SBS reports that NSW will introduce the Lynette Dawson legacy law to Parliament this week. NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet says the legislation will prevent parole of (currently about six) convicted murderers if they refuse to reveal the whereabouts of bodies. Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria and the Northern Territory all have “no body, no parole” laws in place, but forensic criminologist Claire Ferguson told 7News that these “aren’t foolproof”, with many offenders preferring to “maintain the innocent façade” over cooperation.


Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was awarded the honour of “preferred prime minister” in the latest Nine newspaper poll, the SMH ($) reports. He secured 53% of the vote, as a meagre 18% went to Opposition Leader Peter Dutton. No wonder the Liberal Party wants to let Victorians vote in their state election before it releases its post-federal election review. One senior Victorian state MP told the SMH ($) that the decision was a sure sign of “sensible political management” that has otherwise “been lacking”. At least the primary vote card for federal Liberals is looking up (albeit still down on Labor). Labor dropped three (since August) to land 39% while the Coalition added four to score 32%. The Greens held 10% (down two), One Nation 6% (up one), UAP 2% (constant), independents 8% (constant) and others 3% (steady), The Conversation adds.

Following the royal departure of Queen Elizabeth II, Essential Report also pulled some numbers on attitudes towards the crown and Australians’ appetite for a republic. While 43% were in favour of splitting ties with the monarchy, the country was divided 50-50 on entertaining King Charles III as our head of state.


Put an eight-legged competitor in the ring with a six-legged contender and who is likely to win? I’d bet eight lands a clean half-nelson leg sweep, double leg slam, Death Valley driver or (insert wrestling throw of choice) to end six. Much alas. Fewer than 1% of spiders will even entertain a fight with an ant, let alone go on to win. Which is why Sydney behavioural biologist Alfonso Aceves-Aparicio was stunned to discover a species of spider that’d mastered the art of ant slaying, The New York Times ($) reports. Who are they? Euryopis umbilicate. And how do they do it? Acrobatics and line dancing. The spider approaches from above, hooks the unassuming ant onto a line, steps back, draws breath (breathing is key), and then literally twirls with line in hand until the ant reaches a terminal state. Eighty-five per cent of the time, the dance-de-death works every time.

Interestingly, these ants (identified as Camponotus consobrinus) are not the only species of ant to enjoy a dance. In northern Australia, the Oecophylla smaragdina (aka the green tree ant) has a fast-paced version of the foxtrot named after it. These ants build their homes out of leaves. Any human bold enough to brush past and nudge the nest (a backpack is enough to sound the alarm) quickly learns the moves of the “green ant dance”. When the ants bite, the humans flap their arms, slap their legs, strip off their clothes, and run off in search of a waterhole to end their demise.

Hoping this puts a spring in your step today, folks.

The Worm will be off tomorrow on royal duties. It’s no small task to welcome Queen Elizabeth II below ground. We’ll be back on Friday.


Can you recall being taught in school anything about Aboriginal people resisting the occupation of their country?

Rachel Perkins

“Nope, not a word,” replied ABC RN Breakfast host Patricia Karvelas. Director of the documentary series The Australian Wars (premiering today), Arrernte and Kalkadoon woman Rachel Perkins told listeners that the Frontier Wars had been “forgotten” ­– buried by the “great Australian silence”.


Would you like the meat or the meat? Qantas’ ‘full service’ fantasy

“Is Qantas even pretending to be a full service airline any more? The latest wheeze from Alan Joyce’s giant travel lottery system is to in effect tell vegetarians, people with diet restrictions and travellers of faith to forget about being fed because the only thing they’ll get is meat.

“Regular business traveller John Dee discovered recently that Qantas has adopted a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to food on its regularly delayed flights: only meat — no kosher, gluten-free or halal options.”

Scapegoat or yes woman? Three ways to look at the Amy Brown sacking saga 

Brown’s political antennae were sufficiently attuned that she realised Barilaro’s appointment was going to be problematic politically — and she warned multiple parties about the potential for damage, including ministers and senior public servants. Either they lacked her capacity to see how stupid the whole thing was, or they didn’t want to intervene to derail what was clearly a train ride to political grief.

“But truth gets you nowhere. Brown not only warned multiple parties about the fallout but was upfront in giving evidence, appearing three times before an upper house probe — and faced the consequences for her candour.”

‘Insidious and toxic’: Australia’s navy band plagued by morale and cultural issues

“Members of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN)’s flagship band have been given an ultimatum by leadership: improve your attitudes, undergo a psychiatric evaluation or transfer out. That’s one of the details revealed in documents released in response to a freedom of information request into the RAN Sydney band’s ‘known morale and cultural issues’ going back a quarter of a century.

“Its ‘approximately 50 full-time members’ perform as a marching band, wind band, big band, jazz ensemble and even as a cover band doing contemporary songs. It offers ceremonial support, such as bugle calls and playing the national anthem, and performs at community events.”


Videos show Trump allies handling Georgia voting equipment (The New York Times)

Turkey’s Erdogan: Russia’s Putin willing to end war (BBC)

Judge vacates conviction of ‘Serial’ subject Adnan Syed (CNN)

Kashmir gets its first multiplex as cinemas return after 23 years (Al Jazeera)

Emmanuel Macron to press Anthony Albanese to keep chopper fleet off junk pile (The Australian)

Hong Kong journalist charged days before leaving for Oxford fellowship (The Guardian)

What does grandmaster Magnus Carlson’s feud with teen upstart Hans Niemann mean for chess? (ABC)

Why is Iran turning to a new ‘digital rial’? (Al Jazeera)


Musk v Forrest: the clash of eco-titans and their enormous egos — Elizabeth Knight (SMH): “Forrest was in New York this week, using the stage created by US President Joe Biden’s First Movers Coalition and the United Nations Global Compact, to put some numerical flesh around the bones of Fortescue Metals’ strategy to decarbonise its operations by 2030. But in what has become a battle of environmental bona fides between Australia’s richest man and America’s richest person (as identified by Forbes), their wildly different views on the best technology to save the planet has become apparent.

“For Forrest, with a platform of this size, the opportunity to take a swipe at Musk (whose public debating prowess is generally confined to Twitter) was too tempting to pass up. In an extraordinarily candid outburst to the media, Forrest reportedly suggested Musk was ‘just a businessman’ rather than ‘a real climate avenger’.”

Can woke corporates tell us what the Voice will achieve? — Nyunggai Warren Mundine (AFR): “On the night of the 1967 referendum, family and friends gathered at our house to watch the vote tally on television with a mood of great anticipation and excitement; we cheered when we saw it would be carried with a landslide ‘yes’. The campaign for the Voice is nothing like the 1967 referendum. In 1967, we knew why we wanted the constitution amended and the outcome we wanted to achieve. Most Indigenous people I speak to don’t have the first clue what the Voice will achieve; many regard it with utmost cynicism.

“For decades before 1967, Indigenous families sat around dinner tables talking about what needed to change and why. The only people sitting around dinner tables talking about the Voice are woke corporates and well-heeled people from the metropolitan suburbs.”



  • The Australia Institute will host a webinar with Greens spokeswoman on the environment Senator Sarah Hanson-Young on why Australia’s environmental laws need a “climate trigger”.

  • The Australian Bureau of Statistics will release its latest data on tourism labour, labour force participation, population (national, state and territory), and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The content was scheduled to come out Thursday, but its release has been pushed forward a day “as a mark of respect to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II”.

Ngunnawal Country (also known as Canberra)

  • Olympian and melanoma survivor Cate Campbell will front the National Press Club Gallery alongside Melanoma Institute Australia co-medical directors Professor Georgina Long and Professor Richard Scolyer to talk about the “game on mole”.

Eora Nation Country (also known as Sydney)

  • Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) deputy governor Michele Bullock will speak at Bloomberg on the RBA’s bond purchase program.

  • The Sydney Airport Jobs Fair will take place at Terminal T1. Qantas executives would do well to attend.

  • Labor MP Andrew Leigh will launch his book Fair Game: Lessons From Sport for a Fairer Society and a Stronger Economy at UTS.

Turrbal and Jagera/Yuggera Country (also known as Brisbane)

  • The creators of #StopAdani have begun a campaign to Move Beyond Coal! Launch parties are being held across the country (and online), but today it’s Brisbane’s turn for an in-person event with climate justice advocates.


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