Morning mail: national cabinet to rescue vaccine rollout, mental health crisis, five-minute lunch recipes |

It’s Monday 19 April, and national cabinet is meeting today to try and resurrect the vaccine rollout. Meanwhile, our readers say Australia’s mental health system is “the worst it’s ever been”. This is Imogen Dewey with this morning’s main stories.

Tackling growing vaccine hesitancy, supply and speeding up the rollout will be the main focus of the renewed biweekly national cabinet meetings, back on today for the first time leaders have met since Scott Morrison recalled twice-weekly meetings. Yesterday both the prime minister, and health minister Greg Hunt hinted vaccinated Australians may be allowed to travel overseas and quarantine at home, rather than in hotels, in the second half of the year. This comes as the NSW health department investigates how three members of a family acquired Covid-19 while in hotel quarantine in Sydney. But such a switch would need the agreement of the states and territories, who at this stage, remain hesitant to cede any control over what has been a successful public health response. The Morrison government is actively considering assisting Australian manufacturers to produce mRNA Covid-19 vaccines, such as Pfizer, at scale – something Hunt says would require “a significant period of scaling up”.

Australia’s mental health system is “the worst it’s ever been”. Waiting times, costs, access. Issues of supply and demand. A lack of ongoing support. Inequities in the system. Countless inquiries have found the same problems afflicting the mental health system, but those seeking and providing care are still in despair. Guardian Australia asked readers to share their experiences. In more than 700 responses we heard from those suffering from mental health issues, their families and friends, as well as the professionals working in the field, including GPs, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and policymakers. Many who responded are the face of the “missing middle” – those whose care is too complex for a GP but not severe enough for admission to hospital.


Andrews said while it was frustrating to be away from work, there was no alternative.
Victorian premier Daniel Andrews said while it was frustrating to be away from work, there was no alternative. Photograph: Twitter/ Daniel Andrews

Victorian premier Daniel Andrews has delayed his return to work until June and will now miss next month’s state budget. The premier had intended to take six weeks off after breaking his ribs and fracturing a vertebra in March.

The federal government yesterday announced a $1bn deal with South Australia to reduce the cost and boost the reliability of energy supplies. The focus, said prime minister Scott Morrison, is on “getting more gas into the market to support the increase in renewable solar and wind power coming into the electricity system”.

Eyewitnesses have been urged to come forward after a dingo mauled a toddler on Fraser Island. Paramedics say the two-year-old boy, attacked after he wandered away from family early on Saturday, was “lucky not to sustain more injuries”.

A shark sighting marked Mick Fanning’s surfing comeback at Narrabeen yesterday, causing the World Surf League event in Sydney to be temporarily halted. The three-time world champion famously survived a shark attack in competition in South Africa in 2015.

The world

Alexei Navalny could be dead in days, according to his allies.
Alexei Navalny could be dead in days, according to his allies. Photograph: Moscow City Court press service/AFP/Getty Images

Allies of jailed Kremlin critic and opposition leader Alexei Navalny have called for mass protests on Wednesday across Russia, warning he is dangerously ill and could die “at any minute”. The appeal sets up a showdown with Vladimir Putin, due to deliver his annual state of the nation address at the same time.

A passenger train has derailed north of Cairo, killing at least 11 people and injuring at least 98, Egyptian authorities have said, in the latest in a string of rail accidents to hit the country in recent years.

Bitcoin has posted its biggest one-day drop in almost two months, amid warnings that novice investors could suffer heavy losses from speculating in crypto assets such as “meme coin” dogecoin.

Three people were shot dead in Texas on Sunday, authorities said, warning residents in the vicinity to stay inside during an ongoing manhunt. The same day, it was revealed the gunman who murdered eight people in Indianapolis last week legally bought his weapons months after another gun he owned was confiscated over concerns around his mental health. Meanwhile, Madonna has declared gun control the “new vaccination”, arguing that regulation would save lives.

Syria will hold a presidential election on 26 May that is virtually certain to return Bashar al-Assad for a third term, an event Washington and the opposition say is a farce designed to cement his autocratic rule.

Recommended reads

‘If we build another 23 coalmines or mine extensions across NSW then we will either tank the world’s emission reduction goals or be left with stranded assets.’
‘If we build another 23 coalmines or mine extensions across NSW then we will either tank the world’s emission reduction goals or be left with stranded assets.’ Photograph: Jessica Hromas/The Guardian

“How can NSW allow new coalmines while committing to net zero emissions? It’s bizarre.” New mines won’t boost world demand for Australian coal, writes Richard Denniss, but they will cannibalise existing jobs. “It is not just the electricity grid that needs to diversify, it is the Australian economy as a whole. And while building new coalmines might not “count” towards Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, the mere act of approving new coalmines will cruel the prospects for the Hunter to diversify its employment base.”

“I may be a stoker in hell, or I might come back with wings on and look over the people at the prison.” Charlie Flannigan’s words – recorded in the final week of his life – were light, contemplative, even playful: in direct contradiction with the grim finality of his circumstances, shackled on death row in Darwin’s Fannie Bay Gaol in the 1890s. The champion Aboriginal jockey was the first person to executed by hanging in the Northern Territory. Discovered by accident, the drawings he made in jail are now on show.

“The death of Prince Philip has loosened that connection; one day it will be gone.” Jonathan Freedland writes that with the poignant sight of the widowed Queen, the world glimpsed an era that is inevitably on its way. “It is not sacrilegious to talk like this, nor disrespectful of the prince himself. On the contrary, few were more keenly aware of the fragility of monarchy than him, who saw once-solid thrones pushed over and long-rooted royal dynasties collapse.”

Speedy not sad: try these five minute, office-friendly lunches from Alexander Hart. There’s inspiration from Italy, plus a quick tip to make your kale less tough to chew.


The 46th US president took office promising a more welcoming immigration policy. But Republicans are calling a new wave of migrants at the southern border a “crisis” and demanding action. In this episode of Full Story, Washington bureau chief David Smith describes the pressure Joe Biden is under to respond to the issue.

Full Story

Joe Biden’s southern border challenge: reversing Trumpism

Plus, the Guardian’s Nina Lakhani describes what she witnessed on the border in Texas, where migrants are still being detained, and many sent straight back.

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


‘I was always scared of two metres. I knew in my body I could do a lot higher but the fear aspect of high jump is the thing that gets to you.’
‘I was always scared of two metres. I knew in my body I could do a lot higher but the fear aspect of high jump is the thing that gets to you.’ Photograph: Dean Lewins/AAP

High jumper Nicola McDermott has become the first Australian woman to clear 2 metres. She is among 15 Australians included yesterday in a track and field team for the Tokyo Olympics that could eventually number more than 70.

Max Verstappen won the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in an incident-packed race at Imola, where Lewis Hamilton’s hopes of victory fell to pieces with a highly uncharacteristic error.

Media roundup

Peter Dutton’s first major public decision as defence minister will overrule defence chief Angus Campbell’s decision to strip citations from special forces soldiers as “collective punishment” for the alleged crimes uncovered by the Brereton inquiry, the Australian reveals. The West Australian reports that prescriptions for antidepressants for children in the state have soared 61% in four years – a trend linked by one expert to issues around both cost of and access to psychological treatment. And the ABC reports that Trump supporters fighting charges related to January’s Capitol riot are claiming to be journalists.

Coming up

The Trans-Tasman travel bubble is open as of today.

National cabinet meets to discuss the Covid-19 vaccine rollout.

Closing arguments are expected in the US trial of Derek Chauvin, the white police officer charged with murdering George Floyd last year.

The Suicide Prevention Australia symposium runs from today until Thursday.

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