Mouse plague nibbles at city edges

Australia’s devastating mouse plague is spilling beyond regional NSW into cities and adjacent states, as debate rages about whether to approve the use of a highly toxic poison.

What we know:

  • Unseasonably warm conditions mean breeding has not slowed as anticipated, with mice numbers now in the millions and expected to explode further in spring (ABC); 
  • The rodents are starting to appear in Queensland, northern Victoria and South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula;
  • According to a CSIRO tracking project mice are encroaching on coastlines (Nine) with more rodents expected to infiltrate Sydney by winter (7NEWS); 
  • Cereal crops have been devastated, with rodents even resorting to cannibalism in the search for food (Bloomberg); 
  • The NSW government unveiled $50m in support and is lobbying the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority to approve use of bromadiolone;
  • Experts warn the poison could kill native species, bioaccumulate in insects and leach into soils (About Regional); 
  • The mouse plague is likely to lead to a boom in snakes and other predators (The Wagga Daily Advertiser). 

Porter fails to block testimony

Christian Porter’s lawyers have not succeeded in stopping a last-minute affidavit that they argue could “derail” his defamation case against the ABC.

The state of proceedings:

  • A three-day hearing began on Monday into whether Porter’s barrister, Sue Chrysanthou SC, should be removed because she previously consulted for a key witness for the case (The Guardian); 
  • Macquarie Bank managing director James Hooke filed a confidential affidavit on the weekend, which Porter’s lawyers said was beyond the scope of the hearing;
  • Justice Tom Thawley ruled against Porter, saying Hooke’s evidence was “central” to whether Chrysanthou could act for the former attorney-general.

Four Covid cases in Melbourne

Thousands of people have been sent into isolation across Melbourne after four new cases of Covid-19 were detected in the community.

Covid has been found among family members spread over three households in Melbourne’s outer north (The Age).

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton warned that one of the infected people had been moving around the community with a high viral load.

A list of exposure sites continues to grow but no tighter restrictions have yet been announced.

Results today will confirm whether the cases are linked to a man who tested positive on May 10 after returning from hotel quarantine in Adelaide.


Review of Holgate dismissal out today

A Senate committee report is set to be released today regarding the decision to stand down former Australia Post boss Christine Holgate.

The committee examined what led to the ministerial direction to stand Holgate down after she gave luxury Cartier watches worth $20,000 to four managers (7NEWS). 

It took evidence on whether the gifts were within the rules, and how they compared with bonuses given within other government-owned corporations.

The inquiry also examined issues around the future of Australia Post’s services.


New Samoan PM locked out of parliament

Fiame Naomi Mata'afa swore herself in as Samoa's first female prime minister at a makeshift tent ceremony, after the incumbent locked the doors of parliament.

Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, who has ruled the country for 22 years, has refused to accept his election defeat, preventing entry to parliament on Monday and describing the makeshift outdoor transfer of power as “illegal and unlawful” (Al Jazeera).

Critics have accused him of staging a constitutional coup.

Australia’s foreign minister, Marise Payne, called for “all parties” to respect democratic processes.

“We have faith in Samoa’s institutions including the judiciary,” she tweeted


Do you know what he said to me right after I finished that speech ... I shit you not, he leant over and right in my ear he goes, ‘Well, gee, I bet it felt good to get that out.’

Grace Tame explains what Prime Minister Scott Morrison said after her Australian of the Year acceptance speech detailing abuse at the hands of a teacher. Perhaps Morrison should have consulted Jenny on that one (The New Daily).


Postscript: Corn Tastes Better on the Honour System

This remarkable plant has been known by as many names as the peoples who have grown it: The Seed of Seeds, Our Daily Bread, Wife of the Sun and Mother of All Things. In my own Potawatomi language, we say mandamin, or the Wonderful Seed … The term used for the modern crop carries none of this feeling and is rooted in intentional blindness to the original meaning of the plant. Rather than adopt the reverent indigenous name, English settlers simply called it corn, a term applied to any grain — from barleycorn to wheat. And so it began, the colonisation of corn (Emergence).


Max Opray is Schwartz Media’s morning editor and a freelance writer.