Chaos envelops Kabul airport

A plan to airlift Australians out of Afghanistan has been thwarted by deadly unrest gripping Kabul airport, where crowds desperate to escape are clinging to planes.

What we know:

  • An RAAF C-17 aircraft and 250 ADF troops will be deployed to rescue Australians, journalists and some former embassy staff (ABC); 
  • Thousands of civilians thronged Kabul airport’s runway after the Taliban seized the capital, with some clinging to a US military transport plane as it taxied (Reuters); 
  • US troops fired into the air to deter people trying to force their way onto a military flight evacuating diplomats;
  • Seven people were reported killed in the chaos, with the US claiming two were gunmen;
  • The Taliban has set up a cordon to stop people getting into the airport terminal (Al Jazeera); 
  • The uncertainty on the ground means it is unclear when the RAAF plane will be able to land;
  • Afghan Australians say their pleas to evacuate have been ignored, and fear their spouses and children without dual citizenship won’t be eligible (ABC); 
  • A letter from former Australian embassy staff indicates the federal government ignored their appeals to escape after being targeted by a shooting and a Taliban kidnapping (The Mandarin); 
  • The Taliban has declared the war over, beginning the process of forming a new Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (The Guardian); 
  • Women have been earmarked as “wives” for fighters, banned from leaving homes without male escorts, and prevented from attending schools (The Diplomat). 
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Covid tightens its grip

Australia’s rolling Covid crisis shows no sign of abating, with Darwin calling a snap lockdown as stay-at-home orders are extended in Melbourne and the ACT.

Around the country:

  • The Melbourne lockdown will be extended by two weeks, with tighter restrictions including an evening curfew from 9pm to 5am, after Victoria recorded 22 new cases (The New Daily); 
  • Greater Darwin and Katherine entered a three-day lockdown at noon on Monday, after recording one new local case – an international arrival who quarantined in a Sydney hotel before arriving in the NT for work (NT News); 
  • The ACT extended its lockdown by two weeks after recording 19 new local cases and more than 45 exposure sites (Canberra Times); 
  • NSW reached a new daily high of 478 cases and seven deaths, as 18,000 police officers and 800 soldiers were deployed to enforce restrictions (7News); 
  • Billionaire Clive Palmer is again challenging WA border rules, arguing that new requirements for travellers from high-risk areas to be vaccinated is unconstitutional (WA Today); 
  • Public approval for the federal government’s handling of the pandemic has plunged from 56% in February to 38%, according to a new JWS Research poll (AFR).  
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Stealing from the poor to vax the rich

Australia has siphoned 500,000 Pfizer doses from a scheme set up for poorer countries to access vaccines – double what the entire continent of Africa received in the same month.

The federal government in June bought 25 million doses from the global COVAX factory, run by the World Health Organization (SMH). 

Other wealthy countries including the UK and New Zealand have also dipped into the scheme to speed up their rollouts.

Canada promised not to request extra shipments from COVAX after being criticised for doing so.

Tensions over the issue helped cause a breakdown in negotiations between Pfizer and COVAX (The New York Times).  

Pfizer wanted new doses to go to poorer nations alone, but COVAX insisted on fulfilling orders to rich countries such as Australia that bought directly at higher prices.

Australian Council for International Development chief Marc Purcell warned that Australia would never be safe from Covid-19 until developing nations were also vaccinated.

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New bill skewers minnow parties

Minor parties plan to vote against a bill that would impose new requirements on eligibility for contesting elections.

The party registration integrity bill would require all parties to have 1500 members, and ban them from using words in their names already used by existing parties (The Guardian). 

Minor party the Australian Progressives estimates that up to 30 out of 44 parties would be in danger of deregistration.

The Liberal Democratic Party and The New Liberals believe the bill is targeted at them over concerns that they are gaining votes from people who confuse them with the Liberal Party.

Assistant minister for electoral matters Ben Morton has justified the bill by arguing the rules will reduce “voter confusion”.

Campbell Newman, Queensland Senate candidate for the Liberal Democrats, said the Australian Electoral Commission accepts that words such as “labour” and “democrat” are part of the political lexicon and cannot be “owned by a particular party”.

The Greens and senators Rex Patrick and Jacqui Lambie have indicated they will oppose the legislation, leaving the bill’s fate in the hands of Labor.

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Storm bears down on battered Haiti

An approaching tropical storm threatens to hamper efforts to rescue survivors of the deadly earthquake that struck Haiti on the weekend.

The death toll from the 7.2-magnitude quake has risen to 1297, with an unknown number still missing (BBC). 

Tropical Depression Grace is expected to pass over the worst affected area in the coming hours, with the potential for flash floods and landslides.

Roads already ravaged by the earthquake could be further damaged by the rains, so aid teams are racing to get provisions to survivors before the storm.

More than 30,000 families have reportedly been left homeless, and humanitarian organisations working on the ground say survivors need access to drinking water.

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If they want to start backgrounding on stuff like this, maybe it’s time I started leaking stuff that the PM says to me that never comes to fruition, like on vaccines.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is so fed up with federal ministers leaking her conversations with them to the media that she might start leaking to the press herself — or so an anonymous source tells the media (news.com.au).

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Postscript: You Must Find And Befriend The Shittier Version Of You

They do not know it, but I see so much of myself in Alex that I worry about becoming them. Sometimes I think about what my life would be like if I lacked any shame. Luckily, I have Alex, whose own lack of shame and inflated sense of self-confidence have driven wedges in their friendships and made them notoriously disliked in their professional sphere. I can watch as they make the choices I have only considered, and take notes as it goes up in smoke (Gawker).

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