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Morning mail: Labor in turmoil, climate election inquest, Sydney FC triumph

Good morning, this is Helen Sullivan bringing you the main stories and must-reads on Monday 20 May.

Top stories

As counting continues to see if the Coalition will rule as a majority or minority government, Anthony Albanese is making a concerted play for the Labor leadership, declaring that the party’s policy direction needs to change and admitting that the election defeat on Saturday was a “devastating result for the Australian Labor party”. The high-profile NSW leftwinger began his public courtship of colleagues on Sunday but other players remain on the field, including his fellow leftwinger and deputy leader, Tanya Plibersek. Knives are out internally after Labor’s loss, with a number of Labor figures blaming the combination of Bill Shorten’s unpopularity and the party’s tax agenda for its electoral failure. The influence of minor parties has also come under scrutiny but there is scant evidence the millions spent by Clive Palmer had much effect on the outcome, writes Ben Raue.

Shellshocked green groups remain resolute despite the election results. The environmental movement drew first blood on election night by helping the independent Zali Steggall to oust Tony Abbott, but environmentalists are questioning whether their campaign tactics need revision after the Coalition’s win. Some, including the Wilderness Society’s Lyndon Schneiders, see room for hope: “I remember the 2004 forestry election, I know the feeling of ‘oh my god, our issue sunk a party’ – I’m not feeling like that today,” he said. “I’m surprisingly optimistic – the last six months is the most we’ve talked about the environment for a generation.”

The Michigan congressman Justin Amash has called for Donald Trump to be impeached, adding a first Republican voice to a growing chorus of Democrats demanding that Congress move against the president, and prompting a scornful response from Trump. But Mitt Romney declined to back the call for impeachment. “I don’t think there is the full element which you need to prove the obstruction of justice case,” he told CNN. Trump and his troops are trying to delegitimise the Mueller report and pushing for an imperial presidency, writes David Smith.


Voters queue at a polling station in Modi’s constituency of Varanasi

Voters queue at a polling station in Narendra Modi’s constituency of Varanasi. Photograph: Sanjay Kanojia/AFP/Getty Images

India’s prime minister Narendra Modi and his allies are on track to decisively win a second term, according to exit polls released after voting officially ended on Sunday night in the country’s marathon six-week elections.

BP stepped up its campaign to be allowed to drill for oil in the Arctic Sea and an Alaskan wildlife refuge after Donald Trump was elected president, according to documents that detail the British firm’s lobbying efforts.

Green parties are on course for their strongest showing to date in next week’s European elections – and could find themselves kingmakers in a newly fragmented EU parliament.

Theresa May will ask her cabinet to sign off a package of Brexit concessions this week as she gears up for one last bid to win over MPs and salvage something concrete from her troubled premiership.

A roadside bomb has hit a tourist bus near the Giza pyramids, wounding at least 16 people, including tourists, Egyptian officials have said.

Opinion and analysis

Arya in Game of Thrones

Death could be coming in a very literal way … Arya in Game of Thrones. Photograph: Helen Sloan/HBO

There are questions we need still need answered in Game of Thrones (and spoilers for episodes before the final in this article). “Many of the big season eight questions have already been answered, like how the White Walkers are defeated, how Cersei bites the dust, and whether or not the showrunners knew where they were going all along,” writes Abigail Chandler. “After a, shall we say, divisive penultimate episode, we are left with a deeply twisted happily-ever-after – the exiled ‘rightful’ queen Daenerys has claimed the throne, ready to rid Westeros of tyrants. Unfortunately, she blew everything up in the process. Where does that leave us for the finale?”

“It’s going to be hard for those who care about and work on climate change, but we must dust ourselves off, because neither despair nor emigrating to New Zealand will help solve the mess Australia’s climate policy is in,” writes Frank Jotzo. He says strong international pressures mean the status quo of the Coalition’s climate policy is not sustainable and neither the business community not the states will accept an energy and climate policy vacuum. “To the many people in Australia who care deeply about climate change and dedicate some of their life to finding solutions, the election outcome will seem like a hard blow. But do not despair, do not retreat. Continue your work, with objectivity, integrity and dedication.”


Seven kicks. A championship season 140 matches long, spanning seven months, came down to seven kicks. Sport can be grotesquely cruel. But after a record A-League grand final crowd of 56,371 had sat through 120 minutes of stalemate between Perth Glory and Sydney FC, two saves from Sydney’s Andrew Redmayne in the shootout gave the visitors a fourth championship trophy.

The similarities between football and politics are plenty enough to make for a silly if not fatuous dinner party game, writes Craig Little. However, after the weekend just gone, there may be one significant difference between the two – the results of this year’s AFL season may be insipidly predictable and feel languid by comparison.

Thinking time: Standing at my parents’ graves

A cemetery

‘I pondered how I would feel if the remains of my ancestors were not there to be visited.’ Photograph: Paul Daley

Paul Daley visits his parents’ graves and is reminded of the one of the dark truths of colonialism in Australia that angers him most: how tens of thousands of sets of Indigenous ancestral remains came to be stolen and traded nationally and internationally.

“Something was telling me to visit my parents in the Melbourne general cemetery,” Daley writes. “This something had been impelling me for some years. I’d been to the old graveyard only once since we buried Dad in early 2008. And that was to put Mum in the ground a few months before Collingwood won the 2010 grand final (replay) she’d lost the will to anticipate.

“When I stood at my parents’ graves a few weeks ago, I felt anchored and secure in the knowledge that the bones of most my ancestors, at least those of the several generations who’ve died in Australia, are safely harboured in stolen Aboriginal land. And I pondered how I would feel if the remains of my ancestors were not there to be visited and, worse, had been stolen and displayed as curios or used in medical and ethnological experiments.”

Media roundup

Fallout from Saturday’s election naturally continues to dominate today’s front pages. The headline on the Australian is “Messiah from the Shire” and, on the Sydney Morning Herald, “The Morrison era begins”, with both papers reporting that the PM will prioritise legislating the Coalition’s $158bn income tax cut package. The Courier-Mail focuses on Adani, reporting that the Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, is under pressure to “overhaul her government and its message on Adani, coal, and jobs.”

Coming up

Counting will continue in several close seats that will determine whether the Coalition can form government in its own right.

Today is the deadline for Israel Folau to lodge an appeal against his sacking by Rugby Australia for his anti-gay social media posts.

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