Morning mail: Turnbull suffers poll plunge | Australia news

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Good morning, this is Eleanor Ainge Roy with the main stories and must-reads on Monday 13 November.

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Malcolm Turnbull has suffered a five-point drop in the better prime minister rating in the latest Newspoll, a result that will compound his political woes after his government lost its lower-house majority at the weekend. The gap between Turnbull and the Labor leader, Bill Shorten, as preferred prime minister narrowed substantially, with the margin now two points, with the Liberal leader ahead 36% to Shorten’s 34%. Labor improved its lead on the two-party-preferred vote, leading the Coalition by 55% to 45% compared with 54% to 46% in the previous poll.

The Senate is due to sit for a week from Monday in what will be a high-octane few days, which will include intensifying political debate within the Coalition over marriage equality, with the results of the postal survey due on Wednesday. As well as navigating the marriage debate, the government on Monday will have to resolve on a new Senate president to replace Stephen Parry, who resigned in the citizenship debacle.

Turnbull is overseas, attending two international summits, and at the weekend said he intended to see those visits through despite the resignation of the Liberal John Alexander, which has triggered a snap byelection in the Sydney seat of Bennelong and cost the government its lower-house majority.

Two former US intelligence chiefs have said Donald Trump poses “a peril” to the US because he is vulnerable to being “played” by Russia, after the president said on Saturday he believed Vladimir Putin’s denials of Russian interference in the 2016 election. The former director of national intelligence James Clapper and the former CIA director John Brennan issued a stern rebuke to Trump after the president called both men “political hacks” for their support of an intelligence agency consensus that Russia meddled in the US election.

“He was referring to us as political hacks because he was trying to delegitimise the intelligence assessment that was done,” Brennan told CNN. He added: “By not confronting the issue directly and not acknowledging to Putin: ‘We know that you’re responsible for this,’ I think he’s giving Putin a pass. And I think it demonstrates to Mr Putin that Donald Trump can be played by foreign leaders who are going to be appeal to his ego and try to play upon his insecurities, which is very, very worrisome from a national security standpoint.”

The special counsel Robert Mueller, a former FBI director, has issued the first indictments in the investigation into possible collusion between Trump aides and Russia. Trump has repeatedly denied collusion.

A dramatic land-clearing surge in Queensland could turn into a “tsunami” in the coming year, according to conservationists, with the rate of notifications of planned clearing rising 30% in the past year compared with the previous three-year average. If that translates in to a 30% jump in land clearing, Queensland – a region already marked as a global deforestation hotspot – could experience rates of land clearing seen just twice since detailed observations began in the 1980s. The rise in planned clearing – which could be a sign of “panic clearing” before a planned crackdown if Labor is re-elected – would also cause a spike in sediment washing on to the Great Barrier Reef, which the United Nations has warned is threatening joint Queensland and federal government plans to improve water quality on the reef.

Tens of thousands of nationalist demonstrators marched through Warsaw at the weekend to mark Poland’s independence day, throwing red-smoke bombs and carrying banners with slogans such as “white Europe of brotherly nations”. Police estimated 60,000 people took part in Saturday’s event, in what experts say was one of the biggest gathering of far-right activists in Europe in recent years. Demonstrators with faces covered chanted “Pure Poland, white Poland!” and “Refugees get out!”. A banner hung over a bridge read: “Pray for Islamic Holocaust.”

The actor Richard Dreyfuss has denied exposing himself to a female writer helping him with a TV script in the 1980s. Dreyfuss told the New York magazine blog Vulture he flirted with and even kissed the Los Angeles writer Jessica Teich over several years but thought it was a “consensual seduction ritual”. Teich told Vulture she was hired to develop a script for an ABC comedy special, during which the actor, she said, made continual, overt and lewd comments and invitations but she never told anyone. In 1987, Teich said, she was summoned to his trailer on the set of one of Dreyfuss’s films and he exposed his genitals to her. On Saturday Dreyfuss’s agent, Barry McPherson, said his client denied ever exposing himself to Teich.

Sport

Australia did everything right against Honduras, except score. But Ange Postecoglou can take great satisfaction from how his Socceroos outplayed Honduras in hostile conditions on Saturday. The value of the result won’t become fully apparent until Wednesday but Australia must now be clear favourites to progress to Russia 2018 after experiencing only minor discomfort during a tactically astute display in San Pedro Sula.

Dig in was the instruction and that’s exactly what England did on the final day of the Women’s Ashes Test. It mattered little that Heather Knight’s side tallied just 166 runs at a glacial run rate of 1.89 on the final day of the Women’s Ashes Test. What they had achieved by losing just two wickets in their second innings was saving the game, splitting the available points and keeping their dreams alive of regaining the trophy.

Thinking time

Björk in 2017



Björk opens up about why she started a Friday flute club. Photograph: Santiago Felipe

More than two years after her very public exposure and disgrace, the spectre of Belle Gibson still strikes fear into her former associates, even those who once called her their friend. When researching their new book, The Woman who Fooled the World, about the wellness entrepreneur’s astonishing downfall, the writers Beau Donelly and Nick Toscano went hunting for the full facts from Gibson’s colleagues and friends, including those at Apple and Penguin who had lent Gibson their organisations’ huge commercial clout. They found the process was like pulling teeth. “Her name was poison,” Toscano told Guardian Australia. “I can’t think of another story I’ve covered that’s been so difficult to get people to speak to me.”

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