National cabinet will consider increasing the cap on international arrivals to Australia, after a reduction earlier in January to help combat more infectious strains of Covid-19. Ahead of today’s meeting, which will also consider vaccine implementation planning, seasonal worker arrangements and a bid from Queensland for new regional quarantine facilities, the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) revealed that it is dealing with a record number of complaints, driven in part by Covid restrictions and Australians stranded overseas. Meanwhile, Emirates has announced it will resume passenger flights to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane from Monday and Spanish tennis star Paula Badosa has tested positive to Covid-19 while quarantining after being exposed to the virus on an Australian Open charter flight.
The number of Indigenous Australian prisoners has continued to grow despite an overall reduction in the number of adult prisoners nationally. The increasing gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous imprisonment rates has been laid bare in the Productivity Commission’s latest report on government services, released as Guardian Australia publishes an investigative series into Indigenous children in custody. Isaiah spent his teens in and out of youth detention, in a traumatic (and since-closed) behaviour program dubbed “supermax for kids”. Now he’s using his experience to help vulnerable young people in western Sydney. He runs a footy team, for boys who won’t engage with most social services but will turn up for Oztag. “You get them playing footy together, you’re gonna hear nothing but laughing,” he says. “To be a part of something … it makes them feel included, you know?”
Newly minted president Joe Biden has marked the start of his term with a flurry of executive orders, some undoing significant actions from the Trump administration, including on the Paris climate agreement. Biden will sign more todayaimed at tackling the pandemic, which has already claimed more than 400,000 American lives. Nancy Pelosi declined to specify when she will transmit the article of impeachment to the Senate, instead simply saying she will do so “soon”. The Democratic speaker said the Senate had signalled it was ready to receive the article, which charges Donald Trump with incitement of insurrection in connection with the Capitol riot. Trump, meanwhile, appears to be setting up for post-presidency life at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach.
In other news:
New South Wales and South Australia have intervened in a high court case in defence of Australia’s foreign interference laws, which are being challenged by a political staffer accused of acting on behalf of China.
Kevin Rudd has added details of his overseas interviews to the country’s foreign influence register after a running battle with the attorney general’s department, but the former Australian PM insists he is “not a foreign agent”.