Good morning. Health experts claims Liberal MP Gerard Rennick’s Facebook posts about vaccines could be “dangerous”. Covid cases continue to rise across Europe. And petrol and rental prices are putting financial pressure on Australians.

Senator Gerard Rennick’s use of Facebook to push unverified stories about vaccine side-effects is potentially dangerous, a top health expert has warned, as fresh doubt is cast on the legitimacy of a story he helped promote. Rennick conceded to Guardian Australia that he does not verify the accuracy of the dozens of third-party claims he has published about severe vaccine side-effects. Associate professor and head of the AusVaxSafety program, Nick Wood, said: “The fact that he has admitted he hasn’t checked them and he’s just posted them on, that’s a problem. I think that is a danger because it feeds into: ‘is there a cover-up here, we’re not being told things’. That can potentially impact public confidence.”

Financial pressures are increasing for low-income Australians who are priced out of the rental market and facing increasing petrol prices. The annual Rental Affordability Index (RAI) for 2021 shows housing affordability is worse than pre-pandemic levels in some areas, and Hobart is now the least affordable city for renters. As the gap between income and rent prices increases, so too is the price of petrol, which is emerging as a political touchstone again with the prospect of $2 a litre in major cities. Here’s everything you need to know about what’s driving the price rise.

Covid deaths in Europe are likely to exceed 2 million by March next year, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said, adding that the pandemic has become the number one cause of death in the region. Dr Hans Kluge, the WHO’s regional director for Europe, said it was essential that countries adopted a “vaccine plus” approach. “This means getting the standard doses of vaccine and taking a booster if offered … but also incorporating preventive measures into our normal routines.” As Europe grapples with the fourth wave and Australia reopens to the world, how can Australia avoid another outbreak? Vaccinations aren’t the only measure needed to stop the healthcare system becoming overwhelmed, health experts say.


Consecutive La Nina weather events are expected to increase the chances of flooding in Australia this summer.
Consecutive La Nina weather events are expected to increase the chances of flooding in Australia this summer. Photograph: Stuart Walmsley/EPA

Insurers are bracing for a flurry of claims with back-to-back La Nina events likely to increase the chances of flooding and tropical cyclones.

A Labor government would appoint a new commissioner for family and sexual violence under a $153m women’s safety policy. Labor says it will also fund 500 new community sector workers, including case workers to help women leave violent relationships, financial counsellors for women in abusive relationships, and support workers for children.

Northern bettongs are on the brink of extinction with populations in Queensland thought to number 1,000 found to be no more than 50, researchers say.

The world

Boris Johnson had appeared to be struggling with a cold last week but his spokesperson insisted he was in good health.
Boris Johnson had appeared to be struggling with a cold last week but his spokesperson insisted he was in good health. Photograph: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images

A Downing Street spokesperson has said PM Boris Johnson is physically well and has a full grasp on the prime ministership after his rambling speech to business leaders on Monday in which he lost his place for about 20 seconds.

Jeffrey Epstein told a psychologist he was too much of “a coward” to ever kill himself, two weeks before he was found dead in his jail cell in a death that was ruled a suicide, it has been revealed in never-before-seen records obtained by the New York Times.

Police have arrested an alleged cryptocurrency fraudster who is suspected of swindling his victims out of more than $700,000 while living a life of luxury in Spain.

Recommended reads

Natalie Grono’s daughters revisit old-fashioned fun during lockdown.
Natalie Grono’s daughters revisit old-fashioned fun during lockdown. Photograph: Natalie Grono

Australian photographer Natalie Grono’s exhibition, Invisible Threads, examines the daily rites and symbolism of the everyday life of her two daughters. “In Childhood, somewhere between the creative world of fantasy and the sacred, are moments that give birth to love and fears. My daughter’s continuous dance between light and shadow creates an invisible thread with one another and the places and landscapes they inhabit,” Grono says.

Sam Somers has a peculiar love for the humble Notes app, and has begun collecting and cataloguing the notes of friends. “Looking through someone else’s Notes feels voyeuristic, dirty, almost illegal. The app, when used often, holds our idiosyncrasies and disturbingly human qualities, so much so that they could be considered personality graffiti – marrying boredom with fleeting thoughts, like the words etched into cubicle stalls. They are also a time capsule, packed with outdated references, numbers and titles, revealing past personas, fears, plans and anxieties.”

For his new book, HG Nelson wrote about fairytales: specifically, those of a sporting nature. He also discusses some of the sporting careers of our political leaders, including John Howard’s attempts at cricket. The ball disastrously bowled by the then PM during a 2005 trip to Pakistan is the item HG claims he most regrets losing. Of course, as with all things Roy and HG, the truth of how corporeal HG’s ownership of said ball ever was is up to the audience. HG (not Greig Pickhaver, the man behind the character) tells us about that legendary ball, in an in-character take on our Three Things column.


From next week, Australian borders will open to international students with valid visas. But after nearly two years of uncertainty, experts say some students won’t be returning, and the impact to broader Australian society will be felt for a long time. In this episode of Full Story, audio producer Karishma Luthria speaks to international students about their life during the pandemic and whether they will return.

Full Story

The international students giving up their Australian dream

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Full Story is Guardian Australia’s daily news podcast. Subscribe for free on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or any other podcasting app.


England’s preparations for the Ashes in Australia got under way on Tuesday with an inter-squad warm-up game against England Lions in Brisbane, finishing with both openers still at the crease.

Media roundup

Fully vaccinated people entering Queensland from 17 December will not have to pay for a Covid test in order to travel, the Courier-Mail reports. Landmark affirmative consent laws have been passed in NSW, which will require a person to show they took active steps to find out if a person consented to sex, says the Sydney Morning Herald. West Australian premier Mark McGowan has signalled his government could come to LNG producer Woodside’s aid if the supreme court finds a key environmental approval for its $16bn Scarborough project is invalid, reports WA Today.

Coming up

The “Everest of reproduction” events is taking place along the length of the Great Barrier Reef, with annual coral spawning under way four days after the November full moon.

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