Afternoon Update: Penny Wong’s comments spark debate; AFL player suspended over homophobic slur; and an instant coffee taste test

<span>Australia's foreign affairs minister, Penny Wong.</span><span>Photograph: Australian National University</span>
Australia's foreign affairs minister, Penny Wong.Photograph: Australian National University

Welcome, readers, to Afternoon Update.

Penny Wong’s speech floating Australia’s possible support for Palestinian statehood came under fire today.

Some commentators have interpreted the Australian foreign minister’s speech on Tuesday evening to the Australian National University national security conference as a hint that Australia could recognise Palestinian statehood in the near term, although Wong has clarified that the government has made no such decision.

The shadow foreign minister, Simon Birmingham, labelled Wong’s stance “downright dangerous” while the Executive Council of Australian Jewry called the speech “immensely disappointing”.

The president of the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network, Nasser Mashni, said he welcomed Wong’s support for the recognition of Palestine, but said it was “only the beginning of the work Australia needs to do to contribute to the breaking of this 76-year history of Israeli violence against, and oppression of, Palestinians”.

Top news

  • Netanyahu making a ‘mistake’ on Gaza, says Biden | The US president has said Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s approach on Gaza was a “mistake” and urged Israel to call for a ceasefire, in an interview that aired on Tuesday. Biden’s comments were some of his strongest criticism yet of Netanyahu amid growing tensions over the civilian death toll from Israel’s war on Hamas and dire conditions inside Gaza.

  • EPA confirms asbestos at eight sites across Melbourne | Victoria’s environment watchdog has confirmed asbestos-contaminated material has been discovered at eight parks and reserves across Melbourne. The Victorian Environment Protection Authority says test results have confirmed asbestos at Shore Reserve in Pascoe Vale South, in Merri-bek council.

  • High court finds no requirement for minister to read submissions on visa decisions | The immigration minister is not required to personally read submissions for intervention on visa decisions, the high court has ruled, in a decision breaking Labor’s losing streak on sensitive migration cases.

  • AFL suspends Jeremy Finlayson for three matches over homophobic slur | Finlayson has accepted a sanction from the AFL for using a homophobic slur during Friday night’s game against Essendon, which means the Port Adelaide forward will miss three matches and undertake an education program. The 28-year-old used the offensive term towards an opponent in the clash against the Bombers – won easily by the Power – telling club staff during the third-quarter break and apologising to the Essendon player after the match.

  • Workers killed in hydroelectric plant explosion | An explosion at a hydroelectric plant in northern Italy has killed at least three workers and injured five others, a regional fire chief said. At least four other people are missing.

  • Death row inmate executed despite widespread calls for clemency | Brian Dorsey, who was convicted of murdering his cousin and her husband in 2006, was executed in Missouri’s Bonne Terre state prison Tuesday despite an extraordinary effort by corrections officials and his appeals judge to have his capital sentence commuted. Prison officials confirmed that Dorsey had been put to death by lethal injection. They said he had been pronounced dead at 6.11pm.

  • Matildas’ tactical tinkering pays off in tough win over Mexico | Tony Gustavsson’s team, led by a standout performance from Caitlin Foord, overcame a stiff test against Mexico to register a satisfactory 2-0 victory in San Antonio and keep preparations on track.

  • US beefing up military capabilities in the Pacific country, Micronesia president says | The US is considering military projects across the Federated States of Micronesia as it pushes ahead with plans for a $400m airport upgrade in the country to boost defence capabilities in the Pacific, the president, Wesley Simina, said.

In video

What is the religious discrimination bill? And why are Australians still talking about it?

A debate over discrimination in religious institutions is happening right now in federal politics. Sound familiar? That’s because we’ve been here before in 2022 – and basically every year since Australia achieved marriage equality in 2017. So, why are we back here again? Guardian Australia’s Sarah Basford Canales explains the state of the religious discrimination debate and the politically fraught path through it.

What they said …


“It is kind of like looking for unicorns in the garden.” – Jeff Dimery, CEO of Alinta Energy, during his speech at the National Press Club when asked about the likelihood of nuclear reactors replacing coal-fired power stations.

Ultimately, Dimery believes the switch is possible; however, “no one is starting now because the legislation isn’t conducive to us even exploring that”.

In numbers

The Australian Medical Association’s president, Prof Steve Robson, today launched the association’s federal budget submission, arguing for a tax on sugary drinks.

In a statement, the AMA said reports had revealed Fanta’s sugar content had increased by 60% just a few years after it was reduced, “despite industry assurances that sugary drinks are being reformulated with less sugar”.

Before bed read

Australian supermarket instant coffee taste test: the worst is ‘what we’ll drink during the apocalypse’

In a high-wire act, Nicholas Jordan sips his way through 11 instant coffees – from the “weak yet palatable” to the “unanimously average”.

Daily word game

Today’s starter word is: HAW. You have five goes to get the longest word including the starter word. Play Wordiply.

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