Good morning, this is Eleanor Ainge Roy bringing you the main stories and must-reads on Monday 12 February.
A Russian passenger plane has crashed outside Moscow killing all 71 people aboard. The Saratov Airlines flight 6W703 crashed after take-off from Domodedovo airport, leaving no survivors. Saratov Airlines flight 6W703 was heading to Orsk, a city near Russia’s border with Kazakhstan, when it went down near the town of Argunovo, about 80km south-east of Moscow. Witnesses said the plane, an Antonov An-148 aircraft, was in flames as it fell from the sky.
Russia’s gazeta.ru website cited unnamed investigators as saying the pilot had reported a technical malfunction and asked for clearance for an emergency landing at the nearby Zhukovsky international airport. Other reports said one of the plane’s engines may have exploded before the crash.
Three of the seven Closing the Gap targets were met in the past year compared with just one a year earlier, with the national childhood mortality and early childhood education measures back on track. The updated measures of Indigenous disadvantage, which will be reported to parliament by Malcolm Turnbull on Monday, show the most promising results since 2011, and a marked improvement from figures released a year ago when only the goal of halving the gap in year 12 attainment by 2020 was on track to be met. The Indigenous affairs minister, Nigel Scullion, said Turnbull would use the occasion to build on the government’s $1bn Indigenous procurement policy and “unveil a range of new measures to turbo-charge the Indigenous business sector”.
Australia’s solar power capacity could almost double in the space of a year due to a record-breaking month of rooftop installations and a flood of large-scale solar farms, industry analysts say. An unprecedented number of industrial solar farms were approved by the New South Wales and Queensland state governments last year, and last month was the biggest January on record for rooftop installations. With 111MW of new panels, it saw a 69% rise compared with the same month last year and became one of the top five months ever – largely driven by low installation costs and a boost in commercial uptake. NSW approved 10 solar farm projects last year – twice as many as the year before – and have approved another in 2018. Meanwhile Queensland has 18 large-scale projects under construction, which is the most in the country.
The world’s stock markets are braced for more volatility this week amid predictions that stocks could fall further before stabilising. Last week saw $4tn wiped off the value of shares around the world and the most important market, the United States, entered into an official correction after falling more than 10% from its record level in January. The Australian stock market, which will be the first to test the water when it opens at 10am on Monday morning, is expected to open down around 0.5% or 28.5 points.
The AFLW had the worst possible week off-field. However, Saturday provided just the tonic required, with crowds at the Fremantle v Collingwood game breaking the record for the highest crowd for a standalone women’s domestic sport match in Australian history – and going some way towards quieting the code’s many doubters.
Bert van Marwijk has been appointed as Socceroos coach for the short-term, which means the Dutchman may spend very little time in Australia in the lead-up to or after the World Cup. Jonathan Howcroft writes that this is an issue for Australian football, which needs to build a connection to its national team with the World Cup set to launch in peak AFL and NRL season.
China’s growing superpower status and appetite for blockbusters is reshaping the film industry in Australia, where film-makers are being lured by lucrative co-productions. The latest to reach local screens is Guardians of the Tomb, a cheerfully schlocky creature-feature with an international cast. Arclight’s Australian CEO, Gary Hamilton, sees Australia as a gateway to Hollywood for China. “We don’t describe our movies like Guardians of the Tomb as Australian movies, even though they really are,” he says. “We sell the Chinese on the fact that these are Hollywood movies. But secretly they’re Australian.”
The last thing Shareena Clanton expected when she decided to organise a free screening of superhero blockbuster Black Panther for Melbourne’s Indigenous and African youth was for Marvel to get involved. When Clanton, an actor best known for her role as Doreen in the Foxtel drama Wentworth, saw Black Panther, she knew this was something different. It wasn’t just that the director, Ryan Coogler, and the majority of the cast were black. Nor was it simply that the story focused on black characters in powerful roles. “The fact that this film culminates with a celebration of beautiful strength and black beauty and black power is everything,” Clanton says. “It’s a welcome advancement in our industry.”
Ruth Wilson of television series The Affair and Luther is heading back to the big screen with Dark River, in which she plays a sheep shearer forced to return to run the family farm. Wilson had to learn to skin a rabbit and dip a sheep for the role, but that was fun, compared with the current tearing apart of Hollywood. “There has been inequality for so long, and now that someone like Trump is in charge, we’re face to face with how much misogyny there is in the world,” said Wilson, speaking of the #MeToo movement. “But I would also say that there are grey areas. Every case of assault or feeling violated is different … this is not black or white, and we used to have this thing: innocent until proved guilty.”
What’s he done now?
Robert De Niro has described Donald Trump’s America as a “backward” country that is suffering from “temporary insanity”. The actor was discussing Trump’s climate change policies (or lack thereof) at Dubai’s World Government Summit. De Niro’s jibes drew laughter from his audience, and he went on to say America “will eventually cure itself by voting our dangerous leader” out of office.
The Age devotes its front page to a special investigation into the finances of the Catholic church (an estimated $30bn in Australia) and raises “serious questions” about the compensation payments to victims of child sex abuse, which averaged at $45,800. The Australian Financial Review splashes with some unexpected news, reporting that female engineering graduates are earning more than their male colleagues as the infrastructure boom expands. Female graduate engineers earn an average of $65,000 a year, compared with $63,500 for men, the paper reports. The ABC reports on the exploitation of domestic workers in some diplomatic houses in Canberra, with the Salvation Army saying they’ve assisted 20 workers escape conditions akin to slavery at the heart of Australia’s political capital.
The prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, will hand down the 10th annual report card on Closing the Gap strategy.
Former prime minister Kevin Rudd will speak to the National Press Club on the subject of the 10th anniversary of the national apology to Indigenous Australians, which falls on Tuesday.
Australians will compete in day three of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. Australians Kailani Craine and Brendan Kerry will compete in the figure skating, Greta Small in the Alpine skiing, Matt Graham, Rohan Chapman-Davies and James Matheson in the freestyle skiing and Emily Arthur and Holly Crawford in the snowboarding.
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