Good morning. It’s Friday 20 May, and here’s a summary of the latest news.
Red Cross confirms prisoners of war in Mariupol
Confusion still remains about the fate of the remaining Ukrainian fighters inside the Mariupol steel plant as Russian forces take control of the port city.
The Red Cross confirmed that it had registered “hundreds” of Ukrainian POWs from the Azovstal plant at the request of the parties.
But the Russian government says 1,730 Ukrainian fighters have surrendered in the past three days, far more than the number recognized by Ukrainians since they ordered its soldiers to surrender.
Ukraine continually refused to say how many were inside the plant, as well as confirming that just over 250 had surrendered after ordering the garrison to withdraw.
New US multi-billion dollar package for Ukraine
The US Senate voted in favor of a new multi-billion dollar package of military and economic aid for Ukraine.
The $ 40 billion comes on top of the $ 14 billion in funding approved by Congress in March, and it’s a much bigger deal than the $ 33 billion President Joe Biden originally asked for.
The Senate approved the funding with 86 to 11 votes, with all Democrats and all but 11 Republicans supporting the measure.
Republican minority leader Mitch McConnell told the Senate there are much bigger issues at stake.
“Aid to Ukraine goes far beyond charity,” McConnell said.
“The future of American security and key strategic interests will be shaped by the outcome of this fight. Anyone concerned about the cost of supporting a Ukrainian victory should consider the much greater cost if Ukraine were to lose.”
G7 closer to Ukraine’s financing agreement
Meanwhile, finance ministers from major Group of Seven economies have come close to an agreement on their financial support for Ukraine.
There are unconfirmed reports that the G-7 is considering providing Ukraine with $ 18.4 billion to cover its short-term needs.
The German finance minister and host of the meeting, Christian Lindner, says he is confident that funding for Ukraine to defend itself will be supported.
“We see a double-digit number of billions, which are needed for the foreseeable future of the next few months and I am quite optimistic that we will be able to raise funds at this G7 meeting that will allow Ukraine to defend itself in the next few months,” Lindner said.
Monique Ryan to take legal action against AEC
A federal election candidate is taking legal action over a loophole that could undermine the rights of thousands of people with COVID-19 to vote in Saturday’s poll.
Independent candidate for Kooyong Monique Ryan has started a crowdfunding campaign to bring the Special Minister of State, Ben Morton, to the Federal Court for voting rules for those who are COVID-19 positive.
Thousands of people have been advised by the Australian Electoral Commission to request a postal ballot due to when they tested positive.
But many have been unable to apply for a postal vote and remain ineligible to vote using a special AEC telephone line.
Ms. Ryan says at least 201,000 people – or 1.2% of the electoral rolls – are affected by this voting loophole.
Last day of the election campaign
Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese begin their last day of campaigning on opposite sides of the country today, ahead of Saturday’s federal elections.
The opposition leader begins his day in Sydney before a three-state blitz of marginal seats held by the Coalition.
The prime minister begins on day 40 of his campaign in the West, with a final appeal to the Perth voters.
The latest opinion poll showed a tightening of the race between the two leaders, with Labor holding a narrow advantage over the Liberal National Party in the primary.
New data on female unemployment
Experts say that a decline in the official unemployment rate can be explained by a decrease in the female labor participation rate.
On Thursday, the official rate was confirmed at 3.9 per cent, slightly down from the previous 4.0 per cent.
But around 80,000 women have stopped looking for work, with the female labor force participation rate dropping from 62.4% in February 2022 to 62.1% in April.
Professor John Buchanan of the University of Sydney business school told SBS News that the unemployment figures don’t necessarily reflect reality.
“Clearly, it is better to be shorter than taller, but we need to look at this wider range of measures, particularly those that give up work altogether. And remember, there has been a lot of talk lately about the need to – support women,” she said. said Mr. Buchanan.
“A long-term effect of COVID has been the rise in absenteeism rates and the rise in disease levels, and I suspect much of that decline in participation rates is not just a lack of work, but a need for it. of caregivers, and in our society, unfortunately, women carry most of the care burden. “
The Australian sets a new 200m breaststroke record
23-year-old Australian Zac Stubblety-Cook broke the men’s 200m breaststroke world record at the Adelaide Australian Swimming Championships.
The Brisbane-born athlete cut 0.17 seconds from the previous record set by Russian Anton Chupkov in 2019 and became the first to swim the race in under two minutes and six seconds.
That same night, Kyle Chalmers expressed a rethink about his intention to swim at the FINA world championships in Budapest next month.
Chalmers had said he wouldn’t swim to the world titles, but now he says he will, which means pop star Cody Simpson will be denied his international swimming debut because only the top two in each final can be selected for the national team. .