Morning mail: Taylor’s lobby letter, Asic v ANZ, Brussels rebuffs Johnson

The government has attempted to fend off a formal inquiry into controversial meetings between Angus Taylor and the environment department over endangered grasslands by producing a letter that purports to show the minister was acting in the interests of his constituents and not himself. But the letter, which was said to have come from a concerned farmer, was actually from a lobby group, the NSW Farmers Association, and was written nearly six months after the meetings were held. Confusion about the letter led to the crossbench voting down a Labor motion for a parliamentary inquiry into the conduct of Taylor and the then environment minister, Josh Frydenberg. But Penny Wong, Labor’s Leader in the Senate, said she would move again for an inquiry on Monday.

ANZ charged its customers fees for four and a half years after it was warned they were illegal, the corporate regulator Asic has told the federal court. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission initiated legal action against ANZ that could cost the bank tens or hundreds of millions of dollars in civil penalties, accusing the bank of making false or misleading statements on “at least” 1.3m occasions when it charged fees between 26 July 2013 and 23 February 2016. ANZ has denied any wrongdoing, telling the ASX it intends to “vigorously defend” any such allegations.

Some 30,000 native animals have been moved by environmental contractors at an LNG plant in Western Australia in a seven-year program that’s been lauded as the largest yet undertaken on an industrial site in Australia. Relocating terrestrial fauna was not part of the environmental conditions placed on the project but the project’s zoologist, Scott Thompson, is urging other companies to follow Chevron’s lead: “This company went above and beyond what they had to do [and] had exceptional outcomes.” The animals included echidnas and more than 1,000 goannas, 1,000 snakes and 10,000 frogs. A rare northern quoll was also recorded.

Brussels has rebuffed Boris Johnson’s outline of a revisited Brexit deal, with the European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker signalling the deal negotiated with Theresa May, including the Irish backstop, would remain.

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