10 things you need to know in Australia this morning

(Photo by Jonas Gratzer/LightRocket via Getty Images)

TGIF, team.

1. Refugee and journalist Behrouz Boochani, who has been held by the Australian government for six years on Manus Island and Port Moresby, has landed in New Zealand where has been granted a visitor visa. He will appear at the WORD Christchurch literary event on November 29. It’s a huge win for asylum seeker advocates. Boochani told the Sydney Morning he hoped he wouldn’t return to PNG, and did not rule out applying for asylum in New Zealand.

2. Australian jobs data is out, and would you believe things are not looking amazing. 19,000 jobs were lost in the month of October, with the the unemployment rate ticking up to 5.3% – the first net negative month of 2019. The labour market has held up surprisingly well considering soft growth and the lack of demand across an economy which is looking increasingly unhealthy, but we’re certainly seeing the cracks now.

3. For those of you who haven’t figured out email yet (and if you’re reading this article you must be at least getting close to mastering the basics) the price of posting a letter in Australia is going up. By ten cents. Australia Post announced the change a few months ago, but the ACCC now says it won’t do anything to challenge the price increase. Despite the fact letters are somewhat outmoded – to put it charitably – Australia Post says the average household still sends “between 10 and 20 letters per year”. I consider it my patriotic duty to drag that average down.

4. Qantas’ test flight from London to Sydney is currently in the air, following its earlier test from New York to Sydney. Like the last one, the 20-hour flight is a data-gathering mission populated by researchers. Right now, a commercially viable direct flight between Sydney and New York or London isn’t quite possible, but planes in development by Airbus and Boeing should have the capability.

5. Richard Branson, who is currently bouncing around Australia on various engagements, popped up at Brisbane Airport to formally announce Virgin’s new flights from Brissy to Tokyo. “I’ve always liked visiting Japan and, you know, I’ve been visiting it since I was a teenager and now I’m going to be able to afford to go there,” Branson told Business Insider Australia. Righto, mate. Earlier this week, Sir Richard made waves when he said Australia needs to stop selling coal and make the transition to renewables.

6. The WeWork machine just keeps on rolling. Turns out employees who were axed in the layoffs earlier this year have been receiving “alarming” non-compete letters, warning them to adhere to their contracts and not compete with the company’s business. There’s no evidence any of the employees actually did so. Employment lawyers call the tactics “heavy-handed” and “aggressive”.

7. Australia is about a week behind the US in getting Disney Plus, which is surely aggravating to Star Wars fans who want to watch “The Mandalorian” post haste. We’ve got everything you need to know about the Aussie release here, if you’re interested.

8. Google is facing an even more expansive probe in the US by a coalition of 50 state attorneys, investigating potential antitrust violations. The probe will now consider its search product and Android, whereas before it solely looked at the company’s ad business. The EU is in the midst of a similar probe.

9. Also on the Google front: the company’s hotly-anticipated game streaming service, Project Stadia, is looking like it has serious problems ahead of launch. Between a paltry line-up of launch games, major restrictions on where the service works, and huge limitations on its functionality, it seems like less of an industry revolution than first imagined.

10. What better way to celebrate the twilight of the 2010s than by pretending the entire decade never happened? Catapult yourself back to 2005 with the new Motorola Razr, the revamp of the wildly popular flip phone. This one comes with a foldable screen, as well as all the bells and whistles one expects from a contemporary smartphone. But will it snap open and closed as satisfyingly as the original? Being able to terminate a call with flourish is essential to the Razr experience.

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In my opinion, regular old headlights are just fine. But if you’re unfathomably rich, maybe they’re not enough.

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