10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

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Greetings. And solidarity to our Victorian comrades who live in one of those suburbs consigned to coronavirus lockdown once again. We will persevere.

1. The big news from yesterday is, of course, that lockdown. Those who live in the 10 suburbs affected by the new lockdown, which runs until July 24, will only be permitted to leave their homes “for work or school, for care or caregiving, for daily exercise, for food and other essentials.” Premier Daniel Andrews also said he would not rule out further, broader lockdowns.

2. Flights have been diverted from Melbourne as Victoria tries to stem the coronavirus outbreak. This is pertinent, as it’s quite clear that lapses in hotel quarantine protocol led to wider outbreaks in the community. The government is hardening those rules, and launching a judge-led inquiry into what happened.

3. Regardless of the situation in Victoria, other states are reopening. In NSW, the 50-person cap on indoor venues – including pubs and cafes – has been scrapped as of today and replaced with a one person per four square metres rule.

4. The latest payroll figures show Australia’s labour market is mounting a fragile recovery. While hours worked continues to lift, the number of jobs grew just 0.1% over the fortnight to mid-March. Construction and agriculture slipped backwards, while the arts and recreation, as well as the accommodation and food services sectors, remain well behind where they were.

5. Amazon is building a gigantic robotic fulfilment centre in Sydney, which the company says will effectively double its operational footprint in Australia. By ‘robotic’, we’re talking robotic arms and conveyor belts which assist actual workers – not a total “I, Robot” system. Amazon says it will create 1,500 jobs across robotics, IT and HR.

6. Swimwear brand Seafolly has gone into voluntary administration, citing the ‘crippling financial impact’ of the coronavirus pandemic. “Given the quality of the brand and its reputation, there will inevitably be a high level of interest in purchasing the business,” said administrators at KordaMentha.

7. While Australia is dealing with spikes in the coronavirus despite our overall strong response, the US is doing much worse. “We are now having forty-plus thousand new cases a day,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “I would not be surprised if we go up to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around. And so I am very concerned.”

8. The ensuing response in the US is not going particularly smoothly either. For example, a group of Texas bar owners have sued the governor over an executive order shutting down bars due to the state’s growing coronavirus outbreak, and the mayor of Miami is threatening to shut the whole city down again if a mandated mask order doesn’t slow transmissions.

9. China on Tuesday morning unilaterally passed a new national security law for Hong Kong, a move that experts say will further erode the city’s autonomy. The South China Morning Post said the legislation, which has not yet been made public by China, was expected to carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment for various offences.

10. And why not something else worrying to round out the list. A study published on Monday describes a new strain of influenza found in pigs in Chinese slaughterhouses. The strain is a combination of a bird-flu virus and the virus that caused the 2009 swine-flu pandemic, giving it “pandemic potential” in humans, the researchers wrote. Nice!


Interesting project from our friends at BI in the US, comparing how much big tech companies like Apple, Google and Uber pay their workers – from engineers to salespeople to executives. Some illuminating data there.

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