10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

10 things you need to know this morning in Australia
(Photo by Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images)

Good morning.

Victoria recorded 80 new cases of COVID-19 today. 41 people were not in isolation for their entire infectious period. Victorian health authorities identified a number of new COVID-19 exposure sites late last night, including several in regional Victoria as the crisis in Shepparton deepens.

There were a record 919 daily coronavirus cases reported in NSW yesterday. That’s the highest daily number recorded anywhere in Australia since the beginning of the pandemic. The state recorded 130,784 vaccinations yesterday. Having crossed the six million first dose threshold, NSW is now entitled to its special treat (or “additional freedoms”) the nature of which has not yet been revealed.

The Transport Workers Union (TWU) is looking at bringing its fight to Linfox and its subsidiary Bevchain as it escalates threats of industrial action against logistics companies. The Union filed applications with the Fair Work Commission (FWC) on Wednesday, with a strike against Toll already scheduled for Friday. If the new applications are successful, it would open the door for as many as 15,000 truck drivers to walk off the job in the coming weeks, potentially shutting down food and fuel supply chains.

As daily coronavirus case numbers reach record levels in New South Wales, Australian supermarkets say they are prepared to stay open. COVID-19 exposure has rattled stores across the nation, forcing countless workers into self-isolation and disrupting operations. But separated shifts, additional break rooms, and targeted department closures will keep stores operating, according to Coles, Woolworths, and ALDI Australia.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced an expansion of the federal loan scheme that will make it easier for small businesses impacted by lockdowns to access government support. The scheme will no longer require businesses to have received JobKeeper payments earlier in the year. Businesses will have access to loans of up to $5 million, and allow for a repayment holiday of up to two years.

Frydenberg also launched a new public plea for states and territories to uphold the road map out of COVID-19 lockdowns. Some state and territory leaders have expressed their reservations to the plan, which could see limited financial support for locked-down regions once vaccine thresholds are met. Prime Minister Scott Morrison also tried to sweeten the deal, saying the plan could see interstate travel return by Christmas.

A key measure of Afterpay’s earnings fell due to higher marketing costs and investment, the company announced. It reported earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) were $38.7 million, down 13%, and a loss of $159.4 million. It comes as Afterpay prepares for further international expansion and its planned merger with Square.

In Afterpay’s earnings announcement was another tidbit: long-term, the company wants to distribute mortgages. That doesn’t mean it would build its own financial products per se, co-founder Anthony Eisen said, but it would act as a “conduit” to other financial products. The company’s planned banking app with Westpac, Afterpay Money, is expected to act as a paid referrer to other financial products too. Kind of like a financial middleman for Gen Z.

Approximately 10,000 people remain at Kabul’s airport in Afghanistan awaiting evacuation. US Army Major General Hank Taylor said 19,000 people were evacuated from the airport on Tuesday. Taylor said a flight left Kabul with evacuees every 39 minutes. The Nine papers report Afghans with Australian visas are being turned away at the ‘diabolical’ Kabul airport.

Popular creator platform OnlyFans – which is largely used for porn – is reversing its recent decision to ban it. It had planned to prohibit sexually explicit content starting October 1, prompting user backlash. It said Wednesday that it “will continue to provide a home for all creators,” claiming that it has come to an agreement with its payment and banking partners.

BONUS ITEM

If you were wondering how the airline Delta is handling the public relations implications of their brand being associated with a deadly coronavirus variant, you have your answer. From our friends in the US: “Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian still isn’t referring to the latest coronavirus variant as “Delta.” Instead, he uses the scientific name, B.1.617.2. He’s also said Delta just calls it ‘the variant.'”