10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

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

Morning folks. Happy Thursday.

Melbourne’s lockdown will be extended until 70% of the state’s population has received at least one jab, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has announced. That’s expected to happen on or around September 23. Premier Daniel Andrews however announced that playgrounds can reopen on Friday for children under 12, and in-home care will be allowed if both parents are authorised workers.

The state recorded 176 new cases of COVID-19 today. This is Victoria’s highest daily total this year. “We’ve thrown everything at this, but it’s now clear to us that we are not going to drive these numbers down — they are instead going to increase,” Daniel Andrews said earlier in the week. Some epidemiologists quoted in the Nine papers predict numbers will continue to increase in the coming weeks, potentially reaching 2000.

There were 1116 new, locally acquired cases of COVID-19 reported in NSW yesterday. It looks like the state will have 70% of eligible adults hit that first vax jab landmark today, which is great news. In less good news: admissions to NSW hospitals for COVID-19 jumped 42% in one week, with 1400 healthcare workers in isolation.

Queensland continues to put pressure on the national reopening plan. Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is pushing for under-12s be included in calculations around easing restrictions, and demanding research on the effect of COVID-19 on that group be conducted and released. “I want to know what will happen to the children of this state,” she said. “It is a fundamental question. It is omitted from any modelling or plan, and every single Queenslander must be included in that plan.”

Australia’s economy grew 0.7% in the June quarter, official figures show. It sees the country sidestep its second recession in two years — but only for now, with the economy expected to contract in the September and possibly the December quarter. Either way, a recovery isn’t expected until 2022, with economists saying the country is in the ‘eye of the storm’.

National house prices rose 1.5% in August, according to CoreLogic, despite lockdowns in two of the country’s largest markets. It marks the highest annual growth rate since 1989. Commonwealth Bank economist Gareth Aird says the market is now “largely divorced” from the Australian economy. But there does seem to be some slowing happening, and Darwin’s market actually went backwards.

The Gerry Harvey JobKeeper debacle had another farcical expression. He hung up on ABC radio host Raf Epstein this week after being questioned on why Harvey Norman was returning JobKeeper after he’d been so stringently against it. “I’m not talking about JobKeeper. There’s two subjects I don’t want to talk about to anyone — one’s the pandemic, ‘cause everyone’s got a point of view on it, and two is JobKeeper, which everyone’s got a point of view on,” he said before nixing the call. Harsh.

Demand for freelancers has skyrocketed since the start of the pandemic, according to gig economy marketplace Airtasker. Faced with uncertainty in the job market, the pandemic has led many Australians to strike out on their own, with some seeing financial benefits. Several people who went freelance during COVID-19 spoke to Business Insider Australia about their experience.

For a bit of global perspective on the mandatory vaccination debate: half of US companies are planning to require workers get a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of 2021. Willis Towers Watson polled 961 US companies that employ a total of around 9.7 million people. Apple, Goldman Sachs, and Uber are requiring some or all employees get a COVID-19 vaccine.

Apple blocked employees from forming a Slack channel to talk about pay equity, according to a report. It’s the latest news suggesting that Apple is relentlessly focused on preventing workers from discussing their pay. The company cracked down on previous employee-led efforts to collect information on how much people make.

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