10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

Morning all.

As predicted, Victoria has reached its 80% first dose vaccination target. Some outdoor recreational activities, like golf, may now resume. The 10km travel radius has been extended to 15km. Victoria recorded a record 867 cases yesterday, which was more than NSW.

NSW reported 863 new cases yesterday. It comes as it is revealed NSW healthcare workers will be placed on unpaid leave if they do not receive a jab by tomorrow’s deadline. (Around 94% of NSW Health workers have received at least one jab.) Several regional areas around Port Macquarie went into a one-week lockdown as of last night.

Meanwhile, NSW has struck a plan to slash the state’s emissions in half by 2030. NSW agreed to a goal of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 back in 2016 and 18 months ago set a target of reducing emissions by 35% by 2030. The new deal, which bumps the latter figure to 50%, was agreed on by NSW Nationals leader John Barilaro, putting him at odds with his national counterparts. NSW Energy Minister Matt Kean says the federal government has not been ambitious enough in setting emissions reductions targets.

Four cases were reported in Queensland yesterday. Dozens of Brisbane exposure sites, including a Woolworths and McDonald’s, have been added. Mask-wearing rules are back. Health authorities in the state say the next 48 hours will be crucial in containing an outbreak.

The federal government is signalling the end of COVID-19 emergency payments. Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg did the breakfast TV circuit this morning, saying that the disaster payment will be scrapped at 80% vaccination and people will have to rely on the ordinary welfare system. Many are commenting that this looks like a way of wedging states that want to carve their own reopening plan away from the national plan.

Woolworths is expanding access to its online marketplace, part of its strategy to expand and diversify its online presence. The marketplace supports third-party sellers similar to Amazon’s e-commerce model and allows the supermarket to take a cut of sales. It follows an e-commerce boom which has seen Woolworths’ online sales skyrocket 58% in 2021.

Newly released data reveals locked-down Australians in Sydney and Melbourne have reverted to old habits over the past three months. Spikes in spending on food delivery, electronics and gambling seen in 2020 have returned. The data shows that a surge in spending on food delivery continued even between the country’s two extended lockdowns. 

Australia Post is pausing Melbourne parcels for five days. It told business customers late on Tuesday that parcel pickups, collections and business lodgements would be paused in Melbourne due to COVID-19 backlogs, the AFR reports this morning.

The consumer protection watchdog says the country’s existing competition laws alone are not sufficient to address competition issues caused by Google’s dominance in the space. A report showed more than 90% of ad impressions touched a Google service in 2020. The ACCC has called for a raft of new rules to manage conflicts of interest and increase transparency in the space.

Amazon announced a number of new products overnight. They include a home robot, named Astro, which comes equipped with cameras, microphones, and a screen. The robot will cost $US1,000 to start and is available by invitation only. It also includes this extremely menacing device:

A story you may have seen over the past few days. Panic-buying has caused petrol stations across the UK to run dry amid a supply crisis. A shortage of truck drivers to deliver fuel has sparked the shortage at the pumps. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is considering sending in the army to help deliver petrol. Now, more than 35 soccer matches in the have been postponed over the country’s fuel crisis, as players struggle to actually get to there.

BONUS ITEM

The 2Africa subsea internet cable is to be extended by around 8,000 kilometers, Facebook said Tuesday. This would make 2Africa the world’s longest subsea communications cable, at more than 45,000km. If completed, it will run from Europe, around Africa, to the Arabian Gulf, India, and Pakistan.