10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

Good morning all.

The end of the Melbourne lockdown is close. From midnight tonight, stay-at-home restrictions and the nightly curfew will be scrapped. Pubs and restaurants will reopen to a maximum of 20 fully vaccinated people indoors. Hairdressers and salons will be able to reopen with a maximum of five customers at a time. A staggered return to school is now beginning.

All adults in NSW will receive a $50 “Stay and Rediscover” voucher next year to encourage travel spending. It’s part of a $500 million plan from NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet to “drive tourism opportunities right across the state”. The NSW government will also fund a $96 million facility to develop mRNA and RNA drugs and vaccines.

Former NSW Premier Mike Baird told ICAC yesterday that Gladys Berejiklian should have disclosed her relationship with now-disgraced MP Daryl Maguire. “Executing public function in the context of potential private interest, I think in terms of good practice it should be disclosed,” he said. Also from ICAC, this quite remarkable email:

Major airlines Qantas and Virgin Australia have reported an explosion in bookings since Victoria and Queensland announced plans to reopen their borders earlier this week. A Virgin Australia spokesperson said almost 50% of these bookings were for travel in December and January. It comes as negotiations around resuming international travel are finalised, with the expectation it will resume by mid-December.

The OECD has downgraded Australia’s GDP forecast, as policymakers fail to reckon with economic reform as the nation’s population ages. The announcement follows years-long calls on the Morrison government to move on meaningful economic policy reform. Experts say the Australian economy faces the possibility of serious volatility over the next 50 years if the federal government fails to introduce serious tax reform and decarbonisation efforts.

The pandemic has transformed the workplace forever, as organisations that had previously committed to expansive office space pivot to remote-first work policies. Experts say working trends precipitated by the pandemic may be slow to wind back. “That is evolving the way we think about our real estate strategy,” Ben Dawson, Cisco’s ANZ vice president said.

The Commonwealth Bank will roll out new touchscreen “smart terminals” to merchants from next weekThe terminals will run on the Android operating system, and come fitted with a suite of business apps. CBA says that its app marketplace will soon be open to third-party developers, and could soon host alternative payment methods, like buy now, pay later providers Afterpay and Zip. 

A Senate committee has handed down a report advocating for an ambitious plan to regulate the crypto economy. The bipartisan proposals sets out a whole new set of rules pertaining to regulation and taxation which would theoretically make Australia more inviting for crypto investors and developers, while also providing guardrails and protections for local consumers.

Also from the world of crypto: a bitcoin ETF has launched in the US, sending the price of the token higher. The ETF, which gains exposure to bitcoin via futures contracts rather than owning it outright, saw more than 24 million shares trade hands in its trading debut on Tuesday. Bitcoin climbed as much as 3.8% to a record high of $AU88,943 on Wednesday.

Facebook is planning to rebrand the company with a new name, according to reports. The new name will aim to recast Facebook’s focus on becoming a “metaverse company” rather than a social media company by rebranding its main app as one of many under a singular parent company, according to The Verge. Facebook could unveil the new name within the week. Social media, as you’d expect, has plenty of suggestions.

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Quite a remarkable story, this.