10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

Morning all.

The NSW government has outlined major changes to COVID-19 rules for when it hits its 95% double vaccination target. At that threshold or on December 15 — whichever comes first — masks will only be required on public transport and planes, at airports, and for indoors front-of-house hospitality staff who are not fully vaccinated. QR codes and check-ins will only be used in “high-risk” settings.

More than 100 Australian soldiers and police officers will be sent to the Solomon Islands to quell unrest in its capital. The unrest has been triggered by disputes over the country’s leadership and a diplomatic switch from Taiwan to China. Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare requested Australia send help to bring the riots under control, under the terms of a 2017 agreement.

RMIT has reached an agreement with the NTEU to back pay thousands of casual staff $10 million as far back as July 2014. The university was found to be paying casual staff a standard rate for marking student work, when they should have been earning between $10 and $20 more an hour. The National Tertiary Education Union said that, even though it had reached a settlement with RMIT, the university deserves no praise as it continues to drag its heels on other conditions of the deal.

Australia’s third-quarter construction results show Victoria’s activity outpaced the rest of the nation. More than $15 billion worth of work was conducted between July and September, despite reduced capacities and protest disruptions. The strength of the sector may have contributed to the swift national recovery, economists say.

The AFR has put out a list of Australia’s highest paid CEOs. Macquarie Group CEO Shemara Wikramanayake took back the prize of the country’s highest-paid CEO, with total reported pay of $15.97 million. Kogan boss Ruslan Kogan scored last year’s biggest pay rise, an increase of $8.4 million.

The Commonwealth Bank said more customers who used buy now, pay later loans in the last financial year overdrew their accounts compared with those who did not use these services. The evidence was given as part of an ongoing parliamentary inquiry into whether tighter regulation of the sector is needed. “The lack of credit checks by some BNPL providers have resulted in a higher proportion of customers who find themselves in arrears and financial hardship,” CBA told the inquiry.

One more on CBA. Australian crypto and fintech executives were left puzzled when the bank announced a partnership with US crypto exchange Gemini after years of denying its banking services to local players. Among them was Independent Reserve CEO Adrian Przelozny, who was shocked the bank didn’t broker a deal locally. Still, local executives say the deal offers hope for an expanded risk appetite among Australia’s major banks, who have long shunned the local crypto and fintech sectors.

Queensland’s Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast hold the most in-demand suburbs outside of capital cities, according to a new realestate.com.au property report. Growth in “high-intent” buyer demand was highest in New South Wales’ Mid North Coast. The massive interest in Queensland property was driven by the tidal wave of interstate migrants who adopted the Sunshine State through the harsh lockdowns of late 2020 and 2021.

A coronavirus variant with ‘worrying’ number of mutations has been detected in South Africa, Botswana and Hong Kong. Experts are concerned its mutations may help it to avoid antibodies produced by vaccines and treatments. It has been detected 82 times, as of Thursday. For now, it’s being closely monitored. 

Amazon employees in 20 countries are preparing to strike or protest on Black Friday as part of the “Make Amazon Pay” campaign. The campaign includes a coalition of 70 organisations, including Greenpeace, Oxfam and Amazon Workers International. The protests come amid mounting dissent from Amazon employees over working condition and union busting. 

BONUS ITEM

Magdalena Andersson became Sweden’s first female prime minister on Wednesday morning. But she resigned that very same afternoon as her budget didn’t pass and her coalition partner left government. She could still become prime minister again — better luck next time!