10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

Good morning, and TGIF.

All Australian Omicron cases so far are “asymptomatic or very mild”, Health Minister Greg Hunt said, displaying a bit of optimism. He told “Sunrise” that, while the variant could be more transmissible, vaccines still provide “very good” protection. “Paul Kelly, the Chief Medical Officer of Australia, is cautious but cautiously optimistic,” he said.

Victoria’s new pandemic laws have passed the state’s upper house. The laws passed in the upper house 20 votes to 18 with the support of four crossbenchers. This means the Chief Health Officer will no longer have the power to declare a pandemic and issue health orders, which will instead be declared by the Premier and Health Minister.

Alan Tudge has stepped down as federal education minister pending a review of his conduct. Former staffer Rachelle Miller alleged she was in an emotionally and on one occasion physically abusive relationship with him. Previously, Tudge admitted the two had an affair, which led to the end of his marriage. “I wish to stress that this action in no way seeks to draw a conclusion on these matters,” Scott Morrison said. “But this is the appropriate action for me to take under the ministerial standards.”

Australia’s economy will likely grow 4.1% next year, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development says. The removal of COVID-19 restrictions and household savings will help power that recovery, the organisation added. The figures build on better-than-expected national accounts data for September.

Queensland’s transition to net zero could see 1 million new jobs added to the economy by 2050, modelling shows. It suggests 81% of the tasks performed in QLD’s carbon-heavy workforce will see demand in the clean economy. Climate Council economist Nicki Hutley said early investment in training and education will be crucial.

Airtasker’s annual consumer trends report reveals the highest-paid and most in-demand skills on the platform. The top rankings are dominated by home improvement services. Combined with previous insights, it suggests demand for gig workers has broadened since the start of the pandemic. The company’s growth has accelerated this year with a listing on the ASX and an announcement of expansion into the US market. 

The federal government should design and run a pilot scheme which labels the expected lifespan of consumer goods, according to the Productivity Commission. It’s one of the key findings of a new report on the “right to repair”. The report listed a suite of measures designed to boost consumer protections beyond current levels.

The Australian crypto industry is unsurprisingly bullish heading into the new year, after months of market buzz. Speaking to Business Insider Australia, some corners of the industry praised the Senate’s efforts to draw attention to the sector’s “enormous potential”, while others pointed to its day-to-day utility. Now, all eyes have turned to who will be the first to secure the market’s first crypto spot ETF.

Germany announced a lockdown for people not vaccinated against COVID-19 on Thursday. Unvaccinated people will be banned from restaurants and bars, movie theaters, gyms, non-essential shops, and Christmas markets. Outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel made the announcement alongside her successor, Olaf Scholz.

Some updates from the Ghislaine Maxwell trial in the US. Jeffrey Epstein’s butler testified that Maxwell gave him an instructional booklet that told him to “see nothing” when guests came. He testified at the child-sex-trafficking trial that he took the instruction as a warning.