10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

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Greetings folks. It’s Monday. Let’s do it.

1. Victoria is now under a snap five-day lockdown, as was announced on Friday. Calls are intensifying to extend JobKeeper, which is due to end in March, thanks to the lockdown.

2. The Australian Medical Association has taken aim at Victoria’s hotel quarantine system. “It is really frustrating that some of the clinical expertise and the hundreds of hours that a multidisciplinary team has put in, in terms of healthcare worker infection prevention, to come up with some excellent recommendations … have not been listened to and have not been implemented,” the AMA’s Sarah Whitelaw told Nine’s Today this morning.

3. Further to that, health experts are calling on the federal government to build regional quarantine stations, The Age reports. The calls come as the Holiday Inn hotel quarantine coronavirus cluster, which spurred the lockdown, continues to grow. Only one new case was reported today.

4. Though Scott Morrison – maybe sensing a general support for lockdowns, and smarting from the LNP loss in Queensland – has avoided direct critique of Victoria, his top lieutenant has no such compunctions. Also speaking on Today, Josh Frydenberg lavished praise on the NSW system in comparison to his home state. “It comes down to contact testing, contact tracing, having a very good system in place and no doubt Victoria has made improvements after the devastating second wave, but NSW is the gold standard because they haven’t had a [second] statewide lockdown,” he said.

5. Crown Resorts CEO Ken Barton has stepped down following last week’s scathing report into the gambling titan. Helen Coonan will lead the company as executive chairman while the board looks for a new CEO. “I am absolutely certain the business is now on the right path as it works to restore confidence in its operations,” Barton said in a statement.

6. The news media bargaining code story continues apace. Google and Facebook may not be required to pay media companies for articles that appear on their services if they can convince major players like News Corp and Nine to sign up to their paid news products – giving the tech giants a possible out of the code.

7. The Australian eSafety Commissioner will be able to compel international companies to delete accounts and their content if they are used to share explicit fetish content under a new law, a spokesperson confirms. This is one of the new powers under the Government’s proposed Online Safety Act which is meant to protect Australians from cyberbullying, terrorist material and image-based abuse. The local adult industry is questioning why the powers exist if – as the eSafety Commissioner’s office claims – they are not intended to be used against those in the industry producing fetish content.

8. The US Senate acquitted Donald Trump after an impeachment trial over the Capitol siege, surprising no one. Trump was charged with incitement of insurrection related to the deadly event on January 6. All 50 Democrats and seven Republicans voted to convict Trump, while 43 Republicans voted to acquit. That did not meet the two-thirds threshold required to convict.

9. The coronavirus variant that originated in the United Kingdom is likely deadlier than the original strain, according to a new assessment released on Friday by British government scientists. In the report, which evaluated multiple studies, the scientists estimated that the strain, known as B.1.1.7, could be 30% to 70% deadlier than the original virus. This variant is the one Victoria has locked down over.

10. Bitcoin is nearing the $US50,000 milestone, peaking at $US49,716.44 on Sunday morning. After a $US1.5 billion investment from Tesla was disclosed last week, Bitcoin surged 16%. Bitcoin was trading at $US48,344.62 as of 10:30am ET on Sunday.

BONUS ITEM

Interesting bit of analysis from the US on the GameStop saga, best highlighted by the headline: “Reddit day traders wanted to beat Wall Street to prove the system is rigged. Instead, they did it by losing.”

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