10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

KELVIN BOYES/AFP/Getty ImagesMeghan Markle plays with a baby as she greets well-wishers during a visit to Belfast.

Good morning.

1. RBA board member Ian Harper is worried a near-term increase in official interest rates could “spook” Australian households, increasing the risk of a pullback in spending at a time when home prices are falling and wage growth is weak. Harper says the RBA’s latest economic forecasts suggest “a rise in interest rates down the pipe a bit”. Like RBA Governor Philip Lowe, Harper says the next move in official interest rates is likely to be higher.

2. Sydney and Melbourne homeowners are piling their properties onto the market — and prices keep falling. Melbourne’s median home price has fallen 4.6% this year, slightly ahead of Sydney where values have declined 4.4%. In contrast, median prices have actually increased in Brisbane and Adelaide since the beginning of the year. Total property listings across the capitals have risen 10.2%, leaving them at the highest level since late 2012.

3. “It’s okay to be white.” That’s the motion One Nation leader Pauline Hanson put to the Senate yesterday — and the government backed it, including indigenous affairs minister Nigel Scullion. Hanson said: “anyone who pays attention to the news or spends any time on social media has to acknowledge that there has been a rise in anti-white racism and a rise in attacks on the very ideals of Western civilisation”, adding that it was okay to be white. While the motion was narrowly defeated in the Senate, 31 votes to 28, the government is now in damage control.

4. Sears, once the largest retailer in the world, has filed for bankruptcy and plans to close 142 stores across America as CEO Eddie Lampert steps down. Lampert has blamed the company’s decline on the media, shifts in consumer spending, and the rise of e-commerce, among other reasons. But analysts and critics say the collapse is the result of years of underinvestment in stores. More here.

5. The Saudi Arabian government is preparing to a release a report claiming that Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed as a result of a botched interrogation. The government has denied any involvement in his disappearance. Khashoggi went missing after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul earlier this month.

6. British Prime Minister Theresa May has dodged repeated questioning over when the UK will be taken out of “permanent limbo” with the EU. Leading Conservative Brexiteers have piled pressure on May to put a fixed end date on the backstop, meaning Britain could be kept indefinitely within EU customs and trade rules after Brexit. However, May insists she will secure a break-clause from the EU if they fail to agree on new arrangements after Brexit. May is just days away from a crucial summit with EU leaders in which both sides hope for a divorce deal.

7. Peter Brock’s dual Bathurst-winning Commodore is now the country’s most expensive Australian-made car. The HDT VH Commodore, which won back-to-back Bathurst 1000 races in 1982 and 1983, smashed auction records last weekend when it sold for $2.1 million, $500,000 above estimates. The buyer remains anonymous.

8. Another royal baby! Kensington Palace says it’s “very pleased to announce” that Meghan Markle is pregnant and due to give birth next year.

Prince Harry and Markle’s child will be seventh in line for the throne, and will most likely be known as Lord or Lady Mountbatten-Windsor at birth, unless the Queen makes an exception. The soon-to-be parents kick off a 16-day Australian tour in Sydney today.

9. S.O.S. Researchers have uncovered a link between severe weather conditions, such as extreme drought or heat, and the global consumption of beer. Rising global temperatures could hinder the production of barley – the main ingredient in beer. Without enough supply to meet demand, the world could face a 16% decline in global beer consumption, with beer prices skyrocketing across nations.

10. Oops. A technician accidentally triggered an F-16’s cannon and blew up another F-16 in Belgium. The photos say it all:

Picture courtesy Scramble Magazine

BONUS ITEM: Trump has apparently decorated the White House with a fantasy scene of him hanging out with past Republican presidents. Creepy.

Have a great day.

You can get 10 things direct to your inbox each morning by punching your details into the form below.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.