10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

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Good morning, folks.

1. Victorians will be able to host 30 people for Christmas and from today no longer have to wear masks whenever they leave home. Masks are still required in indoor settings. “We will begin a slow, steady and safe return to work for those who have been working from home,” said Premier Daniel Andrews. “That is to say 25 per cent of staff will be able to be in the office, and it is mainly offices, 75 per cent will still need to work from home and we will make further announcements over the course of the coming weeks and months.” There have been 20 days of zero cases in Victoria.

2. Findings from the government’s Retirement Income Review have stirred up debate after opening the door for another freeze of compulsory super. “We hope [this report] will not be used to ask Australians to sacrifice hundreds of thousands in guaranteed retirement savings for a vague promise of a wage increase that history shows will not occur,” Industry Super Australia CEO Bernie Dean said. “For many of our members, on average annual incomes of around $45,000, home ownership is simply not a reality,” Julia Fox, chair of the ACTU’s women’s committee, added.

3. Australian scientists are part of a team that have developed a different way to make diamonds. The team, which includes scientists from the Australian National University and RMIT, found a way to make the type of diamonds used for engagement rings, as well as another type of diamond called Lonsdaleite, by using pressure rather than high temperatures. The discovery has major implications for diamond manufacturing, because traditional processes that require high temperatures are more difficult and expensive.

4. Sydney hedge fund Levitas Capital has collapsed after a cyber attack triggered by a fake Zoom invitation saw its trustee and administrator mistakenly approve $8.7 million in fraudulent invoices, the AFR reports. It’s a pretty wild yarn. “There were so many red flags which should have been spotted,” the company’s co-founder said.

5. After first focusing on the media, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is now taking a close look at how decisions by the major platforms are affecting the development and use of mobile applications. In submissions made to the ACCC, both Google and Apple claim that their app marketplaces have encouraged a vibrant, competitive app ecosystem. But one of their major developers, the Match Group, claims that the tech giants are making it harder to create new and innovative apps for consumers.

6. Apple’s new app program will halve commissions for developers that make $1.3 million or less in gross revenue. It’s no coincidence this is happening while various governments, primarily the US, are sniffing around the company for possible antitrust violations. But the capitulation – while no doubt welcome – is likely a PR move and won’t save the company from that scrutiny.

7. How’s this: you can actually buy furniture from IKEA’s app now. Previously, you could only browse on the platform. The new app lets you search and purchase your items, and either use Click and Collect or have them delivered.

8. In a scathing opinion released over the weekend, a federal judge tossed out a major Trump campaign lawsuit in Pennsylvania seeking to block the certification of the state’s election results. Judge Matthew Brann wrote that the Trump campaign’s lawyers had sought to disenfranchise roughly 7 million voters, while providing no good reason to do so. The Trump campaign’s lawyers argued earlier this week that they wanted Trump to be declared the winner of Pennsylvania and its 20 electoral votes.

9. President Donald Trump is considering a range of ways to make money and advance his political brand when he leaves office in January, sources close to the president told The Washington Post. Facing $400 million debts, Trump is talking about ways to cash-in through selling rally tickets, lucrative speaking gigs and media appearances, according to the report. Though in public Trump has insisted he was the real winner of the election, in private his attention has focused on what he’ll do after leaving the White House.

10. The COVID-19 pandemic has reordered the world’s most expensive cities list, putting Hong Kong, Zurich, and Paris in the top three spots. Singapore and Osaka, which were joint first in 2019, have slid down the rankings to fourth and fifth place respectively, according to the Worldwide Cost of Living (WCOL). Upasana Dutt, the head of the WCOL report, told Business Insider that this year has been “unusual” as COVID-19 has “impacted spending habits all over the world.”


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