10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

It’s Friday! We’re just about ready to stop reading depressing world news on our work computers, and start reading depressing world news on our leisure computers. That’s how things work now.

1. More than 450,000 Australians have been approved to access their super early, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has confirmed. They withdrew on average about $8,300 of their retirement savings, draining billions from the system in just days. Meanwhile, 6.8 million people had received the JobSeeker Allowance, and 275,000 businesses have formally applied for the JobKeeper wage subsidy.

2. But there may be some roadblocks there. The AFR reports that a series of “technical hiccups” are preventing some of Australia’s biggest super funds from releasing these early payments to their members. According to the report, the ATO did not deliver the required data on time, or did so in an incomplete manner.

3. The tide looks like it is turning on Australian property prices. Weekly capital city price growth has turned negative for the first time since August, while the rolling 28-day average has fallen from 1.1% to 0.4% heading into the back end of April. But analysts are scratching their heads over why they haven’t dropped faster and sooner, considering, you know, everything going on. CoreLogic analyst Eliza Owen said it “seems hard to digest that property values have not plummeted” given the state of the market in a note issued to Business Insider Australia.

4. New laws will be passed to cover privacy fears about the upcoming coronavirus tracing app after experts and the opposition raised concerns police could get access to the data. As we all know, when Australian police see the possibility for new surveillance capabilities, they generally tend to take it. The SMH reports the legislation will be introduced in May.

5. A group of Australian manufacturing businesses have banded together to make ventilators for the fight against the coronavirus. The group is led by Victorian-based company Grey Innovation, which secured $31.1 million from the federal government to make 2,000 ventilators. The consortium includes engineering and manufacturing businesses across Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia such as Bosch Australia and New Zealand, ANCA, Braemac, Hosico, Marand and Planet Innovation.

6. Dan Murphy’s and BWS are stocking almost 2,000 new products from Aussie breweries and distilleries, which are struggling through coronavirus shutdowns. So, if you’re in the market for some wanky artisanal spirits but fear straying further than your local booze barn, you may be in luck. “It’s unquestionably a fantastic initiative [to] support smaller artisanal producers like ourselves,” one managing director of a craft distillery told us.

7. Appliance and electronics lender Radio Rentals will permanently close all of its 62 stores and make 300 staff redundant, blaming the coronavirus. We’ve seen retail casualties of COVID-19, but this may well be the first that has actually closed permanently amid the pandemic. It will remain as an online-only business.

8. Myer is keeping its stores closed until at least May 11. The beleaguered department store chain adjusted the shutdown dates in line with Scott Morrison’s announcement that the current level of social distancing measures will continue for at least four weeks. Initially, Myer had planned to reopen on April 27.

9. Italy’s lockdowns reduced the transmission of the coronavirus by 45%, a new study found. The researchers determined that Italy avoided 200,000 hospitalisations from February 21 to March 25 by restricting movement through the country. But, the report argues, cases could easily spike again if the lockdown is lifted too soon.

10. The chances of finding a coronavirus vaccine or treatment this year are ‘incredibly small’ according to the UK’s top medical adviser. Professor Chris Whitty said many of the existing social distancing rules would need to remain in place instead. The chief executive of the pharmaceutical giant Roche told reporters this week that scientists would be unlikely to find a vaccine before the end of 2021.


We surveyed 10,000 readers across Pedestrian Group – which covers Business Insider Austalia, but also Pedestrian.TV, Gizmodo, Kotaku, Lifehacker and PopSugar – about how the coronavirus has affected the ways they live and work. 19% of those surveyed said they had lost their job as a direct consequence of the virus and the associated shutdowns.