10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

Getty: Treasurer Josh Frydenberg. Tracey Nearmy/Getty Images

Hello folks, and a hearty TGIF to you all.

1. Victoria has recorded 14 new cases and eight more deaths. The 14-day average is 25.1 for Melbourne and 0.8 for regional Victoria. NSW announced a single case of COVID-19 yesterday, which was in hotel quarantine, with experts saying it is safe to open the border with regional Victoria.

2. Time for Australians to accrue some more debt, for the economy. The government has said it plans to take a sledgehammer to responsible lending laws, freeing up credit and giving consumers faster access to loans. The changes will reform laws governing mortgages, personal loans, credit cards and payday lending. “Maintaining the free flow of credit through the economy is critical to Australia’s economic recovery plan,” said Josh Frydenberg. Feels like the kind of quote you see with some sinister string music in an American documentary about the Global Financial Crisis, but whatever.

3. The above followed news that the federal government would introduce “the most significant reforms of insolvency law in almost 30 years” in response to the pandemic. The changes will make it easier for owners to restructure their business and cheaper for them to liquidate in case of failure. 240,000 small businesses risk collapse as the country enters a recession.

4. The Federal Court ruled against Qantas’ interpretation of the JobKeeper wage subsidy program on Thursday. The arrangement the airline had been following paid workers less than they should have received, Justice Geoffrey Flick judged. While the decision could mean hundreds of workers are backpaid, the airline called the suggestion “misleading” and is considering appealing.

5. On a lighter Qantas note: interested in buying a 747 bar cart? There are 1,000 carts up for sale, which include champagne, red and white wine and Qantas pyjamas. “These pre-loved carts served Qantas and our customers well during their world travels from London and Los Angeles to Singapore and Santiago, with each one averaging around 2,000 flights,” Qantas Executive Manager of Product and Service, Phil Capps said in a statement. Not sure if this is more or less off-beat than the flights to nowhere. Probably more.

6. Domain has released data revealing how long it is taking the average first home buyer to save a 20% deposit. Timelines differ dramatically between markets, from less than two years to buy a Darwin apartment all the way up to six and a half years for a Sydney house.

7. LinkedIn has revealed its list of the top 10 Australian startups of 2020. It includes neobanks Volt Bank and Xinja, as well as HR software platform Employment Hero. The list is based on criteria including employee growth and jobseeker interest during the pandemic.

8. Amazon made a slew of announcements on Thursday, including a completely redesigned Echo lineup. Among the biggest reveals was the debut of Amazon Luna, a game-streaming service meant to go head-to-head with similar services from Google and Microsoft. Amazon’s Ring unveiled a new miniature drone that can surveil your home when you’re away – very spooky, in my opinion – and its first devices for the car.

9. London could be placed under lockdown if measures which Boris Johnson introduced this week do not prove effective in curbing the rapid rise of coronavirus infections in the capital. Health officials recorded 6,178 new Covid-19 cases across the UK on Wednesday, up by 1,252 on Tuesday’s figures. Scientists who advise the government on their coronavirus response have warned that new measures introduced by Boris Johnson this week will not be enough to contain the virus.

10. App developers including Spotify, Epic Games, and Match Group have banded together to create a non-profit called the Coalition for App Fairness. The coalition is aimed at taking on Apple over its App Store policies, which member developers claim are anti-competitive. Apple has been in a mounting war with various developers over the commission it takes on in-app purchases.

BONUS ITEM

Interesting bit from the new Amazon announcements.