10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

A record number of fires torch the Amazon rainforest. (Photo by Victor Moriyama/Getty Images)

Good morning!

1. The Australian government is set to create a taskforce to stop foreign interference at Australian universities, following fears about Chinese influence. Education minister Dan Tehan is set to announce the new taskforce on Wednesday, The Guardian reported.

2. Brazil rejects a $20 million donation from the G7 to fight the Amazon fires. The Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said in a tweet on Monday that the G7’s intervention to “save” the Amazon made Brazil seem “as if we were a colony or no man’s land.”

3. ‘Sleepwalking’ into the arms of Google and Facebook. In an interview with Business Insider Australia, former Google Australia executive Colin Barnard warned that consumers are playing a key role in making the tech giants so powerful.

4. Uber has overtaken the taxi to become the most preferred mode of private transport in Australia, according to research from Roy Morgan. Australians aged between 18 and 24 are Uber’s largest customer base and are driving the platform’s popularity.

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source Australia, July 2015 – June 2019. Rolling 12-month quarterly figures.

5. Auctions look to be selling at their strongest level in more than two years. According to figures from CoreLogic, nearly 80% of homes are selling nationally, with Sydney and Melbourne property sales are driving the trend.

6. SpaceX’s prototype rocket Starhopper aborted its test flight on Monday, with less than a second left on the countdown. The company’s CEO Elon Musk tweeted that there had been a wiring problem with the engine’s igniters and called it “embarrassing”.

7. US startup Hound Labs aims to make the world’s first marijuana breathalyser. If successful, the technology could help employers and police distinguish between people who’ve used cannabis legally from and those who haven’t.

8. Russia’s Skyfall. President Vladimir Putin says he is building an “unstoppable” nuclear-powered cruise missile, which NATO calls ‘Skyfall’. Here’s why it’s a bad idea.

9. Aussie success story. Australian-founded social media startup Linktree, which allows Instagram users to collate all their online content on a single landing page, has announced it has reached the 3 million user milestone in just three years, partly off the back of support from celebrities like Jamie Oliver, Pharrell Williams and Alicia Keys.

screenshot: @jamieoliver Instagram.

10. Google plummets to third place in the global smart speaker market. The tech giant fell behind Chinese tech firm Baidu and Amazon’s Alexa, according to market research firm Canalys.


Taronga Western Plains Zoo welcomed a baby White Rhino into the world. The little girl is yet to be named:

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