10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

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Hello all. As always, a few COVID-19 updates for you this fine morning.

1. The AstraZeneca shot is now available for all adults, Scott Morrison announced after a meeting of National Cabinet yesterday. A new indemnity scheme will allow GPs to recommend and administer the shot to anyone, opening the doors to under-40s who want to accept the extremely remote risk of blood clots. “If you wish to get the AstraZeneca vaccine, then we would encourage you to go and have that discussion with your GP,” Morrison said. National cabinet also agreed to make it mandatory for aged care workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

2. Perth and Peel have entered a full four-day lockdown after a third COVID-19 case was recorded in the area. South Australia has also unveiled sweeping COVID-19 restrictions on a pre-emptive basis, despite no new cases being detected in the state.

3. There will likely be an announcement of financial support for locked-down NSW businesses within days, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said. “I am hoping to announce that tomorrow or the day after in terms of financial assistance,” Berejiklian said yesterday.

4. NSW recorded 18 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday. Berejiklian and Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant warned that it is likely we will see those numbers bounce around quite a lot over the coming week, and we’ll hopefully see some flattening out thanks to the lockdown from next week.

5. Australia’s major banks have indicated they will support Sydney businesses with deferred loan repayments and waived fees as the city heads into a two-week lockdown. Westpac, National Australia Bank, Commonwealth Bank and ANZ have publicly stated they are open to support packages based on customer circumstances rather than blanket payment deferrals.

6. A $660 million Morrison government fund for commuter car parks has been slammed for failing to deliver value for money. The approach to selecting projects was not appropriate, a review by the Australian National Audit Office found. 77% of the commuter car park sites selected were in Coalition-held electorates.

7. Foreign nationals bought up more than $55.8 billion worth of Australian property during the last financial year, down 33% as the pandemic shut our borders. The Foreign Investment Board’s annual report shows property approvals were down again, having almost halved in the space of just four years. The report shows Chinese investment was up 16% over the same period, while Queensland is quickly becoming a “top destination” for foreign investment.

8. A smaller Australian population due to COVID-19 will hurt the economy for decades to come, the government’s new Intergenerational Report has warned. Unveiling national projections until 2060, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg revealed Australia faces an economic slowdown as it becomes an older and smaller nation, compared to previous outlooks. Careful management of future migration will be “key” to battling that fate, Frydenberg said on Monday.

9. The Federal Opposition accused the Coalition of presenting a narrow view of Australia’s long-term economic future in the report. Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers said current plans to boost Australia’s productivity are sorely lacking. Industry organisations and research advocacy groups have called for further investment to drive innovation and hopefully lift productivity levels.

10. Some interesting data from overseas. The UK has recorded a total of 117 deaths in people with the Delta coronavirus variant. Fifty were among people who’d taken two doses of vaccines — a reminder that the shots are imperfect. But no fully vaccinated people under 50 died, and the overall death rate was 0.13%.

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