10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

Photo by Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images

Good morning and TGIF.

1. First, the numbers. Victoria recorded 723 new coronavirus cases and 13 deaths on Thursday – the highest single-day figures since the start of the pandemic. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed that many of these cases are linked to aged care, but also warned that workplaces were significant sites of transmission. Masks will be mandatory while outdoors across the whole state from 11:59pm on Sunday.

2. NSW recorded 19 new cases on Thursday and closed several schools due to positive COVID-19 tests. A number of venues in multiple suburbs have been added to public health alerts, as per the below tweet. (As an aside, 2:15pm to 11pm at Harpoon Harry’s is a marathon drinking session, but I digress.)

3. The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) told a Senate Committee it has commenced a ‘pilot’ program to audit early super withdrawal applications. Acknowledging the program ran on the basis that most Australians are honest, Second Commissioner Client Engagement Jeremy Hirschhorn acknowledged the tax office had identified that there had been exceptions. “We have information from other sources, for example, single touch payroll data, which suggests that people did not meet the criteria,” he said. We’ve been reporting on this situation pretty closely – and, yes, there are quite a few people who didn’t meet the criteria.

4. It was announced earlier this week that first home buyers in NSW will be exempted from stamp duty for 12 months. Here’s how it will affect the market. The changes could see surging demand and properties begin to cluster around the $800,000 cutoff price, among other consequences.

5. More Australian workers could soon find themselves with two weeks of pandemic leave. The Morrison government confirmed it is considering the usefulness of the policy as the number of confirmed cases in Victoria continues to climb. After the Fair Work Commission (FWC) guaranteed pandemic to aged care workers, it could be extended to more Victorian workers, those in high-risk sectors, or offered to workers more broadly.

6. The Australian competition regulator will consider allowing Rex airlines to continue coordinating with Qantas and Virgin on 10 regional flight routes. At present, the airlines are coordinating on schedules and revenue sharing arrangements on certain regional routes. Under the proposed authorisation, the ACCC will allow the airlines to coordinate on flight routes until June 30, 2021.

7. The Big Four tech companies — Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google, worth $5 trillion combined — just crushed their earnings reports. For example, Facebook beat Wall Street estimates for daily active users and reported double-digit revenue growth year-over-year, sending its stock soaring 8% in after-hours trading. Amazon also blew past Wall Street estimates, with $US88.9 billion in sales last quarter, but fell short on growth with Amazon Web Services.

8. Apple said it expects supply of its next iPhone to be available “a few weeks later” compared to last year’s iPhone launch. The comments come as reports have suggested the next-generation iPhone may be delayed because of supply chain issues stemming from the coronavirus pandemic. Apple reported growth across all product segments, including the iPhone, in its fiscal third-quarter earnings report.

9. Former US Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain has died after being hospitalised with the coronavirus. Cain ran for president most prominently in 2012, when he was best known for his 9-9-9 tax plan. He tested positive for the novel coronavirus earlier this month, 11 days after attending President Donald Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He tweeted a photo of himself at the rally in which neither he nor those around him wore masks.

10. TikTok has announced a $US300 million creative fund in Europe. It mirrors a fund announced for the US on July 23. The company has not yet said who can apply for the fund, which is designed to help creators make money from the platform. Currently, creators can only make money on TikTok from brand deals or donations. The news comes after a report said Instagram Reels, an upcoming Facebook-backed competitor, was offering TikTok’s biggest names hundreds of thousands of dollars to defect.

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