10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

(Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)


1. Turkey has launched military action against the Kurds in Syria, days after Trump announced US forces would be leaving the region. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan described Operation Peace Spring in a tweeted statement as “a mission against against PKK/YPG and Daesh terrorists in northern Syria.” Trump’s earlier decision has been widely viewed as a green light for Turkey to move in on the Kurds – and his reasoning, as per this grab from a particularly incoherent Trump presser, might have something to do with Normandy? Hard to say.

2. On the local side of things, Scott Morrison has defended Trump over the above decision to withdraw from Syria. Basically, Morrison says Trump’s decision is more or less in line with his earlier promises to move US troops out of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria. “I think it would be wrong to not draw an element of consistency between those statements almost a year ago and the action the United States has been taking since, including most recently,” the PM said.

3. Well, that’s it then – the European Union says it cannot agree on a Brexit deal with Boris Johnson. The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, told the European Parliament that talks are basically on the verge of collapse. “To put things frankly, at this particular point we are not able to find an agreement,” he said. A friendly reminder the UK is set to leave on the 31st of this very month.

4.Keep an eye out for the new $20 note, which entered circulation yesterday. The Reserve Bank announced the release of the new note with a slightly awkward video of RBA governor Philip Lowe buying a bag of bananas from a street vendor. Probably could have managed it with a tenner, to be honest. Every Australian banknote save for the $100 has now moved onto the new design.

5. Falling interest rates are spooking Aussies, sending consumer confidence plummeting to the lowest point since 2015. “Consumer sentiment has fallen after each rate cut by the RBA and the reaction has been larger after each subsequent rate reduction,” Commonwealth Bank senior economist Belinda Allen said. Of course, slashing the interest rate is hypothetically supposed to encourage spending. Oh well.

6. Analysts are warning a massive housing bubble could form in Australia if the RBA pulls the trigger on negative interest rates and quantitative easing. I could forgive you for thinking there was already a massive housing bubble in Australia anyway, but that’s neither here nor there. The risk here is money from QE would flow right back into the housing market, buoyed by negative interest rates. It’s not a totally theoretical situation: The RBA has flagged that unconventional tools are very much on the table.

7. Netflix is releasing several of its upcoming original films in Aussie cinemas, including the latest Scorsese joint. The streaming company has explored cinematic releases in the United States before – usually to meet eligibility criteria for awards – but it’s an interesting move in the local market. There’s absolutely no doubt you should see a Scorsese movie on the big screen, but maybe you’d rather enjoy its 3-and-a-half hour runtime in bite-size chunks from your couch.

8. Gaming giant Blizzard is now facing calls for boycott and possible legislative action after it punished an esports player who praised the Hong Kong protests. Blizzard’s decision to strip Chung Ng Wai of his prize money has faced intense criticism, and accusations that the company kowtows to China in order to preserve its bottom line. In a blog post, Blizzard says it “[stands] by one’s right to express individual thoughts and opinions,” but deemed the comments harmful to the company.

9. Facebook’s cryptocurrency experiment Libra is facing another challenge, after several US lawmakers challenged Visa and MasterCard to pull out of the project. PayPal already pulled out of the ostensibly independent Libra Association last week. Two Senate Democrats wrote to the credit card companies to say Libra threatens the stability of the world financial system.

10. Hungry Jack’s launched its plant-based Whopper this week, representing the latest move by brands toward meat substitutes. CEO Chris Green told us the Rebel Whopper took nearly 60 iterations to get right, and they intend to explore plant-based alternatives for other products on their roster too – including, perhaps, chicken nuggets. It’s a brave new world out there, gang.

We’re not usually in the business of sharing celebrity gossip here – not that we’re above it or anything, it’s just not in the remit – but you should absolutely get across the insane beef between UK football WAGs Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy. Largely because it all centres around a particularly ingenious Instagram sting.

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