10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

Photo by George Pimentel/Getty Images

Hello all.

1. George Calombaris’ restaurant empire has collapsed into voluntary administration. A statement from KordaMentha on Monday afternoon announced 22 businesses within the Made Establishment Group would be affected, with 12 restaurants to cease trading “immediately”. In July, Calombaris was fined $200,000 for underpaying employees $7.8 million. However, KordaMentha’s statement argues other factors than the glaringly obvious contributed to the collapse, including “difficult trading conditions” and the rise of Uber Eats and Deliveroo.

2. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s Hollywood’s night of nights! Well, it was yesterday. The big – and pleasant! – surprise from the Oscars was the utter domination of South Korean film “Parasite”, which took home Best Picture, Best International Film, Best Director and Best Screenplay. (It’s very good, if you haven’t seen it already.) It’s the first ever Best Picture win for a non-English film.

3. One moment at the Oscars could have earth-shattering consequences for businesses and individuals the world over. Kiwi director Taika Waititi, who won Best Adapted Screenplay for “Jojo Rabbit”, used his time in front of the press pack to slam Apple’s new Mac keyboards. “They are impossible to write on, they have gotten worse. It makes me want to go back to PCs,” he said. “We’ve just got to fix those keyboards. The WGA [Writer’s Guild of America] needs to step in and actually do something.” Powerful words.

4. Despite promise, Netflix’s effort to dominate the Oscars didn’t quite pan out. The streaming service landed a whopping 24 nominations, but only managed to score two wins: Laura Dern’s Best Supporting Actress for “Marriage Story”, and Best Documentary Feature for “American Factory”.

5. The Aussie dollar has crashed to an 11-year low on the back of bushfires, the coronavirus, and strong US jobs numbers. “The dampening economic impact of bushfires, drought and coronavirus and what that all means for economic activity” are broadly depressing the Australian dollar, said Richard Grace, head of foreign exchange strategy at Commonwealth Bank. “It’s clear that the economy in China has slowed and in some areas has ground to a halt.” As of this morning, the dollar is trading at US67c, sliding as low as US66.62c on Friday.

6. A report in the Sydney Morning Herald this morning quotes several economists arguing the goverment’s surplus is basically doomed. A former Reserve Bank board member said the surplus plan was already unsustainable because it relied on exceptionally good luck, while the coronavirus and bushfires have punched holes in revenue and are forcing the government to spend big.

7. New research suggests Australians didn’t blow their tax returns last year on conspicuous consumption like the government might have hoped. Of more than 1,000 Australians surveyed by Australian financial website, Money.com.au, one in three simply saved their refund, while more than one in four used it pay general bills. A further 8% made essential purchases like groceries or repairs with it, while a good portion simply paid down debt – 7% paid down their mortgage, 6% their credit card, and 2% a personal loan. In short: it sure doesn’t look like Australians are in a position to spend their way out of our economic slump.

8. Australians lost more than $28.6 million to dating and romance scams in 2019, according to ACCC. I’m not saying you would ever fall for such a thing – just a heads up. More than $7.8 million was lost to online dating sites, followed by Facebook – more than $2 million – and Instagram, at more than $975,000.

9. If you’re not keeping a close eye on the increasingly lively buy now, pay later market in Australia, you probably should be. Yet another player is moving in – Bundll, by Flexigroup. Its pitch is that it works with any Mastercard purchase, including things like groceries and petrol. You ‘bundle’ together a week’s worth of purchases, and make that payment in two weeks time.

10. The number of coronavirus cases among passengers aboard the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship has almost doubled, going from an initially reported 70 to 136 as of Monday. Indian crew members are making public appeals, begging their government to rescue them. The ship is carrying 3,700 passengers and crew members overall.

BONUS ITEM
Fun one from the AFR, especially amid the Calombaris news. A Melbourne astroturf business was ordered by a judge to pay a 19-year-old employee nearly a quarter of a million bucks for underpaying him $8,000. Basically, the judge demanded the fines and penalties also be paid to the plaintiff, as he was the one who brought attention to the issue.

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