10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

Good morning.

1. Australian employers will be given at least $1.2 billion to hire 70,000 apprentices in the next year. The Morrison government hopes the uncapped job-creation plan will avoid a youth unemployment crisis as Australia exits the pandemic. As many as 100,000 apprentices have been employed through the existing wage subsidy scheme.

2. Former Liberal deputy leader Julie Bishop backed an inquest into the death of the woman who accused federal Attorney-General Christian Porter of raping her in 1988 on last night’s “7.30”. “It’s within the criminal system, there are checks and balances, there are statutory powers, it has legal standing and so that is the next step and I understand from media reporting that that’s what the family would welcome,” Bishop said. Last night’s “4 Corners” also followed the Porter story, speaking to friends of the deceased woman.

3. 26.2% of Australian property belongs exclusively to women, compared with 29.9% owned by men, according to the new report ‘Women and Property: State of Play’. Areas with more expensive housing have higher rates of female property ownership, in contrast to men, who have a higher rate of ownership in less-expensive areas. The Eastern Suburbs of Sydney have the highest proportion of properties owned by women — higher than men, in fact. Women own 34.8%, versus 31.7% exclusively owned by men.

4. New Zealand investment platform Sharesies is planning to launch in Australia and the Australian securities exchange (ASX) in the coming months. Offering a low-cost sliding commission structure to trade companies listed in New Zealand, the United States and soon Australia, the platform is geared towards making investing more affordable and accessible regardless of cashflow. “We’ve made sure that the minimum investment barrier is completely removed so you can literally start investing with one cent,” co-founder and co-CEO Brooke Roberts told Business Insider Australia.

5. Australia’s 50 wealthiest women were revealed by the AFR’s Rich List editors for International Women’s Day yesterday. While old money in the form of mining magnates Gina Rinehart and Angela Bennett continue to dominate the rankings, there are also a host of new contenders. From the founders of Mecca and Cotton On to tech entrepreneurs, this is who made the list.

6. In the week since Facebook took news content back online, total sessions browsing current affairs and news online remain 7% lower than they were before the newspocalypse, according to Nielsen. The average total time spent daily on sites in the Current Events & Global News category dropped to 65 million minutes during the ban — compared to 79 million minutes before the ban.

7. The US Center for Disease Control released its first guidance for fully vaccinated people on Monday. Fully vaccinated people can visit unvaccinated family members from a single household indoors, provided no one who’s unvaccinated is “at risk of severe COVID-19.” Hugging is also okay – putting to bed some fears that public health authorities are going to insist on draconian health measures even after vaccination.

8. Obviously the ~big story~ from yesterday was Oprah’s interview with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, watched by many millions around the globe. If you don’t have time to sort through the bombshells yourself, here’s our wrap courtesy of Insider.

9. Pfizer’s and Moderna’s shots were at least 10 times less effective against the South African coronavirus variant in a new study. The percentage of protective antibodies that neutralised the variant – called B.1.351 – was 12.4 times lower for Moderna’s COVID-19 shot than against the original coronavirus, and 10.3 times lower for Pfizer’s, the study authors said. This was a bigger drop than in previous lab studies testing the vaccines against manufactured forms of the variant, they said.

10. A top WHO scientist said the theory that the coronavirus came from a lab is “extremely unlikely.” But, Dr. Peter Ben Embarek said, a lab-accident theory is “definitely not off the table.” On February 11, after a WHO mission completed a four-week trip to China to investigate the origins of the coronavirus, WHO director general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had said: “I want to clarify that all hypotheses remain open and require further study.”

BONUS ITEM

From the wacky world of NFT’s: I bought my own apartment on a virtual version of Earth for about twenty bucks. This morning my Twitter mentions are full of ‘Earth 2’ fans who are annoyed I suggested the whole enterprise was mere speculative investing.