10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

Will Smith as Genie in Aladdin.

Good morning!

1. The Morrison government has suffered a historic loss in Parliament on medical treatment for asylum seekers. Overnight, Labor, the Greens and the crossbench came together to pass the legislation 75 votes to 74. following the defeat, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said “Bill Shorten and Labor do not have the mettle…to do what’s necessary to ensure Australia’s border protection framework can be managed.” Meanwhile, the Opposition leader argued that there was nothing more Australian than to look after sick people in the nation’s care. More here.

2. The Australian dollar rebounded from six-week lows on Tuesday as the rally in the greenback fizzled. Optimism towards a potential trade deal between the US and China, so often seen whenever high-level trade talks are about to resume, was cited as the catalyst. At 8.15am AEDT, the Aussie was up 0.52% to 0.7096.

Investing.comAUD/USD Daily Chart.

3. Here we go again. US President Donald Trump has already soured on border-security deal reached by the bicameral, bipartisan conference committee. “I can’t say I’m happy,” the president said. And while dismissed the notion that another shutdown was on the horizon, he said if such a thing were to occur, it would be Democrats’ fault, not his.

4. Lending has dived with the value of new investor loan commitments dropping by about 40% from highs in early 2017. The December report from the ABS shows that loans to households has fallen 4.4% with the biggest percent change hitting owner-occupiers. Over the past year, however, investor lending has dropped most significantly, falling 27.8%. Speculation on the housing market and tightened lending practices have both contributed to the downward spiral.

5. Guilty. The Mexican cartel chief Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman has been found guilty in federal court in New York City. The verdict came after 11 weeks of testimony from high-profile cartel figures and law-enforcement officials. Guzman faces a mandatory minimum of life in prison. He’s due to be sentenced on June 25.

6. Bill and Melinda Gates have published their annual letter for 2019. In it, they listed their nine biggest surprises of 2018 — see what they are here. In the letter, the Microsoft founder also said there was promising progress with renewable energy for electricity but there was more work to be done about the greenhouse gas emissions produced by agriculture. Despite the pastoral image of cows grazing on rolling green hills, Gates noted that cattle “give off methane when they belch and pass gas.” “A personal surprise for me: I never thought I’d be writing seriously about bovine flatulence,” he added. Yep, cow farts. More here.

7. Russia plans to disconnect the entire country from the internet to simulate an all-out cyberwar. It plans to redirect domestic web traffic internally, through the Russian government routing points rather than using the global infrastructure on which the web was built. Having all web traffic pass through government routing points could allow Moscow to set up a massive web censorship system, like in China.

8. While we’re on the topic of internet — The ACCC conducted testing at the end of last year to determine the NBN speeds of different providers, and they’ve released the fastest internet speeds in Australia. TPG, Optus and Telstra have been the stand out performers but there are a number of smaller providers rising through the ranks.

9. Move over, New York. China’s Greater Bay Area (GBA) region has been tipped as the next global hub of trade and finance. The GBA collectively has around $US1.56 trillion in GDP and it will drive the country’s economic growth in the years to come. Want to know more? Paul Ho FCPA discuss the growth of the GBA scheme, and what this ultimately means for the future of accounting here.

10. Insects are dying off at record rates. In fact, 40% of the world’s insect species are in decline thanks to farming and urbanisation, and, of course, climate change. While summers without flies and mosquitoes may sound appealing, it’s actually an ominous sign that we’re in the middle of a 6th mass extinction.

BONUS ITEM: Twitter has turned Will Smith’s blue Genie from the live-action Aladdin movie into a meme, but some people are actually terrified.

See the full trailer, which landed yesterday, here:

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