10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

Smith Collection/Gado/Getty ImagesCalifornia passed a landmark bill that makes ‘gig economy’ workers into employees

Good morning!

1. The US state of California passed a bill requiring Uber, Lyft and other ‘gig economy’ businesses to treat workers as employees instead of contractors. Uber and Lyft say the decision simply qualifies existing law, hurts workers by removing flexibility and will result in customers paying more.

2. Trump moves to ban flavoured e-cigarettes. The Trump administration, is preparing to ban the sale of all flavored e-cigarettes across the US, after more than 450 people have been hospitalised and at least five died from vaping-related lung illnesses in the country.

3. Meat-free alternatives might be doing us more harm than good. New Australian research has found meat-free alternatives are being made with excessive amounts of salt.

4. Investment in new renewable energy projects has plummeted in Australia. The latest research from the Clean Energy Council (CEC) noted that new investment in renewables has “plunged to levels not seen since Tony Abbott was Prime Minister”.

5. Two of Australia’s newest neobanks are trying to take on the big four. 86 400 and Xinja begin rolling out transaction accounts in Australia this week, however, the rise of these neobanks has been marred over a disagreement about what exactly constitutes as one.

6. Cannabis regulation in Australia takes a step forward. A report into the Narcotic Drugs Act has been tabled in Parliament, recommending a number of changes to the licensing regime regulating the business of medical marijuana and other cannabis products in Australia.

7. McDonald’s in the US acquires an AI startup that could take human interaction out of the equation at its drive-thrus. The startup builds AI systems that can understand and respond to human speech and McDonalds said the voice tech was designed to provide “faster” and “more accurate” order taking.

8. Former Atlassian employees make it big with their workplace goal-tracking tool Tability. Tability has signed up 500 teams since it launched in January, including Atlassian itself and Australian grocery giant Woolworths.

9. Science is the most popular undergraduate university degree among Australia’s top CEOs. The inaugural Australian Top 50 CEO 2019 report found a bachelor of science to be the most popular undergraduate degree taken by top chief executives in Australia, followed by commerce.

Australia’s Top 50 CEOs. Source Apollo Communications.

10. EA takes on Google and Microsoft with a new game streaming service. The video game company will begin testing its cloud gaming service, Project Atlas, with the intention of streaming high-end video games to smartphones and other devices.

Here’s a brain teaser for your Thursday. See if you can find the beach ball.

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