Australia markets closed

10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

James Hennessy

Happy Monday.

1. A class action lawsuit against Woolworths over the $300 million underpayment of workers has begun in the Federal Court. Adero Law, the firm representing former night manager Cameron Baker -- who is leading the action -- estimates the total bill could run as high as $620 million. Woolworths says it will "fully defend the proceedings" and argues the class action is "without merit".

2. The victims of the terror attack in London have been identified as 25-year-old Jack Merritt and 23-year-old Saskia Jones. In now-deleted tweets, Merritt's father said his death should not be used to justify "draconian" sentences, as the governing Conservatives call for harsher penalties. The attack took place where a prison rehabilitation conference was being held.

3. The Morrison government is set to release a discussion paper today, which will argue for "worker empowerment measures" like employee share schemes and stronger workplace democracy. It's part of an effort to make the industrial relations narrative in Australia less conflict-based. Considering sluggish wage growth and serious problems with worker underpayment and corporate tax avoidance, this might not quite be enough.

4. In a leaked email, Westpac's interim CEO Peter King told all staff he would get to the bottom of the money laundering scandal engulfing the bank. “I know it has been tough for everyone and the notion that any child has been hurt as a result of any failings by Westpac is deeply distressing,” King writes in the email. “I’m truly sorry.” He's got a big job ahead of him.

5. Also in the world of all-staff emails: The co-founder of burger chain Grill'd shot one out at the end of last week ahead of a looming negative news story about his company. Simon Crowe send the "urgent" email saying Grill'd was aware of a story which would "wrongly claim we have worked against the interest of our franchise partners, and our restaurant teams.” The email itself doesn't confirm what the story is about, but it comes amid a sea of controversies and scandals in the hospitality sector about systemic underpayment.

6. A new poll from Ipsos suggests the environment has for the first time surpassed healthcare, the cost of living and the economy as the number one concern for Australians. The result follows devastating bushfires in NSW and Queensland and worsening drought conditions in many parts of the country. 32.1% of respondents rated the state of the environment as their biggest concern.

7. As we approach the end of the year, it's only natural to begin to speculate on what Apple is releasing next year. Because that's the only way we can mark the passage of time now. Here's our wrap of everything the tech giant is expected to drop in 2020, including a new cheap iPhone model and a services bundle that includes Apple TV+, Apple News+, and Apple Music.

8. Sony's PlayStation 5 is about a year away, it looks like a prototype is in the hands of developers now. An image posted to Twitter which matches patent images filed by Sony earlier in the year purports to show a PS5 development kit. These kits rarely match the final design of the product, but it certainly seems as if developers have their hands on them solidly ahead of the launch.

9. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro claimed, without evidence, that Leo DiCaprio is financing the fires ravaging the Amazon rainforest. Really, an odd allegation by any metric. It echoes an earlier conspiracy spread by Bolsonaro that local NGOs are deliberately lighting the fires in order to make money from international organisations like the WWF. Leo took to Instagram to reiterate his commitment to protecting the "natural and cultural heritage" of the Amazon.

10. Buy now, pay later companies Afterpay and Zip are continuing their campaigns against the possibility of surcharging. In the AFR today, Afterpay boss Anthony Eisen suggests the company is more of a lead generation tool than a payments option – a canny way of dodging calls for the company to allow retailers to pass on fees to customers. We've reported in the past that this might be an inevitability, and maybe even a long-term positive for the companies in the sector.


The world of electric bikes and scooters continues to get weirder.