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10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

James Hennessy

Good morning, team. A new week dawns.

1. To kick things off with a bang: the Wuhan coronavirus has now killed more than 800 people – that's more than the SARS outbreak of 2003. The number of people who have been infected has risen to more than 37,000. SARS, a serious respiratory illness much like the new coronavirus, infected only about 8,000 people and killed 774 people. You can read more about the genetic code similarities of SARS and the new coronavirus here.

2. A bit of weather about, hey? New South Wales copped a significant drenching over the weekend – especially yesterday – leading to severe flooding in some areas, which forced evacuations. We wanted something to break the drought, but maybe not that much. "Potentially we haven't seen anything like this since the late 1990s," BOM acting NSW state manager Jane Golding told The Canberra Times.

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3. The AFR has some red hot speculation today about who might take the reins as chief executive at Westpac. According to the report, fresh chairman John McFarlane is already making moves at the scandal-plagued bank, and his "forceful personality" is being felt. It's believed McFarlane will either pick local talent, like one-time ANZ rising star Elmer Funke Kupper, or perhaps look to the UK sector for someone to save Westpac.

4. At the end of last week, buy now, pay later firm Afterpay made a submission to the RBA making the argument that it isn't a payment service and shouldn't be regulated like one. Instead, it argues, it is a "marketing" company in the vein of Facebook or Google, growing customer bases for the businesses that choose to use it. Yes, this does take some cerebral gymnastics. At the end of the day, "marketing company" sounds a lot nicer than "unregulated credit".

5. When we talk Aussie neobanks, one which occasionally gets overlooked in the hype is Up Bank – the challenger surfing in on Bendigo Bank's existing licence. Founder Dom Pym told us he thinks they're a real contender. “I see a lot of reporting on what these other neobanks are going to do. This castle in the sky stuff, but we’re actually just going to do it,” he said.

6. Uber is launching its 'RideCheck' safety feature in Australia this month. Basically, it detects if something has gone wrong on your trip – like an unusually long stop or crash – and prompts both the user and the driver to ensure everything is okay. From there, either party can contact Uber Support or emergency services.

7. News Corp reported a 6% fall in global revenue to $US2.48 billion for the second quarter in an earnings call at the end of last week. CEO Robert Thomson blamed the fall on a sluggish Australian economy, foreign exchange fluctuations, and weak book sales. Foxtel revenue was down, and even newfangled sports streaming service Kayo had a slump in subscribers.

8. A little update from the US Democratic primaries for you. The New Hampshire primary is on Tuesday, and new polls put Vermont left-winger Bernie Sanders in the lead, with moderate challenger Pete Buttigieg hot on his heels. CNN's new poll puts Sanders ahead, on 28%, versus Buttigieg's 21%. The others, including former vice president Joe Biden, are at least 10 points behind them.

9. Also in world politics: Ireland just had their election, and the left-wing republican party Sinn Fein took the most votes, shaking up the country's centrist tradition. SF, which was once the political arm of the paramilitary Irish Republican Army during The Troubles, will now try to form a governing coalition. The two main centrist parties, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, say they won't do a deal with Sinn Fein.

10. Business leaders are urging Boris Johnson to scrap his threat to trade with the EU without a deal. The UK prime minister this week said Britain would walk away without a trade agreement if Brussels does not agree to the UK’s terms of a Canada-style deal. This approach – compared by Johnson to Australia’s relationship with the EU – would unleash chaos at the borders and cost billions, representatives of multiple sectors told Business Insider.

BONUS ITEM
This isn't necessarily relevant to anything, but Adam Sandler's acceptance speech for Best Male Actor for "Uncut Gems" at the Independent Spirit Awards is a must-watch this morning.

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