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10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

James Hennessy

Good morning.

1. Malcolm Turnbull has formally joined the thriving club of former prime ministers who spend their days sniping those who followed them. In a wide-ranging interview with the BBC, he slammed Scott Morrison in no uncertain terms over the latter's approach to climate change and the bushfire crisis. "I don't know why Scott Morrison has acted the way he has, to be frank with you. I worked with him very closely, I've known him for 20 years and I can't explain his conduct," the former prime minister said. Try as he might though, he will never break Kevin Rudd's record for post-leadership saltiness.

2. Donald Trump's impeachment proceedings are rolling along, and we've got live updates coming through here. We're not seeing anything groundbreaking at the moment – it's basically just a lot of stultified congressional procedure right now – but Democratic lawmakers are laying out out the case for why the president ought to be impeached by the Senate. The solid Republican majority in the Senate makes it very unlikely, but we'll see.

3. German retailer Kaufland, which has been called 'Aldi on steroids', has suddenly announced it is pulling out of Australia. "Wait a minute," I hear you all saying, "I have no idea who Kaufland is!" Well, that's because they hadn't actually launched here yet. The company has instead pulled out ahead before it even opened anything, booting hundreds of staff, plenty of retail space, and a $459 million distribution centre in Melbourne. Is it because of Australia's ongoing retail apocalypse? Or... something more sinister? (I actually have no idea right now, I'm just injecting some drama.)

4. How about that coronavirus? Mildly concerning. Wuhan, a city of 11 million people and the source of the virus, is set to be quarantined. On Wednesday, local disease-control authorities issued an order to shut down the city’s public transportation, including buses, trains, ferries, and the airport. To get a sense of the alarming spread, this graph shows just how quickly cases of the virus multiplied.

5. A new class action alleges NAB charged 330,000 customers excessive fees and commissions years after it was meant to stop. Remember the Royal Commission, all those many, many years ago? Those were the days. Maurice Blackburn, the law firm filing the action, alleges NAB Group subsidiaries MLC and Nulis "delayed the compulsory transition of super into low-fee accounts and as a result extracted higher fees and commissions”.

6. Everyone was surprised that local Mexican fast food chain Guzman y Gomez was opening up shop in the US. Especially because, unlike Australia, the US actually has good Mexican food. We spoke to founder Steven Marks, who has identified a gap in the market he thinks GYG can fill. The three key elements? Speed, quality, and drive-thru. We wish him good luck.

7. Amazon is getting into the Australian gig economy. Yesterday, it announced the launch of Flex – its Uber-like program for package delivery. You can sign up, pick a delivery 'block', and then spend four hours moving packages from Amazon distribution centres to customers. It's certainly a clever way for Amazon to extend its capacity as it continues to grow locally – whether it's a good deal for the delivery partners is something we'll have to wait to see.

8. And more on Amazon. Ring, a wholly-owned subsidiary which sells security cameras, is releasing several more products into the Australian market, including the Ring Indoor Camera, a device about the size of a soft drink can which is voice-enabled and has night vision, motion sensors, and two-way audio. You might have heard the name Ring for less nice reasons, though – the company has faced an escalating series of security scandals over in the US, with some homeowners saying their cameras were hacked and used by ne'er-do-wells to watch them and their children. Creepy!

9. UN investigators are backing the allegation that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman hacked Jeff Bezos' phone. The UN investigators David Kaye and Agnes Callamard said in a statement on Wednesday that the information they have suggests that Crown Prince Mohammed might have been involved in the hack. The Saudi government has denied the allegations, calling them “absurd.” Just goes to show, people: if you're in a group chat with MBS, you shouldn't click on any links he sends you. No matter how interesting they look.

10. Netflix crushed its growth targets internationally in Q4, which included 2 million new subscribers in the Asia-Pacific region. This smashed analyst estimates, but growth in the US continues to lag. The company said in a shareholder letter it is in a strong position despite the arrival of challengers like Disney+ and Apple TV+. As a related aside, this is funny:


A new CNN poll shows irascible Vermont socialist Bernie Sanders is leading the pack of challengers for the Democratic presidential nomination. As such, the battle between Sanders and the other pack leader Joe Biden is heating up. Behold, an interesting development: