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10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

James Hennessy

G'day all.

1. Jeff Bezos is copping a pizzling for Amazon's $1 million donation to Australian bushfire recovery. Bezos made an Instagram post pledging the donation on Sunday local time. A million bucks is obviously lovely, but – as some have pointed out – it is the amount Bezos was making every five minutes in 2018. Basically it's opening up a classic conversation about this kind of philanthrophy: what's a million bucks in brand-building when you personally have hoarded a substantial portion of the planet's wealth?

2. The Queen will allow Harry and Meghan to split from the royal family, but there is a possibility she will strip them of their titles. In a statement, the 93-year-old monarch said she had "constructive discussions" with the couple in an emergency meeting. "My family and I are entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan's desire to create a new life as a young family," she said. "Although we would have preferred them to remain full-time working members of the royal family, we respect and understand their wish to live a more independent life as a family while remaining a valued part of my family." Personally, I hope this leads to a new War of the Roses or something to make it actually interesting.

3. Here are the 2020 Oscars nominations, for your consideration. 'Joker' dominated with 11 noms, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor for Joaquin Phoenix. Netflix stock soared after it nabbed 24 nominations – more than any other studio – with Martin Scorsese's 'The Irishman' receiving 10 nods alone.

4. Jetstar managed to negotiate a ceasefire with striking workers, as it prepares to face them at the negotiation table instead. The Transport Workers Union has been demanding a 4% wage increase and better conditions for baggage handlers and ground staff – demands which Jetstar has firmly rejected to this point. The feuding parties will meet January 29 to hammer it out.

5. Are the RBA at the head of a sprawling government conspiracy to ravage Australian savings accounts and lock the country under the iron fist of negative interest rates? According to the central bank: no. But this is the concern some fringe economists and 'thinkers' – using that term as loosely as I can – have with the proposal to ban cash payments over $10,000. “With respect, I think some of those concerns that you’ve alluded to are a little far-fetched,” RBA head of payment policy Tony Richards told the last senate inquiry into the bill. But there are still definitely concerns about that sort of cash ban.

6. Controversy is brewing following Scott Morrison's suggestion a bushfires royal commission could be on the cards as to whether the terms of reference should include climate change. By 'controversy' I mean a series of deeply unreasonable people, like Pauline Hanson, are of the belief climate change should not be considered at all. In the AFR this morning, the former supreme court judge who ran the Black Saturday royal commission, Bernard Teague, says climate change has to be in there. "It needs to be looked at it greater depth in light of the experience of the past 10 years, which has only shown what everyone now accepts – well almost everyone – that it has an enormous impact that we need to better understand," the former judge said.

7. The New York Times released its annual 52 Places to Go list – and only one Aussie destination made the cut. The Kimberley region is the place to be in 2020, apparently. I guess it's nice, if you happen to love a diverse landscape filled with waterfalls, ancient gorges, thermal springs and sweeping rainforest.

8. Despite his promises, Boris Johnson will not be able to get Brexit done in 2020. At least, that's what think tank the Institute for Government says in a new report. It warns that businesses will not be ready to exit the transition period in just 11 months time. There is also almost certainly not enough time for complex new arrangements for Northern Ireland to be implemented by December. The report suggests agreeing to the terms of Britain’s new relationship with the EU is likely to take years in practice.

9. Interesting one to keep an eye on: Facebook is quietly pushing its ad business in China, despite previous clashes on issues like data privacy, according to three sources who spoke to Reuters. The company is setting up a new engineering team in Singapore to focus on the Chinese ad business. It makes obvious financial sense, given businesses buy more than $5 billion in ad space every year in China. Mark Zuckerberg has previously flagged he would not build data centres in a country with "a track record of violating human rights like privacy or freedom of expression."

10. Another US presidential candidate bites the dust. This time it's New Jersey senator Cory Booker, who struggled to make a dent in the polls and did not qualify for the latest presidential debate ahead of the first Democratic caucuses in Iowa. “It’s with a full heart that I share this news – I’ve made the hard decision to suspend my campaign for president,” Booker said.


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