Australia markets closed

10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

Jack Derwin

Good morning and good luck.

1. The High Court has quashed the sexual abuse convictions of Australia's most senior Catholic, George Pell. It unanimously concluded that “there ought to have been a reasonable doubt” as to whether Pell was guilty on the charges of assaulting two boys in 1996 and 1997. Having been held in custody since last February, he'll now walk free of prison before Easter.

2. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has joined a growing list of benefactors funding coronavirus relief, committing $US1 billion of his personal wealth to those doing it tough during the crisis. All donations will be tracked in an online spreadsheet, with post-pandemic money focusing on girls' education and moving the US towards a universal basic income. It's not a bad gesture considering it's likely around a quarter of his entire fortune.

https://twitter.com/jack/status/1247616214769086465

3. The Reserve Bank of Australia has warned Australia is about to be battered financially, with its economy due to go through a "very large economic contraction" and unemployment reaching heights not seen in many years as the government lockdown continues. It also indicated the official interest rate won't go any lower than the current 0.25%, refusing to cut on Tuesday, with one economist predicting it won't budge for at least three more years. Settle in, gang.

4. Sweden has controversially so far rejected a global consensus to shut down the country to stem the spread of the pandemic, but that could be about to change. Its government had so far only instructed citizens to follow social distancing guidelines, but with more than 470 deaths already, it's now seriously reconsidering the approach, as its prime minister warns thousands will die. It could see Swedish restaurants and cafes finally shut their doors.

https://twitter.com/hilderestad/status/1247212821063983110

5. The Australian government has given its latest appraisal of the health crisis, releasing the official modelling that has guided its decision making through the pandemic. While the prime minister congratulated Australian for successfully flattening the curve, he warned the country must stay home this Easter or it will put the country at risk. The country's chief medical officer Brendan Murphy revealed his biggest concern remains community transmission, especially in Sydney. "More than 500 people have acquired the virus from someone in the community who doesn’t know they’ve had it," he said.

6. Australian businesses will be able to have their rent waived or deferred under new government relief measures, agreed to by the National Cabinet. In quick summary, they effectively prevent any evictions for six months, compel landlords to reduce rent by the same proportion a tenant's revenue has dropped, while deferred rental payments would need to be paid back within an appropriate time period. Residential tenancies, however, will be left to state and territory governments, and for now, firmly in a very grey area. And yes, it's left a bad taste in the mouths of some.

https://twitter.com/MadFckingWitch/status/1245457842179420160

7. Hospitality and tourism workers may face the highest rates of unemployment right now, but that didn't stop their principal super fund Hostplus from pulling up the ladder on them. The $50 billion fund has quietly changed a clause that would allow them to basically reject workers who try to access their retirement saving early under a new government relief policy. While not a great idea if you can avoid it, some workers who desperately need it right now are going to be beyond frustrated if their application is knocked back by Hostplus' "absolute discretion".

8. Could the coronavirus put an end to co-working spaces? As startups walk away from hot-desking and communal office spaces, Aussie spaces are shuttering their doors. Makes you wonder what would have happened to WeWork if it hadn't blown up last year. I'm guessing this actual chart used by majority owner Softbank last year might be seen as slightly optimistic.

https://twitter.com/AnnaChingChing/status/1245508722593423361

9. Rideshare and taxi companies have found a new market in which to compete -- or drive each other to bankruptcy. On Tuesday, Ola launched a contactless delivery service, allowing largely out of work drivers to be used as couriers. It follows an almost identical move by 13cabs just two weeks ago, and is just the latest way they've undercut each other.

10. The Dow Jones just plunged nearly 1000 points (again), wiping more than half of its monster gains from the day before and setting up the Australian market for a big fall on Wednesday. Look maybe we should all just look the other way at this stage as investors still can't make up their minds whether the coronavirus is going to steamroll us all or blow over if we throw enough money at it.

Bonus item

In a world longing for distraction, I know what you need: a good old fashioned brainteaser. Spot the easter egg, pagans.