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10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

James Hennessy

G'day, folks. Ten beautifully curated items of general news interest, coming right at you.

1. Seems like the 'Keeper' part of JobKeeper is more contingent than originally thought. According to a report in the AFR, the Morrison government expects there will be plenty of people left over on the payment when it ends in September – as their jobs won't have returned – and it wants to shovel them onto the JobSeeker payment, which has mutual obligation requirements. It's expected the JobSeeker payment will be higher than the previously pitiful rate, but just how high is up to Treasury advice.

2. South Australia has opened its borders to Western Australia, Tasmania, and the Northern Territory and is considering adding Queensland to the list. It would mean interstate visitors from those states could arrive without undergoing a 14-day quarantine. New South Wales and Victoria quickly fired back, with Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews questioning why anyone would even go to South Australia in the first place.

3. Queensland theme park operator Village Roadshow has revealed it will begin reopening its venues under new COVID-19 restrictions. Visitors will be required to download the Village Roadshow app to gain access, with it to be used to enable contact tracing and virtual queuing. After closing on March 23, the company confirmed it had been losing $15 million a month.

4. Bauer Media is getting out of Australia, selling New Idea, Women's Weekly and its other magazines just eight years after acquiring them. The price they're seeking isn't known, but the figure is likely to be substantially smaller than the $525 million the German giant paid to buy the business in 2012.

5. Swinburne University is ditching the ATAR requirement for 2021, setting off a debate about whether the admission marker is a good indicator at all. “The system drives many students to choose school subjects to maximise their ATAR, and then drives most students to ‘spend’ their ATAR at university,” one academic told Business Insider Australia via email. “Students are thus often choosing school subjects and university courses that are not of most interest to them.”

6. Parliament has passed an amendment that exempts rideshare companies from the Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT). It puts the likes of Uber, DiDi and Ola on equal footing – at least in the eyes of the taxman – for the first time. Effectively, it makes rideshare companies a less expensive option for businesses if they choose to use them in lieu of taxis.

7. We've probably had our fill of BOMBSHELL and SCANDALOUS accounts from within the Trump administration... but this one is pretty good. According to former national security adviser John Bolton’s upcoming memoir, “The Room Where It Happened", Trump apparently expressed approval for China's “reeducation” centres for Muslims in Xinjiang in a meeting with Xi Jinping. According to an interpreter, “Trump said that Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which Trump thought was exactly the right thing to do,” the book said. Addendum:

8. Beijing is seeing a resurgence of the coronavirus after more than 50 consecutive days without a new case. The capital city has ratcheted up its emergency response, closing all schools and reducing foot and car traffic. This obviously raises concerns for the rest of the world in its reopening effort.

9. Facebook will begin allowing users to turn off political ads, Mark Zuckerberg announced in an op-ed article published Tuesday. “For those of you who’ve already made up your minds and just want the election to be over, we hear you – so we’re also introducing the ability to turn off seeing political ads,” Zuckerberg wrote. “We’ll still remind you to vote.”

10. Apple is facing "rage and insurrection" from developers over the commission it charges apps on the App Store The California company this week got in a standoff with Hey, a new subscription email service, over integrating in-app purchases into iOS apps and taking a commission of up to 30% on the purchases. The confrontation with Hey, which was created by Basecamp, erupted as the EU announced it would launch an antitrust investigation into this levy that Apple imposes on in-app purchases.


Enjoy this mildly awkward video of Boris Johnson inaugurating the new free trade agreement talks with Australia.