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10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

James Hennessy

Good morning, team. Welcome to day two of a four day week. My how times flies.

1. Pat yourselves on the back. There were just two new cases of coronavirus recorded across Australia on Tuesday, both in returned travellers in hotel quarantine in Sydney. That means no community transmission for the first time since we started tracking it.

2. Just a handful of Australia's 50 largest super funds have a good track record on issues like climate change. As major shareholders, our super funds have a strong hand in corporate governance both locally and internationally, and the The Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) has compiled fund voting records on issues like climate change, workers rights, and gender equality. You can see who generally performs best on that metric – and who isn't up to scratch.

3. Australia’s labour force is looking like it’s in better shape than thought, with Treasury downgrading its unemployment forecasts. Originally expecting it to hit 10% by the end of June, Treasury Secretary Stephen Kennedy told a Senate committee his office had been “steadily revising down our expectations of the hit to the economy”. Instead, unemployment should only hit 8% – although there are reasons to suspect the headline figure is not the best economic indicator.

4. Australia's coronavirus retail apocalypse hasn't hit everyone equally. Sales have been strong at Wesfarmers-owned Officeworks and Bunnings as Aussies continue working and learning from home. Wesfarmers reported an 89% growth in online sales among its retail businesses during the calendar year to date. During the financial year, sales grew 60% to $1.4 billion. In conjunction with sales at online store Catch, it adds up to $1.9 billion.

5. An interesting comment on the above in the SMH today. It credits Wesfarmers for owning a space tentatively titled 'discretionary essentials' – essentially, all the stuff you need to make working and living largely from home bearable. We're talking office gear from Officeworks, and DIY stuff from Bunnings.

6. Customers of buy now pay later company, Zip, will now be able to get a full overview of their account from within digital bank 86 400’s app. Yes, it's a major fintech partnership, but it also ties into a broader mission of Australia's neobank sector: centralising often disparate customer financial info into a single spot.

7. More from the bubbling cauldron that is Trump's brain. As protests continue around the US, the president posted a bizarre conspiracy theory that a 75-year-old man who was pushed over and injured by police was actually some sort of radical agitator. He's obviously handling the unrest very well.

8. Elon Musk told his employees in an internal email that SpaceX would focus on Starship as its primary goal. The Starship is planned to be a fully reusable super heavy-lift launch vehicle. The most recent Starship test caused a prototype to explode a day before SpaceX successfully launched two astronauts to the International Space Station using a different rocket, the Falcon 9.

9. Only 25% of respondents in a US poll said they believed the current form of capitalism ensures the greater good of society. More Americans are calling for reform, such as higher wages for hourly and contract employees, as well as health insurance for all workers.

10. Why not wrap up with something extremely strange. A distillery in Victoria issued a product recall after selling 9 "incorrectly labelled" bottles of gin which actually contained hand sanitiser ingredients. You might recall that many distilleries turned to making hand sanitiser in the early stages of the pandemic. I'm told that they have managed to recover 6 of these forbidden gins (which you must never drink).


Well, now that we know Musk is putting all of SpaceX's energy into Starship, we may as well watch the last one explode again.