Australia markets closed

10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

James Hennessy

Good morning, folks. In the news today: a former High Court judge is accused of serial sexual harassment, Trump brings down the hammer on immigration visas, and a bunch of Apple updates.

1. The big news today: a High Court inquiry has found former justice Dyson Heydon sexually harassed six young associate lawyers. Heydon, one of the country's most prominent legal minds, is best known in recent years for heading up the trade union royal commission.

2. The ATO announced it will commence investigations into Australians who took advantage of the early access superannuation scheme without having lost income. We previously reported gaps in the scheme allowing withdrawals to be greenlit even when they did not meet the government's criteria and which criminals were all too happy to exploit. It's reasonable to ask then whether average punters dipping into their own retirement savings should shoulder the burden of a poorly administered program.

3. Three months ago, Australia's big banks started freezing $176 billion worth of mortgages. Now they've begun to thaw. With that grace period set to end in September – and the government possibly severing the JobKeeper lifeline at that point – we took the temperature of where some of Australia's big banks are at with the deferrals, and what might come next.

4. Labor is calling for a royal commission into the Centrelink robodebt scheme, which the government has conceded was unlawful. The Opposition says a royal commission could look into reports that illegitimate debt notices led some people to take their own lives.

5. Canva is now the most valuable private technology business in Australia. The company is now worth $8.7 billion, after securing $87.2 million in a fresh round of funding. Canva plans to use the new funding to develop and expand real-time collaboration features in the software.

6. Big updates from Apple overnight. The company announced iOS 14, the latest update for the iPhone, which includes a new home screen layout, the ability to use features from an app without launching the full version, and more. Also announced were its plans to create its own processors for Mac computers, marking a giant shift in the company’s strategy.

7. Tesla has delayed its battery day event again, along with its annual shareholder meeting, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Both are now tentatively set for September to allow for in-person gatherings. Elon Musk has promised the forthcoming battery event to be one of the “most exciting” in Tesla’s history.

8. President Donald Trump signed a proclamation Monday halting a wide swath of immigration visas. The proclamation significantly limits opportunities for immigrants coming to the United States to secure a green card. It will temporarily suspend H-1B, H-2B, H-4, J-1, and L-1 visas, affecting everything from the tech industry to students and au pairs.

9. The tech industry is already sounding off about the above changes. "We oppose the Administration's short-sighted action," Amazon said in a statement to Business Insider. Amazon accounted for the largest number of H1B applications among tech companies in 2017, according to the National Foundation for American Policy.

10. The World Health Organisation reported 183,000 new global coronavirus cases on Sunday, the largest single-day increase in coronavirus cases by its count. Throughout the pandemic, WHO has reported 8,708,008 cases — 183,020 in the last 24 hours — with 461,715 deaths worldwide, and a daily increase of 4,743. Experts said rising case counts can reflect multiple factors including more widespread testing as well as broader infection rates.


If you want to know more about the Apple announcement but can't be bothered sitting through the whole thing, here's a nice short version.