1. The details of the government's home renovation package have been announced. The 'HomeBuilder' scheme (yes, really) will offer some Australians $25,000 to assist in building or substantially renovating a home, to enable what the government calls a "tradie-led recovery". "If you've been putting off that renovation or new build, the extra $25,000 we're putting on the table along with record low interest rates means now's the time to get started," said Scott Morrison. The scheme will be means-tested for singles who earned up to $125,000 in the previous financial year, and couples who earned up to $200,000.
2. Well, it's official: we're in recession. This may come as a shock to as many as five of you. The official GDP figures from yesterday show an economic contraction of 0.3% in the first three months of the year, and – thanks to that pesky coronavirus you've been hearing about – the next quarter is going to be much worse. “Based on what we know from Treasury, we’re going to see a contraction in the June quarter which is going to be a lot more substantial than what we have seen in the March quarter,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told media on Wednesday.
3. While the Black Lives Matter protests reverberate around the world, several Australian companies have made statements and commitments. For example, Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes said the company would make stronger moves to "hire and retain underrepresented minorities". “We know we have more work to do,” he said. “As we look to our future, we must think about what stronger leadership for racial justice looks like. It’s not just about creating a diverse Atlassian team. But, this is a start."
4. In the US, protests have spread to dozens of US cities. Curfews have been imposed in over 200 cities in at least 27 states in recent days, impacting over 60 million US residents. On Monday, Trump threatened military action and “strongly recommended” that governors deploy National Guard troops to “dominate the streets” and quell protests. He's still on about it.
5. The US Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper, broke with Trump on that rhetoric. Esper said on Wednesday that the current situation did not merit such a drastic response and that he does not support invoking the Insurrection Act, which allows the president to deploy the military to quell domestic unrest. CNN, as well as other outlets, reported that top White House officials are “not happy” with Esper’s remarks.
6. A group of former Facebook employees who joined the company early on have written a letter to the company urging it to reconsider its policies around the way it handles posts from politicians. The letter comes as Facebook is caught up in backlash over its decision not to take action against a controversial post from President Trump about the George Floyd protests. “The company we joined valued giving individuals a voice as loud as their government’s – protecting the powerless rather than the powerful,” the letter reads. “Facebook now turns that goal on its head.”
7. Woolworths announced it will give 100,000 employees shares in the company to "thank and recognise" them for working through both the bushfires and the coronavirus pandemic. Eligible full-time workers will receive up to $750 of Woolworths shares. This share offer means Woolworths Group will have the most shareholder team members in the country.
8. Tourism Australia has released an interactive map that shows which parts of Australia are open for travel, and to whom. Thanks to some squabbling between the states and territories about the coronavirus response and the required intensity of quarantine procedures, the simple question of "where am I allowed to go on holiday" is a little more difficult.
9. Australia’s charity sector has warned 200,000 job cuts may need to be made if government support programs end in October. Analysis by Social Ventures Australia (SVA) and the Centre for Social Impact (CSI) shows 88% of JobKeeper eligible entities would instantly be operating at a loss if their revenues fell by 20%. Almost one in five wouldn’t be financially viable under such a scenario, the sector estimates.
10. Westpac has declared the events that led to the bank failing to report international money transfers on time were not deliberate. According to a letter from CEO Peter King, the 23 million breaches of money laundering laws were due to "a lack of expertise, unclear responsibilities and insufficient resourcing," and not intentional wrongdoing. "The failure properly to adhere to AUSTRAC guidance for child exploitation risk in respect of some products occurred due to deficient financial crime processes, compounded by poor individual judgements," the report says.
Here's something cool to watch as a salve to, you know, everything else.