10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

James Hennessy

Hello folks.

1. The big news you've almost certainly seen: Holden, for all intents and purposes, is dead. General Motors announced yesterday the iconic Aussie auto brand will be retired by the end of the year, with GM focusing on servicing and specialty vehicles in Australia going forward. The company claims it made numerous efforts to resuscitate the flagging brand, but to no avail. It ends Holden's 164-year history in Australia, which began with a saddlery in Adelaide decades before Federation.


2. What killed Holden? GM says it is withdrawing from the right-hand-drive market altogether, and Holden was one of the very last bastions of that sector in their stable. But, as with all good stories, there are multiple plots at play here. Also contributing are the general economic malaise, consumer tastes shifting away from the sedan form, the continuing influx of cheap Asian cars, and – the biggest elephant in the room – the withdrawal of government life support under the Abbott government. Not that funnelling public money into the General Motors purse was going to be a solid longterm solution anyway, but still.

3. An unbelievable 456 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed on the Diamond Princess cruise ship as of Monday morning. Plans are underway for Qantas to evacuate the 200 Australians on the ship, who will then spend two weeks in isolation in a Darwin mining camp.


4. A messy struggle is ongoing around the enormous $51 million haul comedian Celeste Barber raised for the NSW Rural Fire Service. In short, money given to the RFS trust can only be spent on "equipment, training and resources" for the service – it can't be distributed to other organisations, including the fire services of other states and territories. Barber has flagged she wants some of the love spread around. “We are still working through the details of some donations, including large online campaigns,” the RFS said in an earlier statement on the matter. “Some of these involve complex issues and everyone is working hard to ensure the money goes where it was intended."

5. The government has provided some numbers on its first home deposit loan scheme, giving a better understanding of who it is actually benefiting. It's predominantly young, single purchasers with an average income of $67,000 who are taking advantage of the scheme. The only city where the average age is over 30 is... Sydney, which as we all know is the canary in the coalmine for whatever poisonous state of affairs is prevailing in our housing market. Also of note: 65% of its 10,000 places have been snapped up in its first month, which means the government may need to tweak some things for the next releases.

6. Also on housing: auctions are running hot again, as eager buyers push price growth to the limit. Clearance rates are roaring higher, as 90% of Canberra and around 80% of Sydney, Melbourne and Perth auctions sold over the weekend, according to preliminary figures.

7. If you were on one of these flights, you probably already know about it, but oh well. Here's a full list of the Jetstar flights which were cancelled due to tomorrow's industrial action by baggage handlers and ground staff.

8. Jeff Bezos says he will give $10 billion — about 7.7% of his net worth — to fight climate change. "We can save Earth," he said in a post on Instagram. "It's going to take collective action from big companies, small companies, nation states, global organizations, and individuals." Pocket change to a guy with $130 billion, but nice it's going somewhere decent.


9. Britain and the EU will “rip each other part” in trade talks, according to a leading European minister. Emmanuel Macron’s foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian predicted talks would likely turn nasty. “But that is part of the negotiation," he said. "Everyone is going to defend their interests.”

10. Well, he knows his audience. President Donald Trump on Sunday served as the grand marshall of the Daytona 500 in Daytona, Florida. You've gotta watch this footage of him arriving by flying low over the course in Air Force One. There's clearly some psychology at play here.



Interesting read: The Boeing 737 Max crashes have revived decades-old fears about what happens when aeroplane computers become more powerful than pilots. Business Insider spoke with aviation experts and former plane-safety officials about automation in aviation, many of whom said they had longstanding concerns about increased technology in aircraft.