10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

James Hennessy

Hello. Today we've got it all: the collapse of media, the failure of a SpaceX launch, the death of hot desking, the president trying to destroy Twitter... folks, there's a bit of destruction around.

1. Big media news this morning. News Corp Australia will axe hundreds of jobs as it moves towards digital-only publishing for many of its local and regional papers, as well as increased focus on copy sharing between its major mastheads The Daily Telegraph and the Herald-Sun. Reports were trickling in about this over the past day or so, but the results of News Corp's "comprehensive review" dropped this morning in a press release.


2. Elon Musk's aerospace company SpaceX and NASA were set on Wednesday to launch astronauts to the International Space Station. It would have been a fairly major milestone in the world of privately-funded space travel, and would have resurrected human spaceflight in America after a nine-year gap. But weather conditions, including thunderstorm clouds and a threat of lightning strikes, made the skies unsafe for liftoff, forcing NASA and SpaceX to delay the launch to Saturday. Safe weather for this kind of rocket launch means low winds, no lightning, and gentle seas. Better luck next time!

3. Here's a little bit of a dampener on Scott Morrison's rousing speech about business and unions coming together to form a new national consensus on industrial relations after the coronavirus, if you really believed that. While Morrison called on unions and employers to "put down their weapons" and agree on changes, the SMH reports today the government says it will move ahead with its own legislative plan even if there is no agreement.

4. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced yesterday it would freeze public sector pay for 12 months, in an effort to save $3 billion. "If we don't take this decision today, the decisions we need to take down the track will be even more difficult," she said. It may not even go ahead – the government needs support from the upper house, where it holds a minority of seats.

5. One word is poison in the discussion about returning to the office: hot desking. OK, that's two words. We spoke to a few large companies, like EY, Westpac, and NAB, to find out what they're doing with regards to the controversial cost-cutting – er, sorry, I mean collaboration management – strategy. Basically all of them said they're ditching hot desking in favour of other systems, like having workers book out single desks for extended periods.

6. Australians are returning to shopping centres across the country, especially in capital cities. Research from Roy Morgan found foot traffic has steadily increased in Melbourne and Sydney shopping centres since the Easter long weekend. Those returning en masse are a mostly younger, socially aware and culturally diverse group of people the company calls ‘metrotechs’.

7. The US has hit a grim milestone: 100,000 coronavirus deaths in just four months. And it's not getting markedly better – according to data from the CDC, models indicate “an increase in deaths in the coming weeks.” Researchers at Columbia University say 83% of those deaths could have been avoided if a lockdown was implemented on March 1. Perhaps too high an expectation, given Italy – the first Western nation to be severely impacted – didn't apply its lockdown until March 9.

8. Donald Trump has threatened to close down social-media platforms that "silence" conservative voices, after Twitter attached a fact check to one of his tweets. Experts don't think there's a great deal he can actually do in this regard. “I think that it is mostly bluster. There are steps he might take, but they are likely to be slow, cumbersome and ineffective, although he does have the huge bullhorn of the presidency to persuade the voters that he is correct and deserves reelection,” one law professor explained to Business Insider by email.


9. As one might expect, tech companies are at the forefront of the various schools of thought on remote work after the coronavirus. Tech giants Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Amazon have announced plans – with varying degrees of specificity – outlining how employees might return to their offices this year. Google, Facebook, and Microsoft have set dates that their offices will tentatively reopen in the US this summer, but will still allow most employees to keep working from home through the fall. Twitter has taken the boldest work from home stance, telling employees they can keep working remotely permanently.

10. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday signalled that Hong Kong will no longer receive special treatment by the US due to a new national security law unveiled by China last week. "No reasonable person can assert today that Hong Kong maintains a high degree of autonomy from China, given facts on the ground," Pompeo said. This could spell the end of Hong Kong’s special trade status with the US, and have major implications for the already strained relations between Washington and Beijing.


If you're starved for a SpaceX launch, why not just watch one of the old ones?