“I want to go on this flight because it’s the thing I’ve wanted to do all my life.”
Not content with being the richest person on Earth, Amazon/Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos will head into space on the first crewed flight of his New Shepard rocket ship on 20 July. He’s taking his brother, and a third seat is up for grabs…
AUSTRALIA'S OUTLOOK LIFTED
Australia’s economy yesterday received a boost when S&P Global Ratings upgraded its outlook on our AAA debt rating from ‘negative’ to ‘stable’. “The government’s swift and decisive fiscal and health response to contain the pandemic and limit long-term economic scarring has seen the economy recover quicker and stronger than we previously expected,” S&P said yesterday. The influential report card sees Australia join 8 other economies to have the highest tick of approval from the world’s 3 largest credit rating agencies.
I’M ALL FOR A GOOD NEWS, BUT WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
In practical terms, it’s an opinion about creditworthiness, and it’s something capital markets use when assessing whether and how much to lend, at what rate, and under what conditions. Like when it comes to your own finances – the better your credit rating, the more options you have if you need to borrow money. But if you’re PM Scott Morrison, it means a lot more than that… He’s looking forward to lobbing up to the G7 meeting at the end of the week as the leader of “one of just a handful of developed countries with economies that are bigger now than before the pandemic”. And he lauded the development as “an endorsement for our model of economic recovery”.
IT’S NICE TO GET AHEAD…
And at an individual level, new figures out this morning from the Australian Tax Office have shown who is winning the income-earning race… In the 2018-19 financial year, 14.7 million individual taxpayers paid a combined $213 billion in income tax. Four in 5 Australians earned less than $100,000. Meanwhile, the top 1% of earners with incomes of more than $750,000 paid about $84 billion in income tax. The best-paid people in the country – our 180 neurosurgeons. Because some things in life are as complicated as brain surgery…
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PM SAYS WRAP IT UP
PM Morrison has urged Victoria to end Melbourne’s COVID lockdown “as soon as possible”. The state yesterday recorded 11 new cases of community transmission taking the outbreak’s total to 81. Those reported yesterday are linked to other known cases. Yesterday, Morrison said he would like to see Victoria take a leaf out of NSW’s book and implement targeted lockdowns and restrictions if required. Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said he would consider limiting the lockdown to specific parts of the city, but the 300 exposure sites are “very broadly spread” across Melbourne. Still, Sutton said officials were still making decisions about ongoing restrictions on a “day-by-day” basis. So stay tuned…
CRACKING THE WHIP ON MONEY LAUNDERING
The financial crimes regulator yesterday hit the National Australia Bank, casino giant Crown Resorts, its would-be merger partner Star Entertainment, and Kiwi casino operator SkyCity Entertainment with a series of enforcement investigations. The quartet could face multi-million-dollar penalties for potential breaches of anti-money laundering laws. For the bank’s part, it’s invested $800 million trying to fix its non-compliance issues that AUSTRAC has previously identified. Still, it’s staring down penalties just like the Commonwealth Bank and Westpac have previously copped. Meanwhile, the Royal Commission into Crown’s casino in Melbourne yesterday heard the company avoided paying almost $200 million in tax to the Victorian Government over the past 7 years. The developments put a dampener on the 4 companies’ share prices and the broader share market, which was down after reaching record highs last week.
BOKO HARAM LEADER DEAD
Allegedly… Rival Islamist terrorist group Iswap says Abubakar Shekau has been killed, but it isn’t the first time the claim has been made. There’s been no confirmation so far from Boko Haram or the Nigerian government. But according to audio received by news agencies, Shekau killed himself after declining to join the rival group when he was cornered by them in Sambisa Forest, Boko Haram’s traditional stronghold. Shekau took the reins of Boko Haram in 2009, transforming it from an underground movement to a group known for staging bombings, kidnappings and prison breaks across the region. But 2 years after Shekau started making moves to establish an African Islamic State in 2014, ISIS split with Boko Haram to form Iswap, the biggest insurgent group in the region. While it’s uncertain if Shekau’s death will spell the end for Boko Haram, some commentators are hopeful it will stop the violence between the 2 groups.
VALE DAVID DUSHMAN
The man known as the ‘last liberator of Auschwitz’ has died in Germany aged 98yo, the Jewish Community of Munich and Upper Bavaria announced yesterday. As part of the Soviet Union’s Red Army, David Dushman fought in key WWII battles, including Stalingrad and Kursk. Despite receiving serious injuries, he was among 69 soldiers in a 12,000-strong division to survive the war. But his role in liberating the notorious Auschwitz concentration camp is his biggest claim to fame. On 27 January 1945, he flattened the camp’s electric fence with his T-34 tank. After the war, he became a professional fencer and went on to train the Soviet Union’s women’s Olympics teams between 1952 and 1988. He continued coaching at his local fencing club every day until he was 94yo. Dushman’s passing is “particularly painful” because he was “one of the last who could tell about this event from his own experience,” said Charlotte Knobloch from the World Jewish Congress.
Sorry southeastern Oz, you’re going to be feeling the cold this week with a polar blast bringing icy temperatures and heavy rains to parts of NSW, Victoria, South Oz, Tassie and Queensland. In what weather types say is the first big cold snap of winter, snow is expected to reach Queensland along with floods and damaging winds. Even a cool change in Darwin is forecast… Looking at it with a glass-half-full attitude, it’s good news for snow bunnies with some snow anticipated for the NSW and Victorian alps. Western Oz doesn’t get off Robert Scott free with heavy rain from a different weather system on the way this week. Is it time to get the butterscotch Schnapps out yet?
APROPOS OF NOTHING - WINNERS EDITION
Tennis title-winning machine Dylan Alcott has taken out his third consecutive French Open title in the men’s quad wheelchair singles. Beating Dutchman Sam Schroder in straight sets, a chuffed champ said “It’s incredible. J’adore Roland Garros, baby.”
Can you remember what you were doing at 19yo? It probably wasn’t becoming the 2nd teen to win the US Women’s Open… Yuka Saso has done just that, also becoming the first player from the Philippines to win a golf major.
And winning at creative selling is Italian artist Salvatore Garau. His “immaterial sculpture” has been snapped up for €15,000. Keep in mind it’s not made of anything, or in more artistic language, it “finds form in its own nothingness”. Will the buyers need a van to get their new acquisition home?
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10.00am (AEST) – Inquest into the murder of 12yo Tiahleigh Palmer – Brisbane
12.30pm (AEST) – 2021 Australian Society for Medical Research Medallist Professor Kelvin Kong addresses the National Press Club – Canberra
National Best Friend Day (US)
Birthdays for Nancy Sinatra (1940), George Pell (1941), inventor of the World Wide Web Tim Berners-Lee (1955) and Kanye West (1977)
• the completion of the first trans-Pacific flight (US to Australia) by Charles Kingsford Smith (1928)
• Siam changing its name to Thailand (1949)
• the publication of George Orwell’s 1984 (1949)
• the death of Anthony Bourdain (2018)
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