A Sniippet of weekly news #18 – Aug 2020

Unemployment increased slightly to 7.5 percent in July; the RBA predicts it will reach 10 percent by the end of the year.

A new report says that Australia is lagging in robots and AI, which will result in lower paid jobs in the future. Public policy champion, Ross Garnaut, argues for increased public and private investment to increase Australia’s productivity as an antidote to the dog days following the pandemic.

Meanwhile there has been a surge in demand for rescue dogs and some smart people are storing critical open-source computer code under the arctic permafrost to safeguard against the apocalypse or at least the next major solar flare.

And if your finances are in hot water, we have some advice for reducing your hot water bill.

The one-minute weekly recap

A Sniippet for You

Future of the NBN (AFR, 18 Aug)

  • CEO says high wholesale prices need to continue so the NBN can have cash to upgrade the network in the future
  • The NBN has met its revised target of reaching 11.5m households by 2020
  • Optus says it has developed a 5G fixed-wireless service that was no more expensive than the NBN, is easier to install, and in many cases is much faster

Australian tradies and teachers to be able to work across borders under new licence rules (The Guardian, 17 Aug)

  • A uniform scheme will be created that will allow workers to move from one jurisdiction to another without the need to apply for another licence
  • It will apply to tradies, teachers, and real estate agents
  • Increased labour mobility should help with unemployment

Coronavirus bank loan repayment deferral guidance issued by regulator ASIC (ABC, 14 Aug)

  • At its peak, 10 percent of home loan customers were given a loan repayment holiday from their bank
  • The banks will be looking to end the payment holidays from the end of September
  • ASIC has issued guidelines on how banks should do this
  • If you have any complaints regarding your bank’s communication or treatment over the end of a payment holiday, you can contact the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA)

The robots are not taking your job (ABC, 12 Aug)

  • Australia is lagging the world in the uptake of robots and new technology according to a new report by the Centre for Future Work
  • Since 2017, business investment in machinery and equipment has averaged just 3.75 percent of GDP, which is the weakest pace since WW2
  • Most new jobs will be low paid in low tech industries

CSIRO boss on the pandemic (AFR, 12 Aug)

  • He rejected claims Australia was lagging behind in securing vaccine supplies, suggesting progress was more advanced than he could publicly say
  • Dr Marshall believed technology offered a better way ultimately to manage outbreaks than closing borders: “What we need to do is use science and technology to isolate the hot spots of the virus because the virus doesn’t recognise state lines or state borders and exponentials never quite go to zero,”

University students who fail half their first-year courses could lose HELP (The Guardian, 14 Aug)

  • Under the proposal a student who fails half of their first eight subjects in a degree would lose access to a government-subsidised place and Help loans
  • The government reportedly held $66.6bn worth of Help debt in 2018-19 and more than 15 percent of that was not expected to be repaid

Dog gone: rescue pet shelters emptied by surge in demand during pandemic

(The Guardian, 16 Aug)

  • Dog shelters across Australia have been emptied after a huge surge in demand for a rescued companion during the Covid-19 pandemic, forcing some desperate prospective dog owners to wait months.
  • In Victoria there have been 20,000 online adoption applications; the average stay in the RSPCA Victoria’s adoption shelters is down to less than four days
  • Some puppies are listed with adoption fees of $1,800

The potential longer-term damage to the economy from the pandemic (AFR, 18 Aug)

  • According to Ross Garnuat, the post-pandemic dog days will be worse than 2013-19 because of:
    • increased public debt
    • reduced business investment
    • long-term effects on skills from increased unemployment
    • lower productivity growth
    • climate change
    • an ageing population
  • The alternative is post-pandemic reconstruction: 
    • large public and private investment to raise productive investment and productivity
    • embrace of opportunities in emerging low-carbon world

A Sniippet of Finance advice

How to reduce the amount of energy your hot water system burns through (ABC, 12 Aug)

  • An estimated 21 percent of home energy is used for heating water
  • If you’ve got a storage hot water system, set the temperature to 60 degrees; 50 degrees for a continuous flow system
  • insulating the pipes will save around $185 a year
  • Service the unit every 2 years
  • Releasing the pressure valve every 6 months will extend the life of the unit
  • Use cold water instead of hot wherever possible

A Sniippet of Brain food

The Ultimate Guide to Summarizing Books (Forte Labs, 10 Aug)

  • Read and highlight: only highlight what is unique, interesting, or helpful. Scribble on a physical book or use the highlighting and note taking features of your reading app.
  • Export highlights from your reading app (skip if you’ve used a physical book)
  • Progressive summarizing: summarise your highlights over a number of passes
  • Outline the main points
  • Write a curated summary: synthesise the information and make it your own

A Sniippet of Trivia

Computer code put into cold storage in case of the apocalypse (ABC, 14 August)

  • Critical open-source code has been archived in a vault that should protect it for 1,000 years
  • The vault is under a mountain in the arctic island of Svalbard and is just down the road from the Global Seed Vault
  • 21 terabytes of data is stored as tiny QRcodes on 186 film reels that can be read by the human eye
  • Australian data has found a home in the archive, too, including the Atlas of Living Australia.
  • The GitHub Archive Program is also working with partners to figure out a way to store all public repositories for 10,000 years

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