ducks in a wet market
Ducks at a wet market in Shenzhen, China (Image: Wikicommons)

The vegans were right all along

Almost exactly a year ago, amid a wave of protests directed towards animal cruelty, there was an outpouring of anger towards vegan protesters.

Scott Morrison called the them “un-Australian” and “green criminals” and who should face the “full force of the law”. Thousands of hard-working Australians whose journey to work took longer than usual were furious (how quaint that now sounds).

The PM even supported legal action against the protestors, advising “pastoralists, farmers, graziers that are in a position to bring a civil action against these groups” that“the Commonwealth is totally open to supporting them in a test case to show these green criminals.”

A year later and un-Australian protestors aren’t looking so whacky now.

It is widely believed (with the exception of Donald Trump’s Cabinet and 5-G conspiracy theorists) that COVID-19, responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths and likely, a worldwide recession, originated in a wet market — that is a market where animals enter alive and are killed for customers. 

Meanwhile, Australia’s largest home-grown COVID-19 cluster emanated from an abattoir, Cedar Meats, which is responsible for more than 100 COVID-19 cases. Meat packing plants have also been a major source of infection in the United States.

The source of WA’s most recent cluster of six infections — a boat arriving from Doha for the purpose of carrying animals back to the Middle East for slaughter.

Oh, and yesterday a scientist warned that mass chicken farming could lead to an “apocalyptic virus” that could wipe out half of the world’s population.

(Note: your author isn’t vegan but eats a largely plant-based diet since watching Game Changers)

Leave Uber Eats alone!

It’s hard to think of a more vilified marketplace than Uber Eats. Largely adored by consumers, it is conversely hated by restaurateurs furious at having to pay upwards of 30% of their revenue to Uber.

The hatred appears to have been magnified by COVID-19, despite Uber dropping commission levels. However, the Uber hatred is not new gripe — way back in 2018, restaurants were pleading with customers to avoid food delivery platforms (which also include Deliveroo and Menulog).

While it’s not hard to feel for restaurant owners who operate in one of the most difficult and competitive industries anywhere, where net profit margins are often in the low single digits, the anger towards Uber Eats seems misplaced.

No restaurant is forced to put themselves on the platform. It is completely voluntary, so there’s little moral justification in complaining about a contract which one willingly enters into and can cancel at any time. (Albeit in this regard, restaurants may feel that platforms like Uber Eats are taking customers who would have gone directly to the restaurants, or would go to a competitor willing to pay Uber’s fee).

More importantly though, as Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshashi told Kara Swisher on the podcast Recode Decode last week, about half if Uber’s commission gets paid straight to the delivery driver.

Uber’s gross margin (before all of its own costs like wages, rent and platform) is around 15% globally, which means Uber Eats’ net margin of a few percent is probably not that different to the restaurant itself. (Uber does have far more scale than individual restaurants.)

As Anthony Ivey of Melbourne’s Shortstop Coffee and Donuts told Nine, “when we sit down and calculate the average cost of [in-house] delivery including labour, car costs and petrol it would be 30-35%”. 

Factor in the hassle, and Uber and Deliveroo are almost certainly making restaurants money, they just can’t bring themselves to admit it.

Meet the press

Remember a couple of months ago, when Scott Morrison, Australia’s very own wartime prime minister, would arrange near-nightly press conferences to fumble his way through the closure of schools and barre classes?

The nation was transfixed on Morrison, and alongside him Australia’s chief medical officer Brendan Murphy, as they skilfully plotted Australia’s path to lockdown in prime time.

Fast forward a couple of months and it seems like Scotty and Brendan’s nightly presentations would have made PT Barnum proud.

The federal government can’t even get Queensland and WA to open their borders to other states (despite ongoing bans likely being in breach of the constitution), nor can it get Dan Andrews to fully open schools.

It seems Morrison’s skillset doesn’t extend beyond anything other than press conferences and Hawaiian vacations.