Squiz Today / 15 May 2024

Squiz Today – 15 May 2024

Squiz Today Podcast

Today’s listen time: 11 minutes

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Squiz Sayings

“I couldn’t be happier!!!!!”

Said melanoma expert Professor Richard Scolyar because he’s cancer-free a year after starting experimental treatment for brain cancer. Winning Aussie of the Year with his colleague Georgina Long must have felt great, but this development would have to take the cake…

Fighting inflation – and for re-election…

The Squiz 

Cost of living relief is the Albanese Government’s top priority in its latest Federal Budget delivered last night. Every Aussie household will save $300 on their energy bill and those doing it the toughest will get a 10% increase in their Commonwealth Rent Assistance. That comes on top of the stuff we already knew about, like personal income tax cuts coming on 1 July and the wiping of some student debt. Helping Aussies weather these ongoing tough economic times is an important plank in the government’s pitch as we head towards the next election, due between August 2024 and May 2025. With that in mind, Chalmers says it’s “a responsible Budget that helps people under pressure today and invests in the promise and potential of the more prosperous future that we can make together.” 

Gimme the numbers…

  • Back in December, Treasury was forecasting a deficit of $1.1 billion. So the +$10 billion turnaround with the expected $9.3 billion surplus is mainly because unemployment has stayed low and lots of people are paying income tax. It also helps that minerals like iron ore are still earning us a bucket…
  • Don’t hold your breath – Chalmers reckons we are heading back into deficit next year and the years following thanks to growing demands in defence, the NDIS, aged care and paying off our COVID-sized debt. 
  • But the big picture figures show Australia is set to hang in there – if things go our way. Economic growth forecasts have been trimmed back to 2.25% in 2025/26 and unemployment is set to hit 4.5%. The big question is still on inflation and getting it down… 

So what’s the bottom line?

We like what you did there… Well, there’s still lots of focus on Treasury’s prediction that inflation will fall under 3% by the end of the year. Since coming to government in 2022, Chalmers has talked about inflation remaining “higher for longer” – and in light of the new forecast, he’s flipped that to say “inflation is expected to be lower, sooner”. To say the Coalition and some economists are sceptical the government can pull it off is an understatement, with Opposition Treasury spokesman Angus Taylor calling the Budget a “big-spending, big-taxing con job”… For its part, Team Albanese says the Budget will put downward pressure on inflation, taking it from 3.6% now to 2.75% by mid next year. This will be a huge part of the political discourse over the coming months, but in the meantime, here’s a good winners and losers guide – may you be more column A than column B…

AusPol Australian News Economy

Squiz the Rest

Big twist in murder case

Former Jetstar pilot Gregory Lynn has admitted he covered up the deaths of 2 campers in Victoria 4 years ago but denies he murdered them. His version of events is pretty wild… During the trial’s opening day in the Supreme Court yesterday, Lynn’s lawyers said he had a run-in with 74yo Russell Hill, who had filmed Lynn with a drone to prove he was hunting too close to a campsite. They say tensions escalated when Hill grabbed a shotgun from Lynn’s car and it misfired during a struggle, causing the death of 73yo Carol Clay. And then Hill was allegedly killed in a wrestle with Lynn for a knife. The trial is set to last 6 weeks and more than 100 witnesses are expected to be called. Lynn was arrested in November 2021 after police found the remains of the pair more than 18 months after they were killed.

Australian News Crime

Jail for whistleblower

Military lawyer David McBride has been sentenced to more than 5 years in jail after he admitted sharing classified information with journalists. McBride revealed himself as the source for an ABC investigation that alleged Australian soldiers had illegally killed people in the Afghanistan war. ACT Supreme Court Justice David Mossop rejected McBride’s assertion he didn’t believe he was breaking the law – saying he instead became “obsessed” with his own “correctness”. The courtroom erupted with cries of “shame” from McBride’s supporters – and his lawyers have already said they’ll appeal. It was quite a day in ACT legal circles… The Territory’s integrity commissioner has launched an investigation into the former judge Walter Sofronoff. Remember he headed a probe into Bruce Lehrmann’s initial criminal trial  – now he’s being investigated for leaking copies of that report to the media…

Australian News Crime

Doing it her way

One of the globe’s most influential philanthropists Melinda French Gates (aka Bill’s ex) is cutting ties with the massive charity the pair started nearly 25 years ago. French Gates posted on social media that “the time is right… to move forward into the next chapter of my philanthropy”. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has committed tens of billions of dollars to eradicate polio and tuberculosis as well as poverty and promote gender equality. It will now be known as the Gates Foundation, with Bill as sole chair. While she hasn’t talked specifics about what’s next, French Gates has $19 billion to devote to her own causes as part of the deal to walk away. Late last year she travelled to Malawi with Michelle Obama and Amal Clooney to highlight the plight of millions of girls forced into marriages. The Gates’ divorce was finalised 3 years ago… 

World News

Tech giants b(AI)ttle it out

A day before Google announced its latest artificial intelligence (AI) developments at a conference in the US, OpenAI launched its latest version of ChatGPT. It’s called GPT-4o, with the ‘o’ standing for “omni” which represents the LLM’s (that’s ‘large language model’…) ability to read text, audio and video – which lets it read facial expressions – in the same conversation. Founder Sam Altman has described it as being “like AI from the movies”, saying “talking to a computer has never felt really natural for me; now it does”. As for what that means, the tech’s updated voice assistant is capable of “realistic” conversations, which lets the user interrupt like they would in real-life conversations. Reports say that will usher in “chatty and sometimes even flirtatious” dialogue between humans and tech. It’s a brave new world…


Throw ’em a bone

Keep an eye on the Westminster Dog Show’s Best in Show judging today – which should be announced around noon AEST… The annual dog show has been running (and jumping) in New York since Saturday, with 2,500 4-legged contestants battling it out in agility and obedience competitions – the last of which was taken out by a brainy border collie named Zayne. And not to overshadow the Olympics, but some impressive diving action has also been on display… But our pick of the bunch has to be trailblazer Mando, a Lancashire heeler who was the only representative of his newly added breed. Reports say he was paw-sitively confident as he trotted around the ring while a member of the audience shouted “Yay, history!”. May we all be blessed with some of Mando’s “rock-star attitude” today… 

Entertainment World News

Apropos of Nothing

The latest exhibit at Victoria’s Heide Museum of Modern Art might be of interest… ‘Hair Pieces’ features work from 38 artists, mostly made up of – you guessed it – human hair. It’s described as “weird”, “creepy”, and “utterly engrossing”. Colour us intrigued…

We’re halfway through Australian Fashion Week, and Sydney’s A (and B) lists are styling it up in the front row… One notable trend we’re here for – ballet slippers as comfy as clouds. 

After Pennsylvania’s famous weather-forecasting groundhog Punxsutawney Phil and his rodent partner Phyllis became parents in March, their kits have been given appropriately-themed names: Sunny and Shadow. Cute…

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

Midday (AEST) – Judging of the best in show at the Westminster Dog Show – New York

12.30pm (AEST) – Treasurer Jim Chalmers will give the Post Budget Address to the National Press Club – Canberra

ABS Data Release – Wage Price Index, March

International Day of Families 

Anniversary of:

  • the patenting of the world’s first machine gun (1718)
  • the formation of the National Woman Suffrage Association, founded by Susan B Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1869)
  • Jessica Watson becoming the youngest person to sail solo, non-stop and unassisted around the world at age 16 (2010)
  • the deaths of Emily Dickinson (1886), Robert Menzies (1978), and Bud Tingwell (2009)
Squiz the Day

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