Squiz Today / 21 September 2023

Squiz Today – Thursday, 21 September

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Squiz Today Podcast

You walk, we talk. 

Today’s listen time: 9.30 minutes

15 / 23
9 / 15
15 / 33
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11 / 25
6 / 13
22 / 33
5 / 19

Squiz Sayings

“I was beating on the van … I could hear them breaking open the packages and everything. I was like ‘they don’t even care’.”

Said Alaskan woman Shelly Deano of her futile attempts to shoo away 2 bears that raided a Krispy Kreme donut van. The nonplussed pair gobbled up the treats before (eventually…) wandering out. The moral of the story: donut disturb a bear in search of a sugar hit…

A long-term tax on short-term stays…

Victoria will become the first jurisdiction in Oz to tax short-term accommodation platforms like Airbnb and Stayz, with a 7.5% levy that will kick in from January 2025. It’s an approach that’s been taken by major cities around the world – most notably New York – as local housing shortages bite. Airbnb says it amounts to a “de facto ban” on its business, but Premier Daniel Andrews said “it makes sense” to tax them because “there’s between 30,000 and 40,000 homes that are being Airbnb’ed or other platforms” and that “means they’re not available for someone else to lease, to rent, on a longer-term basis”.

Well, the tax itself is pretty straightforward – short-term accommodation providers will pay 7.5% of their revenue to the Victorian Government, and it will replace any individual local council charges that have been applied in the past. As for what the money will be used for – Andrews says “every single dollar” from the “modest” levy will go to building and maintaining social and affordable housing in Victoria. And blow us over with a feather, Airbnb’s not entirely on the same page… Spokesman Michael Crosby says the tax is “too high” and that “somewhere between 3-5%, which is in line with international policies, is appropriate”. And Stayz’s Eacham Curry says there are unanswered questions about whether the tax will apply to short-stay rentals not listed on the major platforms.

It’s not a silver bullet because the growth of short-term rentals on platforms like Airbnb and Stayz isn’t the only issue when it comes to shortages in the housing market. Estimates show Melbourne needs about 44,000 new homes annually to keep up with population growth until 2051 – so there’s still a shortfall that the Victorian Government says its new housing plan released yesterday will go some way to address. And you already know about high interest rates, high property prices and labour shortages in the construction industry that are causing problems across Oz… That’s why the Commonwealth (via its new Housing Australia Future Fund) and the states/territories are hustling, and experts say get ready for more steps like the ones Victoria took yesterday…

AusPol Australian News

Squiz the Rest

A look into the COVID rear-vision mirror

Just when we’d forgotten the names of the country’s chief health/medical officers, PM Anthony Albanese is set to launch an official inquiry into the pandemic response by federal and state governments. Reports say it won’t be a royal commission, but the panel of medical and economic experts will have powers to call witnesses. And there are plenty of stones to turn over – the shutting down of international borders and quarantine regime, interstate border closures, school closures, billions of public dollars spent on support for workers and businesses, repeated lockdowns (shudder) – and many more. The Coalition wants a full-blown royal commission and has accused Team Albanese overnight of “running a protection racket for the state premiers” who are mostly Labor-aligned.

AusPol Australian News Health

A cruel spring surprise

We can’t believe we’re saying this in September… Firefighters faced another tough day across NSW yesterday, and Queensland and Tassie also had their moments. It got up to 36C in Sydney, and high temps/big wind gusts across the state fanned 77 fires as far north as Tenterfield and south in Kosciuszko National Park, with the worst flare-up around Warragamba Dam, which provides Sydney with water. In Queensland, a nasty fire near the Sunshine Coast was brought under control, and in Tassie, the road into Freycinet National Park was closed while fire crews cleared damage from a 700-hectare blaze that forced locals and tourists to seek shelter in nearby towns. NSW Premier Chris Minns warned it will be a “horror summer”. Yikes…

Australian News Weather

Movers ‘n shakers in New York

As bushfires burned here, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that efforts to address climate change had come up “abysmally short”. It was one of many headlines from the first day of the UN General Assembly in New York – including an in-person address from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Climate is the focus of this year’s meeting, and a one-day Climate Ambition Summit is being run in parallel ahead of November’s big Climate Change Conference in Dubai. Driving home their concerns, the Australia Institute published an open letter in the New York Times criticising our governments’ effortsBut Oz got some green cred yesterday – a Tassie company was shortlisted for Prince William’s Earthshot Prize for its methane-reducing seaweed tackling climate change one cow burp at a time.

Environment & Science World News

Endometriosis – what a pain…

A government report released yesterday estimates that 14% of women aged 44-49yo have been diagnosed with endometriosis. It’s a disease where tissue similar to the uterus lining grows outside of the uterus, causing severe pain and making it harder to get pregnant. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report also pointed to hospitalisations rising by 43% over the last decade to 40,500 in 2021-22. There’s no suggestion that endo is becoming more common – the report speculates that it “may reflect increased awareness”. Still, it’s taking 6-8 years between symptoms presenting and a diagnosis. Glass half-full: that time gap is shrinking. Glass half-empty: the cost of endo for each person with the disease is estimated to be about $31,000/year in health costs and lost productivity (aka time on the couch with a hot water bottle/whatever takes the edge off).


Less reading, more lounging

That’s one of the key takeouts from a new survey examining how Aussies engage with the arts. Out of 10,000 respondents, 68% told the latest National Arts Participation Survey that they had attended a cultural event – including live music, theatre, dance, and literary talks – in 2022, the same as in 2019. But those who attended at least one event a week dropped from 5% to 3% as living costs began to rise, with 3 in 10 people saying they aren’t attending events due to price increases. And as Aussies spent more nights at home, the number of those going to an event every few months rose from 18% to 21%. While music remains the nation’s favourite cultural pastime, our love of books is declining, with those of us reading for pleasure dropping from 72% to 69%. That might change now that actor Matthew McConaughey has released his first children’s book

Australian News Culture

Apropos of nothing

With one in 10 people in Japan aged 80yo+, the country is taking a different approach to ageing by opening cafes staffed by people with dementia. They’re the kind of places where no one complains about a forgotten order…

Elon Musk’s Neuralink has been given the green light to recruit humans to test its experimental brain implant device with paralysed patients. Note: previous tests on animals didn’t do so well…

And a Kiwi couple has been offered a $2,000 refund from Singapore Airlines after they were seated next to a snoring/farting dog on a 13-hour flight. At least they got their money back, unlike the more than 30 guests at a recent wedding in Melbourne who got gastro

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

National days for Armenia, Belize and Malta

International Day of Peace

World Alzheimer’s Day

ARIA Award nominees announced

Birthdays for Stephen King (1947), Bill Murray (1950), Kevin Rudd (1957), Billy Porter (1969), Liam Gallagher (1972), and Nicole Richie (1981)

Anniversary of:
• the passing of a proclamation announcing the formal abolition of the French monarchy during the French Revolution (1792)
• the publication of JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit (1937)
• the proclamation of the People’s Republic of China by the Chinese Communist Party (1949)
• the publication of a genomic study finding Indigenous Australians are the oldest known civilisation on earth in Nature (2016)

Squiz the Day

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