Squiz Today / 05 June 2024

Squiz Today – 5 June 2024

Squiz Today Podcast

Today’s listen time: 10 minutes

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Squiz Sayings

“Maybe think twice before you knock a knock-off.”

Said police in Colorado after a local man’s life was saved when a bullet hit his necklace, saving his neck. The chain was only silver in colour, not made of silver, and if it was the real deal, the soft metal would have allowed the bullet to pass through. Hooray for costume jewellery…

Fraud runs rampant in the NDIS

The Squiz 

National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) integrity boss John Dardo has delivered an alarming warning about “significant indicators of fraud” within the scheme… In an update to senators earlier this week, Dardo said investigators had discovered shady providers – including organised crime syndicates – rorting the system by using participants’ NDIS money to pay for things like illicit drugs, alcohol, pricey holidays, brand new cars, gift vouchers and personal expenses. By the numbers, he said at least 5% – aka $2 billion worth – of the $42-billion-a-year scheme is being used inappropriately, and “there would be thousands of cases where participants are claiming things that are not consistent with their plan”.

That’s a lotta money…

It is, and the Albanese Government has had its eye on it, given the cost of funding the NDIS has blown out – and will continue to blow out over the coming decade. That’s prompted a reform process to ensure its sustainability. The Coalition has had NDIS Minister Bill Shorten in its sights over the issue and has been critical of the slow response to allegations of fraud. Shorten was pressed again in Question Time yesterday but pushed back, saying the issue had begun under the Coalition during its time in power, and steps are being taken to address it. He confirmed more than 700 investigations are underway – including “about 500 plus investigations of compliance matters” – along with 20 prosecutions in court and another 12 being considered by prosecutors. He says “clearly anyone claiming items which are not allowed … it is illegal”.

Shorten’s having quite a time of it… 

He sure is… Aside from the NDIS kerfuffle, you might have seen reports about the tidy sum his speechwriter is taking home. If you missed it, it’s come to light that Julianne Stewart has been employed on a 2-year contract for $600,000 – an unusually high salary. Shorten’s been playing defence, saying she was employed by his department Services Australia, and he was “not responsible for negotiating” the contract. But he did say Stewart “does a very good job”… That might come in handy when he’s called up to speak on behalf of the Albanese Government at Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s peace talks in Switzerland next month… There have been questions over whether the NDIS Minister is the right person to represent us, but Foreign Minister Penny Wong – who can’t attend – reckons he’s up for the job.


Squiz the Rest

Modi takes a hit at the polls

It was widely predicted and now it’s official – PM Narendra Modi has won the Indian general election, but not by the landslide expected. With 642 million votes cast, officials took a while to count them all… And although Modi claimed a historic, 5-year third term as the nation’s leader in a speech to supporters, reports say his right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) party won’t claim the 272 out of 543 seats needed to achieve a majority. That’s nothing like the 400-seat “supermajority” he’d vowed to win going in, and means Modi’s looking at forming a coalition – which is on track to reach 286 seats. Exit polls had the BJP winning by a landslide, but there was an upset with the opposition alliance – INDIA – doing better than expected after they pushed back against Modi’s divisive policies. Regardless, Modi called the win a “victory of the world’s largest democracy”.

World News

A foreign booster shot

In an attempt to boost sluggish recruit numbers, Australia’s Defence Force (ADF) is opening up to foreign residents and easing medical requirements. Under the scheme, permanent residents who’ve lived in Oz for a year and haven’t served in a foreign military in the past 2 years can apply to serve, as long as they pass the security checks. Eligible Kiwis can sign up from July and permanent residents from the UK, US and Canada from January next year. It comes as reports say 14 medical criteria that typically result in 70% of applicants being rejected will no longer apply – including visual impairment, braces and some mental health conditions. The ADF is dealing with a shortfall of around 4,400 recruits, and Deputy PM/Defence Minister Richard Marles said growing the force was “essential” for meeting security challenges in the next decade.


P&O no more…

If you’ve been on a cruise anytime in the last century (ok, maybe more recently…), there’s a strong chance it was on a P&O holiday. But the sun will set on the iconic brand when it’s folded into Carnival Cruise Line in March. The US-based operators have blamed higher running costs and the small South Pacific market for the decision, but they say current itineraries won’t be affected and passengers with future bookings will be advised of the change in the coming days. P&O, once home to Fairstar “the fun ship”, built its brand around family holidays and has been ferrying Aussies since way back in 1932, when it made its first-ever 7-day cruise from Sydney calling at Brisbane and Norfolk Island. Carnival’s chief executive officer Josh Weinstein said P&O had “an amazing team and we are extremely proud of everything we have accomplished together in Australia and the broader region.”

Australian News Business & Finance

A tough Origin to call

Get your scarf and your pie ready (or if you’re Gladys Berejiklian grab your beanie and Coke Zero…), it’s State of Origin time – and rivalry between the NSW Blues and the Queensland Maroons is at an all-time high. Game One of this year’s series kicks off tonight – it’s on Blues’ turf in Sydney and despite a home crowd advantage, pundits say they haven’t got an easy job with the Maroons holding the Shield and looking to take a third series on the hop. Even the betting agencies are finding it a tough game to predict, with injuries in the Maroons side and the new recruits in the Blues’ line-up. Perhaps easier to call will be the Women’s Game 2 in Newcastle tomorrow night, given the Sky Blues’ trouncing of the Maroon girls a couple of weeks ago. But who are we to speculate… Catch all the action on Channel 9.


Lining up for some Cold Chisel

Joining in with an enthusiastic pub chorus of Khe Sanh is a rite of passage, so there are expected to be scenes today as tickets for Cold Chisel’s Big Five-O tour go on general sale at noon. Since announcing the surprise tour last week, the iconic band have added another 6 shows to the tour and fans are clambering for the chance to see remaining members – Jimmy Barnes, Ian Moss, Don Walker and Phil Small – perform live for what could be the last time. The tour is set to kick off in October, starting in Armidale, NSW, where they were based in their early days. On ABC TV’s Australian Story on Monday night, Barnes marvelled at how much their songs have meant to people. “People come up to me and say, ‘I played your songs at my son’s 21st. I danced my first dance with my wife to your songs’.” And in case you’re wondering, our favourite track changes regularly – ATM it’s Forever Now. You’re welcome… 

Australian News Culture

Apropos of Nothing

Fossilised skull pieces belonging to a 230kg ancient ‘giga-goose’ have been found by Australian scientists. They reckon the terrifying-sounding creature stood taller than Michael Jordan and may have died out due to how much First Nations people like their eggs… 

US Republican John Rose’s son took dad-trolling to a new level by making funny faces at the cameras while his father was addressing the US House of Reps. “This is what I get for telling my son Guy to smile at the camera for his little brother,” Rose said.

It’s not just the floorwork that’s been flooring crowds at US Gymnastics meets lately as stars like Jordan Chiles and Simone Biles up the fashion stakes with one-of-a-kind leotards inspired by Beyonce and Chanel couture. Unfortunately, it’s back to plain old stars and stripes for the Olympics…

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

10.30am (AEST) – Australian diving Olympic trials – Adelaide

12.00pm (AEST) – Tickets for Cold Chisel – The 50th Anniversary Tour go on general sale

12.30pm (AEST) – Launch of the 20th Lowy Institute Poll: Australian attitudes to the world – Sydney

12.30pm (AEST) – Michael Miller EC of News Corp Australasia will Address the National Press Club of Australia on “Australia and Global Tech: time for a reset”

12.45pm (AEST) – Public hearing into Challenges and Opportunities in the Australian Live Music Industry – Canberra

8.05pm (AEST) –  State of Origin Game 1: New South Wales Blues v Queensland Maroons – Sydney, and watch on Channel 9

11.00pm (AEST) – The first session of Sylvester Stallone’s personal watch collection auction (with a second session 4 hrs later) – New York

Tennis: French Open – Alex de Minaur takes on Alexander Zverev in the quarterfinals – Paris

Australian Olympic Committee media conference ahead of the Paris Olympics

ABS Data Release – Australian National Accounts: National Income, March

The 71st Sydney Film Festival starts

Global Running Day 

World Environment Day  

International Day for the Fight Against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing 

Veggie Burger Day

Birthdays for Mark Wahlberg (1971) and Lara Worthington (1987)

Anniversary of:

  • the assassination of Robert F Kennedy (1968)
  • the official beginning of the AIDS epidemic, when the US Centre for Disease Control reported on pneumonia affecting five homosexual men in LA (1981)
  • the deaths of Ronald Reagan (2004) and Kate Spade (2018)
  • Kathleen Folbigg walking free from 20 years in prison after an inquiry found that her children could have died from natural causes (2023)
Squiz the Day

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