Squiz Today / 10 July 2023

Squiz Today – Monday, 10 July

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Squiz Today Podcast

We’ll catch you up.

Today’s listen time: 8.30 minutes

9 / 20
11 / 16
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21 / 31
4 / 13

Squiz Sayings

“I call myself an economic reality prepper.”

Said Victorian Jane Bari of her family’s efforts – including downsizing their home and growing their veggies – to weather the cost of living storm. A National Seniors survey found 80% of older Aussies are struggling, and Bari says it’s tough, but “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”…

Reckoning with Robodebt


Friday’s Robodebt Royal Commission report was, as expected, damning – and the shockwaves will continue to be felt into this week. The scheme incorrectly calculated the money owed to Centrelink by welfare recipients using an unlawful method. And in the 990-page report handed to Governor-General David Hurley on Friday, Commissioner Catherine Holmes said it was “a crude and cruel mechanism, neither fair nor legal, and it made many people feel like criminals.” PM Anthony Albanese said “Robodebt was a gross betrayal and a human tragedy. It was wrong. It was illegal. It should never have happened. And it should never happen again.”


The politicians involved received some unfavourable mentions

  • Former PM Scott Morrison received the biggest blast for introducing the scheme in 2015 as the Social Services Minister – he “allowed cabinet to be misled” on the dodgy income averaging calculation method. He rejected the finding.  
  • Then there are the ministers for Human Services… Stuart Robert (in 2015-16) publicly defended Robodebt by “citing statistics which he knew could not be right” – he welcomed the report. And Alan Tudge (in 2016-17) exercised “an abuse of [ministerial] power” by releasing the Centrelink data of victims who went to the media. Tudge rejected the finding
  • As for Kathryn Campbell, the then-secretary of the Department of Human Services – she stayed silent about the scheme’s problems. She is currently on leave from her senior role bedding down the AUKUS agreement with the US and UK. 


Well, the report contained a ‘sealed section’ – and not a fun one like Dolly mag used to have… All we know is that Holmes has recommended investigations into some of the politicians and bureaucrats involved in the scheme by the Federal Police and the National Anti-Corruption Commission. On Saturday, Coalition leader Peter Dutton apologised to those who received erroneous debt notices but said he would not call on Morrison to leave politics. As for the lessons learned, Holmes says a frank and fearless public service is crucial – and the elected government of the day must ensure that’s the case. And she found there needs to be a change in attitude towards people on welfare, and a lift in the rate of income support payments could be a good first step. The government will respond to the report’s 57 recommendations “in due course”.

AusPol Australian News

Squiz the Rest

A grim milestone for Ukraine

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has marked 500 days of Russia’s invasion with a video filmed on Snake Island, which became an early symbol of Ukrainians’ resistance. “I want to thank – from here, from this place of victory – each of our soldiers for these 500 days,” he said. As for the current fighting, UK intelligence says Ukrainian forces are encircling Bakhmut, the not particularly strategic city Russia captured in May after a drawn-out battle. Meanwhile, the US has raised eyebrows with President Joe Biden making the “very difficult decision” to send cluster bombs – a particularly dangerous weapon banned by many countries – to Ukraine. The UK, Canada, New Zealand, and Spain have opposed the move. Biden said he did it because Ukraine is “running out of ammunition”. Meanwhile, PM Albanese is in Europe today for NATO talks and has already inked a deal to sell 100 ‘Boxer’ military vehicles to Germany’s army (paywall).

World News

A long-awaited court date is here

Three and a half years after the Whakaari/White Island volcano tragedy that killed 22 people and severely injured another 25, a long-awaited WorkSafe trial will begin today in the Auckland District Court. There’s a good breakdown of the details here – but long story short, the proceedings cover claims of alleged health and safety failures against 6 defendants. It won’t go into what happened on the day – instead, the trial relates to their preparedness to deal with the tragedy. Several parties have already pleaded guilty to the charges laid against them, including 3 tour companies on Friday, after WorkSafe initially laid charges against 13 parties in November 2020. WorkSafe chief executive Phil Parkes said the pleas “acknowledge the processes that should have been in place to look after people’s health and safety on the day Whakaari erupted”. The trial is set to wrap up in August.

World News

A sports galore update

The Adelaide Thunderbirds have scored their first Super Netball title, beating the NSW Swifts 60-59 in overtime. British recruit Eleanor Cardwell was the MVP, shooting 36 goals from 39 shots… And she also gave her team a rousing pep talk featuring some passionate language we won’t include here…

On the cricket pitch, the Aussie men’s team lost out to England in the third Ashes Test, as the Poms successfully chased down 251 runs to win. Our team is up 2-1 as the men head into the fourth test on 19 July. The Aussie women’s team still leads the Women’s Ashes series at Lord’s with a 6-4 point advantage, despite England posting back-to-back wins to keep the series alive. 

And no longer alive: any Aussie singles hopes at Wimbledon… Chris O’Connell was the last player standing from Oz, but he went down to US player Chris Eubanks in the third round. The tournament is heading towards the pointy end, and one to watch is unseeded 16yo Mirra Andreeva, who beat 22nd seed Anastasia Potapova in straight sets on Sunday.


See you on… Threads?

Meta’s Twitter clone Threads has made a splash so far, with reports saying it had 70 million sign-ups in its first 48 hours. Instagram boss Adam Mosseri doesn’t expect everyone in the initial surge to stick around, but the early interest in Threads still has tech watchers speculating that Twitter might be in trouble. At any rate, Twitter owner Elon Musk seems worried enough that he threatened to sue Meta on the day the new app launched. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg says he’s focused on making Threads “a friendly place”, but users seem more interested in content high on satire. And if you feel like it, Squizers are invited to post at us on Threads. You’ve gotta be in it to win it… 

Culture Technology

Tracking some charismatic Aussie fauna

This is quite a concept for a Monday morning, but a 4yo Labrador named Moss has unearthed a rare native “chubby-cheeked” rodent population in Victoria after tracing their bright green poo… The broad-toothed rats – on the decline due to predators – were found in the Coranderrk bushland east of Melbourne. And while rats aren’t everyone’s idea of a good time, Zoos Victoria’s Sakib Kazi challenged people “to have a look at their face and not immediately fall in love”. Given their chubby cheeks, fluffy fur and short tail, he might be onto something… And in Tassie, researchers are trying to save Australia’s grumpy fish… Reports say the red handfish has “Broadway features” – aka “jazz hands”, a “pom-pom” on its head and a cranky pout. They’re critically endangered, so the team’s fighting hard to turn that frown upside down by ensuring their survival…

Australian News Environment & Science

Apropos of nothing

Fear not, puny humans; the robots mean no harm. Nine ‘humanoid’ robots appeared at a UN ‘AI for Good’ conference. And when one robot named ‘Ameca’ was asked if it would rebel against its creator, it said, “I am very happy with my current situation.” Which is exactly what a soon-to-rebel robot would say… 

A library book checked out in 1904 has been returned to a Massachusetts library. The borrower must have really loved James Clerk Maxwell’s ‘An Elementary Treatise on Electricity’, and why wouldn’t they, given the catchy title.

It might be time to rethink your final resting place options… A report says that the price of a burial plot in Melbourne has increased by around 400% in the last decade. Cue the joke about people dying to get in…

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

Term 3 begins for public schools in Victoria and Queensland

Independence Day in the Bahamas

Gina Rinehart family trial begins in WA’s Supreme Court – Perth

ABS Data Release – Monthly Business Turnover Indicator, May

Anniversary of:
• Lady Godiva riding naked on horseback through Coventry to force her husband, the Earl of Mercia, to lower taxes. According to the legend, anyway… (1040)
• the beginning of the Battle of Britain during WWII (1940)
• the Rolling Stones scoring their 1st US #1 single with (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction (1965)
• the swearing-in of Boris Yeltsin as the first elected President of the Russian Federation (1991)
• the release of Coldplay’s debut album Parachutes (2000)
• British tabloid News of the World publishing its last edition after 168 years in the wake of a phone-hacking scandal (2011)

Squiz the Day

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