Squiz Today / 13 February 2023

Squiz Today – Monday, 13 February

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Squiz Today Podcast

The easy news hit.

Today’s listen time: 9.40 minutes

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Squiz Sayings

“No worse than our local council entertaining the idea of allowing a crematorium to be built next door to a retirement village.”

Said one local who was relaxed about a bus stop billboard put up near the Penmount Crematorium in Cornwall, England. Many others thought the promotion for McDonald’s new McCrispy burger was in poor taste…

Interest rate highs and Lowe under scrutiny

Treasurer Jim Chalmers didn’t take an opportunity yesterday to back Reserve Bank Governor Philip Lowe, adding to speculation that all isn’t well between the Albanese Government and the central bank. Lowe was also in focus on the weekend following a report in the Financial Review (paywall) that said while he didn’t have time to speak to the media after Tuesday’s board meeting to explain the latest interest rate hike, he did attend a private lunch on Thursday to brief traders from the banks. All that makes for a big week ahead for Lowe, who will appear before 2 federal parliamentary committees in Canberra.

Because even when things are going along nicely in our economy, the Treasurer needs to have a good relationship with the central bank – at the moment, the Australian and global economy is fraught, so confidence is a must. Note: the current focus on Lowe hasn’t come out of the blue… As late as November 2021, he said official interest rates would stay at the record low of 0.1% until at least 2024. Last time we looked, it’s 2023, and the rate is 3.35%… Times change and Lowe has since called it an “embarrassing” error – but many Aussies took out loans based on that advice, and now they’re being squeezed. He’s also copped flack for letting inflation get away and lifting rates later than other economies, amongst other things. So Chalmers not taking the opportunity to back Lowe in yesterday – saying that the “governor operates independently from the government” – is notable at a tricky time. 

On Wednesday, Lowe will appear at Senate Estimates (aka the opportunity for senators to question the bureaucrats). On Friday, he’s back for a House of Reps Economics Committee hearing (aka pollies from the lower house’s opportunity to go hard). And there’s a review of the central bank – the first in 40 years – that will wrap up at the end of March. After that, there’s a decision to be made about whether Lowe’s contract will be extended. His 7-year term is up in September, and while the previous 2 governors got more time, there’s growing speculation Lowe won’t be asked to stay on. As for the task at hand, Chalmers said there are “very encouraging” signs in our economy, like falling power prices. He believes we will avoid a recession, but the conditions ahead are difficult.

Australian News

Squiz the Rest

Continuing to count the cost in Turkey and Syria

The death toll from last week’s earthquakes that devastated large parts of Turkey and Syria has passed 33,000, and the United Nations’ emergency relief coordinator Martin Griffiths says the final number may be double that. The “golden” 72-hour period for rescues has passed, but survivors continue to be pulled out of the rubble, making it “incredibly difficult to decide when to stop this rescue phase,” Griffiths says. Adding to officials’ woes are concerns that the security situation in Turkey will worsen as food and water supplies dwindle. Yesterday, rescue teams from Germany and Austria fled to safety following clashes between unnamed groups. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed to crack down on anyone breaking the law using his emergency powers. And there are still concerns about getting help to Syria – the UN has called the Assad Government and rebels in the affected northern area to “put all politics aside”.

World News

A Norfolk miss, but an Auckland hit

That whooshing sound you could hear on the weekend wasn’t Tropical Cyclone Gabrielle – it was the residents of Norfolk Island exhaling after an anticipated direct hit didn’t eventuate. Trees and power lines were brought down in the 85km/hr winds on Saturday night, but it could have been much worse. “People talk about a cyclone angel and our continued good luck with the cyclones,” said resident Hannah Taylor. And notably, the island’s beloved rescue turtle Doris has been spotted safe and well… That doesn’t mean Gabrielle’s done yet… Downgraded to a sub-tropical low-pressure system from a Category 2 cyclone, it headed towards Auckland, which is still recovering from being hit with record downpours a couple of weeks ago. Officials say residents are in for a “full trifecta” of heavy rain, strong winds and storm surges that will intensify today and tomorrow.


US-Canada v more flying objects

Balloon hunting season continues in North America with US fighter jets downing a “small” and “cylindrical” object over the Yukon in Canada yesterday. It was a day after something described as “the size of a small car” was shot down over neighbouring Alaska. The North American Aerospace Defense Command (a combined US-Canada effort to protect the nations’ airspace) detected them, and Canadian PM Justin Trudeau and US President Joe Biden said take ‘em down… There’s no word on what the objects are or who might have put them in the sky, but recovery efforts will be made to find out their “purpose or origin”. US officials say since recovering what’s left of the Chinese balloon shot down off the coast of South Carolina last weekend, they are certain it was designed for spying. China says it was a civilian airship used for meteorological research.

World News

Questions about winners and losers

Awards season continues, and the Brit Awards have highlighted some issues with removing gendered categories. Last year was the first time organisers changed their approach to be as “inclusive and relevant as possible”. That followed singer/songwriter Sam Smith being left out of the gendered categories (aka the ‘best male’ and ‘best female’ awards) in 2021 after announcing they identified as non-binary. “Let’s celebrate everybody, regardless of gender, race, age, ability, sexuality and class,” Smith said at the time. So last year’s change was welcomed – until this year when no women were nominated for ‘artist of the year’… Yesterday, Smith – who was latexed up but missed out to Harry Styles – said that there was “so much incredible female talent in the UK – they should be on that list.” Commentators say the organisers of similar events have paid close attention… Which is a long way of saying here’s your Brit Awards red carpet gallery


Bowling up a big game

You don’t need to be an American football fan to be interested in this morning’s Super Bowl – the mega sporting event that will see the Philadelphia Eagles take on the Kansas City Chiefs in Arizona (just nod…). If you’re NFL literate, this is the breakdown for you. If not, the talking point today is there are a couple of Aussies playing for Philly: Arryn Siposs, a punter (no, his job isn’t to place the team’s bets…), and Jordan Mailata, an offensive lineman (and no, his job isn’t to swear at the opposition…). Both have great backstories, so get around them. There are also plenty of eyes on brothers Travis and Jason Kelce because it’s the first time in NFL history that two brothers will play against each other in a Super Bowl. Long story short, the Eagles are the favourite to win. But if sport isn’t your thing, Rihanna is headlining the halftime show. And there’s always the Puppy Bowl


Apropos of nothing

A Texan rescue dog named Bailey impressed her new owner and former carers after going missing. The husky-shepherd mix was lost for over 36 hours before finding her way back to the shelter, where she rang the doorbell to be allowed inside. When you can’t make a fist, it’s hard to knock…

Melbourne Fashion Week will add Kmart – yep, you read that right – to its line-up this March. It’ll probably send more everyday basics down the runway than couture despite criticism that the fast fashion retailer deserves a spot.

Ah, Vegas. The city with a replica Eiffel Tower and Egyptian pyramids – and now, a cobblestoned Italian street complete with shops. The “homage to Italy” was built for a private home, and for a cool US$6.5 million, it could be yours

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

10.00am (AEDT) – Federal Parliament sits, House of Reps only

10.00am (AEDT) – The 2nd inquiry into the convictions of Kathleen Folbigg begins in Sydney. She was jailed for fatally smothering her 4 children

10.15am – Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden and Prince Daniel will visit the National Museum of Australia – Canberra

10.30am (AEDT) – Super Bowl LVII – Philadelphia Eagles v Kansas City Chiefs – State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

12.30pm (AEDT) – If American football’s not your thing, there’s the halftime show headlined by Rihanna…

15th anniversary of the apology to the Stolen Generations

Immigration Minister Andrew Giles to announce permanent visa eligibility for 19,000 refugees who arrived in Australia by sea before 2013s Operation Sovereign Borders – Canberra

Neurosurgeon Charlie Teo’s 5-day disciplinary hearing before the Health Care Complaints Commission starts – Sydney

Company Results – Endeavour Group; JB Hi-Fi; Lendlease; IAG

Start of End Youth Suicide Week (until 17 February)

International Epilepsy Day

World Radio Day

Anniversary of:
• the start of the bombing of Dresden by Allied forces (1945)
• British boy band Take That officially announcing that they are disbanding, prompting the UK Government to set up counselling phone lines (1996). And it’s former member Robbie Williams’ birthday (1974)

Squiz the Day

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