Squiz Today / 13 March 2023

Squiz Today – Monday, 13 March

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Squiz Today Podcast

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Today’s listen time: 9.40 minutes

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Squiz Sayings

“The current work-hour system does not convey the increasingly diverse and sophisticated needs of employers and employees by restricting the choices of workers and firms alike.”

Said South Korean Employment Minister Lee Jung-Sik, who reckons the nation’s 52-hour workweek cap should be abandoned… in favour of a 69-hour cap. Working more is a choice too, you know…

Submarine details ahead as China rises

PM Anthony Albanese has made his way to San Diego in the US ahead of a highly anticipated meeting with President Joe Biden and UK PM Rishi Sunak to formalise the AUKUS security pact and finalise the details that will see Oz have its own fleet of nuclear-powered submarines. The leaders haven’t named it when they talk about why they’ve made the agreement, but it’s aimed at countering a more ambitious/aggressive China.

It’s not confirmed, but reports say we’ll buy 4-5 Virginia-class subs from the US to bridge the ‘capability gap’ in our defence toolkit. We’re also said to be doing a deal with the UK for a new generation sub that will be built in Oz. Reports this morning say the cost will likely exceed $200 billion over 30 years and create 20,000 direct/indirect jobs. As for why we’re going down this underwater road, it’s all about nuclear-powered submarines staying quieter for longer. Our current diesel-powered fleet is heading towards the end of its life, and a replacement was already sorted under a deal with the French. That was famously scuttled in 2021 by former PM Scott Morrison when it became possible for Oz to get its own nuclear-powered fleet with the help of the US and the UK. Next stop: the official announcement from the leaders about how it will go down.

The US and UK are on board with Australia having these subs because we’re geographically closer to China, which the leaders agree has created a “complex” strategic environment in our Indo-Pacific region. As for China, there are no points for guessing that it’s not a fan of the developments… On Friday, a Foreign Affairs spokesman urged AUKUS nations to “abandon the Cold War mentality and zero-sum games, honour international obligations in good faith and do more things that are conducive to regional peace and stability.” It comes as Chinese President Xi Jinping was locked in for an unprecedented 3rd term by the National People’s Congress along with Li Qiang as premier/Xi’s 2IC. China also flexed its international superpower muscles on the weekend by brokering a peace deal between Saudia Arabia and Iran. Some experts say it’s further proof of the reordering of alliances that raises China “into a new league diplomatically”.

AusPol World News

Squiz the Rest

Record-breaking floods in FNQ

Residents in the Gulf of Carpentaria region of Far North Queensland have faced more damaging flooding. Normanton, Doomadgee, Gregory and Mount Isa have all been swamped, while the small outback town of Burketown (population 150) was hit hard over the weekend. There, the Albert River peaked at more than 7 metres on Friday… That’s higher than the 2011 record flood level of 6.78m. Most locals were evacuated, but those who remained in town say at least 40 homes were inundated. Authorities say the floodwaters “seem to have steadied”, but it’s expected to be weeks before they recede completely – leaving those in town cut off from help for several weeks. It adds to several months of isolation for communities in the Gulf, which has gone through one of its worst wet seasons in years. The damage bill – including heavy livestock losses – is expected to be hefty.

Australian News

It’s the final countdown to the NSW election

It’s less than 2 weeks until the NSW election, and Premier Dominic Perrottet’s upped the ante with a campaign promise to bolster the finances of the state’s youngest residents. Yesterday, he said if his Coalition Government is reelected, it will create a “future fund”, paying $400 a year into new accounts for each child aged 10yo and under in 2023. Parents could contribute extra, meaning balances could reach up to $49,000 per child on maturity. Perrottet says the $850 million policy would boost kids’ savings for their future education costs and home deposits – the only 2 things they’d be allowed to make withdrawals for from the age of 18yo. For its part, Labor had rising power costs at the front of its mind yesterday, sharing a plan to ease the burden on households and small businesses. It says its $485 million Energy Relief Fund would give those eligible rebates on their rising energy bills. As they turn into the final straight, the Coalition is behind in the polls, and because it’s currently operating without a parliamentary majority, it ideally needs to win seats.


A very public spat broadcast in the UK

The UK’s public broadcaster’s sports coverage was disrupted over the weekend after management went up against staff defending a senior presenter who was taken off air after criticising the government’s migration policy. To recap… Former England soccer captain/current BBC commentator Gary Lineker tweeted that the policy – which bars asylum seekers from travelling in boats across the English Channel – was “cruel” and “directed at the most vulnerable people”. Government MPs weren’t happy, and the BBC (which is required to be politically impartial) suspended Lineker. His colleagues then participated in walkouts to support him, leaving the broadcaster to abandon/amend most of its weekend sports coverage… Critics claim the BBC was pressured by the government and that Lineker’s entitled to his opinions because he’s not a news presenter. PM Sunak’s also been drawn in – he defended the policy and said Lineker’s suspension was a matter for the BBC to deal with.

Sport World News

A big bank run

Thousands of companies have been scrambling to cover their expenses after a major Californian bank collapsed on Friday. Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) provided financing for nearly half of America’s tech start-ups and healthcare companies before it went into receivership on Friday following a “classic bank run”. That saw a large number of customers withdraw their money, leaving the bank short of funds. SVB’s failure is notable because it was the 16th biggest bank in the US last year, with $209 billion in assets and $175 billion in deposits – and analysts say it’s the 2nd-largest bank failure in America’s history. California’s Governor Gavin Newsom says he’s working with the White House to help “stabilise the situation as quickly as possible”, but the government has ruled out a bailout. Reports say some Aussie start-ups have been affected, and the collapse is expected to rattle share markets here and around the world.

Business & Finance

Hollywood’s big night arrives

After the shock and awe of last year’s Oscars when Will Smith hit host Chris Rock and went on to win best actor, organisers have put strategies in place to settle things down. Hosting for a 3rd time is late-night TV host Jimmy Kimmel – he says it’ll be impossible not to address the slappy elephant in the room, but “I obviously don’t want to make the whole monologue about that”. After that, what couple possibly go wrong (except for a power outage…)? This year, many blockbusters are up for awards, including Top Gun: Maverick, Elvis, and Avatar: The Way of Water, with Everything Everywhere All at Once going in as the favourite. Each cracked US$100 million at the box office, and they are the kind of movies that were overlooked in the past. Also, look out for the best song performances – Naatu Naatu is the first Indian film song to be nominated, and it’s set to go off. All the nominations are here – see you back here tomorrow for the champagne-coloured carpet gallery…


Apropos of nothing

A dwarf elephant the size of a little pony once roamed the Mediterranean island of Cyprus. Experts say it’s an example of the ‘island effect’ where large-bodied species downsize on islands while small-bodied species upsize. Our holidays confirm we’re a small-bodied species, then…

Speaking of small species, a honeybee vaccination program has started in the US to protect colonies from being ravaged by disease. Injecting the little pollinators isn’t on the cards – it’s done through the queen bee. Just another example of females doing the heavy lifting, then…

A rescue dog named Shanny has dodged more than 100,000 tonnes of iron ore to be saved from a shipping dumper in the Pilbara. Her owners say she’s back to her “bossy” self. You’d think there’d be a moment of self-reflection after her disastrous escapade…

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

11.00am (AEDT) – Oscars – Los Angeles

PM Anthony Albanese attends an AUKUS meeting with US President Joe Biden and UK PM Rishi Sunak – San Diego

Commonwealth Day

Eight Hours Day public holiday (Tasmania)

Canberra Day public holiday (ACT)

Labour Day public holiday (Victoria)

Adelaide Cup Day public holiday (South Oz)

Start of Brain Awareness Week (until 17 March)

Anniversary of:
• William Herschel discovering the planet Uranus (but he mistook it for a comet) (1781)
• Labor PM Paul Keating’s election win “for the true believers” (1993)
• the election of Pope Francis (2013)

Squiz the Day

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