Squiz Today / 14 March 2022

Squiz Today – Monday, 14 March

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Squiz Today Podcast

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Today’s listen time: 9 minutes

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Squiz Sayings

“The feedback we get from customers is they are bored with coffee and want something new.”

Said UK chocolatier Jens Knoop who is developing a range of fancy hot chocolates. But bored with coffee? He better be careful because that’s our best mate he’s talking about…

Petrol fumes smell a lot like a national poll…

Nothing screams an election is near like our political leaders being asked what they will do to ease cost of living pressures. And with petrol prices surging to $2.20/litre across the country – and up to $3/litre in remote parts – PM Scott Morrison yesterday left the door open for a change to Australia’s fuel excise to ease the bruising that drivers are copping at the bowser.

Let’s make this as painless as possible… We pay the 10% GST on fuel, but this is different. Fuel excise is a special tax that’s currently set at 44.2 cents/litre. It’s collected by the Federal Government, and the idea is that it’s spent on road infrastructure projects. It’s expected to bring the government $19.2 billion this financial year, which is a lot of bitumen… So with the prospect that there could be changes, political pundits are partying like it’s 2001. That was when then PM John Howard was facing a tough election, and petrol was heading towards the OMG price of $1/litre. To take the heat off, he froze the indexation on fuel excise, meaning the rate would no longer increase with inflation – and it worked a charm with the electorate. Note: regular increases to the fuel excise rate were reintroduced in 2015 when the Coalition did a deal with Labor.

Australia can’t do anything about the price of oil, which is at near-record highs thanks to the global shock created by Russia’s war on Ukraine – and it’s expected to go even higher as the fighting continues. “I think Australians understand those issues,” Morrison told the Nine Network yesterday. As for cutting the tax on fuel, he said we will have to wait until the Federal Budget on 29 March. Labor leader Anthony Albanese says he could get behind a change, but he needs to see the Budget first. And leading the charge has been Independent Senator Rex Patrick – he wants the rate to be halved for 12 months. “Extreme fuel prices, higher food and grocery prices and rising interest rates could prove to be a triple whammy for many Aussie families,” he said last week. See you on Budget night…

AusPol Business & Finance

Squiz the Rest

Russia accused of brutality in Ukraine

US journalist and filmmaker Brent Renaud has been killed by Russian forces in the town of Irpin outside Kyiv. The documentary maker, who previously worked for the New York Times, is the first foreign reporter to die in the conflict. Reporters who were with him said they were filming refugees escaping the town when they were fired on at a checkpoint. White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said it was “one more example of the brutality of Vladimir Putin and his forces as they’ve targeted schools and mosques and hospitals and journalists.” Further west, at least 35 people died in a Russian strike on a military training base near the city of Lviv. That’s getting a lot of attention this morning because it’s 25km from the Polish border, and Poland is a NATO member. And a tiny ray of light to note: both Ukrainian and Russian officials have put a positive spin on their ongoing talks with a result expected “literally in a matter of days”.

World News

Muddy waters over the flood response in NSW

A blame game hasn’t washed through yet in NSW over the slow response to the unprecedented flood emergency after it was revealed that the Defence Force had preemptively offered to help but were knocked back. The ADF contacted NSW’s State Emergency Service twice on 25 February and were told they weren’t needed. Three days later, the city of Lismore was underwater, and locals in their tinnies and kayaks were relied on to rescue those stranded. Yesterday, SES Commissioner Carlene York defended the decision, saying the flooding was predicted to be minor to moderate. NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet backed his people but said it would be part of a review. More financial support is on the way with the weekend’s Red Cross flood appeal that was backed by the commercial TV networks raising $25 million. You can still donate here.

Australian News

NT cop acquitted of murder charges

We’ve followed the trial of Zachary Rolfe, the Northern Territory constable accused of murdering 19yo Kumanjayi Walker in the remote town of Yuendumu in 2019, so we wanted to cover off the verdict. Late on Friday afternoon, a jury acquitted Rolfe of all charges after 7 hours of deliberation. The 5-week trial heard that Rolfe had been stabbed in the shoulder by Walker with scissors, and Walker’s moves towards his partner led Rolfe to shoot the Indigenous teenager 3 times. Prosecutors argued that the first shot was justified, but the 2nd and 3rd shots amounted to murder. After the verdict, Rolfe said “a lot of people are hurting today”, and later said he was “thrown under the bus” by NT Police and a botched investigation. And Walker’s devastated family stood with a senior elder Ned Jampinjinpa Hargreaves, who asked “when are we going to get justice?” That’s not the end of things – a coronial inquest will start later this year.

Australian News Crime

An update on all things viral

An extra $2.1 billion is being put towards combatting an expected spike in COVID cases and the flu this winter. And here’s a new challenge some of that cash will go towards: devising a single test that would check if someone has both at the same time. Also on officials’ minds following Friday’s National Cabinet meeting: scrapping quarantine requirements for all close contacts of COVID cases and scrapping PCR testing for healthy people with symptoms. The idea is they will be encouraged to undergo voluntary self-isolation while they have symptoms. We’ve come a long way since December when the Omicron wave and testing/isolating requirements did away with many Christmas plans… And then there’s the Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) – there’s $69 million to buy and administer vaccines after it was declared of national significance earlier this month. Health officials are worried about the mozzie-spread disease, which has killed 2 people.


Perks cut for Metamates

There’s no such thing as a free dinner – unless you work at Facebook (aka Meta) and have access to employee perks designed to retain staff in the highly competitive tech industry. Meta has been WFH during the pandemic, and as it begins to welcome its “mates” back into the office, some changes are being made. Free laundry and dry cleaning will be cut, and dinner will now be free from 6.30pm, which is after the company’s shuttle buses take people home. Sure, it’s being offset by ‘wellness’ payments going from about $700 to $3,000, but many workers were quick to complain… Reports say that’s left management cranky about a perceived sense of entitlement at the company. In an official statement, Meta said “we’ve adjusted on-site services and amenities to better reflect the needs of our hybrid workforce.”  


Apropos of Nothing

Squiz the Day

Public holidays for Victoria (Labour Day), South Australia (Adelaide Cup Day), Tassie (Eight Hours Day), and the ACT (Canberra Day)

6.00am (AEDT) – BAFTA Film Awards – London

10.00am (AEDT) – 27th annual Critics Choice Awards ceremony

Commonwealth Day

Start of Brain Awareness Week (on until 20 March)

Pi Day

Anniversary of:
• Albert Einstein’s birthday (1879)
• the Cedar Revolution in Lebanon, following the assassination of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri (2005)
• Xi Jinping becoming President of the People’s Republic of China (2013)
• US high school students staging a mass walkout to commemorate the Florida high school shooting (2018)
• the deaths of Karl Marx (1883) and Stephen Hawking (2018)

Squiz the Day

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