Squiz Today / 18 October 2022

Squiz Today – Tuesday, 18 October

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Today’s listen time: 9 minutes

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Squiz Sayings

“The clouds are out. The birds are chirping, the cars are on the road, and we are coming home.”

Said 23yo sparkie Nedd Brockmann as he finally made it to Bondi Beach yesterday after running across the country from Perth. The mullet-sporting ultramarathoner clocked an incredible 3,800km over 46 days, raising $1.5 million for charity. Too bad he’ll have to give up his diet of meat pies and Krispy Kreme doughnuts…

Mediscary amounts of waste, investigation finds

Australia’s Health Minister Mark Butler has commissioned a review into the integrity of the Medicare system after a joint investigation by the Sydney Morning Herald/The Age and ABC TV’s 7.30 claimed that billions of dollars are being rorted and wasted each year. Finding the program easy to diddle, expert Dr Margaret Faux pointed to cases of doctors billing for dead patients among the many examples of fraudulent activity that she says amounts to about $8 billion a year.

It sure is – it would mean a 3rd of the Medicare budget is wasted/fraudulently claimed. To be clear, we’re talking about the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS), which is the list of about 5,800 medical services that the government subsidises, including GP consultations, pathology tests, and chronic disease management. Yesterday, Butler said the reports warrant a look over the program’s compliance and audit programs “to ensure that the small minority that do the wrong thing are picked up quickly and dealt with.” But the Australian Medical Association – the peak group representing Australia’s doctors – was having none of it. President Steve Robson said “we have never seen any concerns or numbers that would support the figures reported today”, and he called the report “as appalling as it is inaccurate.”

The Federal Health Department will prepare a report for Minister Butler diving into the claims made by Faux. It’s already responded to questions, saying a strong compliance program is in place, including investigating tip-offs and analysing claim patterns and trends. But some experts say there have been issues that haven’t been acted on for years. Dr Tony Webber, the former head of Medicare watchdog, the Professional Services Review (PSR), estimated the misuse of Medicare to be $3 billion a year back in 2012. He put it down to the system being “riddled” with easy to rort incentives. He also said that when he raised it with the powers that be, he was ignored. So there could be some worms under those rocks…

Australian News Health

Squiz the Rest

Drone attacks on Kyiv

Just as Ukraine was starting its Monday, explosions went off in Kyiv near the city centre and the main train station. Reports say residential buildings and energy infrastructure were also targeted. It’s a week on from the first Russian missile attack on the capital since the war’s starting phase, and other centres were also targeted. Ukrainian authorities say Russia used kamikaze drones – unlike regular drones, they self-destruct on striking their targets. It’s not the first time the weapons have been used in the conflict, and experts say Russia is now using them more in place of long-range precision missiles. President Zelensky says Russian President Vladimir Putin is committing war crimes by overseeing a campaign that “terrorises the civilian population”.

World News

Floods cause havoc at home and overseas

Tens of thousands of Aussies have had to leave their homes, and the shops have been stripped bare in flood-affected regions as the crisis across several states deepened. Conditions eased yesterday in many areas, but authorities warn the relief will be short-lived with more wet weather set to hit later this week. Federal Emergency Services Minister Murray Watt says the situation in Victoria remains “very serious”, and while floodwaters are receding in many areas, a 2nd flood peak could be on the way with more rain. Australia isn’t the only country currently smashed by unseasonal rainfall… In Nigeria, at least 600 people have died and 1.2 million have been displaced in the West African nation’s worst flooding in a decade. Local authorities say climate change is to blame, and they expect heavy downpours to continue into next month.

Australian News World News

Former ministers in court

Western Australian senators Linda Reynolds and Michaelia Cash have given evidence in the trial of former political staffer Bruce Lehrmann. Reynolds was Lehrmann and Brittany Higgins’ boss when the alleged assault occurred in March 2019, and Cash employed Higgins from June 2019 until February 2021. Prosecutors yesterday accused Reynolds of trying to coach the defence – which she denied. She confirmed she’d Lehrmann’s lawyer during the trial saying text messages between Higgins and another former staffer “may be revealing”. Cash also defended herself, telling the court she didn’t hear about the “sexual element” of the alleged assault until Higgins told her “out of the blue” at the start of last year. She said it would have been “political suicide” to keep it quiet if she’d known sooner. The trial is set to finish this week.

AusPol Australian News

Rolling on to Christmas

After The Star was found ‘unfit’ to run a casino in Sydney, the state’s Independent Casino Commission will suspend its licence from Friday and fine the company $100 million – the maximum possible – for failing to stop criminal activity at the venue. But it won’t close its doors… Instead, a special manager has been appointed for 90 days while the company develops a plan to tackle the problems, taking it past Christmas. So roulette is still on the cards in Pyrmont, but if it’s just a bevvy you’re after, you’re in good company… The Endeavour Group – which owns Dan Murphy’s, BWS, and 350 venues – says Aussies are heading to the pub in strong numbers ahead of the festive season. Its boss Steve Donohue says they’re excited for its first restriction-free Christmas in 3 years. It sounds like it will be a very merry Christmas…

Business & Finance

The BBC rings in 100 years

A hundred years ago today, a group of radio pioneers founded a significant institution – the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). Born from a rejection of wartime propaganda as a privately-owned radio news service, it went public in 1927 the leadership of Sir John Reith – the bushy-browed visionary behind the BBC’s mission to “inform, educate, and entertain”. It launched its first regular TV service in 1932 – the same year the World Service international broadcast came onto the airwaves. It’s now available in 41 languages. These days the BBC, like many public broadcasters, is navigating a highly competitive industry on a tight budget. And its legacy is so many TV hits, iconic radio programs – and these days, epic podcasts and online news. For something fun to click through, here’s a list of 100 BBC objects – including this iconic dress

World News

Apropos of Nothing

Always forgetting to charge your earbuds? These new solar-powered headphones could be the next must-have gadget… They generate one hour’s worth of power from just 20 minutes of sun, so even La Niña can’t spoil it.

Farmer Wants A Wife could soon become a lot more popular as students at a school in Queensland’s Western Downs receive virtual reality classes in mustering cattle. It’s hoped it will encourage more kids to study agriculture and eventually moove into farm work…

Ex-British PM John Major has called his storyline in the new season of The Crown a“barrel load of nonsense” as it depicts him scheming with Charles to force his mother from the throne. Meanwhile, Queen Elizabeth’s enduring popularity has been demonstrated by a rise in Corgi ownership, unlike the dwindling numbers of King Charles Spaniels. Awkward…

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

11.05am (AEDT) – Reserve Bank deputy governor Michele Bullock delivers a speech at the Australian Finance Industry Association annual conference – Sydney

12.30pm (AEDT) – Opposition immigration and citizenship spokesman Dan Tehan addresses the National Press Club – Canberra

2.00pm (AEDT) – State funeral held for Uncle Jack Charles – Melbourne

Singapore’s PM, Lee Hsien Loong, visits Canberra

A block of public hearings begins for the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicides – Darwin

Company AGMs – Cochlear; Brambles

Independence Day in Azerbaijan

Alaska Day (marking the anniversary of the US taking possession of the territory after purchasing it from Russia)

World Menopause Day

A birthday for actor Zac Efron (1987)

Anniversary of:
• the founding of the British Broadcasting Company, later called British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)(1922)
• the first all-female spacewalk by NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir outside the International Space Station (2019)

Squiz the Day

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