Squiz Today / 21 February 2022

Squiz Today – Monday, 21 February

%%=Format(@localdatetime, “dddd, d MMMM yyyy”)=%%

Squiz Today Podcast

Get into the news groove.

Today’s listen time: 9 minutes

SYD
21 / 30
MEL
14 / 20
BNE
21 / 30
ADL
14 / 23
PER
19 / 34
HBA
11 / 17
DRW
25 / 32
CBR
15 / 29

Squiz Sayings

“Get well soon, Ma’am.”

Said Sir Keir Starmer, leader of the UK’s Labour Party, to news that Queen Elizabeth has COVID. Buckingham Palace says the 95yo monarch has “mild” symptoms and will continue to perform “light duties”. Geez, could they give the woman a week off…

Australia now easy come, easy go

THE SQUIZ
After almost 2 years of being closed to the world – 704 days to be exact – Fortress Australia is lowering the drawbridge. From today, vaccinated travellers will be able to come in and out of the country as they did pre-pandemic. It’s the latest step in our reopening: in November, international travel restrictions on Aussie citizens/permanent residents were lifted, and temporary visa holders /international students were allowed back earlier this month. And with today’s full reopening, we’re deep into ‘COVID-normal’ territory. Tourism Minister Dan Tehan said it was an essential step in our recovery. “Australia is the best country in the world, and we’re excited to be sharing it with the rest of the world again,” he said.

WHAT WAS THE COST OF THE BORDER CLOSURE?
The cost to the economy has been immense. Some reports have calculated it to be about $36.5 million a day in lost expenditure from tourists and international students. And last week, the Bureau of Stas said 1.23 million people arrived in Oz since March 2020 – figures you’d expect to see in a month pre-pandemic. Population growth also slowed sharply from 1.5% since the mid-2000s to 0.2% last year as immigration ground to a halt. And the human toll has been costly with hundreds of thousands of Aussies stranded overseas. But officials say that the closed border was effective and necessary as a health measure to keep Aussies safe from COVID before vaccines became available. Looking ahead, it will take some time to really get going with countries like New Zealand maintaining significant travel restrictions until later in the year.

AND SOON WE CAN TRAVEL AROUND AUSTRALIA FREELY…
Correctomundo. Western Oz has been the holdout, but Premier Mark McGowan has confirmed the state’s border will re-open on 3 March to travellers who have had a booster COVID vaccine dose. It had initially set a date for 5 February but called that off over concerns about Omicron and the state’s low booster jab rate. But a month is a long time in the pandemic, and the state is now battling an outbreak of the virus with 222 new cases recorded yesterday. “Eventually, there comes a point where the border is ineffective when you get to high cases numbers within the state,” McGowan said.

Australian News

Squiz the Rest

The promise of more talks on Ukraine as drills continue

Military exercises that were set to end overnight on the Belarus and Russian side of the border with Ukraine will continue this week. They cite the deterioration of the situation in East Ukraine as the reason to keep 30,000 troops in place there. That’s a reference to the escalating violence in the two Ukrainian regions held by pro-Russian rebels where thousands of civilians are being evacuated into Russia, and men aged over 18yo are being mobilised to fight. Some analysts say it means Russia is not prepared to back down in its stand-off with the West. But there is some hope on the diplomatic front… This morning, Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron have agreed to try to secure a ceasefire in Ukraine’s east and hold an urgent summit on the future of Ukraine. Note: those talks would not include the US…

World News

Shining a dangerous light on the Oz-China relationship

A welding mishap wasn’t the only bright-light incident PM Scott Morrison dealt with this weekend… Yesterday, he accused a Chinese military vessel of shining a laser at an Aussie Air Force plane early on Thursday morning. Morrison says it was an “act of intimidation” that put the lives of up to 10 Defence Force members at risk. The Chinese ship was sailing through Australia’s Exclusive Economic Zone between the Northern Territory and Papua. That’s interesting enough, but the use of the military-grade laser that can blind a pilot and damage the plane’s equipment is “not in keeping with the standards we expect of professional militaries,” the Defence Department said in a statement. Malcolm Davis from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute said it was “a hostile act” and that China could be “testing us in terms of seeing how we respond.”

Australian News

Firing up a gassy takeover bid

Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes is making a splash with a bid for energy giant AGL. Reports say he’s teamed up with Canadian fund manager Brookfield for the circa $8 billion bid. The Aussie tech entrepreneur’s fortune is said to be worth more than $20 billion, and in recent times, he’s become a significant investor in renewable energy projects. As for AGL, it is set to split its retailing and power generation divisions, and it’s planning to remove coal-fired plants from its roster of energy-generating assets by 2045, which is sooner than initially planned. Reports say Cannon-Brookes/Brookfield would get out of coal-fired power generation even sooner, which will cost a pretty penny – but it would bring down AGL’s carbon footprint, which is estimated to account for 8% of Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions. No one’s confirmed anything at this point, so look out for some clarification when the market opens this morning…

Business & Finance

Storm Eunice rips through Western Europe

At least 16 people have been killed and millions of homes and businesses across the UK and Europe lost power after one of the most damaging storms in years. Winds of 196km/hour were recorded on the Isle of Wight, which would be the highest ever in England if officially confirmed. London’s domed O2 Arena didn’t escaped damage as watching planes land at Heathrow became a thing on YouTube… Ferries were suspended across the English Channel, and hundreds of flights across the affected region caused mayhem for travellers. Eunice brewed in the central Atlantic Ocean, and forecasters reckon it was the worst storm since 1987. More bad weather is predicted this week…

World News

Zai jian to the Winter Olympics

As the Beijing Winter Games closed last night and those of a certain generation hummed Amigos Para Siempre, Sami Kennedy-Sim led Australia’s 10 remaining athletes in the ceremony. A freestyle skier, Kennedy-Sim (who’s also a stroke survivor) equalled her best-ever finish at the Olympics, coming in 8th in the ski cross race last week. “Watching athletes marching in ceremonies is such an important part of how sport unifies us as a world and as a country as well, so to get this opportunity feels so special.” When all was slid down the slopes and across the ice, Australia finished with 4 medals – one gold, 2 silver and a bronze – in our best-ever performance in the Winter Games. Check out those magic performances by Jakara Anthony, Scotty James, Jackie Narracott, and Tess Coady… For those who like to plan ahead, the Italian cities of Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo will host the 2026 Winter Olympics. Ciao bella…

Sport

Apropos of Nothing

‘Le Violin d’Ingres’ by the surrealist artist Man Ray is set to make history as the most expensive photo to sell at auction, going under the hammer in May and expected to fetch between US$5-7 million dollars. Not bad for a pic of a woman dressed up as a violin…

If you need a new sport to become an instant expert in, you’re right on time for the World Skipping Championships. We’re working up a sweat just thinking about it…

“It’s sort of like… it’s a complicated game,” said Aussie basketballing star Josh Giddey of his other favourite sport, AFL. The 19yo who’s taking the NBA by storm was asked “what is Australian Rules Football” by an American journo on Saturday. Where do you even start…

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

Australia reopens its international borders for fully vaccinated tourists

Inquest into Belgian backpacker Theo Hayez’s disappearance in Byron Bay reconvenes for 3 days – Sydney

Company Results – Ampol; BlueScope Steel; Lendlease Group; Endeavour Group; nib

International Mother Language Day

Birthdays for director Jordan Peele (1979) and actors Elliot Page (1987) and Sophie Turner (1996)

Anniversaries of:
• the publication of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’ The Communist Manifesto (1848)
• the first issue of New Yorker magazine (1925)
• the birthdays of singer Nina Simone (1933) and actor Alan Rickman (1946)
• the assassination of civil rights activist Malcolm X (1965)
• Richard Nixon becoming the first US President to visit China, normalising relations between the countries in a meeting with Chinese leader Mao Zedong in Beijing (1972)

Squiz the Day

The Squiz Archive

Want to check out Squiz Today from the archive?

Get the Squiz Today newsletter

It's a quick read and doesn't take itself too seriously. Get on it.