Squiz Today / 28 February 2023

Squiz Today – Tuesday, 28 February

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Squiz Today Podcast

Earphones in, informed conversations out. 

Today’s listen time: 9.40 minutes

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Squiz Sayings

“It came out shockingly very accurate while still being very, very wrong.”

Said Alexandra Woolner, a crafty type who asked AI chatbot ChatGPT to write a crotchet pattern for a narwhal. The result: so close and yet so far…

Updating our cybersecurity systems


Australia is playing catch up when it comes to defending itself against cyber attacks, according to PM Anthony Albanese. He led a roundtable meeting yesterday to discuss “practical, useful and adaptable” cyber security strategies with experts and leading business figures, calling the work “a fundamental priority”. The rising threat of online attacks was on display during the Medibank and Optus hacks last year, Albanese said, and the potential for future crimes to hit government, business, and citizens is real. “This is really fast-moving. It’s a rapidly evolving threat and for too many years, Australia has been off the pace,” he said. That’s something ASIO boss Mike Burgess also touched on at the agency’s annual security address last week, saying there’s “a growing awareness that we must secure our systems”.


The ambition is to set Oz on course to become “the most cyber-secure nation” by 2030. That means a new 2023-2030 Australian Cyber Security Strategy will be formulated as an overhaul of the $1.7 billion plan left by the Morrison Government. Part of it involves establishing a new cyber security office/coordinator within the Department of Home Affairs and giving them yet-to-be-decided powers to protect Aussies during future attacks. Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil said the recent hacks had also showed them the legal framework that was set up to help the government manage cyber incidents was “useless” and “broken”… And that means more talks about updating the legislation to allow the government’s security agencies to intervene/take over when hackers are running amok – something parts of the business sector has previously said it’s not keen on. 


Well, reports say attendees of the roundtable were “in agreement around common themes”, with cyber intelligence expert Katherine Mansted saying they were “excited by the government’s bold vision” but “the devil will be in the execution”. Former Telstra boss Andy Penn says law reform upping standards and allowing government intervention is “undoubtedly” necessary. And the Coalition’s Cyber Security spokesman James Paterson also indicated support for strengthening the laws but said the government is moving too slowly given the events of last year. As for when this will happen – given the increasing risk of attacks, the government is looking to move a bit faster than your internet connection… It wants to hire the cyber coordinator ASAP so they can develop an emergency response plan within a month. And the full plan is to be implemented by the end of the year. 

AusPol Australian News Business & Finance

Squiz the Rest

More deaths on Italy’s coast

Twelve children are among the 62 dead after a wooden sailing boat that took off from Turkey crashed into rocks off Italy’s southern coast during a spell of rough weather. Authorities believe there were up to 200 people from Afghanistan, Iran and other nations on board when the boat broke up near Steccato di Cutro on the eastern coast of Calabria. It’s thought that there are 40 people still missing at sea. Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said she was deeply sorry about the deaths, and blamed human traffickers for offering people escaping war-torn nations “the false prospect of a safe journey”. The Italian coast is a hotspot for arrivals of those seeking a better life in Europe, but the journey is dangerous. The United Nations has recorded over 25,000 deaths and disappearances in the central Mediterranean since 2014. Meloni’s right-wing government has vowed to stop migrant arrivals and recently introduced new rules limiting rescues.

World News

A crisis in finding a place to call home

If you’ve tried to rent a place just about anywhere in Oz in recent times, you don’t need us to tell you that the market is tight. That’s been backed up by numbers with research firm PropTrack putting the national rental vacancy rate below 2% as prices rose by more than 10% in 2022. Nine of the top 10 rent increases were in regional areas with Katanning – a town about 290km southeast of Perth – clocking the biggest increase of 47%. Economist Anne Flaherty said the rental price hikes across the country were “staggering” and the speed that it’s happened is “far outpacing what we historically see.” Behind the lifts is strong demand that has been supercharged by the “rapid slowdown” of construction activity. That includes well-heeled citysiders moving to the regions, outpricing locals, and international students returning to study in the cities and regional centres has also turned up the pressure. Advocacy groups say, as a result, the growing face of homelessness is single women aged over 55yo.

Australian News

A year on for the Northern Rivers

Communities across the Northern Rivers regions of NSW will today mark one year since the massive floods that devastated the region, including the city of Lismore. It wasn’t the only flood they saw last year, but it was the big one that many are still struggling to recover from. Some remarkable stats/facts that made our brains explode a bit: the Northern Rivers floods were the most expensive disaster in Australian history and our biggest since Cyclone Tracy in 1974. It was the 2nd-costliest event in the world for insurers in 2022, coming in a long way after Hurricane Ian which struck America’s southeast. Researchers reckon about half of the 15-20,000 people affected are living in the shells of homes while the rest are in caravans, sheds, tents and temporary rentals. This digital story released by the ABC yesterday is worth a look, as is this look at how the business sector of Lismore is recovering. 

Australian News

Bagging up a recycling crash

No joke but recycling was a bit of a red button issue with our people over the Christmas/New Year break. That’s because just before the end of 2022, it was revealed that Australia’s largest plastic bag recycling program REDcycle had secretly stockpiled hundreds of millions of bags dropped off by Coles and Woolies customers. So if you’re one of those who had been trying to do your bit by taking your soft plastics to the major supermarkets for recycling, you’ll be interested to hear the program was declared kaput yesterday after failing to pay storage fees for the mountains of waste. The supermarkets say that doesn’t change their ​​plan to rescue the scheme, saying the “stockpiles will be responsibly managed for the best possible environmental outcome.” Prior to its messy end, REDcycle claimed to have recycled more than 5.4 billion soft plastic items collected from 2,000 supermarkets nationwide.

Australian News Business & Finance

No SAGs in sight…

The Screen Actor Guild’s big night has come and gone with the hilariously named SAG Awards pointing the way to the industry’s best performances across film and television. We say hilariously because per square inch, you’ve never seen more sets of taut cheeks – facially and posteriorly – in your life. But we digress… Coming out on top was the super quirky Everything Everywhere All at Once, which took out the top categories, including Michelle Yeoh for best actress. As for best actor, that went to Brendan Fraser for his performance in The Whale. As for drama on the small screen, it was Jason Bateman’s night for his turn in the final season of Ozark, while crowd favourite Jennifer Coolidge received the best actress for White Lotus. As for comedy, we’re no experts but we’re a bit head-scratchy over Jeremy Allen White’s best actor in a TV comedy gong for The Bear. Meanwhile, Jean Smart won for Hacks, just as she should. Red carpet gallery time? You betcha

Australian News

Apropos of nothing

If someone had told us at the start of 2020 that there would be such a thing as revenge partying and it would take the form of a resurgent rave scene, we would have told you to get a responsibly early night. It seems COVID has done strange things to Singaporeans… 

Australia’s men’s cricket captain Pat Cummins is not with the Test team in India preparing for the 3rd match that gets underway tomorrow – he’s in Sydney spending time with his ill mum. Yesterday, he thanked the Barmy Army – the loud group of English cricket supporters – for their tribute

If inter-species animal relationships make you go aww, an Icelandic orca’s ‘adoption’ of a baby pilot whale might not have been ridgy-didge… Experts say there’s a good chance the whale was ‘abducted’ by an oraca that never had a calf of her own. Give those mammals their own reality show… 

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

5.10pm (AEDT) – Women’s Hockey – FIH Pro League – Australia v Argentina – Hobart

7.10pm (AEDT) – Men’s Hockey – FIH Pro League – Australia v Argentina – Hobart

ABS Data Release – Retail Trade, January

Farming Carbon conference – Beechworth

Rare Disease Day

A birthday for architect Frank Gehry (1929)

Anniversary of:
• Francis Crick and James Watson discovering the chemical structure of DNA (1953)
• Egypt gaining independence from the United Kingdom (1922)
• the end of the Gulf War after Iraq accepted a ceasefire following their retreat from Kuwait (1991)

Squiz the Day

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