Squiz Today / 29 January 2018

Squiz Today – Monday, 29 January


"Do what is hard, place high expectations on yourself, take risks and do something that matters. These ideas have kept me going when things have got tough.”

Said 2018 Australian of the Year, Professor Michelle Simmons. She’s a world leader in quantum physics and is working on a super computer that could solve some of the world’s tricky problems in just minutes. You can check out her acceptance speech (and those of the other winners) here.


First out of the Aussie electoral blocks this year, Tasmanians will vote for a new state government on 3 March. Liberal Premier Will Hodgman is up against the Rebecca White-led Labor party in a five-week campaign to win control of the 25-seat parliament.

On the economic front, Tassie is pulling up its socks. A new Commsec report out today shows Tassie is at a five-year high with improvements in measures like business investment, population growth, retail and building activity. Health and education standards have long been a point of contention and will be a constant theme this campaign. And on poker machines, Labor wants to ban them from pubs and clubs by 2023. In contrast, the Liberals want more casinos (think David Walsh’s grand plans) and would keep pokies until at least 2043.

Five quick things:

1. Both the Libs and Labor say they won’t be part of a minority government. That’s a message to voters to stick with the major parties.

2. But both the Greens (think Bob Brown) and the Jacqui Lambie Network (think, well, Jacqui Lambie…) have strong followings in Tasmania. Their potential to impact the election outcome can’t be discounted.

3. Tasmania has the world’s hardest electoral system that no one understands. And if someone says tells you they do, they’re lying.

4. Rebecca White is young (she’s 34yo), from the country, has been Labor leader for less than a year and hopes to become the state's second-ever female premier (Labor's Lara Giddings was beaten by Will Hodgman in 2014).

5. Will Hodgman played with the Violent Femmes in Launceston a couple of weeks ago. Seriously.


It’s the third major attack in a week that also injured more than 230 people. This time Taliban attackers drove an ambulance packed with explosives past a security checkpoint into a busy part of the diplomatic and government precinct in the capital Kabul. World leaders including US President Donald Trump condemned the indiscriminate killing of civilians. Experts say the latest terror activity is about undermining confidence in the Western-backed Afghan government.

This morning it’s all about the Turnbull Government’s ambition to make us a world top 10 arms exporter. But yesterday Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce pondered out loud about whether the revamped mega Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal could include the US from the get-go. That’s because Trump said last week that he would consider re-committing the US if a “substantially better agreement” could be forged. Which would probably have been a Kerry Armstrong-grade surprise to Trade Minister Steve Ciobo who has worked hard towards getting a new 11-nation agreement signed in March.

Three things to consider in this ever-changing world of ours:

US NAMES CHINA AND RUSSIA AS SECURITY PRIORITIES – A significant new US national security strategy was released last week. “We will continue to prosecute the campaign against terrorists, but great-power competition - not terrorism - is now the primary focus of U.S. national security,” US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said, citing China and Russia. And now Australia has said count us in.

DAVOS HERALDS A TECH LASH – That’s fancy talk for rising anti-Google/Facebook/Silicon Valley sentiment. Reports say titans of business and world leaders at last week’s World Economic Forum voiced their concerns about the behaviours and lack of regulation of the tech giants. Another theme to watch this year.

SAUDI PRINCE RELEASED - After being taken into detention in November (if you can call being held in a luxury suite in the Ritz-Carlton detention…), Prince Alwaleed bin Talal is out and about. Alwaleed is a big-time investor and was the most prominent of the many princes and government movers-and-shakers arrested in an anti-corruption crackdown. Experts say the exercise was about Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attempting to consolidate power.

The former US gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar has been sentenced to a minimum of 40 years and a maximum of 175 years in prison after pleading guilty to decades of abuse of his young female charges. In the end, more than 150 women spoke in court about the abuse they suffered. And it’s not over for the organisations associated with him.

When Roger Federer cries, the whole world cries with him – happy tears, luckily. Last night's see-sawing five-setter against Marin Cilic saw Federer claim his 6th Aussie Open. The win also makes him the first man to win 20 grand slam titles (three women have done it previously). And Simona Halep went into Saturday’s women’s final against Caroline Wozniacki the world’s #1 ranked player but was unable to convert it into her first grand slam win. Instead, Wozniacki landed her first slam in a close match that saw her outplay her dogged opponent.

Look, we’re far from perfect. On any given day we die a million deaths over a turn of phrase we’d change, typo, or (gasp) an error. But Vanity Fair’s photoshop fails in its latest Hollywood special was a doozy. "Well...I guess everybody knows now...I have 3 legs. I hope you can still accept me for who I am,” said Reece Witherspoon. “I accept your 3d leg. As I know you accept my 3d hand,” said Oprah. And the mag digitally removed James Franco after “misconduct allegations” were levelled at him. Some projects are just doomed from the start.


11.30am (AEDT) - 60th Annual Grammy Music Awards - New York

Birthdays for Germaine Greer, Oprah Winfrey, Tom Selleck and Adam Lambert - something for everyone...

Anniversary of the death of US poet Robert Frost (1963) - his works continue to excite (read: terrify) school children across Australia

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