Squiz Today / 31 January 2022

Squiz Today – Monday, 31 January

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Squiz Today Podcast

We brief you, and you’re set for the day.

Today’s listen time: 9 minutes

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Squiz Sayings

“Misery Beach”

Named for all the animal killing that used to happen there, it’s Tourism Australia’s best beach of 2022. It’s also in Western Oz which maintains a closed border, so that’s misery for beach-lovers from anywhere else…

Hillsong founder steps down ahead of court hearing

Brian Houston, the global leader of Pentecostal megachurch Hillsong, yesterday told worshippers that he will vacate his role as he prepares to defend a criminal charge over the alleged coverup of child abuse committed by his father in the 1970s. Houston was charged in October last year following a police investigation that started in 2019, and he returned from the US to plead not guilty. Legal proceedings “are likely to be drawn out and take up most of 2022”, and that means won’t be able to lead the church this year, he says.

Police say Houston knew from September 1999 that his father Frank – a Pentecostal preacher who died in 2004 – had indecently assaulted a boy. And they say he had information that could help secure the prosecution of his father, but he failed to come forward. In 2014, the Royal Commission into institutional child abuse heard Frank had admitted to the abuse before his death and that he had abused up to 9 boys in Australia and New Zealand. In the particular case of a male referred to as AHA, Brian Houston was investigated and charged with concealing the serious indictable offence of another person. He says “I intend to fight the charge and welcome the opportunity to set the record straight.” Houston’s trial is scheduled to start in October.

Brian Houston and his wife Bobbie founded the church in 1983, and it’s a global evangelical phenomenon. Based in Sydney’s Hills district, there are now 131 churches in 30 countries. In 2020, the church made $87 million in revenue in Australia, but it doesn’t pay tax because it’s a religious institution. Hollywood star Chris Pratt is a fan, as was singer Justin Bieber until he had a falling out with the church last year. Back home, PM Scott Morrison is a Pentecostal Christian who calls Brian Houston a friend. After some controversy, he confirmed that he had asked for an invitation to be extended to Houston for his state dinner at the White House in 2019. Houston was under police investigation at that point in time. Given it’s an election year, it’s something we could hear more about – despite our leaders’ personal faith being an uneasy area


Squiz the Rest

Back to school with COVID

As school holidays come to an end, the COVID-case-heavy states of NSW and Victoria have announced plans for getting kids back into the classroom. Both states are relying on rapid antigen tests (RATs) to prevent widespread outbreaks, with primary/secondary students and staff to test themselves twice weekly. It’s voluntary, and the responsibility of reporting kids’ positive tests will fall on parents/carers. Where are the millions of RATs coming from? Those governments have secured enough supply to hand over to the schools. Also wondering about RAT supplies are Australia’s small pharmacies with the program to hand them out to concession card holders starting today. And over the ditch, Kiwi PM Jacinda Ardern has upped the nation’s COVID restrictions to ‘red’, which means masks are back, and there are limits on gathering numbers. That’s seen her wedding plans put on hold as she goes all Ned Kelly


Floods cut supplies to Darwin and the west

Supply chain challenges just got a bit more, well, challenging with an “inland sea” forming in the north of South Oz thanks to heavy rain last week – and there’s a lot more of the wet stuff on the way, according to the weather bureau. That’s seen the Defence Force called in to deliver 20 tonnes of food and supplies to Coober Pedy, which has been cut off for days. And there is extensive damage to the highways and rail lines linking Adelaide and the eastern states with the Northern Territory and Western Oz. Officials say those will take at least a couple of weeks to repair. Until then, transport regulators say alternative routes have been recommended through NSW and Queensland for truckers looking to go to Darwin – which is quite a detour… If you’re in Perth, Darwin, Alice Springs and everywhere in between, settle into the supermarket shelves looking a bit bare for a while…

Australian News

Charlotte Bellis meets trouble on the Kiwi border

She’s the Kiwi journo who wants to return home from Afghanistan but has been denied permission by the government. Bellis is pregnant and due to give birth in May. And she says it’s “brutally ironic” that she’s questioned the Taliban about their treatment of women, but she’s now asking the same questions of her home country. In September, Bellis, who worked for news outlet Al Jazeera, returned to Qatar from Afghanistan when she discovered she was up the duff. She quit her job and hot-footed it to Belgium (her partner’s homeland) because it’s illegal to be pregnant and unmarried in the Muslim country. Encouraged by news that New Zealand was set to end 10 days of hotel quarantine for citizens, she returned to Afghanistan to work freelance. Enter Omicron, and New Zealand’s decision to maintain its quarantine regime means the backlog of thousands of people trying to get in continues to grow… Officials say the system is “fair and consistent”, but Bellis says she will fight to get home ASAP. 

World News

An interest in interest rates

The Reserve Bank board will hold its first meeting of 2022 tomorrow, and speculation is rife about a looming interest rate hike. Our central bank spent the best part of last year saying that rates wouldn’t lift from the record low of 0.1% until 2024, but last week, data from the Bureau of Statistics confirmed that inflation is on the way up. Economists say that means we could see a rate rises this year to end up at 0.5%. On a $500,000 mortgage, that’s another $100 a month. Homeowners and investors looking to cash in before the market softens has seen the number of capital city properties offered at auction more than doubling. It’s a tricky one for the Morrison Government to handle as it heads towards an election and looks to dial up its economic management credentials. And it has some work to do with this morning’s Newspoll showing Labor well ahead – just mind the graph

Business & Finance

What a weekend of tennis…

The cherry on top of a memorable Australian Open was a cracking men’s singles final last night that saw Rafael Nadal beat Daniil Medvedev in a thrilling 5-setter. The 5:24-long blockbuster was a knock-em-down-drag-em-out tussle that saw both men play some cracking tennis. The win sees Nadal – who was tipped to miss the Open after last year’s treatment on his foot and bout of COVID – become the first male player to win 21 grand slam singles titles. And it puts him ahead of champions Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. And sure, that was exciting, but we’ve still got the Ash Barty glow from Saturday night… There are all the stats, but this is the best illustration going around. For Barty’s part, she said she’s “still trying to refine my craft” despite joining an elite group. Not so humble was Nick Kyrgios, who said he and winning men’s doubles partner Thanasi Kokkinakis created “probably the best atmosphere this tournament has ever seen” and “the ratings speak for themselves”. They do, and he is wrong…


Apropos of Nothing

Audio streamer Spotify has an issue on its hands with artists pulling their tunes in protest against libertarian podcaster Joe Rogan, whose show is exclusive to the platform. Much maligned muso James Blunt has a different approach – he’s threatened to release new music unless Rogan goes…

Political rhetoric can get a bit fast and loose, but West Virginia’s Governor held up a bulldog’s butt and told Bette Midler to kiss it after she criticised the state’s residents. That’s unusual…

And if you’d like to channel a bit of Barty’s positivity as we enter a new week, here are some insights from the world #1’s mindset coach in audio/visual and written form.

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

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Anniversary of the United Kingdom officially leaving the European Union (2020)

Squiz the Day

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