Squiz Today / 07 December 2020

Squiz Today – Monday, 7 December


"It's definitely a hazard ... there is no regular cutting of the grass."

Said Margaret Persico, a resident of Hillside in Victoria, after the community suffered an episode of 'hairy panic' on the weekend. And no, that's not the realisation that there's some personal grooming to be done after a year spent at a distance from others…


NSW Police yesterday 'fessed up to stuffing up when 2 Germans were wrongly allowed to travel to Melbourne after arriving in Sydney on Saturday. It's put Victorian officials on edge as Melbourne receives its first international arrivals today after pulling up the welcome mat in early July.

Instead of being directed to spend 2 weeks in hotel quarantine in Sydney, the 53yo woman and 15yo boy were allowed to board a Virgin flight to Melbourne "under standard protocols for exempt travellers". NSW Deputy Police Commissioner Jeff Loy said confusion and the language barrier got the better of an officer who was on his second shift with the operation. "He's a very good officer … someone who is very remorseful about the mistake that he's made," Loy said yesterday. The error was picked up by an airport security guard in Melbourne who approached the pair when they appeared to be lost. The travellers are now in hotel quarantine in Melbourne as early guests of the state's revamped program. And 176 people, including those on the Virgin flight, are in isolation. They will be free to go today if the Germans return another negative test.

And Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has called on NSW to conduct an investigation into what went wrong saying it was "good fortune" that saw the travellers intercepted at Melbourne airport. "We're very keen though to have a system that's not reliant on that," he said. Still, Andrews announced today will see a further easing of restrictions that will allow bigger groups at home, at weddings and funerals, in hospitality venues, and more. That's what 37 days without a case of community transmission of the coronavirus gets you… And it's 'Freedom Day' in NSW that will see larger crowds at venues and events - and up to 50 people can hit an indoor dancefloor. Just in time for that awkward part of the office Christmas party…



The heritage-listed island in the southeast of the state has been extensively damaged by bushfires sparked by an illegal campfire on 14 October. The island - also known as K'gari - covers almost 182,000 hectares, and at least 82,500 hectares of the national park have been burned out. And yesterday, the residents of Happy Valley were advised to evacuate via the beach as the town was surrounded by flames. Described as a "paradise" by Prince Harry (who visited with a newly pregnant Meghan in 2018), some conservationists say the fires are "catastrophic" for the island's unique vegetations and animal life. Looking across the sweaty Sunshine State, there's some good news on the heatwave front - yesterday was the peak, officials say. But you'll have to hold on until Wednesday for things to cool down, and brace for thunderstorms in the meantime…


Politics never sleeps, but this is the last sitting week of the year for our federal parliament. And an issue that's set to dominate is the Foreign Relations Bill - a simple title for a politically-charged move to give the federal government veto powers over agreements struck by state and local governments with foreign powers. Ahem, Victoria with your Belt and Road agreement with the Chinese Government… On this occasion, it's not Labor that the Coalition's problem - it supports the bill. It's China. And while Team Morrison says China's not the target of the legislation, the test will be whether it uses the new law to cancel Victoria's deal. Regardless, pundits say it's likely China will see this week's passage of the legislation as a red rag. Also on the agenda this week: the introduction of a bill to give casual workers more protections, and the tabling of a code on Thursday that would see Google and Facebook pay for news links from Australian publishers.


Another horizon in the separation saga has nearly been reached… To recap: the UK left the European Union on 31 January, but their trading rules, which have remained in place until the end of the year, are still to be sorted. If it's not settled, it means border checks and taxes will need to be introduced from 2021. And the update is [insert drumroll…] they're still talking. With just 26 days to iron out the sticking points on fishing rights, competition rules and how any deal is enforced, the two sides described their differences as "serious". Negotiating teams have reconvened in Brussels overnight, and UK PM Boris Johnson and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen will speak again on Monday evening (local time). Not so fussed about it is Johnson - he's said to have given an impromptu rendition of Waltzing Matilda (paywall) last Thursday as talks stalled again. That's a reference to his comfort with an "Australian-style" trade deal based on "simple principles of global free trade".


They travelled 6 years and more than 5 billion kilometres, and all they got were these... rocks? Ok, they're not just any rocks. They're samples from an asteroid that could give up the secrets to the origin of the solar system and life on our planet - so just a couple of minor things… And for anyone that has an issue with maps or arriving on time, behold the precision work of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency that released the small capsule on Saturday and sent it toward Woomera in outback South Oz for the team to collect. Skywatchers near the site were able to see the capsule turn into a fireball as it re-entered the atmosphere. And there was no one happier than project manager Yuichi Tsuda who'd waited 6 years for the events of the weekend. "It was a beautiful fireball, and I was so impressed," he said.


Christmas cards have been around forever, right? Nah-uh… Published in 1843, the first commercially printed Christmas card wishing the recipient "A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year" was produced at the suggestion of Sir Henry Cole, a British civil servant and inventor who founded the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. And it wasn't controversy-free with the scene depicting a child drinking alcohol. Even without Twitter, it was a whole thing… Sound like your jam? A couple of the cards are on sale this week, and for a few thousand bucks, it could be yours…


9.00am (AEDT) - Reserve Bank Governor Philip Lowe to address to Australian Payments Network via webcast

Federal Parliament to resume for its last sitting week of 2020

More coronavirus restrictions in NSW and Victoria ease. And Victoria starts accepting international flights again

ANZ job ads data for November

International Civil Aviation Day

Birthdays for linguist/political activist Noam Chomsky (1928), rocker Tom Waits (1948) and actor Nicholas Hoult (1989)

Anniversary of:
• the deaths of Roman statesman and philosopher Cicero (43BC) and British naval officer William Bligh (1817)
• the attack on the US Naval Base in Pearl Harbor by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service (1941)
• the premiere of the first Star Trek movie (1979)
• the passing of same-sex marriage legislation through the Australian Parliament (2017)

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