Squiz Today / 08 May 2017

Squiz Today – Monday, 8 May


Treasurer Scott Morrison yesterday outlined the theme of Tuesday night’s budget – they’re all about “making the right choices”. If you’re into making Budget Bingo cards (in which players nominate and cross off predictable budget night one-liners as they’re delivered in the 7.30pm speech), definitely include that quote. We would have gone with “making ok choices”, but we’re heavily into managing expectations.

Get across this and you’ll be a well-informed, economically responsible citizen who is well prepped for budget night – which no doubt is your life’s ambition. Here are some highlights of what we know (or think we know) already:

• Reports this morning say some foreign aid funding will be redirected to increase the anti-terrorism efforts of our security agencies ASIO and ASIS. The Federal Police are also expected to receive $321 million in additional funding for domestic policing. 

• Infrastructure investment – almost $20 billion for an inland rail link between Melbourne and Brisbane, WA road and rail projects, Snowy Hydro 2.0, and a second airport for Sydney.

• Improving housing affordability – a ‘ghost tax’ for homes left empty by investors, a first home savings account, incentives for retirees to downsize, and encouraging investment in affordable housing projects.

• Education funding – changes (which is a nice way of saying cuts) to university funding and lowering the student HELP (old HECS) income threshold, and an additional $18.6 billion over ten years in school funding.

• Health initiatives – there’s speculation there’ll be funding for improving veterans’ mental health and $3 billion to unfreeze Medicare rebates.

• Energy bill assistance for pensioners ($75 for singles, $125 for couples) – this makes good on a promise made with Senator Xenophon in exchange for his block’s vote for company tax cuts for small business earlier in the year.

This is the first budget since the last election, and traditionally that's the time for the tough announcements. That approach didn't go so well last time (think Abbott/Hockey 2014 budget), which is why Scott Morrison is at pains to say he and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull are more interested in fixing problems than pursuing ideological agendas. As well as seeing how the government decides to spend our money, we’re interested in the state of our deficit (how much the government spends versus what it collects in taxes/royalties etc). It was predicted in December that our deficit will be $28.7 billion. Just two sleeps to go – bet you can’t wait!


Emmanuel Macron is France’s next President, he's projected to receive 65% of the vote.  The final days of the campaign have been like a French political version of the ‘Real Housewives’ franchise. Marine Le Pen’s father, former presidential candidate and Front National founder Jean-Marie Le Pen gave a scathing interview to London’s Sunday Times newspaper suggesting she is unfit for the big job. Thanks dad… And Macron claimed his campaign had been hacked after thousands of private emails were posted online. At 39yo Macron will be France's youngest ever President, and amazing to think just three years ago he had no public profile.

That would be the blokes allegedly involved in three rugby league connected drug-related incidents since Friday.

Incident 1 – Cronulla Sharks Chairman, former basketballing great and Hoyts Group CEO Damian Keogh was arrested at a Woolloomooloo pub allegedly in possession of a bag containing a white substance. Keogh has stepped aside as Chairman of the Sharks and will face court next month. 

Incident 2 - New Zealand captain Jesse Bromwich and national teammate Kevin Proctor were allegedly involved in an incident after the Oz v NZ match in Canberra involving white powder being inhaled off a phone. Proctor lost his co-captain role with the Gold Coast Titans, Bromwich was stood down from the Melbourne Storm for two games. Our favourite quote comes from Proctor; “Although I can't remember exactly what happened, I don't deny it.” 

Incident 3 – Sydney Roosters’ Shaun Kenny-Dowall was arrested on Friday morning at Sydney’s Ivy nightclub allegedly in possession of cocaine. He’s off contract with the Roosters at the end of this season and was said to be in negotiations with the Newcastle Knights, although reports say that's now in jeopardy. 

More than three years ago, 276 girls from the town of Chibok, Nigeria were kidnapped by Boko Haram, an extremist Islamic terrorist organisation. You might even remember the #bringbackourgirls social media campaign, the first big ‘hashtag' campaign we can recall. Yesterday, 82 girls were released in exchange for the release of Boko Haram suspects being held by authorities. Reports say Boko Haram have abducted 2,000 children since 2014 to be sex slaves, fighters and suicide bombers.

Private equity firm TPG Capital has a plan to acquire parts of Fairfax – they want Domain (online real estate), and three titles – The Age, The Australian Financial Review and the Sydney Morning Herald. The AFR says those businesses are expected to be worth $2.5 billion. Fairfax bossman Greg Hywood emailed staff last night saying there’s no certainty TPG will actually make a formal offer, but the board were looking it over. On Friday, Blackrock confirmed it had upped its shareholding to 5%. Very interesting. Many journalists remain on strike until Wednesday following last week’s announcement of 125 additional job cuts. Maybe as Sun-Tzu said: “In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity”?

Polo seems to be a well-worn path for introducing the ‘royal girlfriend’. Prince Charles invited Lady Di to watch him play in the very early days of their relationship. Prince Harry gave the setting a go with actress and girlfriend Megan Markle attending a charity polo game in Ascot. It’s the first time Markle has been out ‘with’ Harry (although he was mainly racing around on a horse) since they reportedly became a couple almost a year ago. But these blurry photos suggest they might have had a kiss too. Some say it’s part of a campaign leading to a marriage proposal. She quit social media a month ago despite being prolific. But she won’t beat Pippa to the altar.  Kate’s sister marries her “husband-to-be” (poor bloke doesn’t even have a name…) in a couple of weeks. Speculation is Markle may make it onto the invite list. Is it just us or do you think Markle looks quite a bit like Pippa? Actually, best not to over-think that…

Occasionally there are items from the last edition that warrant a word in follow-up to ensure you’re up to date:

PM Turnbull met President Trump in New York on Friday – Trump was quite a bit late having been held up in Washington DC to celebrate the vote to dismantle Obamacare. But he got there, he said nice things, and the all-important handshake wasn't a disaster. Trump says he’d love to visit Australia as President.

Coates wins Australian Olympic Committee electionCoates won the election 58 to 35 votes and has assured the Committee he will heal rift with the Australian Sports Commission and repair the reputational damage inflicted in the bruising campaign. The losing candidate Danni Roche wished him well.

A-League Grand Final – Sydney FC beat Melbourne Victory in Sydney last night. It was a 1-1 draw at full-time. Sydney won the penalty shootout 4-2.


ABS Data Release - Building Approvals, March

World Ovarian Cancer Day

UN Time of Remembrance and Reconciliation for Those Who Lost Their Lives during the Second World War - commemorates the end of WWII in Europe in 1945

World Red Cross Day

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