Squiz Today / 16 June 2022

Squiz Today – Thursday, 16 June

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Squiz Today Podcast

Our hat tip to busy mornings.

Today’s listen time: 9 minutes

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Squiz Sayings

“I think we should spend some time apart to learn how to be one again.” 

Said BTS star J-Hope of the K-Pop group’s decision to take some time off to focus on their solo careers. If he’s eyeing off an album on the ‘apart-to-be-one’ theme, someone ought to tell him that Crowded House beat him to it

Power regulator shuts it down, takes control

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has shut down the electricity market to secure the supply of power to the National Electricity Market. The unprecedented step has been taken to ensure those who live in Australia’s east and southeast have enough electricity to keep their lights/heaters on. Some say it’s a sensible short-term measure to bring calm to an increasingly volatile situation, but critics say it’s evidence that Australia’s major energy market has failed.

We hear you, so let’s break it down.

• What’s AEMO? (The cool kids say ‘ay-ee-mow’…) It’s an independent government organisation that’s like a traffic controller. It monitors most of the nation’s electricity consumption and the power generators’ supply across the system. It also controls the National Electricity Market.

• What’s the National Electricity Market (NEM)? That’s like asking what a food market is… It’s the system that covers power generation, distribution/transmission, and selling power to us, the consumer. In Oz, the NEM covers 5 interconnected states: Queensland, New South Wales, the ACT, South Oz, Victoria, and Tassie.

• And who are the power generators? They are companies like AGL (aka Australia’s biggest), Origin Energy and Energy Australia, producing electricity to sell to the wholesale market. Those companies also sell electricity to us schmucks via the retail market, but not all generators do that.

AEMO has shut down the NEM’s spot market. So to explain… It’s hard to store electricity, so the generators make offers to supply X amount of electricity at X price for X time, and AEMO decides which companies get the gig. Recently, there’s been concerns about getting enough supply – and there are a few reasons for that, including the huge prices for coal and gas, which fire the plants. Long story short, AEMO intervened in Queensland and NSW on Monday. And yesterday, it seized control of the whole market to get “true visibility” from the generators about their capacity to pump more power into the grid. SA’s Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis tweeted that it was “unprecedented action to meet an unprecedented crisis.” But Federal Coalition leader Peter Dutton says the newly minted Albanese Government is out of its depth. “I worry that they don’t know which levers to pull,” he said. PM Anthony Albanese and his Energy Minister Chris Bowen are holding crisis meetings with key players today.

Australian News

Squiz the Rest

A boost to the minimum wage

As of 1 July, Australia’s minimum wage will be lifted by $1.05 an hour to $21.38 an hour following a decision from the Fair Work Commission. That represents a 5.2% increase in the incomes of more than 2.7 million Aussie workers, putting the $40/week wage lift slightly above the current inflation rate of 5.1%. The move was welcomed by the unions and PM Anthony Albanese, who made the issue a central part of his election campaign. But business groups have warned that the increase – expected to cost $7.9 billion over the next year – could put businesses under more stress. As cost of living pressures continue to ramp up and with the Reserve Bank forecasting inflation to hit 7%, critics say workers’ real wages are set to go backwards during the coming year.

Australian News Business & Finance

Making more of the early years

All children in NSW and Victoria will have access to 5-days-a-week of free preschool in one of the most significant changes to the education system in decades. Today, Premier Dominic Perrottet and Daniel Andrews (both are seeking reelection in the coming 9 months…) will commit to doubling the hours of free education offered to 4yos in the coming decade. Preschool has had some attention in recent times. Since 2008, all Aussie kids have had access to 15 hours a week of preschool – that saw enrolment surge to 96%, up from 12% in 2008. This change in our 2 most populous states makes preschool/pre-prep available for up to 30 hours a week. They are also set to create government-run, low-fee childcare/kindergarten/pre-prep centres in the states’ “childcare deserts”. It will cost Victoria $9 billion and NSW $5.8 billion. Receiving high-quality early childhood education is linked with better health, education and work outcomes down the track, and ANU Associate Professor Ben Edwards says the development is “huge”.


Watched while you shop

An investigation by consumer advocacy group Choice has revealed major Aussie retailers Kmart, Bunnings and The Good Guys are using facial recognition technology on customers, including children, without their knowledge. Bunnings said they capture images of people’s faces that are stored in a database for “theft and anti-social” purposes. It’s also used by retailers for targeted advertising purposes. But Choice says it’s “completely inappropriate and unnecessary” and that discreet signs outside stores and online privacy policies are “not nearly enough” to adequately inform customers. Their investigation found that 76% weren’t aware their biometric data was being tracked and used by the retailers. Choice wants the companies to be investigated for potential breaches of the Privacy Act and has called for clear regulations to protect consumers.

Australian News Technology

Monkeypox on the mind

The World Health Organization says it will rename the monkeypox virus over concerns its “discriminatory” name will invite stigma and racism. The virus – which has spread from Africa to infect more than 1,450 people worldwide – got its name after it was first discovered in monkeys. Infectious diseases are usually named after the location or animal linked to the first detection, but some scientists say it can be misleading/inaccurate. The WHO also announced that it will hold an emergency meeting on Wednesday next week to determine whether the outbreak should be considered a global health emergency. Experts are confident the virus won’t become a pandemic, but WHO boss Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says monkeypox has acted in an “unusual” way by spreading outside Africa. He’s looking for a “coordinated response” to stop the spread.

Health World News

War is over

Aussies are now all too familiar with international tussles – hello, China… But we’re newbies when you compare the duration of our troubles to the almost 50yo dispute between Canada and Denmark. Their beef was over the maritime boundary in the Arctic drawn in 1973 and the line that went through Hans Island. It has no vegetation or wildlife, but the rock between Canada’s Ellesmere Island and Greenland (an autonomous territory of Denmark) has been the source of some epic squabbling. Over the years, Danish troops have planted their flag and left a note and a bottle of liquor to claim the island. The Canadians responded by replacing the Danish drop with Canadian whisky while hoisting their flag. It also got more serious than that with frigates dispatched in the 2000s… But the ‘whisky war’ has ended – Denmark gets about 60% of the island, and Canada gets the rest. Yesterday, the nations’ foreign ministers exchanged alcohol and notes for the last time. A border standoff that ends well – how about that…

World News

Apropos of Nothing

A reality show based on Korean streaming hit Squid Game is set to be made by Netflix – with less dire consequences for losing… There will be 456 players vying for $4.56 million, and you can apply here. How hard can it be? They’re just kids’ games…

Speaking of… Did you play vigoro at school and think it might be your sport going forward? You’ll have to move to Ipswich, Boonah, and Cairns – they’re thought to be the only places in the world where organised comps of the once-popular sport are played.

Pakistani tea-drinkers have been asked to curtail their cuppas to keep the country’s economy afloat. Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves are low, and as it’s the world’s largest importer of tea, the government says every drop counts.

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

6.30pm (AEST) – Cricket – 2nd ODI – Australia v Sri Lanka – Sri Lanka

7.00pm (AEST) – Actor Kevin Spacey to appear in Westminster Magistrates Court on sexual assault charges – London

ABS Data Release – Labour Force, May 

International Day of the African Child 

International Day of Family Remittances

Anniversary of:
• the formation of the Salvation Army in London (1880)
• the opening of the first rollercoaster – Coney Island, New York (1884)
• the marriage of poets Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath (1956)
• the premiere of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960)
• Russia’s Valentina Tereshkova becoming the first woman in space (1963)

Squiz the Day

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