Squiz Today / 18 February 2021

Squiz Today – Thursday, 18 February


"You're either winning, or you're learning."

And tennis star Ash Barty said yesterday’s loss was “a massive learning curve” as she bowed out of the Aussie Open. How do you spell ‘legend’? Oh yeah, we just did…


Former federal Liberal Party staffer Brittany Higgins yesterday accused PM Scott Morrison of “victim-blaming” in his response to her claims that she was raped by a colleague inside Parliament House in 2019. And she says she’s upset it’s taken her to quit her job and go public to learn details about the night in question. “I didn’t know that security guards let me into Minister [Linda] Reynolds suite. I didn’t know that a security guard came into the office multiple times seeing me in a state of undress. I didn’t know they were undertaking an internal review into how the matter was handled at the time. I didn’t know that they debated calling an ambulance at the time of the incident.” And Higgins says she wants more answers about how her claims have been handled.

Senior Coalition figures were put under pressure by Labor yesterday to account for what they knew about Higgins’ claim, and when. In Parliament yesterday, Higgins’ first boss Defence Minister Reynolds cited privacy concerns and a police investigation as reasons not to detail her knowledge of events. But Employment Minister Michaelia Cash, who hired Higgins in June 2019, said she found out about the rape allegation on 5 February when Higgins told her she wanted to resign. “I told her I wanted her to stay in her role and I told her I would do anything to assist her,” Cash said. Meanwhile, details of an independent review into the treatment of staffers who work for federal politicians emerged last night. Staff will be involved in the process that Morrison says will focus on “the adequacy, effectiveness, independence and awareness of current supports that are available”.

News Corp papers report this morning that the man who Higgins claims assaulted her is in a Sydney hospital receiving psychiatric care after checking himself in this week. He resigned days after the alleged attack when questioned about entering Reynolds Parliament House office late at night. On Higgins' rape claims, he has never been charged because a police complaint was not pursued.



That sound you could hear yesterday morning was a sigh of relief as Victorians found out the state's 5-day hard lockdown was to end at 11.59pm last night. That means that schools, offices and businesses are reopening, but mask-wearing is still mandatory. Five people can visit a home, while outdoor gatherings are limited to 20 people. And crowds will be allowed back into the Oz Open today. It comes as the state recorded no new coronavirus cases yesterday with a record 39,000 tests processed. Premier Daniel Andrews heralded the success of the 'circuit-breaker' lockdown, but critics wonder what it was all for, given the economic and social costs. You can find a nifty explainer to Victoria’s current restrictions here.


Myanmar’s deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi was yesterday handed a new charge by authorities as thousands of her supporters gathered to demand her release. Appearing in court via video yesterday, Suu Kyi is facing an extra charge of violating the country's Natural Disaster Management Law for COVID breaches (which has experts scratching their heads…) on top of the existing charges of possessing illegal walkie talkies. Military leader Zaw Min Tun held the regime’s first post-coup press conference earlier this week and committed to a fresh election, but offered no timeframe. With the political heat rising, United Nations official Tom Andrews said he fears violence will be inflicted on protesters, with reports of troops being sent to Myanmar’s biggest city, Yangon. “In the past, such troop movements preceded killings, disappearances, and detentions on a mass scale,” he said. #SquizShortcut


Princess Latifa bint Mohammed al-Maktoum, the daughter of the ruler of Dubai, has made claims aired yesterday on the BBC’s Panorama program that she is being held hostage by her powerful family. In a series of videos the 35yo filmed on a smuggled mobile phone, Latifa said she is being held in solitary confinement with no access to medical care or sunlight. Her father, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, is one of the world's richest heads of state. Human rights activists say he runs Dubai with an iron fist - and that's why there was little surprise that Latifa disappeared after she attempted to flee Dubai in February 2018. Latifa has recently stopped sending the videos, and her supporters are worried. The United Nations yesterday said it would raise her case with authorities in the United Arab Emirates.

And in other royal news, Prince Philip is in hospital "as a precautionary measure" after feeling unwell, Buckingham Palace said overnight. The 99yo's illness is not COVID-related, reports say.


Western Oz usually wouldn’t be caught dead following the eastern states, but after the NSW gaming regulator’s scathing review of Crown Resorts, the Western Australian Government has announced an inquiry of its own. It’s interesting timing with WA’s head regulator standing aside last week over conflict of interest concerns after it was revealed he went fishing with senior Crown employees. Note: Crown operates the only casino in the state… New claims of money laundering at the besieged company’s Perth and Melbourne casinos surfaced in mid-2019, and things intensified last week with the NSW regulator determining Crown is unfit to hold a casino licence for its yet-to-be-opened Sydney casino. As for Victoria, it’s fast-forwarded a regular review of Crown’s casino licence by 2 years. #SquizShortcut on all this is out this morning...


Dylan Alcott won his 7th consecutive Australian Open Quad Singles title last night with a dominating 6-1 6-0 performance over Dutchman Sam Schroder. He broke Alcott's serve in the first game and then the Aussie went on to win the next 12. Amazing...  As for Ash Barty - it would have been great to see her get past the Oz Open quarter-finals, but it wasn't to be. A heat-affected Karolína Muchová overcame a poor first set with the help of a medical timeout to storm past Barty to win in 3. Barty was pressed after the game on Muchová’s stoppage, but she wouldn’t bite saying it was “within her rights to take that time.” Another upset was last night’s disposal of Rafael Nadal by Stefanos Tsitsipas in a marathon 5 set thriller. Highlights today: both women’s semis will be played in this arvo (details in Squiz The Day…). And Novak Djokovic will be angling for a chance to play for a record 9th Oz Open tonight.


There will be Aussie know-how and a piece of ingenuity land on Mars on Friday morning when NASA’s Perseverance probe lands. Without any problems. Because that’s not tricky at all.

Not travelling internationally means many people are missing out on their favourite treats. Luckily your new friends on the internet can help you with that…

And new emojis are on the way, including one for your COVID vaccination. Good news too for iPhone users/Apple Watch/mask-wearers, you’ll be able to unlock your phone without taking your mark off with the 2 devices working together for authentication. Get ready for it when the operating system update hits your iPhone next week.


2.00pm (AEDT) - Australian Open Tennis Semi-Final - Naomi Osaka v Serena Williams

3.15pm (AEDT) - Australian Open Tennis Semi-Final - Karolína Muchová v Jennifer Brady

7.30pm (AEDT) - Australian Open Tennis Semi-Final - Novak Djokovic v Aslan Karatsev

ABS Data Release - Labour Force, January; Crime Victimisation, 2019-20

International Asperger's Day

Birthdays for Yoko Ono (1933), John Travolta (1954) and Dr Dre (1965) and Molly Ringwald (1968)

Anniversary of:
• Mark Twain publishes the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in the US (1885)
• first Church of Scientology established in Los Angeles (1954)
• the last person was legally executed in New Zealand (1957)

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