Squiz Today / 20 December 2018

Squiz Today – Thursday, 20 December


“Dermophis donaldtrumpi”

That’s a newly discovered amphibian that buries its head in the sand. It’s been named after a prominent world leader. His name escapes us...


It’s only appropriate that an energy and climate policy update leads the second last edition of The Squiz for 2018. The only thing that would make us happier is if tomorrow is dedicated to Malaysian politics (our other surprise sub-specialty for the year). But enough about us… Australia’s energy ministers got together yesterday for power-chats about our electricity supply. Federal Coalition Energy Minister Angus Taylor found his biggest opponent came from an unexpected corner – the NSW Coalition Government.

You never use exclamation points so you must be excited… In three points:

• With PM Scott Morrison jettisoning former PM Malcolm Turnbull’s National Energy Guarantee following his stumble into the top job in August, Taylor’s KPIs were made clear – bring electricity prices down and make sure Aussies can turn the lights on.

• What’s missing from that agenda = managing emissions. Morrison and Taylor say we’re fine on that front so ‘nuff said. (Note: there are concerns we will miss the longer term targets...). But NSW Energy Minister Don Harwin (who wears the same colour team jersey as Morrison and Taylor) blasted a response yesterday that amounted to ‘you’ve got to be kidding’.

• Taylor shut down Harwin’s push to discuss emissions at the meeting. And Taylor got what he came for which was an agreement on a Retailer Reliability Obligation which will force retailers to deliver the required level of dispatchable energy (aka ‘Fair Dinkum Power’) to each state.

Harwin (who says he has the backing of NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian) is an unexpected champion of a more comprehensive and coordinated energy and climate policy from the Feds. And while the policy conundrum has stumped federal governments for more than a decade, Morrison has made it clear it's not for his mob in this term of government either. The other thing is the plumber's crack-sized split between two Coalition governments. With NSW going to the polls in March and a federal election expected in May, the NSW Coalition couldn't have said ‘we're not aligned with Scott Morrison' more clearly than it did yesterday.



The host of Nine's Today morning breakfast show, Karl Stefanovic, will not return to the role next year. With two years left on his contract and a reported $2 million annual salary, he’ll be back with other shows, according to his employer. It was the least unexpected TV move of the year and comes a day after news that his brother Peter, host of Weekend Today, was leaving. The Gold Logie winner’s ongoing role with Today, which has lost in the ratings to Seven’s Sunrise this year, has been under a cloud after a falling out with management and no small amount of drama in his personal life. Reports this morning say Nine is contemplating an all-female lineup to host the show next year.


NEW ZEALAND’S POTTY TALK - Kiwiland will have a referendum on the recreational use of marijuana in 2020. The vote will coincide with the NZ general election when voters will be asked if they want to go even further into being the land of the great white cloud.

GRACE UNDER FIRE – Grace Mugabe's alleged assault of a model last year has come back to haunt her. South African authorities have a warrant out for her arrest. The wife of former Zimbabwean dictator Robert had been granted diplomatic immunity.

THIRD CANADIAN ARRESTED IN CHINA – Tensions between China and Canada are playing out after the arrest of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou. She was arrested in Canada almost two weeks ago and the US wants to extradite her over allegations of breaking sanctions on Iran. China says the arrests have nothing to do with sending a signal, but many analysts disagree.


The National Australia Bank’s shareholders really didn’t like the pay and bonuses given to its executives. A whopping 88.1% voted against its remuneration report at the bank’s AGM yesterday – a historic show of dissatisfaction with management's performance. ANZ did better with a third voting against its rem report, but it’s a strike nonetheless. It just takes 25% of shareholders to record their dissatisfaction with the remuneration report for a ‘strike’ to be recorded. If a second strike occurs the following year, a motion to spill the board is next.


We're not talking about your fascination with interest rate settings - that cap remains firmly in place... The financial sector regulator APRA will remove the limit on interest-only loans to make up just 30% of new mortgages. The cap was put in place last year when property prices were going gangbusters, and you couldn't meet a first-time home buyer/avo toast devotee without them telling you how they would never get into the market. Since then, home prices have fallen in the big markets of Sydney and Melbourne, in no small measure as a result of the cap. Economists say the move is likely to accelerate lending to investors, and it might even stabilise in home prices.


Yes, she starred in the iconic sitcom Laverne & Shirley playing smarty-pants Laverne DeFazio, a show from the 70s/80s about a couple of Milwaukee brewery workers. But Marshall was so much more than that. She directed some big movies – Big and A League of Their Own with Tom Hanks, and Riding in Cars With Boys with Drew Barrymore to name a few. And with Awakening with Robert De Niro and Robin Williams, she became the second woman ever to direct a movie that received an Oscars best picture nomination. Marshall was married to legendary actor-director Rob Reiner and had a long-time thing with musical genius Art Garfunkel. She was 75yo and died in Hollywood on Monday from complications from diabetes.


SUN’S OUT GUNS OUT – It might get a bit hot in the lead up to next Tuesday, but Santa’s expected to bring mighty fine weather for the big day itself.

A TEARJERKER – Before he died, an elderly Welsh man bought his 2yo neighbour Christmas prezzies for the next 14 years. Sweet.

HANDS OFF - Mark Rober, a retired NASA engineer from California (with a bit too much time on his hands...), was annoyed after a thief stole a parcel from his porch. So he made a ‘bait package’ loaded with a glitter and fart spray to get anyone looking for a five-finger-special, and he recorded their responses. Just in time for his Christmas online shopping…


ABS Data Release - Labour Force, November

UN International Human Solidarity Day

Anniversary of the US invasion of Panama, known as 'Operation Just Cause', deposing Manuel Noriega (1989)

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