Squiz Today / 20 February 2020

Squiz Today – Thursday, 20 February


“It's very nice.”

Said Indonesian President Joko Widodo of this impression of Canberra. And he wasn’t just being polite - he’s in the market for a new capital. Hands off, Jokowi. Sure, it might get very cold and then very hot and then very cold again, but it’s ours…


Past and present students and parents critical of how St Kevin's College in Toorak, Melbourne handled the criminal case of a staff member grooming a student yesterday welcomed the resignation of headmaster Stephen Russell. The prestigious Catholic school in one of the city’s wealthiest suburbs has been in crisis mode since ABC TV’s Four Corners aired on Monday night.

The Four Corners’ investigation found Russell and the head of the sports department, Luke Travers, provided references to the court vouching for former athletic coach, Peter Kehoe. He was convicted in 2015 for grooming year nine student Paris Street. And to add insult to injury, the school did not support Street during the court process. Russell, who had been at the school for 24 years, wrote to parents yesterday saying he would go in order to “put the school before self and the students’ wellbeing at the very top of my list of priorities." One parent told The Age there was “an overwhelming sense of relief” that Russell was gone.

Not quite… Three things to note:

• There are two reviews underway. The first is the Victorian Government’s look at whether child safety standards have been breached, and the second has been commissioned by the school’s governing body to look at the school’s culture.

• Commentator Andrew Bolt and Sydney Institute director Gerard Henderson have been criticised for comments made on Sky News on Tuesday night that child protection advocates said sought to “minimise” the crime of grooming.

• And there are concerns for the safety of current students. Last year, a video showing "Skevies" boys on a tram shouting a sexist chant sparked outrage in Melbourne. The shoe is on the other foot this week with students travelling on public transport accompanied by staff due fears they could be targeted.



First, a warning - this story is distressing. Ex-rugby league player Rowan Baxter and his three children (aged six, four and three) died at the scene of a car fire in a residential street of Brisbane’s Camp Hill yesterday morning. Hannah Baxter, the children's mother and the estranged wife of Rowan, was taken to hospital with burns to most of her body, but she died last night. While reports across the media say Hannah escaped the car and yelled "he's poured petrol on me", investigators are yet to confirm how the fire started. Police had been investigating the former New Zealand Warriors player for previous acts of family violence.

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After a five-week trial, jurors are locked in deliberations as the assault and rape trial of former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein heads towards a conclusion. The 67yo film industry heavyweight pleaded not guilty to assaulting former production assistant Mimi Haleyi in 2006 and raping actress Jessica Mann in 2013 - but he did not take the stand. He faces life in prison if convicted. Since 2017, more than 80 women have accused Weinstein of misconduct and much worse. Who knows when the jury will reach a verdict…


As 180 Aussies land in Darwin this morning after their evacuation from the Diamond Princess in Japan, it wasn't to be for one couple. Just before they were about to disembark the cruise ship, Paul Williamson from the Sunshine Coast was taken to hospital after he tested positive for COVID-19. His wife Coralie remained in isolation on the ship. The evacuees who were allowed to leave will be taken to an unused mining workers' camp outside Darwin, where they will be kept away from the second group of Wuhan evacuees who arrived there almost two weeks ago. In total, more than 620 passengers and crew on the cruise ship have been infected by the Covid-19 virus, making it the biggest cluster outside China. Reports this morning say our government is likely to extend the travel ban to and from China for another week. On the numbers: the global death toll passed 2,000 yesterday, and the infection count sitting at 75,000.


Wages growth: as dead as this Neanderthal. Well, not quite… Official data released yesterday shows an increase of 0.5% over the October-December quarter, taking the annual result to 2.2% across the public and private sectors. Victoria enjoyed the country’s highest wages growth rate of 2.7% in 2019 in large part due to a one-off pay increase for public nurses and midwives. The wooden spooner was Western Oz with 1.7%. The best performing industry was in healthcare, while the worst performing included media, construction, retail and education. Analysts said the results indicate the Reserve Bank will cut interest rates again in an attempt to get the economy going, drive jobs growth and get wages up. But headwinds like the drought, bushfires and the coronavirus outbreak make all that hard to deliver anytime soon.


Despite enduring prolonged drought, bushfire smoke and hailstorms in recent months, the resident bees at Canberra’s Parliament House are still producing honey. Insert gag about them being the most productive workers in the building… But we don't need to do that - keeper of the busy bees Cormac Farrell has his own jokes about the order in the hive. "It's fairly brutal, they will kill the queen, there's no movement to the backbench for ex-leaders," he said. Boom…


Company Earning Announcements - Coca-Cola Amatil; Domain; LendLease; Southern Cross Media; Santos; Medibank Private; Origin Energy; Qantas; Star Entertainment Group

ABS Data Release - Labour Force, January; Average Weekly Earnings, November

Ireland’s parliament to meet to vote on nominees for a Taoiseach (aka prime minister)

Start of the Gymnastics World Cup - Melbourne (on until 23 February)

World Day of Social Justice

Birthdays for Ivana Trump (1949), Cindy Crawford (1966), Rihanna (1988)

Anniversary of the birthday of Kurt Cobain (1967)


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