Squiz Today / 22 February 2018

Squiz Today – Thursday, 22 February


"We are trying to understand what kind of person makes this many babies."

Said Interpol when it uncovered 28yo Japanese millionaire Mitsutoki Shigeta’s plan to father 1,000 children. And after an investigation and a court hearing, he was yesterday granted custody of 13 children born to surrogate mothers in Thailand. He’s known as the “baby factory” dad...


Fifty children are among the dead as the crisis in Syria deepens following more airstrikes against its own people. President Bashar al-Assad's most recent target is eastern Ghouta (near the capital Damascus) which is home to more than 400,000 people and one of the last major rebel strongholds. Since airstrikes started on Sunday, more than 250 civilians have been killed and more than 1,200 have been injured. Humanitarian agencies say it’s the worst violence seen in the area since 2013 and the UN has called for a ceasefire so that aid can get in and the injured can get out.

• The government says… it’s about ridding the area of terrorists. It’s sick of the rebels shelling government-held parts of the capital.

• Critics and the UN say… it’s another example of a cruel regime targeting its citizens. And the UN’s children’s agency UNICEF said it had no words.

Yes. Pro-Assad militias have also turned their attention to Afrin in Syria’s north where Turkey has crossed the border to push Kurdish forces back. The Syrian government-backed intervention could unravel weeks of negotiations involving Russia, Iran, America and the UK, to name a few. But Turkey has made it clear it is committed to its cause. "We entered there to make it a safe, liveable place for those hundreds thousands of people who still live in our country,” said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.


Let’s keep it brief, shall we? Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce gave an(other) interview to Fairfax Media yesterday, this time about his life choices over the past 12 months. He said he had done wrong by his wife and daughters, but no rules had been broken that would affect his job. The piece was billed as the first joint interview with former media advisor-turned-pregnant partner Vikki Campion, but she wasn't photographed and didn't want to say a lot. Joyce advised people to move along now.

That escalated quickly... High profile backbencher Tony Abbott yesterday found himself at odds with Treasurer Scott Morrison and Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton – both were once BFFs of the former PM.

• It started with a speech Abbott gave on Tuesday night calling for a cut to the annual immigration intake from 190,000 people to 110,000.

• Morrison said yesterday that Abbott never raised the issue when he was in the big chair and had a chance to do something about it. But putting that aside… Abbott’s proposal would cost the budget up to $5 billion over four years. Dutton agreed.

• Abbott fired back; “I think Scott’s problem is that he’s been captured by his department.”

• Morrison replied; “Oh go away, Tony.”*
*He didn’t say that but $100 says he thought it…

The Bureau of Statistics yesterday delivered the verdict on wages growth and… (drumroll)... it’s low but not as low as economists anticipated. Public sector wages rose 2.4% in 2017, and private sector wages were up 1.9%. That comes to a headline number of 2.1% growth for the year – the first time it’s been above 2% in 18 months. Wages growth is crucial to the health of the broader economy.

It’s company reporting season - a time for CEOs to account for their actions and analysts to judge their efforts. A couple of results stood out yesterday:

WESFARMERS – They're the mob that owns Coles, Bunnings and Target. Coles’ earnings were down 14% due to the cost of staying competitive with Woolies and Aldi. Overall, Wesfarmers’ net profit was $212 million, down 87% due to its UK Bunnings and Target woes.

FAIRFAX MEDIA - It reported a net profit of $38.5 million (down 54%). Its newspaper division’s sales were down 9.1%, but digital subscriptions were up 11%. “We will take advantage of opportunities arising from media consolidation as and when it occurs,” said CEO Greg Hywood.

COCA-COLA AMATIL – We’re finding it hard to break up with Coke Zero. In fact, more than any country in the world, Aussies are stubbornly clinging to Zero as the brand tries to move consumers onto the new ‘No Sugar’ version. CCA’s profit was down a bit.

South Korea’s women’s curling team has become an unlikely hit of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. Better known as the ‘Garlic Girls’ – not because of their breath but because the team are school friends from a small-ish town known for its garlic production – they are unexpectedly doing well in a sport that is foreign to South Koreans (and we’d argue to most of the world). This story is pretty cute.

And speaking of a guaranteed smile, does it get any better than the Queen going FROW at LFW with US Vogue editor Anna Wintour yesterday? That’s front row at London Fashion Week, dahling. She was there to present the inaugural Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design. So good.


ABS Data Release - Average Weekly Earnings, November

Company Earnings Announcements - Crown Resorts; Nine Entertainment Co; Qantas; Westfield Corp

World Thinking Day - a day of international friendship celebrated by Girl Guides and Girl Scouts

Anniversary of Spain ceding Florida to the United States (1819)

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