Squiz Today / 28 January 2021

Squiz Today – Thursday, 28 January


"It's insane, and it's super intense, but it's super good."

Is tennis superstar Serena Williams’ take on the Oz Open lockdown that has raised the ire of other players. Because when it comes to preparing for the pressure of a grand slam, being in a hotel room with a 3yo for 14 days would be great for building resilience…


The Australian Government will today decide whether to extend the suspension of the arrangement with New Zealand allowing travellers to enter Australia without going into quarantine. The suspension that is due to end this afternoon was put in place after Sunday’s confirmation of New Zealand’s first case of community transmission of the coronavirus in 2 months. Problem is it’s not just any case - it’s someone with the highly contagious South African variant who tested positive after completing 2 weeks of hotel quarantine. And two more cases were confirmed yesterday, adding to the concern.

That’s COVID for you. And it’s certainly frustrated Kiwi PM Jacinda Ardern who said she was disappointed when Australia suspended the arrangement on Monday. "If we are to enter into a trans-Tasman bubble we will need to give people confidence that we won't see closures at the border that happen with very short notice over incidents we believe can be well-managed domestically," she said. BTW the Lowy Institute agrees that NZ has managed COVID well, putting it at the top of the pile (and Australia 8th). Travellers from Kiwiland have been coming here quarantine-free since October, but so far Aussies have been unable to do the same, such has been the dynamic COVID environment.

In fact, Australia has had 10 days without a locally-acquired case. NSW officials stopped short of declaring the Christmas-New Year’s outbreaks on Sydney’s Northern Beaches and in the western suburbs crushed (you know, the ones that caused a domino effect disrupting millions of Aussies’ holiday plans…), but they said things are looking good. To that end, restrictions on crowd numbers at home, outdoors and at functions will ease across Greater Sydney tomorrow, as will mask-wearing rules. Next: the other states and territories need to remove their restrictions on travellers from parts of Sydney before we start thinking about heading across the ditch…



Federal Parliament resumes next week. But before then, Labor Leader Anthony Albanese will change up his frontbench. Speaking to ABC TV’s 7.30 last night, Albanese fended off claims there is a "deep pessimism" in Labor circles about their chances of winning the next election with him at the helm. To address concerns, reports this morning say his left-faction ally Mark Butler will be moved on from the energy and climate change portfolio to make room for someone who will better connect with traditional supporters, like mining workers. That reshuffle will be announced at the weekend, Albanese said. Adding fuel to speculation all is not well within Labor, potential leadership candidate Tanya Plibersek has written a piece in today’s Australian (paywall) outlining a vision for the party to deliver "secure jobs, decent pay, a comfortable retirement and a strong safety net". Hardly revolutionary, but notable nonetheless...


Rosemary Rogers, the woman who ran the CEO’s office at the National Australia Bank for 9 years, was yesterday sentenced to 8 years in prison by a Sydney court for her role in a $40 million fraud scheme between 2013-17. The 45yo was found guilty of approving fraudulent invoices from event management company Human Group. To keep things running smoothly with NAB, the company’s boss Helen Rosamond gifted Rogers more than $5.5 million in luxury holidays, home renovations, prepaid credit cards and other luxury items. Judge Paul Conlon said it was “staggering” it wasn’t picked up by the bank - which says it’s since improved its processes. Rosamond is awaiting trial.


Inflation has been giving our policymakers trouble since before ‘flattening the curve’ meant anything other than dealing with your Christmas kilos. The Reserve Bank has wanted it in the 2-3% range for ages, but even before 2020 happened, it hovered under 2%. But a lot's happened since then, and yesterday the Bureau of Stats released the annual inflation number for last year - 0.9%. Like many things in our economy, there have been some wild fluctuations in 2020 when it comes to the prices we pay. And it’s with some uncertainty that we head into 2021, but things are looking better than expected, analysts say. As part of that, it’s hoped that inflation will increase, which will see wages go up, which will see us spend more, which will see businesses grow… You get the picture.


Two hundred of the thousands of farmers who stormed the Red Fort in India’s capital Delhi with tractors and horses earlier this week have been arrested, police said overnight. The farmers have been protesting for more than 2 months over proposed laws which would effectively open the country’s agriculture market to free trade. While PM Narendra Modi has defended the laws, farmers argue they will decimate local producers who are already under significant pressure. After peacefully blockading the roads leading into Delhi, things went up a notch on India's Republic Day with some farmers forcing their way into the city. One demonstrator was killed and more than 300 police officers were injured with the protest's organisers distancing themselves from the violence. A march is planned for 1 February when the government unveils its annual budget.


Following the collapse of last year's season under the coronavirus's weight, the AFL and footy fans have fingers crossed for a women’s comp that goes the distance this year. AFLW boss Nicole Livingstone says they’re committed, but things are still unpredictable. But onwards and up there Privitelli… This season heralds a few changes - the controversial conference system out, reduced venue capacities are in, and games will be ticketed for the first time in AFLW’s 4-year history. And 9 rounds for the 14 teams means there won’t be the chance to play every team once before going into 3 weeks of finals, disappointing many supporters and players. But long story short, footy is back… The season opener tonight will see Carlton and Collingwood face off at Melbourne's Ikon Park.


Breakout star of last week’s inauguration - poet Amanda Gorman - has signed with top tier modelling agency IMG International to “develop endorsements and editorial opportunities" for the fashion-conscious laureate. And Agence France-Presse photographer Brendan Smialowksi says the reaction to his snap of Bernie Sanders has been a wild ride…

They might be jumping the gun, but the tourism people in New Zealand have a cute new ad encouraging people to get off the beaten track.

And we don’t mean to nag, but do the operating system update on your iPhone and iPad that was issued yesterday. It’s got important security upgrades that will plug the gaps that can be exploited by hackers. Instructions on how to find it are here.


7.15pm (AEDT) - AFLW season opener between Carlton v Collingwood - Melbourne

Former school principal Malka Leifer to face the Victorian Bail and Remand Court for a filing hearing via video link after arriving in Melbourne from Israel late yesterday

ABS Data Release - International Trade Price Indexes, December

International Lego Day

Anniversary of:
• the publication of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice in the UK (1813)
• the explosion of USS Space Shuttle Challenger just over a minute after takeoff, killing all 7 crew members (1986)
• Roger Federer becoming the first man to claim 20 Grand Slam titles after winning the Australian Open for the 6th time (2018)

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