Squiz Today / 29 August 2019

Squiz Today – Thursday, 29 August


"There are often days when I am frantic… On these days I say to Jonathan (my husband) “how will I do it?” and he replies “with ease”. I say this in my head often - with ease - and it is a reminder that works for me. We will do it with ease.

Sally Branson Dalwood is living the entrepreneurial dream with not one, but two ventures on the go, and it’s her newly launched line for parents-to-be - The Suite Set - that’s getting a lot of her attention ATM. She’s also a regular guest on the wireless. And she has two kids under 3yo. We’re exhausted just thinking about it... Please welcome the indefatigable Sal to this week’s Three Minute Squiz.


Just a day after multinational pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson was slugged with an A$850 million damages bill after losing an Oklahoma lawsuit for intentionally misrepresenting the dangers of opioid medications, another big player has raised a white flag. Purdue Pharma, the makers of pain medication OxyContin, is negotiating a multibillion-dollar settlementwith US local and state governments over its part in the prescription opioid crisis. And while it’s easy to think this is solely an American story, it’s not. There’s a uniquely Australian link to an epidemic that’s concerning health officials around the world.

OxyContin is the drug that has been blamed for fuelling the opioid crisis, which has cost the lives of more than 400,000 people across the US in the last 20 years. Recent lawsuits have uncovered some alarming stats. For example, the Oklahoma case heard evidence that more than 326 million opioid pills were dispensed there in 2015 - that's 110 pills for each resident of the state. And that's just one of the thousands of lawsuits being brought against drug companies for dangerously misleading doctors and patients. In response, the companies have blamed illegal drug use - not only of their pills but also of heroin - for the surge in opioid overdoses and deaths. So it’s big news that Purdue has offered to settle more than 2,000 lawsuits from US states and cities for a sum reported to be between US$10-12 billion.

Well, it’s Tassie’s poppy industry that produces half of the world's raw material used in these drugs. Naturally occurring alkaloids are extracted from the poppies, including morphine and codeine. But after the big ramp-up in sales by the drug companies in the 90s and early 2000s, demand has fallen away as regulators stepped in to address the opioid crisis, and that’s impacted farmers. As for whether Australia has a public health crisis like America - we’re not at US levels, but there is cause for concern. Figures out earlier this week showed 1,600 Australians died from an accidental drug overdose in 2017, and more than half of those involved prescription opioids. That’s a tripling in the last 12 years.



Newly installed UK PM Boris Johnson has been likened to a “tinpot dictator” for a move overnight to suspend parliament not long after its return next week. The Queen has agreed to Johnson’s request to 'prorogue' parliament- a technical manoeuvre to bring the current parliamentary session to a close. Johnson says it's essential that as a new PM he's able to formally end the Theresa May era and relaunch the government's agenda focusing on things like health, crime and cost of living pressures with a Queen's Speech on 14 October. However, critics say it’s a cynical move to limit the time MPs have to stop Johnson from leaving the European Union without a deal on 31 October, if it comes to that. In response to that, Johnson says MPs will have time to debate Brexit before the exit date. House of Commons Speaker John Bercow said it was a "constitutional outrage".


Just a couple of days into a six-week corruption hearing and the general secretary of the NSW branch of the Labor Party has been suspended. Fronting the hearing in Sydney yesterday, Kaila Murnain said she had been advised by the party's lawyer to keep quiet on the delivery of a plastic bag containing $100,000 by the banned donor and Chinese billionaire Huang Xiangmo to the party's HQ. While she wasn't in the top job at the time, her confirmation that she knew about it added to the pressure she was already under with two election losses under her belt this year.


The police investigation into William Tyrell’s disappearance is set to come under greater scrutiny following claims yesterday that a man saw a little boy in a Spider-Man suit being driven away at speed from his foster-grandparents’ home in Kendall, NSW in 2014 - but he was not interviewed by police until 2017. Kendall local Ronald Chapman said he heard a loud noise and looked outside to see a fawn-coloured 4WD being driven at high-speed by a woman and “in the backseat was a young boy with his hands up on the window”. He added he didn’t immediately report the sighting to police as investigators kept announcing on local media they would be door-knocking residents who lived near to where William disappeared. “I was waiting for a knock on the door,” Chapman said. The inquest is in its fourth and likely final week.


Melco Resorts, the Hong Kong-based casino operator run by James Packer’s friend Lawrence Ho, has put part of its deal to acquire a slab of Crown Resorts on ice. The problem? Regulatory concerns about recent media reports delving into allegations of high-rolling Chinese gamblers and money-laundering by crime syndicates at Crown. And while Crown denies any wrongdoing, Melco last night said it wanted to wait until after a key inquiry wrapped up before it proceeds with buying an additional 10% stake in Crown. Note: an initial 10% has already been purchased after an agreement was struck in May. Crown last night said it was working through the issues with Melco and the regulators.


We’re in for an especially hot, dry and fire-prone summer if the 2019 Bushfire Outlook is any guide. Released yesterday, it says there is an 'above average' fire risk along the east coast of Australia as well as in South Oz and Western Oz. Officials likened the situation in NSW to that of 2013 when 200 homes were lost to bushfire in one single, devastating afternoon. Meanwhile, authorities have warned residents in bush settings to double down on their bushfire preparations for the months ahead. Their key message? “Thinking about a plan is not a plan.” Which is our new mantra…


China loves Costco. Warning: pictures from the US warehouse store's first store opening in the nation are anxiety-inducing for the agoraphobic. The crowds forced the retailer to advise shoppers to “please avoid coming”. Wonder if it was the coffins or jumbo packs of loo paper that brought them in…

Red wine is good for your gut health. And as far as we’re concerned that’s the final word on the matter.

And former PM Kevin Rudd - the handball star. You know it makes sense


9.00am (AEST) - US Open Tennis - Ash Barty v Lauren Davis

1.00pm (AEST) - State funeral for former Deputy PM Tim Fischer - Albury

ABS Data Release - Private New Capital Expenditure and Expected Expenditure, June; Preschool Education, 2018; Regional Population by Age and Sex, 2018

Company Earnings Results - Ramsay Health; Village Roadshow; Woolworths Group

UN International Day Against Nuclear Tests

Anniversary of Michael Jackson’s birthday (1958)

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