Squiz Today / 30 March 2023

Squiz Today – Thursday, 30 March

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Today’s listen time: 9.40 minutes

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Squiz Sayings

“Don’t be careless. Your overconfidence is your weakness.”

Is the advice Star Wars actor Mark Hamill aka Luke Skywalker is giving Ukrainians as he lends his voice to the nation’s air-raid app. His soothing baritone is the preferred way for some residents to receive the bad news of another imminent bombardment…

What goes up must come down

Monthly data released by the Bureau of Statistics shows that inflation is well and truly slowing in Oz. The monthly consumer price index (CPI) – aka the figure that tracks how much the price of goods and services are going up – fell to a 6-month low in February, clocking in at 6.8%. That’s down from 7.4% in January and 8.4% in December, and it’s lower than economists were expecting. It’s a good sign that the Reserve Bank’s interest rate rises are bringing the Aussie inflation rate back down towards a more manageable 2-3% to keep the cost of living in check. But there’s a lot more work to be done, according to Treasurer Jim Chalmers. He says yesterday’s data “is more evidence inflation is moderating in our economy, but it remains unacceptably high.”

For one, economists can’t agree on what it means for another interest rate rise when the Reserve Bank board meets next Tuesday. Some speculate that the slowing inflation rate might prompt a pause, while others believe the central bank will err on the side of caution and order an 11th consecutive rise to keep downward pressure on inflation. Nobody has a crystal ball, but RBA Governor Philip Lowe says there are 4 key things the board considers: the inflation rate, retail sales (which data yesterday showed were slowing), business conditions and the employment rate. On those last 2, business conditions are strong, and the unemployment rate in Oz dropped to a 50-year low of 3.5% in February, and while they’re both good things, it might not be enough to hold off another rate hike.

Yep – that’s what most analysts agree on. Another issue that continues to pop up its ugly head is that while employment is high, there are concerns that wages aren’t rising enough to keep up with inflation. That’s something Workplace Relations Minister Tony Burke has his eye on, with the unions calling for a 7% mandated increase to the minimum wage for our lowest-paid workers. Meanwhile, Treasurer Jim Chalmers is due to speak today about productivity – aka the rate at which goods and services are produced. A recently released report from the Productivity Commission says that if our productivity doesn’t increase, Aussies will be a 40% poorer in 2063 than they are now. Yikes…

Australian News Business & Finance

Squiz the Rest

Migrants killed in detention centre fire

In one of Mexico’s deadliest migrant tragedies in years, at least 38 Central and South Americans have died and 29 more have been injured in a fire at a detention centre in the border city of Ciudad Juarez. Mexican authorities believe the blaze broke out during a protest against deportations, with video footage appearing to show detainees locked in the facility as the fire burned. Many of the victims were among an influx of migrants attempting to cross the border into the US in recent weeks with the pandemic-era Title 42 policy – which allows US border officials to deny entry to migrants trying to cross the border on public health grounds – set to expire in May. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for a “thorough investigation”, and America’s Ambassador to Mexico Ken Salazar said the tragedy was “a reminder to the governments of the region of the importance of fixing a broken migration system”.

World News

Brereton nicked to lead the NACC

We’ve mentioned Justice Paul Brereton a couple of times in the last week concerning the investigation he headed up into allegations that Aussie elite soldiers were involved in war crimes in Afghanistan. But the eminent legal eagle is set to take on his next challenge leading the new National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) that will take flight in mid-2023. It’s the new body that will investigate and report on serious/systemic corruption in the Commonwealth public sector, including ministers/pollies, their staff, the heads and employees of government departments/agencies, and so many others working for and with the Commonwealth. Critics say the NACC doesn’t have teeth and that its remit is unclear, but the Peter Dutton-led Coalition got over its concerns and supported its set-up. Yesterday, Attorney-General Mark Dreyfuss said Brereton was the right guy for the job because he can lead “really difficult” investigations.

AusPol Australian News

Survey reveals views on gendered violence

Experts have called the findings of a new survey on Australians’ attitudes towards violence against women “extremely troubling” after it revealed a widespread misunderstanding of the issue. According to Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS), while most of the 19,100 Aussies respondents rejected attitudes that condone violence, one in 3 believe women make up assault accusations as a “way of getting back at men” or because they regret a consensual encounter (24%). And the survey showed 41% incorrectly believed women and men are equal perpetrators, and more than a 3rd agreed that it is common for women to make up or exaggerate DV claims during custody battles. The findings saw researchers call for a greater effort to challenge “deep-seated” attitudes about women who report experiencing violence, and government reps said it highlights the work yet to be done.

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Australian News Crime

Russian athletes given the green light

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has taken a step towards allowing Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate in the 2024 Paris Olympics after releasing new guidelines that could see them compete under a neutral flag. The latest framework softens the IOC’s recommendation made at the start of the Ukraine war to ban official teams from Russia and Belarus, as well as athletes and coaches who have expressed support for the war. IOC President Thomas Bach defended the widely-criticised move, saying that sports like tennis have shown athletes can successfully compete as neutrals. And an Aussie Olympian who’s trying to get the all-clear is runner Peter Bol. He’s been accused of taking banned synthetic EPO, but 2 independent tests organised by his legal team revealed the sample didn’t contain the performance-enhancing drug. Anti-doping body Sport Integrity Australia’s investigation into the matter continues.


Padding up for a fashion fight

Move over 80s power dressers – shoulder pads are making a comeback… According to fashion-focused search engine Tagwalk there’s been a 50% increase in what the experts call ‘bold shoulders’ at the recent catwalk shows compared to last year, with the trend going across men’s and women’s collections. For example, we were concerned that designer Thom Browne’s shoulders grew by 20%, but we now understand that’s not as alarming as it might have been… According to Professor Richard Thompson Ford, the trend represents a way for women to be both feminist and feminine, and trendwatchers say it’s a reaction to the recent tight/short/see-through trend that thankfully didn’t land in our neighbourhood. Shoulder pads were introduced by Elsa Schiaparelli in 1931, and they became synonymous with female authority during World War II. And settle in – designers say it’s a look that could be here for a while.


Apropos of nothing

Thirty-one new emojis for Apple users to delight/troll their nearest/dearest have been unveiled. There’s a moose and a goose, and even a flute – but still no white wine emoji. It makes texting on a late Friday arvo very difficult…

When we first heard about a mammoth meatball, we were initially ‘where do we find such a delicious wonder’ until we learned it’s made of lab-grown cultured meat using the genetic sequence from the long-extinct woolly mammoth. Creator Tim Noakesmith says it’s not for eating but to “get people excited about the future of food”. Mission incomplete?

A rock interlaced with 4.6kg of gold has been dug up near Bendigo, Victoria, by a prospector using an amateur metal detector. Worth about $250,000, locals reckon it’ll spark a gold rush in the area but have emphasised how rare a big lucky strike is.

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

6.30pm (AEDT) – AUStism Sydney conference 2023 – Sydney

World Bipolar Day

Birthdays for Eric Clapton (1945), MC Hammer (1962), Celine Dion (1968), Norah Jones (1979) and Sam Stosur (1984)

Anniversary of:
• the US buying Alaska from Russia (1867)
• the birthday of painter Vincent Van Gogh (1853) and IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad (1926)
• US President Ronald Reagan being shot and wounded in an assassination attempt (1981)
• the death of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother (2002)
• the Morrison Government announcing the introduction of the JobKeeper payment (2020)

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