Squiz Today / 31 August 2017

Squiz Today – Thursday, 31 August


"She was an exceptional and gifted human being. In good times and bad, she never lost her capacity to smile and laugh, nor to inspire others with her warmth and kindness."

The Queen in her live TV address in the days after Diana’s death. Today is the 20th anniversary of the car crash in a tunnel in Paris that took her life. We bet you remember where you were when you heard the news. To help you reminisce, this gallery of pics that Royal photographer Jayne Fincher regards as her favourites is just the ticket.


The electricity retailers have agreed to be your new pen pal. In yesterday’s meeting with PM Malcolm Turnbull, Treasurer Scott Morrison and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg, the CEOs of the big power companies signed up to send more than one million letters to customers on ‘standing offers’ (ie not a discounted contract) to advise them that better/cheaper deals are available. Letters will be in mailboxes before Christmas, and the government hopes the 50% of Aussie households who have not changed their energy provider in the last five years will shift to a more attractive deal.

Yep. First the same-sex marriage postal vote, now a letter from your electricity company. You’d think they have shares in Australia Post! But Turnbull talked up the agreement saying; "This is a very big breakthrough, and it's happening here and now." Others were barely whelmed. Labor’s Spokesman Mark Butler said; "All the Prime Minister could do was plead with retailers to write a letter to customers asking them to visit a website." Ouch. And Energy Consumers Australia’s boss Rosemary Sinclair isn’t much of a snail mail fan - she suggests we pick up the phone to our power company to ask if we’re on the best deal.

Yes. You can check the government’s energy offer comparison website Energy Made Easy. We didn’t have a lot of joy, but we blame the impenetrable nature of our power bill rather than our lack of smarts (ahem). But give it a try. And to that point, another thing the government secured yesterday was an agreement by the power companies to put a barcode on bills with all your information that can be scanned and used on the website to compare deals. Until then, give the website a go and if all else fails, take Rosemary's advice and give your provider a call.


The observation that North Korea’s missile test on Tuesday was about causing “maximum mayhem with minimal blowback” seems to be playing out. North Korea says the provocative action over Japan was a taster for a missile aimed at the US territory of Guam. It also noted the significance of the date of the trial (Tuesday was the 107th anniversary of the annexation of Korea by Japan in 1910). In response, the UN Security Council unanimously condemned North Korea's actions but didn’t add new sanctions to the measures agreed at the beginning of August. And the episode wouldn’t be complete without a tweet from US President Donald Trump. He says; “Talking is not the answer.” But China wants everyone to take a deep breath and for North Korea and the US to talk it through, something US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says they’re open to.

Five days after Hurricane Harvey crossed the coast in Texas, it’s made landfall again with Louisiana bearing the brunt of its fury. Harvey has already broken the US record for the most rainfall from a tropical storm, and it’s still raining. Officials say more than 20 people have died in Texas as a result of the high winds and catastrophic flooding. Tens of thousands of people are in shelters in Houston and a night-time curfew has been implemented to counter looting. With 20% of US oil refineries shut down as a result of the storms, there are now concerns about petrol shortages. President Trump visited Texas yesterday (and was criticised for not meeting with victims) with First Lady Melania Trump (who was criticised for her outfits). Trump says he’ll be back on the weekend.

Six Chinese men became the first boat arrivals on Australian territory since mid-2014 after they reached Saibai Island on 20 August. Reports say it is not clear if the men were asylum seekers. Saibai Island is just 4km from PNG and is part of Queensland despite being 150km from the mainland. One of the Chinese men and the alleged Papua New Guinean people smuggler were charged, and the other five have been sent back to China. Immigration Minister Peter Dutton will need to amend his talking points that we’ve not had a successful boat arrival in more than 1,000 days.

Constitutional law expert George Williams was a bit of a Debbie Downer for the Turnbull government yesterday. He thinks the High Court will invalidate the same-sex marriage postal vote process and find that all seven pollies with citizenship issues were not eligible to take a seat in Parliament. He's a glass-half-empty kinda guy... It would be a big blow to the Turnbull Government if the postal vote can't go ahead and to lose three Nationals members - including Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce. But Turnbull should take some solace in the words of fashion designer Donatella Versace; “It's no good being too easily swayed by people's opinions. You have to believe in yourself.” Word.

PHILIPPINES WANT HELP WITH INTELLIGENCE – The Australian reports that Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has welcomed Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s offer of military training support, and his spokesman says it’s our intelligence they really want. They’d like to “expand and strengthen (our military links) further in light of shared and common security issues that affects both countries and the region.”

TEN SHAREHOLDERS NONE TOO HAPPY WITH CBS DEAL – In fact, there’s a chance a class action will be launched against the board and/or administrators. The issue is the deal with CBS pays Ten’s debt, but it doesn’t compensate shareholders for their loss of equity in the company. Some stand to lose a lot of money.

‘NO’ AD STORY CHALLENGED – A mum in the Coalition for Marriage’s 'no' ad has had her story challenged. Cella White says in the ad; "The school told my son that he could wear a dress to school next year if he wanted.” But the principal of her son’s school yesterday begged to differ. “It never happened,” said John Albiston. And Australian Marriage Equality (‘yes’ vote campaigners) released their first ad last night.

US OPEN UPDATE –  Nick Kyrgios has gone down to fellow Aussie John Millman in four sets this morning. Daria Gavrilova, Jordan Thompson, Ash Barty, Arina Rodionova and Ajla Tomljanovic will take to the court in their second round matches today. Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!!

And while we have you on sport, Bangladesh recorded their first ever test cricket win over Australia taking their first game by 20 runs. We get a chance to redeem ourselves from next Monday.

Laurie Oakes has left the House and Nine News yesterday announced that ABC political editor (and Squiz’er) Chris Uhlmann will take his place. It’s a big loss for the ABC, and a big departure for Uhlmann who has been at the ABC for almost 20 years. Uhlmann has an unusual backstory – he was a trainee priest-turned-security guard before becoming a ‘copy kid’ at the Canberra Times as a 29yo. And he’s been a political reporting superstar for years before his observations on Trump went viral. It was on Uhlmann’s radio program that footy great Mal Meninga famously launched - and promptly terminated - his political career after just one question. Uhlmann starts his new job in October. We’ll miss Laurie, but Nine has picked up a good one.


20th Anniversary of Princess Diana's Death 

ABS Data Releases - Private New Capital Expenditure, June; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Census Data; Participation, Job Search and Mobility, February

Malaysia Independence Day

International Overdose Awareness Day

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