Squiz Today / 31 May 2018

Squiz Today – Thursday, 31 May


“Is it safe to roast marshmallows over volcanic vents?”

Asked one curious American of the US department in charge of monitoring volcanoes. “No” was the response, not even if you had a very long stick. Killjoys… Meanwhile, Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island continues to present plenty of toasting opportunities.


You know how some people just seem to have bad juju on certain things? Minister for Jobs and Innovation Michaela Cash seems to find Senate Estimates as dangerous as tobogganing at Thredbo. Yesterday, just when she was to appear as the responsible minister at the regular grilling of her departmental officials by senators, the Federal Court issued a subpoena requiring her to give evidence in a case about raids late last year on the Australian Workers’ Union offices. Cash was torn to shreds in an Estimates hearing last year when she said her staff weren’t involved in tipping off the media about the raid, only to make an embarrassing reversal hours later. And then there was her ‘name and shame’ outburst followed by the whiteboard incident earlier this year.

• This relates to an investigation by the Registered Organisations Commission into whether a $100,000 payment made by the AWU to activist organisation GetUp! was authorised under union rules. It’s political dynamite because current Labor leader Bill Shorten was head of the AWU when the payment was made in 2006.

• The Commission raided the union’s offices in October last year to seize documents – and journalists were there to catch the drama unfolding.

• That led Labor and the Unions to press Cash about whether she or her office tipped off the media – a big no-no. Cash initially said “no way, Jose” but her media adviser resigned soon after and she ‘fessed up to her office’s involvement. And it’s now before the courts.

Cash has told her lawyer to fight the subpoena because she says it’s a legal stunt from the AWU and because she is not a party to the proceedings. She’s already fought off two requests to appear before the court. Labor and the AWU ask if you’ve done nothing wrong, what have you got to hide? And while the issue drags on, the government will try to focus people’s attention on where this all started – with Bill Shorten’s record as a union leader. Meanwhile, Cash would do well to contact the spirits to clear her Senate Estimates curse…


One of the major recommendations of the Royal Commission into institutional child abuse – the establishment of a national redress scheme to compensate survivors – is a step closer with the Catholic Church agreeing to join the scheme. All states and territories have agreed to join apart from WA. "Survivors deserve justice and healing and many have bravely come forward to tell their stories," a spokesman for the church said. Under the scheme, survivors will be offered up to $150,000 in compensation and counselling.

Big changes are happening to our family law system. Federal Attorney-General Christian Porter yesterday announced the Federal Circuit Court and Family Court will be merged to form – wait for it - the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia. He says the move will help speed up the process and clear 8,000 more cases each year by providing a single entry point to the family law system and preventing cases from bouncing between the two courts. Critics say what the system needs are more judges and resources. While the majority of family arrangements after separation are made outside the court system, 22,000 family law cases are filed every year and take more than a year to resolve.

The Attorney-General is a busy guy. Porter yesterday also announced a review of our national intelligence laws headed by former ASIO boss Dennis Richardson. The last major review was in 1974, and given the changes since then, the government says it’s a good time to look at whether the settings are right to keep Australians safe.

And while we have you… and talking about international intrigue, a Russian/anti-Putin journo living in Ukraine was helped by authorities to stage his death in order to catch a Russian assassin. This has played out in the last 24 hours and it’s a pretty wild story.

Keeping you up to date on recent happenings…

JUST A QUICK BREAK – Former Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce says he’s just taking two weeks leave, not 11 weeks as reported.

US NOT TAKING A BACKWARDS STEP ON THE SOUTH CHINA SEA – In fact, US Defence Secretary James Mattis said yesterday they will continue "a steady drumbeat" of naval exercises to challenge China's territorial claims.

ITALY SPOOKS THE MARKETS – The breakdown in negotiations to form a government after its March elections has not been well received by international markets. That’s because the brewing election will likely focus on whether Italy leaves the eurozone, which creates more economic uncertainty. Drama, drama…

MARGARET RIVER FAMILY LAID TO REST – Reports say hundreds turned out to remember the seven members of the Miles/Cockburn family. It’s alleged grandfather Peter Miles killed his wife, daughter and four grandchildren before killing himself almost three weeks ago.

Our northern neighbour has turned off the world’s most popular social media network for a month to have a think about its impact on the country. Just 10% of Papua New Guineans have internet access, but Communication Minister Sam Basil said he's concerned about fake accounts and tawdry material being shared on the platform. And Basil says he will also consider if PNG should build its own site to connect its citizens to each other and the world. PNGBook doesn’t have quite the same ring...

We knew it wasn’t our fault when we go for the burger over the salad. It’s the loud music. A new study says calmer, soothing music helps us make better decisions when ordering food. But loud, amped up tunes heighten the appetite for something, well, more devil-may-care. Now if only we can find something to blame for our lacklustre exercise regime…


ABS Data Release - Private New Capital Expenditure and Expected Expenditure, March

World No Tobacco Day

Anniversary of the premier of Seinfeld (1990)

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