Squiz Today / 05 December 2019

Squiz Today – Thursday, 5 December


“It’s not exactly the best public health measure on offer.”

Said respiratory health expert Dr Christine Cowie about the pointlessness of Sydney’s newest street fashion trend: the face mask. Mind you, with the air quality at an all-time low thanks to bushfires, it’s little wonder folks are resorting to them...


That's the question being asked as the Coalition Government yesterday got the numbers in the Senate to strike down the so-called Medevac laws that allowed refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru to come to Australia for medical attention. And independent Tassie Senator Jacqui Lambie got a whole lot of accusations thrown her way by Labor and the Greens about a secret deal being done to secure her vote. Reports this morning suggest that talks between PM Scott Morrison and Lambie could relate to the resettlement of refugees in New Zealand.

It was February when the Morrison Government suffered a defeat in the House of Reps with then independent MP Kerryn Phelps, other crossbenchers and Labor banding together to get their Medevac plan through. As the first vote of its type to be lost by a government in almost 80 years, it was a big moment. Long story short, the legislation gave doctors more say in the medical evacuation of refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru. Since then, 184 have been transferred for varying degrees of medical treatment. Team Morrison maintains the arrangement weakens our border security, while Labor, the Greens and others say it’s not a ‘back door’ into Australia, but rather our obligation to ensure access to appropriate health care.

Well, Morrison and Lambie aren’t saying anything about that. But reports say Lambie needed confidence that there is an end in sight for the 464 refugees and asylum seekers currently on Nauru and Manus Island who successive governments - both the Coalition and Labor - have said will never be allowed to settle in Australia. And with New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern’s longstanding offer to accept 150 refugees a year still on the table, there’s speculation it was enough to get Lambie’s support to repeal the Medevac arrangement. Asked yesterday why she wouldn’t share the details of what swung her vote, she said through tears; “I don't like holding things back like this. But when I say I can't discuss it publicly due to national security concerns, I am being 100% honest to you."



Is there anything worse than being sprung making fun of someone who you don’t like much but for professional reasons need to stay on good terms with? A video did the rounds yesterday showing Canada’s PM Justin Trudeau regaling fellow world leaders with a retelling of a lengthy press conference US President Donald Trump had given that delayed the pair’s meeting. And Trump certainly wasn’t impressed. "He's two-faced," he said of Trudeau before jetting out of London as the NATO summit wrapped up. Armchair psychologists said the incident would likely make him angry. Also teetering on a knife-edge are negotiations between China and the US over the start of a trade deal. Markets reacted negatively yesterday as Trump declared that nothing should be expected this year. But officials have briefed the media to say they are getting close. Who doesn’t love a Christmas deadline…

Want to get a good grounding in the US-China trade war? We’ve got a Squiz Shortcut for that. And ahem, it’s a 2019 Apple favourite podcast series…


After all the headlines, the angst and gnashing of teeth, the bitter dispute between Rugby Australia and its former star player Israel Folau finally drew to a close yesterday with mediation between the two ending in an out of court settlement. No details will be forthcoming on the settlement, although the Daily Telegraph says Folau will receive an $8 million payout (paywall). The only thing to emerge from the court process was a carefully worded joint statement in which everyone expressed their respect for one another, Rugby Australia got to burnish its inclusivity-credentials, and the Folau family received an apology. It was the legal equivalent of a group hug... What's next for Folau? There are apparently plenty of cashed-up French and Japanese clubs ready to sign him up.


Police yesterday found a body in the outback near Alice Springs, believed to be that of missing woman Claire Hockridge. She had been lost in a remote stretch of Northern Territory desert for two weeks after the car she was travelling in with two companions became bogged. Her partner, Tamra McBeath-Riley and friend Phu Tran were both rescued earlier this week. Formal identification is expected to take place in the coming days as a report is prepared for the coroner. Her family yesterday said they were grateful to police and local landowners for their efforts in trying to save her. "Even though Claire has died in terrible circumstances, we are glad that Tamra and Phu have been found alive and well," said Sarah Hockridge, one of Claire’s triplet sisters.


Like the canary in a mine, car sales tell us a lot about the health of our economy. When we’re feeling the purse pinch, a new set of wheels is the first thing to be struck off the shopping list. Figures released yesterday by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries show that new car sales are on track for the worst result since the Global Financial Crisis. And it’s not just the fancy cars that are down either - Holden sales were down 48% for the month. The lack of consumer spending (cars and otherwise) means household savings are rising, but there's also a brake on our broader economic growth. It's at a dawdling annual rate of 1.7%, new figures out yesterday say.


They famously started their all-conquering company in a garage in California - and now the founders of Google have announced they are stepping back from their executive roles. Larry Page and Sergey Brin will relinquish the positions of President and CEO in the parent company Alphabet telling investors they were not the sort of founders to hang around beyond their use-by date. The pair maintain control over 51% of voting rights on Alphabet's board. Google's CEO Sundar Pichai will become Alphabet's CEO. The move presumably frees up Page to spend more time on his real interest: flying cars.


It’s a bitter-sweet vinegar that’s held in high regard by salad lovers around the world. But local producers from Modena, Italy have also had a bitter-sweet experience with the European counts. Their application to have exclusive use over the term ‘balsamic’ has been kicked out. Which is all just an excuse to suggest that you pick up a punnet of strawbs, cut the tops off and halve, sprinkle with a little caster sugar, and drizzle with a little balsamic. Delish. And you’re welcome.


It’s the final day of Parliament for 2019. Standby for the speeches where they say nice things about each other…

ABS Data Releases - International Trade in Goods and Services, October; Industrial Disputes, September; Retail Trade, October

Say thanks to a volunteer - it’s International Volunteers Day

World Soil Day

Anniversary of Walt Disney’s birthday (1901)

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