Squiz Today / 05 September 2019

Squiz Today – Thursday, 5 September


"With a name like that, you'd think he thought he was at an amusement park.”

Say that with your best French accent and you'll be channelling the Mayor of Chamonix Jean-Marc Peillex and his zinger on the bad behaviour of climbers on Mont Blanc, the highest in the Alps. What got his mountain goat were the antics of a British climber (who said his name was 'Disney’) - he took a rowing machine up for a stunt on Saturday, and left it there. Quoi le quoi?


That escalated quickly… MPs who are adamantly against UK PM Boris Johnson’s position that the UK will leave the European Union on 31 October no matter what have moved to prevent that from happening without a deal in place. Which means the country could be heading towards an election.

Let’s keep it to the recent past…

• With the Brexit deadline looming, Johnson last week announced a plan to shut down Parliament for five weeks ahead of a Queen's Speech on 14 October when he would outline his agenda as the new PM. However, critics said it was a cynical move to limit MPs opportunity meddle with his Brexit plans.

• Yesterday, MPs made the first successful move to block a 'no-deal' Brexit. In the process, 21 Conservatives voted with the Labour Party and others to bring on the debate. Those MPs have been expelled from the party, as Johnson promised last week, including wartime PM Winston Churchill’s grandson.

• And this morning, MPs have backed the legislation seeking to force Johnson to delay the UK’s departure from the European Union until 31 January. That has triggered Johnson to call for a general election on 15 October - two days before an important summit with the EU.

Dunno. But as host of ABC TV’s 7.30 Leigh Sales said last night; “Boris Johnson has been prime minister for 43 days, he’s purged 18 ministers from his Cabinet, kicked the 21 rebel MPs out of his party, lost his one-vote majority, and now could be days away from losing a no-confidence motion.” And now that an election is firmly on the cards, it’ll probably be smooth sailing from here, yes?

Got a case of Brexit bewilderment? There’s a Squiz Shortcut for that… Check out our online info (a newly launched feature...) and podcast for the quick rundown.



Pictures have started to emerge of what went down in the Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian bunkered down over Abaco Island (population 17,000) and the Grand Bahama (population 50,000). Check out the devastation here and here. Last night, the official death count was seven, but authorities are expecting that to climb. The International Red Cross says 45% of homes in that area have been severely damaged or destroyed. Now a Category 2 storm, Dorian has dropped in intensity but grown in size, and there are concerns from Florida and up the US coast over the huge surf, heavy rain and strong winds that are coming. You can keep up with Dorian's progress here.


The Federal Police have carried out another high-profile raid, this time on the home of Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) officer Cameron Gill. Also on Gill’s CV are stints in the offices of Turnbull Government ministers who occupied defence-related portfolios. And just to complete the Le Carre-worthy scenario, he’s married to Joanne Loundes, our ambassador to Iraq. Police would not say why they raided the home, but links were drawn yesterday to the AFP’s June raids on the home of News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst and the ABC's Ultimo headquarters. Of particular note is Smethurst’s story from April last year that suggested the ASD wanted new powers to spy on Australian citizens. But to be clear, it's not known whether yesterday’s raid is linked to any of that. For bonus points: the ASD is the government agency where our official cyberspies keep an eye on the electronic communications of our foes.


Legal wrangling has seen the Federal Court extend the injunction preventing the family's removal from Australia until Friday at the earliest. The spanner in the works was new information presented to the court that Immigration Minister David Coleman refused to exercise ministerial discretion for the whole family - Nades, Priya and their Australian-born daughters Kopika and Tharunicaa. That’s an issue for the family because their legal action is based on their assertion that Tharunicaa’s case for protection in Australia was never considered. Which is to say it was a disappointing day for their supporters in Biloela, Queensland where the family lived for four years. And it was not how Labor leader Anthony Albanese thought his day would go - he’d travelled to the Central Queensland town to be with residents when the decision was handed down.


Going back to where it all started, Hong Kong’s chief executive Carrie Lam has formally withdrawn the extradition proposal that kick-started the unrest. The legal changes would have allow the extradition of Hongkongers to mainland China to face serious criminal charges. Demonstrations kicked off three months ago in response to the proposal with residents concerned it was a step towards aligning Hong Kong’s separate legal system with China’s. Protests have now morphed into a broader pro-democracy push. Lam was in hot water earlier this week when comments she made at a private gathering went public - including her acknowledgement that she’d caused “unforgivable havoc” by suggesting the changes. They say hindsight is a wonderful thing...


Which is not as bad as some economists were predicting, but concerning nonetheless. Figures released yesterday show our economy grew by just 1.4% over the previous year to June - the slowest rate since the Global Financial Crisis. One factor is that we're not spending enough, and pundits say slow wages growth is a big part of that. And with wages not going up despite a strong employment market, it's one part of the economic machine that's not working as it should, which is making the government and experts nervous. Still, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is holding the line. He kicked the figures down the road saying next quarter should be better because many consumers would have cash in their pockets from the Morrison Government’s tax cuts.


That’s a lot of heavy news today. So enjoy US First Daughter Ivanka Trump’s new haircut. And enjoy some people reading a lot into it


ABS Data Releases - International Trade in Goods and Services, July; Industrial Disputes, June; Managed Funds, June; Assets and Liabilities of Australian Securitisers, June; Livestock and Meat, July

UN International Day of Charity

Start of the last round of the NRL

Anniversary of Freddie Mercury’s birthday (1946)

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