Squiz Today / 07 March 2019

Squiz Today – Thursday, 7 March


“I think it’s one of those kinds of things that just knocks the wind out of you.”

Said Janelle Geistlinger, an administrator at California’s Pacific Boychoir Academy, after a donor’s gift of two Chinese paintings initially valued at almost A$4 million were found to be duplicates worth very little. You could say they’re now going for a song…


Back by popular demand* - a lead story about Australia's economy. And this one goes to the heart of it. The October to December quarter delivered just 0.2% growth taking our annual rate for 2018 to 2.3%. Our growth has slowed like a marathon runner that went out strong and had little left in the tank at the end - ie we started with a growth rate of 1.1% in the January to March quarter last year, and it progressively got worse from there.

Well, isn’t that a question… Labor and others jumped on another stat - we’re now in a ‘per-capita recession’ for the first time since 2006. What that means is if you strip out population growth from the latest figures, the economy went backwards in the last six months of last year. But the main point is when all factors are considered, the economy is indeed still growing, although it's a long way from the 3% annual growth rate the government pegged its last budget numbers to.

These numbers show there are issues - like the drought, poor consumer confidence and the downturn in construction - that are biting. And those things affect people’s jobs, businesses and lives. When it comes to politics, Labor leader Bill Shorten yesterday focused on slow wages growth - something we can expect to hear more of. The next set of numbers will be out on 6 June - so after the federal election. But make no mistake, these numbers are scene setters that will be front and centre as all players hone their election pitches.

*Full disclosure: we’ve had no contact from any subscriber requesting a lead story on the economy.



PM Scott Morrison could not get further away from yesterday’s sluggish economic numbers and still be on Aussie ground… He was on Christmas Island to tour the yet to be opened detention centre. Why? Morrison said it was to demonstrate to Australians that the re-opened detention centre was "up to the job", although some said it was more stunt than showcase.

And while we have you… New figures from the United States show the number of unauthorised entries on its southwest border has nearly doubledfrom what they were a year ago. More than 76,000 migrants crossed the border in February, the highest level for several years.


Police were last night treating as a murder-suicide the deaths of two dentists as the family of Dr Preethi Reddy mourned the loss of their "sweet smiling angel". Reports say police questioned Dr Reddy's former boyfriend and fellow dentist Harshwardhan Narde on Sunday after her family reported her missing – but because it was, at that stage, a missing person's case, he was not detained. Narde died after he drove his car into the path of a semi-trailer on Monday night in what police have described as a ‘deliberate act'. Reddy's body was found in a suitcase in the boot of her car in Sydney on Tuesday evening. Police believe the couple had been in a tumultuous long-distance relationship for several years, and friends said Reddy had decided to call it off.

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Because it’s cool to be current...

PAKISTAN TAKES ACTION AGAINST MILITANTS - The escalation of tensions kicked off by an attack on Indian forces by militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad over the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir last month took Pakistan and India relations to a dark place. Pakistan has responded by detaining 44 of the suspected militants in a move that many believe could spark more violence. Watch this space.

NORTH KOREA REBUILDING ROCKET SITE - It’s like a bad movie on replay… Just two days after last week’s summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, reports say a long-range rocket site is undergoing “rapid rebuilding”. Analysts said it’s likely a demonstration of resolve from Kim over Trump’s refusal to talk about abandoning sanctions.

GUTHRIE SETTLEMENT = $730,000 - That’s the ABC’s final offer on the amount given to outgoing boss Michelle Guthrie to settle her legal action for unfair dismissal and takes her payout total to $1.64 million.


The struggling department store saw its sales fall by 2.8% between July and December to $1.67 billion. But it did make a profit for the half of $38.4 million. That’s a whole lot better than the $476 million loss it recorded a year earlier. Newish boss John King said changes to its website and dropping the threshold for free delivery saw online sales up 18%. And to that end, the future includes fewer stores and more business transacted online, he says. Investors liked what they heard taking its share price up almost 11% to 45 cents yesterday. Note: Myer's float price was $4.10 in 2009…


The lengths to which some men will go to impress the ladies… A volunteer fireman and train driver were out of a job yesterday after it had been found the driver allowed his fireman friend to drive the Puffing Billy steam engine in country Victoria apparently to impress a young woman he was with. The incident happened at the end of January at the height of the tourist season. The train was carrying a full load of passengers at the time. It’s the third safety incident to hit the tourist attraction in as many weeks. Steam engine joy ride as danger sport. Who woulda thunk?


ABS Data Releases - Retail Trade, January; International Trade in Goods and Services, January; Managed Funds, December

Birthday for actor Bryan Cranston (1956)

Anniversary of Charlie Sheen being fired from the sitcom Two and a Half Men by Warner Bros (2001 - can you believe that was eight years ago?)

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