Squiz Today / 08 November 2018

Squiz Today – Thursday, 8 November



Sir David Attenborough started using it in 2013 and we followed… And now it’s Collins Dictionary’s word of the year.


No, this isn’t an update on a singing donkey (sadly). But the party whose symbol is the beast of burden - the Democrats – had a significant win in yesterday’s midterm election, taking control of the House of Representatives. The Democrats exceeded the 23 seats they needed, taking 29 seats from their Republican rivals so far. But it wasn’t the clean sweep that they’d been hoping for with the Republicans retaining control of the Senate.

• It was a referendum on US President Donald Trump, his agenda, and his style of leadership. That was good for Democrats (because Trump galvanised many voters to register their protest against him). And it was good for the Republicans (particularly in some traditionally ‘red’ seats where they were under threat, like in Tennessee where Taylor Swift’s endorsed Democrat lost to a Trump supported candidate).

• A record number of women have been elected to Congress with at least 110 successful, mostly on the Democrat side. Analysts say there’s an interesting gender gap opening up that could be a factor in Trump’s reelection campaign in 2020 (presuming he is the candidate…) with more women voting than men, and exit polls showing suburban women turned their back on the Republicans.

• Turnout was very high for a midterm election. In the US, about 50-55% of eligible voters cast a vote in a presidential election. That usually falls to about 33% for the midterms. This time reports say turnout was at 40-45%. That meant there were long queues and technical difficulties yesterday.

When it comes to nasty, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. The result gives Trump a target for his fight – a House of Representatives controlled by the Democrats. On the other side of that equation, the House can now stall the White House’s policy agenda and commission all sorts of investigations that could lead to prosecutions – not great news for Trump or his cabinet. They can also demand to see all kinds of documents, like Trump's suppressed tax returns. So expect a lot of tribal, drag-‘em-out-beat-’em-up blues on a mass scale. And strap yourself in for a dramatic couple of years until the next presidential election…


Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says he’s inclined to block the sale of gas pipeline company APA Group from being acquired by CK Group. Your faux snore noise is noted… The interesting thing is CK Group is based in Hong Kong. And given the infrastructure it wants to acquire is half of Australia’s gas pipeline (including almost three-quarters of NSW and Victoria’s pipes), Frydenberg says the $13 billion deal is probably not in Australia’s best interest. Meanwhile, PM Scott Morrison will unveil an investment of $3 billion in Pacific nations’ infrastructure today. That’s aimed at heading off China’s rising influence in the area.  Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Trade Minister Simon Birmingham in Beijing for meetings today and things could get awkward…

There have been some alarming things said about falling home prices, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne, in the last few weeks. While economists thought a decline of 10% would be about it, there is some consensus emerging that the decline will be worse. Yesterday Macquarie Bank said declines of 15-20% are more likely. That’s because there is a fall in the number of buyers in the usually busy spring market. And with the Banking Royal Commission reporting in February, there’s a thought that it could become much harder to get a loan. Hard work ahead for home buyers and sellers…

That’s because the room full of energy executives were unable to talk about the #1 issue for the government and consumers – price. It’s illegal for a bunch of competitors to collude on setting prices in any industry, even if a government minister is present. Instead, the energy retailers talked about structural issues like a new ‘reference price’ that consumers could compare their plan against to check if they’re getting value. But what that price might be? Not a murmur because, well, collusion. The government wants to see a voluntary drop in prices from 1 January. And we want an all-expenses-paid trip to New York to see in the new year. So good luck with that.

Boeing has sent a bulletin to operators of its 737 Max aircraft to be aware of erroneous readings from a flight-monitoring system that can cause the planes to “abruptly dive”. The ‘angle of attack’ monitor measures the position of the plane’s nose and whether it’s positioned correctly to prevent stalling or diving. Investigators of the Lion Air disaster in Indonesia last week say a dodgy monitor could be a factor in the plane's nosedive into the Java Sea killing 189 onboard. Divers are still looking for the voice recording system that's thought to be buried in the mud on the seafloor.

Actor Geoffrey Rush’s defamation trial against the Daily Telegraph is coming to an end. Actress Eryn Jean Norvill, the woman whose overheard ‘off the record’ complaints about Rush’s alleged inappropriate behaviour, was described by the Tele’s lawyers as “brave” and “honest”. Justice Michael Wigney, who will decide the case, questioned the relevance of a text message Rush sent Norvill saying he was thinking of her “more than is socially appropriate”. Wigney said he failed to see that it was an invitation to do anything. He was also unmoved by Rush’s alleged descriptions of Norvill. "I wouldn’t say ‘yummy’ and ‘scrumptious’ to anyone in my workplace, but I’m a boring lawyer, and Mr Rush is an actor in a theatrical workplace," he said. Closing submissions continue.

Forget any talent we have for putting together your news shortcut every weekday. What we’re really good at is chips. If the government were to form a Chip Standards Agency, we’d be heading it up. So we were surprised to see KFC’s chips in the UK aren't well regarded. We say Aussie KFC chips are fine (although they do rank behind Oporto and Nandos as far as the chicken franchises go). But London woman Charlie Burness complained about her Dirty Bird chips and 12 months later something is being done about it. Controversially, they will move to thicker cut, skin-on fries. Gasp!


8.00pm - ABC TV’s Q&A Special with former PM Malcolm Turnbull

ABS Data Release - Building Approvals, September

International Day of Radiology

Anniversary of the birthday of Margaret Mitchell, author of Gone with the Wind (1900)

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