Squiz Today / 08 September 2022

Squiz Today – Thursday, 8 September

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Squiz Today Podcast

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Today’s listen time: 9 minutes

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Squiz Sayings

“Not at all hygienic!”

Was one of the complaints from Marks and Spencer’s shoppers in the UK after announcing they are ditching cups and saucers for mugs in their cafe. It will surely make it easier to serve a shopping centre favourite – the mugachino…

Timor-Leste ready to get gassed


Just as Australia’s delicate relationship with the Solomon Islands reemerged as an issue, another close neighbour is taking centre stage with the Albanese Government signing a new Defence Cooperation Agreement with Timor-Leste. The deal was outlined by President José Ramos-Horta in Canberra yesterday, and it covers increased military cooperation, particularly in the Timor Sea. But it was a mixed bag as Ramos-Horta suggested he would consider financial support from China if Australia didn’t do more to support his country’s flailing economy, and he called out one particular project that’s been a source of tensions between our nations for almost 20 years. 


Deep under the sea, 450km north-west of Darwin/150km south of Timor-Leste lies a liquified natural gas reserve worth an estimated $70 billion. Known as the Greater Sunrise field, the project is operated by energy giant Woodside, but has been at a standstill in recent years amid an ongoing row over where the gas should be processed. Ramos-Horta insists a processing plant must be built on Timor-Leste’s south coast to create jobs and economic prosperity for its impoverished citizens, but Woodside argues the only way the project is viable is by processing the gas in Darwin where the infrastructure already exists. Oil and gas accounts for 80-90% of Timor-Leste’s government revenue, and it’s consistently said it needs more from the project to support their fledgling nation. Their existing Bayu-Undan offshore gas field is due to run out this year, which would decimate their economy and could see them run out of cash within 10 years.


While Ramos-Horta told ABC TV’s 7.30 that he would not allow China or any “hostile power” to establish a military base in Timor-Leste, he was also keen to point out that his nation is more strategically important than the Solomon Islands given its close proximity to Australia and Indonesia. He also stated that a “prosperous, stable Timor-Leste is in Australia’s best interests”, and asked Australia and Woodside to “extend the hand of friendship” as it’s unlikely Timor-Leste would be able to pay for the big investment required to build a processing facility. The war in Ukraine has also significantly raised international gas prices, making Greater Sunrise more attractive to potential investors like China, which already has significant infrastructure projects underway in Timor-Leste. It raises some new/important questions about our regional security for Foreign Minister Penny Wong to add to her to-do list… She wants Ramos-Horta to talk to her directly, not through the media. 

AusPol Australian News

Squiz the Rest

A bumpy year of growth

Australia’s economy grew 3.6% in the 2021-22 financial year with the final April-June quarter delivering growth of 0.9%, which was ahead of analysts’ expectations. To say it’s been a difficult 12 months would be like saying it’s not a good idea to get a haircut while courtside at the US Open – both are massive understatements… During July-September 2021, Sydney/Melbourne were in Delta-inspired lockdowns. In October-December, we emerged but our borders were closed. During January-March this year, we were getting into gear but Omicron knocked us around. And April-June saw huge lifts in exports and consumer spending despite 3 interest rate rises. Treasurer Jim Chalmers is wary… “Today’s national accounts reflect an economy which is rebounding from the disruptions of the pandemic, but it’s still being held back by capacity constraints, skills shortages and declining real wages,” he said. And that, dear Squizer, is called pre-Budget expectations management…

Business & Finance

A difficult cocktail for women at work

Women are at a disadvantage in workplaces and industries that have a ‘work hard/play hard’ culture, says Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins. Addressing a Chief Executive Women forum yesterday, she said the key driver of sexual harassment at work is power imbalances, gender inequality, lack of accountability, and lack of diversity. Alcohol is down the list, but its connection to social networking and career progression can be problematic. “We’ve heard about the pressure to drink, to network. We’ve heard from women about their specific decision not to attend any place where there might be alcohol,” she said. And for those who participate, she said a big/loose session can lead to women being treated “quite different to the men.” It’s no doubt something that was top of mind as Australia high and mighty gathered last night at Canberra’s Parliament House for the fabled Mid-Winter Ball… 

Australian News Business & Finance

Smoking out a vaping giant

E-cigarette giant Juul Labs has agreed to pay nearly $US440 million ($650 million) to settle claims it advertised to children. It brings an end to the 2-year investigation that was brought by 33 American states against owner Altria (aka Philip Morris) and has long been at the centre of concerns about an underage vaping ‘epidemic’ – something that’s also a problem in Oz. The settlement includes a ban on using people under 35yo in its ads and other marketing restrictions. The company has kept a low profile since it first came under scrutiny in 2019, dropping all advertising and pulling its flavoured products from shelves. Juul still faces hundreds of lawsuits from other states and teenagers who say they’re addicted to vaping, and it’s challenging an order from the Food and Drug Administration to ban its products in the country altogether. #SquizShortcut

Business & Finance

Down and out

Aussie tennis fans hopes went down 2-love yesterday, along with the ambitions of Ajla Tomljanović and Nick Kyrgios to kick on towards the final of the US Open. Neither of them rolled over – they had tough matches but were unable to pull off a semi-final berth. For Tomljanović, she lost 6-4, 7-6 to 5th seed Ons Jabeur. She said she was down on herself after the match, but later reflected that she should “give myself a pat on the back because I do deserve it.” She sure should… And Kyrgios was beaten by Russian Karen Khachanov 7-5 4-6 7-5 6-7 6-4 (and to decode that, he won 2 of the 5 sets). The Canberran was troubled by a leg niggle in the first set, but fought on until Khachanov got the upper hand in the 5th. Cue Kyrgios meltdown… After the match he said “I feel like I’ve let so many people down.” But he’s focused on the next grand slam – bring on the Aussie Open in January next year… 


That’s showbiz, darling…

Newsfeeds everywhere have been saturated by a saga involving the soon-to-be-released film Don’t Worry Darling. There are many theories/memes to sift through, so let’s break it down… The film is directed by actor Olivia Wilde and stars pop icon Harry Styles and Florence Pugh. It premiered at the Venice Film Festival this week, but the drama started long before then. Controversial actor Shia LaBeouf – who was originally cast as a lead – was fired and replaced by the British-accented Styles in 2020 – although he says he quit, and released footage of Wilde asking him to stay. Rumours swirled after Wilde broke up with her longtime partner, Ted Lasso’s Jason Sudeikis, later that year and started up with Styles. It’s claimed the alleged infidelity did not sit well with Pugh, and some say she’s been an unenthusiastic participant in promoting the film. Fast forward to the premiere, and there were new rumours that Styles and co-star Chris Pine were feuding after a chaotic presser and an alleged spitting incident. But don’t worry, the latter didn’t actually happen


Apropos of Nothing

Messaging app Snapchat is removing filters that apply sacred Māori tattoos to users’ faces after an outcry from New Zealand. Called Tā moko, the markings are only intended for Māori, and are unique to their ancestry. 

The Dutch city of Haarlem is set to ban most meat products from public spaces from 2024 over climate concerns. It’s thought to be a first such move by a city – a move that would surely send a shiver down the spine of hot dog vendors in NYC… 

Finding a romantic partner can be hard, and finding a ‘parenting partner’ has a whole other set of challenges. Enter a new app, Just a Baby… Founded in WA, the mission in creating “Tinder for wannabe parents” is to help people “find eggs, a womb, an embryo or sperm”. The T&Cs would be an interesting read… 

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

2.20pm (AEST) – Cricket – 2nd ODI – Australia v New Zealand – Cairns

ABS Data Release – International Trade in Goods and Services, July

R U OK? Day

International Literacy Day

Birthdays for US Senator Bernie Sanders (1941), businessman James Packer (1967), actor Martin Freeman (1971) and singer Pink (1979)

Anniversary of:
• the unveiling of Michelangelo’s David statue in Florence (1504)
• 3M selling its first roll of Scotch tape (1930)
• the start of the Siege of Leningrad by German troops during WWII (1941)
• the premiere of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960) and Star Trek (1966)
• the first national broadcast of The Oprah Winfrey Show in the US (1986)
• the release of Kylie Minogue’s biggest hit Can’t Get You Out Of My Head (2001)

Squiz the Day

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