Squiz Today / 10 October 2017

Squiz Today – Tuesday, 10 October


“The kid no longer appreciates the one gift. They don’t even know what they’re expecting; they’re just expecting stuff.”

Actress Mila Kunis says she and partner Ashton Kutcher aren’t giving their kids any presents this Christmas. Good luck with that…


Consider this your intellectual bran for the morning… The Coalition’s commitment to a Clean Energy Target is unclear after Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg started positioning the government for a backdown yesterday. Addressing the Australian Financial Review energy policy summit, Frydenberg said the cost of generating and storing wind and solar power was coming down significantly. “It is against this backdrop of a declining cost curve for renewables and storage, greater efficiencies that can be found in thermal generation and the need for sufficient dispatchable power in the system that we are considering the Finkel Review’s 50th recommendation to which we’ll respond before the end of the year.”

That’s what we’re here for. Let’s break it down:

1. The Clean Energy Target – it’s the % of electricity to be generated by renewable/clean technologies to reduce our carbon emissions. Because it’s generally been more expensive than, say, coal-power generation, it would attract a subsidy from the government to encourage its development. The government has been having a long think about what that % should be. 

2. But Frydenberg says renewable energy costs are coming down, so it looks like he's reviewing the need for a government-mandated target and subsidies. 

3. Frydenberg says the big issue for our power system is generating enough dispatchable power (that’s what our system relies on to turn the lights on every day). We're facing a shortage, and that’s a huge problem.

Setting a Clean Energy Target is a difficult issue for Turnbull because climate policy conservatives (think Tony Abbott) have already said they’re going to cause trouble over it. But he’ll cop it from the Chief Scientist Alan Finkel (who recommended it), business (who want stability so they can invest with certainty) and political opponents (who will use it as a point of difference until election day) if he walks away from setting one. It would also raise the question of whether dispatchable power generation (including that using coal and gas) could attract a government subsidy which would start a big new fight. Maybe Frydenberg was ‘floating a balloon’ yesterday to get the feedback. Whatever it is, this is the political issue that could become a flashpoint between now and the end of the year.


Want more bran? Read on! The Productivity Commission yesterday delivered a draft report over distributing funds collected by the GST. This is all about horizontal fiscal equalisation, people. That’s just fancy talk for attempts to give the states and territories enough funding for all Aussies have access to similar government services. For ages, Western Australia has been peeved about their low return of about 30 cents for every GST dollar. The Commission has recommended a resetting of the formula that will give WA more while hitting the hip-pocket of every other state. “Whoa up there, Nelly,” said every other state Premier and Chief Minister. They’ll discuss later this month when the funsters (aka all Treasurers) get together. Meanwhile, the final report will be out next year. Because we know you’ll want to mark your calendar…

A shareholder class action against the Commonwealth Bank was launched yesterday by law firm Maurice Blackburn. It alleges the bank misled shareholders and didn’t tell them soon enough about the regulator investigation into potential illegal money laundering transactions which lead to a share price drop. The lawyers said it would be a big case. The Commonwealth Bank said it would vigorously defend itself. (We've always wondered about the "vigorous defence" line. We have images of a high-tempo performance in court, jazzercise style…)

“It’s important for us to revisit this unprecedented decision on the quantum of damages, which also has broad implications for the media industry.” Isn’t it good of Bauer Media to look out for the Australian media industry? To be fair, many point out Justice John Dixon’s decision ignored the statutory cap on defamation payouts when he awarded actress Rebel Wilson a record $4.56 million. Justice Dixon said Wilson was entitled to the vast sum because the damage to her reputation was "unprecedented" due to the allegations printed in Bauer's magazines that she was a “serial liar” being amplified by Hollywood gossip sites. Wilson tweeted her disappointment saying “if this is a chance to expose more of their disgraceful practices & present more evidence on damages, I welcome it”. Game on. 

The Weinstein Company yesterday terminated the employment of its co-founder Harvey Weinstein after a series of harassment allegations were levelled against the movie mogul. Despite a number of settlements made to women over the years, the board said he had to go “in light of new information about misconduct by Harvey Weinstein that has emerged in the past few days.” Some Hollywood women are hopeful the case is a tipping point for the industry.

Australia’s chance to stay in contention for a spot in the Soccer World Cup is on the line tonight in their match against Syria. If we lose, we can kiss Russia 2018 goodbye. If we win, we advance to the next stage of qualifying. If we draw, well that’s a bit complicated, but let’s just focus on winning, all right? The Syrian team got a bit of attention after their surprise win against Australia last week. Here’s a sobering link about the fate of Syrian athletes under the Assad regime.

"Return to your homes. They do not have the sauce!" announced police at one Maccas in the US on the weekend in an attempt to disperse the angry crowd. Across America, crowds queued and were subsequently disappointed when a McDonald's promotion went terribly wrong. Long story short: it involves a cartoon, a one-day-only Szechuan Sauce offer, and dreadfully under-prepared McDonald’s stores. Such was the demand you can now get your hands on a serve of the special sauce on eBay for hundreds of dollars. Seems a bit OTT just to dress up some McNuggets…


High Court hearings on the dual citizenship of seven parliamentarians and their eligibility to sit in Parliament - runs for three days

12.30pm (AEDT) - Dan Tehan, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Cyber Security, will address the National Press Club on ‘Silent Dangers - Launch of the Australian Cyber Security Centre’s 2017 Threat Report’ - Canberra

8.00pm (AEDT) - Soccer - Australian Socceroos v Syria - Sydney

World Mental Health Day

World Homeless Day

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