Squiz Today / 12 February 2019

Squiz Today – Tuesday, 12 February


“Instead of just numbers, we want Hungarian children.”

Which is why Viktor Orbán, the populist right-wing prime minister of Hungary, has announced a new policy to boost the country's flagging birth rate. Women who have four or more children will never pay income tax again. Great - you have four kids, and you get to go back to work. (Hang on, we know a couple of women with four tin lids who would love the peace of an office…)


When PM Scott Morrison yesterday described his government’s commitment to strict border laws as “absolutes”, he was doing more than stating his policy position. He was laying down a challenge to Bill Shorten and Labor – and escalating the my-security-credentials-are-stronger-than-yours debate. Labor spent yesterday reconsidering its position on a proposal to medically evacuate asylum seekers from offshore detention centres.

Shorten and his senior team were briefed by the Department of Home ­Affairs and Australian Border Force and then met with colleagues last night to settle the party's position on the 'medivac' bill. Reports say Labor's amendments include:

• Changing the definition of ‘national security’ to stop the medical transfers of asylum seekers convicted of serious crimes (like murder).

• Specifying that the arrangement only relates to those currently on Manus Island and Nauru, not any new arrivals.

• Scrapping or extending the 24-hour window the minister has to consider a recommendation that someone be medivac’d.

It’s safe to assume the Coalition will not agree to any amendments. So if Labor is able to get support from six of the seven crossbench MPs, including Kerryn Phelps, an amended version of the ‘medivac’ bill could get through the parliament. (Note: Far North Queensland MP Bob Katter has already ruled out his support.) The Coalition would suffer a historic defeat, but it would gain the politically charged ammunition to use against Labor in the weeks and months ahead. But there are a few ‘ifs' in there, so hold on to your prime ministerial baseball cap and brace for some potentially shouty episodes today.



And just like that, the detention in Thailand of refugee soccer player Hakeem al-Araibi is over. Reports say Bahrain dropped its extradition case against Melbourne-based footballer, and he will likely arrive back in Oz today. Araibi, 25yo, had played football for Bahrain and was detained in Bangkok for alleged vandalism offences in his former country. He denies those charges and says his life was at risk after criticising a member of the Bahraini royal family. Former Socceroo captain and broadcaster Craig Foster led the public campaign for his release and last night tweeted his gratitude to the Thai government.


Tony Mokbel, the man at the centre of Melbourne’s gangland wars, was in a critical condition last night after being stabbed at Victoria's maximum security Barwon Prison. The attack came a day after the Sunday Herald Sun ran a front page story (paywall) about his position as an enforcer inside the prison. He was thought to be ok after he was seen shaking the hand of a paramedic on his arrival at hospital, but reports say his condition deteriorated after he was admitted. A former escape artist, Mokbel is serving a 30-year sentence for drug traffiking offences. His conviction is one of many that may be affected by the ‘Lawyer X' scandal after Victoria Police fessed up to the use of his barrister as an informant.


There has been a lot of speculating about what led to the sacking of national women's soccer coach Alen Stajcic by the code's governing body three weeks ago. Yesterday, Stajcic spoke publicly for the first time, and it was a bit of an emotional rollercoaster… Although the Australian Football Federation hasn't said a lot, the sticking point seems to be a survey of player wellbeing that found the team had a "toxic culture". Stajcic says the collection of the results was not secure, and the result was not reflective of his experience with the team, so he's out to restore his reputation. Superstar player Sam Kerr and other senior players have praised Stajcic. The Women's World Cup is in four months in France.


BAFTAs - You could have been forgiven for thinking the volume was broken for your coverage at the start of Britain’s film and acting awards as the crowd went awkwardly silent for William and Kate’s grand entrance. But onto the winners… The Favourite continues its winning form with seven awards, including best actress for Olivia Colman. Rami Malek won best actor for Bohemian Rhapsody. And Netflix film Roma won best film. The full list of winners is here. Red carpet gallery - done. And Kate wore Diana’s favourite pearl earrings.

GRAMMYs - Music’s night of nights belonged to Kacey Musgraves. She took four trophies including album of the year for Golden Hour, best country album, best country solo performance and best country song. Childish Gambino (aka Donald Glover) also took out multiple awards, including song and record of the year for This Is America. And after criticism that last year’s awards were light on women, former First Lady Michelle Obama took to the stage to support host Alicia Keys. Winners list - check. And you know we wouldn’t forget the red carpet gallery

AUSTRALIAN CRICKET AWARDS - Alyssa Healy won the Belinda Clark Medal and Pat Cummins the Allan Border Medal. They are the two awards that recognise Australia’s best players of the last year. And they are worthy winners - Healy was player of the World T20 tournament, and fast bowler Cummins had a solid season with bat and ball. Want another red carpet gallery? Sure...


Art. Sometimes it makes less sense to us than this toddler. But this New York Times' obituary for Robert Ryman caught our eye. Described as “one of the most important American artists to emerge after World War II”, Ryman was a Minimalist with a dedication to square, white paintings (eg this large piece which sold for more than US$20 million in 2015). He never took an art lesson and received his education as a guard at New York's Museum of Modern Art. His works "eliminated imagery, conventional colour and, to some extent, emotive brushwork." What is left, you ask? The viewer's experience of it. Ryman was 88yo.


ABS Data Releases - Lending to households and businesses, December; Water Account 2016-17

National Australia Bank's latest Business Confidence Survey to be released

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak will appear in court over the 1MDB corruption scandal

Red Hand Day (an initiative supported by the United Nations to stop the use of child soldiers)

International Darwin Day (think the man, not the Top End capital..)

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