Squiz Today / 16 August 2022

Squiz Today – Tuesday, 16 August

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Today’s listen time: 9 minutes

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Squiz Sayings

“US$48.4 billion”

Or $68.3 billion Aussie dollars… That’s the profit Aramco – the Saudi Government majority-owned oil company – made between April and June. It’s possibly the world’s largest quarterly profit ever made, driven by the recent energy crisis. The non-alcoholic drinks are on them when Chinese President Xi Jinping visits the Kingdom later this week…

Secret PM’s business raises questions

The Albanese Government is seeking advice on the legality of former PM Scott Morrison’s appointment as a joint minister in the Health, Finance, and Industry, Science, Energy and Resources portfolios. Calling the secret arrangements “just weird” and “very contrary to our Westminster system”, PM Anthony Albanese said it was unacceptable for his predecessor to keep Australians in the dark about who had what powers in the government. Governor-General David Hurley’s office yesterday confirmed that there weren’t a series of hushed-up swearing-in ceremonies – he simply signed the paperwork to give Morrison authority over those departments. “The decision whether to publicise appointments to administer additional portfolios is a matter for the government of the day,” the statement said. As for the man himself, Morrison says he had nothing to add because he’s not “engaged in any day-to-day politics”.

The first part of this story broke in the Weekend Australian (paywall) on Saturday. And the story goes that Morrison put himself down to administer the Health portfolio if required in March 2020. That ensured a continuity plan if then-Health Minister Greg Hunt got sick. And it put safeguards in place for the big emergency powers given to the Health Minister, including the ability to introduce martial law. Hunt is said to have been aware of the move, but it wasn’t publicly disclosed. Also not announced – even to then Finance Minister Mathias Cormann – the appointment to his portfolio. Again, it was said to be a contingency measure to keep the money flowing if something happened to the guy in charge. But as we turned the corner into yesterday, details of a 3rd appointment emerged…

Yep. Morrison was also secretly appointed joint Industry, Science, Energy and Resources Minister in April last year – which had nothing to do with the pandemic response… It gave Morrison the power to kill off a proposal for an offshore oil and gas project between Manly and Newcastle. He did that against Resources Minister Keith Pitt’s wishes in December after it became political poison for Liberals in the area who hoped to win/hold their seats in the federal election. Yesterday, Pitt said it was “clearly something I was concerned about, as you would expect.” He wasn’t the only one – several of Morrison’s colleagues and opponents say his way of wielding political power was wrong. “This is dripping out like a tap that needs a washer fixed and what we need is actually to get the full flow of all the information out there, and then we’ll make a decision about a way forward here,” PM Albanese said.


Squiz the Rest

Desperate Afghans in limbo

Yesterday’s first anniversary of the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban has seen a focus on the plight of hundreds of thousands of Afghans who are trying to get to Australia. That includes interpreters, embassy staff, guards and aid workers who assisted our troops and officials. The Department of Home Affairs says more than 5,500 Afghan nationals have arrived here on temporary humanitarian visas in the last year, but there aren’t enough for the more than 200,000 Afghans who have sought to resettle here since August last year. Others have an Aussie visa but are unable to get here. Immigration Minister Andrew Giles said the situation was “very, very difficult” and that Afghans who assisted Australia, ethnic minorities, and women/girls are being prioritised.

Australian News World News

China’s economy cools down

The world’s 2nd-largest economy delivered lower-than-expected growth for July, according to new official numbers. China just avoided an economic contraction in the April-June quarter after lengthy lockdowns in major centres like Shanghai – but fresh COVID outbreaks in July saw new lockdown measures imposed across the country. Add to that a debt-laden property market, a series of surprise interest rate cuts, and plunging consumer confidence, and the result has been a slowing economy. July saw retail sales (up 2.7%) and industrial output (up 3.8%) grow, but at a slower rate than expected. Economists warn of a fragile economic situation developing in the coming months. And as if they didn’t have enough on their plates, officials are busy with a 2nd lot of US politicians making an unannounced appearance in Taiwan. There’s no word yet from Beijing…

World News

An organ transplant breakthrough

The blood type of a human kidney has been changed for the first time ever, which could have enormous implications for the future of organ transplants. Those in need of a kidney can spend years on dialysis as they wait for a donor with the same blood type, but a team of researchers at Cambridge University have found a way to convert kidneys into type O, the universal blood type. After keeping the kidneys artificially alive, scientists bathed them in a chemical cocktail, removing the antigen markers that identified them as type A or B and resetting them to type O. There are a few regulatory and ethical issues to unpick, so it’s uncertain how soon the technique can become widely adopted.

While we have you… American actress Anne Heche was taken off life support yesterday after a match for organ donation was found. The award-winning TV and film star died of injuries from a fiery car crash in Los Angeles on 5 August. She was 53yo.


Drought drags on up north

It’s still sizzling in the Northern Hemisphere, where “critical” drought conditions are affecting about 60% of the European Union and the United Kingdom, according to new research. Experts say climate change exacerbated the record heatwave that scorched the region this summer, with falling river levels across Europe set to affect trade, tourism, food and energy production. It’s also seen the enforcement of water restrictions across parts of the continent, with a group of French activists showing their displeasure with the exemptions for golf courses… And with no significant rainfall across most of Europe for the past 2 months – and none forecast anytime soon – meteorologists warn the drought could be the continent’s worst in 500 years. Drought conditions are also prevalent in the US. And record-breaking dry conditions across the Horn of Africa have taken nations to a crisis point. But enough words – the pictures say a lot

Weather World News

You’re gonna need a bigger ground…

The Bombers and the Hawks – it’s an Aussie Rules rivalry almost as old as the league itself. And now Melbourne-based AFL clubs Essendon and Hawthorn have a new battlefield to focus on when they meet in the AFLW for the first time on Saturday, 27 August. And the fans – they’re excited… Both teams are new to the women’s league, and competition organisers have had to shift their encounter from the 12,000-capacity North Port Oval to the 53,000-capacity Docklands stadium because of the high demand for tickets. “Two proud clubs, a historic occasion for them and another historic moment for the AFLW competition,” said broadcasting boss Travis Auld. The season begins on Thursday next week with Carlton taking on Collingwood at Princes Park. It’s the AFLW’s 7th season, and all 18 clubs will be represented. All Essendon has to do now is sort out its internal issues


Apropos of Nothing

The Cotswolds house that served as the home of Elizabeth Bennet and her family in the much-loved 1995 BBC adaptation of Pride & Prejudice is up for sale. With a $10.2 million price tag, even the fabulously wealthy Mr Darcy might have trouble finding the cash…

The family of Andy Warhol are putting a collection of 10 of the artist’s early works up for auction later this year. He’s best known for his colourful Pop art prints, so the very brown paintings are different to that.

And vale Freya the walrus, who has been put down by Norwegian authorities over concerns for public safety after onlookers kept getting a bit too close for comfort. May she long keep sinking boats in walrus heaven…

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

ABS Data Release – Overseas Arrivals and Departures, June

Company Results – BHP; Seven West Media; Seek; James Hardie; Goodman Group; Challenger; Shopping Centres Australasia Property Group; Temple & Webster

The ANZ-Roy Morgan weekly consumer confidence index is released

Birthdays for director James Cameron (1954), Queen of Pop Madonna (1958), actor Steve Carell (1962), and director/actor Taika Waititi (1975)

Anniversary of:
• the marriage of Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi (2008)
• Wikileaks founder Julian Assange being granted political asylum by Ecuador (2012)
• the deaths of music legends Elvis (1977) and Aretha Franklin (2018)

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