Squiz Today / 20 November 2018

Squiz Today – Tuesday, 20 November



Is how much a Tassie man was fined for calling PM Scott Morrison “a Muppet” at the Bathurst 1000 in October. Full disclosure: there were also a few expletive flourishes. With our pollies out and about as we careen towards an election, it’s something to keep in mind…


Australia’s media landscape is on track for significant change after Fairfax Media’s shareholders yesterday voted to merge the 177yo business with Nine Entertainment. Sounds simple, right? But nothing in Aussie media ever is. And it turned out to be a big day for the Seven Network as well.

Nope. But it’s getting there. Next stop is the Federal Court for approval, which is the standard process for a merger like this. That’s slated for Tuesday next week. The wildcard is the late lob from the stands by former Domain chief/prodigal son Antony Catalano. He wanted the shareholder vote to be postponed so investors could ponder an alternative deal in which he buys 19.9% of Fairfax and they sell parts of it to return some cash to shareholders. The Fairfax board didn’t consider it to be a 'superior proposal'. He is looking at a challenge in the court next week. But if the plan holds, the Fairfax brand will disappear by the end of the year, and Nine will be the biggest media company in the country.

Intriguing, right? And it gets even interestinger when you add corporate regulator ASIC and the governing body for Aussie tennis to the mix. Long story short, Tennis Australia board members Harold Mitchell (who’s made his bazillions brokering advertising deals between our big brands and the major media outlets) and Stephen Healy (the former Tennis Oz prez) have been accused by ASIC of withholding information from other board members back in 2013. Channel Ten was interested in bidding for the Australian Open broadcast rights, and the men are accused of downplaying it to their fellow directors to favour Seven. Mitchell is also accused of passing on confidential info to Seven, who ultimately won the rights. Mitchell is currently the chair of Free TV, the industry group that represents all our free-to-air broadcasters. Their next meeting ought to be a doozy…


Police on Queensland’s Gold Coast are investigating the death of a nine-month-old baby girl who was found lifeless at the water's edge yesterday morning. The child's parents were found 5km away from the Surfers Paradise beach a short time after the girl's discovery and are being questioned by police. Nine News last night reported her parents are homeless and had recently pitched a tent in the dunes behind Broadbeach. The toddler had not been reported missing by her parents.

And while we have you on law and order matters... Jarryd Hayne, the NRL star and former American football aspirant, was yesterday arrested and charged. Reports last week revealed a woman has alleged he assaulted her after the pair agreed to meet in NSW’s Hunter Valley in September. Hayne handed himself in to police yesterday afternoon and was released on bail.

That's what PM Scott Morrison says he's hearing from city slickers in Sydney and Melbourne. "The roads are clogged, the buses and trains are full. The schools are taking no more enrolments. I hear what you are saying," he said last night. That could lead the federal government to cut the annual immigration numbers. Morrison is also set to ask state premiers to create their own population plans for discussion at the next Council of Australian Governments meeting in December.

PM Morrison had barley made it home (geddit?) from the tumultuous regional gatherings of last week when China fired a shot at our government and exporters. Beijing is looking into our barley exports, worth $1.8 billion to farmers. They say we’ve been ‘dumping’ barley on them, which means they say it’s been sold at artificially low prices. Pundits say that’s unlikely because, well, we’re in the middle of one of the biggest droughts on record, there’s barely any barley. That’s left them thinking it’s a passive-aggressive move on China’s part that Regina George would be proud of. It’s stormy weather ahead – and not the sort that will fill our farmers’ dams…

And while we have you… A joint Fairfax/Nine investigation says there has been an increase in Chinese state-directed cyber attacks on Aussie companies in order the steal their commercial secrets.

ROYAL COMMISSION GOES TO THE TOP – This time they’re talking to the banks' most senior execs and directors about compliance with laws and regulations, plus how they incentivise staff and the sort of behaviour it generates. A theme to come out of Commonwealth Bank boss Matt Comyn’s evidence yesterday was they didn’t listen when concerns were raised. Comyn’s back again today.

EMPLOYEES, NOT RIDERS/DRIVERS – This one could have implications for Uber Eats, Deliveroo, and other parts of the ‘gig economy'. The Fair Work Commission yesterday found former Foodora rider Josh Klooger was an employee, not an independent contractor. That means he (and presumably other workers) has rights around pay and conditions.

NISSAN BOSS ARRESTED – Chairman Carlos Ghosn has been arrested over accusations of under-reporting his income and using company assets for personal gain. CEO Hiroto Saikawa said he hoped Ghosn, the Brazilian-born exec who is credited with saving Nissan from collapse in the 90s, would be terminated from the company this week.

Good news for kids with peanut allergies – there’s a new treatment that’s set to be approved in the next couple of years in the US and UK. How it works is the kids are desensitised to peanut protein by introducing small amounts over time. Most of the kids on the trial reacted to 10mg of peanut protein at the start. After a year, they were able to tolerate 1000mg, or about four peanuts. The treatment will not suit those with a severe allergic response that gets worse every time they are exposed.

It’s of geometric proportions


12.30pm (AEDT) - Address by Kelly O'Dwyer, Minister for Jobs & Industrial Relations and Minister for Women, to the National Press Club on 'Women’s Economic Security Statement 2018' - Canberra

7.30pm (AEDT) - Speech by Reserve Bank Governor Philip Lowe at the CEDA Annual Dinner - Melbourne

7.45pm (AEDT) - Socceroos great Tim Cahill's farewell as the Aussies take on Lebanon - Sydney

Universal Children's Day

Anniversary of the birthday of Robert F Kennedy (1925)

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