Squiz Today / 22 February 2022

Squiz Today – Tuesday, 22 February

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Squiz Today Podcast

We’ll catch you up. 

Today’s listen time: 9 minutes

20 / 26
12 / 25
22 / 30
13 / 28
19 / 34
9 / 21
25 / 31
13 / 23

Squiz Sayings

“If you get handed Vegemite, don’t eat it by the spoon,”

Was the warning one of the fabulous drag queens gave a dazed traveller at Sydney Airport yesterday as the first arrivals filed through the terminal after nearly 2 years of a closed international border. We wonder what her uncensored advice would have been…

Cannon-Brookes to go after AGL

Atlassian co-founder/rich-lister Mike Cannon-Brookes has his sights firmly set on buying energy company AGL, despite it knocking back his $8 billion takeover bid yesterday. AGL said the offer undervalued the company and wasn’t in the best interests of shareholders. However, Cannon-Brookes – who has partnered with Canadian asset manager Brookfield – isn’t taking no for an answer. “It’s obviously disappointing,” he said yesterday, but “we have been trying to work with the board through the weekend and will continue to move forward.” The bid certainly excited investors yesterday sending AGL’s share price up 10.6%.

That’s a relatively simple one to answer. AGL is one of Australia’s biggest emitters of greenhouse gas emissions, and Cannon-Brookes says he’s serious about using his wealth to solve big problems and shape a better future. He and his wife Annie have already committed $1.5 billion of their (immense) fortune to climate change philanthropy. And with AGL, he believes there’s an opportunity to remove coal-fired power plants from its roster of energy-generating assets in 2030, a long time before the planned exit in 2045. That endeavour and turning AGL into a clean energy giant would see Cannon-Brookes and Brookfield spend an additional $20 billion. Yesterday, he said it would be “the single biggest decarbonisation project” in the world and “a great economic opportunity facing Australia, but it requires vision and action”. But it’s a pipedream until shareholders agree to sell to him and Brookfield.

PM Scott Morrison says the early shutdowns of coal-generated power plants will force prices up, adding his government could step in to stop the trend. That’s reference also covers a request from Origin Energy last week to close the country’s biggest coal-fuelled power station 7 years earlier than planned. “Our government is very committed to ensure we sweat those assets for their life,” he said. But here’s the rub: Cannon-Brookes said renewable sources will generate cheaper power saying his plan involved “bringing significant supply” and that “should bring prices down in the long term.”   

Business & Finance

Squiz the Rest

Commuters left to catch the blame bus

Thousands of Sydney commuters had a rough time yesterday as the city’s train network was shut down thanks to an industrial dispute between the NSW Government and the union. Why that was the case is still up in the air, with both sides pointing at the other. The Rail, Tram and Bus Union says the government agreed to a limited strike over concerns about wages and safety. But the government says that was a misunderstanding, and officials decided to cancel train services over concerns there would not be enough staff to maintain safety and commuters could be left stranded far from home if the trains ran in the morning and were shut down later in the day. PM Morrison weighed in, saying the “ramping up” of union action was a “taste of Labor” – and that saw ACTU boss Sally McManus have a go at the Coalition for political point-scoring. Limited services will be running today, officials say. It’s been a long week, and it’s only Tuesday… 

Australian News

Russia finds a reason

A new day brings a new twist in the Ukraine crisis… Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to recognise the 2 regions of eastern Ukraine held by Russian-backed separatists as independent. The Donetsk and Luhansk regions are on Russia’s border, and we talked yesterday about the increasing violence in those areas. Moscow and the separatist rebels claim Ukraine is planning an assault to retake the areas – a claim Ukraine rejects. Analysts say if Putin decides to recognise those regions today, it’s almost certain that Russian troops will go over the border shortly after that on the pretext of protecting the citizens of those regions. That scenario fits what Western governments have anticipated – that Putin would fabricate a reason to invade Ukraine. The US says Russia has massed a force of up to 190,000 troops in the region, including those pro-Russian rebels. Despite all that, Russia continues to deny it’s getting ready to attack its neighbour.

World News

America takes a polar plunge

And we’re not talking about the ice baths its athletes are taking in the wake of the Winter Games… Much of the US is set to shiver through freezing conditions as a high-pressure system pushes a blast of Arctic air from Canada across the country this week, bringing chilly winds and snow. After temperatures dropped 12-25C across the northern states yesterday, the mercury is set to sink deep into minus territory as the polar air is pushed further south and east. Forecasters say more than 70% of the US mainland will be hit with below-freezing temperatures, with more than 15 million Americans experiencing temperatures of circa -20C. We’ll take our wet summer, thanks…

Weather World News

Telcos bury the hatchet and agree to share

Anyone living or travelling outside our major cities knows that mobile phone coverage can be, let’s be polite, inadequate… That could get better for some with Telstra and TPG Telecom – which owns Vodafone – signing a 10-year deal. If approved by the regulator, TPG could access 3,700 Telstra mobile towers in the country and on the outskirts of metro areas where its coverage is patchy. In return, Telstra will gain access to TPG’s 4G and 5G internet infrastructure and up to $1.8 billion of revenue. If it proceeds, TPG reckons the deal will put it on track to challenge Optus as the country’s 2nd largest mobile network operator. This tie-up has been a long time in the making after the ACCC rejected a similar-ish deal in 2017, but TPG boss Inaki Berroeta says it’s a better/fairer package this time around.

Australian News Business & Finance

Team Trump has another go at social media

More than a year after being banned from Twitter, Facebook and YouTube for inciting violence during the attack on the US Capitol by his supporters, former US President Donald Trump is having another shot at making his social media presence great again… Last year, his first attempt at getting back online – a Twitter-inspired blog – was taken down after a month due to low audience numbers. And now, Trump’s latest venture – a new social media app called Truth Social – is set to launch today. Funded by the Trump Media and Technology Group (TMTG), the app is positioning itself as a champion of free speech to draw users who feel their views are suppressed by mainstream social media platforms. With Trump once boasting 80 million Twitter followers, the jury is out on whether Truth Social will pick up enough steam. Pour yourself a covfefeand settle in…

World News

Apropos of Nothing

A Californian pooch has been reunited with her owners after being missing… for 12 years. Zoey was handed in nearly 100km away from home, and authorities called the phone number attached to the microchip. There was a lot to catch up on…

Also in California, a 225kg black bear nicknamed Hank the Tank has been terrorising the town of South Lake Tahoe over the past 7 months, breaking into 28 homes in search of food. A suggested response: give him a bowl of porridge that’s just right.

And more than a few athletes weren’t too happy with the strict COVID bubble of the Beijing Winter Games, but one thing that was welcomed – ‘close door’ buttons in lifts that actually work. Genius.

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

12.30pm (AEDT) – Billionaire businessman and founder of the United Australia Party Clive Palmer addresses the National Press Club – Canberra

Company Results – Seven Group Holdings; Coles; Cochlear

ABS Release – Crime Victimisation, 2020/21; Monthly Household Spending, December 2021

World Thinking Day

Cat Day in Japan

Birthdays for muso/protester disperser James Blunt (1974) and actor Drew Barrymore (1975)

Anniversary of:
• the British House of Lords ruling that authors do not have perpetual copyright (1774)
• Wildlife Warrior Steve Irwin’s birthday (1962)
• Scottish scientists announcing they have cloned an adult mammal, producing a lamb named “Dolly” (1997)
• the Christchurch earthquake (2011)

Squiz the Day

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