Squiz Today / 23 May 2017

Squiz Today – Tuesday, 23 May


Criticism of the New South Wales Police operation to bring an end to the Lindt Café siege is back in the news as the Coroner gets ready to hand down his inquest findings this week. The siege took place over 17 hours between 15 and 16 December 2014 and resulted in the deaths of café manager Tori Johnson, barrister Katrina Dawson and terrorist Man Haron Monis. ABC’s Four Corners last night aired the first interviews given by the families of Dawson and Johnson since the tragedy. They were highly critical of the strategy and actions of Police and their subsequent inability to admit that mistakes were made. Police Association spokesman Tony Wood yesterday said the inquest was a ‘witch hunt’ that unfairly targeted the officers who risked their lives.

There are many, but three main points are:

1. The decision by police to ‘wait it out’ and only enter the café if a hostage was killed or seriously injured. Johnson's mother Rosie Connellan said; "I'll never be able to understand how you can make a calculated decision that you wait for someone to die. It's just beyond me."

2. Police relied on the advice of a psychiatrist who had no expertise in terrorism. In the weeks before the siege, Islamic State called on followers to undertake ‘lone wolf’ operations, and Monis was a known extremist with a violent history. Even though Police knew Monis’ background (although that information took hours to get to the incident commanders), they took the advice of a psychiatrist who believed Monis was simply ‘grandstanding’.

3. Why was Monis on the street in the first place? The Police Association and the families were critical of the actions of the Department of Public Prosecutions for not opposing bail earlier in 2014 when Monis faced charges for involvement in his ex-wife’s murder and (separately) 40+ sexual assault charges.

Watching Four Corners last night, it's clear mistakes were made. The families want improvement in the future. "I want to see the coroner have the courage to really challenge an alternative view of what could have happened and to make sure the lessons are being learnt and that it honours the remarkable memories of Katrina and of Tori," Katrina's brother Angus Dawson said. The Coroner will hand down the report at 10am on Wednesday morning in Sydney. And then it will be up to the government to act. 


Call us old fashioned but it’s unusual to see a political staffer to give a press conference, let alone one standing next to their boss. But we live in unusual times. One Nation leader Pauline Hanson and her controversial chief-of-staff James Ashby hit some turbulence yesterday – and not in their One Nation plane. The duo faced the music over an idea Ashby presented to a (secretly recorded) private party meeting on how to make money from the Queensland election. Basically, his idea was to supply campaign collateral at a low price, overcharge candidates for it and then claim the maximum amount from the Electoral Commission. Ashby was also recorded as saying he would deny ever saying it if it became public. Whoops! Ashby said he was embarrassed and Hanson said she knocked the idea on the head - so no harm, no foul. PM Malcolm Turnbull has asked for advice on whether any laws have been broken.

A bit of a double-edged sword for homebuyers yesterday with S&P (Standard and Poor’s) lowering the credit rating of 23 Australian ‘smaller’ financial institutions (ie not the four big banks and Macquarie). These credit ratings given by agencies like S&P are much like your personal credit rating (which we’re sure is excellent) – it determines the quality and amount of borrowing that can be accessed. S&P lowered the lenders' ratings because they are worried there might be a ‘correction’ in the Sydney and Melbourne property markets which could impact these institutions. For prospective homebuyers, this is further evidence these markets might be cooling a bit. Yay! But it might be a bit harder to get finance from the impacted institutions if you’re looking to buy in those hot spots. Boo! Take care out there.

Yuuuge Indian company Adani have indefinitely put off their final decision to go ahead with a $16.5 billion mine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin after the state government yesterday failed to decide whether they will give the company some breathing space on paying royalties (the tax on mining companies for the resources they mine) as they get the mine started. Critics of the Queensland Labor government say they are putting 10,000 new jobs and investment at risk. However, the government said they have more issues to consider, like formulating a standard approach on royalties for any miner that wants to get started in the area. This proposal has a lot of vocal critics and supporters so expect to hear more about this today.

Mining magnate Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest and his wife Nicola have pledged to donate $400 million of their personal wealth to a range of causes including cancer research, ending slavery, family and community support and equality projects. It is Australia’s biggest single philanthropic gift and the largest donation made by living Australians. Their famous mates Russell Crowe, Jack Thompson and Marcia Hines joined political leaders for the announcement in Canberra yesterday. Forrest is the chairman of Fortescue Metals Group and said he and his wife had been fortunate in their lives to accumulate capital (one estimate says they are worth $5.5 billion) so it was important to give something back.

Look, we don't claim to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of rugby league. There, we said it. But we love a display of raw emotion, and that's what Queensland Maroons coach Kevin Walters showed yesterday. He got all choked-up at the State of Origin team announcement defending the decision to leave true blue (or should that be true maroon?) and dead-set Queensland legend Billy Slater out of the side. Slater had been out of the game for a couple of seasons, and while he’s been playing good footy with his club side Melbourne Storm, Walters said he didn’t want to put that sort of pressure on him. A head-over-heart call? Well, Origin is all about heart, so we'll see if the pragmatism pays off. The first of the three-game series is on Wednesday, 31 May at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium.


“I’m 71 yesterday and I can do a five-minute plank, OK. Just sayin’”

Cher, we’re seriously impressed. The ever-amazing diva took her birthday celebration to the Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas yesterday, and she thrilled the crowd with her fabulousness. She even dusted off the black g-string leotard and leather jacket ensemble for a performance of If I Could Turn Back Time – you know, the one she made famous on board the USS Missouri, sailors cheering etc. BTW that song made it to #1 in Oz and Norway in 1989, but not in the US – Bette Midler’s Wind Beneath My Wings was kicking around about then. Anyway, quite rightly, they gave her an Icon Award. You go girl. 


12.30pm - Kate Carnell (Small Business Ombudsman) and Ged Kearney (ACTU President) at the National Press Club

ABS Data release - Producer Price Indexes, March

Human Rights Arts + Film Festival - Sydney

International Day to End Obstetric Fistula

World Turtle Day

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