Squiz Today / 25 August 2020

Squiz Today – Tuesday, 25 August


"I just think everyone needs to take a chill pill and realise this is a good news story, not a bad one."

Said NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance of the purchase of 10 new ferries to service Sydney’s river routes. He’s probably referring to the part where passengers will be able to sit on a roof deck for the first time, and not the part where an expert said they could be “severed from the waist up” at high tide while going under a bridge…


As Victoria recorded another 15 coronavirus deaths yesterday - all linked to aged care facility outbreaks - PM Scott Morrison and Federal Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck apologised for the government’s handling of the crisis. Of the 517 deaths recorded since the beginning of the pandemic, Colbeck yesterday said 335 were receiving care in a facility (328), or at home (7).

It's a bit of politics, and a bit of opportunity. Federal Parliament resumed yesterday for the first time in 9 weeks. That makes it the first time in ages that Labor's had a chance to directly question Morrison about the vulnerable part of the health system that the Commonwealth funds and regulates. Put under pressure over the many infections and deaths since June, Morrison again apologised to families of the victims. The renewed focus on aged care was also prompted by a lacklustre appearance by Colbeck before a Senate committee on Friday at which he couldn’t answer questions about the number of deaths in aged care homes. "My fault, my responsibility,” Colbeck said yesterday. A report in The Australian this morning (paywall) says he’s been sidelined over the gaffe.

Not so fast… A report into the failings at Sydney’s Newmarch House, where a COVID-19 outbreak saw 17 residents die, was released yesterday. Severe staff shortages (87% had to isolate soon after the first infections), protective equipment shortages, and sub-standard infection control led to 71 people becoming infected. And there was confusion and blame-shifting between the levels of government and aged care provider Anglicare that didn’t help. The report was commissioned by the Federal Government to learn from the mistakes. But with 126 aged care homes currently with active coronavirus cases - all in Victoria - many are concerned that the lessons have gone unheeded. "It is heartbreaking and completely unforgivable that history has repeated itself across multiple Victorian aged care homes," Labor's Ageing spokeswoman Julie Collins said yesterday.



The first day of 29yo Australian man Brenton Tarrant’s sentencing hearing yesterday saw last year’s attack on two Christchurch mosques described in detail for the first time. The court heard how the self-proclaimed white supremacist planned to inflict further damage by burning down both mosques and attacking a third. Yesterday’s hearing also marked the first time the victims and victims’ families of New Zealand’s worst mass shooting came face-to-face with him in the courtroom. More than 60 people are expected to give victim impact statements during the hearing. It’s expected that Tarrant will receive a life sentence after pleading guilty to 51 counts of murder, 40 attempted murders, and one terrorism charge earlier this year.


Two big names in finance have left the AMP building… Chairman David Murray and director/former Treasury Secretary John Fraser have both resigned over the company’s handling of sexual harassment allegations made against senior executive Boe Pahari. Pahari remains at the company but has been demoted after he was appointed to lead AMP Capital in June. Not long after his ascension, accusations from 2017 surfaced – which the company's bigwigs labelled "lower-level breaches". Chaos ensued… Murray will be replaced by Debra Hazelton, while Pahari’s role will be temporarily taken over by chief executive Francesco De Ferrari until a replacement is found. Reports say the pressure is now on from staff, shareholders and clients to overhaul the company’s culture.

And while we have you… Three senior Rio Tinto executives including CEO Jean-Sebastien Jacques will miss out on performance bonuses following the destruction of two 46,000yo culturally significant Indigenous rock shelters in Pilbara, WA back in May. While the destruction was deemed legal under state law, the company’s internal review found it breached its own standards.


Northern Territory’s Chief Minister Michael Gunner claimed victory in the Top End’s election late yesterday. Confident of securing a majority of seats, Gunner thanked Territorians for their support and said he would get to work. Country Liberal Party leader Lia Finocchiaro conceded after securing 4 of the parliament’s 25 seats. The counting continues to determine the final result.


After the Democrats’ show last week, it’s the Republicans’ time to shine as we start the 10-week countdown to the US presidential election. Ever the showman, Trump’s Republican National Convention will showcase more live events with the help of producers from his Apprentice days. It's expected he will speak each day with Friday morning (our time) set for the main address. This morning, he's accepted the party's nomination. And later, look out for speeches from Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr and former ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley. Then there's the McCloskeys… And look for signs of departing senior adviser Kellyanne “Alternative Facts” Conway at some point. One of Trump’s most loyal campaign and White House staffers, Conway is leaving to spend time with her family… who really don’t like her working for the President.


Confession time: we’ve been a bit eye-rolly about the repeated use of that term, just in case you hadn’t noticed… But news that the AFL grand final will not be played in Melbourne for the first time ever might have got us over the line. It was confirmed yesterday that holding the mega event at the hallowed Melbourne Cricket Ground – which has a contract with the AFL to host the game until 2057 – was too risky in light of the state’s battle with COVID-19. The AFL is expected to announce where it will be played later this week, and if you thought the states had stepped it up over the coronavirus, wait until you see them battle it out for a crown jewel of Australia's sporting calendar… As for when it will be played, a date in mid-to-late October is yet to be set.


Right - The arrival of the swuit. Think a suit made of sweatsuit (aka trackie) fabric.

Wrong - pronouncing emu (aka ee-mew) ‘ee-moo’.


Company Earnings Results - Blackmores; Seven West Media; Scentre; Ampol (formerly Caltex)

Uruguay’s National Day

Birthdays for Sean Connery (1930), Gene Simmons (1949), Martin Amis (1949), Tim Burton (1958), Billy Ray Cyrus (1961), Alexander Skarsgård (1976), and Blake Lively (1987)

Anniversary of:
• Englishwoman Alicia Thornton becoming the first female jockey (1804)
• the liberation of Paris by Allied forces after four years of Nazi occupation (1944)
• the release of the first package of pre-cooked instant noodles by Momofuku Ando (1958)
• the Voyager 1, which was launched in 1977, becoming the first spacecraft to enter interstellar space (2012)
• the deaths of Truman Capote (1984), Neil Armstrong (2012), and John McCain (2018)

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