Squiz Today / 26 September 2023

Squiz Today – Tuesday, 26 September

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Squiz Today Podcast

Maintaining your news game.

Today’s listen time: 9.30 minutes

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Squiz Sayings

“This is a gift to the world.”

Said planetary scientist Dante Lauretta of the space capsule that’s returned to Earth after 7 years travelling through the solar system. And like a good party guest, it hasn’t arrived empty-handed – it’s brought space rocks and dirt from the ‘Bennu’ asteroid that have researchers very excited…

The Home Affairs boss is in the hot seat…


The Home Affairs departmental boss Michael Pezzullo has stood aside from his powerful job after text messages obtained by the Sydney Morning Herald/Age/60 Minutes showed he was secretly lobbying to influence the former Coalition Government. The problem is that departmental secretaries – the top public service administrators/advisers who implement the decisions of the government of the day – aren’t there to push their own political views. But 5 years of private text messages have revealed that it’s what Pezzullo seems to have done. That’s led PM Anthony Albanese to say it’s appropriate that Pezzullo stand aside while the hundreds of messages are investigated.


Those are good questions. Pezzullo worked for Labor previously, including with leader Kim Beazley. But he’s really a career defence/security policy wonk who worked his way up the ladder. And when the super-department of Home Affairs was created in 2017 (pulling together customs, immigration/Border Force, the Federal Police, anti-money laundering agency AUSTRAC, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission and national security agency ASIO), Pezzullo was appointed to lead it. So he’s kind of a big deal… As for the messages, Pezzullo’s chatting with Scott Briggs, a Liberal insider with a hotline to former PMs Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison. And from what’s been published, the pair talk about Cabinet appointments and ministers’ performances – Pezzullo also advocates for more aggressive restrictions on press freedom in Australia. So, like, way out of his remit as an impartial public servant…


The official investigation is off and racing – it will be conducted by a former Australian Public Service Commissioner Lynelle Briggs (note: no relation to Scott…). There’s no word yet on how long it will take, but Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil says the process will be “expedited”. What Peter Dutton has to say would usually be notable because he’s the leader of the opposition – but in this case, it’s particularly noteworthy because he was the first Minister for Home Affairs with Pezzullo as his departmental secretary… Dutton said that during his time working with Pezzullo, he “conducted himself in a thoroughly professional way”. But Greens Immigration spokesman Nick McKim put the boot in, saying that Pezzullo has “shown complete contempt for the principle of accountability” and that his “time as a senior public servant needs to end”.


Squiz the Rest

White paper watch

If you clocked yesterday that Treasurer Jim Chalmers released a White Paper on employment and thought, “That’s nice, but what’s a White Paper?” we’ve got you… When it comes to tackling the big issues, ministers can use it as ‘a statement of policy intent’ ahead of new legislation and funding to see how it goes down. So that’s where Chalmers is coming from with a discussion point about redefining ‘full employment’ and better deploying underutilised workers. It’s heady stuff, but there are 2.8 million people who are unemployed or underemployed – and that’s with the current low unemployment rate of 3.7%… More opportunities for pensioners and welfare recipients to work were also flagged (note Coalition leader Dutton suggested it but doesn’t think Chalmers is going far enough). Also on the cards – a focus on jobs of the future, particularly in fields that will help lower our carbon emissions. Now get to work…

AusPol Business & Finance Economy

Sikhs concerned by the Canada-India clash

Canada’s relationship with India has descended into a full-blown diplomatic crisis after PM Justin Trudeau last week accused the latter of being behind the murder of a local Sikh leader… Punjabi Sikhs say they’re now worried about potential backlash from the Indian government, and one man says there are “a lot of rumours swirling around” that Canada might shut down future visa prospects. Canada’s made no mention of that, but it would be a big deal because the country is home to the world’s largest Sikh population outside of Punjab. To remind you what led up to this: activist/Canadian citizen Hardeep Singh Nijjar was shot outside a temple near Vancouver in June, and last week, Trudeau said it was because of his advocacy for a separate state for Sikhs. People with those ‘separatist’ views are considered extremists/terrorists in India. Trudeau said Canada is “pursuing credible allegations” of a link between India’s government and the killing – a position Indian officials have called “absurd”.

World News

The name behind the pancake…

Darwin real estate agent Suzi Milgate has been identified as the person allegedly behind Sunday morning’s pancake to the face of Northern Territory Chief Minister Natasha Fyles at Darwin’s Nightcliff Markets. Milgate said she acted  “out of frustration” over Fyles’ failure to listen to her concerns about crime and the territory’s mandatory COVID vaccine policy. She also said that a “cream pie is not an assault”, but Fyles said it was “a firm whack” that left her sore and bruised. “I’ll call it for what it is – it is a violent assault, and it is unacceptable,” she said. Fyles says it won’t deter her from being out in public, but police are looking into whether her security should be increased. Milgate’s been bailed to appear in the Darwin Local Court on 10 October.

AusPol Crime

Writing their way back into busines

After 146 days of striking, members of the Writers Guild of America could be heading back to work this week after a tentative deal was struck with the entertainment companies yesterday. Members get to vote on the deal, but it looks like they got what they were holding out for – increases in royalty payments for streamed content and guarantees that AI won’t be used to water down writers’ credits and compensation. Reports say the breakthrough ​​came when the bosses of the big studios – Disney, NBCUniversal, Netflix and Warner Bros Discovery – got directly involved. The writers’ strike has contributed to a shutdown of television and film production in the US and internationally, given so many entertainment roads lead to America. And that shutdown isn’t over yet, with Actors Guild members waiting on their breakthrough. But shows that could restart ASAP are the late-night and daytime talk shows, much to Drew Barrymore’s relief

Business & Finance Entertainment

Footy highs and lows

So, you know the euphoric feeling so many of us had when the Matildas were playing their hearts out at the Women’s World Cup? This is the opposite of that… The Wallabies have almost certainly crashed out of the Rugby World Cup in France after receiving a 40-6 thrashing from Wales yesterday morning. Our national side used to be our pride and glory, but it’s been a tough few years, and this performance takes things to a new low… The Wallabies have never been bundled out of the tournament in the pool stage, leaving one writer to say what many rugby fans are thinking – that Aussie rugby is “bereft of ideas, leadership or inspiration”. And coach Eddie Jones – who has been savaged by his critics – seems to agree… “It’s not only the Wallabies we have got to improve; we’ve got to treat the whole system of Australian rugby … we’ve got to have a really good look at ourselves,” he said. There’s still a match to go against Portugal next Monday…

And while we have you, the AFL has named its fairest and best player of 2023… The Brisbane Lions’ Lachie Neale has become a 2-time Brownlow Medallist, calling it “unbelievable”. And because you’ve been good this morning, here’s a red carpet gallery with all the fashion looks.


Apropos of nothing

Five Flamingos have turned up in Wisconsin… The flamboyant pink birds can be found in a band from northern South America to Florida, and where they’ve been found is way up near the Canadian border… Experts reckon Hurricane Idalia has knocked ‘em off course.

A stranded bride has been picked up (in a good way) and taken to the church in time for her wedding after the classic car she was travelling in broke down. Sharon Travers from Aberdeen in Scotland says she was lucky – but geez, it sounds like a scene from a quaint BBC series…

And Logan Roy (aka Brian Cox) has finally had his say about Rupert Murdoch’s decision to hand the running of his media empire to son Lachlan and wonders if the decision to pull the trigger was prompted by the show. One thing he wouldn’t bite on is who Lachlan’s equivalent is – Kendall, Roman or Connor?

And if you want to get across that big media move, our latest Squiz Shortcut out this morning takes you through Rupert Murdoch’s rise and what Lachlan has ahead of him.

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

12.30pm (AEST) – Leading ‘No’ Voice campaigner Warren Mundine addresses the National Press Club – Canberra

International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons

World Contraception Day

Mesothelioma Awareness Day

European Day of Languages

A birthday for Serena Williams (1981)

Anniversary of:
• Olivia Newton-John’s birthday (1948)
• Operation Jaywick, the action that became the starting point for Australia’s Special Forces (1943)
• the first publication of comic book Tintin (1946)
• the premiere of Gilligan’s Island (1964)
• the release of The Beatles’ Abbey Road (1969)
• Republican Richard Nixon squaring off against Democrat John Kennedy in America’s first televised presidential debate (1960)
• Saudi Arabia announcing the overturning of its ban on women driving – the last country in the world to do so (2017)

Squiz the Day

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