Squiz Today / 29 August 2023

Squiz Today – Tuesday, 29 August

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Squiz Today Podcast

Helping you get your arms around it. 

Today’s listen time: 9.30 minutes

11 / 22
11 / 19
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13 / 24
10 / 21
8 / 19
20 / 35
3 / 19

Squiz Sayings

“I guess I’m a Spurs fan now then.”

Said popstar Robbie Williams as he embraced Tottenham Hotspurs’ supporters’ appropriation of his song Angels as a tribute to new coach Ange Postecoglou. The Aussie/former Socceroos manager is kicking some metaphorical goals at the big English club…

More bite than your Matildas takeaway

Australians are struggling under the weight of cost of living pressures at levels not seen since the 2008 Global Financial Crisis. New data from Roy Morgan shows almost 1.5 million Aussies – that’s 29% of borrowers – were ‘at risk’ of mortgage stress when the snapshot was taken last month. (Note: You’re considered at risk if your mortgage repayments are greater than a certain percentage of household income, depending on how much money you’re raking in each month.) And 20% of borrowers were considered ‘extremely at risk’. Roy Morgan boss Michele Levine said rising interest rates and high inflation have crunched borrowers – and she warns that as unemployment rises, “mortgage stress is set to increase towards the record high of 35.6%”. 

You’d think that might mean we’ve shut our wallets more firmly than that family member who never pays for anything. Ever. But the Bureau of Stats released new data yesterday about Aussies’ retail spending in July, and it was bouncier than how we felt after the Matildas went through to the Women’s World Cup semis… Takeaway orders rose significantly as soccer-mad consumers stayed home to cheer our team on, delivering a one-off boost in retail spending. Aside from that, analysts say consumers are cutting back. Tomorrow, we’ll get the latest on how inflation is tracking, and together, that data will play on policymakers’ minds as the Reserve Bank board gets ready to review interest rates next week. At this stage, a further hike isn’t anticipated. And that will be music to Treasurer Jim Chalmers, who says the big risks to our economic outlook are additional rate rises and “what’s happening in China”.

There’s been a dramatic slowdown in China’s economy – a couple of weeks ago, US President Joe Biden called the situation a “ticking time bomb” because China is the top export destination for almost 40 countries, including Oz, and any economic retreat will hurt. So there’s that… And yesterday, we saw how shaky China’s key property sector is after massive developer Evergrande restarted trading on the Hong Kong stock market after 17 months of suspension as it dealt with some big funding issues. It had to do that because, in 2020, the Chinese Government limited how much property companies could borrow to ensure they didn’t get too big for their boots… That saw Evergrande’s share price dive almost 80% yesterday… Limiting the fallout to the property sector will be a big challenge for the Chinese Government. Cross your fingers for our exporters…

Australian News Economy

Squiz the Rest

Concerns for Aussie Yang Hengjun

Yang Hengjun, the Aussie writer/democracy activist detained in China for more than 4 years after being tried in secret for espionage in 2021, is facing medical problems in jail. Dr Yang was told by doctors last week that he has a 10cm cyst that’s putting pressure on one of his kidneys – although he says he doesn’t know what type of cyst. He has told supporters he’s concerned he won’t receive treatment for it and might die in jail. “If something happens with my health and I die in here, people outside won’t know the truth,” he said. And his fears aren’t entirely unfounded, with others, including Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo, dying while in custody. The situation means PM Anthony Albanese has been asked to raise this issue – he might get the chance to do that if his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping goes ahead next month at the G20 leaders summit in India.

Australian News World News

Lehrmann defamation trial takes shape

The Federal Court is getting set for the next round of legal action resulting from Brittany Higgins’ claim that her colleague Bruce Lehrmann assaulted her in Parliament House. Lehrmann is suing Network Ten for its interview with Higgins on The Project on 15 February 2021, and yesterday, more details about the legal arguments each side will be taking were shared. Ten plans to make the case that it didn’t identify Lehrmann in its first interview (he wasn’t named in the media until August 2021) – if that argument fails, the company will argue that the allegations against Lehrmann are true. His lawyers say they will object to any academic evidence about the rareness of false claims… Lehrmann is also suing the ABC over its broadcast of Higgins’ 2022 National Press Club address. We also learned yesterday that Lehrmann and Higgins will testify during the case, which is set to begin on 22 November.

AusPol Australian News

Alan Joyce gets a little credit

Praise was hard to come by from a committee of senators who had the Qantas boss go and talk to them about the cost of living pressures yesterday afternoon. Top of mind are the $500 million-plus flight credits that Qantas and Jetstar hold from the COVID era – and the airlines are requiring travellers to redeem them by the end of the year. Joyce and his team say they’ve done well to help travellers clear around $3 billion worth of credits since they started coming back online after the pandemic’s major restrictions were lifted. And Jetstar boss Steph Tully said the “absolute goal is zero credit left by the end of December.” Put against the company’s record profit of $2.47 billion reported last week, the company’s receipt of $2.7 billion in taxpayer handouts during the pandemic, and Joyce’s hefty pay packet – senators weren’t too pleased. “My goodness,” huffed Labor Senator/former transport union boss Tony Sheldon at one point…

Australian News Business & Finance

Now that’s a spectacular flop…

Australia’s sports nuts are on a roll as our team at the World Athletic Championships in Budapest turned in our highest medal tally ever. Our 6 medal haul includes Nina Kennedy’s gold in the women’s pole vault, as well as Aussies scoring podium finishes in the javelin (Mackenzie Little), the 20km walk (Jemima Montag), and the men’s pole vault (Kurtis Marschall). But a stellar double-act in the women’s high jump put us over the top. Nicola Olyslagers nabbed bronze while Eleanor Patterson took out silver, beaten only by Ukranian Yaroslava Mahuchikh – and who could begrudge her the win after she had to flee her hometown of Dnipro after Russia’s invasion. Speaking of, Russia and Belarus were banned from the tournament because of the ongoing war. Elsewhere in sport, Simone Biles returned to gymnastics and immediately won a record eighth title at the US Gymnastics Championships. Even after a 2-year break, the GOAT’s still got it…

Australian News

Where is she?

If you’re a believer in ‘you’ve got to see it to be it’ and have ever wondered why 15% of STEM jobs are held by women, a new Aussie study might have a clue… Researchers from Curtin University found an “alarming” lack of female scientists in high school curriculums around the country, calling the lack of women “inaccurate”. The syllabi (dare you to use that in a sentence today…) in Queensland, South Oz, and the Nothern Territory include one female scientist – chemist Rosalind Franklin – while the other states didn’t mention a single woman STEM leader. Researcher Tegan Clark points out there’s no shortage of pioneers to choose from, including Marie Curie, who won a Nobel Prize for her work on radioactivity. In response to the study, Queensland has promised to address its gender imbalance, and NSW says it’s “taking steps”.

Australian News Culture Environment & Science World News

Apropos of nothing

A new video game is more than just a recreational outlet for players in Myanmar… The PDF Game (which refers to the country’s anti-military People’s Defence Forces) sees players fight against military troops on-screen – while also raising money for the country’s real-life resistance movement.

We mentioned China’s economic troubles earlier, and it’s seen some locals turn to a novel way to unlock extra cash: a “poker-like” card game called Guandan. It’s said to be taking venture capitalists by storm after they realised they could use it to build connections with wealthy government officials who hold the purse strings.

Less politically charged is the challenge to snorkel through a 55m water-filled trench in a peat bog. It might not sound glamourous, and it sure doesn’t look it either – but that didn’t phase competitors at the World Bog Snorkelling Championships in Wales. For an extra bit of oomph, the rules say nay to traditional swimming strokes but yay to wearing flippers…

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

12.30pm (AEST) – Dr Andrew Leigh MP, Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities, Treasury and Employment, addresses the National Press Club – Canberra

5.40pm (AEST – Incoming RBA governor Michele Bullock to deliver a speech on central banks and climate change – Canberra

9.10pm (AEST) – Men’s Basketball – FIBA World Cup – Australia v Japan – Okinawa, Japan

Company Results – Meridian Energy; Mineral Resources; Star Entertainment

International Day Against Nuclear Tests

Birthdays for Lea Michele (1986) and Liam Payne (1993)

Anniversary of:
• Great Britain and China signing Treaty of Nanking, ending the Opium War (1842)
• the founding of Netflix by Californians Marc Randolph and Reed Hastings as an online DVD rental business (1997)
• Hurricane Katrina hitting the US city of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, ultimately killing 1,800 people (2005)

Squiz the Day

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