Squiz Today / 29 November 2022

Squiz Today – Tuesday, 29 November

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Squiz Today Podcast

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Today’s listen time: 9.30 minutes

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Squiz Sayings

“I just want to be clear, this is not Australian dollars.”

Joked Hugh Jackman after his mate/fellow Aussie actor Nicole Kidman surprised a Broadway audience by popping up to donate US$100,000 for a hat worn by him after a performance of his hit musical The Music Man. In Aussie currency, that’s about eleventy billion dollars…

Terror threat lowered in Oz


The Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) has downgraded the country’s terrorism threat level from “probable” to “possible” after 8 years. ASIO boss Mike Burgess says the decision was “not taken lightly or made casually” but is due to a decrease in the threat posed by religious extremist groups recruiting Aussies from overseas. ASIO’s latest annual report reveals that “espionage and foreign interference” have taken over as the primary security concerns. But Burgess emphasised the downgrade doesn’t mean the terror threat has disappeared altogether, saying, “It remains plausible that someone will die at the hands of a terrorist in Australia within the next 12 months”.


The threat level was raised from “medium” to “high” in 2014 under the Abbott Government – that was at a time when the Islamic State controlled much of Iraq and Syria and used online propaganda to recruit foreigners. The categories were overhauled in 2015, but the threat level didn’t change. Australia’s terrorism alert system now has 5 levels: not expected, possible, probable, expected, and certain. Since 2014, there have been 11 terrorist attacks on Australian soil, with 21 other terrorist plots prevented. Twelve of those plots were detected between 2014 and 2016, but their frequency has decreased since then… That coincides with the decline of the Islamic State, which was ousted from its last stronghold in 2019. Experts also say COVID-related grievances about masks, lockdowns, and vaccines have lost momentum, and racist extremism isn’t increasing. ASIO hasn’t reported any attacks this year and says the most likely assault now is a lone actor using an easily obtained weapon like a knife or vehicle. 


After assessing the 4 women and 13 children repatriated from Syria last month, ASIO said they posed a low-security risk. Another 43 Aussies are yet to return, but details about if and when that might happen haven’t been released. The Coalition remains opposed to bringing them back but does support ASIO’s decision regarding the threat level. Liberal Senator and Deputy Chair of Parliament’s Intelligence Committee, James Paterson, says the former government can take some credit for the reduced threat as “a result of the investments and the powers that the Parliament has previously given ASIO”. Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil says the federal government and security agencies “remain vigilant”, and PM Anthony Albanese supports ASIO’s decision, saying, “I won’t second-guess them”.

Australian News

Squiz the Rest

A whirlwind week in politics

The last parliamentary sitting week of the year kicked off yesterday, and the federal pollies have a lot of ground to cover before they can crack out the Chrissy pud and egg nog…

  • CENSURING SCOTT MORRISON – The Albanese Government is set to pass a censure motion against the former PM over his secret ministry appointments in the House of Representatives later this week. A rare process that last happened in 2018, it’s a way for ministers to formally express their disapproval of a colleague and has no legal consequences.
  • NATS SAY NO TO THE VOICE – The National Party has confirmed it won’t support a constitutionally enshrined Indigenous Voice to Parliamentwhen the issue goes to a referendum, saying it doesn’t believe it would “genuinely close the gap”. The Liberal Party has yet to decide on its position, but it’s set to be discussed during today’s Coalition party room meeting. #SquizShortcuts
  • RESPECT@WORK BILL PASSES SENATE – The focus has been on industrial relations in recent weeks, but Labor fulfilled one of its key election promises yesterday after its sex discrimination bill passed the Senate. The bill acts on some recommendations from Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins’ 2020 report and will require employers to take meaningful action to prevent harassment from occurring in the workplace.

Ayatollah’s niece arrested in Iran

Reports say Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s niece has been arrested after a video surfaced of her urging foreign countries to cut ties with Iran over what she called its “murderous and child-killing regime”. Farideh Moradkhani is a well-known human rights activist – her late father was a prominent opposition figure married to Khamenei’s sister. Moradkhani has been outspoken against the country’s regime in the past and was last arrested by authorities in January before being released on bail. Her brother said she was arrested last week when she went to the prosecutor’s office in response to a court order. It comes as Iranian authorities continue their violent crackdown on protestors in the wake of 22yo Mahsa Amini’s death in custody. The demonstrations have been touted as posing one of the most significant challenges to the country’s regime since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. 

World News

Retail spending starts to slow

It might seem strange after last weekend’s shopping frenzy, but Aussies are winding back their spending, with monthly retail sales dropping for the first time this year. The latest data from the Bureau of Statistics saw sales fell 0.2% in October to $35 billion, below forecasts of a 0.5% increase. Economists say it’s a sign consumers are feeling the bite of cost of living pressures, and Aussie retailers are confident this year’s Black Friday sales will hit a record $6 billion as shoppers look to snag bargains in order to avoid future price rises. And with markets expecting the Reserve Bank’s board to hike the official cash rate by another quarter-point to 3.10% when it meets next week, Governor Philip Lowe yesterday offered an unprecedented apology to Aussie borrowers who took out loans expecting interest rates to stay unchanged until 2024. PM Anthony Albanese said he retains confidence in the RBA boss despite Lowe facing growing calls to resign over the saga.

Australian News Business & Finance

Fighting plastic waste with chocolate

The good ol’ days of paper wrapping on sweet treats are making a comeback… The Mars Wrigley company says its range of chocolate bars, including Mars Bars and Snickers, will be packed in recyclable, reusable or compostable material by 2025. After 2 years of research at its Ballarat site, the company has developed paper packaging that is set to be rolled out for some products in Oz from April next year. It’s a world-first move for the confectionary giant and is expected to eliminate more than 360 tonnes of plastic from the nation’s supply chain. And luckily for choccie lovers, Mars Wrigley says it expects “the same level of freshness” with the new paper wrapping. It follows the collapse of major soft plastics recycler RedCycle earlier this month, which has also prompted supermarket giants Coles, Woolworths and Aldi to launch a task force to find a solution to Australia’s plastics recycling problem.

Business & Finance Environment & Science

Schoolies swap schooners for smoothies

As week 2 of Schoolies 2022 kicks off, reports on the ground say some Aussie teens are doing away with the debauchery to embrace a more wholesome way of celebrating the end of Year 12. For the uninitiated, it’s an annual tradition where thousands of high school graduates or ‘schoolies’ descend on the Gold Coast for 2 weeks of hardcore partying. But a growing number of teens are skipping the Goldie altogether and staying in quieter areas like the Sunshine Coast to drink green smoothies and do yoga on the beach. It’s a far cry from the binge-drinking many Aussies associate with their own Schoolies experience, but youth organisation Red Frogs says schoolies’ drinking habits have shifted across the board. It reflects a broader downward drinking trend among young people in Western countries, including Oz, over concerns about health and the future. Nothing like drowning your sorrows in fruit soup…

Australian News

Apropos of Nothing

British pop star Dua Lipa has been granted Albanian citizenship by President Bajram Begaj for raising the country’s global profile through her music. It’s not as random as it might seem – her parents are originally from Albania, and she’s a patron of a charity she helped set up in her native Kosovo.

A technicolour Californian home dubbed the ‘Butterfly House’ is up for auction for a cool $1.5 million. The iconic property – created by a man for his wife as she started to lose her eyesight – would be particularly suited to maximalists and Mariah Carey fans…

And it can be tempting to go all out for the festive season, but a British artist has taken the opposite approach by creating the world’s smallest nativity scene in the eye of a needle. Now that’s a truly minimalist Christmas…

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

12.30pm (AEDT) – Industry and Science Minister Ed Husic addresses the National Press Club – Canberra

International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People

AFL Draft day 2

Winner of the Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Year announced

Birthdays for philanthropist Janet Holmes à Court (1946) and songwriter Don Walker (1951)

Anniversary of:
• the birthdays of authors Louisa May Alcott (1832) and CS Lewis (1898)
• physicist Erwin Schrödinger publishing his famous thought experiment ‘Schrödinger’s cat’ (1935)
• the release of the first commercially successful video game, Pong (1972)
• the deaths of actors Natalie Wood (1981) and Cary Grant (1986), and Beatle George Harrison (2001)
• the release of Adele’s single Rolling in the Deep (2010)

Squiz the Day

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