Squiz Today / 07 March 2023

Squiz Today – Tuesday, 7 March

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Squiz Today Podcast

News to your ears. 

Today’s listen time: 9.40 minutes

SYD
20 / 26
MEL
15 / 21
BNE
22 / 31
ADL
13 / 24
PER
24 / 37
HBA
15 / 21
DRW
27 / 31
CBR
13 / 28

Squiz Sayings

“Cat-astrophic mistake.”

Says a US Transportation Security Administration spokeswoman, after a passenger’s cat was found in a travel carrier that had just rolled through the airport’s x-ray security checkpoint. The cat (and its owner) got through to their flight a-okay, officials say…

Another rate rise as cost of living bites

THE SQUIZ

The Reserve Bank board will decide whether interest rates are on the rise again when it meets today. Analysts are tipping another 0.25%, taking the official cash rate to a 10-year high of 3.6%, up from the 3.35% currently. If that happens, it’ll be the 10th consecutive hike as our central bank continues to battle inflation. It’s sitting at 7.4%, well above the 2-3% target range.

WILL IT EVER STOP?

Well, some economists say we’re in for another 2 rate hikes this year to take us to 4.2%, and others say that might not be the case as inflation eases. Treasurer Jim Chalmers reckons inflation peaked in December when it hit a 3-decade high of 7.8%. It’s terrific that inflation is coming down, but it also means Australia’s economic growth is slowing with figures out last week showing growth of just 0.5% between October–December. Senator Jacqui Lambie didn’t mince her words about the impact yesterday – she says Aussies need to be prepared for the worst. “I think that they are holding every penny they can. I have been brutally honest. I said, ‘Well, even if we don’t, at least be prepared’,” she said.

SO HOW ARE WE HOLDING UP?

It seems Aussies are worried about the rising cost of living pressures. Data from mental health service Lifeline shows a record 26,000 searches were made on its website for support in January 2023, while searches for help specifically relating to financial issues and homelessness rose by 49% between August and January. Supermarkets Coles and Woolworths have also noticed customers are “feeling the pain”, with an “extraordinary” spike in the sales of discounted/own brand items as shoppers hunt for bargains. For the more than 4.7 million Aussies receiving income support, help is coming with an indexation increase to payments from 20 March. “We want more money in the pockets of everyday Australians, so they can better afford essentials,” Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth said yesterday.

Australian News Business & Finance

Squiz the Rest

Battling it out in Bakhmut

A bitter battle continues to be waged in eastern Ukraine’s Bakhmut as Russian forces seek to surround the city and attempt to force out the defenders. Last week, Russia claimed it had cut off all but one road into the city, and local officials say it’s turned into a streetfight that has seen the invader’s loses outnumber Ukraine’s 5 to one. Bakhmut is not an especially strategic city – but the battle has taken on symbolic importance and would be the first major victory Russia has had since last July if it does prevail. A win in Bakmut would also be symbolic for the chaotic Wagner group of private Russian mercenaries who have been leading the attack. Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin says fighters are short on ammunition and reports say they are using shovels for hand-to-hand combat. Whatever happens in Bakhmut, Ukraine is expected to launch its own offensive in the coming weeks.

World News

Fires destroy a Rohingya camp

It’s been a while since we’ve talked about the Rohingya Muslim minority stranded in refugee camps in Bangladesh. You might remember they fled from Myanmar after a military crackdown against the in 2017 – a dark chapter the United Nations described as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”. More than a million people are living over 3,000 hectares of the Cox’s Bazar region in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions – human rights groups say it’s the world’s largest refugee camp. They are also vulnerable to fires as demonstrated by a big blaze on Sunday that engulfed 2,000 bamboo-and-tarpaulin shelters and 35 mosques, and reports say 12,000 people have been left homeless. The cause isn’t known, and there are no casualties reported so far. There is no prospect of the Rohingya returning home anytime soon – conditions in Myanmar have only worsened since the military coup in 2021.

World News

Education, not persuasion

Our federal pollies are back in Canberra this week, and you better believe that means more discussions about the referendum on establishing an Indigenous Voice planned for later this year… Kicking things off yesterday was confirmation that the Albanese Government will provide $9.5 million for an awareness campaign that it insists is not a proxy ‘yes’ campaign. It will be a civics and education program administered by the National Indigenous Australians Agency that will “focus on delivering facts about the constitution, referendums as the mechanism to change the constitution, and information about the Voice proposal”, Finance Minister Katy Gallagher confirmed. Colour the Coalition skeptical… It wants public funding for ‘yes’ and ‘no’ campaigns – not government-funded materials that could see Team Albanese “putting fingers on the scales” of the debate, says spokesman Julian Leeser. PM Anthony Albanese has said the referendum will be held between October and December. 

AusPol Australian News

What the eye can’t see…

In recent weeks, the chatter about artificial intelligence has focused on chatbots taking over the internet. The developments received a mixed reception, and we’d like to think those large language models have responded by hiring a PR agency… How else do you explain this story that’s surfaced about how AI is picking up cancer in breast screens that humans are missing? Hungary has been testing the technology on real patients, and has seen great results – so much so that clinics and hospitals in the US, Britain and European are also diving in. No one is saying it’s sorted – there are lots of trials and testing to do. But with the technology’s ability to review mammograms in a more granular way than the human eye, there’s some excitement about its application. As for radiologists concerned about their jobs, Professor Constance Lehman from Harvard Medical School says they will always be needed, but there “are tasks that are better done with computers.”

Health Technology

It’s the new Müttley Crüe

You know Tommy Lee (aka the infamous drummer of Mötley Crüe and ex to Pamela Anderson)? Well, there’s a new kid in town… The Tommy Lee we’re talking about is 8yo, and is from Jerilderie in regional NSW – and he trains sheepdogs. And recently, Tommy was the youngest seller at the Jerilderie Working Dog Auction, pocketing $5,500 for a sheep dog named Echo. Don’t worry – there’s no ‘boy loses best mate’ story here – Echo won’t be too far away. “I’m not really sad because we sold him to a friend,” he told the ABC. So what’s Tommy going to do with his cash? “We have a one-tonne ute, and I want to get it fixed up,” he said. It’s a HZ Holden one-tonner, and just to remind you, the kid’s 8yo… And if you can’t source a more Aussie story this week, we’ll shout you a Bundy and coke at the Jerilderie pub… 

Australian News

Apropos of nothing

Toblerone packaging is going to look a little different in future – Switzerland’s strict rules about protecting “Swissness” means the Matterhorn mountain graphic has to be dropped when production of the sweet moves to Slovakia this year. Here’s hoping the taste stays the same…

A retail worker got some koala-ty time with one of Oz’s favourite marsupials when it strolled into a petrol station in the Adelaide Hills and climbed up his leg – which it presumably mistook for a tree. And luckily for us, it was all captured on CCTV

More than 30 sled dog drivers – or mushers, as they’re affectionately known – have set off on the annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race across the Alaskan wilderness. It’s 1,600km they have to cover, it’s not for the faint-hearted – or soft pawed… 

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

The RBA holds its monthly meeting ahead of an announcement on interest rates

ABS Data Release – International Trade in Goods and Services, January

Australian Financial Review Business Summit 2023 – Sydney (until 8 March)

ABARES Outlook conference 2023 – Canberra (until 8 March)

Anniversary of:
• Alexander Graham Bell receiving a patent for the telephone (1876)
• the invention of Monopoly (1933)
• Hitler breaking the Treaty of Versailles by sending troops to the Rhineland (1936)
• death of director Stanley Kubrick (1999)

Squiz the Day

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