Squiz Today / 01 March 2023

Squiz Today – Wednesday, 1 March

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Squiz Today Podcast

Launching you into March.

Today’s listen time: 9.40 minutes

21 / 28
15 / 21
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13 / 21
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14 / 27

Squiz Sayings

“Zombie Yeezys”

Is what financial analysts call the circa $500 million of Yeezy stock that Adidas has on hand but hasn’t sold after a collaboration with the artist formerly known as Kanye West went off the rails. Now, there’s an idea to strip the items of any branding and sell in ‘zombie’ form to recoup some costs. Sounds terrifying…

Supercharging super taxes

The policy kite has landed… Yesterday, PM Anthony Albanese and Treasurer Jim Chalmers confirmed that Aussies with more than $3 million in their superannuation accounts will have their investment taxed at a higher rate. It’s designed to leave about $2 billion a year in the government’s under-pressure budget. As for how it will work, Chalmers says tax on the earnings of super balances over $3 million will rise from the concessional rate of 15% to 30%. The change isn’t retrospective (that is, it will impact investments that hit that mark after the change comes into effect) – and it won’t happen immediately. The change has to pass the parliament, and the start date will be July 2025. Note: that’s after the next federal election, so voters will be able to make their feelings known about the broken promise made by Team Albanese not to change the rules.

Albanese emphasised that “99.5% of people with superannuation aren’t affected by this reform”. About 80,000 Aussies are expected to be impacted, but Chalmers says they’ll continue to receive tax breaks on their balances under the $3 million threshold. Chalmers also released data to drive his point home showing that tax breaks on super and capital gains are worth $100 billion a year. Chalmers says the government doesn’t “begrudge anyone who has made a lot of money” – he says the changes are “modest” and will help to create a more equitable/sustainable system. But the Coalition will oppose the changes – Treasury spokesman Angus Taylor says Aussies “don’t want to see a government that can’t manage its own spending and has to come after Australians with higher taxes”.

Looks that way, and that’s no surprise given the tricky times – but according to the latest economic data, it’s not all bad. Retail sales for January showed a rebound from December’s fall as Aussies hit the department stores and ate out more. Overall, the figures were the best since November 2021, when Aussies shopped up a storm after COVID restrictions were lifted. And CoreLogic says the rate of home price falls slowed in February, with its national index recording the smallest monthly fall since May 2022, when interest rate hikes started. As for what’s next: hold onto your hat today when the big one lands… The latest national accounts data will be released this morning – it’ll tell us where Australia’s economic growth landed for 2022 and give analysts intel on whether a recession’s on the horizon.

AusPol Business & Finance

Squiz the Rest

Measuring out a benchtop ban

Workplace health and safety ministers from across Australia have unanimously given the green light to scope out a ban on products that generate silica dust. The main issue is the risk for workers who cut or file certain types of engineered stone – they are at particular risk of developing silicosis – an incurable lung disease caused by breathing in the tiny particles. Safe Work Australia had warned that unless the federal government acted, it would implement a ban on using, manufacturing and importing engineered stone over concerns about rising rates of silicosis in stonemasons and other tradies. That saw Federal Employment Minister Tony Burke fast-track plans to look into a ban, and a final decision is expected to be made in the 2nd half of the year. If it goes ahead, Oz will be the first country in the world to do it.

Australian News Business & Finance Health

COVID’s origin still up for debate

White House national security spokesman John Kirby says US officials have not reached a “definitive conclusion and consensus” on the origins of COVID despite a new report concluding the pandemic most likely arose from a Chinese laboratory leak. On Monday, the classified intelligence report from the US Energy Department (which has expertise on the subject because it manages a lot of labs) gave the theory a “low confidence” assessment, which means it’s not convinced, but it can’t be ruled out either… As for other agencies, the FBI reckons the theory could hold up, but other government bodies say it’s more likely the pandemic resulted from natural transmission from animal to human. Beijing rejects the lab leak theory and has called on “certain parties” to “stop politicising the origins-tracing issue”. US ambassador to China Nicholas Burns yesterday called on China to be “more honest” about COVID’s origins.

Health World News

A clampdown on TikTok

This week, the American and Canadian governments have instructed federal employees to wipe the popular Chinese video-sharing app TikTok from their work devices over security concerns. The app’s data-collection methods and links to the Chinese Government led to the conclusion that TikTok poses “an unacceptable level of risk”. That’s drawn criticism from China overnight – its targeted the US, saying it should “provide an open, fair and non-discriminatory environment for foreign companies”. The bans follow similar moves made worldwide, including one implemented by the European Commission last week. And here in Oz, a growing list of federal departments have kicked the app off work devices – which has thrown a spanner into pollies’ attempts to get cool with the kids

Technology World News

Northern lights spread southwards

You’d usually have to travel hella north to destinations like Iceland to catch a glimpse of the northern lights – aka aurora borealis. But English stargazers as far south as Cornwall have spotted the phenomenon recently thanks to clear skies and intense solar activity. The multi-coloured light display occurs when the Sun emits particles that interact with molecules in the Earth’s upper atmosphere, creating a glowing effect. The Earth’s magnetic field usually directs those particles to the north and south poles – which is why the phenomenon is a feature there – but once every decade or so, it becomes visible further south. As the name suggests, the northern lights are only visible in the northern hemisphere, but over the past week, the southern hemisphere’s version of the phenomenon – the aurora australis – has been putting on a show of its own with some lucky Western Aussies reaping the benefits.

Environment & Science World News

Snakes alive in Australia’s centre

Alice Springs has really copped it of late. If it’s not in the spotlight for a crime crisis, it’s where Jetstar passengers are held on the tarmac for eleventy million hours thanks to a diverted flight. Now, there are warnings that eleventy trillion snakes are inhabiting the town’s drains, shoes and couches. That number might be an overstatement, but when your pain threshold is one, eleventy trillion feels about right… Local nope rope catcher Rex Neindorf – aka the best bloke to be mates with in Alice Springs – says that in his 20 years on the job, he’s never seen anything like this season. That’s because there’s been good rainfall for a couple of years, and conditions have been good for breeding. His advice: “you’ve got to be ultra careful” about putting shoes on and sitting on the sofa because you never know where the region’s venomous western browns have snuggled away. Hard no…

Australian News

Apropos of nothing

Elon Musk has reclaimed the title of the world’s richest person after Tesla’s share price picked up the pace. His fortune is an estimated US$187.1 billion, just beating out Bernard Arnault, boss of French luxury brand LVMH, with US$185.3 billion. With all the drama surrounding Musk of late, we know you’re probably worried about him. He’s doing fine…

Research shows the Tooth Fairy has not been immune from this inflationary environment. Payment for a single lost tooth is at a record high in the US, hitting an average of $6.23, up from $5.36 in 2022.

Sure, TikTok’s on the outer with Canada. But for one Aussie, it’s been a platform to enrich the life of a backyard frog and gain 60,000 followers in the process…

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

12.30pm (AEDT) – Transport and Infrastructure Minister Catherine King addresses the National Press Club – Canberra

3.00pm (AEDT) – Men’s Cricket – 3rd Test – Australia v India – Dharamsala, India

5.10pm (AEDT) – Women’s Hockey – FIH Pro League – Australia v United States – Hobart

7.10pm (AEDT) – Men’s Hockey – FIH Pro League – Australia v Spain – Hobart

State funeral held for NT MP Lawrence Costa – Darwin

ABS Data Release – Consumer Price Index, January; National Accounts, December quarter

Human Rights Conference is held as part of WorldPride 2023 – Sydney (until 3 March)

ANZSOG First Nations Public Administration Conference – Brisbane (until 3 March)

AICD Australian Governance Summit – Melbourne (until 2 March)

World Compliment Day

Zero Discrimination Day

World Horse Day

Birthdays for actor Lupita Nyong’o (1983) and singers Kesha (1987) and Justin Bieber (1994)

Anniversary of:
• the start of the infamous Salem Witch Trials in Salem, Massachusetts (1692)
• Yellowstone becoming the world’s first national park (1872)
• Henri Becquerel’s discovery of radioactivity (1896)
• the US explosion of Castle Bravo, a 15-megaton hydrogen bomb at Bikini Atoll, which accidentally became the most powerful nuclear device ever detonated by the US (1954)
• the release of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon (1973)
• colour television transmissions beginning in Australia (1975)

Squiz the Day

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