Squiz Today / 10 May 2017

Squiz Today – Wednesday, 10 May


Your mission, should you chose to accept it, is to Squiz the most succinct summary of the 2017 budget going around. If you want the full thing, have a look here. But we’re all about the ‘need-to-know’. Together we can do this. 

ABC’s 7.30 host Leigh Sales tied it all together in her first question to Treasurer Scott Morrison; “Treasurer, could you be the first Liberal Treasurer to deliver a Labor budget?” This reflects the government’s emphasis on funding for schools, Medicare, disabilities and whacking the banks. For Morrison’s part, he pledged “better days ahead” with “fairness, security and opportunity”.

The key numbers
The government is targeting economic growth of 2.75% for the 2017-18 financial year and 3% a year after that. They forecast unemployment of 5.75%, inflation of 2% and wages growth of 2.5%. This is all much the same as current levels.

The budget deficit is projected to be $29 billion for 2017-18, turning into a $7.4 billion surplus in four years’ time. The last surplus was delivered in the final year of the Howard government, so it’s been an elusive ambition for the last decade.

Health and Disabilities
The Medicare rebate freeze will be lifted in stages over the next four years. And the government will fully fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme to be paid for by a 0.5% lift in the Medicare Levy to 2.5% for everyone from July 2019.

The new ‘Pee for the Dole’ (our term - we're pretty proud of that one) scheme will see a trial group of 5,000 new unemployment benefit recipients undertake drug testing to receive their payments on a three-strikes basis – after the third strike they would be moved to the cashless debit card system. Ninety-two thousand older Australians will regain the Concession Card giving them cheaper services like public transport.

The big 4 (ANZ, CBA, NAB and Westpac) + Macquarie Bank will need to cough up $6.2 billion over four years via a 0.06% levy on deposits over $250,000. There's a lot of conditions on this; please consult a financial adviser. There’s also a new complaints authority and penalties for bank executives who do the wrong thing.

Planes, trains and automobiles
More than $70 billion over the four years will be spent on transport projects like a second airport for Sydney, a national rail program including an inland link between Melbourne and Brisbane, and highway upgrades.

$18.6 billion in additional funding for schools and making uni students contribute more towards the cost of their degrees.

First home buyers will be able to salary sacrifice up to $30,000 into their super account for a deposit. And older Aussies who are downsizing can make a special payment of up to $300,000 into their super on the sale of their home.

There’s a lot in this budget that you would think Labor and the minor parties in the Senate would agree with. Morrison says that means its passage through the parliament should be assured. We’ll see… Turnbull and Morrison have well and truly turned the page on the Abbott government days, so expect a lot of commentary on that point. And no doubt they also hope their political fortunes benefit from “better days ahead”. And you're done. See, that wasn't so bad, was it? 


Are you one of the many Australians not spending as much on clothes as you might have done in the recent past? Many experts were surprised that overall retail sales were down by 0.1% in April, the third monthly decrease in a row. Hardest hit were department stores where spending was down 0.6%. Many pointed to higher under-employment and low wages growth as causes for consumers keeping their wallets zipped. Last night's budget doesn't give much hope of relief on that front. So your new excuse for hitting the mall and spending up a storm: your country’s economy needs you!

Ben McCormack didn’t make an appearance in court in Sydney yesterday for the first mention of his child pornography case. It’s usually when the court hears if the defendant will plead guilty or not guilty. His lawyer Sam Macedone said he was unsure how McCormack would plead as he remains in hospital. One thing Macedone said caught our eye: “None of the charges that have been levelled against him involves pictures or explicit details of young kids… It’s nothing more than a discussion and that’s all there is.” McCormack's bail was extended, and the hearing was adjourned until 4 July when no doubt we'll hear more. 

Mmmm…pie….. Qantas CEO Alan Joyce yesterday received a pie to the face while delivering a speech at a business event in Perth. Joyce was three minutes into his speech when a 67yo man in a suit walked on stage, planted the pie fair on Joyce’s smacker, and calmly walked off. Joyce handled himself with composure. In fact, the whole thing was so calm the audience could have been forgiven for thinking it was all part of a weird new motivational speaking technique. But it wasn’t. No word yet on what the pie chucker’s motivation was. Maybe he too is annoyed about being downgraded to silver frequent flyer status. Or are we self-projecting again?

Moon Jae-in has claimed victory in yesterday’s election. The official results are yet to be declared, however, the Liberal candidate (politically centre-left) told South Koreans he will be a president for the whole nation. Moon is a human rights lawyer who believes in engagement with North Korea. He has been involved in politics for some time and ran for the top job in 2012. The previous officeholder Park Geun-hye left office in March after she was embroiled in a corruption scandal. The key issues have been the economy and corruption. South Korea is Asia's fourth-largest economy and the electorate's concern centres around the big and powerful chaebols – the large family-run conglomerates like Samsung, Hyundai and LG. And then there's the small matter of security with North Korea to their, well, north. So there are a few things the new Prez will need to get on with pretty quickly.

Look, we're not convinced about Eurovision, but wherever there's an Aussie competing, we'll be there to cheer. We'll also take every opportunity to brag that we were up at sparrows to see Isaiah Firebrace perform live this morning in the semifinal of the singing competition, this year hosted in Kyiv, Ukraine. Firebrace did pretty well we thought - it's a slower pop-ballad so the audience weren't hyped but there were fireworks and a treadmill, so there's that. If like us you’re wondering who Firebrace is, his claim to fame is he won Channel Seven’s X Factor last year. We wait to hear if he's made the grand final, that's live on SBS from 5am Sunday morning. You'd have to be keen. 

If you've been captivated by podcast Missing Richard Simmons at some point in last few months, you will appreciate the update. Simmons, the famous/now reclusive fitness guru, is suing The National Enquirer and Radar Online over their publication of claims that he has hidden away from the world because he is transitioning to become a woman named Fiona. Documents say the claims were made by Mauro Oliveira, his former friend/masseur who participated in the popular podcast, as part of an attempt to blackmail him. For the record, Simmons says he is not transitioning. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.


12.30pm - Treasurer Scott Morrison addresses the National Press Club on the budget

ABS Data Release - International Investment Position, Australia 

International Migratory Bird Day

World Lupus Day

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