Squiz Today / 12 April 2023

Squiz Today – Wednesday, 12 April

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Squiz Today Podcast

Getting you going.

Today’s listen time: 9.20 minutes

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Squiz Sayings

“Like a compostable food waste sack on the night before bin day”

Is the visceral way one food writer described the taste of a blue cheese Negroni that he came across on TikTok. ‘Cheese cocktails’ are the latest drinking trend to divide the internet – but it has also raised questions about the term ‘food waste sack’…

Leeser quits to vote ‘Yes’

Julian Leeser, the (now former) Shadow Attorney-General and spokesman for Indigenous Australians, has quit the Coalition’s frontbench over last week’s decision to vote ‘no’ in the upcoming referendum on the Indigenous Voice to parliament. He says stepping down is “about keeping faith with an issue that I have been working on for almost a decade.” That refers to his long-running advocacy for constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians. Had Leeser stayed on the Liberal frontbench, he would have been bound to support the party’s ‘no’ position, so it’s to the backbench he goes…

Well, Leeser said that all is well with his colleagues… He’s made it clear he still supports Liberal leader Peter Dutton, and said, “I’m resigning without rancour but on a point of principle, and I think what I want to be able to say to my children in the future is that your father stood up for something he believes in”. He will advocate for the preferred model he outlined to the National Press Club last week but will campaign for a ‘yes’ vote in the referendum if he can’t convince the government to adopt his suggested changes. For his part, Dutton thanked Leeser for his service but says his support for the Voice was “at odds with the overwhelming majority of the Liberal party members in our party room.” Looking at the bigger picture is Liberal ‘yes’ campaigner Andrew Bragg – he reckons Leeser’s call will give the ‘yes’ vote a boost.

At this stage of the process (note: it’s all still before the parliament to approve), the focus is on how our politicians are handling it. And what Leeser thinks about his side’s position as the ex-spokesperson for the relevant policy areas is super notable. But there had already been issues for Dutton and Nationals leader David Littleproud – Ken Wyatt (the Liberals’ former Indigenous Australians’ minister) quit the party last week, and Andrew Gee (the Nationals’ former Veterans’ Affairs minister) quit his party in December. And on the weekend, the country’s most senior Liberal in office – Tasmanian Premier Jeremy Rockliff – said he supported the Voice. Cue Labor turning up the pressure… Following Leeser’s resignation, senior frontbencher Tanya Plibersek said that “it’s not too late for Peter Dutton to hear his message and rethink his position.”


Squiz the Rest

A fatal bank shooting in Kentucky

In the latest mass shooting tragedy to rock the United States, 5 people were killed and 9 were injured when a bank employee opened fire at the Old National Bank in Louisville, Kentucky yesterday. Police say the gunman – identified as 25yo Connor Sturgeon – used an AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle (which is likely to be auctioned off to the public…) to carry out the attack that was live-streamed on Instagram. He was fatally shot by authorities at the scene. Sturgeon was described by a colleague as an “extremely intelligent” individual who joined the team full-time last year after working summers as an intern, but reports say he was recently notified that he was going to be fired. It’s the country’s 146th mass shooting so far this year. US President Joe Biden doubled down on previous calls on Republicans to pass stricter gun control laws in US Congress, including background checks for all gun sales.

World News

Some movement on China trade tariffs

There’s been a bit of a breakthrough in the long-running trade dispute between Oz and China after an agreement was reached on barley. In 2020, Beijing imposed sanctions worth $20 billion on a range of Australian products, including barley, meat, seafood and wine – that was in response to then-PM Scott Morrison’s support for calls for an inquiry into the origins of COVID. After months of negotiations, Foreign Minister Penny Wong said yesterday that Beijing had agreed to a 3-month timeframe to review its sanctions on our barley exports, and we’ll temporarily suspend our appeal to the World Trade Organization. Aussie officials are hopeful it could lead to the removal of other similar sanctions, and the prospect of restarting exports to the great big China market will be welcomed by economic managers in the face of a deteriorating global outlook. Overnight, the International Monetary Fund said the danger of recession has ­escalated, and inflation is set to remain high for a while yet.

Australian News Business & Finance

No Latitude given to cyber crims

Hackers might have the personal details of more than 14 million of Latitude Financial’s customers, but the company says it will not pay a ransom. “Based on the evidence and advice, there is simply no guarantee that doing so would result in any customer data being destroyed, and it would only encourage further extortion attempts on Australian and New Zealand businesses in the future,” said newly installed CEO Bob Belan. Medibank and Optus also said they’d refused demands for payment, which goes against the grain of what other companies that were victims of cyber attacks did last year. One estimate said 80% paid up to prevent the spread of stolen data or to unlock ransomware software. Yesterday, Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil said cyber criminals were becoming “more professionalised, industrialised, powerful and effective”, and government agencies are ‘wargaming’ cyberattack readiness with our big financial institutions. 

Australian News Business & Finance

Vale John Olsen

One of Australia’s best-known and celebrated artists has died at 95yo. Known for his big, bright and distinctive landscapes, Olsen’s work has been exhibited in galleries all over the world. And he won every big art gong in Australia, taking out the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman prizes during his 6 decade-long career. One of his most famous works, Salute to Five Bells, was commissioned in 1971 for the Sydney Opera House, and it still hangs in the northern foyer today. On the homefront, it wasn’t always smooth sailing… He was married four times and said his artistic tendency to be selfish sometimes was difficult for his family. His son is gallery owner Tim Olsen – he’s previously said that his father was “gifted in his ability to understand beauty and still praise the ugly, the uneven, the difficult.” He is also survived by his daughter ­Louise, who co-founded Dinosaur Designs. A tribute to his life in pictures is here.

Australian News

Scrabbling for glory

Some word nerds didn’t spend their Easter long weekend gorging themselves on chocolate (guilty…) – they were battling it out at the Australian Scrabble championships in Melbourne. Organiser Carol Johnsen said 18 out of the country’s top 20 players were there, including 2017 world champion David Eldar – at 32yo, he was the youngest in the room… But accountant Naween Fernando took home this year’s top prize and a spot in the World Scrabble Championships in Las Vegas in July. He had the highest-scoring single word of the year after getting a triple word score of 194 with the word ‘IMPROVING’. For those wondering, the highest-scoring single Scrabble word in history is the 365-point ‘QUIXOTRY’, which means a visionary idea. Theoretically, the highest-scoring single Scrabble word would be the drug ‘OXYPHENBUTAZONE’, but that would be tougher to play than a rack full of consonants…

Australian News Culture

Apropos of nothing

Conservationists are celebrating after a national census revealed that endangered greater bilby populations in protected areas have more than doubled over the past year. It’s good to know that all that bilby chocolate has gone to some use…

The Big Orange in South Oz’s Riverland region is one of Australia’s lesser-known ‘big things’ after being closed to the public for over 2 decades, but a new application has been submitted to turn the site into a distillery and restaurant. Hopefully, the juice is worth the squeeze…

It seems that every other day a new TikToker is spouting questionable ideas (ahem cheese cocktails…) – this time, a 3-month probation period for new romantic relationships is catching fire. Nothing like bringing work vibes to your love life…

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

12.30pm (AEDT) – ACCC chair Gina Cass-Gotlieb addresses the National Press Club – Canberra

ABS Data Release – Monthly Household Spending Indicator, February; Monthly Business Turnover Indicator, February

International Day of Human Space Flight

Birthdays for David Letterman (1947), Magda Szubanski (1961), Shannen Doherty (1971), Clare Danes (1979), and Saoirse Ronan (1994)

Anniversary of:
• the publication of Gustave Flaubert’s novel Madame Bovary (1857)
• the beginning of the US Civil War with the Battle of Fort Sumter (1861)
• US President Bill Clinton cited for contempt of court for giving “intentionally false statements” in a sexual harassment civil lawsuit (1999)

Squiz the Day

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