Squiz Today / 12 April 2017

Squiz Today – Wednesday, 12 April


North Korea and the US yesterday furthered their exercise in brinkmanship (gee, we haven’t written that word since WW1 studies in high school). This follows US moves over the weekend to position a strike force in the Korean Peninsula in response to North Korea launching another ballistic missile test last week. The North Korean government said in a statement: "We will make the US fully accountable for the catastrophic consequences that may be brought about by its high-handed and outrageous acts." Overnight US President Donald Trump tweeted: “North Korea is looking for trouble. If China decides to help, that would be great. If not, we will solve the problem without them!  U.S.A.” And US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is in Moscow for a yuuuge meeting with Russia over their support of the Assad regime in Syria.

Foreign policy experts say North Korea’s response is no more hostile than usual – their MO is epic resting b*tch face. And there are some events coming up that will further puff out their chests. North Korea celebrates the birthday anniversary of deceased leader Kim Il Sung on 15 April. And 25 April is the 85th anniversary of their army. It's expected they will mark the occasions with a missile test, as you do. Interestingly, there are some signs China’s approach might be changing. This week China engaged with South Korea (which they haven’t done for a while) and they rejected a coal shipment from North Korea. There are also reports 150,000 Chinese troops have amassed on the North Korea border for “unforeseen contingencies”. It's going to continue to be a tense time.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson strengthened his language (which is a thing) at the end of the G-7 foreign ministers meeting in Italy yesterday, saying the US would defend innocent civilians everywhere and the Assad regime must come to an end. Ministers decided engagement with Russia is a better approach than targeted sanctions (which was strongly advocated by the UK’s Boris Johnson). Tillerson is now in Moscow to meet with Russian officials, but not President Vladimir Putin. Reports say he will issue an ultimatum – Russia is to side with the US and other like-minded Western countries, or they are with Syria and Iran. Tillerson is the former CEO of oil giant ExxonMobil and is said to have had previous good dealings with Putin. He’ll need all his contacts and diplomatic skills at the ready for this trip.


Reports this morning that three blasts went off near a bus carrying the Borussia Dortmund football team in Dortmund, Germany. The team was on their way to a stadium to play a Champions League match against French club Monaco. One player sustained an injury to his hand. The cause of the blasts is not yet know. Police say they believe there's no threat to visitors to the stadium. 

PM Malcolm Turnbull yesterday met with Adani chairman Gautam Adani to discuss their proposed yuuuuge coal mine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin. One sticking point is government funding/a loan to build a rail link from the mine to the port, so expect to hear more about this in coming days. So why is Turnbull going out of his way on this one? The mine would bring tens of thousands of jobs, and many millions of dollars to government coffers through mining royalties and taxes. Turnbull also partook in a bit of expectation management on the trade front following his meetings with India’s PM Narendra Modi. India’s trade barriers protect their domestic industries, particularly agriculture. One area Turnbull was keen to talk about deepening was education, Australia is second to the US in attracting Indian students.

Mark Newman, CEO of handbag and leather goods retailer Oroton Group, resigned yesterday off the back of a 30% share price slump since the start of the year and ongoing poor financial performance. Oroton was founded by Boyd Lane in the 1930’s and is 21% owned by the Lane family. Boyd’s grandson Ross Lane will act as CEO until a new boss is found. The company recently decided not to renew actress Rose Byrne’s contract to be the marketing face of the brand, preferring to go “younger” and “lower cost”.

She’s 38yo, married with two tin lids, did year 12, and was born here (as were her parents). That’s what a typical Aussie looks like according to a preview of Census 2016, successfully released yesterday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (this time with no reported IT issues). The typical Indigenous person is female and 23yo, and our typical migrant is a 44yo Englishwoman. The typical Aussie bloke? He’s 37yo and does less than five hours domestic work a week – stop the press!

US airline United haven’t quite got the hang of this ‘customer service’ thing since leggings-gate a few weeks ago. Pretty full-on footage of three burly security blokes dragging a bloodied man from a plane came to light yesterday. Que? Before the flight took off from Chicago on Sunday night, staff selected four already boarded passengers to get off the plane because staff needed to take their seats. One couple left voluntarily. Another couple was selected - the lady said fine, the man said no deal and he was dragged from the plane along the floor. Passengers were screaming, children were crying - mayhem. Apparently the airline is well within its rights to do what it did, but man! Pity the poor social media team back at HQ having to respond to the incident they are euphemistically referring to as ‘the overbook situation’.

The Squiz likes facts so here’s an update on three stories we mentioned yesterday which have developed since last we spoke:

1) The Coalition says Work for the Dole will not be axed.

2) Despite reports that first home buyers won’t be given access to their superannuation for a home deposit (PM Turnbull and finance minister Mathias Cormann are said to be unsupportive), this report suggests Treasurer Scott Morrison might like the idea. Note the use of words: ‘Said to be’ and ‘might’. Geez, it’s so super speculative. The bottom line is this probably won’t be cleared up until the budget in May.

3) The ABC responded to criticism that it won’t use presenter Natasha Exelby on-air into the future following her gaffe. The news bossman Gaven Morris says she hasn’t been banned, she is a freelancer and she wasn’t scheduled for future on-air spots anyway. And in news last night, Sydney’s KIIS 106.5 radio station will have Exelby as a guest newsreader next week.

4) And an update on April – that bloody stupid giraffe in Upstate New York. She still hasn’t given birth. Sorry for the hostility, we’re just wasting so much time watching her.


Westpac's consumer confidence survey

ABS Data Releases - Lending Finance; Building and Construction Activity; Overseas Arrivals and Departures

National Press Club Address - Chris Richardson, Partner of Deloitte Access Economics

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