Squiz Today / 12 December 2018

Squiz Today – Wednesday, 12 December


“We do know that they had a pattern of going on trips, we do know they had a pattern of going to casinos.”

Said Marge Graf, a lawyer representing Catholic school of two nuns who are accused of embezzling more than US$500,000 over 10 years to spend on wild weekends in Vegas. Now that's a movie script waiting to happen - Sister Act: The Vegas Years


Nothing shouts the slide into the Christmas break like a meeting of the Prime Minister and state and territory leaders. Wait, what? Today’s Council of Australian Government (COAG) leaders’ meeting was meant to happen in October, but it was delayed by newly installed PM Scott Morrison who said that some reforms weren’t ready for discussion. Critics said it was because the Coalition had ditched Turnbull’s preferred energy policies. But we digress…

Yes, sorry. The meeting is expected to cover health and education funding. And one of the most anticipated agenda items today is population and infrastructure. Morrison will present his population framework and has already flagged a plan to cut migration. The state and territory leaders will also present their ideas on reducing congestion in major cities and boosting regional economies by directing migrants to areas of need.

If you’ve sat in traffic in one of our major cities during peak times, or any time of the day or night really, you’ve had a taste of it. Our population growth in recent years has been high, and it's put significant pressure on Sydney and Melbourne. Morrison recently said it'd become a top of mind issue for many Aussies who are saying; "enough, enough, enough." Former PM John Howard yesterday said he hoped the migration discussion could happen without any name-calling. "It ought to be possible to debate the level of the immigration intake without being accused of being racist or wanting to discriminate against people," he said.


BACK TO BRUSSELS – UK PM Theresa May is certainly getting her frequent traveller points up… She’s holding talks with the European Union and leaders about what can be done to salvage the Brexit deal, particularly on the prickly issue of a customs border in Ireland. Things got a bit crazy in the House of Commons after the Brexit vote deferral with a Labour MP going for the mace (the symbolic metal staff, not the spray…). Oh, and then May got locked in a car. You can’t make it up…

MACRON RESPONDS – French President Emmanuel Macron has addressed the nationvia the wonders of TV in an attempt to quell anti-government anger that has bubbled up via violent protests. He’s promised to increase the minimum wage and scrap new taxes on pensions, but he will not reinstate a wealth tax that has been central to many calling him a president for the rich. Macron also condemned the attacks; "When violence breaks out, freedom is lost." It sounds better in French.

CLIMATE TALKS HEAT UP – As the second week of climate change talks progress in Poland, a theme emerged yesterday. America continues to support coal (as does Australia), and that’s angered activists and some delegates from other nations.

And the winner is… ‘The Guardians’. That’s what Time is calling a group of journalistswho have been targeted by governments and extremists for doing their jobs. Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi is one. Others include the staff of the Capital Gazette in Maryland after five were killed when a man stormed their office in June, the pair of Reuters journos who are in prison in Myanmar, and Maria Ressa who has fallen out with the Philippines government over reporting critical of their president.

Nothing shouts the slide into the Christmas break like another big competition and consumer regulator report. Hang on we’ve already used that intro… Yesterday the ACCC said the big four banks had made $1.1 billion from a rate hike on interest-only loans during the 2017-18 financial year. The report also found that new customers were offered better deals than existing ones and that it’s not particularly transparent.

Before breaking into song, we have to break this into dot points because there’s a lot of numbers…

• As you contemplate the annual Christmas holiday road trip, be glad you're not aboard Voyager 2. NASA's deep space probe is now in its 41st year (count 'em) of travelling into the great unknown.

• Yesterday, it passed through the heliosphere (the protective bubble of particles and magnetic fields created by the Sun) to enter interstellar space.

• Next stop: the Oort Cloud – the halo of comets and galactic debris that marks the edge of our solar system. But that’s still a good 300 years and 32 billion kilometres away.

• While you’re waiting, wrap your head around these stats: Voyager 2 left Earth in 1977 and since then has been travelling at 1.4 million kilometres a day.

• It passed Uranus in 1986 and sailed by Neptune in 1989. And at this rate, should reach the outer edge of the solar system in approximately 30,000 years.

And while we have you… Adelaide will be home to the new Australian Space Agency.

Star of TV’s Modern Family, Sarah Hyland yesterday revealed she underwent a second kidney transplant last year, five years after her body rejected the one her father gave her. Her brother donated the newest kidney. In an interview with Self magazine, Hyland described how the kidney dysplasia she had suffered since childhood left her feeling like “a burden” to her family, and took her to a very dark place. “I didn't want to fail my little brother like I failed my dad," the 28yo actress said, but now she’s “thriving” and “super happy with life”.


12.30pm (AEDT) - Brendan O'Connor, Shadow Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, to address the National Press Club - Canberra

Council of Australian Governments Meeting - Adelaide

ABS Data Releases - National Health Survey: First Results, 2017-18; Lending Finance, October

Westpac Consumer Confidence Index - December

Anniversary of Frank Sinatra's birthday (1915)

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