Squiz Today / 13 February 2019

Squiz Today – Wednesday, 13 February


“A Swiss cross; a Japanese sun; the Union Jack; the Stars and Stripes; a Hammer and Sickle are all easily attributable images. We don’t have that.”

Which is why advertising guru Russel Howcroft has dabbled in redesigning Australia’s flag. It’s one of his many interests. Yes, he’s the guy on Gruen, and yes, he’s a Melbourne Footy Club/pie fanatic. But did you know he’s a dedicated Squizer? Squeal… Please welcome Russel to this week’s Three Minute Squiz.


An interesting day in Canberra’s Parliament House was anticipated, but nothing quite like this… There is now a threat to the Coalition’s grip on government after it suffered a defeat in the House of Reps on the so-called medivac bill (you know, the one about giving doctors more say in the medical evacuation of asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru). If you’re PM Scott Morrison, the historic defeat is bad enough. But it could get worse for the government…

If you're a political nerd, yesterday was epic:

• PM Morrison and the Coalition continued to reject changes suggested by Labor to the Kerryn Phelps-championed bill, arguing it would weaken border security and encourage boats to start arriving.

• There was wheeling and dealing between Labor and the crossbenchers, particularly the Greens, to get the six votes (out of seven) they needed to pass the bill in the House of Reps.

• As Question Time finished, the Speaker blindsided everyone by tabling legal advice that the bill was unconstitutional. That’s because the amendments made in the Senate required funding to be implemented, and there is a constitutional principle that the Upper House should not generate legislation with spending attached.

• But with the High Court reluctant to meddle in the conduct of parliament, a view emerged that was a matter of convention rather than something that would be challenged in the courts.

• So the vote went ahead… and the Coalition lost 75 votes to 74. And that's historic. It’s the first vote of its type to be lost by a government in almost 80 years.

Two things to ponder:

• What does yesterday’s defeat means for government's ongoing existence? That’s a question because Team Morrison now has to implement a policy (and spend money) on something it does not support, and therefore a case can be mounted that it’s lost control of government. That’s rubbish, Morrison said last night. He’s confident he can continue governing.

• And was it a perfect day for Labor? Not quite. The last thing Bill Shorten wants to be talking about is border protection - or more specifically weakening border protection. Labor would much prefer Parliament to be debating how many times the Government voted against the Banking Royal Commission. And with an election looming, the border control issue galvanises Coalition supporters.

These days, a day is a long time in politics…



In breaking news this morning, Mexican drug lord Joaquin ‘El Chapo' Guzmán has been found guilty on all 10 counts including engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, conspiracy to launder narcotics proceeds, the international distribution of drugs, and the use of firearms. His trial was in Brooklyn after he was dramatically extradited to the US two years ago. The jury deliberated for 34 hours over six days after hearing more than 200 hours of testimony from 56 witnesses since November. He faces life in prison. You can sus out the Squiz version of the El Chapo backstory here.


“I love Australia” said refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi as he stepped off a plane in Melbourne after almost three months in a Bangkok prison. He was detained as Thai authorities weighed an extradition request from Bahrain, the country from which Araibi fled. Scared for his life if he was forcibly returned to Bahrain, and after weeks of legal wrangling, Araibi said he was relieved to be home and back with his wife. Former Socceroo captain Craig Foster said he was delighted the man he campaigned for had been returned to Australia, but said he was concerned about the broader human rights questions Araibi’s case raised.

And while we have you… former Australian resident/millionaire political donor Huang Xiangmo has called Australia “a giant baby". The man described as a lobbyist for Beijing and whose residency and Aussie passport application was recently cancelled has given an interview to China's Global Times where he said he hasn’t broken any laws. Reports say Australian security agencies determined his ties to China’s Communist Party were sufficiently troubling to warrant intervention.


Republican negotiators have been hard at work nutting out a deal with the Democrats before interim arrangements keeping the government running expire at the end of the week. And it looks like a deal has been done and US President Donald Trump’s border wall along the Mexican border will get a bit of cash - only US$1.375 billion for 90km of fences along the border, (which is but a smidgeon of the $5.7 billion Trump had sought for more than 320km of barriers). Trump said he’s disappointed. The deal has to be legislated before midnight Friday (US time) to avoid another shutdown.


Readers note: we’re going to pretend like we’re Kiwis and refer to ‘duck pics’, because who doesn’t like a nice picture of a duck? Ok, in dot point form:

• Amazon boss Jeff Bezos last week escalated his row with the National Enquirer after it published private text messages between him and TV host Lauren Sanchez and then followed up by threatening to publish intimate images, including the billionaire’s duck pics.

• Bezos commissioned a private investigation into how the tabloid got hold of the material, and yesterday it emerged that Sanchez’s brother Michael is the prime suspect as the source of the leak. The duck pic purveyor, if you like. He’s denied the allegation.

• Michael Sanchez is a talent manager with notable Republican connections. That’s important to note because President Trump is not a fan of Bezos’ newspaper, The Washington Post, but is a fan of the mob that publishes the National Enquirer.

The bigger question – namely, how a brother got access to the duck pics on his sister’s devices - remains unanswered…


That’s interesting to Aussie shoppers because it’s the company that owns David Jones, Country Road and Witchery, to name a few. Gail Kelly (the South African-born former CEO of St George and Westpac) and financier Patrick Allaway were independent directors, and no one knows why they’ve taken the unusual step of exiting catwalk right. Pundits say it points to a significant issue or disagreement… And it comes on top of last week’s departure of David Thomas, David Jones’ fourth head honcho to go in five years. Like others, David Jones has struggled as consumers lose their Aussie department store spending mojo.


To cut to the chase, the joint winners of Choice’s best vanilla ice creams on our supermarket shelves are Connoisseur Classic Vanilla (about $1/100ml), Aldi’s Monarc Indulge Vanilla Opulence and Woolworths Vanilla Bean (both about 45c/100ml). The buried lead? Someone has a job taste-testing ice cream…


12.30pm (AEDT) - Catherine King, Labor's spokeswoman on Health, to address the National Press Club on 'Delivering on the promise of Medicare: Labor’s vision for a truly universal health system' - Canberra

ABS Data Release - Preschool Education, 2018; Crime Victimisation, 2017-18

Westpac's latest Consumer Confidence Survey to be released

Virgin Australia and Tabcorp half year earnings results announcements

World Radio Day

Anniversary of the National Apology to Indigenous Australians and the Stolen Generations (2008)

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