Squiz Today / 13 May 2020

Squiz Today – Wednesday, 13 May


“Full disclosure, I think I was in my pyjamas for several days straight. It was dirty but enormously fun.”

Says Robyn Butler of developing her new series Love in Lockdown starring Eddie Perfect and Lucy Durack. Not deterred by lockdown restrictions, the AACTA Award winner (for Upper Middle Bogan) along with her production company partner/husband Wayne Hope have released the short series - and the 3-7 minute episodes are perfect over your mid-morning cuppa. Please welcome the busy Squizer to this week’s Three Minute Squiz.


On Sunday, the Chinese Government said it was considering placing tariffs of up to 80% on Australian-grown barley. And yesterday it imposed an import ban on beef coming from four Australian abattoirs. With Australia’s relationship with China at a low-point, it’s a significant economic and diplomatic concern.

Beef is worth $3 billion and barley $600 million when you look at annual exports to China. It says Australian producers have been ‘dumping’ barley on the world market. That means it claims our farmers are exporting barley at an artificially low price, undermining other nation’s producers. China's given our officials 10 days to respond. And on beef, exports from three Queensland meatworks in Toowoomba, outer-Brisbane and Kilcoy, and one in NSW’s Casino have been suspended by Chinese authorities. Responsible for about 35% of our beef exports to China, it's suspended them over labelling and health certificate issues. Our government says some cases under the claim date back more than a year.

It’s the multi-billion-dollar question, and it’s worrying given China is our largest export destination, and there are plenty of other agricultural industries dependent on a strong relationship, like dairy. The consensus is that China is retaliating after PM Scott Morrison and Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne called for an independent inquiry into the origins of COVID-19 and China’s handling of the initial outbreak. And it’s what China’s ambassador to Oz said would happen. Yesterday, Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said the trade claims are long-running and highly technical - and that China shouldn’t let its grumpiness with our calls for an investigation into COVID-19 muck up our trading relationship. He wants a phone call with his Chinese counterpart to sort things out. Overnight, China’s Foreign Ministry said the actions weren’t linked to our call for an inquiry, but BTW it's still heaps angry about it… Cue fears of an escalating trade war. Yikes…



Gunmen have raided a government hospital in Kabul targeting a maternity ward run by Medicins Sans Frontieres killing two babies and 11 mothers and nurses, and more were injured. Reports say the gunmen got access to the hospital dressed as police officers, and all were killed in the fight that developed with government forces. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, but reports note that foreign doctors and staff were working on the ward. And in the north of the country, the funeral of a police officer was bombed killing at least 24 people. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has blamed the Taliban for both attacks and said his country's forces would resume offensive operations against them despite the agreement signed with the US a couple of months ago to work towards peace. The Taliban denies any involvement.


The headline to come out of yesterday was that Treasurer Josh Frydenberg had a long, dry coughing fit in the middle of his economic statement to parliament, and he is now in isolation as he awaits the results of a coronavirus test. As for our economic outlook, the numbers are “sobering”, he said. That’s because unemployment will top 10%, economic activity will decline by 10%, and Aussies are expected to rein in their spending and businesses their investing. Meanwhile, the government is spending a lot on measures to help individuals and businesses through the health emergency while taking less in tax. How bad will the budget get? We’ll need to wait until the terribilis financial anno is done before Frydenberg talks specifics. "If only the Treasurer had coughed up some detail,” Labor’s Treasury spokesman Jim Chalmers said.


More than 32 years after the murder of 27yo American Scott Johnson in the Sydney seaside suburb of Manly, police have made an arrest. In 1988, Johnson died after falling from a cliff near North Head. It was initially ruled as a suicide, but the third coronial inquest launched after years of campaigning by his family concluded he was more likely a victim of a gay hate crime. Their campaign led to the investigation of the deaths of more than 80 gay men from the 70s to the 90s - it found that more than a third were murders motivated by homophobia. After a $1 million reward was offered for information on Johnson’s killer in 2018 with the incentive doubling in March, investigators zeroed in on 49yo Sydney man Scott White. He was arrested yesterday and will appear in court today. Calling out Johnson's brother Steve for his fight for justice, NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said telling him of the arrest “is a career highlight”.


Loved and loathed in equal measure, Alan Jones, Australia’s reigning king of talkback radio yesterday said he will call time at the end of the month. Thought to be 79yo, Jones had been expected to stick around for another year after signing a $4 million-a-year contract with Sydney's 2GB last year, but yesterday he told listeners that his doctors say that continuing would be detrimental to his health. Jones’s career has been as varied as his commitment to his theme song is strong. He started out as a school teacher, was PM Malcolm Fraser’s speechwriter for a while, ran for federal parliament for the National Party, and coached the Wallabies. During his 35 years on the wireless, there have been more than a few controversies. In recent times, comments about Kiwi PM Jacinda Ardern proved particularly costly for the conservative broadcaster with millions in advertising support said to be scuttled. But he sure is popular with his audience winning the ratings in his slot more than 220 times. ABC’s Media Watch tweeted; “There's been many stoushes but Jones' commitment to his listeners, his tireless work ethic and ratings success, is to be congratulated.” 2GB Afternoons presenter and Today show alumni Ben Fordham will take over the show.


Regional airline carrier Regional Express is interested in competing with the likes of Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin (if/when it gets back on its feet) on routes between the capital cities. To have a crack, the airline plans on raising $200 million to rent some bigger planes and hire extra staff. Rex’s deputy chairman John Sharp told ABC radio the company had been approached by investors keen to support it to fly between our capitals, particularly if there’s a gap left by Virgin. With 19 potential buyers currently kicking Virgin’s tyres, we’ll soon know more about what its future looks like with indicative bids due on Friday. And in some bad news for Virgin travellers who’ve had flights cancelled, the administrator has confirmed that they may never see their cash again.


A peacock on the hunt for love. But he was catfished (or is that birdfished?), and now he’s made international news. Oh, the humiliation…


ABS Data Release - Wage Price Index, March

International Hummus Day

Birthdays for Stevie Wonder (1950), Carrie Lam (1957), PM Scott Morrison (1968), Lena Dunham (1986), Robert Pattinson (1986)

Anniversary of:
• Captain Arthur Phillip leaving Portsmouth, England with 11 ships of criminals bound for Botany Bay (1787)
• the first-ever race of the Formula 1 World Drivers Championship (1950)
• the death of Ruth Cracknell (2002)

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