Squiz Today / 14 June 2017

Squiz Today – Wednesday, 14 June


“My purpose is to actually to see if I can keep bringing sports to North Korea, so that’s the main thing.”

Dennis Rodman is making his fifth visit to the Hermit Kingdom this week. In fact, he's one of the few Americans to have met leader Kim Jong-un, who is a basketball nut. And he has a connection to US President Donald Trump as a former Celebrity Apprentice. So is it too much to dream that peace might be brokered by Rodman? We’ve heard crazier things lately…


The Senate yesterday voted to relax the rules on importing medicinal cannabis products for terminally-ill patients – and the Coalition government is not chilled out about it. In a move orchestrated by Greens’ leader Richard Di Natale, Labor and One Nation senators teamed up to overturn restrictions put in place by the government earlier this year. What it means is terminally-ill patients with a doctor’s prescription will be able to import up to three months’ supply of medicinal cannabis from regulated overseas markets when domestic supply is short.

When the Turnbull government legislated for medicinal cannabis to be imported (which won them praise) they also put in place rules that included super-tight regulation of supply. Health Minister Greg Hunt yesterday said supply was fine - 133 patients have accessed it via four shipments. But supporters of the change say it was taking up to six months for patients to get their hands on it – too long for those who are very ill. Now that the restrictions have been overturned, reports say approvals for individuals to import supply could be turned around in as little as 48 hours.

The government say they aren’t done with this one yet. Hunt worries the lack of restrictions could be dangerous, so he’s getting advice. One Nation was a surprise supporter of change given they had previously supported the restrictions. But expect Hunt to target Labor with claims they “specifically sponsor unsafe drugs in unregulated quantities that could be diverted for criminal purposes.”


Remember the major tax fraud syndicate uncovered a few weeks ago that implicated Australian Tax Office deputy commissioner Michael Cranston? It claimed his scalp yesterday after charges were formally laid alleging he passed on sensitive tax office information to his son. Cranston's son and daughter are alleged to be a part of a network of payroll companies that siphoned $130 million of tax payments to fund the lavish lifestyles of syndicate members. Cranston had a distinguished public service career and was in charge of high wealth tax investigations. Ironic, much?  

Coalition MPs in Canberra are getting their heads around the Finkel Report – the latest suggested roadmap on climate and energy policy recommended by our Chief Scientist, Alan Finkel. Two meetings happened yesterday where they talked it out, but no position has been reached. Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg was quick to point out this is the preferred process – to let everyone air their concerns (which apparently dozens did) and then make a decision. Reports say former PM Tony Abbott had a verbal dust-up with fellow MP Craig Laundy after a long meeting late yesterday. There’s a lot of feeling behind this one...

Otto Warmbier, the US student jailed in North Korea, is on his way home to the US. His parents say they were told just a week ago their son has been in a coma for a year after contracting botulism, however, there are concerns his condition is a result of beatings. Warmbier was visiting as a tourist and was jailed for 15 years for allegedly trying to steal a sign in Korean that read ‘Let's arm ourselves strongly with Kim Jong-il patriotism’. Maybe Rodman’s basketball diplomacy is working already?

Crown employees charged - In a short statement yesterday, Crown Resorts (think James Packer) said all its employees arrested in China back in October have now all been charged. Authorities will allege they were engaged in activities promoting gambling - a big no-no in China. Justice moves slowly in those parts.

Network Ten calls a market timeout – Ten yesterday confirmed what the market thought it already knew – billionaires Bruce Gordon, Lachlan Murdoch and James Packer will not extend their $200 million loan past Christmas. So the troubled TV network (their share price has fallen 85% this year…) called a timeout and suspended trading for two days while it sorts itself out. If it can’t source a new loan, reports say it will likely go into administration. As long as it doesn't affect the next season of The Bachelor, we'll be fine.

Business confidence bucks the trend – With slow economic growth, low wages growth and down-in-the-dumps retail sales, you’d think we’re in a bad way, economically speaking. But yesterday’s National Australia Bank business confidence survey showed employers have enjoyed one of the best months since the global financial crisis. Hopefully, they feel so good you'll get a pay rise – tell your boss they would be doing it not for you, but for the country. 

Uber boss steps away – More big changes at Uber with CEO Travis Kalanick taking some time away from the company. Reports say the board have agreed with a review that recommends management changes, but no word on what Kalanik’s ongoing role will be. Clearly there is room for improvement (and this has to be one of our favourite management quotes of the year); “…if we are going to work on Uber 2.0, I also need to work on Travis 2.0,” he said in an email to staff.

Say what?? As if Grant Hackett’s problems aren't big enough, he yesterday went through it all with FM radio's Kyle and Jackie O. In an interview that was as painful to listen to as it sounds, the former Olympian talked about everything from his marriage breakdown to the recent punch-up with his brother. He says he's not an addict but struggles with depression. Oh well, here’s hoping it’s part of the road to a fulsome recovery.


Westpac monthly and ANZ weekly consumer confidence surveys

ABS Data Releases - Characteristics of Recent Migrants; Stalking Statistics

World Blood Donor Day

US President Donald Trump's 71st Birthday

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