Squiz Today / 16 March 2022

Squiz Today – Wednesday, 16 March

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Squiz Today Podcast

Great with a morning trot outside.

Today’s listen time: 9 minutes

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Squiz Sayings

“Happy Boat Stuck Month to all who observe it” 

Tweeted one wag on discovering that a container ship called the Ever Forward became stuck in a US harbour over the weekend. If that sounds familiar, it’s because the ship is owned by the same company that operated the Ever Given of Suez Canal fame from March last year. Bring on the memes…

Rising cost of living a headache for the PM


As we draw closer to the official launch of an election campaign, PM Scott Morrison has defended his government’s management of the economy amidst ongoing questions about plans to lower the cost of living. Earlier this week, he left the door open to cutting the tax on fuel, but Aussies hoping for significant support in the 29 March Federal Budget might need to keep the party poppers in the buffet drawer… Morrison says the government can’t afford to go on a spending spree.


Yup. And there are 3 standouts:

  • Petrol – it’s at record high prices. Last month, CommSec calculated that the average household using 35 litres of fuel a week was spending nearly $250 a month on petrol, which was a record. It’s now up to $305 a month. Thanks, Russia
  • Food – if you’ve noticed your supermarket shop costs more, you’re right. Woolies boss Brad Banducci has warned of price rises of 2-3% across the store. And it could be more for other products we like to eat and drink. That’s largely down to transport costs as producers’ fuel costs rise.
  • Housing – last year was OTT for home buyers… Property prices across our capital cities increased by an average of 23.7% last year, according to a new report from the ABS released yesterday. That’s not a typo…


The first port of call is the Budget. On petrol, the Liberal premiers of NSW, South Oz and Tassie back a cut to the fuel excise, but some coalition MPs aren’t honking their car horn. Cairns-based Lib Warren Entsch said easing the tax on petrol and diesel was akin to “robbing Peter to pay Paul” because as soon as you eased the rate, price hikes would erase any relief. That’s a view shared by Nationals Senator Matt Canavan, who’s concerned about a deficit in road funding. There are other cards in the government’s cost of living hand that it can play, like the $8 billion low-and-middle income tax offset, which is due to expire mid this year. But the Oz Chamber of Commerce and Industry has warned that pumping more money into the economy through big tax cuts would only add to inflation. And then it’s on to the election campaign when cost of living concerns are set to shine bright like a cubic zirconia. Because who can afford diamonds in these unsettled times…

AusPol Australian News

Squiz the Rest

Meta moves to muffle misinformation in Oz

Speaking of the election, Facebook/Meta has unveiled new measures aimed at combating political misinformation ahead of the poll due in May. Meta Australia’s Josh Machin said the tech giant has provided a one-off, undisclosed sum to RMIT University’s fact-checking program FactLab and its 2 partners – Agence France Presse and the Australian Associated Press – to boost their capacity. FactLab will focus on claims made by regular Aussies rather than politicians or political parties. And if a claim has been found to be false, Machin says Facebook will add a warning label to the content and notify users who try to share it in an effort to reduce its distribution on the platform. Meta says it will also work closely with the Australian Electoral Commission on “a range of potential scenarios”, along with running its ‘Check the Facts’ media literacy campaign. Be on the lookout…

AusPol Technology

Cruise ban to lift next month

International cruise ships will be allowed back into Australian ports on 17 April after a 2-year ban. The ban was introduced in March 2020 after the Ruby Princess docked in Sydney with more than 100 undiagnosed COVID cases onboard. The 2,700 passengers were allowed to leave without being tested, and that led to about 900 coronavirus infections and linked 28 deaths. It was the biggest single source of infection in Australia at the time and heaps alarming. But in the here and now, officials say the decision to lift the ban is based on health advice and that it’s safe to do so.  When cruising resumes, the Government says there will be added safety measures, including pre-arrival reporting and thorough testing of the ships’ emergency response systems. The announcement is a major win for the $10 billion cruise industry and the tourism sector. “I can’t wait to see our cruise terminals once again filled with arriving international passengers,” Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said yesterday.

Australian News

Michael Lawler sues ‘Four Corners’ for lost income

A day after boss Sally Neighbour announced her departure, former Fair Work Commission vice-president Michael Lawler is suing the ABC for more than $1 million on the grounds that it deceived him into appearing on a Four Corners program about him and his then-partner, unionist Kathy Jackson. It was epic… And Lawler says journo Caro Meldrum-Hanna tricked him into participating because she said his allegations about “systemic corruption” in his organisation and the courts more broadly would be the focus. What went to air was an awkward peek at his relationship with his controversial and high profile partner, who was accused (and later convicted) of defrauding the Health Services Union. Lawler says the 2015 program caused a “serious decline” in his mental health, leaving him permanently unable to work, so he’s got his hand up for enough dosh to plug the gap between his judges’ pension (estimated at $250,000 a year) and his old $435,000 salary. That will be in court today.

Australian News

Scientists create a buzz over drone detection

With drones increasingly being used in warzones and becoming harder to detect, experts have raised concerns about their implications for defence. But researchers from the University of South Australia and Flinders University say they have built a new model that has improved drone detection ranges by up to 50% – using a hoverfly. That’s not a fancy bit of tech – it’s an insect… Over the past decade, scientists have been analysing and mapping its itsy-bitsy brain to replicate its excellent vision. The resulting model worked better than researchers had hoped, with their capabilities boosted to be able to identify a flying object located 4km away. And while lead researcher Dr Russell Brinkworth says our Defence Force – which partly funded the research – is “very interested” in the development, the technology is “universally applicable”. Pretty cool, eh?

Australian News Environment & Science

Dolly turns down rock n roll glory

Music icon Dolly Parton yesterday revealed on social media that she is “respectfully” bowing out of contention to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (RRHOF). The 76yo said she was “extremely flattered” by the nomination, but she doesn’t feel she has “earned that right” given her country music singer/songwriter roots. “I really do not want votes to be split because of me,” she said. The RRHOF has made an effort to nominate musicians who aren’t traditional rock music artists in recent years, with 2022’s nominees including Pat Benatar, Duran Duran and Eminem. So her withdrawal will give those candidates more of a chance. But in some good news for fans, Parton said the nomination has inspired her to create a rock ‘n’ roll album. Many fans say she’s selling herself short – the prolific songwriter and performer was the pioneer in bridging the divide between country and pop music. She’s also a business genius who has lifted many other artists with her. And in case you can’t tell, we will always love her


Apropos of Nothing

Times are a-changin’ in Japan where school kids will no longer have to dye their hair a certain shade of black to meet the rules. Around 60% of Japanese public schools require students who don’t have straight, black hair to submit a document proving their hair is natural. 

US comedy star/Kim Kardashian’s current squeeze Pete Davidson will be the latest A-lister to take a brief trip into space aboard one of billionaire Jeff Bezo’s Blue Origin rockets. He has a free seat for next week’s launch, and there’s one person who would probably like him to stay in space… 

Seven-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton is adding his mum’s maiden name to his own so it can “continue on”. He said he doesn’t “fully understand” why women change their names after marriage. It’s a whole thing, as Lewis Hamilton Larbalestier knows… 

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

12.30pm (AEDT) – Ex-ASIO boss Dennis Richardson and former Department of Defence official Paul Dibb address the National Press Club – Canberra

3.00pm (AEDT) – ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr delivers his ‘State of the Territory’ address – Canberra

7.10pm (AEDT) – AFL Season Opener (Grand Final Rematch) – Melbourne v Western Bulldogs – Melbourne

The Senate’s Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee’s inquiry into Australia’s engagement in Afghanistan is due to deliver its final report

US Federal Reserve meets to consider raising interest rate (a decision is set to be announced 5.00am AEDT on Thursday)

ABS Data Release – Overseas Arrivals and Departures, January; Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey, February

The World’s Greatest Shave begins (on until 20 March)

Anniversary of:
• the My Lai massacre, which saw US soldiers kill unarmed Vietnamese citizens during the Vietnam War (1968)
• American figure skater Tonya Harding pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice over a plot to seriously injure her rival Nancy Kerrigan (1994)
• the establishment of the UN Human Rights Council (2005)
• the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling by 2,997.10, the single largest point drop in history (2020)

Squiz the Day

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