Squiz Today / 18 April 2018

Squiz Today – Wednesday, 18 April



Is how much a 1988 Holden Commodore sold for at auction on the weekend. Which makes us wonder if we should have hung on to our family's cherished 1985 gold Mitsubishi Sigma?


Do-do-do-do. Do-do-do-do-do… Forgive the tune but silly season comes twice a year in Canberra – the Christmas period and the run-up to the Budget. And with the Budget fewer than three weeks away, the mega-jackpot was hit yesterday with ‘Santa Claus-gate’. Let us explain. Acting PM Michael McCormack went out hard in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph saying Aussies would “cheer” for “Scott Santa Claus Morrison” when he announces “record spending” for infrastructure projects across the land. Treasurer Scott Morrison responded; “I am not Santa Claus and there won't be a Christmas in May and the Grinch won't be making an appearance either.”

Three things to note:

• The media’s focus yesterday was on the contradictory statements of the Deputy PM and Treasurer. It’s never a good look.

• Morrison’s key point was one of restraint. “Our Budget will be one that lives within its means and focus on a stronger economy to deliver those essential services,” the Treasurer said yesterday.

• McCormack is new to the dress circle of federal politics and has some miles to put on the clock in terms of experience. And he has a national profile to build and Barnaby Joyce's shadow to get out from under. (Diary note: McCormack is addressing the National Press Club tomorrow.)

More speculation about what’s in the Budget on 8 May. Sounds like we can expect more infrastructure projects. And yesterday Morrison said; “…our very strong focus and targeted focus on middle income Australians who have really been doing it tough and we know there are things we can do to assist them at this time…” That’s code for the already promised income tax cuts. But like Josh Frydenberg, it’s probably not the last time the Treasurer will be verballed.


A Southwest Airlines flight has safely landed in Philadelphia after an engine explosion resulted in a smashed window, and a woman was partially “sucked out”. Nightmarish… Reports say she was pulled back inside the plane by other passengers but has died from her injuries. The New York to Dallas flight had more than 140 people on board.

A 45yo man working on the preparations for the Snowy Hydro 2.0 project crashed his helicopter yesterday near Lake Talbingo in the Kosciusko National Park and was able to drag himself to safety before his chopper caught on fire. The Snowy Hydro’s emergency response team made a “challenging” rescue and the man is recovering in Canberra Hospital.

Defence Minister Marise Payne yesterday said up to 400 Australian businesses may have been targeted by Russian government-sponsored cyber attacks in 2017. Her statement builds on what Australia’s security agencies have been saying for some time – that Aussie businesses and individuals are targets for hackers, including ‘state actors’. Cyber Security Minister Angus Taylor, who is currently in the US to talk to authorities about these issues, said there is no evidence that hackers have been successful.

Wealth management company AMP has felt the heat of the banking and financial services Royal Commission over the last couple of days. If those words make you feel as glazed as a ham, here’s the short version:

• The key issue has been AMP’s strategy of lying to corporate regulator ASIC on at least 20 occasions about charging customers fees for financial advice and services that would never be provided.

• AMP’s board and senior ranks also had lawyers Clayton Utz amend its ‘independent review’ into the scandal to distance its CEO from the fallout.

The major banks will appear before the commission on the ‘fee-for-no-service’ issue in the coming days. See, that wasn’t so bad…

New Cancer Council research says the new Pap smear test adopted in December last year will avert 2,000 new cervical cancer cases and save 587 lives by 2035. That’s because the new test better detects the Human papillomavirus (HPV), the cause of 99% of cervical cancer cases. Professor Karen Canfell predicts cervical cancer rates will likely increase in the short term because of the improved screening program, but then fall significantly.

2018’s Pulitzer Prize winners for journalism and the arts were announced yesterday. The full list of winners is here but some highlights:

• The New York Times and New Yorker won a joint award for their work on breaking the Harvey Weinstein scandal.

Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser won the biography award. It’s now on our wish list.

• And it's hard to believe, but rapper Kendrick Lamar has topped his Triple J Hottest 100 win by taking out the distinguished musical composition category for his 2017 album DAMN. That’s the name of his album, not our attempt at a down-with-the-hip people reaction.


12.30pm (AEST) - Author Richard Flanagan addresses the National Press Club - Canberra

ABS Data Release - Overseas Arrivals and Departures, February

World Heritage Day

Zimbabwe's National Day

Anniversary of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier of Monaco's wedding anniversary (1956)

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