Squiz Today / 19 April 2023

Squiz Today – Wednesday, 19 April

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Squiz Today Podcast

Quick and easy. 

Today’s listen time: 9.20 minutes

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Squiz Sayings

“They actually are quite clean animals.”

Said one behavioural researcher after New York City waged a war on the city’s rodents, calling them “dirty” and “diseased”. It’s seen so-called ‘rat ambassadors’ try to save the animal’s bad reputation – but as Ratatouille fans would know, all good rats wash their hands

Powering down in the Hunter

Australia’s oldest coal-fired power station begins its closure today, starting a 10-day process that will ultimately lead to the AGL-owned plant being demolished over the next 2 years. Located near Muswellbrook in NSW’s Hunter Valley, the Liddell Power Station’s demise was telegraphed by the company in 2015 and confirmed in 2017, with 2022 set down as the target closure date due to its age and unreliability. That was extended to this month when the company agreed in 2019 to keep 3 of the 4 turbines in operation following concerns that NSW didn’t have enough reliable power supply to keep the lights/aircon on over the summer just gone.

Because those in the know say Liddell’s closure is a “historic moment in the Australian energy landscape“… By the numbers, Liddell has been a big power contributor, providing 10% of NSW’s electricity in recent times. One analysis said over its 52 years, it’s generated enough electricity to power NSW for 6.5 years at current consumption rates. But when it comes to carbon emissions, it’s also right up there… AGL says it’s uneconomic and unsustainable to keep the old plant going, and transitioning the site to a renewable energy hub is the right call. But Australia’s electricity generation continues to rely on coal-powered generators for up to 65% of the country’s power needs, with 18 remaining in operation around the country after Liddell’s closure. From a supply side, the regulator isn’t forecasting shortages this year. But on power prices, the regulator says we will likely see our bills rise and fall as more coal-fired plants close and more renewable energy enters the grid.

In other environmental news, officials are still engaged in the worst Easter hunt of all time to find huge stashes of soft plastics hidden around Australia following the collapse of the REDcycle recycling scheme. Customers at Woolies and Coles thought their returned bags and other plastic that they couldn’t put in their council recycling bins at the REDcycle points were being appropriately dealt with… but instead, around 11,000 tonnes of plastic were bundled up and stored in warehouses, with another massive heap found in Sydney’s Marsden Park yesterday. Coles and Woolies have taken control of the stockpiles and formed the worst supergroup ever – the Soft Plastics Taskforce – to find a new way to recycle the placcy bags.

Australian News Business & Finance

Squiz the Rest

The Coalition frontbench moves and shakes

Coalition leader Peter Dutton announced his frontbench reshuffle yesterday following Julian Leeser’s move to the backbench last week over the Voice referendum. First-term Country Liberal Senator and prominent Indigenous ‘no’ campaigner Jacinta Price was named the new spokeswoman for Indigenous Affairs, and Michaelia Cash will retake Attorney-General duties. Also getting a promotion is Cybersecurity spokesperson James Paterson – he’ll take over Home Affairs from Karen Andrews, who stepped down yesterday after deciding to quit federal politics at the next election. And South Australian Liberal Senator Kerrynne Liddle – the party’s only Indigenous MP – takes on spokesperson duties for Child Protection and Family Violence Prevention. The team have a lot of work to do – new polling out this morning shows support for Dutton and the Coalition is falling

AusPol Australian News

Rebooting the NDIS

The Albanese Government is planning a crackdown on fraud within the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), which was set up to provide funding to people with disabilities to access services/support. Government Services Minister Bill Shorten has set up a taskforce to investigate dodgy dealings, saying it’s “sickening that criminal syndicates are stealing from people with disability”. There are 38 investigations underway, with 1,700 tip-offs received last month alone. The government is also reviewing the NDIS – Shorten says the scheme has “lost its way” with funding blowouts putting it on track to cost more than Medicare in a couple of years. “To enable the NDIS to reach its potential, we need to – in essence – reboot,” Shorten says, and will ask the states to “step up” in funding negotiations this year. Speaking of funding woes, Treasurer Jim Chalmers is under pressure this morning after saying ‘yeah nah’ to a $24 billion proposal from his handpicked committee to boost unemployment benefits – he says “we can’t fund every good idea”.

AusPol Health

China’s economy bounces back

It’s made a surprising comeback after the country’s drawn-out pandemic lockdowns and COVID-zero policy had it lagging… Data from China’s National Bureau of Statistics released yesterday shows the country’s economy grew by 4.5% between January-March. That’s on track with predictions from the UN’s International Monetary Fund, which said the world’s 2nd-largest economy will continue “rebounding strongly”, growing 5.2% in total this year and 5.1% in 2024. But that doesn’t mean everything’s smooth sailing… Chinese businesses are dealing with debt and structural problems, along with the global recession worries affecting many countries (including Oz), with politicians pledging more economic support to keep unemployment low. All that’s interesting to Oz because China continues to be a key trade partner – and China likes to invest in Oz… Investment increased by 143% to $2.08 billion last year thanks to 4 big new mining deals.

Business & Finance World News

And the winner is…

In the latest sign of the brave new technological world, the Sony World Photography Awards winner Boris Eldagsen revealed his submission was made by artificial intelligence (AI). He says his black and white portrait of 2 women that appears straight out of the 1940s is the “first AI-generated image to win in a prestigious international photography competition”. Eldagsen entered the competition to challenge what was considered photography and called for separate competitions for AI-generated art. And AI’s rapid rise isn’t likely to slow down anytime soon… Man-about-controversy-town Elon Musk said his newly-registered X.AI firm will launch its own AI chatbot to rival ChatGPT and Google’s Bard. Having long warned of AI’s potential to cause “civilisational destruction”, Musk says his TruthGPT “might be the best path to safety” and would be “unlikely to annihilate humans”. Good to know…

Culture Technology

Star power shines on Ramsay Street

Production restarted on Neighbours this week after Amazon jumped in to save the Aussie soapie, and creators haven’t wasted any time announcing its new guest star… Noughties pop culture icon Mischa Barton will join the cast as “Reece, an American new to Erinsborough who’s not quite who she appears to be”… Barton is best known for playing Marissa Cooper on the hit show The OC and has since kept a relatively low profile. She won’t be the first actor to appear in both shows – Kiwi actor Alan Dale pipped her to the post, although he went in the other direction… The casting decision could get some nostalgic millennials and US viewers on board with the revival after funding issues saw Network Ten and producer Fremantle Australia shut it down. The new season is set to premiere on both Ten and Amazon Prime Video in the 2nd half of the year.


Apropos of nothing

British coronations have official recipes, and Charles and Camilla have personally chosen to celebrate their accession with Coronation Quiche. The spinach and bean-stuffed egg pie will be served at Big Lunches to celebrate the coronation. Locals say that’s great, but there’s a massive egg shortage in the UK at the moment…

Gummy bear enthusiasts are freaking out to learn that the green Haribo sweet treat is not lime-flavoured or apple but… strawberry? “Calling the police,” one commenter wrote.

And Indian users of the food-delivery app Zomato can now order takeaway from other cities. Not for the time-pressed, the food is delivered within 24 hours via air. Is it a bird? Is it a plane? It’s biryani…

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

12.30pm (AEDT) – CEO and Managing Director Woodside Energy, Meg O’Neill, addresses the National Press Club – Canberra

Start of the decomissioning of the Liddell Power Station in NSW. It provides the state with 10% of its electricity

Banana Day

Birthdays for Tim Curry (1946), Kate Hudson (1979), and Maria Sharapova (1987)

Anniversary of:
• Captain James Cook’s first sighting of Australia (1770)
• the deaths of Lord Byron (1824) and Charles Darwin (1882)
• Charles Manson being sentenced to life in prison for the murder of actress Sharon Tate (1971)
Advance Australia Fair being proclaimed as Australia’s national anthem, and green and gold becoming the national colours (1984)
• the Oklahoma City bombing which killed 168 (1995)
• Fidel Castro resigning from the Communist Party of Cuba’s central committee after 45 years (2011)

Australian News

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