Squiz Today / 19 August 2020

Squiz Today- Wednesday 19 August


“There are two concerns with public toilets, especially those located in parks. The first is whether it is clean inside, and the second is that no one is secretly waiting inside.”

And if there was a third concern, it’s ensuring no one can see you when you’re in there…


Calls for the resignation of the head of AMP's Capital division Boe Pahari and chairman David Murray grew louder yesterday as politicians joined investors expressing their concerns. The issues at hand are sexual harassment allegations against the recently promoted Pahari, and claims the way it has dealt with them shows the wealth management company has “massive cultural problems”.

• Pahari - a 10 year veteran of AMP Capital - was promoted to become boss of the division on 19 June. A couple of weeks later, a report in the Financial Review (paywall) said AMP bosses had waved him through “despite knowing he was financially penalised after settling a sexual harassment claim brought by a female subordinate.”

• AMP responded, saying an external investigation found Pahari was involved in "lower level breaches of AMP's code of conduct” in 2017 and a financial penalty of $500,000 was imposed. Both Pahari and AMP chief executive Francesco De Ferrari said that he’s "learned from the matter".

• But on Monday, details of the claim made against Pahari became public. Julia Szlakowski, the former AMP executive who’d made the claim, said through her lawyers that "AMP has two choices: it can continue to downplay a credible sexual harassment complaint, which impugns all survivors, or take action to bring about lasting and meaningful change."

Well, the company’s external stakeholders are singing the same tune: they’re concerned that AMP tried to downplay the seriousness of Szlakowski’s claims. Some big investors have called the company’s response “disappointing”. And yesterday, the chair of the federal parliament's economics committee Tim Wilson joined Labor Senator Deb O'Neill in questioning AMP’s statements and actions. And they've wondered out loud about how tenable Pahari and chairman Murray’s positions are. As they say in the classics, watch this space…



• The Federal Government has signed a deal with drug company AstraZeneca for the development, production and distribution of the Oxford vaccine should it turn out to be effective. That means local biotech company CSL would get the formula and make the vaccine locally, and it would be available to Aussies for free. How much that will cost has not been disclosed. Governments around the world are rushing to secure access to COVID-19 vaccines even though none are yet proven to work. #SquizShortcut

• An urgent investigation has been initiated in NSW after it was found that a security guard became infected with coronavirus while working at a quarantine hotel in Sydney earlier this month. It’s the first reported breach of NSW’s program.

• Two South Australian women were charged over an alleged escape from hotel quarantine after flying to Perth on Monday night. And hotel quarantine was also an issue in New Zealand yesterday after a maintenance worker in a hotel in Auckland was confirmed to have the virus.

• In Victoria, the inquiry into their hotel quarantine program yesterday heard that 90% of the state’s active coronavirus cases can be traced back to a family of 4 staying at one of the hotels in May.

• And Tassie will keep its border restrictions in place until the start of December. Premier Peter Gutwein says there are still too many new cases in Victoria to make the change at this point. Western Australia will also delay any further easing of restrictions by another two months.


Testiness between Canberra and Beijing: still a thing. And it was made worse yesterday with China launching an investigation into claims Australia is ‘dumping’ wine on it at crazy low prices to take market share. Trade Minister Simon Birmingham says that’s not happening. Yesterday’s announcement sent shockwaves through the wine industry because more than a third of our wine exports - worth about $1.25 billion last year - go to China. Treasury Wine Estates, which produces Penfolds, saw 15% shaved off its share price yesterday.


It’s usually a feature event of the presidential election campaign, but the coronavirus has robbed American’s Democratic Party faithful of the opportunity to get together in their thousands, shout a lot and drop some red, white and blue balloons. Still, they will formally endorse Joe Biden as their candidate to run against US President Donald Trump this week - via a great big conference call. And day one’s offering yesterday from former first lady Michelle Obama will be hard to top if the rave reviews are anything to go by… Taking aim at Trump’s statement that America’s COVID-19 death toll “is what it is,” she said he “cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us. It is what it is.” Trump responded via Twitter, saying he's only in the White House because of the lacklustre job her husband did. Look out for addresses by former President Bill Clinton and Biden’s wife Jill this morning.


There may soon be a way for smartphones to tell someone when they’ve had a drink or three too many by measuring changes in the way they walk. A new study saw a smartphone strapped to the lower back of 22 participants to study their movements after drinking enough alcohol to produce a breath concentration of 0.2%. So look, there’s a bit of work to do for it to potentially become a tool to help drinkers make good/smart decisions about keeping themselves safe, but it’s an application researchers are excited about. Just don’t think about breathalysing Hollywood actor Ryan Reynolds for a while… Drinks giant Diageo is set to buy his Aviation American Gin brand in a US$610 million deal.


...Ash Barty. The women’s tennis world #1 is third on this year’s Forbes ranking of the highest-paid female athletes, raking in a cool US$13.1 million in the last year. Top of the list is Naomi Osaka with $37.4 million, thanks to some big sponsorship deals. She pipped Serena Williams on $36 million. Tennis players dominate the list every year, this time accounting for 9 out of the top 10 spots. Speaking of tennis... Simona Halep became the latest star to drop out of the upcoming US Open due to coronavirus concerns. With 6 of the top 10 women's players now out of the tournament, there are questions about how the event scheduled for 1 September can go ahead.


If you’ve got some spare time this week, maybe some panda pregnancy watch is something that appeals to you?

A few days ago, a wild boar in Berlin took off with a nudist’s laptop. Cue the comical chase… Now Elsa the swine is in real trouble

And just when you thought that magpies in springtime couldn’t get any worse, experts reckon face masks might exacerbate things. That’s because there’s a theory that masks will make people look more threatening, and that could mean more swooping. Agh coronavirus...


12.30pm (AEST) - Inaugural Chair of Our Watch, Natasha Stott Despoja, addresses the National Press Club - Canberra

Company Earnings Results - CSL; Tabcorp; Crown Resorts

Start of Islamic New Year (on until 20 August)

World Humanitarian Day

Afghanistan’s Independence Day

World Photography Day

Birthdays for Bill Clinton (1946) and Missy Higgins (1983)

Anniversary of:
• Soviet satellite Korabl-Sputnik 2 carrying 2 dogs, 2 rats, 40 mice, one rabbit and fruit flies into orbit (1960)
• the Beatles' All You Need is Love going #1 (1967)
• the release of Lady Gaga's record-breaking debut album The Fame (2008)

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