Squiz Today / 20 February 2019

Squiz Today – Wednesday, 20 February


"How do you write down the emoji in your number plate after an accident?"

Said a critic of Queensland’s plans to introduce the digital icons as an option for the state’s personalised number plates. Smiley face, no worries. But capturing the emotion (and eyebrow placement) of thinking face, that’s a problem…


China has rejected the suggestion it is the “sophisticated state actor” that hacked the Australian Parliament’s computer servers and targeted our major political parties. A spokesman from China’s Foreign Ministry labelled the accusation “baseless speculations” and said more care should be taken before “firing indiscriminate shots at others.” It was just one cybersecurity pot China had on the boil yesterday.

Lurve your enthusiasm. The UK’s national cybersecurity agency has reportedly taken a different view on Huawei to Australia, America and Kiwiland (which have all banned the Chinese telco from their 5G mobile network rollouts over security concerns). Reports say the UK believes there are ways to “limit the risk” of using Huawei equipment. It would be a potential split in the so-called ‘five-eyes' intelligence network (which includes Oz, the US and UK, New Zealand and Canada), which is no small thing. And then there's what Huawei’s founder Ren Zhengfei had to say…

Remember, he’s the father of Huawei exec Meng Wanzhou (who is bailed up in Canada after the US accused her of breaking sanctions against Iran) which puts him at the pointy end of Huawei’s, and China’s, problems with America. Ren’s previously praised US President Donald Trump, but yesterday struck a different note saying "there's no way the US can crush us". It's also an interesting context for renewed trade talks between China and the US with a 1 March deadline looming. Those are important to Australia because (sing it) China is our biggest trade partner and America is our strongest ally, so it’d be ripper Rita if they had good economic relations.

*Apologies to our friend Susan who would like the handy serving device to be called a ‘Helpful Susan’.



It was a move that was anticipated, and yesterday a block of 16 American states banded together to lodge a legal appeal against President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency as a means to get funding for his wall along the US-Mexico border. The group says it’s unconstitutional. All the states, bar one, have a Democratic governor, and they’ve picked San Francisco as the place to lodge the appeal because the court there has rejected a number of Trump initiatives during his presidency. Trump noted the development in a tweet.


So far, so good. But the Reserve Bank is worried further falls in home prices will cause problems for our economy. Why? Because if you’re worried about the value of your homes, you cut back your spending on food, clothes and entertainment (particularly if you have a great big mortgage). And that would negatively impact our economic growth and lead to a rise in unemployment. That’s the tone of the discussion the board of our central bank had earlier this month while considering interest rates, which are set to remain at 1.5% for a while longer. Stat to note: there was a 58% drop in investment from overseas buyers in the Australian property market last financial year.


Despite the Agriculture Minister David Littleproud’s efforts to ‘encourage’ the major supermarket chain to follow Woolworths’ lead and up the price of their own brand milk, Coles was not for turning. Littleproud suggested shoppers “stick it up ‘em” (actual quote…) by boycotting Coles (which employs 100,000 Aussies) and “the big German” Aldi (which employs 12,000 Aussies). The dairy industry (which, while we’re on a roll, employs 38,000 Aussies) was disappointed. Coles had a big day yesterday - it also announced its half-year net profit was down down (soz, we couldn’t resist…) 29.4%. Maybe the retailer could win over farmers and consumers with a giant cabbage offering?


Beautiful one day, cyclonic the next. That's the forecast for Brissie and southeast Queensland with Cyclone Oma threatening to head their way from tomorrow. Like a bad smell, it's part of the weather system that's been hanging around and brought record-breaking rain to Far North Queensland a couple of weeks ago. There are already big waves and warnings of king tides that are expected to damage beaches from the Gold Coast to the Sunshine Coast. Regardless of whether Oma crosses the coast, the area is forecast to be hit with heavy rain and high winds.


The iconic German fashion designer has died aged 85yo (although he often lied about his age) after a short illness. Lagerfeld was the artistic director of Chanel, a job he took in 1983. He also simultaneously worked for Fendi and his own label, but it’s his personal ‘brand’ that will endure. His signature dark suit, dark glasses and white ponytail made him instantly recognisable. As well as his knack for making old fashion labels cool season after season, he was an accomplished photographer. But Lagerfeld wasn’t all sugar and spice - he wasn’t a fan of ‘curvy’ models. He had the messiest desk we’ve ever seen. And he wished he could marry his catTributes recognising his creative and commercial genius are pouring in.


12.30pm (AEDT) - Tanya Plibersek, Deputy Labor Leader, to address the National Press Club - Canberra

ABS Data Release - Wage Price Index, December

Company Earnings Announcements - Crown Resorts; Domino's Pizza; Fortescue Metals Group; Stockland; Woolworths

World Day of Social Justice

Anniversary of King O'Malley driving the first survey peg into the ground to mark the commencement of work on the construction of Canberra (1913)

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