Squiz Today / 25 October 2017

Squiz Today – Wednesday, 25 October


“Ask yourself, ‘what's the worst that could happen’ and if you can deal with that, then you won't be afraid to take risks.”

That’s some excellent advice doled out to company director extraordinaire and regular Squiz’er Holly Kramer. It pretty much sums up how we felt about starting The Squiz. But enough about us... Holly - who is on the board of Woolies, AMP, 2xu and Aussie Post - somehow found time to take on today's excellent Three Minute Squiz.


The Productivity Commission – the mob who research economic, social and environmental issues and provide advice to government – yesterday released its first five-year review of the things it thinks will affect our economic performance over the next decade. Named after a favourite biz-speak term, the ‘Shifting the Dial’ report has identified improvements that can be made across the economy - including health, education, roads and housing - to deliver $200 billion in benefits to our economy.

Don’t be like that. There’s nothing like a 1,000+ page government report to get the blood pumping… Here are some things that stood out:

• In NSW, just 10 people accounted for 1,360 ambulance uses over the two-year period. And just 1% of the population accounted for 46% of available hospital bed days. The theory is at least some of this could be prevented if there was a more integrated approach to health care. 

• They reckon prescription medicines could be automatically dispensed and overseen by staff with qualifications "involving substantially less training than currently required for pharmacists". That’s going to make the powerful Pharmacy Guild pretty unhappy…

• Congestion on capital city roads cost the economy $18.7 billion in 2014-15, and it’s getting worse. Because your time is worth a lot of money.

• Just 30% of high-school IT teachers have actually studied IT. That’s short-sighted given the subject’s importance to kids’ futures.

• In summary; “We can make significant gains just by recognising the case for change and embracing it.”

It’s all good and fine for the policy experts to outline their grand plans, but things aren’t always as easy as “just embracing change”. Be honest - do you like it? But for his part, Treasurer Scott Morrison welcomed the report. "The Commission has sought to bring the productivity agenda up to date and ensure it is aligned with where our economy is today and where it is headed," he said. He also pointed out that there’s a lot in it that the states have to tackle. But all in all, there’s enough to tie up many a bureaucrat for many months to come.


The Australian Workers Union has recently been under scrutiny over past donations to activist group GetUp! and Labor campaigns, and late yesterday Federal Police raided its offices in Sydney and Melbourne citing concerns it might destroy documents. Reports say the raids were carried out on behalf of the Registered Organisations Commission (the unions and employer associations regulator) which is conducting an investigation into Labor leader Bill Shorten’s time as leader of the AWU and the legality of payments made. The union and Labor said the exercise is a witch hunt.

Senate Estimates are on...

FEDERAL POLICE STRETCHED – It’s mainly in NSW where the AFP have had to divert resources to protect PM Malcolm Turnbull’s residence in Point Piper and step up security at their Sydney headquarters. A leaked memo said 23 AFP operations had to be cut because of a lack of capacity, and 102 drug importation cases were transferred to NSW Police. Turnbull said the AFP could call on the government for any additional support it needs to do its job.

ABC SALARIES KEPT PRIVATE – But it wasn't for lack of trying. Some senators are dying to know what the public broadcaster is paying its top talent. All that boss Michelle Guthrie would reveal is there are about 150 people who earn more than $200,000 a year. And the highest paid presenter is a woman, and she earns about $460,000 a year. Our money’s on Jemima from Playschool.

And a couple of other things:

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE VOTE TALLY - We’re almost at the 75% mark. Of the 16 million forms sent out in September, 11.9 million have been returned. October 27 is the recommended mailing deadline with November 7 the closing date.

HIGH COURT TO RULE ON POLLIE CITIZENSHIP CASES – Mark 2.15pm on Friday in your diary. There was lots of chatter yesterday about what it means if Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce is ruled ineligible. It would certainly make the Government’s life very difficult for the last couple of weeks of Parliamentary sittings for the year with its one-seat majority gone if Joyce has to go off to fight a by-election… Strap yourself in!

China's ruling Communist Party yesterday voted to enshrine Xi Jinping's name and ideology in its constitution, a move that elevates him to the lofty heights as founder Mao Zedong. The incorporation of "Xi Jinping Thought" into their constitution is a big move. Reports say the 2,000 delegates assembled had an opportunity to object – but they responded with loud cries of “none". Apart from the guy who was never spoken of again…

Humble shopkeeper (and billionaire) Solomon Lew has declared ‘game on’ with a letter to Myer’s shareholders asking for support to oust the current board at the upcoming annual general meeting. The thing that really got his goat were statements made by incoming chairman Garry Hounsell that were supportive of the current strategy and team. Another mark against them: in May the board told him they couldn’t meet with him for six months. Current chairman Paul McClintock said they have been trying to play nicely. Lew holds more than 10% of Myer’s shares but has said he has no plans to take the department store chain over. But some argy-bargy's a-comin’.

There are few things we like talking about more than whether it might rain. So it’s with great excitement that the Bureau of Meteorology yesterday announced that yes, it might. We’re a 50% chance of experiencing a La Niña weather pattern over the coming summer which typically brings about heavy rainfall and flooding to eastern Australia (think the Queensland floods in 2011). But at this point, the Bureau is predicting average summer rain. You might want to enjoy those sunny spring days just in case…

Ever had a terrible neighbour experience that’s scarred you for life? It’s nothing if you haven’t had unflattering figurines made in your likeness, surveillance cameras trained on your home and terrible music played on a loop. This story puts a new perspective on that neighbour who for some reason would hang her big undies on the line whenever we had guests over…


12.30pm (AEDT) - Ken Wyatt, Minister for Aged Care, Minister for Indigenous Health to address the National Press Club on 'Australia’s New Age of Opportunity' 

ABS Data Releases - Consumer Price Index, September; Causes of Death, 2016 

The Squiz Archive

Want to check out Squiz Today from the archive?

Get the Squiz Today newsletter

It's a quick read and doesn't take itself too seriously. Get on it.