Squiz Today / 26 August 2020

Squiz Today – Wednesday, 26 August


"The universe could be teeming with rogue planets and we wouldn't even know it."

Said astronomy professor Scott Gaudi of a new NASA mission using a special telescope to better see what’s in the Milky Way. It’s like exploring the side of town you’ve never been to before despite living there forever…


A $600 million deal that would put Australian-produced dairy, soy and fruit juice products in Chinese hands fell over yesterday after Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said it was his view the sale was "contrary to the national interest". Lion Dairy & Drinks, which produces brands including PURA milk, Dare and Farmers Union, is owned by Japan's drinks behemoth Kirin. It had struck a deal with China's Mengniu Dairy in November last year.

Dunno. What we do know is the proposed sale passed muster with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in February. They were waiting for approval from the Treasurer, but it never came despite a positive recommendation from the Foreign Investment Review Board. The Treasurer has discretion on these foreign ownership matters, but he has not elaborated on how the deal would damage Australia's interests. What has pundits scratching their heads is Lion Dairy & Drinks has previously been sold to Filipino and Japanese owners. And Mengniu already owns Australian assets including Bellamy’s, the baby formula producer, after Frydenberg gave thumbs up to that transaction last year.

If it is, it’s a big move by the Morrison Government. Sure, things have been tense with China of late… We’ve knocked back Huawei’s participation in our 5G mobile network rollout. We called for an investigation into China’s handling of the early days of the coronavirus crisis. And we’ve sided with the US in the South China Sea and reached out to our Pacific neighbours to counter Beijing's push for power. But we have a non-discriminatory foreign investment policy, so using it as a tool in the fight is new. "It was probably politically untenable for Frydenberg to approve a deal of this size at a time when China is sanctioning Australia on multiple fronts,” said Richard McGregor from the Lowy Institute. He’s referring to China’s decision last week to investigate our wine exports, halt some beef imports and to put tariffs on our barley exports. “It’s another spin in the cycle downwards in these nations’ relations,” he says.



• There have been 2,692 cases of COVID-19 among Victoria's healthcare workers - 70-80% of those were contracted at work, officials confirmed yesterday. There are ongoing concerns about the adequacy/availability of personal protective equipment (PPE).

• With new cases and deaths in Victoria easing, the NSW Government has lifted some travel restrictions for residents on the NSW-Victoria border, particularly farmworkers.

• Labor is set to back changes to the JobKeeper and JobSeeker supplement payments proposed by the Morrison Government that sees the rates and eligibility reduced in September, but the payments extended until March next year.

• US infectious diseases expert Dr Anthony Fauci yesterday warned against the rushing out of a coronavirus vaccine. He says it needs to be fully tested and found to be safe, of course. But it’s also difficult for other trials to get people to test their vaccines on if “you prematurely let a vaccine out,” he says. There are reports that US President Donald Trump is keen on releasing a vaccine before election day in 10 weeks.

• And KFC has dropped its corona-inappropriate 'finger-lickin' endorsement of its fried chicken, because licking anything is fraught these days… And Britain’s Last Night Of The Proms will feature mainstay ditties Rule, Britannia! and Land of Hope and Glory - but the audience-free gathering won’t feature the choir singing those songs. The BBC, which produces the annual televised event, says it's a COVID thing. But critics, including UK PM Boris Johnson, say it's due to the songs' links to colonialism.


After shedding 6,000 jobs in June, Qantas yesterday announced plans to cut a further 2,400 jobs as it outsources its ground handling functions. The changes would save Qantas $100 million a year when implemented across the major airports, the airline says. Meanwhile, Virgin Australia’s sale price has been revealed with administrator Deloitte handing down its final report. US firm Bain Capital will pay $3.5 billion for the embattled airline - a price that would see unsecured creditors receive between 9¢ and 13¢ for each dollar they are owed by the previous owners. The airline went into administration in April owing $6.8 billion.

And while we have you… Also feeling the COVID bite is Mosaic Brands. It owns clothing stores Noni B, Rivers and Katies, and yesterday it said it will close up to 500 sites amid a retail downturn and a battle with landlord Scentre Group.


The report from NSW’S inquiry into the Black Summer bushfires was handed down yesterday. Compulsory land clearing, increased hazard reduction burning, and improvements to firefighters’ communications and equipment were some of the 76 recommendations - all have been accepted by the NSW Government. The inquiry found that climate change “clearly played a role” in the disaster by creating conditions so unusual that traditional firefighting methods failed at times. The state was the worst affected by last summer's fires - 26 people died, 2,476 homes were destroyed, and more than 5.5 million hectares were burned. The Royal Commission into the national disaster will wrap up in October.


Following a 30-year effort, Africa has eradicated wild polio - a deadly disease that once affected 75,000 African children a year. The achievement came about largely thanks to improvements in vaccination education and uptake with 95% of the population now inoculated. Nigeria is the last African nation to be declared polio-free - just 10 years ago it accounted for more than half of all global cases less than a decade ago. Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organisation's director for Africa, said 1.8 million cases of polio-related paralysis have been prevented over the past 24 years. Now the disease is only found in Afghanistan and Pakistan. But it's not a case of job done - officials fear that cases could rise again if the coronavirus crisis interferes with Africa’s vaccination efforts.


Geez the Brisbane Broncos are doing it tough... Less than two years into a five-year contract, coach Anthony Seibold has gone with a rumoured $1 million payout. In the 40 games he oversaw at the power NRL club, he won 35%. This year, the club has prevailed in just 3 of their 15 outings putting them second from the bottom of the ladder. It was quite a turnaround in performance for Seibold after taking out the coach of the year award in 2018 while at the helm of South Sydney. So what went wrong? Rumours about his personal life can’t have helped. And this month he had to quarantine for a fortnight after leaving the Brisbane bubble to return to Sydney to deal with a family issue. Assistant coach Peter Gentle will act as caretaker for the remaining five games of the season.


And you’ll likely have more chance of singing along to K-Pop sensation BTS’s latest track. Dynamite, the latest single by the Korean boy band, is their first song to be entirely in English. That could account for it becoming the first video to achieve 100 million views on YouTube in one day - and it’s now past 200 million... It’s on track to become the pop sensations’ first #1 in many Western markets, including the UK. And to help you get your musical bearings, it was written by David Stewart and Jessica Agombar who also penned the Jonas Brothers' hit What a Man Gotta Do. The BTS boys themselves say it’s about "positive vibes, energy, hope, love, the purity, everything". So not too ambitious then…


12.30pm (AEST) - Deputy Head of Mission/Minister at the Chinese Embassy in Australia, Wang Xining addresses the National Press Club in Canberra

The US Republican National Convention features First Lady Melania Trump, Eric and Tiffany Trump, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

International Dog Day

ABS Data Release - Construction Work Done, June

Governor-General David Hurley’s birthday (1953), and actors Macaulay Culkin and Chris Pine turn 40

US Women’s Equality Day - marking the 100th anniversary of American women winning the right to vote with the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution (1920)

Anniversary of:
• the release of The Beatles' Hey Jude (1968)
• the birthdays of Mother Teresa (1910) and Katherine Johnson (1918)

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.