Squiz Today / 29 April 2020

Squiz Today – Wednesday, 29 April


“The one-spacers have won.”

Eagle-eyed Alan Chen was one of the first to notice Microsoft Word now shows two spaces after a full stop as an error. As should always have been the case.


Do you want the good news or the bad news first? Ok. The good news is that Australia’s health response to the outbreak of COVID-19 continues to bear fruit. Health Minister Greg Hunt yesterday said just one case in the preceding 24 hours came from an unknown source. "That is perhaps the most important figure I have had the privilege of raising since coming into this role and dealing with the coronavirus issue.” The bad news is Federal Treasury head Stephen Kennedy says we’re experiencing a faster economic shock than the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Sure. Hunt says we’re super awesome curve flatteners. About 10% of the 6,729 cases recorded in Australia are a result of 'community transmission', and authorities have not been able to pin down how the virus was passed on in many of those cases. So it was a bit of a moment to have just one case in that category in the 24 hours until early yesterday morning. And we’re going so well that NSW is moving to lift some restrictions from Friday. Western OzQueensland and the Northern Territory are moving too. A guide to the social distancing requirements around Australia is here.

There's not a lot of sunshine to share. Treasury has estimated that unemployment will rise from its current level of 5.2% to 10% in the coming weeks. "Unemployment rose to higher levels in the Great Depression, but it did that over the course of a couple of years. These movements are happening in just a couple of months," Secretary Kennedy said yesterday. Virgin Australia isn’t the only company in trouble with others in the travel and entertainment space approaching the government for support, officials told the hearing. And while Kennedy was questioned about why shovelling $130 billion in JobKeeper cash out the door is taking so long, he reminded senators they are working “at a reasonable clip” given the unprecedented times.

Want to get a better handle on what an economic downturn means and what governments can do to soften the blow? There’s a Squiz Shortcut for that.



• Four residents of Western Sydney aged care home Newmarch House have died since Monday night. That takes the home’s coronavirus death toll to 11 people. A total of 54 people connected to the home contracted the virus after a staff member turned up for work for almost a week before she knew she was sick.

• A flight of more than 250 Aussies returning from South Africa will be placed into mandatory quarantine when they arrive in Perth today. It follows 80-90 people arriving on a flight from Kuala Lumpur on Monday. Premier Mark McGowan said it was "pretty annoying" that some had left it so long to come home.

• Meanwhile, some retail restrictions are being lifted. From today, Woolworths will increase the limits on hoardable products like toilet paper, rice, pasta and hand sanitiser. And Coles is removing its purchasing limits on toilet paper and paper towel altogether. Restrictions placed on alcohol purchases were also lifted overnight.

• Brazil is shaping up as a big problem for public health officials. President Jair Bolsonaro hasn’t always been a coronavirus believer, even as the virus spread. Official numbers say 4,500 people have died and 67,000 people have been infected, but some scientists think the truth is far beyond that.

• To the numbers: Australia recorded five deaths yesterday taking the total to 88, and there are 6,729 confirmed cases. Globally, there are 3.09 million cases, 215,000 people have died, and 915,000 people have recovered. The US topped 1 million cases overnight - that's a third of infections worldwide.


The findings from the Royal Commission into institutional child abuse regarding Cardinal George Pell’s knowledge and handling of abuse allegations within the Catholic Church may be released in the coming weeks. Attorney-General Christian Porter yesterday confirmed he is awaiting advice on publishing the report in full after he got the green light from his Victorian counterpart, Jill Hennessy. While redacted versions of the reports were released in 2017, sections were censored so as not to prejudice Pell’s trial. He was released from jail earlier this month after the High Court overturned a Victorian court’s decision to convict him on child abuse charges from the 90s.


A record 50.8 million people around the world were forced from their homes due to conflict or natural disasters in 2019. That’s an increase of 10 million people from the year before. An annual report from the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) found 45.7 million people were internally displaced due to conflict across 61 countries, with a further 5.1 million people displaced by disasters in 96 different countries. The agency says at least 18,000 Australians are estimated to have been unable to return to their homes as a result of the Black Summer bushfires. IDMC director Alexandra Bilak said she feared the COVID-19 crisis will exacerbate the problem by delaying the delivery of aid and threatening future funding.


Wesfarmers CEO Rob Scott said the company is fast-tracking a strategic review of its struggling retail chain Target as it prepares to make changes. While the coronavirus has delivered a boost in sales for Wesfarmers stores Bunnings and Officeworks, Scott said revenue and profit for its general merchandise retailers Target and Kmart have taken a “substantial” hit this month. And while he said the long-embattled department store chain will not disappear altogether, Wesfarmers will be restructuring Target to become more commercially viable. That means closing stores and upping online sales. And, hopefully, stocking more things people want to buy… Some analysts are sceptical of the retailer’s future saying the total closure is possible.


Looking for a pick-me-up today? How about a Zoom Puppy Meeting to mark International Guide Dog Day? You’re welcome.

One dog that’s probably not cut out for that level of responsibility is Elsie from the Gold Coast. The first time she became a viral hit for her bad attitude almost three years ago, and that was embarrassing enough for her owner Mike Cook. But to be caught a second time - well, let’s just say Mike should have known better.

This story about a good deed by Aussie golfing star Adam Scott is worthy of your time. And we’re not a bit teary, an eyelash got stuck in our eye dammit…


ABS Data Release - Consumer Price Index, March

US Democratic Presidential Primary vote in Ohio

Prince William and Kate celebrate their 9th wedding anniversary

An asteroid described as big enough to destroy Earth is due to pass us by

International Guide Dog Day

International Dance Day

Birthdays for Jerry Seinfeld (1954), Daniel Day-Lewis (1957), Michelle Pfeiffer (1958) and Uma Thurman (1970)

Anniversary of:
• the release of Aretha Franklin's song Respect (1967)
• LA police officers acquitted of beating Rodney King, causing riots (1992)
• the Chemical Weapons Convention coming into force, which outlaws the production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons by its signatories (1997)
• the death of Alfred Hitchcock (1980)

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