Squiz Today / 31 January 2018

Squiz Today – Wednesday, 31 January 2018


“Super blue blood moon”

That’s what stargazers will be treated to tonight with three lunar events colliding for the first time in more than 30 years. It’s the Hugh Jackman of astronomy – you know, a triple threat. Oh, we give up. Details and times are here.


Fresh from his summer holiday, Labor leader Bill Shorten used an address to the National Press Club yesterday to lay down some key themes for 2018. Three quick points in summary:

1. A Labor government would establish a federal corruption watchdog. Or by its formal name, a National Integrity Commission.

2. They will campaign for changes that give workers (particularly low wage earners) a louder voice to demand wage increases.

3. Get used to the phrase “a left behind society”. It’s going to be on high rotation as Labor ramps up the rhetoric around increasing costs of living as they target the big end of town.

Shorten says the community needs their confidence in government restored. Which ignores our decade-long struggle for competence and a PM that lasts longer than 5 minutes, but we digress. A recent survey said 5% of public servants had witnessed corruption – a doubling since 2014. Supporters say a dedicated body is needed because those at the corruption front line, like the Federal Police, are tied up with other priorities, like fighting terrorism. But critics say these bodies can take on a destructive political life of their own. PM Malcolm Turnbull said he's thinking about it.

Shorten said that despite solid productivity gains and soaring company profits, workers’ pay isn't increasing and their ability to negotiate a better deal has been eroded. The end game = fatter pay packets, which business says is a war on them. Expect Labor to ride this one all the way to an election, whenever that might be. And the private health “con” really got his goat, although Labor later ruled out changes to the government-funded rebate. But it wouldn’t be a Shorten outing without a zinger: "As someone wryly remarked last week, there used to be two certainties in life: death and taxes. Now there's three: death, taxes and big increases in health insurance premiums," he said. Boom!


‘Mr Melbourne' has died after a long battle with cancer. Ron Walker wore many hats during his action-packed life – he was a businessman/developer, events and Grand Prix organiser, former Mayor, former chairman of Fairfax, health funding campaigner and a prominent Liberal Party mover-and-shaker. He was never far from the action and is being remembered as a man who would be missed by many. He was 78yo.

After proceedings against the National Australia Bank, Westpac and ANZ, the corporate regulator will take the Commonwealth Bank to court over alleged interest rate rigging. It has to do with the bank bill swap reference rate (known as the BBSW) with ASIC alleging that on three specific occasions the Commonwealth Bank “traded with the intention of affecting the level at which BBSW was set to maximise its profits or minimise its losses.” Which is a long way of saying this is a headache new boss Matt Comyn, who takes the reins in April, could do without. Welcome to first grade…

Ireland will hold a referendum at the end of May on abortion reform. Changing the country’s almost total ban requires a change to their constitution. As it currently stands, the Eighth Amendment "acknowledges the right to life of the unborn" and a referendum will be a vote on whether to retain or repeal this clause. Women in Ireland can currently only access accredited termination services if their life is at risk. Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, a former GP, acknowledged it was a tricky issue and said he would vote for change.

Good news for the safety of our planet – North Korean head honcho Kim Jong Un is running out of money. That’s according to a report quoting Chinese sources anyway. They say his inheritance, meant to be spent on running the country, has been blown on his nuclear and missile tests, fancy buildings and a luxury ski resort. And the reason he's been open to participating in the Winter Olympics is he might need to tap his South Korean neighbours for some cash shortly. Some people just aren’t good on a budget.

The much-criticised name of one of the newest additions to the Sydney Ferries fleet wasn’t a popular choice of the people after all. At the time, NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance said; “It is not everyone's cup of tea, but the people voted for it so we listened.” Nope. The minister last night said the ferry would be renamed after Snugglepot and Cuddlepie creator May Gibbs to keep the 'kids' theme. Constance has had a rough start to the year with the Sydney train drivers dispute demanding a lot of the city’s attention throughout January.

Need some help getting ready for the zombie apocalypse? Elon Musk of Tesla and South Australian super battery fame has just the thing for you! For just US$500 a pop, Musk’s tunnel building outfit, The Boring Company, have become proprietors of flamethrowers. “I want to be clear that a flamethrower is a super terrible idea. Definitely don’t buy one. Unless you like fun,” Musk told his social media followers. The reverse psychology seems to have worked; it's sold out, putting more than US$5 million in the company's coffers. Which reminds us of Airbnb getting out of an early cash hole by selling collectors edition breakfast cereal


12.30pm (AEDT) - Bill Ferris, Chair of Innovation and Science Australia, to address the National Press Club on 'ISA’s Strategic Plan for Australia to Thrive in the Global Innovation Race' - Canberra

1.00pm (AEDT) - US President Donald Trump to deliver the State of the Uniom Address (an intentional typo this time...) - Washington DC

ABS Data Release - Consumer Price Index, December

Nauru's Independence Day - marking 50 years of independence from Australia (1968)

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