Squiz Today / 04 December 2019

Squiz Today – Wednesday, 4 December


"One (teaspoon) for each person and one for the pot. The essential equation for a good pot of tea. Thanks, Dad."

Is the best piece of advice Amie Fitt has ever been given. Amie swapped her corporate gig for the entrepreneurial life when she founded Sparro Designs where she’s solving that bag-juggle busy women know all too well. Please welcome Amie to the Three Minute Squiz.


The report card is in and Australia’s education system has been marked ‘room for improvement’. The 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) report is a look at the maths, reading and science skills of 600,000 15yos from 79 nations, and is taken every three years. In Australia, 740 schools and more than 14,000 students were assessed, and the report says their performance in those subjects is in long-term decline.

This slide tells the story… We failed for the first time to exceed the OECD average in maths, and we slid down global rankings in reading and science. Since 2003, Australian students have fallen behind by a full school year in maths, and almost a school year in reading and science. When it comes to maths, we are 3.5 years behind our Chinese counterparts, and three years behind students from Singapore. As a comparison, the latest report says our students’ performance was below that of China, Singapore, Estonia, Canada, Finland, Ireland, Korea and Poland. But for some comfort, we’re on par with Sweden, New Zealand, the United States, the United Kingdom and Japan.

The frustrating thing for our education system administrators is that this happened even with schools funding rising by more than $20 billion over the period that's been measured. And it's done nothing to address the decline in our students' performance across those critical areas. Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan won understatement of the day saying the result was “disappointing”. And he’s called on his state and territory counterparts to work together to sort it out. They'll talk about it at next week's Education Council meeting. They will need to pull together with PISA's national project manager Sue Thomson yesterday pointing out that the Aussie results are of significant concern "particularly in a global economy where our kids will compete with kids all over the world."



US President Donald Trump arrived in London overnight to attend the 70th anniversary NATO Summit. With the US-Europe alliance teetering dangerously, and a looming UK election, it’s sure to be a tense few days for diplomats and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson alike. Johnson will be hoping Trump doesn’t get carried away and endorse him in the upcoming UK election, which commentators say wouldn’t go down well with voters. As for the business of the Summit: Trump has made it clear he believes NATO is a waste of American taxpayers’ money. And earlier this month, in a veiled swipe at the US, French President Emmanuel Macron said NATO was currently “brain dead”. Overnight, Trump called the comment “very, very nasty” and the pair have fronted a ‘tense’ press conference


Any hope Buckingham Palace officials may have had that Prince Andrew’s alleged involvement in the Jeffrey Epstein sex trafficking scandal would quietly fade away were well-and-truly dashed after alleged victim Virginia Giuffre's tell-all interview aired yesterday. Giuffre alleged she was made to have sex with the Queen's second eldest son on multiple occasions in multiple geographies, offering up lurid details of the encounters. Five women have contradicted Andrew’s public statements on his involvement with Epstein. He now faces the prospect of being subpoenaed to give evidence should he set foot in the US. Buckingham Palace repeated its denial that the Prince had ever had contact with Giuffre.


Police were continuing to search a remote stretch of outback near Alice Springs yesterday after the second of three people missing for two weeks in the desert was found safe. A pastoralist came across South Australian man Phu Tran yesterday found huddled by a water tank on the man’s property. He has told police his still-missing travel companion, Claire Hockridge, was last seen two days ago following a fence line north. Police are hopeful of locating Hockridge today. Tran’s rescue comes a day after his travel companion Tamra McBeath-Riley was discovered by chance when a farmer noticed tyre tracks on his property. The trio had set off from Alice Springs in a 4WD two weeks ago, becoming bogged and stranded. They stayed by a waterhole - subsisting on dirty water, Scotch Fingers and pre-mixed vodka drinks - before Tran and Hockridge set off to find help.


Victoria is at most risk of widespread power outages this summer with the national electricity regulator yesterday issuing a warning to residents and businesses. An expected hot summer coupled with a big coal-fired electricity plant in the Latrobe Valley that's on the blink has the regulator (AEMO) concerned that a worst-case scenario could see up to 1.3 million Victorian households without power on extreme weather days. Bushfires and extreme weather also have other states at risk of losing electricity. On the plus side, the strong uptake of solar panels in the last 12 months will help the system out a bit.


There’ll be no extra interest rate drop in anyone’s Christmas stockings this year. The RBA yesterday announced its is keeping interest rates on hold at the historic low of 0.75%. The rates remain steady as the RBA waits to see if the combination of historically low-interest rates and recent tax cuts will get consumers spending. Economic growth data, due to be released later today, will show whether the economy is kicking into gear, which would support the Reserve Bank's argument that the economy has had it’s Jane Austen moment. That is, it’s passed a “gentle turning point”.


Spotify has taken a look at the most streamed songs and artists of the 2010s. Ed Sheeran’s Shape of You took out the song category with 2.4 billion streams. And artist of the decade is Drake with 28 billion streams across his music. That’s a lot of gigawhatsits...

The winners of the RedBull Illume photo contest for 2019 have been announced. Judges picked from nearly 60,000 entries, and the pictures are breathtaking. The Wings and Raw categories get our pick.

And the official White House Christmas decorations have been unveiled. The all-white theme is a sharp pivot from last year's Handmaid’s Tale-esque red.


12.30pm (AEDT) - Rachel David (CEO of Private Healthcare Australia), Dr Tony Bartone (Federal President of the AMA) & Dr Stephen Duckett (Grattan Institute) to address the National Press Club on the topic ‘Private Health: Who Benefits?' - Canberra

8.30pm (AEDT) - AACTA Awards - Sydney

ABS Data Release - Australian National Accounts: National Income, Expenditure and Product, September

Rapper/Entrepreneur Jay Z’s 50th birthday (1969)

Anniversary of Elizabeth Taylor’s 7th marriage to politician John Warner (1976)

To be in with a chance to win a $100 gift card from Woolies, make sure you've read each email from this week. Simples.




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