Squiz Today / 05 August 2020

Squiz Today – Wednesday, 5 August


“The whole thing was ridiculous.”

The catfight over last year’s movie version of the beloved musical theatre hit Cats continues, this time with the original tomcat Andrew Lloyd Webber taking a swipe. It's the cinematic hairball that just won’t clear…


Like the rest of Australia, our economic policymakers are scratching their heads wondering how this coronavirus cluster disaster is going to go down. The downturn is not as severe as expected, and a comeback is already underway in most of Australia, Reserve Bank Governor Philip Lowe said yesterday. But hold your horses: our economy is experiencing the biggest contraction since the 1930s. And one thing is for sure, our economic outlook is “highly uncertain,” Lowe said. Yesterday, the Reserve Bank kept interest rates at the historic low of 0.25%. And Lowe laid out what the bank thinks could happen.

Looking into the crystal ball, Lowe says a ‘baseline scenario’ has our economy shrinking by 6% this year only to get somewhat back on track with 5% growth in 2021. But unemployment will rise to 10% later this year, Lowe expects. Keep in mind that’s based on what we know now - which means further COVID-19 outbreaks a la Melbourne aren’t factored into that picture. And there were a couple of other concerns flagged yesterday.

Former PM/superannuation enthusiast Paul Keating criticised the Morrison Government’s decision to allow 3 million Aussies to make early withdrawals from their superannuation accounts. The Morrison Government says it’s been a lifeline for many since things got COVID-crazy in March. But Keating says it will entrench inequality. And official figures out yesterday revealed the total value of deferred home and small business loans has hit $274 billion - about 10% of all bank loans in the country. The upshot: analysts are increasingly worried about when/how borrowers will start making repayments again. Need a good bit of news? Despite our diplomatic relationship with China looking as mauled as a zombie cicada, our trading relationship hasn’t taken a hit. So that’s something…



• Victoria yesterday recorded 439 new coronavirus cases and a further 11 deaths, all linked to aged care facilities. Premier Daniel Andrews announced new fines of $4,957 for errant Victorians meant to be self-isolating, going up to $20,000 for repeat offenders. Stage 4 restrictions on businesses in Melbourne and the Stage 3 lockdown for the rest of the state comes into force tonight.

• NSW recorded 12 new cases on Tuesday, all from known sources. NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said she's focused on ending the current chains of transmission from known hotspots with the state in a “critical phase” of containing the virus.

• Flights to Uluru have been suspended after the Mutitjulu community blockaded the park’s gates over concerns that tourists flying in from interstate could bring the coronavirus with them. Prompted by the arrival of a Jetstar flight from Brisbane on Saturday, the 39 visitors headed home.

• Other tourists in trouble include those on cruise ships. Yes, we’re back here again… Several cruises have resumed in parts of Europe and the Pacific in July, and two ships are already in strife with cases of coronavirus reported onboard.

• An update on the numbers: Australia has 10,605 cases, and 232 people have died. Globally, 18.3 million people have been infected with COVID-19, and 695,000 people have died. Almost 11 million people have recovered from the virus.


An explosion has destroyed the port of Lebanon’s capital killing dozens of people and injuring at least 2,500 with hospitals said to be overwhelmed with casualties. The cause of the blast is unknown, but the government says it's happened in an area that houses explosive materials. Videos of a mushroom cloud and damage kilometres away from the blast site, including the presidential palace, have rattled residents already jangled nerves. The country is in turmoil with recent anti-government demonstrations protesting the handling of an ongoing economic crisis. There’s also been trouble on the border with neighbour Israel. And later this week, there’s set to be a verdict in the trial against four Hezbollah members over the killing of ex-Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005.


Australia's ambassador to Iran Lyndall Sachs has visited British-Aussie academic Dr Kylie Moore-Gilbert in her new prison in the desert in the east of the country. She is “well and has access to food, medical facilities and books," a Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson said yesterday. That's provided some reassurance to her supporters after she was recently transferred to the violent Qarchak prison. Moore-Gilbert is serving a 10-year sentence for espionage after she attended a conference in Tehran in September 2018. Her family are said to favour the government’s approach of “quiet diplomacy” and have asked for respect of “both Kylie's and our privacy while we concentrate on getting her home."


With the clouds of a bribery scandal getting darker, Spain’s former king Juan Carlos has gone to the Dominican Republic to allow his son Felipe to get on with his time at the top without distraction. Juan Carlos is not formally under investigation by prosecutors in Geneva and Madrid. Still, they are looking into offshore accounts and possible bribes relating to a high-speed rail contract in Saudi Arabia won by Spanish firms. History buffs say for a king who helped Spain become a democracy after the death of General Franco in 1975, it’s a humiliating exit. And why the Dominican Republic? It’s a country where judicial cooperation is “very difficult”. Funny that...


...Is US talk show host Ellen DeGeneres. If you’ve seen this bubble along in that background in recent days, this is what it’s about. Former staff have made accusations of workplace misconduct on the set of the Ellen show, alleging executive producers and other senior managers of making racist jibes and unfairly dismissing staff for things like taking medical leave. DeGeneres is accused of turning a blind eye to the toxic team culture. The accusations are in stark contrast to her on-air “be kind” schtick. DeGeneres has apologised to staff, and the production company WarnerMedia is conducting an investigation into the claims. Yesterday, DeGeneres’s Aussie wife Portia de Rossi thanked supporters via Instagram, only to inflame the situation. Want more background - here t’is.


...Is tennis great Roger Federer. This is essentially a 3-minute PR play, but gee it’s good… Remember the Italian girls who played tennis from the top of their apartment blocks during the lockdown? Federer's had a hit with them. And it’s glorious.


12.30pm (AEST) - The chair of APRA AMCOS (Australia’s music rights organisation)/singer Jenny Morris addresses the National Press Club - Canberra

PM Scott Morrison to make a virtual address to the Condoleezza Rice-led Aspen Security Forum on regional threats and US-China relations

Morrison Government set to announce details of more support for the child care sector

ABS Data Release - Lending Indicators, June

Anniversary of:
• Humphrey Gilbert claiming Newfoundland for the British crown, the first English colony in North America and the beginning of the British Empire (1583)
• the Indian government announcing it would change the status of Indian-controlled Kashmir from a state to a union territory (2019)
• the birthdays of Joseph Merrick aka ‘The Elephant Man’ (1862), former PM Harold Holt (1908) first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong (1930)
• the deaths of Marilyn Monroe (1962) and Toni Morrison (2019)

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