Squiz Today / 06 June 2018

Squiz Today – Wednesday, 6 June


“Genghis Khan”

Turia Pitt says she admires the 12th-century Mongol leader for “his persistence, ability to endure hardships and his incredible amount of mental fortitude.” By that measure, we reckon he would admire her right on back. Please welcome Ms Pitt to this week's Three Minute Squiz.


What if we were to tell you there’s a significant issue of national importance that our pollies are working hard to agree on? No, it’s not April Fool’s Day… Reports say the major parties have struck an agreement on foreign interference laws. The proposed legislation has been before a parliamentary committee for review and a report is expected to be released today.

We’re not talking about the sort of foreign influence that could see the boob tube make a comeback this summer after featuring on Europe’s catwalks. Although there should be a law against that… We’re talking about concern over the influence of foreign nations on our free society (think Russian attempts to influence elections and Chinese political donations). Just last week Duncan Lewis, the boss of spy agency ASIO, said there are more foreign spies operating here right now than during the Cold War. Yikes… So the government is introducing new laws to keep us on the straight and narrow and we’ll know more about what that looks like when this report comes out.

The panda in the room is China. There’s been friction of late that has played into a couple of stories that bubbled up yesterday. Qantas will adjust references to Taiwan on its website and in advertising material to reflect that it is part of China following requests/demands from Chinese officials. And reports say Aussie journalists have been denied visas to enter China due to our “frosty” diplomatic relations. And pundits say the government’s pursuit of these foreign interference laws will only make things more difficult with China, at least in the short term.


Handbag designer and businesswoman Kate Spade has died in an apparent suicide at her home in New York. Reports say she suffered from depression. Launching in 1993, the 55yo sold the brand to the Neiman Marcus Group in 2007 for US$125 million. Coach bought the business last year for US$2.4 billion. People have started to share their experiences of first owning a Kate Spade bag. For us it was a Kermit the Frog green tote from 2008.

Also in the news is the death of Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen, a member of the Bali Nine. He died from cancer in a Jakarta hospital. The 34yo was serving a life sentence for his role in an unsuccessful plot to smuggle 8kg of heroin from Bali to Australia in 2005. Nguyen was one of the lower profile members of the group and is the third to die following the 2015 executions of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.

Competition Commission chairman Rod Sims has new powers and he’s not afraid to use them. The ACCC yesterday laid criminal cartel charges against the ANZ, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank and six high profile bankers. Confession time: we’re no experts in the organisation and underwriting of bank share sales to institutional investors. Now we have that off our chest, we can tell you that some commentators say it’s highly technical and there are questions about the ACCC’s pursuit of the case. If you see groups of bankers whispering in huddles today, chances are it’ll be about this.

Aussies love to break a record and yesterday we hit a record 22 months of no interest rate changes. The official cash rate went down to 1.5% in August 2016 and it’s been there ever since. The good bits of our economy (strong employment and economic growth) are offset by the not-so-good bits (weak wages and inflation growth, poor consumer spending) leading many economists to say that rates are staying put for now. That will be good news for mortgaged motorists who are facing four-year high prices for their fuel.

The battle of the tech titans seems to have little chance of being punctuated with a smiley face emoji anytime soon. Apple yesterday took an opportunity at its World Wide Developers Conference (it’s known as the WWDC in case you see it trending on your socials…) to unveil new tools to block Facebook from automatically tracking your web use. Apple's Tim Cook and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg are yet to hug it out after the words exchanged during the Cambridge Analytica scandal. But the cool stuff - new apps have been featured like Group FaceTime and a ‘tech addiction' tool to help reduce the time you spend on your device.

As NSW and Queensland shape up for tonight's clash at the MCG (tickets still available, because, well, it’s rugby league in Melbourne…), all eyes will be on whether the Blues can break a four-year losing streak and prevail over an injury-diminished Maroons side. But for our money, the inventive prose the game manages to inspire each year is where the action is. To wit, the ABC's Warren Boland who writes of NSW’s rookie team; "Like a charter boat of fishermen heading offshore into choppy waters, some first-timers will catch plenty of fish and others will be left hanging seasick over the side." Inspired stuff. And what about: "With the electrifying Roberts marking the awesome Inglis, the Kempsey cousins will never be less distant. Who will finish on top, the Roadrunner or Wile E Coyote?" We've no idea what it means, but by golly we love it.

French swimmer Ben Lecomte is a guy who's comfortable with this own company. And sharks. He's attempting to become the first person to swim across the Pacific Ocean. Not in one go, you'll be pleased to hear. He's taken off from Japan and will swim for eight hours each day for six months in the hope he'll make the 9,000km to the west coast of the US. "You have to make sure you always think about something positive," Lecomte said. Like "gee, isn't that swarm of jellyfish beautiful..."


12.30pm (AEST) - Steve Ciobo, Minister for Trade, to address the National Press Club on 'False choices: how pragmatism in trade policy exposes them' - Canberra

ABS Data Releases - Australian National Accounts: National Income, Expenditure and Product, March; Building Approvals, April

Queensland Day to mark its establishment as a separate colony from New South Wales (1859)

Sweden's National Day

World Pest Day

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