“For a company that already has credibility problems, this is really a strange move.”
Said marketing expert Tim Calkins of Volkswagen’s confession yesterday that its ‘Voltswagen’ rebrand was an April Fools’ gag. With the news outlets feeling dudded and regulators now asking questions, Tim’s not the only one who didn’t ROFL…
HOT CROSSED FINGERS FOR NSW AND QUEENSLAND
COVID-watch yesterday saw Queensland report 2 new locally-acquired cases – another nurse from Brisbane’s Princess Alexandra Hospital and her housemate. Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said they are connected to the cluster that popped up earlier this week when a nurse from the same hospital and her sister tested positive. They had been over the border in NSW’s Byron Bay while unknowingly infectious last weekend, and NSW officials yesterday said a local man who sat near them at the Byron Beach Hotel had also caught the virus.
SO WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
The NSW and Queensland premiers were a bit optimistic yesterday, but both say the coming days will be critical. A question mark still hangs over the wrap-up of the Greater Brisbane lockdown tonight, but Palaszczuk says if there are “very good testing rates across Queensland and we don’t see any unlinked community transmission, the signs for Easter are looking positive.” And NSW’s Gladys Berejiklian announced restrictions for the Byron region, including masks and reduced numbers in homes and hospitality venues. But, she said, “the positive news in all of this is we’re not saying to businesses shut your doors, quite the opposite.” That was not the case for Byron Bay’s legendary Bluesfest – the local economy booster has been knocked over by the coronavirus for a second year. And if you’re wondering how all this might affect your (or the Easter Bunny’s) long weekend plans, here’s a guide to the latest on travel restrictions.
AND WHAT’S THE ARGY-BARGY OVER VACCINES?
Long story short, PM Scott Morrison set the target earlier this year of having 4 million Aussies vaccinated by the end of March. Today is 1 April, and 670,000 people have had at least one shot. The Feds are responsible for sourcing the vaccines – and delivery delays from Europe, floods, and booking issues have all been problems. Then a report appeared in News Corp publications yesterday (paywall) saying the states and territories “have done three-fifths of bugger all” on the rollout, to use Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud’s delicate language. That was as welcome as a nip from Major Biden with the states saying they are moving as quickly as they can with shipments that arrive late and without notice. Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt started to walk things back by last night. Aren’t you glad you asked?
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COMPLAINTS ABOUT COVID ORIGIN STORY
While stopping short of identifying a definitive cause of COVID-19, this week’s World Health Organisation’s final report into where and how the coronavirus started said it was unlikely to be a laboratory leak led to the outbreak. Instead, it was probably transmitted to humans from bats via another animal. Cue backlash from the US and 13 other countries, including Oz, who say China did not provide sufficient data to investigators… And WHO head Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus yesterday said that “further investigation” was needed to conclusively rule out the lab leak theory. “Let me say clearly that as far as WHO is concerned, all hypotheses remain on the table,” he said. Beijing has yet to respond but has consistently denied the virus was cultivated in a lab in Wuhan.
MORRISON UNVEILS HOMEGROWN MISSILES PLAN
Speaking of tensions with China… PM Scott Morrison yesterday announced a $1 billion plan for Oz to work with the US to build our own guided missiles. They’re the type whose course can be altered during flight. The aim is to bulk up our self-defence capabilities amid what the PM politely called a “changing global environment”. While a home for the project hasn’t been determined, the big defence manufacturing outfits like Raytheon and BAE Systems are on the list as potential partners. In November last year, an Aussie-US collab to develop and test a hypersonic cruise missile was announced. They’re the ones that go really far, really quickly. All up, the government is forecast to spend $270 billion on defence over the next decade.
STRUGGLING FOR A PLACE TO CALL HOME
New research out this morning from the federal government’s National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation shows severe affordability issues for first-time home buyers – and that’s before this year’s price surge. Looking at the year to June 2020, the bottom 60% of income earners in Sydney and Hobart could afford 10-20% of the properties on the market. In Melbourne, things were slightly better with the same income earning range able to afford 50-60% of properties that came up for sale. The report finds Brisbane to be Australia’s most affordable capital for those looking to get a foot on the property ladder where the bottom 40% of income earners can have a go at 60-70% of available homes. Government programs offering financial assistance to help aspiring homeowners crack the market have helped, the report says. Pass the avo toast…
Snap… Today’s Squiz Shortcuts looks at this very issue. Keep an eye out for it sliding into your inbox later today, and the podcast episode is out now.
GOING FOR GREEN AND GOLD...
Look, we’re not experts, but we’re guessing there’s only so much you can do with a 2-colour scheme athleticwear range… But the Asics-made uniforms that our 490 athletes across 34 sports will be wearing to the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games are more than meets the eye. Incorporating a design by Indigenous boxer and artist Paul Fleming, there are 52 footprints representing the number of Indigenous athletes who have competed for Australia at an Olympics. The uniforms were in the news earlier this week, with Asics forced to confirm they are not made with cotton harvested and manufactured by Uyghur Muslims in forced labour camps in Xinjiang, China. As for the opening/closing ceremony outfits (that athletes are unlikely to attend…) – something snazzy from Sportscraft will be revealed in the coming weeks.
DAYLIGHT SAVING O-V-A-H
Most Aussies (except those in Queensland, Western Oz and the Top End) will get an extra hour of shut-eye on Sunday morning as daylight saving comes to an end at 3am. Or, as some DST fans would say, they’re losing an extra hour of sunshine… Experts warn the sudden time change can impact sleep cycles for weeks after the fact. But at least the fading curtains will get a break for a while…
We don’t get to plug our Squiz Shortcut on daylight saving much. Actually, this is just the third time… Maybe use part of your extra hour on Sunday to listen?
THURSDAY LITES - THREE THINGS WE LIKED THIS WEEK
The Musée du Louvre has put its entire collection online – all 480,000 works. We’re now using our coffee queue time to browse, which has to be a better use of time than checking Twitter for the millionth time.
Our Netflix whisperer (aka the original Squizzy) put us onto Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal. It’s a terrible name for a doco we really got into as it went through the scandal that landed actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin in prison. It’s made by Chris Smith, a guy who specialises in “ambitious monomaniacs”, as he demonstrated with Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened – another goodie…
Whether you’re deliberately having a fab fish Friday or if just like seafood, here’s a couple of recipes. These Mustard Butter Prawns are fresh and yum. Note: we ditched the kale and upped the baby spinach because honestly… And back by popular demand – Sri Lankan Fish Curry. We regularly get emails asking for the link, so here you go.
SQUIZ THE DAY
April Fool’s Day – you’ve got until noon…
9.00am (AEST) – Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to give a COVID lockdown update
Start of the Sydney Easter Show (on until 12 April) – Homebush
ABS Data Release – International Trade in Goods and Services, February; Retail Trade, February
Surfing – Start of the Rip Curl Newcastle Cup
• the ruins of Pompeii being rediscovered by Rocque Joaquin de Alcubierre (1748)
• US businessman Oliver Pollock creating the $ symbol (1778)
• Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs founding Apple Computer (1976)
• the Netherlands becoming the first country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage (2001) and euthanasia (2002)
• the birthdays of Hans Christian Andersen (1805), Serge Gainsbourg (1928) and Marvin Gaye (1939)
• Fleetwood Mac’s album Rumours going to #1 (where it stayed for 31 weeks) (1977)
Sprinting – Start of the Stawell Gift (on until Monday, 5 April) – Stawell, Victoria
Birthdays for Jane Goodall (1934), Alec Baldwin (1958) Eddie Murphy (1961) and Ben Mendelsohn (1969)
• the birthdays of Doris Day (1922) and Marlon Brando (1924)
• the first mobile phone call made in New York by a Motorola employee (1973)
• the publication of the Panama Papers (2016)
Daylight saving time ends in NSW, ACT, SA, Victoria, Tasmania
Birthdays for Hugo Weaving (1960), Graham Norton (1963) and Robert Downey Jr (1965)
• the signing of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) treaty in Washington, D.C. (1949)
• the founding of Microsoft (1975)
• the founding of Alibaba (1999)
• the marriage of Beyonce and Jay-Z (2008)
• Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos’ record-breaking $35 billion divorce settlement (2019)
11:00am (AEST) – Screen Actors Guilds Awards
Birthdays for Agnetha Fältskog (1950), and Pharrell Williams (1973)
• the marriage of American Indian princess Pocahontas and English colonist John Rolfe (1614)
• the birthdays of Bette Davis (1908) and Gregory Peck (1916)
• the death of Kurt Cobain (1994)
Which is a long way of saying we’re having Easter off. Be safe and chocolatey wherever you are. And we’ll see you next Tuesday…
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