Squiz Today / 12 March 2021
Squiz Today – Friday, 12 March
"You don't master knitting because once you make a scarf, there's the blanket. And once you do the blanket, you've got to do the hat, the socks."
It’s fair to say that former US First Lady Michelle Obama is focused on pursuing a quieter/gentler life as she ponders retirement…
WESTERN OZ SET FOR A BIG SWINGING ELECTION
It’s the only big election in Australia this year, so we’ve gotta make Western Australia’s poll set for tomorrow count. It was fitting that the campaign started in the middle of a coronavirus lockdown after the year's events - and it's WA, so there's plenty of colour and movement...
WHAT’S THE STATE OF PLAY?
• The dominant figure is Labor leader and Premier Mark McGowan (53yo). After a big return to government in 2017 (aka delivering the largest swing against an incumbent in WA’s modern political history), Labor currently holds 40 of the 59 seats in the Legislative Assembly. And Labor is riding high on a wave of support for its handling of the coronavirus crisis, including its hard border closures.
• The Liberals go in with 13 seats - and that’s where the good news ends for them… Zak Kirkup - the youngest ever WA Liberal leader at 34yo - became leader after Liza Harvey quit in November. He’s a first-term MP who holds his seat by the teeny-tiny margin of 0.8%. And let’s just say he’s led an unconventional campaign that’s focused on the risk of giving the McGowan Government “total control”.
• The other six seats are held by the Nationals. They aren’t in a formal coalition with the Liberals, but Kirkup says he would be open to that.
SO LABOR'S GOING TO WIN, RIGHT?
That’s what the Liberal’s leader says. McGowan’s decision to embrace splendid isolation by banning all travel to Western Oz 3 weeks into the pandemic seems to have made him a popular guy. Like, an 88% approval rating kinda popular… With the mining sector booming, the McGowan Government delivered a budget surplus last financial year - and some voters have gone nuts for it… And Kirkup is right to be worried. The last Newspoll gave Labor a 68:32 lead representing a 12.5% swing in the government's favour. If that transpires tomorrow, the Liberals will be reduced to just 2 seats - but neither McGowan nor Kirkup reckon that will happen. One thing voters can be pleased about - democracy sausages are back…
SQUIZ THE REST
COVID VACCINE ROLLOUT RUMBLINGS
Some Aussies will need to wait until early next year for their second COVID-19 shots, but the government is hopeful that all first doses will be delivered by October. That's the update from Federal Health Department boss Professor Brendan Murphy yesterday who said the goal of having everything done and dusted by October looks unlikely. Supply issues in Europe and sorting arrangements out for those administering the shots have delayed things, he says. Labor's Anthony Albanese said he'll raise it when Parliament resumes next week. Meanwhile, fault was found with yesterday’s announcement by PM Scott Morrison of half-priced plane tickets for select destinations by tourism operators and destinations not on the list. And it opened up a new front in the state-against-state fight as, for example, NSW argued Queensland should get less support given their ‘tude to border closures.
BRAZIL’S COVID CRISIS CONCEIVES A COMEBACK
Brazil reached a grim milestone yesterday, exceeding 2,000 COVID-19 deaths in a single day for the first time. The country's infection rates have soared in recent months to see it claim the 2nd highest death toll in the world behind the US. Former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva yesterday blamed current leader Jair Bolsonaro's handling of the pandemic in a speech widely seen as the start of his political comeback. The man they call 'Lula' led the country from 2003-2011, and he's now expected to run in the 2022 election. "This country is in a state of utter tumult and confusion because there's no government. I'll repeat that: this country has no government,” he said. Lula ran his 2018 election bid from jail before dropping out - and Bolsonaro was stabbed at a rally, so a bit was going on…
THE QUAD SQUAD DIALS IT IN
PM Scott Morrison will today join (virtually, of course) US President Joe Biden, Indian PM Narendra Modi and Japan's PM Yoshihide Suga for the first leader-level talks since the four countries founded the strategic alliance known as the “Quad” in 2007. The Biden administration has been eager to activate the group given China's influencer ambitions for the region, rubbing the 4 leaders the wrong way. Morrison said the meeting was a step Australia had been "championing for many years". Top of the agenda is the rollout of vaccines to developing Asia-Pacific nations - a push that could run afoul of China’s plans to make friends by giving away an estimated 500 million COVID vaccine doses to more than 45 countries. Note: India's also donating vaccines to cement geopolitical relationships. Economic cooperation and the climate crisis will also be up for discussion.
WILLIAM STICKS UP FOR THE ROYALS ON RACE
Prince William had the honour of becoming the first member of the Royal family to publicly comment on the racism row sparked by his brother and sister-in-law’s Oprah confessional. During a visit to a school overnight, he was asked by a reporter if the family was racist - his response: "We're very much not a racist family." It feels like a month ago, but it was just this week that the interview went to air, including Meghan's revelation that there were "concerns and conversations about how dark [Archie's] skin might be when he was born". Those conversations were had with Harry, and he wouldn’t confirm who the person was, except to tell Oprah later that it wasn’t the Queen or Prince Philip. William also said he hasn’t spoken to Harry since the interview, but “I will do.”
THE LAYERS TO LIFE AS WE KNOW IT
Scientists reckon they can reveal Earth’s deepest secret - a new “inner-inner core”. So what? It’s been thought that Earth has 4 main layers: the crust, the mantle, the outer core and the inner core. And while the idea of an additional distinct layer isn't new, it's never been stacked up. But Australian National Uni researcher Joanne Stephenson says her team has devised a “very clever” algorithm that has found it. Stephenson is interested in the core because its interactions create Earth's magnetic field, shielding the planet and allowing life to exist here. So, it's pretty important... Researchers believe the study could point to a more complex story of Earth's formation than previously thought and warrant textbooks' rewriting.
FRIDAY LITES - THREE THINGS WE LIKED THIS WEEK
We’re on a documentary roll… And this could be the one we’ve liked the most - Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry. It took 3 years to make and covers the period when she became a megastar. It's well worth diving into Apple TV to watch it.
Supermarket beauty products? We were sceptics until our Champagne tastes met startup budgets… Last week, we bought this under-eye/dark circles concealer on a whim, and it’s better than any high-end brand we’ve tried. You’re welcome…
Confession time: what we didn't spend of our life savings on discount concealer we put into a massive slab of parmesan cheese and have been scrambling to use it ever since. So this summer veggie lasagne used up a bit - and it made for a great lunch throughout this week. Top tip: no one's got time to hunt down yellow squash, so we upped the zucchini.
SQUIZ THE DAY
Start of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival
World Glaucoma Day
A birthday for Liza Minnelli (1946)
• the Foundation Stone being laid in Canberra (1913)
• Moscow becoming the capital of Soviet Russia (1918)
• the wedding of Paul McCartney and Linda Eastman (1969)
• the deaths of entrepreneur George Westinghouse (1914), father of modern China Sun Yat-sen (1925) and Anne Frank (1945)
Western Australia’s election
Coeliac Awareness Week begins (on until 20 March)
• William Herschel discovering the planet Uranus (but he mistakes it for a comet) (1781)
• a fifth term of Labor Government with Paul Keating winning one “for the true believers” (1993)
• the election of Pope Francis (2013)
Start of Sleep Awareness Week begins (on until 20 March)
Birthdays for actor Michael Caine (1933), Quincy Jones (1933), Billy Crystal (1948) and gymnast Simone Biles (1997)
• the birthday of Albert Einstein (1879)
• the Cedar Revolution in Lebanon, following the assassination of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri (2005)
• Xi Jinping becoming President of the People's Republic of China (2013)
• US high school students staging a mass walkout to commemorate the Florida high school shooting (2018)
• the deaths of Karl Marx (1883) and Stephen Hawking (2018)
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