Squiz Today / 22 November 2019
Squiz Today – Friday, 22 November
“It was a handy top. I've washed it, it's back in the wardrobe.”
Said Toni Doherty, the brave grandmother who saved a distressed koala from fires on the North Coast of NSW this week by giving him the shirt off her back. Lewis (as he's now called) suffered bad burns, and the Koala Hospital at Port Macquarie says he has a 50/50 chance of survival. Poor fella…
BOUGAINVILLE GETS A SAY ON ITS FUTURE
A new nation could soon be added to the Pacific family... After 20 years of waiting, the people of Bougainville will get a chance to vote tomorrow in a referendum that will decide on its independence from Papua New Guinea. It's an event that is close to Australia, given our strong emotional and commercial ties to the islands.
BACK IT UP A BIT…
Strap yourself in for a whip-through Bougainville’s colourful history… A German colony until Australia took control during WWI, it remained in our hands until it became a province of an independent PNG in 1975. But simmering discontent turned into a separatist war in 1988 with the bloodiest fighting the South Pacific had witnessed since WWII. Estimates say up to 20,000 people were killed - more than 10% of the population. The fighting came to an end in 1997, a peace agreement was signed in 2001, and the Autonomous Bougainville Government was set up, along with a promise from PNG for a non-binding referendum on independence. Bringing us to tomorrow when the polls will open for two weeks giving 207,000 voters the chance to back more autonomy from PNG, or independence.
HOW DOES AUSTRALIA FIT IN?
Apart from being a part of Australia's territory for most of the last century, it was a place where 30,000 of our soldiers served, and 500 died in WWII. And then there's the commercial side. Bougainville is mineral-rich, and the big Panguna copper mine was established in the 70s and operated by Rio Tinto with the PNG Government as a 20% shareholder. Locals were angered by the environmental damage, and they mostly missed out on any financial windfall making the mine a major factor in the civil war. The mine was closed in 1989, and these days it's thought to be worth $84 billion. So it’s no wonder Aussie mining magnates are taking a keen interest in current events…
SQUIZ THE REST
TERRIBLE CONDITIONS ALL ROUND
Victoria’s wild weather day fanned more than 60 fires across the state yesterday with lightning strikes responsible for starting many fires. Coupled with high winds and dry heat, authorities said the conditions were much like what NSW and Queensland have faced in recent weeks. The downing of powerlines resulted in more than 80,000 homes across 460 towns without power into the evening. And to cap off a ripper day, dust engulfed the state turning Mildura red. Authorities say they expect conditions to stabilise today. Looking north to Sydney, the oppressive smoke haze is likely to ease with a southerly change this afternoon. NSW authorities yesterday said 612 homes have been lost in this bushfire season so far. And Adelaide was also gripped by smoke yesterday from the large fires on the Yorke Peninsula. Conditions are easing in Queensland although the fire danger remains high with big fires still burning near Toowoomba. Take care out there...
WESTPAC IN THE GOVERNMENT’S SIGHTS
Attorney-General Christian Porter has told the Financial Review this morning (paywall) that Westpac can expect a whopping big fine over the “off the charts” accusations that the bank breached the anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism finance laws 23 million times. As the bloke who will approve any settlement agreement, Porter said the "unbelievably serious" breaches were of "enormous concern" to the government. Meanwhile, PM Scott Morrison didn't exactly call for CEO Brian Hartzer to resign, but he went as far as a prime minister can go. And investors are none too pleased with the bank either - Westpac's share price is down almost 5.5% since the news broke on Wednesday.
VICTORY FOR VICTIMS IN PELVIC MESH CASE
In what has been described as the largest women’s health class action in Australian history, 1,350 women who suffered debilitating side effects from a pelvic mesh implant claimed victory yesterday against global giant Johnston & Johnston. Handing down her judgment, a Federal Court judge said the company had been “negligent” and had engaged in deceptive conduct by supplying a product despite having no proof it was safe. Used to treat pelvic floor damage, the implants have caused side effects like chronic and debilitating pain and incontinence, and left many of the women unable to have sex. Lawyers for the applicants said they believed 8,000 women were affected by the implants. The amount of compensation, expected to be in the multi-millions, will be determined by the court in February.
ISRAEL’S LEADERSHIP WOES CONTINUE
It’s drama drama drama on the political scene in Israel. PM Benjamin Netanyahu has been formally charged overnight with bribery, fraud and breach of trust in connection with three separate cases. It was flagged in February that prosecutors were looking to indict the Likud party leader over his alleged acceptance of gifts from wealthy businessmen, including from Aussie rich-lister James Packer. He’s also accused of granting political favours in exchange for positive press coverage. Netanyahu denies the accusations and says he will not resign. It comes as the country looks set to head to a third election within a year after Blue and White Alliance leader Benny Gantz came up short of forming a governing coalition. President Reuven Rivlin told parliament yesterday to find a new prime minister, or it's back to the polls.
LIZZO AND BILLIE SWEEP GRAMMY NOMS
Billie Eilish, the mistress of melancholy herself, swept the pool of Grammy nominations announced yesterday. The 17-year-old singer-songwriter has become the youngest artist to be nominated in all four of the Grammys’ most prestigious categories, including for song of the year for her hit bad guy. Minneapolis’s second most famous export (ahem, hello Prince), Lizzo topped the overall nominations with eight, while Lil’ Nas X (he of the Old Town Road fame) rounded out the trifecta with six nominations. As for the Aussies? Flume got a nod, as did local dance group, Rufus du Sol - both are nominated in the Best Dance/Electronic Album category. Of course, you know them… The full list of nominees is here.
FRIDAY LITES - THREE THINGS WE LIKED THIS WEEK
Want to nail a perfect British royal accent? Helena Bonham Carter, who plays Princess Margaret in the third season of The Crown, has some tips.
Got a pair of white sneakers that you’re struggling to keep clean? Here you go.
Don’t know the difference between a meatball, rissole and hamburger or meat patty? This is something we’ve thought about a lot, and here’s the answer. Which really is an excuse to point to an enduring favourite - Polpette al sugo.
SQUIZ THE DAY
G20 Foreign Ministers Meeting (on for two days) - Nagoya, Japan
Lebanon’s Independence Day
Anniversary of the assassination of US President John F Kennedy (1963)
200th anniversary of George Eliot’s birthday (she of Middlemarch fame)
Polls open for Bougainville’s independence referendum
Champion swimmer and Survivor winner Shane Gould’s birthday (1956)
Anniversary of the death of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury (1991)
160th Anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species which explained his theory of evolution by means of natural selection
2.00am (AEDT) - Tennis - David Cup final - Madrid (note: Australia is through to the quarter-finals)
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