Squiz Today / 25 May 2020
Squiz Today – Monday, 25 May
“People just don't naturally love vegetables."
Says Lucinda Hancock, chair of a newly formed group tasked with the challenge of getting Aussies to eat their vegetables. Suggestion: a national dob-in line for those who leave the table/have dessert before they’ve cleared their plate…
WHEN IT RAINS, IT POURS ISSUES WITH CHINA
Our prickly relationship with China got even more complicated with PM Scott Morrison yesterday joining other Western leaders to express concern over its proposed clampdown on Hongkongers' freedoms. It's a new bump in a road that's become more corrugated than a dirt track.
WHAT’S THE STORY WITH HONG KONG?
China has announced plans to impose a new security law on the territory that would ban "secession, sedition and subversion". It will be voted on by its National People’s Congress this week, and is a "flagrant breach" of the agreement that returned Hong Kong to Chinese rule in 1997, a big group of concerned global politicians says. Protesters agree, and hundreds clashed with authorities in Hong Kong over the weekend, just like they have in the past. Oz reacted by joining Canada and the United Kingdom to issue a joint statement criticising China's proposal. Asked whether that was fuel on the flames of our current disagreements with the economic powerhouse, PM Morrison said it's just restating what we've always said about Hong Kong's right to autonomy.
AND THE OTHER BUMPS?
Just a couple of things... There are concerns about Victoria’s participation in the Chinese Government’s thumper of an infrastructure program called the Belt and Road initiative… US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo yesterday said it could lead to problems with our shared intelligence arrangement. But Premier Daniel Andrews says a strong relationship with China is a good thing for jobs and investment in the state. Our trade woes are far from over with China announcing new regulations that are adding anxiety to exporters already worried by new tariffs on barley and a freeze on some of our beef processors. And our slighting of Chinese telco Huawei might also come back into focus as the UK Government looks to reverse its decision to allow it to take part in its rollout of the 5G network. That all comes after China wasn’t thrilled about our calls for an inquiry into the coronavirus. So spare a thought for those on the China desk at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade…
SQUIZ THE REST
$60 BILLION SURPRISE
It's an enormous crack to slip through, but the Morrison Government's JobKeeper program is about half the size it was estimated to be. That means Aussie taxpayers are $60 billion less in debt than anticipated after the Treasury ‘fessed up to an ‘administrative error’ on Friday. Set up at the start of the coronavirus crisis to keep workers connected to their employers in the hope they can spring back into action when health restrictions are eased, the application form confused employers, Treasury said. New figures show the payment will go to 3.5 million people (not more than 6 million) and will cost $70 billion over six months (not $130 billion). Morrison yesterday said it was like the cost of building a house coming in cheaper than expected, so yay. Labor’s Penny Wong said it was a "$60 billion black hole in the economic credibility” of the government. Now, what to do with all that money that isn’t ours?
MEANWHILE, IN OTHER CORONAVIRUS NEWS...
• There are 33 people in hospitals around Australia with COVID-19, and there are currently 494 active cases - low numbers that were praised by officials. With fewer than 20 new cases reported over the weekend, there’s a pep in the step of authorities looking to get the car crash that has been 2020 back on the road. Things will get moving a bit more this week around the country.
• But it’s not such good news for the US - the nation hardest hit by the coronavirus. Its death toll will soon pass 100,000 - a tragedy marked by the New York Times with this stunning front page
• And in the UK, PM Boris Johnson says he will not sack his chief strategist Dominic Cummings who is accused of breaching lockdown restrictions. Cummings and his wife contracted the virus, and reports say they drove more than 400km to reach family members to ensure their child was looked after. Johnson says he acted “responsibly, and legally and with integrity”, but Labour leader Keir Starmer says it’s “an insult to sacrifices made by the British people”.
PNG’S EX-PM ARRESTED ON CORRUPTION CHARGES
Flying back into Papua New Guinea’s capital of Port Moresby from Brissie on Saturday, former PM Peter O’Neill was greeted by authorities at the airport and hit with charges of misappropriation, official corruption and abuse of office. Specifically, he’s accused of purchasing two generators from Israel for A$21.8 million outside of the government's procurement process while he was he country's leader. O'Neill says the investigation is politically motivated, and questions why current PM James Marape, who was finance minister at the time, isn't also tied up in the scandal. O’Neill stepped down last year when minister after minister quit the government with complaints about his go-it-alone leadership style.
And while we have you... Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial started yesterday. He is the nation’s first leader to face trial while in office. And it won’t be over quickly - the next hearing is in mid-July.
TARGET MISSES THE MARK
If you live in or come from a regional area, you’ll know how pivotal Target (correctly pronounced tar-jay) has been to the country retail scene. And so Wesfarmers’ announcement that it will close 75 stores, including 50 Target Country stores, was met with disappointment, including by federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud who was spewin’... He said it showed the company “don't give a rat's about us” as he called for a boycott of the brand - a reaction some noted would be disastrous for the thousands of Target employees managing to hold onto their jobs. Another 92 stores are set to be converted into Kmarts, meaning about half of all Target's stores will be affected by restructuring. Not super cheap, and not super high quality, Target has languished in the middle for some years.
WILD WEATHER DECIDEDLY WINTERY
Hold onto your hats and get your gumboots out, Western Oz… Ex-Tropical Cyclone Mangga has landed in the northwest around Geraldton and has made its way south to Perth. Heavy rain, high winds, and high tides will affect more than 1,000km of coastline and further inland, the Bureau of Meteorology said yesterday. And it’s not run of the mill weather - it’s one of the biggest storms to hit the west in some years. Meanwhile, Queenslanders shivered through a record-breaking cold snap on Saturday. And some crazy-brave souls took on some big waves around Sydney and up and down the coast with a complex low (which is what we call Monday mornings…) stirring up the surf.
APROPOS OF NOTHING
One kid smashing it out of the park at 1yo is Kobe - a ‘chef’ with 1.4 million Insta followers…
And an alligator with quite the backstory has died at 84yo. Named Saturn, he survived WWII in Berlin and rumours he was owned by Hitler to be gifted by the British to Russia. And now he’ll be stuffed and put in a museum. The thanks you get…
SQUIZ THE DAY
AFL to release its revised 2020 game schedule
World Thyroid Day
• the Ship 'Le Grand St Antoine' reaching Marseille, bringing Europe's last major plague outbreak (1720)
• Oscar Wilde being sentenced to 2 years imprisonment for "gross indecency" (1895)
• athlete Jesse Owens equalling or breaking 4 world records in 45 minutes (1935)
• the release of the original Star Wars movie, Episode IV – A New Hope (1977) and Return of the Jedi (1983)
• the airing of the last episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show, ending her 25-year run (2011)
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