Squiz Today / 18 January 2018
Squiz Today – Thursday, 18 January
The smallest star of the Southern Cross has been renamed. Formerly called Epsilon Crucis, it will now be known by the name given to it by the Wardaman people of the Northern Territory thousands of years ago. The move also recasts those with a Southern Cross tat as having cultural sensibilities few would give them credit for.
MR TURNBULL GOES TO TOKYO
PM Malcolm Turnbull is in Japan today for an 18-hour trip to head up Australia’s annual talks with the regional power. The agenda is a classic - trade and regional security. Japan is Australia's second-largest export market, and our government is always keen to unlock more opportunities. But Japan’s proximity to North Korea means security is top of mind. And then there’s the rise of China to discuss…
WILL ANYTHING ACTUALLY COME OUT OF IT?
Don’t be like that - these trips aren’t all sake and skittles. The leaders are close to inking a new visiting forces agreement which would, as PM Turnbull put it, enhance our defence “interoperability” (say that five times quickly…). What that means is Japanese forces could take part in military exercises with Oz and the US out of Darwin. That would significantly deepen our security ties and could ultimately lead to a formal military alliance. Professor Hugh White said the context is a more assertive China. "Governments might not be willing to say that out loud, but that's what this is really about."
AND WHAT’S THERE TO SAY ON NORTH KOREA?
North Korea fired two ballistic missiles over Japan last year, so they’re on edge. And they were particularly edgy this week after their own false alarm… Turnbull said North Korea is on today’s agenda. Japan will no doubt be unmoved by news North and South Korea will march together in the coming Winter Olympics under the ‘unified Korea’ flag warning the world of North Korea’s charm offensive. “I believe that North Korea wants to buy some time to continue their nuclear missile program," said Japan’s Foreign Minister Taro Kono. In fact, there’s a precedent - the 1988 Seoul Olympics (and the New York Times podcast 'The Daily' from Tuesday is excellent on that point).
WOOLIES SUPPORT FOR QUEENSLAND PINEAPPLE FARMERS
If you're a keen reader of The Squiz (and of course you are) you'll know there's currently a pineapple glut in Queensland. Sadly, farmers have been forced to leave tonnes of the fruit on the ground to rot.
So Woolworths have stepped up and bought an additional 22.5 tonnes from farmers in Mareeba to sell in 40 stores around Cairns, Townsville and Mackay this week.
“We’re doing this to take 22,500kg of fruit out of landfill. I wanted to do the right thing rather than let it go to waste,” Woolworths Townsville manager Richard Matthews said. Pineapple pie/cake/smoothie/pizza/muffin anyone?
SQUIZ THE REST
GOING UP – PRIVATE HEALTH PREMIUMS
So there’s good and bad news. The bad news is private health insurance premiums are set to go up twice the rate of inflation from 1 April. The good news is it’s likely to be the lowest price hike in 17 years. The government will reveal the details next month, but yesterday Health Minister Greg Hunt was nodding and winking in the direction of a 3.9% average premium increase. And while Hunt said; “We love private health insurance,” Aussies have put the relationship in the freezer. Private health fund membership fell as a percentage of the population in 2017. That’s why the government has announced a range of measures to improve transparency and affordability.
GOOD SIGNS FOR OZ ECONOMY
A couple of reports out yesterday would have made our economic managers happy. Consumer confidence is the highest it’s been since the Abbott Government were elected in 2013. Tick. And the housing market has seen a surge in mortgage lending from investors, people taking a step up the property ladder and first home buyers. Double tick. Property prices taking a recent chill pill seems to have helped. The latest job numbers are out today.
JESSICA FALKHOLT LOSES HER FIGHT FOR LIFE
Having been taken off life support last Thursday night, 29yo Jessica Falkholt died in a Sydney hospital yesterday. It was more than three weeks since her family were involved in a car crash on the NSW South Coast that claimed the lives of her parents and, three days later, her sister. The driver of the other car was also killed. Jessica will appear as the main character in Harmony, a movie to be released later this year. Tributes poured in from family, friends and former colleagues.
US WITHHOLDS PALESTINE AID
The US has held back US$65 million of a US$125 million aid payment to the UN relief agency for the Palestinians. It follows US President Donald Trump’s statement he would cut aid over the dispute that followed America’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Calling the move the “slap of the century”, President Mahmoud Abbas said earlier this week he would not accept a peace plan in which the US was involved because it was no longer a neutral broker.
TRUMP LIEUTENTANT CALLED TO GIVE EVIDENCE
Despite yesterday’s positive health report, President Trump’s Russian-sized headache shows no signs of going away. Former Trump strategist/right-wing media stirrer-in-chief Steve Bannon has received two subpoenas to give evidence in two inquiries into the Trump campaign’s alleged connections with Russia. One of those will make him the most senior member of Team Trump, albeit a former one, to be compelled by special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation to give evidence. 2018 isn’t working out so great for Bannon so far.
IT’S HARD TO FLY LIKE AN EAGLE…
…when you’re surrounded by turkeys. Londoner Ryan Williams reckoned he had a corker of an idea – wear all his clothes onto his flight home from Iceland to avoid a baggage fee. All 10 shirts and eight pairs of pants. Great plan until British Airways said “yeah, nah” and turfed him off the flight. And he was arrested for causing a disturbance. Williams took to social media to accuse the airline of being racist. The next day easyJet turned him away after hearing what happened with British Airways. He eventually got home on a third airline. Imagine sitting next to him? He’d totally be that guy who hogs the arm-rest.
SQUIZ THE DAY
ABS Data Release - Labour Force, December
Anniversary of the Granville Rail Disaster which killed 83 people (1977)
The Squiz Archive
Want to check out Squiz Today from the archive?
Get the Squiz Today newsletter
It's a quick read and doesn't take itself too seriously. Get on it.