Squiz Today / 21 May 2020
Squiz Today – Thursday, 21 May
“Shut it down.”
Tweeted Daily Telegraph reporter James O’Doherty of NSW Health’s advisory on a case of a rare disease caused by a possum scratch. So, you know, if you see a possum, be like James…
LESSONS LEARNED AS RETAIL TAKES A DIVE
Another day, another record we didn’t need to break… New figures from the Bureau of Statistics show a 17.9% fall in retail sales in April - the biggest decline we’ve ever seen. Some of that is a levelling out of the surge in supermarket sales in the previous month as Aussies stocked their pantries fearing a severe lockdown. That panic buying accounted for a lot of the 8.5% increase in March, which was the biggest rise on record. But April’s fall is more than twice the rise we saw in March giving experts cause for concern. Retail figures are keenly watched by policymakers because the sector employs more than 1.25 million people and accounts for billions of dollars of economic activity.
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
Retail sales will pick up as cafes, restaurants and shops open as the states and territories continue to lift restrictions. And there’s some hope we’re getting a touch of our mojo back with the major banks reporting we’re starting to use our cards again. As health officials continue to report good news about the low rate of new COVID-19 cases, there will be pressure for state borders to be opened to encourage tourism. And sidelined businesses (like entertainment, gyms, beauticians etc) will also be increasingly keen to get back in the game. Ultimately they are decisions for state and territory leaders to make, and a guide on where things are up to is here.
AND FURTHER AFIELD?
When it comes to selling our stuff, problems with our biggest customer persist… Rumours of a ‘hit list’ of agricultural products our farmers sell to the Chinese and suggestions their citizens will be discouraged from buying Aussie products concerned farming groups yesterday. It was another tough day in the office for our diplomats with Chinese state media describing Australia as a “giant kangaroo that acts as the dog of the US”. Maybe the translation works better in Mandarin... Either way, it doesn’t look like we’re forgiven for pushing for the inquiry into the beginnings of the coronavirus crisis… Meanwhile, Industry Minister Karen Andrews yesterday said the crisis has put a spotlight on the need for Australia to have a strong local manufacturing industry and not to put all our eggs in one basket.
SQUIZ THE REST
CYCLONE AMPHAN HITS WITH DEVASTATING FORCE
Making landfall and impacting eastern India and Bangladesh, super Cyclone Amphan has hit communities with heavy winds and rain overnight. Nearly three million people have been evacuated from their homes in the last couple of days, most of them in Bangladesh, including Rohingya refugees who fled Myanmar in 2017 and have been living in camps outside the town of Cox's Bazar. Winds of 185km/hr hit the Indian city of Kolkata with locals saying they have never seen anything like it. Reports say at least 14 people have died, and there have been difficulties at evacuation centres as authorities attempt to maintain social distancing rules. Amphan will move further into Bangladesh today as it weakens, and authorities are on alert for flooding and storm surges.
RUSSIAN SPY ACCEPTS ‘MORAL RESPONSIBILITY’ FOR THE DOWNING OF MH17
Igor Girkin, a former colonel with Russia’s FSB state security service, has told The Times in the UK that the deaths of 298 people on board the Malaysian Airlines flight that was shot down over eastern Ukraine in 2014 are on him. To recap: all onboard flight MH17 (including 38 Aussies) were killed when it was shot down by a missile fired from territory held by pro-Russian rebels. Three Russians and one Ukrainian have been charged in absentia by international investigators, and a trial kicked off in the Hague in March. Girkin is one of the charged Russians, and says he was the commander of the rebels at the time, but insists the fighters under his command that day “did not bring down the plane”. Despite investigators linking the tragedy to senior Russian intelligence officials, the country continues to deny any connection to it.
FAMILY VIOLENCE INQUIRY SHUT DOWN EARLY
Campaigners against domestic violence have reacted with anger to what they say is the early closing down of an inquiry into family violence that was prompted by the murder of Hannah Clarke and her three children in Brisbane earlier this year. Law Council of Australia president Pauline Wright said she was “appalled” by the decision, and that it shows “a sad failure of regard for the lives of those Australians lost to domestic violence.” The inquiry ended three months early without calling witnesses or taking submissions from the public. Chair of the committee, Labor Senator Kim Carr, yesterday backed the decision with the report saying “another lengthy, broad-ranging” look at the issue “would be of limited value.”
ROE V WADE PLOT TWIST
Fun fact: The woman at the centre of the landmark 1973 Roe v Wade US Supreme Court ruling that legalised abortion in America later became an anti-abortion campaigner. And yesterday it was revealed that her change of heart was “all an act”. Norma McCorvey (aka ‘Jane Roe’) was 25yo when she successfully challenged Texas laws that prohibited abortion, except in cases that endangered the mother's life. Then in 1995, she shocked the world when she came out against it as an evangelical Christian. But in a video that was taken before her death in 2017, she alleges she was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by a group called Operation Rescue, now known as Operation Save America. The footage is featured in the documentary AKA Jane Roe, which will be released in the US this week.
SQUIZ THE DAY
Morrison Government to release a 'technology roadmap' discussion paper setting out Australia's energy priorities
ABS Data Release - Federal Defendants, Australia, 2018–19; Economic measurement during COVID-19: selected issues
Birthdays for Leo Sayer (1948), Mr T (1952), Noel Fielding (1973), Gotye (1980) and Kayla Itsines (1991)
• aviator Charles Lindbergh becoming the first person to fly solo non-stop across the Atlantic (1927)
• Amelia Earhart becoming the first woman to fly solo non-stop across the Atlantic (1932)
• the birthdays of Malcolm Fraser (1930) and The Notorious B.I.G. (1972)
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