Squiz Today / 23 January 2020
Squiz Today – Thursday, 23 January
“Physically I am A-OK, but I'm still processing things mentally."
Said Brisbane Lions AFLW player Jessica Wuetschner yesterday after lightning struck a pole she was holding on Sunday. As the league’s second top goalkicker, here’s hoping it’s her fans who are thunderstruck from now on…
KAUFLAND SAYS AUF WIEDERSEHEN
It is over before it even began… Billing itself as a “one-stop-shop destination retailer”, Kaufland yesterday announced it would not open in Australia, despite investing more than $300 million in store sites and distribution centres, and with more capital on the way. "This was not an easy decision for us. We always felt welcome in Australia. We would like to thank our employees and we apologise for the disruption this decision will cause,” said Frank Schumann, acting chief executive of Kaufland International. With plans to open its first stores next year, its 200 staff were said to be in a state of shock. Reports that Aldi, Coles and Woolies responded with a “yippee” could not be confirmed…
WHO AND WHAT IS KAUFLAND?
It describes itself as a “full-service supermarket” that carries products from budget to premium price categories. It also caters for “everyday needs”, so its stores carry a mix of general merchandise, electronic and fashion goods. As a German company (if you couldn’t guess…), it’s big in Europe where it has 1,300 stores with 132,000 employees across eight countries. Here, it was expected to open about 20 stores that were to be twice the size of your average Aussie supermarket. Analysts thought it had the potential to disrupt our retail scene, but it has decided to focus on Europe, Schumann said.
WHY IS RETAIL SO HARD?
Well, let’s be honest, we’ve been far from retail ragers of late... That was reinforced yesterday when the latest measure of consumer sentiment showed a 1.8% fall in January, which takes it to a 6.2% fall over the last year. Our lacklustre shopping form could have weighed on Kaufland executives' minds. On top of that, Australia is a bloody long way from Neckarsulm, Germany. And when you have no other retail experience in our region, and it might have seemed like an unnecessary hill to climb. Woolies (which yesterday held onto the title of Australia’s most valuable brand) and Coles saw share price bumps on the news.
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CORONAVIRUS TOLL ON THE RISE
The death toll of the coronavirus outbreak has risen to 17 people, and there are 540 confirmed cases, health officials say. All reported deaths come from China's Hubei province, where the pneumonia-like virus first appeared in the city of Wuhan. China's advice is not to travel there. While announcing the launch of a nationwide screening effort to contain the spread of the virus as the Lunar New Year holiday approaches, officials warned "it could mutate and spread further". The origin of the virus is thought to be the Wuhan fish market, which "conducted illegal transactions of wild animals," officials say. Some good news: the Brisbane man who was tested for the virus got the all-clear yesterday.
CALLS GROW FOR MINISTER TO BE RED-CARDED
And in response, PM Scott Morrison has sent it for VAR review. An official audit of Senator Bridget McKenzie’s handling of $100 million of sports grants said she took a politicised approach. So the former federal Sports Minister/current Agriculture minister’s actions will be looked into by the head of the PM’s department. Opposition leader Anthony Albanese is amongst those calling for McKenzie to resign following yesterday’s revelations she failed to disclose she was a member of a club which received a $36,000 grant under the contentious program. It sure was Morrison's day - he's also copped it from former PM Malcolm Turnbull who added to the chorus that he’s mishandled events this summer.
PURSUING BELLE GIBSON
The Melbourne home of 28yo conwoman Belle Gibson has been raided and items seized after a warrant was issued yesterday morning to recoup her assets over an unpaid fine. In 2017, the Federal Court fined Gibson $410,000 for breaching consumer laws by building her wellness empire on false claims she had cured herself of brain cancer. The fine has since risen to more than $500,000 after Gibson refused to pay, claiming she wasn’t able to despite personal bank statements revealing spending on holidays, clothes and cosmetics. "Consumer Affairs Victoria is committed to recovering the debt Ms Gibson owes the Victorian public," a spokesperson said.
AMAZON BOSS HACKED BY SAUDI CROWN PRINCE
The phone of Amazon billionaire and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos may have been targeted by Saudi hackers five months before the murder of Post writer Jamal Khashoggi. Long story short, a forensic look at Bezos’ phone found it was hacked, probably after receiving a WhatsApp message from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman which investigators say contained malware that infected the phone. Large amounts of data were taken in a matter of hours, including intimate details (ahem…) about Bezos’ private life. The theory raises renewed questions about Khashoggi's grizzly murder, and the United Nations wants to know more. Saudi Arabia has dismissed the allegations as “absurd”.
And while we have you… Also accused of doing dodgy deeds is Russia. As the world’s elite feast on broccoli mousse at the World Economic Forum, it’s been revealed police arrested two suspected Russian intelligence agents in Davos in August last year. They were accused of posing as plumbers to install surveillance equipment to monitor private discussions at this week’s meetings. Russia says people are trying to "whip out a scandal out of nothing".
VALE TERRY JONES
The Monty Python co-founder died on Tuesday after contracting a rare form of dementia four years ago. He was 77yo. His co-stars gushed about him with Michael Palin describing him as "one of the funniest writer-performers of his generation." Jones directed their film The Holy Grail with Terry Gilliam, and was the sole director of Life of Brian and The Meaning of Life. His best line? "He's not the Messiah. He's a very naughty boy!" Fellow Python John Cleese's assessment: "Two down, four to go."
CHANGING THE COUNTRY MUSIC RECORD
The popular CMT (Country Music Television) channel has announced it will immediately start showcasing an equal number of male and female artists, improving their previous ratio of 40/60 in favour of the blokes. The move will see country music leading the way. Recent trend reports found the music industry is still very much male dominated, particularly in hip-hop and R&B. Fun fact: despite the rise of music streaming services, video still accounts for the majority of on-demand music streams.
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8.00am (AEDT) - Thomas Markle’s ‘warts and all’ interview with Channel 5 to be aired in the UK
ABS Data Release - Labour Force, December
The Sundance Film Festival begins (on until 2 Feb) - Utah
Anniversary of the deaths of artists Edvard Munch (1944) and Salvador Dali (1989)
First anniversary of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido declaring himself acting President amid widespread violent protests against President Nicolas Maduro's regime (2019)
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