Squiz Today / 28 March 2019
Squiz Today – Thursday, 28 March
“Anyone who thinks they can either enter or leave Australia through the region without detection should think again.”
Note to self: Trying to flee Australian drug charges by taking off on a jet ski armed with a crossbow may sound like a good idea, but might not actually work…
ONE NATION, MANY QUESTIONS
“Shocked and disgusted” was how One Nation leader Pauline Hanson described her reaction to the Al Jazeera investigation into her party’s willingness to push for softer gun laws in exchange for millions-of-dollars from the American gun lobby. But her ire was directed at the Qatari-funded broadcaster, not her chief of staff James Ashby or the party’s Queensland leader Steve Dickson…
WHERE IS THIS GOING?
Good question. There’s something for everyone in this scandal.
• PM Scott Morrison yesterday appealed to voters to turn their backs on One Nation. “Frankly, being drunk is no excuse for trading away Australia’s gun laws to foreign bidders - that’s the conduct of One Nation officials.” He is caught in a tricky dance of condemning them while still needing their supporters to put the Coalition ahead of Labor if they are to win some tight regional election races. (Tip: ABC TV’s 7.30 had a terrific Antony Green explainer last night on why this is a thing.)
• Labor leader Bill Shorten also condemned One Nation’s conduct. And he turned up the heat on Team Morrison over One Nation preferences. "When you allow the extremists in the room, when you tolerate the hate speech, when you turn a blind eye to that... selling-out of Australia, then you're not upholding the standards. You're actually part of the problem." (Meanwhile, he has some chatting to Chinese Australians to do…)
• As for Hanson, she says ASIO is looking into Al Jazeera’s investigation. Her comments came via Twitter yesterday with unconfirmed reports saying she is suffering facial paralysis from a tick bite that has left her “unrecognisable.”
WHO ELSE WAS OOO?
George Christensen, the Nationals MP from Mackay, Queensland. The Herald Sun yesterday reported (paywall) he spent 294 days in Manila between April 2014 and last June. His 28 self-funded trips away from his marginal electorate of Dawson raised a red flag for authorities and he was investigated by the Federal Police. He said many of the trips were to visit his fiancee and do charity work. Morrison noted Christensen hadn't made a trip since he has been PM. "I expect members to be in their electorates doing their job," he said.
SQUIZ THE REST
AUSTRALIA’S ROLE IN THE FIGHT AGAINST ISLAMIC STATE REVEALED
Mike Burgess, boss of the secretive Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) yesterday declassified some details of operations where our cyber spies destroyed Islamic State communications in the Middle East. They had agents catfishing terrorists online that aided their capture. And we got into their telco systems to muck up their internet connections and lock them out of their servers to annoy and slow them up.
LAWYER X HEARINGS KICK OFF
Royal Commission hearings into how Nicola Gobbo (aka Lawyer X) - a barrister to many of Victoria’s gangland drug dealers and killers - became a police informer kicked off yesterday with a walk down memory lane. Her first contact with police was in 1993 when she was a law student, and over the years she provided police with information about a boyfriend, other lawyers and clients. Throughout that period some senior police were concerned about her willingness to cooperate with authorities. Gobbo was not present yesterday, and Commissioner Margaret McMurdo expressed concern about her welfare. Hearings continue for the rest of the week.
MAY DANGLES HER DEPARTURE AS BREXIT INCENTIVE
As the UK Parliament drags its way through voting on eight options put forward by MPs as their answer to addressing the Brexit problem, PM Theresa May had a novel approach to focusing the minds of Conservative MPs on supporting her deal. She's addressed them this morning, and reports say she's committed to standing down as prime minister once Brexit has been delivered. There's no departure date given, but she wouldn't be in charge of the next phase of the process. Speculation about her leadership has been swirling in the last few weeks with some in the party describing her as “toxic”. Remember: her party colleagues can't boot her at the moment because they tried and failed to do that last year and party rules prevent another challenge for 12 months.
QUESTIONS OVER THAI ELECTION
The election last Sunday was the first since a military coup in 2014 and the adoption of a new constitution that changed the electoral process in a way that made it likely the military leadership would retain control. An excellent summary of what that's all about is here. Long story short, international observers say they aren’t happy with the way the poll was conducted. And there’s no official result in sight. Pheu Thai (the party that backs ousted former PM Thaksin Shinawatra) and five other parties yesterday said they had won a majority in the 500-seat lower house. The ruling military-backed Palang Pracharath party meanwhile has also said it should go ahead and form a government. Even our limited mathematical skills say something’s not quite right there…
LOOKING FOR SOME DYNAMIC YIELD
McDonald's has made its biggest business acquisition for two decades buying Israeli startup Dynamic Yield - a business that "provides retailers with algorithmically driven ‘decision logic' technology". What that what? Basically, it's tech that can be used to tailor electronic menu boards to suit weather conditions (like promoting sundaes on a hot day) and regional preferences (like pushing Happy Meals in areas with lots of families), amongst other factors. CEO Steve Easterbrook said the acquisition answered the question "How do you transition from mass marketing to mass personalisation?" Just nod…
ASH BARTY MAKES TOP 10
Woo-hoo! The 22yo Queenslander is just the second Aussie in the past decade to reach the top 10. Sam Stosur was the other one. It was smiles all round for Barty - she also went through to the semi-finals of the Miami Open. They call that a good day in the office...
SQUIZ THE DAY
ABS Data Releases - Australian National Accounts: Finance and Wealth, December; And (the one you’ve been waiting for) Methodological News, March
40th anniversary of America's worst commercial nuclear accident at Three Mile Island
60th anniversary of China’s dissolution of the government of Tibet
Lady Gaga’s birthday (1986)
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