Squiz Today / 30 January 2020
Squiz Today – Thursday, 30 January
“Even the World No.1 needs accreditation.”
CLEARING OUT TO CHRISTMAS ISLAND
That’s the Morrison Government's plan for "isolated and vulnerable Australians" trapped in China’s Hubei province. With the city of Wuhan and surrounding cities in lockdown, about 600 Aussies are stuck as Chinese authorities try to limit the spread of the deadly coronavirus. The decision to go ahead with efforts to repatriate Aussies at risk and put them into quarantine using facilities at the detention centre on Christmas Island came after yesterday's meeting of the National Security Committee of Cabinet. The timeframe for this to happen is not clear with Foreign Marise Payne yesterday saying approval for the evacuation plan is in China’s hands.
HOW WOULD IT WORK?
Children and older people in the virus-hit city of Wuhan would be prioritised for evacuation. And PM Scott Morrison said it would be “done on a last-in, first-out basis” with many Aussies in the lockdown zone just there to visit. They do not have “an established support infrastructure where they're living”, so Morrison says “we're particularly focused on the more vulnerable components of that population." A Qantas plane would be chartered, with evacuees expected to pitch in to cover some of the cost. And then it would be off to the Christmas Island detention centre (which reopened last year at the cost of $185 million) for two weeks of isolation. Health Minister Greg Hunt said Christmas Island can quickly accommodate people needing to go into quarantine, and evacuees could only accept the repatriation offer on the condition they go there. Meanwhile, the local mayor doesn’t love the idea…
WHAT’S THE UPDATE ON THE CORONAVIRUS SITUATION?
The number of deaths from the coronavirus has risen to 133. Officials yesterday confirmed there are 5,974 confirmed cases and 9,239 suspected cases. China’s President Xi Jinping said the situation is “grim and complex” with more confirmed cases of coronavirus in China than during the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic of 2002-03. In other developments: the diagnosis of a Victorian and Queenslander takes the number of confirmed cases in Oz to seven; the Chinese women’s soccer team is in quarantine in Brisbane; and in a boost to developing a better test and potentially a vaccine for coronavirus, Aussie scientists became the first outside China to grow the virus in their lab.
SQUIZ THE REST
BACK TO THE SPORTS GRANTS ACTION
A prime ministerial address to the National Press Club is usually an occasion to get on the front foot. But for Scott Morrison yesterday, it was about dealing with the challenges he faces. Amongst it all was his plan to give the Commonwealth powers to deploy our Defence Forces during emergencies, like this summer’s bushfires. And he put a bit more meat on the bones of what ‘resilience and adaptation’ to climate change means. During the media’s Q&A session, there were no surprises that Nationals deputy leader Bridget McKenzie’s sports grants saga was a focus. While Morrison did his best ‘nothing to see here’ routine, there will continue to be questions about why 73% of projects given funding from the $100 million program were not recommended by the officials at Sport Australia. Which seems like an appropriate time to note that international researchers say dissatisfaction with democracy is at its highest level in 25 years...
DETAILS EMERGE ON BRYANT CHOPPER CRASH
The helicopter carrying American basketball royalty, Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others had a terrifyingly fast descent into a Californian hillside on Sunday. While the cause of the crash is TBD, the National Transportation Safety Board yesterday said the chopper dropped more than 2,000 feet (600m) in a minute and was in one piece when it hit the ground. It missed clearing a mountain by 20 to 30 feet, the NTSB said, adding it will be difficult to know what happened without black box data. Questions are being asked about why the flight was allowed in the foggy conditions. Investigators have recovered the victims’ remains. And famed author Paulo Coelho’s decision to delete the children's book he was working on with the former LA Laker was met with gasps. One day he might write about the things he learned from Bryant “and how much of a larger-than-life person he was,” he said.
PEACE PLAN, BUT NOT FOR NETANYAHU
US President Donald Trump and Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu have unveiled a long-awaited plan for peace in the Middle East. Long story short, the plan keeps Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and proposes an independent Palestinian state. Israel would have sovereignty over the illegally occupied West Bank settlements but would halt new construction for four years. Not so thrilled is Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and protests broke out in Gaza and the West Bank. It was a busy day for Netanyahu… He was formally indicted on corruption charges yesterday after he withdrew his request for parliamentary immunity from prosecution. Israel's longest-serving PM was indicted in November on bribery, fraud and breach of trust charges. He denies any wrongdoing. Which is another way of saying that it's going to be a chaotic lead up to the March election - Israel's third in a year.
CIGS, FUEL AND FRUIT DRIVE PRICE RISES
A tax hike on smokes, the drought and simmering Middle East tensions marked the last bit of 2019, but our inflation rate remains lower than expected. According to the latest data, consumer prices rose overall by 0.6% in the December 2019 quarter driven by price increases for tobacco (+8.4%), domestic travel (+7.3%), fuel (+4.4%) and fruit (+6.8%). Falls in international travel (-2.9%) and women's clothing (-2.5%) balanced out the overall inflation rate. That means it’s increasingly unlikely the Reserve Bank will pursue another interest rate cut next month, analysts say. And if you need another reason to quit the darts, here’s a good visual cue…
WEBJET REJECTS GOOGLE DAMAGE
Like many of us, Webjet struggled with the return to work after the long weekend. Australia’s largest travel booker’s share price tumbled 15% on Tuesday after fancy bank Morgan Stanley downgraded its view of the business over concerns that travel will be badly impacted by the coronavirus. And the bank’s analysts reckon Google’s new flight-booking feature will eat Webjet’s lunch. Webjet yesterday gave the corporate comms version of ‘phooey’. In recent times, US giants TripAdvisor and Expedia have both highlighted that search engine algorithms were stealing their sales.
CHECK YOUR WATCH
We've said it before, and we'll say it again - Antiques Roadshow is one of the best things on TV with all its thrills and spills. Like one lucky dude collapsing after finding out a watch he bought in 1974 for US$345.97 is worth up to A$1 million...
SQUIZ THE DAY
2.00pm (AEDT) - Australian Open Tennis - Ash Barty v Sofia Kenin
ABS Data Release - International Trade Price Indexes, December
Start of Cadel Evans’ Great Ocean Road Race (on until 2 February) - Geelong, Victoria
NASA retires its Spitzer Space Telescope and releases images
African Union leaders to meet discuss a continental free trade deal - Ethiopia
Birthdays for Christian Bale (1974) and Olivia Colman (1974)
Anniversary of the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi (1948)
Anniversary of the birth of the Ashes legend after the defeated English team is presented with the ashes of a bail (1883)
Anniversary of The Beatles performing their last live gig on a London rooftop (1969)
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