Squiz Today / 04 April 2019
Squiz Today – Thursday, 4 April
“I looked like someone should have put me in the nearest bin.”
BUDGET BOUNCES, BUT DOESN’T QUITE STICK THE LANDING...
The Australian Stock Exchange reached a six-month high yesterday with investors buoyed by the news that billions of dollars will be delivered to low and middle-income earners via tax rebates. With Labor likely to support the personal tax measures confirmed by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg in Tuesday night’s Budget, one analyst said it’s the fact that there’s some certainty in what’s coming, no matter the outcome of the upcoming election, that’s made the market feel a bit happy.
SO IT’S TIME TO HIT THE SHOPS?
Well, we were already starting to spend a bit more according to yesterday’s official retail numbers from February. Sales rose 0.8% in the month, a much better result than the 0.1% increase from the usually strong shopping month of January. Weak retail sales have been a concern because the extent to which we're willing to put out hand in our pocket (whether that’s for clothes, food, improving our homes…) is an indicator of our general sense of economic wellbeing. And retailer Gerry Harvey told the Financial Review (paywall) he’s “feeling a little more optimistic than I did a month ago.” He couldn’t hide his glee at the prospect of cash registers going ‘ka-ching’ as a result of the government’s tax splash. "It will be right across from everything to shoes, handbags, televisions and fridges, you name it.”
AND WHAT WENT DOWN IN C-TOWN?
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg didn’t quite stick the landing of the Budget as well as he might have liked. Just 12 hours after delivering his speech, Frydenberg made a Budget addition and said the Energy Assistance Payment (which will give $75 to single pensioners and $125 for couples to help with their electricity bills) would be extended to those on unemployment benefits. Since announcing the initiative on Sunday, PM Scott Morrison and Co had been widely criticised for the omission. Labor said the backflip proved the budget was unravelling. Labor’s Bill Shorten will outline Labor’s alternative Budget tonight.
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ANNING LAUNCHES PARTY DESPITE CENSURE
Something our politicians could agree on yesterday was that the comments of independent senator Fraser Anning following the Christchurch terror attacks were beyond the pale. Labor leader in the Senate Penny Wong said it was a “shameful and pathetic attempt by a bloke who has never been elected to get attention by exploiting diversity as a fault line for political advantage." The Coalition, Greens and many crossbenchers agreed, and he was formally censured. Not there to vote was One Nation leader Pauline Hanson. She continues her run of health issues by going into hospital for an emergency appendectomy. Not that any of this has put Anning off - he’s registered his own party snazzily named Fraser Anning's Conservative National Party.
BRUNEI IN BOYCOTT BACKLASH
Harsh new laws came into force in Brunei yesterday that would see thieves have limbs amputated, and gay sex and adultery punishable by stoning to death. The tiny nation to the east of Malaysia has had a dual legal system with both Sharia and Common Law since 2014. "I want to see Islamic teachings in this country grow stronger," said ruler Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah. He heads up the Brunei Investment Agency, which owns some of the world's top hotels including the Dorchester in London and the Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles - joints celebrities like George Clooney and Ellen Degeneres are appealing to the world not to support in light of the Sultan’s "medieval punishments”.
TRUMP’S MAR-A-LAGO TARGETED
There have long been concerns about US President Trump’s regular decamping from the White House to his gilded Mar-a-Lago golf resort in Florida. It’s expensive. It’s a distraction from the job of being the leader of the free world. And there are concerns its not secure – as was demonstrated at the weekend. A Chinese woman who made her way through the security checkpoint and gained access to the reception area was detained when her story didn’t stack up. During questioning, she was found to have four mobile phones, a laptop, and a hard drive and thumb drive containing "malicious malware," according to the criminal complaint. Because Mar-a-Lago hosts guests and events while the Trumps are in residence, reports say security agencies have long been worried about their ability to keep the first family safe.
Keeping you up-to-date on some recent yarns.
OH VERONICA… - The cost of Cyclone Veronica to farmers in the Pilbara region of Western Australia is vast. It’s estimated that the bill is in the millions after thousands of cattle died along with significant damage to roads and infrastructure. Locals said they’re going to need support to get through it.
ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES PILOTS FOLLOWED PROCEDURE - When the plane’s nose kept going down, the pilots followed the correct procedures to turn off the automated flight-control system. But they couldn't get control of the aircraft again, so they turned it back on and shortly afterwards the plane crashed killing all 157 on board. The unsourced report adds to the pressure on Boeing, the manufacturer of the 737 Max 8 plane.
TRUDEAU TURFS WHISTLEBLOWERS - Canadian PM Justin Trudeau has expelled former Attorney-General Jody Wilson-Raybould and former minister Jane Philpott from his Liberal party. It was Wilson-Raybould who said she was pressured by Trudeau and his senior backers to end a legal case against construction firm, SNC-Lavalin. Some commentators say it’s a bold (aka crackers) move by the PM.
CRUSADERS EYE NAME CHANGE
It’s something that’s been on the cards since the terror attacks in Christchurch. The city’s Super Rugby team - the Canterbury Crusaders - will ditch the ‘knights’ on horseback as mascots. Club boss Colin Mansbridge had been hoping to deal with it at a less emotional time. But he yesterday said he had to respond to the fact that many saw the club's monkier as a reference to the religious crusades pitting Christians against Muslims. The club will consider a name change after this season but “you will see a little bit less of swords, horses and crosses and things like that,” Mansbridge said.
NATALIE JOYCE FLEXES SOME POST-BREAK-UP MUSCLE
Nothing says "I'm over you" better than a post-break-up transformation. We're not talking about a 'you've done something different with your hair' kinda change - we're talking taking up bodybuilding. Which is what Natalie Joyce, estranged wife of former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce, has done. Joyce took to the stage at the weekend to show off the results of several months hard yakka in the gym. “In June last year, I looked in the mirror and thought ‘I'm not going to let someone else's appalling behaviour derail me'. So I joined the local gym, and I've never looked back," she told the Daily Telegraph. Joyce said her four daughters “thought I had gone mad” for pursuing her long-held dream of taking part in a bodybuilding comp. Kids eh...
SQUIZ THE DAY
7.30pm (AEDT) - Labor leader Bill Shorten to deliver the Budget Reply address to the parliament - Canberra
ABS Data Release - Jobs in Australia, 2011-12 to 2015-16
Anniversary of Heath Ledger's birthday (1979)
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