Squiz Today / 01 August 2017
Squiz Today – Tuesday, 1 August
“I died in hell – they called it Passchendaele”
British poet and soldier Siegfried Sassoon was quoted at yesterday’s solemn ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium remembering the 100th anniversary of one of the bloodiest battles of the World War I. The Battle of Passchendaele took place in the mud of Flanders over three months in 1917 resulting in the deaths of 275,000 Allied troops (including 38,000 Australians – more than Gallipoli) and 220,000 Germans with no breakthrough achieved for either side. The ceremony was attended by British and European royalty and political leaders.
HOUSING MARKET CONTINUES TO CHILL OUT
To kick off a week awash with economic data, figures out yesterday show a fall in new home sales in June to the lowest level since October 2013. Sales are down 6.9% since May, and 11.9% lower than the same month last year. The decline is hitting both new apartment sales (down 10.7%) and detached houses (down 5.8%). The only states to record an increase in sales were Victoria (think population growth) and Western Australia (where there is a ‘price correction’ happening = falling prices). And new data shows home prices fell last week across the capitals except for Adelaide.
UMM… WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
Key takeout = investor activity in the housing market has backed off. This was further underlined by the Commonwealth Bank – Oz’s biggest lender – announcing yesterday new moves to make interest-only loans harder to get. Borrowers wanting to change their mortgage to interest-only will have to wait six months, and anyone who tries to do it within 180 days of taking out a loan will be referred for a tough credit reassessment. This is in response to the regulator requiring banks to limit interest-only lending (preferred by investors) to protect vulnerable borrowers from taking on too much debt.
SO IS IT EASIER FOR ORDINARY AUSSIES TO BUY A HOME?
Well, we don't know about you, but we've not met many ordinary Aussies. But putting that aside, we’ll know a bit more tomorrow when CoreLogic release their data about house prices for July. What we do know is the combined capital cities recorded house value growth of 9.6% over the past 12 months to June – a solid increase in anyone’s books. It’s a bit patchy – Sydney and Melbourne grew 12.2% and 13.7% respectively, and Brisbane (2.0%), Adelaide (2.4%), Hobart (6.8%) and Canberra (9.6%) were up while Perth (-1.7%) and Darwin (-7.0%) went backwards. But it seems possible that we’re about to see house price decreases which will be welcomed by prospective owner-occupiers. Other data out this week (including economic growth and retail sales) will help paint a picture about how we’re really travelling.
SQUIZ THE REST
BREAKAWAY GROUP OF LIBERALS TO MOVE ON SAME-SEX MARRIAGE
Reports say five Liberal MPs will support measures to bring on a Parliamentary vote to legalise same-sex marriage in the next month. Parliament resumes next week, and WA Liberal senator Dean Smith has said he wants to put up a bill to be voted on at some point soon - something he would need to do without the backing of his party. Liberal MPs Warren Entsch, Tim Wilson, Trent Zimmerman, Jason Wood and Trevor Evans have indicated they would ‘cross the floor’ to vote for the change - and PM Malcolm Turnbull says that's their right. Conservatives worry the move will break trust with voters given a plebiscite (or people's vote) was promised at the last election. Tuesday morning’s party meeting next week will be an interesting one…
THE MOOCH IS DONESKIS
Well, that was short and so very sweet. Anthony Scaramucci, the White House communications director who made a flashy dash out of the blocks, has been fired after just over a week in the job. Reports say new chief-of-staff John Kelly - himself just one day in the job - has removed Scaramucci in part because of the dreadful interview he gave to the New Yorker (link in yesterday's email). The White House said; "Mr Scaramucci felt it was best to give Chief of Staff John Kelly a clean slate and the ability to build his own team. We wish him all the best." That pain in your neck is whiplash.
WATER REVOLT IN SA MAKES FOR ODD BEDFELLOWS
No, it’s not a gathering of the weirdest dream-dinner-party-guestlist ever. Yesterday, SA Premier Jay Wetherill and SA senators Penny Wong (Labor), Nick Xenophon (Independent), Sarah Hanson-Young (Greens) and Cory Bernardi (Australian Conservatives) appeared together to call for a judicial inquiry into water theft allegations and the skullduggery of NSW and their non-compliance with the Murray Darling Basin Plan. It’s an important issue to SA because they’re at the end of the river – so any water unfairly/illegally taken out upstream means less for them. The Turnbull government said the inquiry they called for on the weekend would suffice.
LOCHIE SURVIVES AFTER NEARLY BEING LOST AT SEA
Lochie Brodie, a 14yo from Gladstone, is safe and well after his boat trip with family went wrong on Sunday. Lochie slipped off the front of the boat his grandfather was steering more than 12 nautical miles from Gladstone Marina - something that went unnoticed until the boat docked. Other family members were in the cabin and Lochie's grandfather thought he was with them. Lochie dogpaddled and stayed afloat (without a life-jacket) in the water, had a close encounter with a shark and was rescued by a passing boat after two hours. Amazing - and very lucky.
PETS SAVE GOVERNMENT $2 BILLION A YEAR
We’re normally suspicious of industry-funded PR launches with ‘economic data’ that is selectively quoted to support some dubious claim – but this has to do with how awesome pets are so we’re totally on board. Mars, Bondi Vet Dr Chris Brown and the Keep Australia Pet Friendly campaign say the benefits of owning a pet deliver $2 billion in public health care savings because pet owners visit the doctor 11% less than non-pet owners. We hope this isn't because their vet bills are so high... They’ve gone as far as calling for tax offsets/rebates to encourage pet ownership. We’d be happy with that – our officemate (Tucker the Frenchie) has his eye on a new bowtie for summer entertaining.
NOTABLE PEOPLE SHAKE THEIR FISTS AT THE MEDIA
The media, hey? Some transatlantic examples to consider: Princess Diana’s brother Earl Spencer and her friends are begging the UK’s Channel 4 not to air a scheduled documentary using private video footage recorded by her voice coach of her talking about her sex life with Prince Charles. Channel 4 is unmoved and plan to go ahead on Sunday. Ten bucks says it rates its pants off (pun intended). And actor/filmmaker Angelina Jolie yesterday voiced her outrage at the portrayal of an audition process with Cambodian children in the latest Vanity Fair. The magazine said there was a game of giving deprived children money and then forcing them to explain why they stole it. “False and upsetting” was Jolie’s response. Probably won’t be the last time she has to use that phrase.
VALE LES MURRAY
Les Murray - the voice of soccer in Australia - died yesterday at 71yo after a long illness. An 11yo Murray and his parents left Hungary as refugees, fleeing the Russian occupation. He started his media career as a Hungarian subtitle writer at SBS in 1980. By 1986, his passion for the world game led him to an on-air role hosting their World Cup coverage – a role he had for eight World Cups before retiring in 2014. Friend and colleague Craig Foster tweeted; “Les left family that loved him, colleagues who adored him, futbol community that revered him. Well played old friend.” Well played indeed.
SQUIZ THE DAY
Reserve Bank meets to consider interest rates
Start of the MS Readathon (on until 31 August)
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