Squiz Today / 01 December 2020
Squiz Today – Tuesday, 1 December
“Get well soon!”
Let’s give US President Donald Trump the benefit of the doubt because he could be genuinely wishing his successor Joe Biden all the best after the President-elect fractured his right foot while playing with his dog Major. Now try a little harder…
CHINA HITS OZ WHERE IT HURTS
The Chinese Government became a social media troll yesterday when its Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian posted a fake image to Twitter portraying an Australian soldier murdering a child. Zhao’s post read; “Shocked by murder of Afghan civilians & prisoners by Australian soldiers. We strongly condemn such acts & call for holding them accountable.” And last night, another Foreign Ministry spokeswoman doubled down saying “Afghan lives matter.” To call the image (which can be seen here - it’s awful so be warned...) provocative would be the understatement of the year as experts surmised that China’s hostility towards Australia is now deeply-rooted.
WHAT IS CHINA’S POINT?
There seems to be a couple of things at play here… 1) China's using the recently released Brereton report into claims Australian soldiers killed Afghan civilians, possibly including children, to highlight a long-held grievance about the West. On the weekend, Zhao said it "fully exposed the hypocrisy of the human rights and freedom these Western countries are always chanting". Which, of course, ignores accusations China’s committing human rights violations - including ethnic cleansing and genocide against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang province - amongst others... And 2) China’s further turning of the screws on Australia after a series of issues. And PM Scott Morrison is finding it hard to walk the line between “not trading away our values” and keeping China as a valued trading partner.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
Prime Minister Scott Morrison called on China to apologise and delete the tweet (which hasn’t happened). And he asked Twitter to remove the post (which also hasn’t been done). Labor leader Anthony Albanese backed him in saying "Australia's condemnation of this image is above politics … and we all stand as a nation in condemning it." But pundits are divided about the response. Herve Lemahieu from the Lowy Institute said we "shouldn't deploy our top asset - head of government - to respond to a propaganda post from some junior level official in the Chinese Foreign Ministry.” Meanwhile, Michael Shoebridge from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute said the episode “shows again why Chinese soft power is collapsing internationally". Meanwhile, Australian exporters’ nerves will continue to fray as trade sanctions bite and questions linger about what China’s endgame is.
How helpful... We've done a Squiz Shortcut on the background to the Oz-China relationship.
SQUIZ THE REST
SPEAKING OF THE FALLOUT FROM THE BRERETON REPORT…
The stripping of meritorious service awards from all 3,000 special forces troops who served in Afghanistan may not go ahead after PM Morrison and Defence Minister Linda Reynolds intervened. Defence Chief Angus Campbell had pledged to remove the awards to mark troops’ “collective responsibility” for the alleged war crimes - a recommendation of the report. But after a strong response from the veteran community, General Campbell last night said the move was on ice. “No decisions have yet been made with regard to the appropriate options and approaches to implement the more than 140 recommendations, as the complexity and sensitivity of the issues outlined in the report will take extensive and considered deliberation,” he said.
CHARGES LAID OVER WHITE ISLAND TRAGEDY
As an investigation into last year’s White Island volcanic eruption wraps up, 13 parties will be charged over the disaster that killed 22 people. Ten companies face fines of up to NZ$1.5 million under New Zealand’s Health and Safety at Work Act. And 3 individuals face fines of up to NZ$300,000 for failing to ensure their companies met safety standards. In the weeks leading up to the disaster, the volcano had been showing signs an eruption was imminent and investigators say there were significant failings that saw 47 people on the island when it blew. Fourteen Australians died, and 10 were injured in the tragedy. The first anniversary is next week, and some family members have talked about how hard it’s been.
NEW INVESTIGATION TO PROBE LAWYER X EVIDENCE
Calling Melbourne gangland barrister/police informant Nicola Gobbo’s conduct “inexcusable” and pointing to "critical failures” within Victoria’s police force, Royal Commissioner Margaret McMurdo has made 111 recommendations in the final report on the management of police informants in Victoria. One is the appointment of a special investigator to decide whether criminal charges should be brought against Gobbo or any members of the police. The Royal Commission was launched in 2018 following revelations that Gobbo - aka Lawyer X - had served as an informant between 1995 and 2009 while also defending many of Melbourne's underworld figures. There are 1,011 convictions that may have been affected by the arrangement. Two jailed gangland figures have already had their convictions overturned in light of the scandal. Premier Daniel Andrews responded saying his government will implement each recommendation.
CORRECTING SOME QUARANTINE TROUBLES
Premier Andrews was busy yesterday… He also announced arrangements for Victoria's hotel quarantine program version 2.0. A new agency will be in charge when it kicks into gear with international flights into Melbourne resuming on 7 December. Private security guards need not apply… Victoria Police will do the heavy lifting with support from the Defence Force. Long story short: Andrews says the lessons from the state’s second wave - which started with a breach of hotel quarantine - have been learned. Meanwhile, South Australia’s health officials had some more mopping up to do… They now say a man they claimed breached quarantine rules before heading to the shops was not under a quarantine order. But he did test positive to COVID, and the appeal to South Aussies who went where he went to get tested stands. The state’s Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier apologised to the man last night. And it’s a big day for residents of Victoria and Greater Sydney - they can now cross the Queensland border. Just take your sunscreen and a fan - it’s pretty hot up there…
AND THE AACTA AWARD GOES TO…
…coming-of-age dramedy Babyteeth, which claimed 9 gongs at yesterday’s Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards. The debut feature film of director Shannon Murphy, it's about a schoolgirl diagnosed with terminal cancer who starts an unlikely romance with a 23yo drug dealer. It also scooped up best film, direction, screenplay, casting and original score and all the acting awards for stars Eliza Scanlen, Toby Wallace, Ben Mendelsohn and Essie Davis. And when it comes to the TV side of the ledger, ABC's Stateless, inspired by the story of German-Australian woman Cornelia Rau, took out 13 awards. Tim Minchin’s Upright won best comedy series. The full list of this year’s award winners is here.
ALSO BEING TROLLED BY CHINA
...is South Korea. Over kimchi…
SQUIZ THE DAY
From 1.00am (AEST) - Queensland border is open to all residents of New South Wales and Victoria
12.30pm (AEDT) - 2020 Australian of the Year Dr James Muecke addresses the National Press Club - Canberra
ABS Data Release - Balance of Payments and International Investment Position, September; Building Approvals, October
Birthdays for American entertainers Bette Midler (1945), Janelle Monáe (1985) and Zoe Kravitz (1988)
• the Ford Motor Company establishing the world's first moving assembly line (1913)
• the invention of modern-day Bingo by American toymaker Edwin S Lowe (1929)
• Hugh Hefner publishing the first edition of Playboy magazine featuring Marilyn Monroe as the centrefold (1953)
• the arrest of Rosa Parks for refusing to move to the back of a bus in Montgomery, Alabama (1955)
• the signing of the Antarctic Treaty (1959)
• Papua New Guinea gaining self-governance from Australia (1973)
• the earliest traceable patient, a 55yo man, developing symptoms of COVID-19 in Wuhan, China (2019)
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