Squiz Today / 19 February 2019
Squiz Today – Tuesday, 19 February
"He wasn't happy to be speaking to me at all, his tone was really unpleasant.”
Said this NatWest customer (a bank in the UK) of a teller’s hostility toward her when she told him she was vegan. The teller is said to have told her that "all vegans should be punched in the face". Even when our banks were put under the microscope of the recent royal commission, we can't recall any claims of attacking vegans...
WOOLWORTHS GOES UP UP ON MILK
When it comes to the supermarket wars, it doesn't get much bigger than $1 milk. And after an eight-year tussle for low-price supremacy, Woolworths yesterday said it would raise the price of its own brand milk varieties to $1.10 a litre.
UMM, WHY IS THIS NEWS?
Because $1 milk has been a big deal that's influenced plenty of Aussie shoppers and the fates of two of our biggest businesses over the last decade. And there's also our dairy farmers to consider (note: milk is our third most valuable agricultural commodity). In three quick points:
• Coles took the price of the family fridge staple ‘down down’ in 2011 by reducing its own brand milk varieties to $1 a litre. It came at a time when Coles was making a comeback, and was followed almost immediately by a wrong-footed Woolworths and Aldi.
• There are about 8.5 billion litres of milk produced a year, and about 10% of that goes to towards drinking milk (with the rest going to cheese, yoghurt, powdered milk and export markets). And about half of that 10% has gone into supermarket branded $1 milk.
• The supermarkets have long argued that 5% of the total dairy market is not big enough to set the price for the whole industry. And a 2017 competition inquiry mostly cleared the retailers of the blame for low farm-gate milk prices (ie the price that processors pay the farmers). But Woolworths yesterday agreed with the long-standing position of the dairy industry that milk is an undervalued commodity.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
Dairy farmers hope it will lead to better days. It was a sector in trouble before the drought hit, and it has some hurdles to clear before it thrives again. And for the retailers, the recently demerged Coles has its first profit results announcement today as a stand-alone business. What a coincidence that Woolworths has put its main rival on the spot like that… It will be fascinating to see if it holds faith with the initiative that was all about becoming known as the ‘low price supermarket’, or whether they follow Woolies. So far they’re holding firm. There’s no indication German-owned ALDI is willing to give up its low price position. Watch this space….
SQUIZ THE REST
FOREIGN GOVERNMENT HACKERS TARGET AUSSIE POLITICS
We already knew that the computer servers for Parliament House in Canberra had been subject to a cyber attack earlier this month. What we didn’t know was that hackers also targeted the Liberal, Labor and National parties. PM Scott Morrison yesterday confirmed what our security agencies had uncovered, adding that there is no evidence of ‘electoral interference’. That means the Australian Electoral Commission’s systems are all good. The kicker? It’s a “sophisticated state actor” that’s responsible, which pretty much narrows it down to the US, Israel, Russia or China. Experts say the latter two are the prime suspects.
WHAT A DIFFERENCE MINORITY GOVERNMENT MAKES...
The Morrison Government yesterday supported measures that it was previously opposed to in another action-packed day.
• Take the motion for a royal commission into abuse in the disabilities sector for example. Team Morrison filibustered Question Time last Thursday to avoid voting on it, but yesterday ended up supporting it. (Note: that doesn’t mean there will be a commission anytime soon…).
• Security agency ASIO is concerned its advice on the medivac bill was leaked and misrepresented in a report earlier this month in The Australian. Meanwhile, Home Affairs’ top bureaucrat Mike Pezzullo last night said the bill is the “effective unravelling of regional processing”.
• And on the contract awarded to Paladin for security services at the Manus Island detention centre, the department says its contract is with the Singaporean outfit, not the Kangaroo Island beach shack/head office, and that Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton had nothing to do with it.
ACCUSED CLAREMONT KILLER IN HOSPITAL
Bradley Edwards was rushed to the Fiona Stanley Hospital in Perth yesterday morning after he was found in the showers bleeding from his ear. Authorities initially believed Edwards – the man accused of killing three women in Perth 20 years ago - was attacked by another inmate. But by day’s end, authorities said they weren’t clear on what exactly happened. The accused serial killer was due in court yesterday. With Edwards’ injuries proving non-life threatening, it’s expected he will appear for the three-day pre-trial hearing today.
SAUDI CROWN PRINCE MOVES TO BOLSTER PAKISTAN
Just as Pakistan faces serious issues with its Indian neighbour, Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman jetted into Islamabad for a two-day state visit. He's the most significant visitor the country has received since China's Xi Jinping rocked up in 2015, and in no time flat, more than US$20 billion in investment deals were signed. That’s a big deal for Pakistan’s struggling economy. And it’s come at an important time with tensions escalating following last week’s deadly attack by militants on Indian forces in Kashmir. Nine people were killed in a gun battle with militants yesterday, including four Indian soldiers and a policeman.
CAMPAIGNING FOR OSCAR
So you know how mining magnate/political candidate Clive Palmer says he will spend about $50 million in political advertising in the lead up to the election? Netflix has spent about $35 million to get its film Roma across the line for the best film at this year’s Academy Awards. How they campaign and who’s behind it - this is a good read ahead of next Monday’s (Oz time) Oscars.
SQUIZ THE DAY
ABS Data Release - Overseas Arrivals and Departures, December
Company Results Announcements - BHP; Blackmores; Coles Group; Scentre Group (aka Westfield Shopping Centres)
Anniversary of WWII attack on Darwin when 250 Japanese warplanes killed 243 people (1942)
The Squiz Archive
Want to check out Squiz Today from the archive?
Get the Squiz Today newsletter
It's a quick read and doesn't take itself too seriously. Get on it.