Squiz Today / 20 March 2018
Squiz Today – Tuesday, 20 March
“I’m a simple person. I would have liked to emulate something that was fun like the ‘Welcome to Las Vegas’ sign.”
But Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate got something else entirely. The ‘signs’ welcoming drivers/Commonwealth Games visitors to the Gold Coast have turned out to be +$2 million ‘light installations’ that can’t be made out if you’re driving down the motorway. Oddly enough, many locals aren't impressed.
COUNTING THE COST AS FIRES STILL BURN
In the NSW South Coast town of Tathra, authorities said 69 homes had been destroyed, as have 30 caravans and cabins. A further 39 homes have been damaged. Incredibly, 398 homes in the town were saved. Stories of people rushing to the beach to seek refuge from Sunday's fire have emerged. Hundreds remain at the Bega evacuation centre with the town deemed too unsafe for residents to return for now.
In south-west Victoria, 18 homes and many sheds were lost on Sunday. Locals say the devastating impact on the local dairy and beef industries from the widespread loss of livestock will be difficult to recover from.
WHAT HAPPENED IN TATHRA?
It was a terrible day on Sunday with high temperatures, strong winds, low humidity and dry vegetation. Locals are said to be angry with the council for the lack of hazard reduction in the area leading into summer. Questions were also raised yesterday about why residents and visitors didn’t receive more timely alerts. Reports said the area, which doesn’t have great mobile phone coverage at the best of times, was affected by fire damage to local phone towers. And the Daily Telegraph reports this morning that the Rural Fire Service declined offers of help from Fire and Rescue NSW in the hours before the fire hit Tathra. No doubt there will be inquiries into what went down. For now, authorities say it’s a miracle no one was killed.
WHAT ARE THE POLLIES SAYING?
The National Disaster Relief Assistance Scheme has been activated for the Tathra and Victorian bushfires giving victims access to emergency payments. PM Malcolm Turnbull visited Bega late yesterday and praised locals and emergency services. He was also critical Greens leader Richard Di Natale who yesterday said that a failure to deal with climate change was a reason for the natural disasters. “You can’t attribute any particular event, whether it’s a flood or fire or a drought, or a storm to climate change. We are the land of droughts and flooding rains, we’re the land of bushfires,” Turnbull said.
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AUNG SAN SUU KYI GOES TO CANBERRA
The embattled Myanmar leader met with PM Turnbull and Labor leader Bill Shorten yesterday. Suu Kyi, a former Nobel Peace Prize winner, has been under intense pressure for her inaction over the military’s persecution of Rohingya Muslims, which the UN has said amounts to ethnic cleansing. Turnbull yesterday offered Australia’s ongoing aid and encouraged Suu Kyi to ensure the displaced 600,000 Rohingya could return to their homes as soon as possible. Suu Kyi was scheduled to address the Lowy Institute tonight but has cancelled citing ill health, but there are accusations she's chucked a sickie.
JUSTICE FOR TIAHLEIGH
Delivering small comfort to Tiahleigh Palmer’s family, it was yesterday confirmed her foster father Rick Thorburn will plead guilty to her murder. The 12yo was found dead on the banks of the Pimpama River on the Gold Coast six days after she was reported missing in late 2015. Thorburn is the last of his family to be jailed over Palmer's murder. His wife and two sons are currently in jail on perjury-related convictions. One of the sons was also convicted of incest - it was his confession to his mother that is said to have led to Tiahleigh’s killing.
UBER SUSPENDS AUTONOMOUS CAR TESTING
It follows the death of a woman after she was struck by a self-driving Uber in Arizona yesterday. Reports say it’s the first known pedestrian death involving an autonomous vehicle. The cars were being tested in a number of North American cities. The federal safety regulator is investigating. Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshah tweeted; “Some incredibly sad news out of Arizona. We’re thinking of the victim’s family as we work with local law enforcement to understand what happened.”
WATCHING THE CRICKET AND TENNIS ON THE TELLY ABOUT THE CHANGE
There’s a media bidding war brewing with both Cricket Australia and Tennis Australia shopping around their broadcast rights. Both sports attract millions of viewers on free-to-air tv. However, the media companies don’t have the cash they used to have (we know the feeling…). So deals that put at least some of the coverage behind a paywall (think Foxtel) are being canvassed. Bids for six seasons of cricket closed yesterday and reports say a $1 billion combined Ten/Nine/Fox Sports deal was being concocted. Howzat! Tennis bids are due mid-April.
AIDS RESEARCH PIONEER DIES
Pioneering Aussie HIV researcher Professor David Cooper died on Sunday at 69yo. Cooper was one of the first to diagnose the AIDS epidemic of the 80s and went on to lead groundbreaking research into the disease. As a young immunologist working in cancer research in Boston, he saw the virus in samples of blood from ill gay men in New York. He returned to Sydney to follow up the disease here. His friend, retired High Court judge Michael Kirby, said; “David’s special gift was having both a huge intellect and a huge heart.”
SEARCHING FOR DAPHNE
We’re not saying don’t be concerned, but you should first know that Daphne’s a giant inflatable duck. A beloved mascot of the Cockburn Masters Swimming Club in Perth, Daphne spread her wings at the annual Coogee Jetty to Jetty swim a couple of weekends ago and blew away. The good news is Daphne was spotted by fishermen more than 30km west of Rottnest Island just a few hours after she went missing. The bad news is the New York Times and BBC say she's being held for ransom. The swimming club is working on securing her release tomorrow. #freetheduck
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ABS Data Release - Residential Property Price Indexes: Eight Capital Cities, December
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