Squiz Today / 04 May 2021
Squiz Today – Tuesday, 4 May
"I saw the forked tongue flicking at me and I thought 'that's a blessed tiger snake.' I had a few other words but I better not repeat that."
Said Gippsland local/keen recreational fisherman Bob Thatcher who was 11km from shore when he found he was trapped in his tinny with a tiger snake. Wildlife warrior Steve Irwin made popular the only word for that: crikey!
INDIAN BORDER BAN PLOT THICKENS
Pressure continues to build over the Morrison Government’s decision to pursue criminal sanctions against those who breach the ban on travel to Australia from India as the country battles a dire COVID crisis. And yesterday, a crack in the government’s defence opened up between it and one of our most senior health officials.
WHAT’S THAT ABOUT?
Last week, Team Morrison backed the temporary ban with the threat of huge fines and prison. Cue loud criticism that Australia is abandoning 9,000 citizens stranded in India (including Aussie cricketers) who want to come home... On Sunday, Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne said the decision to put criminal sanctions in place was "entirely founded on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer". Nah-ah, Paul Kelly said yesterday. “I didn’t advise anything in relation to fines or any of those other matters”. A letter from Kelly to Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt was released that references the penalties and warns of the risk to Australians - including death - from the travel ban. Health Secretary Professor Brendan Murphy sought to provide another explanation: while there was no specific recommendation from health officials on sanctions, the Biosecurity Act (aka the legislation giving the government border ban powers) has the provisions built in. That doesn't seem to be the end of it with anger rising, including from MPs…
RIGHT… AND WHAT’S THE LATEST FROM INDIA?
It reported more than 300,000 new cases for a 12th straight day, while deaths rose by more than 3,400. At least 11 states and union territories have imposed some restrictions to slow infections, but PM Narendra Modi is reluctant to impose a national lockdown because of the impact it would have on the economy. He's also been accused of focusing on polls rather than the pandemic and criticised for not taking steps earlier to curb the spread.
SQUIZ THE REST
‘SIGNIFICANT CULTURAL CHALLENGES’ FOUND IN AUSSIE GYMNASTICS
A report commissioned by Gymnastics Australia last year following allegations of abuse has uncovered a “toxic” culture of physical, emotional and sexual abuse in the sport. The Australian Human Rights Commission interviewed 57 participants and uncovered accusations of sexual abuse, body-shaming and bullying. It also revealed a harmful “win at all costs” mentality that has seen many gymnasts - mainly young females - pushed beyond their physical limits. Twelve recommendations were made around improving how complaints are addressed and preventing child abuse. Gymnastics Australia yesterday apologised but said abuse claims should be referred to the police by the alleged victims.
HOLGATE SETS A DEADLINE FOR TALKS
Australia Post’s former boss Christine Holgate has threatened to sue the Australian Government over her departure from the company unless it agrees to mediation talks by Wednesday night. Tick tock… She says she was unlawfully stood down over the purchase of Cartier watches as a reward for senior execs and claims she was bullied by both chairman Lucio Di Bartolomeo and PM Scott Morrison. Di Bartolomeo yesterday said he was willing to enter talks but described Holgate’s deadline as “unreasonable”. As for the ministers with responsibility for AusPost, neither Paul Fletcher and Simon Birmingham are putting their hand up to attend any talks.
HOME PRICE RISES NOT AS NUTS AS LAST MONTH...
… but they’re still as crackers as bonfire night. For a measure of how extraordinary March’s 32-year record monthly surge was, April’s slow down was seen as some reprieve for home buyers. Note: last month’s rise was still about 6 times the historical average monthly rate of growth, according to property analysts CoreLogic… Looking at April, there was an average national home price increase of 1.8%. All capitals saw price growth, with Darwin (2.7%), Sydney (2.4%) and Adelaide (2%) leading the way. It's seriously low interest rates and limited stock that continue to fuel price increases, economists say. Commbank, Australia’s biggest lender, reckons price rises will be around for a while, albeit at a slower pace than in recent months. "We have a 14% lift in dwelling prices in 2021 and 2022, with a stronger increase for houses relative to apartments," the bank’s senior economist Kristina Clifton said yesterday. Hold on and ride it like a rocket… #SquizShortcuts
TAKING A BITE OUT OF APPLE
The way Apple’s lucrative App Store is run could change if a court challenge against the tech behemoth giant is successful. The trial, which kicked off overnight in the US, is spearheaded by Epic Games, the company behind the popular video game Fortnite. Apple has strict rules software makers must follow if they are to feature their products in the Apple store - and the big fruit takes 30% of revenue collected. A showdown ensued in August last year, which saw Epic Games pull from Apple's platform after it introduced its own in-app payment system to bypass the revenue fees. Now, Epic Games is claiming Apple is violating US antitrust laws by abusing its monopoly power. If that’s proven during the trial, it could see a big change in the relationship between developers and Big Tech. The trial is expected to run for 3 weeks.
LATIN AMERICA JUMPS ON THE SPACE BANDWAGON
Missions to Mars and grand space station plans are flying thick and fast with the US and China going toe-to-toe. But it isn’t just wealthier countries going intergalactic - Mexico and Argentina are now looking to form a regional space agency, following in the footsteps of the African Union. Yesterday, Mexico’s Congress hosted an international panel on how a ‘new space race’ can benefit health and education outcomes on Earth. But rather than conducting costly exploration missions, developing nations are focusing on technologies like satellites “because it brings an excellent investment return and helps close the digital divide”, managing director of Space in Africa Temidayo Oniosun said. Satellites can also help to improve farming practices and natural disaster management by better tracking weather patterns. And we love a well tracked weather event...
APROPOS OF NOTHING
The wet season is going off in the north of Australia at the moment - and it’s allowed some beautiful butterflies to take flight.
Eight glasses of water a day - what a drag. So it’s good to know it might not be what everyone needs all the time.
A favourite sub-genre of content we enjoy at The Squiz is quirky CSAs - community service announcements. And this one from Singapore encouraging citizens to get their COVID jabs is a doozy...
SQUIZ THE DAY
12.30pm (AEST) - Senior Economist at BIS Oxford Economics Dr Sarah Hunter, Senior Economist at Committee on the Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) Gabriela D'Souza, and chair of Women in Economics Dr Leonora Risse discuss the Federal Budget at the National Press Club - Canberra
ABS Data Release - International Trade in Goods and Services, March; Lending Indicators, March
Star Wars Day (May the Fourth Be With You…)
• the birthdays of Audrey Hepburn (1929) and Keith Haring (1958)
• Margaret Thatcher becoming the first woman to be elected Prime Minister of the UK (1979)
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