Squiz Today / 19 February 2020
Squiz Today – Wednesday 19 February
“We want to assure all our friends and supporters that we will not run out of wine.”
Clonakilla’s chief winemaker Tim Kirk said there’s stock on hand, but there will be no 2020 vintage due to the heavy smoke that blanketed the Canberra region over summer that could impact the taste of the grapes. And the hits just keep on comin’...
MORRISON WARMS UP 2020’S CLIMATE CHANGE LINES
The Coalition Government favours “technology over taxation” when it comes to measures to reduce carbon emissions, PM Scott Morrison said yesterday. The statement was made in response to a report in The Australian yesterday saying Morrison prefers a ‘technology investment target’ over a commitment to hit ‘net zero emissions by 2050’, which is where the UK and a bunch of other developed countries are heading. But Morrison said the report was “speculative” with the government’s energy and climate change priorities firmly fixed on protecting jobs and keeping electricity prices low.
UMM, WHAT'S NET ZERO EMISSIONS BY 2050?
It’s a term we’re likely to hear a lot this year… That’s because there’s a big climate change summit in Scotland in November where all nations who are signatories to the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement will be asked to submit their new long-term emissions reduction goals. ‘Net zero emissions’ means that we won’t emit more carbon than we can offset through projects like planting trees. To achieve that goal by 2050, Australia would have to make significant changes. In fact, the Business Council of Australia says it would take an investment of $22 billion every year to 2050 because we have big 'carbon-intensive' industries like mining, agriculture, and transport. And not even Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos is proposing to spend that much...
WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN?
That’s the $22 billion question. A decade of churning prime ministers over their climate change policies suggests that it’s not a career-enhancing debate to be in the middle of... And it’s not just a problem for the Coalition - Labor’s Anthony Albanese has his own issues with MPs on his team who want to support coal workers, as well those who want him to take a stronger position on climate change. But it’s Morrison who’s in power, and he has moderate members pushing him to go for the net zero emissions target, while others advocate for government-funded coal-fired electricity generation. Which is why investing more in technology to combat the potentially devastating effects of climate change is emerging as the big thing this year. Strap yourself in…
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CORONAVIRUS STUDY SAYS MOST CASES 'MILD'
Chinese health officials have released the largest study so far on the COVID-19 outbreak. Looking at 44,000 cases, it found more than 80% have been mild, and that the sick and elderly are most at risk. The mortality rate of the virus to 2.9% in Hubei province (where the virus broke out), and 2.3% across all of China - significantly less than the SARS outbreak in the early 2000s which had a rate of 9.6%. The toll nears 1,900 deaths, and there are more than 73,000 confirmed cases globally. On the Aussie front, more than 200 on the Diamond Princess are due to be flown to Darwin from Japan tonight (or possibly tomorrow morning), and there’s news overnight that more than 35 Australians on the Westerdam cruise ship, which eventually docked in Cambodia, have been cleared of the virus.
NEW CLAIMS ABOUT TREATMENT OF CHINA’S UYGHURS
China’s claim that it’s not persecuting the minority Uyghur population in its western Xinjiang region was further undermined yesterday with the publication of a spreadsheet put together by local authorities. In it are records from one area with the details of many Uyghurs' daily lives, including whether they pray, possess a passport, have a beard or wear veils, or have friends/rellies in trouble with the law. With up to a million Uyghurs held in internment camps, it’s been suggested the document helped authorities decide who would stay in custody, and who could live under “management and control” at home. Beijing has consistently denied the Uyghurs are being targeted, and says the camps offer locals free “vocational training”.
The plight of the Uyghurs keeps coming up, so we did a Squiz Shortcut on the background to this story. We also unpack the backstory to another persecuted minority - the Rohingya from Myanmar. And look, it’s not uplifting stuff... But we aim to make it easier to stay on top of the things happening in the world today.
TENSIONS STRAIN AS SYRIA TAKES BACK ALEPPO
Syrian government forces have made significant gains in their effort to take back control of the last major rebel-held area. State media has reported the government has “liberated all the villages and small towns west of Aleppo city". Aided by Russian forces, Syrian troops launched an offensive on the Idlib region and parts of nearby Aleppo and Latakia in December, a move the UN says has displaced more than 900,000 people causing a "humanitarian catastrophe". The latest advances have also put the pressure on a fragile relationship between Russia and Turkey, each of whom supports opposing sides of the nearly nine-year conflict. Last week, Turkey escalated its operations against the Syrian government, which pledged to continue the offensive to drive the rebels out of Idlib. Turkey fears (another) massive influx of refugees from Syria.
WALKING AWAY FROM PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE
Official data from the October-December '19 quarter shows more Australians have abandoned private health insurance. According to the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, 46,969 fewer people aged between 20-34yo had hospital cover compared with December 2018. When looking across all the age groups, 44% of Aussies now have hospital cover - the lowest level in 12.5 years. Economists warn the trend of young people leaving the private health system while older people join it is not sustainable, but Health Minister Greg Hunt yesterday ruled out a review.
COLES JOINS THE UNDERPAYMENT CLUB
The supermarket chain yesterday reported it had a great Christmas with the festive season rounding out a good July-December period where it lifted its sales and profit. Not so lucky were some of its staff who were not paid correctly over six years. The underpayment to about 5% of its liquor and supermarket managers amounts to $20 million. Which is a lot less than Woolworths’ $200 million shortchanging of its staff, which was uncovered last year. Attorney-General Christian Porter yesterday said the government will introduce legislation to put criminal sanctions in place for the worst cases. “These organisations, large sophisticated Australian organisations, where wage underpayment seems to have been endemic. I don't think it's intentional but it's hopeless, it's not good enough!" he told Macquarie Radio.
TECH LIKE THE AMISH DO
Maybe when it comes to technology, it’s time to take a leaf out of the Amish book. Which is not something you hear every day… But consider it for a sec. When a community member asks to introduce a new technology - and they do use technology - they vote on whether it will strengthen or weaken their relationships. What a concept...
SQUIZ THE DAY
12.30pm (AEDT) - The heads of the Australian Federal Police, Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre, and Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission address the National Press Club on countering child exploitation and abuse - Canberra
Company Earnings Announcements - Wesfarmers; Fortescue Metals Group; Webjet; Tabcorp; Crown Resorts; Domino's Pizza; Seven Group Holdings; Stockland
ABS Data Release - Wage Price Index, Australia
Anniversary of the founding of the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company, now known as Kellogg's (1906)
Anniversary of the bombing of Darwin by Japanese forces (1942)
Birthdays for Jeff Daniels (1955), Prince Andrew (1960), Seal (1963), and Millie Bobby Brown (2004)
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