Squiz Today / 06 May 2020

Squiz Today – Wednesday, 6 April


“I think it’s very healthy.”

Said Matthew Field, the British ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, of the latest craze to sweep the world - beating the bejesus out of a coronavirus piñata. You heard that right…


Getting Australia back to work as the coronavirus health emergency recedes is what's now occupying the minds of our political leaders. With more than five million Aussies on the JobKeeper payment, and one million people losing their jobs, PM Scott Morrison yesterday said: "that is the curve we need to address."

TBC. Employers will have to change how workplaces operate to make them 'COVID-safe', and that's something that will be discussed at Friday's all-important National Cabinet meeting. It's hoped that there will be some nationally consistent guidelines come out of that meeting, even though it will be up to the states and territories to implement the rules. As a preview though, hotdesking arrangements are set to become even more hellish… Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy says the health risk associated with shared spaces in offices will have to be carefully managed, possibly with staggered start and finish times. In good news, meetings in small rooms (which probably could be dealt with over email anyway…) probably won’t be on the cards for a while. And there’ll likely be fewer interstate work trips. But at this point, there are a lot of blank spaces for policymakers to fill in. 

Exactly right, particularly in the hospitality and arts sectors, and in such a short time. So Morrison is keen to see schools fully reopened ASAP so parents and carers can get back to it, along with the removal of other restrictions to start the long climb back. And with coronavirus restrictions costing the economy $4 billion a week, getting things in place by July is the goal. So the sooner we make like the Seven Dwarfs and get our heigh-ho on the better, Morrison says.



• There’s no need to click refresh on the website booking for your getaway to New Zealand just yet - the 'trans-Tasman bubble' is some time away. Both NZ PM Jacinda Ardern and PM Morrison say it’s a good thing to aim for, but we’re some way from visiting our cuzzy-bros.

• Melbourne-based researchers are looking into the use of an immune-boosting vaccine called BCG to counter COVID-19, and yesterday the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation pitched in $10 million to help fund the effort. The team says it’s the fastest the Gates’ have ever agreed to donate to a trial.

• Qantas CEO Alan Joyce confirmed yesterday the company will look at restructuring in the wake of COVID-19. Facing a potentially years-long economic recovery, Qantas will consider shrinking its fleet and reducing routes as demand for air travel slowly recovers. But there's light at the end of the tunnel for travellers - Joyce says Jetstar fares could go as low as $19 to get people flying again.

• NRL side the Melbourne Storm made the trip north to AFL-mad border city Albury, NSW yesterday after they were denied permission to restart training in Victoria. But the local council gave them a welcome as cold as a winter dip in the Murray River with the team banned from using the council-managed rugby field. Councillors say the rules about sports training should be consistent for everyone. The team will have to make do with the Aussie Rules oval of one of the local clubs.

• Looking overseas, and the UK has claimed the tragic title of having the most deaths in Europe. It has overtaken Italy by reporting more than 32,000 deaths. To the numbers: There are 3.68 million cases, and 354,430 people have died globally. In Australia, there are 6,851 cases, 97 people have died, and 5,891 people have recovered.


The Herald-Sun this morning reports (paywall) that 47yo Mohinder Singh, the truck driver who hit and killed four police officers on a freeway in Melbourne last month, had swerved to miss hitting "a witch" on the road, according to a source. Reports say he is currently receiving care in the Acute Assessment Unit at Melbourne Assessment Prison, and his lawyer says he could have an undiagnosed mental health condition. It's alleged two ice pipes were found in his truck cabin and at his home, but Victorian Police have not confirmed this. Police raids on two homes in Sydney and the trucking company's head office were carried out yesterday, and reports say logbooks were seized but no one was arrested.


The Trump administration has been accused by Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro of plotting to bring down his government as two former US soldiers were allegedly arrested in the country on Monday. Ex-US Special Forces soldier Jordan Goudreau claimed responsibility for the operation, saying he intended to detain Maduro and "liberate" Venezuela. The mission allegedly involved about 60 men, mostly Venezuelan military defectors, but the raid was foiled and eight people were killed when Venezuelan forces reportedly received a tip-off. US President Donald Trump says it wasn't a government-backed operation, and the country's opposition leader Juan Guaidó - who is recognised as Venezuela's interim president by most of the world - also denied any connection to it. The US has been keen to see the back of Maduro, but he remains in power with support from Russia and China.


WeWork co-founder and former CEO Adam Neumann is taking SoftBank to court after the Japanese investors walked away from a US$3 billion buyout deal aimed at keeping the embattled co-working company in business. Neumann accuses SoftBank of "breaching their contractual commitments" and "secretly taking actions to undermine" the deal before they dropped out in April. But SoftBank said the deal was subject to certain conditions that had not been met, citing pending criminal and civil investigations into the company. WeWork, which was valued at US$47 billion before tumbling towards near-collapse in just six weeks last year, has long battled with its investors, and it now faces further losses due to COVID-19.


The Pulitzer Prize is one of the most prestigious awards in journalism, and the best submissions were acknowledged yesterday via livestream. The New York Times took out three awards, including one for its investigative reporting on the city’s taxi industry. The Anchorage Daily News and ProPublica won the public service prize for their 'Lawlessseries which exposed gaps in policing in remote Alaskan villages. As for photography, Reuters won in the breaking news section for their work on the Hong Kong protests, while Associated Press took out the feature photography award for their work depicting life in Kashmir following a crackdown by India. And for podcast peeps, This American Life and Vice journo Emily Green won the inaugural award for audio reporting for The Out Crowdabout the Trump administration’s ‘Remain In Mexico’ asylum policy. Check out a list of all the winners here.


“Divinely potty-mouthed”, tree-obsessed and angry about getting old, Dame Judi Dench has become UK Vogue's oldest cover girl at 85yo. The interview's an excellent read for her take on her appearance in last year’s disaster movie Cats alone…


Comedian Celeste Barber and the NSW Rural Fire Service's case is in court today. It's to deal with how the proceeds of her $51 million bushfire fundraising effort will be directed

ABS Data Release - Retail Trade, March

International No Diet Day

Birthdays for Tony Blair (1953), George Clooney (1961) and it's Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor's first birthday (2019)

Anniversary of:
• George V becoming King of the UK after the death of his father, Edward VII (1910)
• Michael Jackson & Bee Gees inducted into Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (1997)
• The founding of SpaceX by entrepreneur Elon Musk (2002)
• 84 abducted schoolgirls released in exchange for Boko Haram suspects in Nigeria (2017)

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