Squiz Today / 06 March 2019
Squiz Today – Wednesday, 6 March
THREE MINUTE SQUIZ
"We're only interested in making your life easier by cutting through the clutter. We think if we do that well, we could be on to a winner."
Because The Squiz this week celebrates its 2nd birthday and 200th podcast (yikes...), we figure you'll indulge us if we make this week's spot all about us. If you've ever wondered about the who/why/when/what behind your favourite weekday email and podcast - and what on earth made us quit our jobs to take it on - then wonder no more. Today, we’ve answered your questions. Please welcome... well... The Squiz to this week’s Three Minute Squiz.
CANADA’S PM TRUDEAU IN CRISIS MODE
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government are in strife. Yesterday, star cabinet minister Jane Philpott resigned citing concern over the government’s conduct in a scandal involving accusations of political interference in a criminal case. Her departure follows damning testimony last week from the former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould and the resignation last month of Trudeau’s adviser and BFF Gerald Butts.
WHAT THE WHAT?
See, it’s not just us that has trouble with maintaining a stable government… In short form:
• This is about criminal proceedings against the big Quebec-based engineering company SNC-Lavalin. It’s accused of offering bribes of about A$50 million to Libyan officials between 2001-11.
• Trudeau and senior members of his Liberal government are accused of pressuring Wilson-Raybould to instruct prosecutors to give SNC-Lavalin an easier way out of its legal problems.
• She said she wouldn’t do what they asked, so she was demoted. That led to her resignation from the cabinet, and it’s possible she will be kicked out of the party.
• Trudeau and his supporters deny any wrongdoing and say any lobbying by them for the company was done to protect jobs.
• The Conservative Party/opposition have seized on the turmoil calling Team Trudeau “a government in total chaos”. It’s called on the PM to resign and for a police investigation to be commissioned into the affair.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
Thing to know: there’s an election scheduled for 21 October, and polling shows the scandal is affecting Trudeau’s already declining popularity. Remember, he was pegged as the young, good-looking change agent who was going to do government differently. Pundits are divided on whether the scandal is catastrophic or survivable. What is agreed is ministerial resignations in Canada are rarer than finding someone with a bad word to say about Luke Perry. So they’re a bit discombobulated about it all, bless them…
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NAB CEO STAFFER CHARGED OVER $40M FRAUD
Rosemary Rogers was chief-of-staff to the former CEO of the National Australia Bank, Andrew Thorburn. And it’s not just a couple of charges - we’re talking about 56 offences relating to an alleged $40 million fraud. She’s accused of receiving $5.4 million in bribes from contractor Human Group for her role in approving inflated invoices. Human Group director Helen Rosamond was charged last week.
ABC DROPS PROBE AS GUTHRIE’S PAYDAY REVEALED
Michelle Guthrie has dropped her case against the ABC after a settlement was reached over her sacking last year as managing director. A Senate committee yesterday heard she received $911,917 to walk out the door, as well as an amount subject to a confidentiality agreement but reported by the Financial Review (paywall) as $500,000. Note: all that is taxpayer funded… Also, the board-commissioned independent review into claims of political interference at the national broadcaster was called off when Guthrie would not participate. But it's not over on the review front - a report on the ‘efficiency' of the ABC and SBS was handed to them on Monday.
CLINTON WILL NOT RUN
2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton had kinda said it before, but yesterday she said it definitively - she will not seek her party’s nomination to run for President of the United States in 2020. But she wants people to know she’s not going anywhere. “I'm going to keep on working and speaking and standing up for what I believe," she said yesterday. There’s a bunch who have confirmed they will have a go, and more are looking into it. For the political nerds: they’re divided on their approach to the economy, not on the big policy questions. This episode of the New York Times’ podcast The Daily is good to make sense of it all.
INTEREST RATES ON HOLD AGAIN…
Back in the day, we used to run an office sweep on whether interest rates would move on Reserve Bank board meeting day because that's how much fun we are. But these days there's no point. Yesterday extended the record of 27 consecutive meetings the rate was held at 1.5%. That was expected, particularly given the slowing pace of economic growth. One factor in that is our drought-ridden agricultural sector. Official figures out yesterday show a $5 billion drop in farm production in 2018-19 compared to 2016-17.
EXCITEMENT OVER HIV BREAKTHROUGH
It's too early to use the ‘c' word (cure…), but medical researchers are encouraged by this huge development. A London man has been in remission from HIV for 18 months. He received a stem cell transplant of virus-resistant cells to treat his cancer. To get all sciencey - the transplanted cells had a malfunctioning CCR5 gene - a gene required for HIV to invade blood cells. The development comes a decade after Timothy Brownreceived a similar transplant and became the only patient in the world to be cured of HIV. Researchers say there's a lot more work to be done, and it's unlikely ever to be a treatment for everyone, but it does spark hope for those searching for a cure to the disease that killed more than 940,000 people worldwide in 2017.
Who knew there were John Laws-style workplaces left? That is, the ones where it’s preferred that ladies wear a skirt... Yesterday Virgin Atlantic took itself off that list by automatically offering its female hosties trousers instead of being a special request. And it removed its long-standing requirement that female cabin crew wear makeup while on duty. The airline’s spokesman said the changes would increase comfort and give their staff “more choice on how they want to express themselves at work." Hello 1950, it’s 2019 calling…
SQUIZ THE DAY
9.10am (AEDT) - Speech by Philip Lowe, Reserve Bank Governor on 'The Housing Market and the Economy' at the Financial Review's Business Summit - Sydney
12.30pm (AEDT) - Dr Anne Summers to address the National Press Club on 'The politics of women’s representation' - Canberra
6.00pm (AEDT) - Cup of Nations Women's Soccer - Australia v Argentina - Melbourne
ABS Data Release - Australian National Accounts: National Income, Expenditure and Product, December
Company Earnings Announcement - Myer
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