Thursday, 4 July - Tryin’ to keep your hands warm

Good morning, it’s Thursday, 4 July. In your Squiz Today…

  • UK politics set for a showdown

  • A desperate search in the Top End

  • And an ape’s great escape… 🦍

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Squiz the Weather

Squiz Sayings

"A wee bit chilly this morning."

Said Tassie photographer Gill Dayton in the biggest understatement ever as she posted a photo of a frozen lake after temperatures dropped to a downright freezing -12.9C in the Central Highlands town of Liawenee. Brr doesn’t even begin to cover it…

Sunak v Starmer

The Squiz

If you believe the hype, the UK is on the precipice of a massive political shift, with PM Rishi Sunak's government set to lose in today's general election. The big polls say voters are done after 14 years of Conservative rule and their 5 PMs, and Sunak is set to be defeated in a “bloodbath”. In the 6 weeks since a soggy Sunak announced the election, it’s been anything but boring… For example, a record number of Conservatives have decided not to run, there has been a scandal over MPs gambling on the outcome, and a row erupted over whether Nigel Farage’s Reform UK party is racist

What should I know?

Cost of living is the #1 issue as more people than ever rely on food banks. Labour leader/potential PM Keir Starmer is promising to hike taxes for the wealthy/big corporations to raise an extra $16.3 billion to sway voters doing it tough. For Sunak’s part, he’s sticking with traditional Tory policies to cut taxes further - and he found himself in hot water over a widely disputed claim that Labour would see households face a $3,600 tax hike. The public health system is also in crisis as wait times have blown out, and on the environment, Starmer wants to stick to the UK’s 2030 climate targets while Sunak intends to pump the brakes. Even if Starmer emerges victorious, Labour isn’t going to have an easy ride… Polls suggest he isn’t very popular and many are feeling bleak about the future. Polls open this arvo our time, and we should know how things are shaping up tomorrow. 

Anything else?

Yep. US President Joe Biden has tripled down on his debate performance, blaming jetlag for his lacklustre effort, saying it "wasn't very smart" to travel so much beforehand, and that he "nearly fell asleep on stage". That's done little to counter his rival Donald Trump's accusations that he's 'Sleepy Joe’ - especially as his last big trip was 2 weeks before the debate… Texas representative Lloyd Doggett became the first Democratic member of Congress to openly say the 81yo should “make the painful and difficult decision to withdraw”. With the drums beating, 56yo California Governor Gavin Newsom is gaining momentum as a potential replacement - but Biden has rallied support from Democratic leaders in an emergency meeting overnight. Afterwards, Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Biden would “absolutely not” be stepping down, and that he was "clear-eyed" and "staying in the race".

Squiz the Rest

A desperate search in the Top End

Police in the Northern Territory have launched a land and water search after reports that a missing 12yo child was taken by a crocodile. We don’t know many details about the child, but family and community members said they were last seen swimming in Mango Creek near the remote community of Palumpa - home to about 364 people and located about 360km southwest of Darwin - on Tuesday evening. Reports say the area is home to both saltwater and freshwater crocodiles, although it’s not clear what species might be involved. Police Minister Brent Potter said yesterday that it was a “tragic event”, “especially in the circumstances like that - taken by a crocodile”. He said the search and rescue team has ”been authorised to remove” the crocodile involved from the area if it’s found. 

Another alarming AI move

A new report from Human Rights Watch has revealed that images of 190 Australian children have been scraped off the internet without consent and used for generative artificial intelligence (AI) tools. If that sounds dodgy, it gets worse… Researchers found images of a newborn still attached to its mother by an umbilical cord, girls in their bathers at a swimming carnival, and boys with their full names/Perth preschool’s name in a linked caption. Photos like those were taken by LAION-5B, which compiles photos/data for generative AI sites like Midjourney. Those sites create images from text prompts by combining features from real photos. LAION said the photos have been removed from their database, but they'd already been "used to train various AI generators" - meaning they're still on the internet. That's raised questions about what’s fair game online and whether Australia’s Privacy Act needs updating…

Calls for a shake-up of ASIC 

A report into the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has found it’s a “toothless tiger” in need of a major overhaul. The report was tabled in parliament yesterday by Liberal Senator Andrew Bragg, who found the corporate regulator’s role was “too broad” for it to be effective. He recommended ASIC be split into 2 parts - one to deal with companies and one to keep an eye on the financial sector. That was one of 11 recommendations which also included offering financial rewards to corporate whistleblowers. “It’s clear ASIC has failed,” Bragg said. “Countless Australians have been hurt by ASIC’s consistent failure to investigate and deter corporate crime.” But some Labor committee members said the final report missed opportunities for improvement in favour of “a headline grab”. ASIC said it would “take time to consider” the findings. 

It’s tax time…

And if you’re an eager sort who’s got your tax documents ready to roll, congratulations on your organisation. But keep in mind tax experts reckon you might be better off waiting for a couple of weeks before logging onto the Tax Office (ATO) site to do your thang… That’s because “a flood” of people trying to lodge their returns at the same time has prompted the ATO to launch a virtual queue, leaving people to wait their turn… Mark Chapman from tax service H&R Block said the surge in people trying to access the ATO is probably because many are keen to get their refunds ASAP to help pay their bills. But he said rushing your return could lead to mistakes/missing information. To that end - here’s a handy explainer about how to check if your necessary docs are good to go. Good luck…

Garry’s great esc-ape

After a month-long investigation, Victoria Police have finally tracked down Garry the gorilla - a 1.5m tall statue stolen from a Melbourne retirement home. Police released a statement shortly after he was kidnapped, saying they're not willing to “cop this kind of monkey business”, and immediately launched “extensive investigations” to hunt down the primate pinchers… That paid off on Monday when the force’s Top Gun-esque air wing unit spotted the gorilla in the mist of a nearby backyard. Footage from the chopper showed a sad-looking Garry sitting forlorn in a corner before he was rescued and reunited with his aged care companions yesterday, including resident Robyn who baked cookies to cheer him up after his ordeal. As for who is responsible for the dastardly crime, police say investigations are ongoing, but it’s Kong-gratulations to the officers who found him…

Apropos of Nothing - Bag of fruit edition

With cozzie livs ever front of mind, experts have revealed the best/cheapest fresh produce available in July, with mandarins top of the list. Apples and oranges are also at their peak but there’s no need to compare them…

Pollies, staffers and journos swapped their suits for tuxes and gowns at the Federal Press Gallery’s Midwinter Ball last night. The theme was ‘Love is in the Air’ and at least one pollie couple took it seriously, hard-launching their relationship… Here’s a gallery to see how your favourites scrubbed up.

Also in attendance last night and looking suave in a maroon scarf was 79yo Queensland MP Bob Katter, who, despite once proclaiming there was “a complete vacuum” of intelligence in Canberra, will be commemorated in a new portrait to be hung in Parliament House…

Squiz the Day

From 9.00am (AEST) - We’re keeping an eye out for an announcement by Western Australian MP Fatima Payman, who’s expected to quit the Labor party - Canberra

9.00am (AEST) - Legal arguments over evidence continuing in Bruce Lehrmann’s committal hearing over rape allegations - Toowoomba

10.30am (AEST) - Equestrian: Giddy up, the Aussie equestrian team will be named for the Paris Olympics - Sydney… And continuing the Olympics announcements…

2.00pm (AEST) - Beach Volleyball: the final beach volleyball team for the Paris Games will be revealed - Brisbane

From 4.00pm (AEST) - Polls open for the UK Election

9.35pm (AEST) - Cycling: Tour de France, stage 6, Macon to Dijon (163 km) - France

ABS Data Release - International Trade in Goods, May; 

Independence Day - US

Post Malone’s birthday (1995)

Anniversary of:

  • Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) creating the story of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland for Alice Liddell on a family boat trip in Oxford (1862)

  • the launch of, the first free web-based email service - and we’re not judging if you still use it… (1996)

  • North Korea testing their first successful intercontinental ballistic missile (2017)

  • the deaths of Thomas Jefferson (1826), Marie Curie (1934) and Barry White (2003)

  • wedding anniversaries for Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne (1982), David and Victoria Beckham (1999) and Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis (2015)