Mega-lot sales gaining in popularity with home owners

The change in strata legislation has triggered a rise in collective sales, often dubbed mega-lot deals, with the number recorded now reaching 17.8 per cent share of total disclosed sales in 2016-17.
Nanjing Night Net

According to Knight Frank’s research, collective site sales, suitable for low, medium and high-density development, have increased six-fold over the past five years, with foreign buyers purchasing 62 per cent of the sales.

The research showed that the share of NSW vertical collective site sales suitable for higher density grew to $228.3 million, up 8.1 per cent in 2016-17, when compared against the total volume of disclosed higher density residential sites sold. This followed the reformed legislation coming into operation on November 30, 2016, after representing 2.3 per cent a year earlier.

Collective sales are where more than one vendor comes together to form a group in order to sell their property in one line to a purchaser. In NSW the legislation has changed and if there are 75 per cent of residents in agreeance, then the sale can proceed.

The “horizontal” deals include the sale of multiple single dwellings grouping together to form an amalgamated residential super-lot and an entire industrial complex with multiple owners of individual strata units across one level. Vertical sales include the sale of an entire residential, office, hotel or serviced apartment complex with two or more levels.

Mega lots have attracted the attention of residents where the apartment block may need repair or a street is being rezoned and home owners team up and sell to a developer. Deals have reaped significant rewards for vendors.

There are many legal hurdles to clear and much discussion needed among the residents and not everyone has been on board. But agents say they are getting more requests about how to undertake a collective sale.

Knight Frank’s latest report, Collective Sales for Residential Development – Market Insight: September 2017, found that the practice has been both horizontally, with multiple homeowners grouping together to form residential super-lots, and vertically, with owners of individual apartments and office suites within a building leveraging recent legislation changes and rezoned growth corridors.

According to Knight Frank’s head of residential research, Australia Michelle Ciesielski, when splitting buyer nationalities across Australia, in 2012-13 foreign buyers represented only 21 per cent of collective sales. However by 2016-17, these buyers had purchased 62 per cent of these sales.

“Within these collective sales purchased by foreign buyers in the last year, 53.6 per cent were for horizontal sites and 8.4 per cent for vertical sales,” Ms Ciesielski said.

“Vertical site sales have been more prevalent in NSW since new legislation for strata properties came into operation. At this stage, despite lengthy consideration, no other state or territory governments have introduced this change.”

Some of the biggest deals have been at Macquarie Park, where Savills Australia sold a site at 15-21 Cottonwood Crescent, which saw the 55 homeowners became instant millionaires, with a private developer paying a record price understood to be more than $80 million. The site is to be developed into a mixed-use property.

This has prompted the owners of 12-14 Lachlan Avenue and 13 Cottonwood Crescent to follow suit, with 33 of the 36 units on the site looking to the residential site sales team at Savills Australia, of Neil Cooke, Stuart Cox and Johnathon Broome, to generate a similar deal.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Litbits September 9, 2017

Tough Guy Book Club
Nanjing Night Net

The Tough Guy Book Club holds Canberra meetings at the Old Canberra Inn, 195 Mouat Street, Lyneham. The book to read for the month is announced at each meeting.It’s a modern meeting place for men to discuss not just the works of literary greats, but issues that men tackle on a daily basis. It’s free. Upcoming meetings are on October 4, November 1, December 6, 2017 and February 7, 2018, all at 7pm. For more information visit facebook南京夜网/ToughGuyBookClub.

Peter Porter Poetry Prize

Australian Book Review seeks entries in the 14th Peter Porter Poetry Prize, open until December 3 and worth a total of $8500. Poems must be written in English and not exceed 75 lines. See: australianbookreview南京夜网419论坛/prizes-programs/peter-porter-poetry-prize/current-prize.

?? What’s on

September 12: The 2017 Seymour Biography Lecture by author Raimond Gaita, Truth. Truthfulness. Self. Voice, will explore the big concepts that have inspired his writing. It’s at 6pm in the National Library of Australia Theatre. Tickets are free and include refreshments. Bookings: nla.gov419论坛/event/2017-seymour-biography-lecture.

September 13: In the Fellowship Presentation Remembering the Ivan Southall Phenomenon, Dr Gabrielle Carey explores influence the Australian fiction writer Ivan Southall had on a generation of young readers, by delving through their remarkable correspondence. Tickets are free. It’s at 5.15pm in the National Library of Australia Conference Room. Bookings: nla.gov419论坛/event/fellowship-presentation-5.

September 13: Artist Katherine Boland’s memoir Hippy Days, Arabian Nights will be launched at Muse Canberra at 5.30 for 6pm. Admission free. musecanberra南京夜网419论坛.

September 13: The Canberra launch of the eco-thriller The Abrupt Physics of Dying by Paul E. Hardisty is on at Paperchain Manuka at 5.45 for 6pm. RSVP 6295 6723.

September 13: The next Poetry in the House reading at University House features Chris Wallace-Crabbe (Melbourne), Lizz Murphy (Binalong, NSW) and Paul Hetherington (Canberra) at 7.30pm in the Fellows Bar at University House. Admission: $10 waged, $5 unwaged. Bookings: [email protected]论坛.

September 16: As part of the 2017 Poetry on the Move Festival, the International Poetry Studies Institute (IPSI) presents four international poets for a free reading at Gorman Arts Centre. IPSI’s two poets in residence, Vahni Capildeo (Britain) and Glyn Maxwell (Britain) are joined by two contemporary Japanese poets, Keijiro Suga and Hiromi Ito celebrating the ‘Boundary Crossings’ theme. Free, bookings essential: agac南京夜网419论坛/event/poetry-on-the-move-festival-poetry-reading-border-crossings/.

September. 19: At 6.30pm in the China in the World Auditorium, ANU, Benjamin Law and Professor Mary Lou Rassmussen will be in conversation on Law’s new Quarterly Essay, Sexuality, Schools and the Media. Bookings at anu.edu419论坛/events or 6125 4144. Free event.

September 20: At 6pm in the Conference Room, Sir Roland Wilson Building ANU in a free ANU/Canberra Times Meet the Author event, Stuart Kells will be in conversation with Colin Steele on Kells’s new book The Library, which covers great libraries of the world and how they are portrayed in fiction. Bookings at anu.edu419论坛/events or 6125 4144.

September 20: At Muse Canberra at 6pm, Kim Scott brings his latest novel Taboo, based on a massacre in WA Noongar country, to town, in conversation with Phillip Hall. musecanberra南京夜网419论坛.

September 24: At Muse Canberra at 3pm, Chris Womersley will discuss his novel City of Crows, set in 1670s France. $12 includes a drink. musecanberra南京夜网419论坛.

September 27: International Treasures by Dorothy Hart, illustrated by Isla Patterson, about Canberra’s embassies will be launched by Major General the Hon. Michael Jeffrey in the National Library of Australia Conference Room at 6pm, admission free. Bookings: nla.gov419论坛/bookings.

September 28: At Muse Canberra at 6pm, join the editor and two contributors of Mad Hatters and March Hares: New stories of Alice in Wonderland. musecanberra南京夜网419论坛.

October 6:The 2017 BAD!SLAM!NO!BISCUIT! Canberra National Poetry Slam is on at 7pm in the Main Hall, Gorman Arts Centre. Tickets $5 concession | $10 full: eventbrite南京夜网419论坛/e/australian-national-poetry-slam-act-finals-tickets-37294688417.

October 9, 6.30pm canape and drinks, before 7.30pm two-course dinner. The Hall, University House. Meet the Chef dinner with Maggie Beer and Professor Ralph Martins in conversation with Alex Sloan about Beer’s new book Maggie’s Recipes for Life, co-authored with Alzheimer’s researcher, Professor Ralph Martins. $95 per person. Bookings: 6125 5211 or unihouse.anu.edu419论坛. Book signings after the dinner.

October 11: At 7pm in The Hall, University House, ANU, at Eat Drink and Be Political, Gareth Evans will be in conversation with Alex Sloan on Evans’ s new book, Incorrigible Optimist. A Political Memoir. Bookings at anu.edu419论坛/events or 6125 4144. Tickets $70 are per person and include a two-course meal, a glass of House wine, tea and coffee..Pre-book signings at 6.15pm.

October 13: At a dinner at Muse, East Hotel, Kingston at 6.30pm, Professor Frank Bongiorno will talk about meritocracy and opportunity and how birth and luck play an outsized role in our lives. Opportunity, merit and Australian democracy.Dinner $90 a head or Festival of Ideas Ticket: October 13-14 Dinner and Day of Ideas $110 (members) $120 (non-members). Booking: trybooking南京夜网/RPOU

Friday, October 27, 6pm. Llewellyn Hall, School of Music ANU. Kevin Rudd in conversation with Stan Grant on the former prime minister’s new book, Not for the Faint Hearted: A Personal Reflection on Life, Politics and Purpose 1957 – 2007. Event chaired by ANU’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Brian Schmidt. Bookings at anu.edu419论坛/events or 6125 4144. Book signings at 7pm. Free event.

Contributions to Litbits are welcome. Please email [email protected]南京夜网419论坛 by COB on the Monday prior to publication. Publication is not guaranteed.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Poetry on the Move

Have you ever wanted to learn how to write poetry for children? Or hear Dorothea Mackellar’s My Country re-interpreted by indigenous, migrant and bi-lingual poets? Keen to shake hands with Steven Oliver from ABCTV’s Black Comedy, bail up a poetry editor, or meet poets from Japan? Canberrans will have the chance to do all this and more at the University of Canberra’s Poetry on the Move festival this month.
Nanjing Night Net

The festival, now in its third year, starts on September 14 and comprises 26 events spread over eight days involving 75 poets and other contributors. Most sessions are on the University of Canberra campus in Bruce, but the festival also spills into the National Portrait Gallery, and Belconnen and Gorman Arts Centres. Almost all events are free.

The festival will see this year’s winner announced for the $15,000 UC Vice-Chancellor’s International Poetry Prize, one of the most valuable poetry prizes in the world. US poet Billy Collins is the principal judge. Three other prize results will also be revealed at the announcement event, “A Celebration of Poetry” on September 21: the Young Poets Awards (first prize $500), for ACT and NSW Year 11 and 12 students, the Health Poetry Prize (first prize $1500), for poems on the theme of “living life well”, and the inaugural Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Poetry Prize (first prize $1500), announced by special guest, ABCTV writer/performer (and viral YouTube poet) Steven Oliver.

As it has in previous years, the festival features two internationally eminent poets in residence. This year’s guests are Glyn Maxwell and Vahni Capiledo, both from Great Britain. Both will give workshops and readings, with Trinidadian-British Capiledo also chairing “Measures of Expatriation”, a discussion of identity and migration in poetry. Maxwell will present a special “Drinks with Dead Poets” event, reading from his new book based on the diaries, letters and essays of poets from Byron to Dickinson to Whitman.

The theme for this year is “Boundary Crossings”, with many sessions focusing on poetry in translation. The Embassy of Japan has supported Japanese poets Takako Arai, Hiromi Ito, Harumi Kawaguchi, Kayoko Yamasaki and Keijiro Suga to attend the festival. Their events include a bi-lingual poetry reading and anthology launch followed by an Embassy-hosted reception, and a special performance at the NPG. Ito and Suga will also appear at the centrepiece of the festival, a joint reading at Gorman Arts Centre with the two guest poets on Saturday evening September 16.

Other international guests will be attending from the US and New Zealand, and via video link from Great Britain. Joining them will be top interstate and local poets, along with performing and visual artists.

Further festival performance highlights include an unmissable reading by three of Australia’s leading poets – Judith Beveridge, Sarah Holland-Batt and Stephen Edgar – and a special edition of Canberra’s own BAD!SLAM!NO!BISCUIT! poetry slam at the Phoenix Pub featuring Melbourne’s Quinn Eades and local Paul Magee. Poetry fans should also consider the panel on poetry editing (featuring editors from journals, anthologies, specialist poetry imprints and literary presses), the 10-poet “Take Five” event curated by Canberra poetry institution Kathy Kituai, and the workshop on writing poetry for children from Braidwood-region poet and performer Harry Laing.

The boundary-crossing theme of the festival is reflected in a Sunday full of “ekphrasis” on September 17, with poetry crossing into visual art (and back again). The centrepiece is textile artist Dianne Firth’s exhibition at Belconnen Arts Centre, in which she has interpreted the reactions of poets to the Canberra landscape from previous years of Poetry on the Move. There will be a morning workshop and lunchtime reading at BCA, with an afternoon reading and panel on “Writing in response to Visual Art” at the NPG.

The festival also focuses on the crossing of national and cultural boundaries. In addition to the “My Country” and “Measures of Expatriation” events there will be a “Heart of Australia” session on working respectfully with First Nations communities and stories.

Readings and book launches abound, including several new titles from Canberra’s own Recent Work Press, a vibrant new “micro-publisher” already receiving significant national and international attention. Books by local poets Miranda Lello, Moya Pacey, Maggie Shapley and Monica Carroll are among them.

Poetry on the Move is hosted by the International Poetry Studies Institute in UC’s Centre for Creative and Cultural Research, in the Faculty of Arts and Design. Accordingly the festival has an academic component too: a day-long symposium on September 20, with Maxwell’s keynote and papers on current poetry research – and of course, post-symposium drinks. After eight days of non-stop poetry, they will be well-earned indeed.

Poetry on the Move, September 14-21, 2017. Full program at https://梧桐夜网canberra.edu419论坛/research/faculty-research-centres/cccr/ipsi/events/potm2017

Most events on UC campus (map at http://梧桐夜网canberra.edu419论坛/maps/campus-map).

Most sessions free but numbers limited for some. Please book for all events at http://poetryonthemove2017.eventbrite南京夜网419论坛

Melinda Smith is a Canberra poet.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

‘The crook, the retirement village and my mother’: Residents fight back

Jane Cartledge has spent almost a decade trying to claw back hundreds of thousands of dollars from a retirement village operator that she didn’t know had a criminal past and connections to underworld figures.
Nanjing Night Net

The battle to get back the $270,000 she is owed from the sale of her mother’s apartment at Berkeley Living in Victoria’s quiet bayside suburb of Patterson Lakes, has cost her time, money and damaged a relationship with her brother.

It is the latest retirement village operator to face disturbing revelations of misconduct, with Fairfax Media uncovering more than 30 families who have had apartments, worth millions of dollars in total, in the retirement village sold to new owners – when they left or their relatives died – without ever receiving any of the sale proceeds.

Cartledge says she is dismayed that the village’s operator has been allowed to sell apartments and not pay residents or their families.

“Cream and bastards rise to the top,” she says.

It follows a joint Fairfax Media and Four Corners investigation into one of the biggest operators, Aveo, which found a litany of questionable business practices including complex and opaque contracts, fee gouging, safety issues and misleading marketing promises.

The investigation put the spotlight on weak regulations that fail to protect residents.

Only this week the Andrews government, in Victoria, faced heavy criticism after releasing its response to a parliamentary inquiry into the sector from various consumer groups and residents as “failing to deliver” and pushing proposed reforms “into the long grass of more reviews” that would mean victims continue to fall through the cracks.

Fairfax Media can reveal that Berkeley Living, a company trading name registered to Berkeley Property Management, is operating as a respite centre under the directorship of a 25-year-old man with little prior business experience and a criminal record.

It is also linked to former aged care magnate-turned-bankrupt Stephen Snowden, who has been described as a “serial scammer” after Westpac chased him in 2013 in the Supreme Court of Victoria for $13 million of money he allegedly misappropriated.

The court found in favour of Westpac and the bank appointed a liquidator to Berkeley Living. In 2014 the bank won a court order to bankrupt him but the bank says it got little back for its efforts.

Snowden took over management of the village in 2009 when the previous operator ran into financial trouble and his business was wound up.

Snowden told Fairfax Media this week that the 30-plus families and investors who bought into the business as strata owners were “scumbags” and denied he owed any residents money.

“As soon as money becomes involved there is no such thing as family especially if mum and dad is not around,” Snowden says.

Snowden says he is not responsible for the financial hardship the former residents are suffering and is instead the person who is trying to rectify the problem.

Snowden hit the headlines in 2013 when the Department of Health investigated him in connection with an aged care business he was allegedly linked to, Cambridge Aged Care, on the basis he had a previous conviction for dishonesty.

Until June 2012, Cambridge was providing welfare services to Berkeley retirement village, including meals and support services.

One of those aged care homes was linked to a business associate of convicted drug lord Tony Mokbel. Snowden denies being aware of the man’s underworld connections.

Fairfax Media can reveal that Berkeley Property Management continues to operate the Berkeley Living retirement village but Snowden is not on the board or registered as owning shares.

Olga Harradine, a former business partner and former girlfriend of Snowden, is the sole shareholder of Berkeley Property Management. A lawyer for Ms Harradine says: “Ms Harradine was not aware she was a shareholder until contacted by The Age and is taking steps to have herself removed as a shareholder.”

The current director of Berkeley Property Management is listed as Deyar Musa, a 25-year-old man who was convicted of cocaine possession in 2016.

When asked how Snowden knew Musa, Snowden says he didn’t know before adding: “What the world has to understand is everything has been done at an arm’s length basis.”

Snowden says residents had agreed to receive only a proportional return. He planned to improve his financial situation by developing land near the village.

Snowden says he’s keen to return to managing the village.

But Colin Walker, one of the 30-plus families trying to get back their money, believes Snowden has never been far away. Walker lives close to the village and says has regularly seen him there. At one stage Snowden listed one of the units as his residential address on company documents.

Walker sold the unit after his father died in 2011. Since then he has been trying to retrieve almost $100,000 that he is owed after exit fees and other fees are deducted.

“I have gone to Consumer Affairs Victoria, which is a paper tiger. I have written to my local member, the media, Westpac, Moorabin CID for fraud and nothing happened.”

He says many residents and families were too old and too afraid to speak up for fear of reprisals. He says the only avenue left was legal action, but that would cost at least $250,000, which some of the families couldn’t afford.

“The whole situation is a complete debacle,” he says.

Walker criticised a regulatory system that allows retirement villages to change operators without proper regulatory scrutiny.

“This is an area were many elderly people are unsure of their rights and they invest in these places which can be run or taken over by shifty operators and nobody cares.”

Cartledge says her family is owed $275,000. She says her mother would be devastated if she knew the money she worked hard for all her life hadn’t gone to her children.

Like Walker and the many other families, she feels let down by a system that has let retirement village industry fall through the cracks.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Brent Harvey declares Swans team to beat

Sydney is the team to beat for this year’s AFL premiership, according to the man who played more league football than anyone else.
Nanjing Night Net

Brent Harvey has cast his eye over the eight finalists and believes the Swans are the strongest side vying for the flag this year, despite the fact they finished sixth due largely to an 0-6 start.

That means they’ll need to win four straight finals to claim a first premiership since 2012, starting on Saturday against the seventh-placed Essendon at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

But Harvey said if any team was capable of emulating the Western Bulldogs of last season and winning a competition from outside the top four, it was the 2017 Swans.

“To win 14 of the last 16 games is a phenomenal effort, for me right now Sydney Swans are the best team in the competition,” Harvey said.

“Unfortunately for Sydney the grand final’s not this week, it’s in four weeks. They’ve got to maintain that but I’m a firm believer that their good form can continue.

“They’ve only got to hold it up for another four weeks, get four wins and they can win the premiership.

“If you take in the context of the season, being zip and six, no club in the history of the VFL, AFL have ever made finals from there. They haven’t just scraped in – they could’ve easily finished fourth.

“They’re a very proud club, the culture with the Bloods. They would’ve looked each other in the eye, been honest with each other.

“I read that somewhere the other day, they had to be really honest with each other and tell a few blokes how it was. They’ve done that, they’ve bounced back, [there is] no better time to be in good form.”

Harvey has long kept a close eye on the Swans, ever since premiership teammate John Longmire took the head-coaching reins in 2011, with fellow flag winner John Blakey as his assistant.

The trio tasted success at North Melbourne in 1999, Harvey’s fourth season of an incredible 432-match career.

“He’s unbelievable as a coach, you look back and you admire what he did as a player and then what he’s been able to do as a coach to bring them from zip and six is unbelievable,” Harvey said.

“He’s got a great team around him. They’ve got some great assistant coaches.

“Sydney are probably the best team in the competition because they don’t have 18 contributors, they don’t have 16 or 17 to get the job done, they have 21.

“Sometimes there’s one player that might get beaten on the night. They’ve got 21, sometimes 22 contributors. For me, that’s how you win finals, you’ve got to have everyone on the same ballpark, you can’t carry players.

“As soon as you start carrying four or five players is when a team struggles in finals because it’s a completely different ballgame, it goes up another level.”

Harvey also noted the presence of Lance Franklin, fresh from a 10-goal haul against Carlton in the final round, as the Swans’ finals trump card.

“I was lucky enough to play with Wayne [Carey] and you’d just look up there and know if you can get the ball in there enough times he can kick a winning score,” Harvey said.

“I’m sure the Sydney Swans, they won’t rely on Buddy to do it but they’ll certainly walk taller. Gary Rohan, I heard during the week, he walks out and he feels so much bigger and taller because he’s got Buddy next to him.

“That’s a good thing to have in finals knowing that when it hits the fan, you can just bob it in long and Buddy can take a mark.

“Not a lot of teams have got that factor up forward where they’re that confident getting the ball in and there’ll be a bloke that can kick a score for them.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Birkenstock’s sustainable shoe boxes

The headquarters for German shoe company Birkenstock “ticks all the boxes” in terms of sustainability.
Nanjing Night Net

There’s a substantial amount of recycling and green principles are adopted throughout.

Materials such as timber were sourced from local plantations.

“We see our practice as both contemporary and sustainable. We couldn’t provide one of these without the other,” says architect Marc Bernstein, director of Melbourne Design Studio (MDS).

The design won an architecture award in the category of sustainable architecture from the Australian Institute of Architects (Victorian Chapter).

From the street, the Birkenstock Headquarters in Queens Parade Clifton Hill appears not dissimilar to other large stores selling shoes, with front-of-house simply decked out with trestle-style tables of shoes.

However, great design isn’t always obvious at first glance. Let’s start with the front fa??ade.

The previous shop front, added in the 1950s, has been replaced by two sets of glazing on either side of the front door.

Rather than the usual single glassed fa??ade, MDS created two wind-locked chambers that can respond to the season.

Hermetically sealed during the colder months of the year, this glazing system that contains the shop’s front window displays can be opened almost like a veranda.

One of these double-sided systems even includes a patch of grass, almost suburban with the weeds proudly displayed.

“Our ideas were partially informed by our approach to sustainability, but they also reflect Birkenstock’s philosophy, with our clients using the words ‘craftsmanship’, ‘quality’, ‘health’ and ‘slow fashion’ from the outset,” says Bernstein.

As well as exposing the building’s past and revealing the original brick walls, MDS inserted a fascinating glass-topped channel in the timber floors.

Old bottles discovered during the renovation are beautifully arranged, as are children’s lasts, tape measures, ticks and tacks.

There’s also a range of shoes from Birkenstock, forming almost a “timeline” of the company’s designs.

One of the criteria initially given to the architects was to create a domestic feel to the store.

As well as the patch of lawn as part of the shop front, there’s an open fireplace and a galley-style kitchen where clients are served tea.

“It was also important to create connections to the various ‘arms’ within the headquarters,” says Bernstein, pointing out the workshop at the rear of the building, beyond the courtyard (an entirely new building), as well as the warehouse and showroom for retail clients.

“All staff walk through the front door but head off along the different paths,” he adds. As Birkenstock has a philosophy of repairing customers’ shoes, having an accessible and visible workshop in sight was paramount.

The workshop has a slightly Japanese-feel, with recycled sugar gum timber battens forming a sliding screen on the outside.

“The screen can be pulled back on warmer days or ‘closed down’ during more inclement weather,” says Bernstein.

One of the magical design features is the black steel spiral staircase that leads to the main open plan office space on the top level.

Simply juxtaposed to the raw red brick rear fa??ade and new steel-framed windows, it’s been “pierced” with the word “Birkenstock”.

“Everything that’s new has been crafted in black steel so there’s a clear delineation between the past and the present,” says Bernstein.

The office at the top of the building comes with its own terrace, offering impressive views of Melbourne’s skyline.

The staff kitchen, leading the terrace has been as thoughtfully considered, with recycled bamboo used for the kitchen joinery and plywood.

The kitchen’s splashback, a scene taken from the village in Germany where Birkenstock began its global journey, adds a quirky touch.

Birkenstock Headquarters doesn’t scream for attention from the street. However, even if you don’t come to get your Birkenstocks mended in the workshop, take the time to traverse the courtyard!

It’s certainly worth each of the handmade stiches!

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Battle for our footpaths: Nationals senator pushes for scooter speed clampdown

Senator John ‘Wacka’ Williams at Parliament House in Canberra on Monday 20 March 2017. Photo: Andrew Meares Does 10km/h make you a speed freak? A crusading politician says it does when you are travelling on a footpath.
Nanjing Night Net

The humble mobility scooter spells freedom for the elderly and people with disabilities. But it is also at the centre of an unlikely new battle, with Nationals senator John “Wacka” Williams backing new speed limits for the vehicles.

The NSW National wants tougher regulations after his wife, Nancy Capel, was hit by a speeding “gopher” last year and forced to have a hip operation.

But for Barbara Lund, an 89-year old resident of an aged-care facility in Canberra’s Red Hill, her mobility scooter represents a lifeline, offering independence she would be otherwise denied.

Ms Lund has been using the vehicle for four years, mainly to get to the shops, and believes it is a godsend for the elderly and people with disabilities.

“Mostly I value the independence. I had to give up my car and I miss that terribly,” Ms Lund said.

What is now a multi-billion dollar industry began in 1968 in a Michigan garage. To help a family member with multiple sclerosis, plumber Alan R. Thieme spent countless evenings developing a motorised cart. The result was the Amigo, which travelled at 5-6km/h.

And that is as fast as they should be allowed to go, according to Senator Williams, who at the Nationals federal conference in Canberra this weekend will ask colleagues to back a proposal for a 6km/h speed limit. He also wants a ban on scooters weighing more than 150 kilograms.

Currently, mobility scooters in Australia have a compulsory top speed of 10km/h, lower than the 12km/h limit imposed in Britain, and they come with a switch that can reduce their maximum speed in high-traffic pedestrian areas.

In most Australian states and territories, mobility scooter users do not require a licence, registration or third party insurance. But dozens of injuries and even deaths have been linked to the personal vehicles over recent years.

“They are a tremendous assistance for those who are frail or immobile, but we have got to have safe footpaths as well,” Senator Williams said.

“Here’s the problem. Someone elderly fails their licence test because they are viewed as a dangerous driver. They surrender their car. They go and buy a mobility scooter. You’re a danger to the public if you drive a car down a road but you’re not a danger if you drive a scooter down a footpath?”

But his latest campaign – which follows a push for on-the-spot fines and registration schemes – has been met with fierce opposition from one leading Australian scooter business.

“Nationals senator John Williams makes claims he knows nothing about if … his attitudes to mobility scooters is anything to go by,” Peter Fraser, the managing director of Scooters Australia, said.

Mr Fraser blasted the senator’s claims about mobility scooter standards overseas as “complete rubbish”.

“Just because Senator Williams’ wife was injured in a mobility scooter accident is no reason to change the law to suit one politician,” Mr Fraser said.

Senator Williams was scathing of that view.

“All I know is I don’t want what happened to my wife happening to anyone else,” he said.

Ms Lund did not see the need for more rules, saying people are already told not to carry passengers or go on roads.

“Provided people stick to the rules, I can’t see there’s any danger at all.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Sydney buyers look south

A wave of Sydney investors in the Melbourne apartment market is tipped to strengthen in the next few months.
Nanjing Night Net

Lower prices and higher immigration levels are the lures for Sydney buyers put off by the harbour city’s more expensive entry points.

Conversely Melbourne investors are increasingly discouraged by new stamp duty regulations which remove discounts for non-home buyers.

The shift comes as Urbis’ apartment report showed a 40 per cent decrease in apartment sales across Australia in the June 2017 quarter.

The weighted average cost of an apartment in Sydney rose significantly to $1.15 million – up 13 per cent or $151,000 – whereas prices for inner Melbourne fell by $51,000 to $655,686 thanks to a surge in sales of one-bedroom flats.

Urbis national director of property economics and research Clinton Ostwald said the price of a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment rose by $200,000.

“Obviously the Sydney market is extremely competitive, and that translates to the apartment market,” Mr Ostwald said.

Gurner managing director Tim Gurner said buyers from Sydney “are definitely coming and I think they are coming in great numbers”.

They make up between 25 and 30 per cent of the investor pool he’s dealing with, Mr Gurner said.

“I don’t think it’s as much as it could be, given Melbourne is so affordable,” he said.

“Melbourne investors are slowing down because of the stamp duty changes but it’s not putting off Sydney buyers because they are already used to higher prices.”

Evolve Development managing director Ashley Williams said: “We’ve been seeing it for the past 12 to 18 months.

“The Sydney market has really taken off and prices have jumped quite significantly. People are looking for more affordable product and they like what Melbourne has to offer.

“We’re seeing enquiry for Melbourne projects especially from investors who like the price point in Melbourne,” he said.

“And also in the house and land market. You can get into a Melbourne project for under $500,000 where the same property in Sydney will set you back $700,00-$800,000,” he said.

Investors are attracted to Victoria’s buoyant economy and population growth. Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows Victoria accounted for 33 per cent of new jobs compared with 20 per cent in Sydney; interstate migration is strong and Victoria’s residential vacancy rate is just 1.7 per cent.

“We’re seeing an investment migration. There’s an opportunity to buy apartments and houses in Melbourne for significantly less than what one would expect to pay in Sydney,” he said.

Evolve is now pitching its new Botanic project in Coventry Street, South Melbourne to Sydney investors. One-bedroom apartment prices start at around $425,000 and two-bedders at $655,000.

Colliers residential sales agent Tim Storey said there are two key drivers behind the shift to Melbourne.

“Sydneysiders look to Melbourne because of two things. Firstly, the position. Sydney buyers would be paying at least 2.5 times minimum for a comparative product,” Mr Storey said.

“Secondly, we are finding the typical return for a one bedroom in Sydney is very similar in price per week rent but 2.5 times the price paid. Yields are drastically lower in Sydney,” he said.

Growland chief executive Ronald Chan said regulatory changes have also put off foreign buyers and his group is starting to focus on the owner-occupier market.

“Interest from foreign buyers is slowing due to regulatory changes, so the market has adapted to meet the preferences of the local owner-occupier market which is quickly gaining in strength,” Mr Chan said.

Growland has brought forward the launch of its second building at the $600 million, six-tower Victoria Square project in Footscray in Melbourne’s western suburbs.

About 90 per cent of the first tower has sold in four months.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

The battle over same-sex marriage in Australia hits the streets

Late on Wednesday night, while the High Court mulled over the marriage postal survey, Canberra hacks imbibed at their usual haunt in Manuka. Buoyed by liquor, the verdict was already in: not a single Labor staffer believed the challenge would succeed, and almost every Liberal (they were all moderates) hoped it would.
Nanjing Night Net

The plan B that no one really wanted has now come to fruition. And its outcome is impossible to predict, in large part because this survey is voluntary, and will present campaigners with a question unprecedented in Australian political history: how do you get out the vote?

At 91 per cent, turnout at last year’s federal election was the lowest since compulsory voting was introduced in 1925. That reflects a worldwide trend, according to the Australian Election Commission, and it’s particularly pronounced among voters under 40.

For decades, researchers at the Australian National University have asked Australians about this matter. In 2016, 80 per cent said they would still vote if it were voluntary – down from 88 per cent in 2007 – and only about three quarters of those would “definitely” vote, while a quarter would “probably”.

That’s in a federal election. No one can say how many people will bother to participate in an optional, mail-in survey on an issue that enjoys broad but not deep support. But there is at least one precedent. In 1997, Australians were asked to elect representatives to a “constitutional convention” on a possible future republic. The participation rate was 46.9 per cent – and only a third of 18- to 25-year-olds voted. The turnout peaked at about 60 per cent for those 55 and over.

“The standard thing around the world with voluntary voting is young people are least likely to vote,” says ABC election analyst Antony Green, who blogged about the figures last month.

That’s a dark background for the “yes” campaign, which is counting on the massive support for same-sex marriage among the young. This is no longer a campaign for hearts and minds – after years of agonising debate inside Parliament and out, most Australians have made up their minds.

As such, the “yes” side has switched gears into a full-blown, US-style “get out the vote” effort. But political hard-heads are openly worried about turnout and apathy. Senior Liberal operative Andrew Bragg, director of the “Libs and Nats for Yes” campaign, says voters need to plan their vote, down to the nitty gritty of what post box they will use.

“Complacency is a major concern,” he says. “A majority for ‘yes’ is no certainty at all, partly because of the manual postal method. Australia is not accustom to ‘get out the vote’ campaigns, and a detailed, tangible voting plan is our best bet.”

Hence the workmanlike television advertisement launched by the Equality Campaign this week, featuring a motley crew of neighbours striding purposefully towards their local post box. Strategists will ask people to turn voting into a shared activity with friends, family and colleagues. And in the City of Sydney, information kiosks will be set up near post boxes to help get ballots in the bag.

“If they don’t, we may not win,” says campaign co-chair Alex Greenwich. “This is certainly an uphill battle for us … this is completely uncharted territory. We will have a lot of work to do in terms of raising awareness.”

Though the campaign will drag on until the November 7 deadline, strategists know most of the action will be early on. They have learnt from the experience of unions, who regularly hold voluntary mail-in ballots, that huge numbers are returned in the first few days. Greenwich expects efforts to crescendo around the weekend of September 23 and 24, by which time most people will have received their forms.

Same-sex marriage opponents have a somewhat different task. On all polling, they start behind, which they have tried to fashion into underdog status. The slogan “it’s OK to say no” is a callout to the alleged silent majority inclined to oppose same-sex marriage but cowed into submission by the elites and polite society.

It is a slogan that appeals to any lingering uneasiness – or queasiness, perhaps – about changing the definition of marriage, and about gay relationships in general. And it has a collateral implication: if it’s OK to say “no”, it’s perfectly fine to abstain and not say “yes”. Minimising the turnout is not a stated goal of opponents, but it would not hurt. They won’t say it publicly, but they know they’re better off in a voluntary postal survey than a compulsory plebiscite.

The “no” campaign is a murkier beast, too. While Australian Christian Lobby director Lyle Shelton appears regularly on TV and radio, campaign HQ would not grant Fairfax Media a phone interview with any spokesperson on Friday. An unnamed operative requested questions be sent by email, which Fairfax Media refused, and then supplied a written response to questions that weren’t asked.

Several big players on the “no” side are current or former Liberal figures. One man who is back in the fray is Tio Faulker, former president of the ACT Liberal Party and ex-aide to senator Zed Seselja. Just weeks ago, Faulkner told Fairfax Media he had been living overseas for seven months and was “no longer employed in the campaign”. On Friday, his name appeared on a Coalition for Marriage mass mailout.

Faulker’s official title is National Director, Field Campaign Operations and Logistics. He said his campaign strategy “is not secret”, but also refused a phone interview. He is joined by Sophie York, a Liberal Party member and failed preselection candidate, and occasional spokeswoman Monica Doumit, a lawyer who runs the Catholic Talk lobby group.

It was Doumit whose words the Coalition for Marriage emailed to Fairfax Media on Friday, with a message strikingly similar to the “yes” campaign. They too said they had been inundated with support this week. They too encouraged all Australians to discuss the issue with family, friends and neighbours. And they too will hold rallies in major cities, like the “yes” rally taking place in Sydney on Sunday.

For many, including most government MPs, the end of this protracted, unorthodox process can’t come soon enough. And the kicker? Come November 15, the result will be announced by the star of the 2016 census debacle, chief statistician David Kalisch.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Latrell spares Ferguson’s blushes as Roosters stun Broncos

Roosters 24 Broncos 22
Nanjing Night Net

Latrell Mitchell spared Blake Ferguson’s blushes – and his own – engineering a stunning Roosters recovery that has the tricolours on the cusp of their first grand final in four years after a wild win over the Broncos.

Just four minutes after the otherwise outstanding Ferguson bizarrely batted a game-changing Benji Marshall 40-20 attempt back infield, allowing Corey Oates to stroll over for his second try and give Brisbane their first lead of the night, Mitchell’s swerving effort pushed the Roosters to the brink of another decider.

It capped a crazy night at Allianz Stadium after the Roosters – who bolted to a 14-point lead inside the first half hour – scrambled home 24-22 on Friday night to condemn Brisbane to sudden-death football for the rest of September.

The depleted Broncos fought back to take an improbable lead inside the final 10 minutes after tries to Ben Hunt and Oates within two minutes, but Mitchell stood up opposite number James Roberts to have the final say.

The Broncos, perhaps with the help of returning skipper Darius Boyd, will face the winner of the Sea Eagles-Panthers clash at Suncorp Stadium next week in an elimination final.

A stunned Roosters coach Trent Robinson sat partially in disbelief, maybe bewilderment, in his coaching box after Roberts unluckily toed the ball over the dead ball line on the game’s final play without an opponent near him.

It was the fitting end to a bizarre match in which the Roosters looked in complete control minutes before half-time, but conspired to throw away the match thereafter.

Mitchell fumbled the ball and couldn’t re-grip it when on the brink of padding the Roosters’ second-half lead to 14 – and it looked like it would come back to bite him as Hunt kicked for himself and outsprinted Michael Gordon to start a late rally.

Oates’ second, when Ferguson miraculously kept Marshall’s kick in play with not another Rooster in sight, set up a grandstand finish but the Broncos’ lead only lasted four minutes thanks to 20-year-old Mitchell’s heroics.

It was a relief for the hot-and-cold tricolours, but was it enough to put the shudders through red-hot premiership favourites Melbourne? Hardly.

Wayne Bennett braved the cold and forfeited the comfort of the coaching box to park his right-hand men in the stands – and wouldn’t have been warmed by the opening exchanges as his undermanned side struggled to match it with the quick-starting Roosters.

Despite struggling past also-rans in the Tigers and Titans in the last month of the season, the Roosters torched Brisbane in the opening quarter, laying on tries through representative back-rowers Aidan Guerra and Boyd Cordner against a static Broncos defensive line.

Michael Gordon’s penalty goal extended their buffer to 14, but the Jekyll and Hyde Roosters resurfaced in the minutes prior to the break as Marshall’s inch-perfect grubber was grounded by a flying Roberts.

Keary ghosted around the back to slice through off a Mitchell Pearce pass early in the second half, but Oates’ response six minutes later gave the Broncos a lifeline.

Mitchell and Oates spurned opportunities within 60 seconds of each other – the former ever so slightly fumbling and not re-gripping the ball before grounding it while the latter couldn’t scoop up a botched Ferguson catch.

But the drama was only beginning. Hunt and Oates scored head-spinning tries, but Mitchell would have the last say. And didn’t Ferguson thank him for it.

Sydney Roosters 24 (Aidan Guerra, Boyd Cordner, Luke Keary, Latrell Mitchell tries; Michael Gordon 4 goals) defeated Brisbane Broncos 22 (Corey Oates 2, James Roberts, Ben Hunt tries; Jordan Kahu 3 goals) at Allianz Stadium. Referees: Ben Cummins, Chris Sutton. Crowd: 21,212.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.