Sticky

ALLIANCE: The Prime Minister has treated Senator Matt Canavan and deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce very differently in the citizenship furore, Mr Fitzgibbon argues. In my 21 years in the federal Parliament I’ve experienced some very interesting sitting weeks. For balance, many of them occurred during the 43rdParliament when Labor was in minority-government and Tony Abbott was making the most of every opportunity.
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But I believe last week’s sitting takes the prize as the most bizarre.

Behind all the political battle lines lay some very serious issues. When the two Greens declared their dual citizenship they immediately left the Parliament.

The Prime Minister admonished them for their “sloppiness” and declared their departure the right thing to do.

But he was happy to embrace somewhat of a lower standard for the National Party’s Senator Matt Canavan.

He was asked to step-aside from his Cabinet post and declared he would not exercise his vote in the Senate until the High Court determined his fate.

For the time being, he remains in the Senate.

When Barnaby Joyce rose to his feet in the Parliament to declare he is a citizen of New Zealand, the Prime Minister adopted a different and lower standard.

Joyce was allowed to retain his roles as deputy Prime Minister and cabinet minister.No satisfactory explanation was given to explain the different treatment for Canavan and Joyce.

Of course, the difference can only be their respective parliamentary chambers.

Governments are made and unmade in the House of Representatives. It’s where the numbers matter most.

Subjecting Barnaby Joyce to the same standard as Matt Canavan would have cost the government a vote in the house where it has the barest of majorities, just 76 of the 150 seats.

After providing the Speaker the number is just 75 seats.

Allowing the number to fall to 74 seats poses an existential threat to the government, and the Prime Minister was not prepared to take that risk.

This political expediency puts the government’s political interests ahead of the national interest.

We already have somethingof a crisis of confidence and a lack of community trust in our political system and institutions. Allowing members who appear to be in breach of the Constitution to continue to exercise their vote threatens to undermine that trust further.

It is likely to be late October before the High Court rules on the validity of Barnaby Joyce’s election.

In the meantime, he plans to vote on a number of crucial bills which affect all of us. He should not.

I’m yet to speak with a constitutional lawyer who believes Joyce’s prospects in the Court are good.

Like Matt Canavan, he should not exercise his vote until the verdict is known.

Just when we thought the Parliamentary sitting week could not grow crazier, Pauline Hanson donned the burqa.

Senator Fiona Nash also declared herself a Scot.

Like her party head, the Nationals’ deputy leader has no intention of giving up her vote or her cabinet post.

And we wonder why people are shaking their heads!

Joel Fitzgibbon has been the federal member for Hunter since the 1996 election. He is Labor’s shadow minister for rural and regional Australia, spokesman for the country caucus and shadow minister for agriculture, fisheries and forestry.Read More →

Sticky

Rome: An earthquake hit the tourist-packed holiday island of Ischia on Monday night, killing two people, injuring dozens and trapping three young brothers who survived for up to 16 hours before being rescued.
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Tourists and residents on the island off the coast of Naples ran out onto the narrow streets after the quake wrecked a church and several buildings. Fearing aftershocks, many decided to leave the island early.

Rescuers found a baby boy called Pasquale in the wreckage and pulled him out alive in his nappy early on Tuesday, seven hours after the shock. There was a hush followed by loud applause.

Fire crews found his brothers Mattia and Ciro, aged seven and 11, stuck under a bed nearby. They kept talking to them and fed water to them through a tube.

“I promised them that after this was all over we would all go get a pizza together,” one emergency worker said on Italian television.

They freed Mattia late on Tuesday morning and later extracted Ciro more than 16 hours after the quake hit. The parents were safe because they were in another room.

They said Ciro had probably saved his brother’s life by shoving him under the bed when the quake struck.

“The rescuers were great. We really have to thank God for this miracle,” said the island’s bishop, Pietro Lagnese.

About six buildings in the town of Casamicciola, including a church, collapsed in the quake, which hit at 8:57pm local time on Monday. The walls of one were ripped open, exposing a kitchen with a table still set for dinner.

Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Vulcanology put the magnitude at 4.0, revising it up from an initial 3.6, but both the U.S. Geological Survey and the European quake agency estimated it at 4.3.

It struck three days before the first anniversary of a major quake that killed nearly 300 people in central Italy, most of them in the town of Amatrice. Falling masonry

The director of the island’s hospital said two women were killed and about 40 injured. One of the victims was hit by falling masonry from the church of Santa Maria del Suffragio, the Civil Protection Department in Rome said.

The church was rebuilt after it, like most of Casamicciola, was destroyed by an earthquake that killed about 2,000 people in 1883.

Most of the damage was in the high part of the volcanic island. Hotels and residences on the coast did not appear to suffer serious damage but fire brigades were checking to see if they were still habitable.

The island has a year-round population of about 63,000, which swells to more than 200,000 in summer, with many people from the mainland owning holiday homes.

Civil Protection Department head Angelo Borrelli said about 2,600 people could not re-enter their homes, pending checks.

Helicopters and a ferry boat brought in more rescue workers from the mainland. Some civil protection squads were already on the island because of brushfires.

Three extra ferries were provided during the night for about 1,000 residents and tourists who wanted to leave. As daylight broke, dozens of people went to the island’s ports, having decided to end their vacations early.

Many who were due to take ferries from Naples on the mainland to start their vacations cancelled their plans, local officials said.

Ischia, about a one-hour ride from Naples, is popular with German tourists, and Chancellor Angela Merkel has stayed there often.

Reuters /**/

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Clear skies: Blackall-Tambo mayor Andrew Martin is looking forward to the day when, rather than searching for a signal, he can operate his business “in the cloud”.Residents of the Blackall-Tambo region are on the cusp of a technological shake-up its leaders say will be the envy of regional communities around Australia.
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An exhaustive search by the region’s mayor for a communications solution to what he described as an “unreliable and expensive” satellite internet service has led to the announcement of a partnership with South Western Wireless for the provision of “superfast internet”.

“The fast backhaul offered by this idea would allow a company as big as BHP to set up here,” mayor Andrew Martin said. “It’s a blueprint for remote communities around the world to have the option of very fast internet.”

Although the bold project is not yet fully funded –it relies on a $500,000 grant from the federal Building Better Regions fund to become reality –Cr Martin is confident it will succeed.

“The applications are all intertwined, every level of government is aware of the other parts,” he said. “I’m not saying it’s a fait accompli but it’s unusual for these sorts of things not to get full support.”

The Blackall-Tambo Regional Council committed $125,000 to the project in its 2017-18 budget, to be used in conjunction with $500,000 from the state government’s Building Our Regions fund.

The scheme uses optic fibre cableat Barcaldine, bypassing Telstra’s fibre running through both Blackall and Tambo, and 24‘point to point’ microwave towers to transmit a wireless signal equally around the region.

As well as internet packages, even the most remote resident will be able to choose whether to continue with existing landline services or move to Voice Over Internet Protocols, and possibly use their mobile phone via wifi hotspots.

The 20-year deal will be hosted and maintained by South Western Wireless at no cost to the council.

“For the first time, people living on properties will be waiting for technology to catch up,” Cr Martin said.

The offering doesn’t stop there –not only will government departments, especially emergency services, be offered use of the network for no charge, grey nomads will be able to pull into laybys in the region and access wifi hotspots.

Council’s existing infrastructure will be upgraded, including rebroadcast capability for digital television and radio, UHF repeaters, and even its telephony services.

South Western Wireless CEO, Geoff Peach, described it as the BTRC Metro Area.

“Wifi hotspots and emergency telephones will be deployed at council’s roadside amenities stops to provide communications for travellers and monitoring of equipment at the sites using CCTV and other remote monitoring equipment.

South Western Wireless CEO, Geoff Peach

The scheme is an opt-in one, meaning people can choose to stay with their SkyMuster retail service provider or Telstra service but Mr Peach expected that 80 per cent of the shire’s residents would say they weren’t happy with their current service.

He is callingon organisations to offer services, based on the speeds and prices on offer.

As a vertically integrated organisation, it’s the subscriptions from users and companies with add-on services that South Western Wireless relieson for its profit.

“People on the network can have their telephones provided by us as well –it’s a whole of communications solution,” Geoff said.“People will be able to import their telephone number –everything is identical from the point of view of the subscriber.”

Geoff described South Western Wireless as the first company to bring in a facility that “deals with the needs of a whole region in one hit”.

“I think this will bring people back, and stop people from leaving,” he said.

Cr Martin has similar high hopes. He used the example of rural businesses not being able to use a custom-designed world-acclaimed accounting package on current internet systems, and shifting their businesses elsewhere.

“People are currently paying $90 a month for internet that’s sometimes unusable.”

Geoff expected they would start deploying infrastructure before the middle of August and hoped to have the first dozen of 24 towers in operation before Christmas.

Ongoing tower maintenance will be provided by South Western Wireless.

Two other councils have already asked for a similar deal for their communities.

Queensland Country Life

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It’s an unforeseen peril of dramatic architecture – a building meant to inspire awe that instead triggers minor panic.
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In the Pathumwan district of Thailand’s capital last week, the removal of some scaffolding from a 30-storey luxury hotel, the Rosewood Bangkok, sparked fear among city dwellers, as the building appeared to be leaning to one side.

The Bangkok Post reported that photos of the building were widely shared after they were posted on Twitter, with concerns expressed that the Rosewood was on the verge of tipping over onto an adjacent apartment block, the Noble Ploenchit.

But after local police received complaints and sent officers to investigate, they established that it was just an optical illusion created by the new hotel’s distinctive architectural design.

“We have found out that the rumours are not true. It’s just that this building is designed differently from others,” Superintendent Pol Lt-Colonel Duangchot Suwancharas told The Nation.

The building’s “lean” extends from the 10th floor to the 33rd floor, but it is only external.

The social media swarm also prompted the project’s technical director, Dr Assawin Wanichkorkul, to hurry to the site to confirm nothing was wrong. An artist’s impression of the Rosewood Bangkok. Source: KPF.

The shape of the Rosewood is inspired by the Thai greeting known as the “wai”, and its two connected towers will provide “opportunities for terraces, shrinking floorplates, and unique, occupiable spaces”, according to the project website.

Construction is due to be completed and the hotel ready to open in 2019. #Bangkok – #Noble#Ploenchit – Design of building is misleading (Thai) https://t.co/rhkmGQELM4#NotLeaningTowerofBangkok??? Incident Alerts (@Incident_Alerts) August 15, 2017Downtown panic as new building seems to tilt https://t.co/IQOKk25XGQpic.twitter南京夜网/GBOhoqUxaO??? Bangkok Post (@BangkokPostNews) August 15, 2017This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.Read More →

I’m on a hunt for Wonga Park’s rich and reclusive. Two things are for sure. The first: I won’t find them at The Village Centre. This small brown-bricked shopping strip once housed a butcher, a baker, a candle stick… Okay you get the picture.
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Let’s make that a supermarket, post office, hair and beauty shop and the obligatory fish and chips shop. Now it’s an eerily abandoned strip. Printed letters, obviously posted hastily on the aforementioned doors, announce that their leases were up. It seems that suddenly, two years ago, the shopkeepers were forced outta there.

The second thing that’s for sure: the rich and reclusive are not hanging at Jumping Creek Reserve. The only person hanging around Sandy Bay Carpark midday mid-week is a possibly dodgy dude ringing my “don’t get out of your car” alarm bells. There’s no way I’m tackling the Jumping Creek Nature Trail (two kilometre, 30-60 mins return) and I quickly move on.

The Jumping Creek part of Warrandyte State Forest Park borders Warrandyte, while the other side of Wonga Park borders Bend of Islands. Croydon and the shopping mecca of Ringwood are not far away.

Warrandyte, Wonga Park and Bend of Islands have one thing linking them: the Yarra River. While Warrandyte’s village fronts the beautiful expanse of brown, Wonga Park’s access is a little more discrete.

So how do you find it? You can scout around aimlessly, past mansions hidden up driveways with grand, locked gates, only to come face to face with “no access to river!” signs, or you can ask someone who knows. “Turn left, and left again!” says Lisa from the warm oasis of Kellybrook Winery.

Kellybrook is one of the best surprises of Wonga Park. This winery is a blast of warmth on a cold day, a haven in a suburb that really doesn’t have too many highlights. Here you can taste an exhausting variety of wines, and pick up local foodie goodies for a picnic. They grow pinot noir, cabernet, shiraz, sav blanc, chardonnay and gewurztraminer on site, and have a ripping range of apple ciders, including apple brandy ($80 a bottle) for sale. Related: A suburb not famous for anythingRelated: Secret suburb you’ve never heard ofRelated: Baristas, this suburb needs you

And they can tell you how to find the non-signposted Yarra. Immediately, Wittons Reserve feels like a special place. It’s traditional Wurundjeri Women Country, and a sign lets visitors know that this is a sacred spot and that a re-enactment of a traditional Women’s Ceremony was held here in 2014.

There’s a gathering of other sorts here today: of BMWs and late model Volvos. Is this where the rich and reclusive come out to play? It’s the starting point of the Mt Lofty Hill Walk (five kilometres, one and a half hours, according to Manningham Council’s brochure) and I wish I’d brought my trail-running shoes. Others are out running, and walking, and being serenaded by kookaburras and currawongs.

Some way in, there’s a signposted swimming spot. The Yarra is churning up, flashing white water out of the brown. It’s quiet, no one’s around. Just the noise of the river, the background of old gums and tea-trees.

I ponder that this suburb is one of the few actually named after an Aboriginal leader (Simon Wonga). There’s something special, and dare we call, it, sacred, about this place, just forty minutes from Melbourne. Maybe this is the rich and reclusive we were looking for.

Five things you didn’t know about Wonga Park: Every fourth Saturday of the month (this Saturday) Wonga Park Primary hosts the Wonga Park Farmers Market. It’s on from 9am-2pm.Every last Sunday of the month (this Sunday) Kellybrook Winery has free music with a local band.Into the #waronwaste? Apiary Made is made in Wonga Park. As well as making medical-grade honey, they make pretty and reuseable food wraps from wax collected from bees that buzz around Kellybrook Winery.The Scouts have an almost 20-hectare property in Wonga Park called Clifford Park. It’s not all running and jumping in nature, though; they run electronics workshops for Scouting groups, too.Apparently permits have lapsed for renovations for The Village Centre, but goodies (and petrol) can be bought from the mixed business shop on Yarra Road, or the Foodworks on Jumping Creek Road.

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A fierce battle over disused laneways in Melbourne’s northern suburbs has led to accusations Darebin council is trying to sell off residents’ backyards, pitting pensioners against cashed-up developers.
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The policy affects 4000 homes backing onto 30 kilometres of disused laneways in 10 suburbs, including Preston, Reservoir, Coburg, Northcote, Fairfield and Thornbury, and involves council trying to sell parcels of laneway to adjoining properties.

Owners who have had sections of laneway fully enclosed in their property for decades have been shocked to receive council notices saying that part of what they believed to be their back garden must be split between neighbours, or sold off to the highest bidder.

Greg Goldenberg, a Reservoir resident who successfully battled to save his garden, says other residents have lost large sections of backyards they had used exclusively for up to 40 years because council had claimed full rights to the land.

“The council said if the land was sold to someone else, and the resident refused to vacate, they would forcibly take the land, relocate the fences, and charge for the exercise,” he says.

Former Darebin councillor Bo Li accused the council of “placing 70-year-old pensioners against cashed-up developers who see a 10-metre strip of land that’s worth a lot of money to them, because it means they can build an extra unit”.

Documents provided to Fairfax Media show council giving residents incorrect legal advice and pressuring them to buy sections of laneway it didn’t actually own, because the titles were still held by long dead 18th or early 19th century subdividers. Related: Squatter makes adverse possession bidRelated: What price a Melbourne laneway?Related: Laneway masterstroke in Fitzroy renovation

The documents also show council officers enforcing the policy two years before council voted to adopt it.

After distressing arguments with council, a growing number of residents are using adverse possession laws that enable them to gain ownership of a disused laneway if it has been fenced inside their property for 15 years or more.

“There are three major cases other than mine that were won in exactly the same way, and there would be at least 24 other adverse possession claims still going through the titles office within the Darebin area alone,” Goldenberg says.

“The council used what were effectively bullying tactics and some local pensioners lost backyards they’d looked after for many decades.”

Northcote resident Andrew Schudmak was shocked when told part of his property enclosed for more than 30 years would be auctioned off.

“Slicing off three metres at the side of my property would drastically reduce its value and visual appeal and require the demolition of my garage,” he says. “The council’s policy deliberately sets neighbour against neighbour and has caused huge distress.”

Schudmak says after the council refused his offer of $40,000 for the land, he was able to gain title by adverse possession at far less expense.

Arthur Stabolidis of Reservoir, another successful adverse possessor, tells a similar story. “The agent who sold me the house didn’t point out that 75 square meters of the land was marked as a road on the Section 32 papers,” he says.

“When I talked to councillors, they said I could be up for $75,000, that the land would be either sold between neighbours or go to the highest bidder if we couldn’t agree, and that I’d need to pay the costs of removing trees and replacing fences.”

Darebin mayor Kim Le Cer – elected to council last year – did not respond to questions about council’s past actions, but described the current policy as “problematic and inconsistent with community expectations”.

“I am concerned the review called for in 2015 has not already taken place, and have been reassured by officers today that consultation will now urgently take place in order to revise the policy,” she said.

Phillip Leaman, of Tisher Liner FC Law, a leading expert on adverse possession, advises people to seek legal advice before responding to council offers to sell them unused roads, old laneways or reserves that are enclosed within their properties.

“In many cases, residents can acquire the land without paying the council anything,” he says. “Even if they have only owned the property for a short time, it’s possible to prove previous owners have had the land enclosed for decades.”

The Victorian Titles Office says it receives an average of 200 adverse possession claims a year, and that usually only 25 of them are either rejected or withdrawn.

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I found the perfect house. It has four bedrooms, a study, a freshly renovated kitchen and a laundry the size of a carport. And a carport. It has a huge garden and a swing set.
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It didn’t just tick all the boxes on my “deal-breaker” list – it ticked boxes I didn’t even know I had. I was mentally unpacking our moving boxes before I reached the end of the photos. The best bit? We could afford it.

Of course there was a catch. The dream house, as I came to call it, wasn’t exactly in our desired postcode. It wasn’t even close. Living in the dream house would mean packing up our inner-west rental and moving 90 kilometres to the Blue Mountains.

There were lots of reasons to go for it. Comparing the dream house with similarly priced property in the inner-west was mind-boggling. Looking to buy in our current neighbourhood would probably mean squeezing our family into a two-bedroom unit, and even then we would be pushing the mortgage a little further than we comfortably want to go.

On paper it seemed like a no-brainer and I decided it would be crazy not to move to an area that we can afford. I felt the tug of the dream house and envisioned family life within its walls. The four of us around the kitchen table, the kids running wild in the garden, walking the dog (who would surely join our family once we had the space) and working from home. Everything would be perfect.

The Blue Mountains has a lot to offer. The scenery is magnificent and there are countless activities for outdoor family fun. Townships such as Leura, Wentworth Falls and Katoomba are heaving with cafes and shops and, despite the obvious tourism, there is a strong community vibe.

It’s a decision that many families have been weighing up. Although property prices in the Blue Mountains are increasing (the region has seen 12.5 per cent price growth over the past year), they are still attractive compared to Sydney prices. On top of this, transport links have improved and developments such as the new airport will bring more jobs to the area.

In my little dream-house fantasy we were all really happy living in the Blue Mountains. And maybe making the move would have been great. But my heart just wasn’t in it. Every time I found myself talking about a tree change I felt a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. Related: I made a sea-change at 25Related: The realities of living in the countryRelated: The new generation of country-dwellers

I suppose I am a city girl. I like to be near the action. I enjoy the fact that I can walk to local cafes, shops and the gym in under 10 minutes and only drive if I really have to.

My children are very happy and settled at their inner-west primary school and the thought of dragging them away from their friends made me sad. I know that had we gone the other way they would have adapted and made new friends, but staying put means preserving the friendships they’ve been cultivating since pre-school.

A tree change would have also given my husband a major commute. There are ways of lessening the blow; working from home a few days a week, working on the train and potentially sleeping in the city one night a week. But the cost to family life would be high.

Most importantly, for me, I couldn’t bring myself to leave my network. Since moving to Sydney (from London) 10 years ago I’ve had six different addresses in four different suburbs and I’ve never felt as settled as I do now. And it’s my community of friends and neighbours who make me feel at home. Yes, I could build a new network – but when I weighed the life we have now to the life we could have my instincts told me to stick.

I deleted the dream house from my Domain favourites and removed the Blue Mountains from my search criteria. If staying in the inner-west means downsizing then so be it – our home might be (a lot) smaller than it could be, but our hearts will be full.

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More than a year after a monster storm swallowed 50 metres of Collaroy Beach and destroyed beachfront homes, one of the locals has returned his house to the property market.
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The campaign to sell builder Patrick Finlay’s two-storey house was interrupted on June 6 last year when huge waves and an eight metre king tide struck, leaving 10 houses that line the beachfront uninhabitable and at risk of falling into the sea.

Although there was no damage to Finlay’s house, which is set back from the beach, three of the 10 beachfront homes that bore the brunt of the destruction remain unoccupied 14 months later.

As locals hold out in hope the state government will give approval for a seawall to be built to protect the homes, work started this week to restore the balcony of the Beach Club Collaroy.

Finlay first listed his Pittwater Road property with a $3.6 million guide last year, having redesigned the house since he bought it in 2006 for $2 million.

The four-bedroom home, with separate living areas and a level rear lawn with direct beach access, is now set to go to auction on September 23. McGrath’s David Rothschild has a $4.2 million guide.

Fears the storm may have turned buyers off the beachfront look to have been baseless, after three contracts were issued within hours of the property hitting the internet on Monday.

Collaroy’s median house price has risen 9.7 per cent in the past 12 months, to a high of $2,277,500, according to Domain Data. Related: Coastal reforms on hold a year after stormRelated: Erosion swallows 50 metres of Collaroy, Narrabeen beachesRelated: Shifting storms under climate change to worsen

Another house sale on Collaroy Beach that was interrupted by the storm involved property owned by Spiro Toursounoglou. At the time, an asking price of $3 million for the three-level house was set before its planned June 15 auction.

However, it was withdrawn when the storm hit, and is not expected to return to the market in the immediate future.

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GPT Group and Blackwall are the latest ASX-listed companies to expand their footprints in the co-working office space, a sector identified as an integral part of an organisation’s workplace strategy.
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GPT launched Space&Co in May 2014, while Dexus Property offered a separate site under the Dexus Place banner in May 2015, and is also on the expansion path.

Peter Black, head of workplace solutions at Colliers International, says the biggest shift he sees in coming years is that flexible workspace will become a key component of many companies’ workplace and real estate strategies, for occupiers and building owners.

“Flexible workspace is not just for millennial freelancers or tech start-ups any more. Large, multinational companies are increasingly taking on space at flexible workspace operators or integrating shared working spaces into their own environments,” Mr Black said.

“In 2016, there were about 11,000 co-working locations around the world. But this figure is expected to more than double to 26,000 by 2020. By comparison, there are approximately 24,000 Starbucks locations worldwide.”

Knight Frank analyst Kimberley Paterson says Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane have 239 co-working spaces in total, occupying 116,955 sq m, and Melbourne accounts for 56 per cent of that total.

GPT’s latest deal is for its Space&Co which opened another level at its Melbourne Central office in July. The flexible workspace group has taken level 12 in the building and targeted it towards teams of four or more staff.

The new space had already achieved occupancy around 70 per cent, GPT’s national director of flexible working Daniel Stiffe said. About half of the usage was from existing tenants in the building, he said.

Space&Co also has space in another GPT-owned building at 530 Collins Street. There are plans to open in two other locations in Melbourne, Mr Stiffe said.

GPT also confirmed plans to expand its venue at 580 George Street, Sydney, in response to strong demand. The Space&Co will be boosted from 300 sq m to 700 sq m, with the new space created by one of the world’s leading designers of co-working spaces, architectural firm BVN.

The expanded venue will accommodate an extra 50-plus members and include dedicated project and team rooms and collaborative working areas.

GPT’s head of office & logistics Matthew Faddy said the venue had benefited from being in Sydney CBD’s expanding mid-town area, which has emerged as a hub for international technology and creative firms: “580 George Street includes the best amenities and is arguably the most convenient location for any co-working space in Sydney..

“Aside from the appeal of its close proximity to Town Hall Station, Space&Co had seen strong demand from independent professionals and small business operators but also existing GPT tenants looking for temporary flexible workspace.”

Listed Blackwall, which reported an after-tax profit of $3.6 million for 2017, up 22 per cent, on the previous year, and whose result also featured a significant increase in gross revenue, up $6.6 million to $17.4 million, has increased its WOTSO space at its office at 55 Pyrmont Bridge Road, Pyrmont, after the departure of Fox Sports.

With 102 new desks, plus studio rooms and office suites, the area sees the total WOTSO tenancy at Pyrmont grow to more than 1600 sq m.

Blackwall director of property Jess Glew said the decision to move and expand the co-working space at Pyrmont was because demand was outstripping supply in its original configuration.

WeWork is also on the march, with three Sydney sites and now about 6000 sq m in Collins Street, Melbourne. Another big co-working company in Melbourne is Hub Australia.

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Ingenia Communities will benefit from the rise in grey nomads selling the family home and setting off around the county, before settling into low maintenance and affordable accommodation.

Having built up its development pipeline with caravan parks and community villages, Ingenia now has 12 projects under way and can create a further 2473 new homes. It has further increased its settlements target to 260-280 in 2018 and 350-plus in 2019.

The group warned of likely increased regulatory requirement for retirement villages, but expected this to have limited impact on lifestyle communities.

For the year, the group reported an underlying profit of $23.5 million, an increase of 16.3 per cent on the previous financial year.

The statutory profit of $26.4 million was up 8.6 per cent on the year before, but that was affected by the $7.6 million loss recorded on the sale of most of the group’s deferred management fund (DMF) retirement assets in October 2016. The interim dividend of 5.1?? will be paid on September 13.

Ingenia operates in the holiday and seniors living sector and says housing affordability and ageing population will drive long-term core demand. A key risk would be a slowdown in residential housing but not apartments. It previously was the ING Real Estate Community Living Group.

Ingenia chief executive Simon Owen said the group was positioned to benefit from demand from “travelling seniors and families for quality holiday accommodation with our portfolio now offering over 790,000 ‘room nights’ per annum along Australia’s east coast”.

He said tourism and mixed-use communities continued to be an important part of Ingenia’s portfolio, with more than $200 million committed to expanding the portfolio over the past year.

“As the competition for lifestyle communities intensifies, buoyed by interest from offshore players, and capitalisation rates compress, we see a competitive advantage in having a business model that spans both holiday and lifestyle communities, with significant embedded growth through our development pipeline.”

Brokers were mixed on the result, with Petra Securities’ Jonathan Kriska saying the positive was the Garden Villages division, which continues to be a solid performer, but the Settlers DMF division profit fell on the disposal of assets.

“Overall, the 3 per cent earnings per security growth and minimal net tangible asset growth is just not good enough for a company which has had the tailwinds of cheap debt, attractive acquisition spreads, growing development profits, and an in-favour sector,” Mr Kriska said.

Over the next 14 months, Mr Owen said, the group was set to launch eight new or expansion development projects, which supports its aspiration to become the clear lifestyle community market leader.

The expected increase in sales and addition of new assets and rental contracts will underpin earnings before interest and tax guidance, being in the range of $42-46 million for the 2018 year,” Mr Owen said.

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Costco, the original international bulk goods discounter to enter Australia, has opened its ninth national store and will look to increase its online presence to match its physical space as it joins other retailers in waiting for the arrival of Amazon.
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Commanding a large area, Costco has been a sought after tenant. For its third store in Sydney it has opted for a site within the large-format retail precinct at Sydney Business Park, Marsden Park. The store will be the largest tenant with 13,575 square metres, within the 256-hectare precinct in the north-west.

Costco Wholesale Australia managing director Patrick Noone has been with Costco for 26 years and said the company was “very pleased to have found such an ideal site for its latest store at Sydney Business Park”.

It is expected the arrival of Amazon will see his group and others boost their online operations to complement the bricks and mortar outlets.

Cushman & Wakefield national director John Sears said bigger retailers have generally had an advantage over smaller ones, using their size to reduce costs and increase product range.

“While global retailers such as Zara and H&M have had an impact on the Australian retail landscape, an even larger merchant, Amazon, is likely to cause further disruption. When measured by market capitalisation, Amazon is the largest retailer in the US, at a market capitalisation of $US475 billion, around twice the size of the next biggest, WalMart with Costco worth $US79.20 billion.

“The arrival of Amazon will further shake up the Australia retail sector and should support the expansion of small online traders,” Mr Sears said.

Having held his current role since the retailer launched in Australia around 10 years ago, Mr Noone said Costco’s Marsden Park store opening marks another “significant milestone” for the company, signalling its continued growth in the Australian market.

Sydney Business Park project manager Owen Walsh said Costco joins a growing business and retail community in Marsden Park. He said Sydney Business Park has secured about $600 million in investment to date, on track as part of the broader $3 billion project.

“Costco Wholesale Australia is a welcome addition to Sydney Business Park, which is fast becoming a major shopping and warehouse distribution/ logistics destination for the region,” Mr Walsh said.

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BHP chief executive Andrew Mackenzie has pledged that the revitalised miner’s plans would deliver “shareholder returns for decades to come”, acknowledging that poor investment decisions had come at a cost.
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Mr Mackenzie made the comments as BHP delivered a $US6.73 billion ($8.5 billion) full year underlying profit, revealed it would pay $US4.4 billion in dividends for the year – well above its minimum payout commitment – and confirmed it planned to sell its controversial onshore US shale assets.

BHP’s underlying profit, which was propelled by higher returns from its key commodity divisions, was about 5?? times greater than last year’s $US1.2 billion result.

Coal and iron ore were stand-out performers, with earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) from coal up a massive 496 per cent to $US3.8 billion, and iron ore EBITDA up 62 per cent to $US9.1 billion.

Mr Mackenzie conceded BHP’s entry into the onshore US shale industry was “poorly timed, we paid too much” for the assets.

“We would like to get on with the exit from shale,” he said, adding that BHP would “be patient to make sure we restore value for shareholders”.

The preferred method to dispose of the “non-core” US shale investment was via a small number of trade sales, although other options would be considered.

“We’ll look at everything in order to decide what is the right way through this,” he said.

BHP’s shale announcement was welcomed by analysts and investors.

“We’ve always been of the view that it’s not a core BHP business and it’s not a tier-one asset. [And] it’s a declining return business,” Citi analyst Clarke Wilkins said.

“It was poorly timed, they paid too much and then they went too hard when they acquired it.”

Matthew Haupt, portfolio manager at Wilson Asset Management, a BHP shareholder, welcomed the shale announcement.

“I think that’s a big relief for all shareholders,” he said.

“It’s been a terrible investment and I think the market is relieved that they can just focus on their tier-one assets now.”

Mr Mackenzie said in 2018 financial year BHP would generate strong free cash flow, while in the medium to longer term it would strengthen its balance sheet and make significant productivity gains.

“We’ll grow value and returns, which remain at the heart of what we do every day. Our plan is a plan that delivers shareholder returns for decades to come,” he said.

BHP declared a final dividend of 43 US cents per share, payable on September 26, for a full-year payout of 83 US cents per share. The final dividend is more than triple last year’s final dividend. BHP has about 600,000 retail shareholders.

It had been a “rough time for shareholders, they’ve been very patient with us. And I think it’s very appropriate that when we’re able to do so, we reward them,” Mr Mackenzie said.

“We actually have biased our free cash flow towards the pay down of debt, but we thought we should keep a little bit back to put a little bit more juice into the dividend this time, and frankly to maintain a reasonable yield on the stock.”

The market reacted positively to BHP’s news, with the stock climbing 28?? to $25.98.

The decision to exit US shale comes after a comprehensive review of BHP’s portfolio, and amid loud calls from activist investor Elliott Management for an overhaul of the miner, including a full exit from onshore US shale.

BHP also reiterated its position on its Canadian potash project, Jansen, revealing it would not move beyond preliminary works unless it passed strict capital allocation tests.

“We are very happy that we have multiple value-creating options, which span both commodities and time frames. The Jansen project is one of those options … we have a large resource, which has the potential to provide a low-cost, long-life, expandable mine,” BHP chief financial officer Peter Beaven said.

“While timing is uncertain, we have no doubt that the world will need new potash supply. And, when it does, we believe Jansen is best placed. But, Jansen will not proceed unless it passes our strict capital allocation tests.”

BHP reportedly paid about $US20.6 billion for two major US onshore acquisitions about six years ago, and has spent billions more on its US shale assets in the years since. But in its fiscal 2016 results, it included an impairment charge of $US4.9 billion against the value of its onshore US shale assets.

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FFA – PICTURED Football Federation Australia CEO David Gallop and FFA chairman Steven Lowy media conference about the recent bans against troubling fans at games. Thursday 3rd December 2015. Photograph by James Brickwood. SMH SPORT 151203More than 120 Australian leaders of big business, sporting organisations, universities and government agencies have made a personal commitment to addressing the gender pay gap with a new focus on jobs for which the pay scales tip in favour of men.
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The 122 business leaders that form the Male Champions of Change coalition have signed a new agreement to ensure equal pay for equal work in like-for-like roles within their organisations and not just across sectors.

The signatories include Qantas chief Alan Joyce, Telstra chief Andrew Penn, Lendlease chief Steve McCann, Goldman Sachs chief Simon Rothery???, Unilever Australia/New Zealand chairman and CEO Clive Stiff, CBA managing director Ian Narev, Deloitte Australia CEO Cindy Hook, Football Australia CEO David Gallop, ANZ CEO Shayne Elliott, Australian Stock Exchange CEO Dominic Stevens, Australian Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin, Army chief Angus Campbell, Ten Network CEO Paul Anderson, Fujitsu CEO Mike Foster, Johnson and Johnson managing director Gavin Fox-Smith and CSIRO chief Larry Marshall.

Vice-chancellors from La Trobe University, the University of Sydney and Australian National University are also among signatories.

The Workplace Gender Equality Agency’s measure of the average gender pay gap is at 15.3 per cent, reflecting the overall position of women in the workforce.

However, it does not measure differences between men and women in like-for-like roles, which the Champions of Change coalition have now agreed to do. This means companies are not required to measure differences in pay between like-for-like roles. They are only required to compare male and female pay rates within an organisation as a whole.

“They are not looking at two engineers sitting side by side, one’s a boy and one’s a girl and they are paid differently,” Ernst and Young partner Rohan Connors said.

“We are giving our organisations a free pass to excuse gender inequality and so we wanted to come up with a better way of doing it.”

Mr Connors, who compiled the Champions of Change strategy, said organisation leaders have now committed to measuring differences in pay between men and women doing the same jobs.

The report recommends strategies for reducing like-for-like pay gaps, addressing the timing and frequency of gender pay gap reviews and performance reviews and other processes.

Libby Lyons, director of the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, said addressing the national gender pay gap “requires the effort of our whole community”.

“Employers must step up and play their part,” she said.

“All leaders have the power to analyse their data and take action on pay gaps within their organisations.”

The signatories to the Closing the Gender Pay Gap report have invited other Australian leaders to join them.

Lendlease managing director Steve McCann, a signatory to the report, said there was no excuse for men to be paid more than women for work that has “the same accountability, breadth and difficulty, and for which they have comparable performance, competence and experience”.

“We’ve learned that gender-based pay gaps can be both common and insidious – particularly in historically male-dominated sectors,” he said.

“Having regular, scrutinised and actioned reporting is a game-changer – real-time access to relevant data becomes hard to ignore and demands action.”

Elizabeth Broderick, the founder and chair of Male Champions of Change, said employment leaders could help accelerate greater gender equality.

“This is a joint and concerted effort to help make unjustifiable pay differences in like-for-like roles for men and women a matter of history in Australia,” she said.

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