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 →


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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MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – AUGUST 18: New Spotless CEO Martin Sheppard poses for a portrait on August 18, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia. Sheppard was a former partner at KPMG. (Photo by Wayne Taylor/Fairfax Media) MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – AUGUST 18: New Spotless CEO Martin Sheppard poses for a portrait on August 18, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia. Sheppard was a former partner at KPMG. (Photo by Wayne Taylor/Fairfax Media)
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If you’re not one for conspiracy theories, you won’t see anything untoward in the fact that Spotless chief executive, Martin Sheppard, stepped down with immediate effect on Tuesday – just two days before the rather spotty cleaning services group delivers what should be its last full-year result as a listed company.

With Grant Fenn’s Downer EDI all but in control of Spotless, there isn’t much reason to hang around, but given its history of profit downgrade disasters you wouldn’t bet against some surprises.

Spotless says there won’t even be a market briefing with the results release. The market is expected to be focused on the Downer EDI mothership, which reports its results next Tuesday.

The takeover party is all but over with Sheppard’s chief operating officer, Dana Nelson, now at the helm with Downer’s blessings.

CBD has been told to take Nelson’s promotion as a sign that Downer is happy with Sheppard’s strategy, but even happier to work with a cleanskin unaffected by the hostile takeover battle.

As well as joining the modest ranks of female CEOs on the ASX, Nelson picks up a $600,000 pay rise to $1.1 million – handy given the $250,000 two-year retention bonus got paid out on June 30.

CBD has been told to expect to see details of Sheppard’s final exit package in the financial accounts this week.

It means that Sheppard, who joined in November 2015, will achieve that rare distinction of having his entry, and exit package, revealed in consecutive accounts.

At least Sheppard will have ample time to prepare for his latest Sydney to Hobart adventure with his brother, veteran yachtie Derek Sheppard.

The brothers bought their own yacht last year, renamed Black Sheep, and raced together for the first time.

“In the last 10 Hobarts there’s been three that I would’ve preferred to have been anywhere else on Earth than on a boat in the middle of Bass Strait,” said Derek before the most recent race.

After less than two years at Spotless, Martin probably knows the feeling well. Big flop

Is it a coincidence that BHP Billiton decided to unveil its booming dividend bonanza alongside the news that it is finally abandoning its shale gas disaster? And not alongside the news of how much chief executive Andrew Mackenzie will get from returning the focus to its core business of mining?

The “shale acquisitions were poorly timed, we paid too much and the rapid progress of early development was not optimal”, Mackenzie offered in the latest mea culpa for the disastrous decision of his predecessor, Marius Kloppers, in 2011.

Kloppers, and his petroleum boss, Texan Mike Yeager, plonked $US20 billion on the business and spent another $US20 billion developing it.

“This is absolutely stupendous,” Yeager told British newspaper The Telegraph in 2012. “This is the biggest thing that has happened in my career.”

Roughly $US10 billion worth of writedowns over the 2015 and 2016 financial years suggest he was right for all the wrong reasons.

BHP is expected to get as little as $US10 billion for the business, making it BHP’s grand folly of the resource boom.

Kloppers’ visionary leadership at BHP yielded more than $75 million in cash, shares and performance rights when he departed in 2013. And as far as CBD can tell his post-BHP career has consisted of one board seat with Danish cement engineering group FL Smidth.

Yeager was obviously a true believer. He went on to head Maverick Drilling and Exploration for a modest $11.2 million worth of remuneration in 2013-14.

Times are obviously tough, though. Maverick, which renamed itself Freedom Oil and Gas, announced in its most recent annual report that Yeager has taken a pay cut.

His $1.3 million salary, and $500,000 in annual payments in lieu of retirement benefits, was cut last year to $800,000. Hail, Caesar

Westpac chairman Lindsay Maxsted has announced that former Veda boss, Nerida Caesar, will join his board on September 1, along with her fabulous scarves no doubt.

Caesar won’t need the money given she cashed in $40 million worth of shares last year when US group Equifax acquired Veda.

CBD was pleased to see that, among her other interesting roles, she is – or was – chairperson of the Sydney Catholic Business Network.

But what exactly does this network do? CBD decided to check the website.

“At a time when the ethical behaviour of all sectors of society is under scrutiny, the Sydney Archdiocese provide an opportunity for members of the business and government community to dialogue together within a Christian ethical framework,” said an explanatory note from his Eminence, Cardinal George Pell, AC, Vatican Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy.

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Banks are on a collision course with powerful shareholders over Treasurer Scott Morrison’s plan to give the prudential regulator stronger powers to intervene in senior bankers’ multimillion-dollar pay packets.
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As part of the May budget, Mr Morrison unveiled the banking executive accountability regime (BEAR), which will grant significant new powers to the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority to influence how top bankers are paid.

The regime includes a requirement that between 40 and 60 per cent of very senior bank executives’ bonuses be deferred for at least four years; APRA will be able to “review and adjust” remuneration policies in response to “inappropriate outcomes”; and it could have senior bankers disqualified.

In submissions to the federal Treasury, ANZ, National Australia Bank and Westpac raised concerns about certain aspects of the new regime for banker pay – which is currently set by boards, albeit within broad APRA guidelines.

However, the banks’ positions are at odds with the views of powerful shareholders from the not-for-profit superannuation sector, which have been pushing for greater accountability on banker pay and helped give the Commonwealth Bank a historic first “strike” on remuneration last year.

ANZ said it appreciated the government’s “policy intent”, and the rules deferring executive bonuses for four years could be appropriate, but giving APRA greater powers to set pay could undermine the role of the board.

“We question whether involving APRA so closely in setting and influencing remuneration risks undermining the responsibility of boards for appropriate remuneration standards and the role of shareholders in holding boards to account,” ANZ’s submission said.

National Australia Bank also argued boards and remuneration committees were “best placed” to determine the pay packets of top bankers, subject to getting the approval of shareholders.

“The remuneration of senior executives is complex and NAB does not believe that prescriptive legislation about it will be effective,” NAB said.

Westpac said it supported the rationale for the BEAR in trying to rebuild trust, and it backed the proposals for executive bonuses to be deferred for four years. However, it opposed giving APRA greater legal powers to intervene in remuneration, saying this is a matter for boards.

“We believe that boards and management should continue to be able to assess, and be accountable for, the design and operation of remuneration frameworks that support long-term financial soundness,” Westpac said.

Proxy adviser Ownership Matters said Westpac and Macquarie Group were already meeting the proposed requirements on deferred pay.

The industry’s position puts it at odds with some major shareholders such as Australian Super, which backed the move to defer senior banker bonuses and extra powers being given to APRA.

Even though the $120 billion fund said it was normally cautious about regulation that interfered with board decision making, it said “heightened prudential regulation” was warranted in banking after “repeated failures” by some banks to protect the interests of consumers in the past decade, and banks’ critical role in the economy.

The Australian Council for Superannuation Investors, which represents 37 large not-for-profit investors including super funds, also backed the BEAR and warned banks against trying to blunt the impact of the accountability regime on senior bankers’ bonuses by increasing base rates of pay. It said there was “very little appetite among institutional investors to see large increases in fixed remuneration”.

“Any increases to the fixed remuneration of executives to ‘compensate’ for greater deferral of bonuses would be highly likely to attract large ‘no’ votes from institutional investors,” ACSI said.

Commonwealth Bank, which did not provide its own submission on the BEAR, last year had its remuneration report voted down by shareholders, including Australian Super, in a first for a major bank in Australia.

Industry Super Australia said the proposal to mandate some portion of bonuses be deferred could cause executives to bargain for higher fixed pay, which could further heighten public concerns about banker pay.

In contrast, the Australian Shareholders’ Association said the BEAR may go too far, and it was not convinced there was a case for mandating that some portion of bonuses be deferred. It said pay should be set by the board and shareholders, not a government regulator.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday Westpac chairman Lindsay Maxsted said it was appointing Nerida Caesar, former chief executive of Equifax, as a non-executive director on its board from next month.

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A fully tenanted office property, returning $212,500 per annum, at 275 Wattletree Road has sold off-market to a Melbourne-based private investor for $4.07 million giving a yield of 5.2 percent. Colliers International’s David Minton and Andrew Ryan conducted the sale achieving a land rate of $8734 per sq m.

Mount Waverley

An owner-occupier has paid $7.25 million for a modern office warehouse at 411-415 Ferntree Gully Road. The 2956 sq m building is occupied by Toshiba who will be vacating the premises. Knight Frank’s Stuart Gill brokered the off-market deal.

Box Hill

Located near Box Hill train station and shopping centre, a 1020 sq m industrial site at 480-482A Station Street has sold for $3.5 million. Cushman and Wakefield’s Robert Colaneri and Andrew O’Connell said the deal achieved a land rate of approximately $3500 per sq m, representing a sub 3 per cent yield.


Savills Melbourne director Nick Peden with colleagues Jesse Radisich, Julian Heatherich and Benson Zhou sold, prior to auction, two adjoining residential properties at 1059-1061 Toorak Road to a Chinese developer for $5.5 million.

Dandenong South

A mortgagee auction for the single-level brick office-warehouse at Unit 3, 10-16 Stephen Road, achieved a sale price of $720,000. This was almost 20 per cent over the reserve said Facey Industrial Commercial’s partner and auctioneer Matt O’Dea.


The park frontage triangular site at 27 Gordon Avenue, with a permit for five townhouses, sold for $4.35 million, representing a land rate of $5701 per sq m. The deal was brokered by Leon Ma and Jimmy Tat from CBRE’s Victoria Development Site Sales team.

Dandenong South

An asbestos removal company looking to expand its business has purchased 3/10-16 Stephen Road for $110,000 over the reserve. Facey Industrial Commercial’s Matt O’Dea (auctioneer) and Tim Dark sold the property for $720,000.


A small inner-city cafe has fetched a big price. Fitzroys has sold a cafe at 18 Peel Street, at the base of developer Small Giants’ Oxford & Peel apartment project. It sold under the hammer at a record strata retail building rate for the suburb of $14,200 per sq m, Fitzroys’ Adam Lester and Terence Yeh said. Seven bidders vied for the property that was eventually knocked down for $640,000, representing a tight 4.6 per cent yield.


An owner-occupier has paid $1.81 million for a modern office building at 33 Dover Street. The three-level office features a bathroom, courtyard, city views and five undercover car spaces, said Teska Carson’s Tom Maule and Matthew Feld.



Kosch Fertilizer took advantage of a 12.45 per cent net incentive fit-out contribution when signing a five-year lease on part of level 4, 492 St Kilda Rd. Lemon Baxter’s Will McMullin brokered the deal at $260 per sq m.


Global Investment Partners have signed a three-year lease on a small office space located on level 5, 606 St Kilda Road. Lemon Baxter’s Will McMullin achieved $400 per sq m on the deal

Notting Hill

Greenwood Early Education Centres has signed a 12-year lease on the 1659 sq m property at 16 Ferntree Place located in the Ferntree Business Park. Colliers International’s Ash Dean and Travis Myerscough negotiated the deal for mid-$200 per sq m.

Port Melbourne

Lemon Baxter’s Ned Kuci and Nick Bade negotiated a four-year lease sublease at $282,600 per annum to the ABC on the office/warehouse at 391 Plummer Street.


Windsor eatery Mr Miyagi has signed a five-year lease for its second outlet in the suburb paying $85,000 per annum on the 24 Chatham Street property. Joe Shahin’s Peregrine Projects negotiated the lease.

South Melbourne

A four-year lease at $100,000 per annum on the office/showroom at 154 Moray Street was negotiated by Lemon Baxter’s Ned Kuci and Nick Bade within four weeks of going to market. This represents $400 net per sq m.

South Melbourne

Lemon Baxter’s Will McMullin negotiated a three-year lease for the unique ground floor space at 23 Union Street at a rate of $400 per net sq m.

West Melbourne

Andrew Thorburn and James Shaw of Gross Waddell have leased 513-521 Victoria Street to short-term tenant Quinn Civil for $50,000 per annum.


The Laundry Box, the dry-cleaning and alterations group, has signed a three-year lease for a rental of $40,000 per annum on Shop 7, 18 Ferguson Street, part of the Punthill Apartment Hotel. Allard Shelton’s Simon Southey negotiated the deal at a rate of $615 per sq m.


Allard Shelton’s agent Simon Southey brokered a five-year lease for a $65,000 per annum rental on a shop at 44 Ferguson Street realising a rental rate of $650 per sq m.


A retail property at 708 Burke Road has been leased for two-and-a-half years for $59,000 per annum by Ned Kuci from Lemon Baxter.


JR Storage & Logistics has taken over buildings 1-19 Industrial Drive on a two-year lease. Colliers International’s James Stott negotiated the terms at $55 per sq m, saying it was “a strong result” for the landlord, David Barr.

South Yarra

Sofa, so good! Sydney-based furniture retailer Lounge Lovers will recline into a new tenancy at 507 Chapel Street, South Yarra, after signing a three-year lease for the 600 sq m site. Colliers International’s Chris Meehan, Cam Taranto and Jarrod Herscu negotiated terms at about $500 per sq m on behalf of Sunway Group.


Melbourne-based construction and maintenance provider Sterling Group has committed to levels one and two at 70 City Road for three years. Colliers International’s Chris Meehan and Vincent Tran negotiated terms for the 600 sqm tenancy at $400 per sq m.


Women’s clothing and accessories retailer, Who Fish, has taken a new lease at Hawksburn Village in a deal brokered by Teska Carson’s Luke Bisset and Fergus Evans. Mr Bisset said Who Fish took a five-year lease over Shop 3 at 537 Malvern Road plus a five-year option at a rental of $73,000 per annum net.

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A family business that has been running since 1901 will end 93 years of continuous trading in Melbourne’s popular Chapel Street when it sells its historic shop.
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McPhee’s Fine Antiques, which focuses on 18th century English and French furniture, has put its store at 200-202 Chapel Street on the market with price expectations above $5 million.

The business originally opened around the corner in High Street.

The two-level, double-fronted, 497-square-metre Victorian-era building, Holywells Terrace, which is in near original condition is in a part of Chapel Street dominated by similar historic shopfronts.

Fourth-generation antique dealer Duncan McPhee said the family business would remain open but move to another location.

“We’re keeping on the business. Chapel Street has changed so much it doesn’t suit that type of business any more. It’s a different type of street to what it was years ago,” he said.

Mr McPhee and his brother took over the business from their father Christopher.

“It was my great-grandfather who started the business. My brother and I are the fourth generation.”

They buy all their furniture in England and France and ship it back.

“We’ve been doing that for 60 years,” he said.

The property will be sold through Teska Carson’s Matthew Feld and Tom Maule.

Mr Feld said Prahran was undergoing significant redevelopment.

“This part of Chapel Street has an enviable aura and reputation driven by its eclectic mix of tenancies from cafes to restaurants, bars and entertainment venues,” he said.

A recent Knight Frank survey of 11 suburban shopping strips across Melbourne highlighted Chapel Street’s historically high vacancy rate.

At worrying levels of 13.5 per cent last year, the vacancy rate fell slightly to 12.4 per cent, but still remains above the long-term average of 8.6 per cent.

Vacancies across the 11 streets surveyed, which included Bridge Road in Richmond, Toorak Road in South Yarra and Church Street in Brighton, fell marginally to an average of 8 per cent.

High vacancies have not deterred investors, particularly self-managed super funds, who are looking to gain a foothold in retail with a view to long-term capital gain.

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London: Civilian casualties, including the child fighters of the Australian jihadist Khaled Sharrouf, are part of the “price of the war,” despite efforts to minimise their deaths, says the spokesperson for the global coalition fighting Islamic State.
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While refusing to comment directly on the case of Sharrouf and his two sons, reported killed in an airstrike in Syria last week, Major General Rupert Jones said the global coalition goes through “really detailed, targeted processes.”

Speaking to international journalists in London from Baghdad via Skype, General Jones said: “This is the most precise, targeting process that I think any coalition has ever achieved in any previous conflict,” he said.

He declined to give any details about Sharrouf’s death but said in general children on the battlefield would be treated differently but it would not always be possible to tell if they comprised part of a target or not.

“If you can patently see they’re children then you’re going to treat them as children but that will often be quite difficult to define, you can’t necessarily tell the age of an individual,” he said.

“We go to the very, very greatest lengths possible to make sure that casualties are minimised.”

He said the military always aims for zero civilian deaths but said that the licence to kill is greater depending on the target.

“If you’re going after [Islamic State leader Abu Bakr] al-Baghdadi would we take a bit more risk than if we were going after some low-level fighter? Yes and I think nations would expect us to do that,” he said.

Sharrouf slipped out of Australia using his brother’s passport to join Islamic State in 2013. His wife, Tara Nettleton joined him soon after with their five children Zaynab, 15, Hoda, 14, Abdullah, 12, Zarqawi, 9, and Humzeh, 6. In an image that made international headlines, Abdullah was photographed holding a severed head of a Syrian soldier in 2014.

Abdulla and Zarqawi are believed to have been killed in the strike on August 11. Zaynab was married to another Australian foreign fighter Mohammed Elomar and gave birth to a child. Elomar is thought to have been killed in an air strike in Syria in 2015, the same year the mother of the Sharrouf children, Tara Nettleton died from appendix surgery in Syria.

The global coalition issues a monthly report on the number of civilians killed. It disputes claims by Airwars of nearly 5,000 innocent casualties and says the figure of verified civilian deaths is 624. To date, based on data between August 2014 and June 2017, the Coalition conducted a total of 22,983 strikes that included 48,636 separate engagements.

“Now I’m not saying to you that is the totality but that is the totality that has been presented to us, of credible cases that we’ve been able to investigate and resolve,” he said.

But he said it was impossible to liberate cities like Mosul and Raqqa without civilians being caught in the crossfire. “You can’t defeat Daesh without there being some price, our job is to keep that price as small as possible.” ‘Surrender or die’

General Jones said there were “undoubtedly” foreign fighters in the last remaining strongholds of Raqqa in Syria and Tal Afar and the remainder of Ninewah province in Northern Iraq.

He said it was becoming extremely difficult for them to escape via Turkey and infiltrate Europe or countries in the north of Africa, saying there was no evidence of many fighters leaving cities like Mosul and Raqqa.

“It’s equally hard to move back out, in the same way if you can’t get across through Turkey easily, you can’t get out easily either,” he said.

He quoted Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi saying ISIS fighters had one of two options: “surrender or die.”

Australia is hoping that within months, Islamic State recruiter Neil Prakash will be returned home to Australia to face terrorism charges. He was caught trying to escape Syria via Turkey last year.

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One in five boys in year 3 have an emotional or behavioural problem, according to new research. Photo: Virginia StarOne in five boys in year 3 have an emotional or behavioural problem that sees them lag a year behind their peers in reading and numeracy, according to research that stresses the mental health of young people needs to be a focus in primary schools.
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The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute study looked at common emotional and behavioural problems and academic performance in more than 1000 eight and nine-year-old children.

The research found about one in five boys and one in seven girls had at least borderline emotional and behavioural problems.

Boys with emotional and behavioural difficulties – 20 per cent of the sample- were 12 months behind their peers in both reading and numeracy, based on data from NAPLAN tests.

The study’s lead author, Lisa Mundy, said it was unlikely increasing academic pressure was causing emotional and behavioural problems, which were more common in secondary school.

“A more likely explanation is that mental health and behavioural problems are directly contributing to poor academic performance, possibly through reduced attention to school work or school absence,” Dr Mundy said.

“Children with emotional and behavioural problems are at high risk for academic failure. This risk is evident in mid-primary school.”

Previous research showed that children with behaviour problems tended to struggle at school but this was the first study to show that boys with emotional problems were also falling behind in their learning, according to the authors.

For girls with emotional and behavioural difficulties, the results were more modest but peer problems were associated with lower numeracy scores for girls.

“Our findings that emotional and behavioral problems are associated with poorer academic performance after only three full years of school carry further significant implications for school policies,” the report, published in the Journal of School Health, said. “Social and emotional skills are increasingly seen as important for educational achievement.

“Taking steps to prevent the onset of emotional and behavioral problems in children and responding effectively to those with visible problems are likely to bring multiple further benefits, including educational, for children in primary school.”

The study said the major focus of many mental health initiatives in school had been with adolescents in secondary school.

“The current study suggests we will need to begin these efforts earlier to optimise education achievement, reduce rates of later mental disorder and ultimately improve the quality of life of many children,” the report said.

Senior author George Patton said the mid-primary school years were a time when emotional and behavioural problems commonly emerged and these were often the precursor to health problems in adolescence and adulthood.

Professor Patton said it was increasingly clear that students would not reach their academic potential unless schools also promoted the social and emotional development of students.

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Vodafone is entering the fixed-line market for the first time with a range of NBN products, as the government corrals industry and regulators together to try and improve customer experiences on the national broadband network.
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General manager of broadband at Vodafone, Matthew Lobb, said the company will gradually connect into all of NBN Co’s points of interconnect in coming years. Initially its product will only be available in the east coast cities of Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Geelong, Newcastle and Wollongong.

“Customers want simple and straightforward plans that are relevant to their use of technology,” Mr Lobb said.

“As a first for a major telecommunication company, we’ll be providing bonus mobile data rather than insisting customers receive an outdated, plain old fixed telephony service”.

Vodafone says it will test the speeds available on a customer’s line within the first two weeks to ensure higher speeds are possible. And it will not actively market the lowest speed tier of 12 megabits per second (Mbps), for which it charges at least $70 per month on a two-year contract.

All the plans will have unlimited data and range in price from $80 to $110.

Vodafone will drive customers to its product by inviting “thousands” of customers who sign up early and offering three months free broadband if they help test-drive the new fixed service.

Vodafone will buy directly from NBN Co and has already announced plans to re-sell to Kogan so it too can offer NBN services.

“Over the past year Vodafone has listened to what many Australians who have connected to the old DSL services or the NBN have had to say about their experience,” Mr Lobb said.

“People are feeling frustrated with the connection process, underwhelmed by the products and information they were provided when they signed up, and are confused about the speed options on offer.”

Vodafone has already announced it will provide customers with a modem that defaults to its 4G mobile network if NBN’s fixed service is delayed or broken.

Meanwhile the Communications Minister Mitch Fifield is trying to find ways to reduce customer complaints about the government-owned network, which nearly every household will be forced onto in coming years.

Senator Fifield hosted a forum on Tuesday between major telcos and industry peak bodies, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

His office released a statement saying “the industry has committed to tackling the key migration issues for consumers including confusing information, handballing customer complaints, lead times for connections and rescheduled appointments.”

On Monday the ACCC released new industry advertising guidelines cracking down on excessive speed claims and forcing telcos to provide average speed data to consumers. The government has also asked the ACMA to use its information gathering powers to find out how widespread problems NBN connection problems are.

“Internet retailers, NBN and Government will continue to work together over the coming months to make more changes that will ensure the processes for switching to the NBN better cater to consumers’ needs,” the Minister’s office stated.

The forum will report back within three months.

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If you’ve already dropped a small fortune on architectural plans for a new house, it might be tempting to try to score some mates rates off that friend of a friend who’s a builder to save a few dollars. But beware: it could cost you in the long run.
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Architects and builders agree, it’s probably for the best to work with your architect’s preferred builder, or vice versa.

Brisbane architectural builder Rob Gray of Graya Constructions said it also made for a better finished product, as well as saving money and time.

“All the high-end builders are highly passionate about they do and love what they do and they want to get the detail right every time,” Mr Gray said.

His team recently completed a home in Plunkett Street, Paddington, which he said came out almost exactly like the architectural renders. Mr Gray attributed the success, in part, to the relationship he had with the architect.

Award-winning architect Tim Stewart said he often recommended going with a specific builder to his clients.

“It inevitably makes the process smoother because we can understand the way they like to do things and we can detail it to the way they like to do things from the start,” he said. “We work on the same page from the beginning.”

So how does that save you money? Architectural builders are some of the most expensive in the market, right? Related: Landmark Ipswich home to go under the hammerRelated: Some of Canberra’s best sustainably designed homesRelated: Aussies on verge of mortgage crisis

Not necessarily, according to David Moses of Sydney construction company Horizon, who said working with an architectural builder offered clients a more realistic appraisal of the cost of bringing an architect’s plans to life.

“A lot of people make the mistake of not finding out whether their design aligns with their expectations of the timeframe or cost,” Mr Moses said.

Attempting to find another builder who can do it cheaper can result in disappointment, award-winning architecture firm, MCK Architects said.

MCK principal Steve Koolloos said managing a client’s expectations was an important part of the design process. “We are increasingly engaging with both prospective client and builder, as early in the process as possible, so no one ends up being disappointed,” he said.

Getting your mate to build the plans may look cheaper to begin with, but Mr Gray said it often meant the builder who ended up with the project wouldn’t be fully aware of the what the build would require and the client’s expectations.

“There’s a lot of hidden traps in an architect’s plans and if they don’t have that relationship, it will be a bit harder,” he said.

Mr Gray argued there would be some unintended consequences if you decided to change the plans to save some cash, too.

“If an architect designs a set of plans and you go and grab those plans and give them to an average builder and change a few things because it’ll be cheaper and easier to build, it might say in their contract they can remove their name from the project and you also can’t talk to the person who designed your house.”

“It can be fully at the cost of the homeowner if they’ve taken that path.

“You waive that portion of the service and you lose the value of saying that that architect drew up your house.”

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25 Hedges Avenue, Mermaid BeachGetting into beachfront real estate on the Gold Coast just got harder.
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This very original 1970s beach house may look like your average suburban home but this week it changed hands for an eye-watering $6.5 million.

Proving it’s anything but ordinary, 25 Hedges Avenue, Mermaid Beach was snapped up by a mystery buyer in an off-market deal brokered by Michael Kollosche of Kollosche Prestige Agents.

While the house may not look $6.5 million, it’s all about the location – set on Mermaid Beach’s Millionaire’s Row, it happens to be positioned on a stretch of beachfront that is quickly becoming priced out of most people’s reach, including cashed-up Sydney and Melbourne buyers.

But if you think 15 metres of absolute beach frontage on a 607-square-metre block is expensive now, $6.5 million is going to look cheap in no time, Mr Kollosche says.

“There’s still a lot of forward growth in these assets,” he says. “People will be looking back on these prices in two years time saying that these prices were such good value.

“The Mermaid Beach market is very tightly held and so property prices are performing stronger and stronger, month on month,” Mr Kollosche says.

Earlier this year, 25 Hedges Avenue made headlines when a local buyer pulled out of a contract, forfeiting their $100,000 deposit in the process. Related: Chinese buyers on Gold Coast spreeRelated: What’s behind the Gold Coast boomRelated: Nearly $7 million profit in two years

They then went 600 metres up the street and bought a vacant block at 127 Hedges Avenue for $6.3 million instead.

A new buyer came forward not long after, despite the property having been taken off the market, quickly making an offer and the deal settled this week.

Not surprisingly, the new owners plan to demolish the two-level brick house to make way for a brand new multimillion-dollar beach mansion, which they will eventually make their principal place of residence.

Land on the beachfront is at a premium, even more so than existing houses, Mr Kollosche says.

David Henderson, one of the owners of 2013 Melbourne Cup winner Fiorente, recently reduced the price of his sprawling beachfront mansion at 187-191 Hedges Avenue to $16,995,000.

It was previously listed at nearly $20 million and so far hasn’t found a buyer, however Mr Kollosche believes properties like this, which cost Henderson $13.65 million for the land alone, will be worth $30 million in the near future.

“Smart buyers will move in on properties like that because it represents excellent value,” he says. “The number of buyers does narrow as you go up in price but it’s worth waiting.”

Domain Group chief economist Andrew Wilson says the Gold Coast has now surged ahead of Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast.

“It’s clearly out on its own ??? We’ve got the Gold Coast up around about 8 per cent on a year-on-year basis at the moment, while Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast are about 4 to 5 per cent,” he says.

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Then prime minister Gough Whitlam at Trades Hall, Sydney in 1974 with future prime minister Bob Hawke. Whitlam brought economists into his administration, while the advice of experts guided economic policy during Hawke’s leadership in the 1980s. Photo: Rick StevensAustralia has just assumed the mantle of the longest unbroken period of economic growth in modern world economic history. And New Zealand is doing even better when it comes to keeping the budget in the black. You might say that each performance is the result of successful economic policies, but what of the influence of university economists?
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Most Australians, despite having a healthy appetite for economic news and living in a country where economic policy has a strong influence on nation-building, take a rather dim view of academic economists. Earlier the Australian historian WK Hancock once remarked that “the Australians have always assumed that economic problems are simple, and have resented those classifications and rewards which suggest that some men have a higher class of intelligence than those of the majority.” In that light Hancock observed that “Australians have always disliked scientific economics (still more) scientific economists.” In his book Australian Hopes and Fears (1958) Colin Clark, who had been isolated by the local economic profession for his iconoclastic views, quoted a comment by French geographer Andre Siegfried that “A mystery broods over this continent; and it will not be the economists who will resolve it for us.” Nearly sixty years on, Australian economists have solved that mystery.

Australian politics became more enlightened when prime ministers and treasurers, from Whitlam’s time onward, began to place academic economists within their private offices. In Whitlam’s case his administration was replete with academic economists. One of them, ANU economist Fred Gruen, infamously advised for the 25 per cent tariff cut of 1973 as an anti-inflationary measure. Another ANU economist Sir John Crawford drew up the blueprint for what would become the Industries Assistance Commission, now known as the Productivity Commission. Such was the number of university economists recruited by the Whitlam government that one university economist joked that there could be a study on “The economic consequences of economists”. In the 1980s the ANU again offered academic wisdom with Ross Garnaut and Peter Drysdale offering strong leads on promoting engagement with Asia. Bruce Chapman designed a viable way of funding universities and opening up pathways for more young people. Bob Gregory told Australians about how mineral resource booms would stretch, distort but ultimately benefit the economy.

Across the ditch in New Zealand, academic economics was not so penetrative. Prime Minister Robert Muldoon exerted a formidable presence on the economic landscape until 1984. He had little time for economists and dismissed economic theory with his remark “We can do without the disruption of academic theories which, because they are non-specific, seem to make sense until they are applied specifically to the real world.” In another instance, he spoke of having “no intention of letting efficient industries go to the wall for the sake of a theory.” He was emphatic that homespun, do-it-yourself-economics was best and felt that economics was little else than common sense. Big mistake! Muldoon was to leave the economy in a shattered condition, worse than he had inherited and forcing the need for radical restructuring.

We are now living through an era in which expertise is increasingly mistrusted. The outcome of last year’s Brexit referendum and the recent US presidential election convinced many observers that popular sentiment is superior to expert opinion. During the debate on Brexit one Tory politician, Michael Gove, urging the Leave case, declared “People in this country have had enough of experts???saying they know what is best and getting it consistently wrong.” It now appears though that the experts are being proved right with the Governor of the Bank of England saying Britain is heading for “a lost decade”. Sometimes democratic rights and economic illiteracy make things worse. In Australia, too, we now tend to shun university economists as out of touch know-alls. Yet, apart from the Whitlam and Hawke years there have been occasions in Australasian history, especially during the Depression of the 1930s and during the war years, when the recommendations of academic economists have made significant contributions to national prosperity. We should not forget the role of the long-time Governor of the Reserve Bank, Nugget Coombs, who led the crusade for an international Keynesianism which would make things easier for dependent, primary produce exporting countries like Australia.

In the postwar period both Australia and New Zealand rigorously censored what people could read and watch right up until the early 1970s. And it could be said that another form of censorship applied to the adoption of international economic doctrine and practice. Both countries, especially New Zealand, had import licensing from 1938 till the 1980s. Such was the inward-looking nature of both the Australian and New Zealand economies that they missed the post-war trade boom because of their protectionism.

It was in the 1960s that the first stirrings of a new economic model took hold in the tea-rooms of Australian university economics departments; that is to move their economics from a cost plus price structure to a flexi-one, from a closed economy to an open economy. It was a movement long in the making. At a conference on economic growth in 1962, Clark told his Australian colleagues how he felt sorry for them for having to teach “the current of popular protectionist sentiment” saying they had “avoided the unpleasant task of having to educate public opinion out of its prejudices.” He prophesied – correctly – that with all this neglect, Australian economists “are going to have to work extremely hard, and face a good deal of unpopularity, to catch up with their duty of educating public opinion.” This Australian economists did, but it took some doing. Max Corden of the ANU and a gathering of economists from Monash University spearheaded that campaign. Of course, some argue that it was not economic ideas that brings about change but the power of events. Possibly true, but as Keynes reminded us, it is ideas that rule in the long run. It is ideas that live on long after their originator has expired.

Alex Millmow is an associate professor at Federation Business School. His latest book A History of Australasian Economic Thought has just been published by Routledge.

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