WHY THIS GEN Y FINALLY CAVED IN AND BOUGHT A HOUSE IN SYDNEY

Observations from a Gen Y cynic who has been researching Australia’s property market for more than a decade and now co-owns 20 per cent of a house in Australia’s most expensive city — arms, legs and smashed avo still intact … for now.

Michael Janda might be right on the money, in more ways than one, but note it is also very politically correct!

FIGURES from SQM Research show there is more stock on the market in Sydney now than at any time in the past five or six years.

Michael Janda: “The lending restrictions ensure there are fewer buyers, very few investors and almost no overseas purchasers competing against you.”

HOWEVER from observations in Macquarie Park area there is a shift from predominantly people from China to a mix across Asia including People from India, Indonesia, Malaysia … with more apartment towers either now underway or soon to begin!

AUCTIONS are being cancelled with RE Agents “waiting inside” … a manoeuvre it would seem!  With the Real Estate Sector exempted from Anti-Money Laundering Legislation as recently as October 2018 there is nothing to stop the PROXY onshore agent laundering black money in our Real Estate!

 

WHY THIS GEN Y FINALLY CAVED IN AND BOUGHT A HOUSE IN SYDNEY

 

ANALYSIS BY BUSINESS REPORTER MICHAEL JANDAFRIDAY 28 DECEMBER 2018

Auction sign on house replaced with sold sign
PHOTO

Sydney home prices are nearly 10 per cent off their peak, Melbourne is down 6 per cent.

ABC NEWS: IAN CUTMORE

 

Most of us have, at some time in our lives, kept waking up at 4 or 5 in the morning, tossing and turning, with knots in the stomach, unable to return to sleep.

I’ve had a few of those mornings lately. It wasn’t something I ate the night before, but something I committed to buy a few weeks earlier.

That something was a house. In Sydney.  Still one of the most expensive property markets in the world.

Yes, I’ve caved.  After years of writing about housing risks, I have taken on the ultimate one with a mortgage that will take the majority of my remaining working life to pay off.

It may be the worst decision I’ve ever made, or it may be one of the best. I don’t know, and that uncertainty has contributed to the worry.

I didn’t really want to pen this article, but after writing about why Gen Y shouldn’t buy back in 2016 I felt I owed the audience an explanation of what’s changed for me since.

And I emphasise the phrase “for me”.

Why buy now when house prices will probably fall further?

As those of you not living under a rock know, Sydney is in the midst of its worst housing downturn in modern history. Melbourne is a few months behind, but likely to record similar peak-to-trough falls.

 

At this stage, there’s no sign of the price declines ending, so it must be either brave or foolish to buy now — I can think of plenty of people on Twitter who are going to read this and helpfully inform me it’s the latter.

But there’s a third option … practical. Let me explain why.

Like many people in their mid-30s, I have now been renting for 15 years. Think about it, that’s half the length of a mortgage spent paying landlords, much of that time off-lease, not knowing for sure if you’d still be there in six weeks’ time.

After a decade of full-time work I’ve built up a reasonable amount of savings with my partner.

Sydney’s house price falls over the past year have turned those savings into a 20 per cent deposit for a good house in an area we like living in.

Even with the much tighter lending criteria, we comfortably qualified for a loan to cover the rest.

Those tougher criteria mean that, unlike in the past, borrowers are being tested to make sure that they can still pay the loan (and their other bills) even if interest rates rise considerably from current levels.

Mortgage prisoner

PHOTO A mortgage can feel like a prison when it could take your entire working life to pay off.

ABC NEWS: ALISTAIR KROIE

 

Not that this seems likely — there has been a small rise in rates from higher global borrowing costs, and that might continue, but the Reserve Bank looks increasingly likely to be on hold for the next year or more and may even cut official rates again.

So — barring personal catastrophes such as job loss, serious illness or death — we should be safe enough in keeping up with, and hopefully getting well ahead of, repayments.

The plan is to live in this house for a decade or more.

If you are in this fortunate position, now is not necessarily the worst time to buy (it is certainly better than this time last year).

Figures from SQM Research show there is more stock on the market in Sydney now than at any time in the past five or six years.

The lending restrictions ensure there are fewer buyers, very few investors and almost no overseas purchasers competing against you.

 

Name your price and let the vendor sweat. If they need to sell and you’re the only offer then you’re the one setting the price.

Sydney-based buyers’ agent Nick Viner recently told me that, from his observations of the market, if the peak-to-trough fall ends up being 15 per cent then the market is almost there already.

“You don’t know when the bottom is until it starts rising again and, when you buy in a rising market, you are far more pressured to accept compromises,” he said.

“If you buy in this market, you will have plenty of time to make your decision and select the best-quality property you can find within your budget.”

Obviously, it’s no surprise that someone who makes their living from people buying properties says now is a great time to buy.

But, while the property price indices may fall further, they are made up of thousands of transactions — if you have bargained harder than others then you may have already captured some future falls in the index.

An individual property can sell for a lot more or less than what the general market is doing around it depending on a range of factors, from how desirable it is, to how many interested buyers there are, how good the marketing campaign is or whether a couple of other houses are selling on the same street that month.

Also, if it’s your home, not an investment, and you’re happy living there and can afford it, why would you care what it’s worth at any given point in time?

Not the time for excessive risk-taking

That doesn’t mean buying now is for everyone — it never is.

Even if the property markets that are falling are near the bottom of those declines — and there aren’t too many analysts who think that’s the case — the consensus is that there won’t be a dramatic bounce-back in prices.

If you are a prospective investor or a home owner who expects to see capital gains, most experts agree now is not yet the time to buy.

There are more risks in the housing market and economy than there have been for many years.

Household debt is extremely high and even a small rise in interest rates will put a lot of people under pressure, forcing many to sell and others to dramatically cut back their spending.

Forced sales will see even more stock on the market and prices fall further. Reduced consumer spending could trigger retail and services job losses that could put even more people into financial stress.

That’s not to mention the risk that a declining residential construction sector results in further unemployment increases and mortgage defaults.

You don’t have to be an economist to see the clear risk of a downward spiral where reduced spending leads to job losses, which leads to mortgage defaults, which lowers home prices, leading to even more spending restraint and defaults.

The Irish housing crash is a textbook case study of this.

 

However, Australia isn’t Ireland. It isn’t part of a monetary union that left it with rates and a currency way too low during a once-in-a-lifetime economic boom, and then way too high in the bust on the other side.

The Reserve Bank has already effectively said it will do whatever it takes to prop up the economy — even printing money — if Australia looks like heading into recession.

The danger is that the Reserve Bank may not have enough ammunition left if the downturn is particularly severe and driven by global factors beyond its control.

A worsening US-China trade war, dramatic international rate rises or another global financial crisis are three plausible threats that could hit Australia when our central bank and Federal Government have relatively little left to fight back with, unlike 2008 when the budget was in surplus and the cash rate was 7.25 per cent.

Think long-term and plan cautiously

What does all that mean for Gen Ys thinking of taking advantage of falling prices to jump into the housing market?

It means thinking carefully about how secure your employment is, and whether you’d have the capacity to maintain repayments for several months if you did have to look for a new job.

Unless your employment is extremely secure, are you borrowing an amount where you can afford the repayments even if you had to take a lower-paid job?

If you’re a younger Gen Y, can you be patient for another year or two to take advantage of further price falls?

Most analysts are predicting that prices will fall at least another 5-10 per cent in Sydney and Melbourne — then again, not much more than a year ago most of the same analysts were predicting that home prices in Sydney and Melbourne would still be rising modestly this year.

Are you planning to live in the place you buy for the long term? If yes, then even though you may not get it for the cheapest price, you’ll probably find it is worth at least as much as you paid for it in a decade’s time — that is now the case even for most homeowners in Ireland, where prices slumped more than 50 per cent from their highs, except for those who bought at the very peak.

Even with the greatest caution, it is possible to get caught up in the fallout from some economic maelstrom, which many analysts are warning of right now.

Given the extreme run-up in household debt and home prices, there is certainly a high risk that Australia will experience a very large home price fall of 20 per cent or more peak-to-trough, but there’s no guarantee it will happen or that this is that crash.

The reality is that financialised capitalist economies are inherently unstable and always full of risks, but one can’t live one’s life based on the whims and vagaries of international markets.

I’ve finally accepted that reality and that’s why I’m sleeping soundly in my new home.

Disclaimer: This is not financial advice, merely observations from a Gen Y cynic who has been researching Australia’s property market for more than a decade and now co-owns 20 per cent of a house in Australia’s most expensive city — arms, legs and smashed avo still intact … for now.

 

 

Residential housing in Gladstone in central Queensland

 

SOURCE:  https://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2018-12-28/why-this-gen-y-caved-in-and-decided-to-buy-a-house-in-sydney/10621156

CAAN FACEBOOK:

https://www.facebook.com/Community-Action-Alliance-for-NSW-744190798994541/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

WEBSITE:

https://caanhousinginequalitywithaussieslockedout.wordpress.com/

DODGY SYDNEY BUILDINGS …ARE THEY PART & PARCEL OF THE DEVELOPER ‘STING’?

HARVEY GRENNAN co-wrote the series ‘Towers of Trouble’ 17 years ago which led to a Parliamentary Inquiry into building quality

-with the principal finding that private certification of new buildings was a conflict of interest

State Governments have consistently failed to address this

WHY?  Cough … cough … with the Developer Lobby at the Apex

report by the UNSW City Futures Research Centre in 2012 found that 85 per cent of apartments built since 2000 have major defects as with Engineers Australia Reports …

WHY does this predicament persist?   With the Developer Lobby at the Apex

WHY is it that Certifiers can tick off a particular trade if that contractor supplies a “certificate of compliance”?

COULD “private certification” also be a ruse for the blame to be laid at the feet of the Private Certifier?  Cough … cough …

 

 Sydney’s dodgy buildings due to 17 years of inaction

The problems with the Opal apartment tower at Sydney Olympic Park have raised the issue of building quality in NSW. It is not the first time.

Seventeen years ago I initiated and co-wrote an investigative series for the Herald called Towers of Trouble as the paper’s local government writer. It was about dodgy new apartment buildings.

The series led to a parliamentary inquiry into building quality and many subsequent changes to the law and some new regulatory bodies.

VIDEO:

Play Video

Inquiry into Opal Building must be made public: Daley

1:00

Inquiry into Opal Building must be made public: Daley

An investigation into the structural integrity of a recently-finished building at Sydney’s Olympic Park has been launched by the NSW Government.

 

But the one thing the state government steadfastly refused to do was address the principle finding of the series. That the system of private certification of new buildings introduced in 1998 was a conflict of interest.

Developers chose and paid their own private certifier. They still do.

The government did set up a Building Professionals Board in 2007 to police private certifiers but it took years for the BPB to be given any real teeth.

For years after Towers of Trouble I continued to write about private certifiers approving buildings that did not comply with the development application – sometimes whole storeys were illegally added – or buildings with multiple serious defects. Penalties for breaches were laughable.

 

There were cases of big developments where the strata committees would not talk because of fear of harming unit values. In one case a shocking building report on a very “prestigious” inner west development was locked in a safe so that strata searches by prospective buyers could not access it.

 

report by the UNSW City Futures Research Centre in 2012 found that 85 per cent of apartments built since 2000 have major defects; another report in 2015 found that the average cost of rectifying faults in new apartment buildings was 27 per cent of the original construction cost.

The most common – and most expensive problem – is faulty waterproofing where tiled areas have to be ripped up and replaced, often costing strata bodies millions of dollars and individual owners tens of thousands.

The Towers of Trouble series was nominated as a finalist for a prestigious Eureka Award but did not prevail. It turned out that two of the panel judges for that category represented an institution that was criticised in the report.

In those days industry bodies – not the government – accredited private certifiers. Conflict of interest was contagious.

Recently I used a private certifier myself to build a carport – something I thought I would never do. But the local council took months to approve the DA and when I asked how long it would take to issue a construction certificate they would not give me a time frame. This was for a carport!

So it’s pretty clear even to me why the government will not walk away from private certification. It would slow down development if left to councils.

The 36-storey Opal Tower was completed in August.
The 36-storey Opal Tower was completed in August. CREDIT:NICK MOIR

 

Who or what is to blame for the building issues at the Opal Tower is yet to be established.

*But one of the features of the certification system – private or council – is that a certifier ticks off a particular trade if that contractor supplies what is called a “certificate of compliance” for their work – the certifier does not have to check the work themselves, just tick off the paperwork.

It is called “self certification”trades are their own policemen. Only one of the plethora of such certificates required for a major project has to be dodgy for a building to have major problems down the track.

In October, the Minister for Better Regulation, Matt Kean, admitted for the first time for any NSW government that “it’s ridiculous that developers can choose their own certifiers” when releasing an options paper on how certifiers are appointed to projects.

Government-appointment by panel or a rotating list of certifiers so they are appointed randomly to developers is the obvious answer to the system’s inherent and sometimes corrupt conflict of interest but both sides of politics have resisted the obvious for two decades so don’t hold your breath. Developers have always had the government’s ear.

Sydney young and old: Which age group is most common in your area?

 

Striking generational differences have emerged across Sydney with the 45-59 age-group the most common in the city’s north-east while in the south-west the most prevalent age group is under 15 years.

A demographic mapping project for business group the Committee for Sydney has revealed which age group is most common in each city region.

Areas surrounding the jobs-rich central business district are dominated by a cohort of young workers – the most frequent age groups in those inner-city neighbourhoods is either 15–29 years or 30–44 years.

The most common age groups in areas around the Sydney CBD are 15-29 and 30-44.
The most common age groups in areas around the Sydney CBD are 15-29 and 30-44.CREDIT:JIM RICE

 

The most prevalent age group in almost all neighbourhoods west of Parramatta is either 0-14 or 15-29.

But the pattern is very different throughout most of Sydney’s northern districts were the most common age cohort is 45-59 years.

The concentration of those aged between 15 and 44 years in inner-city suburbs points to a “higher level of demand for job-proximate rental housing from younger, working professionals,” the report said.

Sydney’s age map: a tale of young and old

There could be a clash between the young vote and the grey vote.

Eamon Waterford of the Committee for Sydney

There was only one statistical district (labelled Statical Area level 3 by the Bureau of Statistics) where the most common age was 75 years and over – Castle Hill East where a large cluster of senior living facilities are located.

The committee’s analysis indicates many other Sydney districts will have to adjust to a larger share of older people in future, especially in the north east of the city.

Director of Policy at the Committee for Sydney Eamon Waterford said the large areas to Sydney’s south-west and north-west dominated by the 0-14 age group showed how families tend to migrate to outer suburbs once they have children because spacious housing is more affordable.

“There is a clear trend towards a trade-off, where families accept more affordable housing but less access to jobs and regular public transport in more suburban areas,” he said.

But this pattern poses a key challenge for the city.

“Will parents be able to access jobs locally, thus avoiding a long commute and making it easier to juggle work and child care?” Mr Waterford said.

The 2016 census showed Sydney’s median age was 36, two years lower than the national average. Hobart had the highest median age among the capital cities at 40 years.

The demographic disparities across Sydney revealed by the committee’s study also have political ramifications.

“A swelling of younger people in the inner-city and an outer ring of older families and retirees is likely to influence a number of electorates,” Mr Waterford said.

“Political parties will need to cater to all three groups, but there could be a clash between the young vote and the grey vote in where to allocate resources and spending priorities.”

CHINESE-AUSTRALIAN Relations have had a rollercoaster Year in 2018

This is a good summary of how things went in 2018 based on previous ‘manoeuvres’

 

COMMUNITY ACTION ALLIANCE FOR NSW (CAAN) has shared many if not all of these articles with you during 2018.

 

MEANWHILE however … the AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT has allowed for an escalation of Visa Manipulation since that implemented in the late 1990s by the Howard Government when China’s Middle Class was embraced by changes to our migration policy to offer “flexible citizenship'” in return for investing in property and education.

NOWADAYS not only are Chinese students seeking the prestige of an Australian degree but are lured by the opportunity to buy our Real Estate to gain Permanent Residency and a Family Visa!

CHINA no doubt remains quietly confident – despite Australia officially remaining unwilling to participate in the divisive One Belt One Road (BRI) initiative – because thousands of its citizens are flying into Australia annually investing in our Education and Real Estate (residential, commercial and agricultural) and gaining Permanent Residency …

THIS has led to dire consequences for the incumbents with the lowest wages growth, insecure work, and a whole Cohort of Australians locked out of HOME OWNERSHIP, or suffering from rental stress!

WHERE we Australians live is being rezoned and annihilated to accommodate this huge influx, our roads are congested, buses, trains, hospitals and schools are all full-up as we lose our communities, our Society!

HAS the Federal Government turned a blind eye to this?

 
Chinese-Australian relations have had a rollercoaster year in 2018
BY  JASON FANGJACK KILBRIDE AND TRACEY SHELTON

VIDEO 

A look back at key policies clashes and deals that have shaped Chinese-Australian relations

ABC NEWS

CHINESE-AUSTRALIAN RELATIONS have had a rollercoaster year in 2018.

As Beijing looked to expand its global position, particularly with an increased presence in the Pacific, Australia sat up and took notice.

Here we take a look back at 10 key policy moves, diplomatic clashes and deals that have shaped an interesting year in the complex Australia-China relationship.

1. Canberra passes the anti-foreign intervention laws

Amid growing concerns about Beijing’s influence in Australian politicsthe Government passed controversial legislation in June to limit and control the influence of overseas players in Australian affairs.

The new laws strengthened foreign espionage offences, and forced people working for foreign companies and governments to declare their activities.

*All foreign donations were also banned, including from Chinese businesses that  are by far the largest foreign donors in Australian politics.

Julie Bishop and Wang Yi shake hands while standing in front of Australian and Chinese flags.

PHOTO Foreign Ministers Julie Bishop and Wang Yi are rumoured to have had a heated discussion about the laws.

AAP: MICK TSIKAS

 

*Beijing was furious, with Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang calling on Australia and other countries to “abandon the Cold War mentality and better promote mutual exchanges and cooperation on the basis of mutual respect and equal treatment.”

Reports also suggested that then-foreign minister Julie Bishop had a heated conversation around the laws and China’s influence in Australia with her Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, on the sidelines of a G20 conference in Argentina.

Ms Bishop denied the reports about the meeting, which she had earlier said was “very warm”.

But Mr Wang was quoted as telling Ms Bishop and Australia to “take off the tinted glasses [and] see China’s development from a positive perspective” if it really wanted to get relations back on track.

“Tinted glasses” is Chinese diplomatic shorthand for what it sees as Western bias.

2. Qantas among airlines pressured by China over Taiwan

Qantas lists Taiwan as a country on their Frequent Flyer website.

PHOTO China doubled down on its efforts to police how international companies refer to Taiwan.

SUPPLIED

*In April, China’s aviation regulator gave three dozen airlines, including Qantas, a May 25 deadline to remove references on their websites and in other material that suggest Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau are countries independent of China.

The White House described the move as “Orwellian nonsense”.

 

Qantas was afforded an extension on the deadline, but eventually bowed to pressure from Beijing, referring to Taiwan as a Chinese territory, rather than a nation.

Officially, Australia acknowledges the Chinese Government’s position that Taiwan is a province of the People’s Republic of China.

But despite the Government’s policy on Taiwan, Ms Bishop was firmly against Beijing’s attempts to pressure Qantas, telling the ABC that “private companies should be free to conduct their usual business operations free from political pressure of governments.”

Jie Chen of the University of Western Australia said while the result does show China’s global influence is growing, many see the demand as little more than “a show”.

“[This action] shows China overreacts in gesture, but has little impact in sustenance,” he said.

3. Former Rio Tinto executive released from prison

On July 4, 55-year-old Australian citizen and former Rio Tinto executive Hu Shitai was released from Qingpu Prison on the outskirts of Shanghai, one year early.

 

A chief iron ore negotiator for Rio Tinto during the mining boom, Mr Hu was arrested along with three other China-based staff.

He was convicted in a closed three-day trial of accepting $14 million in bribes and stealing trade secrets, with the judge sentencing him to 10 years in jail.

While Mr Hu did admit to some of the charges, Australia’s then-foreign minister Stephen Smith said China failed to provide clarity on the issue of commercial secrets by not allowing Australian officials into the court.

“That’s very regrettable and that leaves, I think, a series of unanswered questions not just for Australia but for the international business community,” he said.

The arrests and subsequent trials were seen as a watershed moment for Western businesses operating in the sometimes-opaque legal environment of China.

The release has raised questions about why successive Australian governments were not more vocal about the lengthy jail term.

4. Freedom of navigation in the South China Sea

 

The status of islands in the South China Sea has been a key topic of contention in China’s global relations in recent years, and 2018 was no exception.

At the end of April, the ABC revealed that three Australian warships were challenged by the Chinese military as they crossed the controversial South China Sea.

 

Then in May, when it was reported that China installed a missile system in the Nansha Islands, Ms Bishop joined a chorus of international voices in warning Beijing not to militarise the South China Sea.

In early SeptemberAustralia’s Navy Fleet Commander delivered a speech at the nation’s largest sea exercise, calling on the participating international defence forces — including China’s navy — to respect “freedom of navigation” and promote “free and open international order.”

Later in the month while in Canberra, Wang Jingguo, the head of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, played down the view that if Australia also conducts a “free sailing” operation in the region, Sino-Australian relations will be damaged.

5. China blocks ABC website

A phone with a screen saying 'Safari could not open the page because the server stopped responding'

PHOTO The ABC website has been inaccessible in China since August 22.

ABC NEWS

 

In what came as a surprise move in August, China’s cyber security regulator decided to abruptly block the ABC’s website from Chinese servers.

An official from the Office of the Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission told the ABC that the site had been blocked for “violating China’s laws and regulations”, but did not say why.

The official added that “China’s internet is fully open”.

Access to the ABC site stopped the day after the Australian Government announced rules that would block two Chinese telecommunications companies from participating in the roll-out of the 5G infrastructure network.

6. Huawei is banned from participating in 5G construction

Huawei was one of the two companies blocked from participating in the 5G roll-outas they were:

“likely subject to extrajudicial directions from a foreign government that conflict with Australian law”.

 

Under Chinese law, companies are required to provide information to the Government and participate in state espionage if they are ordered to do so.

Huawei has insisted that it is a 100 per cent private company that is not influenced by the strings of the Communist party.

The decision was a major blow for the tech giant and prompted China’s Foreign Ministry to urge Australia to “abandon ideological prejudice”.

Since then, Huawei has continued to draw international attention, particularly with the recent US-ordered arrest of executive Meng Wanzhou in Canada.

7. Australia and the US jointly resist China’s Pacific influence

HMAS Choules is at Manus Island at anchor at Lombrum Naval Base, Papua New Guinea

PHOTO Australian navy ship HMAS Choules dropped anchor at the Lombrum Naval Base.

SUPPLIED

 

In order to counter China’s rising influence in the Pacific, Australia has stepped up its aid and cooperation with a range of countries.

In July, Australia signed a deal with Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea to provide an underwater internet cable system between the three countries, edging out a similar proposal from Huawei.

Then at the APEC meeting in November, in addition to increasing Australia’s financial assistance to the region, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison promised to open diplomatic offices in Palau, Marshall Islands, French Polynesia, Niue and Cook Islands, and strengthen defence cooperation in the region.

 

With US assistance, Australia is also set to partner with PNG to redevelop the joint Lombrum naval base on Manus Island.

 

Linda Jakobson, founding director and CEO of independent think tank China Matters, said Australia was overwhelmingly the largest donor in the South Pacific, and as “a rising power”, China was expected to assert its influence “through infrastructure projects and military co-operation” with South Pacific island nations.

“I think there is room for cooperation which has not be explored between Australia and China in the South Pacific,” she said.

“We shouldn’t be naive … Australia can’t in dollar terms compete with China on every single project, but I do think Australia has a long-standing relationship with all of the South Pacific nations.”

8. Australia pays attention to Uyghur human rights issue

Reports and allegations of gross human rights abuses in China’s Xinjiang province have captured the world’s attention in 2018.

 

The United Nations estimates that up to 1 million Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other minorities are allegedly detained in the region, and an ABC investigation and analysis of satellite imagery suggests that China has drastically expanded at least 28 camps and facilities in recent years.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne said she had a “comprehensive and frank discussion” with the Chinese Foreign Minister on the human rights issue in Xinjiang during her visit to China in November.

Labor has also condemned the alleged abuses, calling on the Government to increase pressure on Beijing over its actions in the province.

But China has denied all international claims that it is detaining citizens in camps, claiming that authorities had simply cracked down on “violent terrorist activities” in the region and that other nations should ignore “gossip”.

After initial blanket denials, Chinese officials in October released details of a network of ‘vocational training’ centres which they said were needed to counter terrorism and extremism.

VIDEO 

China says it is making progress on human rights, despite the criticism.

ABC NEWS

9. Victoria and China sign ‘Belt and Road’ MOU

In the lead-up to the state election, Premier Daniel Andrews made Victoria the first Australian state to sign a Memorandum of Understanding on China’s controversial “One Belt One Road” initiative (BRI), in the hope that it would bring more trade and employment opportunities.

 

The move in Victoria shocked many people, with the Labor Government keeping the contents of the agreement secret for weeks.

Once it was released publicly, the deal actually proved to reveal very little, simply stating that Victoria and China would look to cooperate closely on a range of projects in the future without locking in either party to anything concrete.

So far, 68 countries including New Zealand have signed the BRI, which marks China’s ambitious plan to expand its influence in the region and beyond.

Officially, Australia remains unwilling to participate in the divisive BRIwhich lead to Mr Andrews receiving heavy criticism from the Prime Minister for entering into foreign affairs.

But Ms Jakobson, of China Matters, said there had been “too many misunderstandings” of the Belt and Road Initiative in Australia.

“The initiative is set on a project-by-project basis,” she said.

“It does not suggest the Victorian Government have committed to do anything that would endanger the national interest of Australia.”

VIDEO 

China attempts global dominance with One Belt One Road project

ABC NEWS

10. Australia-China relations ease as year ends

Ms Payne visited China in early November to meet with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, with the ABC’s China correspondent Bill Birtles describing the meeting as full of positives, jokes and “smiles everywhere” — a stark contrast to earlier visits by Ms Bishop.

Ms Jakobson said for the first half of 2018, there was a real concern in Canberra about the relationship going into a free-fall.

“Ironically, the change of government [in Australia] hastened the restoring of a more balanced and constructive bilateral relationship,” she said.

“So we end the year looking at the relationship which has been reset in many ways to a balanced bilateral relationship, one that acknowledges there are differences in views.”

 

Looking forward to 2019, many China watchers believe Sino-Australia relations will stay on track and remain stable.

Heading into federal elections next year, Ms Jakobson said China relations were low on the agenda for the Morrison Government as it struggled with “very poor poll results”.

Amid recent tensions including the trade war, Dr Chen said the direction of China and Australia’s bilateral relationship would also depend on how relations between Beijing and Australia’s major ally Washington unfold.

 

RELATED

Former Rio Tinto executive Stern Hu released from Chinese prison

Foreign interference legislation passes before by-elections

China unveils ‘Digital Silk Road’; foresees internet-era power shift soon

 

SOURCE:  https://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2018-12-27/chinese-australian-relations-have-had-a-rollercoaster-year/10638590

CAAN FACEBOOK:

https://www.facebook.com/Community-Action-Alliance-for-NSW-744190798994541/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

WEBSITE:

https://caanhousinginequalitywithaussieslockedout.wordpress.com/

 

OPAL TOWER residents told to leave again as developer announces ‘comprehensive investigation’

BUILDER ICON has advised the damaged section of the building had now been reinforced as a “precautionary measure” while a team of engineers carried out the investigation.

It said the building was “structurally sound”.

The investigation is being led by global engineering firm WSP, with assistance from senior engineers from Japanese-based Kajima Corporation, the majority owner of Icon.

THE NSW Government has named two professors of engineering to lead an inquiry into what happened on Christmas Eve.

University of NSW dean of engineering Mark Hoffman

-University of Newcastle engineering dean John Carter 

DEVELOPER ECOVE  defends the project

Company director Bassam Aflak said the company had been as “transparent as possible”.

However he has declined repeated requests from the ABC for an interview.

A sensible outcome to ensure the safety of residents!

Opal Tower residents told to leave again as developer announces ‘comprehensive investigation’

THURSDAY 27 DECEMBER 2018

 

Furious residents of Sydney’s Opal Tower have confronted the owners of the apartment building after being told to leave for a second time in four days.

Key points:

  • Builder Icon said accommodation would be secured for all residents at nearby hotels and compensation would be provided by the builder
  • Residents were warned the investigation may take 10 days
  • Two professors of engineering have been tasked with leading an inquiry into the initial event

In a statement released on Thursday afternoon Icon, the builder behind the project, said all residents would be relocated over the next 24 hours so a “comprehensive investigation” into a crack on the tenth floor of the building can take place.

Residents were warned the investigation may take 10 days but Icon could not guarantee when they would be allowed to return.

Icon said accommodation would be secured for all residents at nearby hotels and compensation would be provided by the builder.

Residents who had returned to the building were told of the relocation plan at a meeting at the Sydney Olympic Park site on Thursday afternoon.

 

Icon director Julian Doyle was confronted by one angry resident outside the building who questioned how long the process was going to take.

“You ask us to move back now you ask us to evacuate again,” the resident said.

“The accommodation [you provided] is terrible [compared] to our apartments, which we paid for.

“How long shall we wait for final results and can we get some fair treatment?”

Mr Doyle said they were evacuating all residents to “expediate” the investigation process.

“We’re still investigating [and] we really want to investigate further,” he said.

“We’re spending a lot of time and energy with a team of the country’s best engineers to try and understand why this actually took place 18 months after it was installed.

“Getting it right is most important and looking after the residents is most important.”

Residents were originally evacuated from the building on Christmas Eve after a large crack developed on the tenth floor of the newly-opened building.

It was later revealed to be a concrete panel, known as a pre-cast panel. Fifty-one apartments — or about one third of the inhabited residents in Opal Tower — are still considered unsafe for residents to return.

Icon, which until today has been almost silent on the structural problem, said the damaged section of the building had now been reinforced as a “precautionary measure” while a team of engineers carried out the investigation.

It said the building was “structurally sound”.

The investigation is being led by global engineering firm WSP, with assistance from senior engineers from Japanese-based Kajima Corporation, the majority owner of Icon.

“We believe we did get it right … we’re spending a lot of time and energy with a team of the country’s best engineers to understand why this took place 18 months after it was installed,” Mr Doyle said.

 

Icon’s announcement comes as the NSW Government named two professors of engineering to lead an inquiry into what happened on Christmas Eve.

University of NSW dean of engineering Mark Hoffman and University of Newcastle engineering dean John Carter will lead the investigation.

Developer defends the project

Ecove is the developer behind the project.

Company director Bassam Aflak, who first spoke on the issue two days after it occurred, said the company had been as “transparent as possible”.

However he has declined repeated requests from the ABC for an interview.

“We’re pushing as hard as everyone else for information on what’s happened,” Mr Aflak said in a written statement.

“The city’s ‘development boom’ has not led to cutting of corners.

“There has been no cutting of corners.”

The Opal Tower’s development approval came under the “state significant development” legislation — introduced in 2011 — and was given the green light by the NSW Department of Planning in 2015.

Many residents from the tower — even those not in the affected area — have indicated they will be looking for alternative accommodation.

Although some have returned home, some experts have suggested the problems in the building could trigger a fire sale.

The apartments sell for $620,000 for one bedroom and one bathroom and up to $935,000 for a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment.

SOURCE:  https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-12-27/opal-tower-residents-told-to-leave-for-a-second-time/10669834

CAAN FACEBOOK:

https://www.facebook.com/Community-Action-Alliance-for-NSW-744190798994541/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

WEBSITE:

https://caanhousinginequalitywithaussieslockedout.wordpress.com/

BARING PRIVATE EQUITY ASIA Finally Grabs SAI GLOBAL to Own ‘AUSTRALIAN STANDARDS’!

WITH the Baring Private Equity Asia grab of SAI Global the “Australian Public” including Trades lost free acccess to Australian Standards at 9 Libraries;  access was previously free prior to midway 2016!

FROM WIKIPEDIA:

References

 

BARING PRIVATE EQUITY ASIA Finally Grabs SAI GLOBAL

A successful takeover of SAI Global by Baring Private Equity Asia will end two years of speculation about its ownership and provide a circuit breaker for the company’s poisonous relationship with Standards Australia.

When SAI Global was up for sale in 2014 about 17 different organisations expressed interest in the business but the board could not recommend a deal to shareholders.

The board headed by Andrew Dutton was sensible to take on board the criticisms of the SAI Global corporate structure.

SAI Global chairman Andrew Dutton. The board has unanimously recommended Baring Private Equity’s bid.

 

The board appointed Peter Mullins as chief executive in November 2014 while at the same time announcing an end to the three separate business silos.

The company progressively switched to a global sales and marketing function backed by regionally aligned operations.

Mullins has delivered what was promised two years ago but throughout his tenure there has been a messy fight with its former parent company, Standards Australia, over a publishing licence agreement (PLA).

The 15-year agreement is due for renewal in 2018. SAI Global has an option to renew for a further five years. The PLA has been the subject of various court actions.

Standards Australia fight

If Baring Private Equity Asia is successful in its takeover bid for SAI Global it will change the dynamics involved in the stand off between Standards Australia and SAI Global.

When SAI Global is under private ownership Standards Australia will have less leverage in its fight with the company.

As long as it is a publicly-listed company the fight between the two parties has the potential to be blown out of proportion.

Legal fights can hang over companies and colour the views of potential investors.

It has always been in the interests of both parties to settle the dispute over the PLA. Private equity is known for its patient capital. But it is also well known for its pragmatism when it comes to intractable disputes.

*The $1 billion SAI Global takeover offer is another example of the financial strength that is sitting on the sidelines waiting for opportunities to pick up under valued Australian companies. News of the bid was broken by the Street Talk column.

SAI Global has attracted a number of prominent fund managers to its share register including Perpetual and Ellerston Capital. One shareholder who sold out recently and will miss the takeover premium is Paradice Investment Management.

Existing shareholders will do well out of the takeover which offers a premium to the last closing price of 32 per cent. The premium to the six month volume weighted average price is 34 per cent.

The binding scheme of arrangement, which carries a 1 per cent break fee, is at an enterprise value to earnings multiple of 9.4 times. This assumes earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of $131.3 million.

SOURCE:  https://www.afr.com/brand/chanticleer/baring-private-equity-asia-finally-grabs-sai-global-20160926-grobz5

Shoppers filmed rushing for BABY FORMULA in Sydney supermarket amid fears of supply issues

COMMUNITY ACTION ALLIANCE FOR NSW (CAAN) … A simple solution which some stores have adopted … is to remove the baby formula from the shelf and house it in a storeroom at the back of the shop;  for customers to sign for 2 tins in a register

PERHAPS this could be recorded on CTTV!  To ensure all Australian babies have a ready supply of the formula that suits them!

PROBLEM SOLVED!

 

STORY FROM THE CENTRAL COAST:

Our representative on the Central Coast wrote:

‘It’s still happening!  They continue to buy 2 at a time but just repeatedly enter and buy 2 more.

Recently I was waiting for a script at a chemist to be fulfilled and happened to stroll down the aisle where the baby formula was, and it seems it made this bloke nervous because he hesitated and left empty handed, probably to return later.

I understand arrangements are in place to stop profiteering from the resale of concert tickets, why don’t authorities act to protect local consumers?

Reasons, likely it’s all about

-face, no offence is to be implied or imagined

-sales/profit before all

-no interference in the market

-likely profiteering (through resale elsewhere) not seen as wrong in this instance; a selective position; as it is largely exploiting others not in Australia.

Nevertheless …

-it is distorting the sale of Australian products in foreign markets

-would this be tolerated in say other exports to markets elsewhere? Unlikely!

-it seems we are dancing to the tune of communists, heaven forbid

-it seems authorities are wishing this regular occurrence would just go away or not reported

Soon … we will hear/read …

-it’s all a beat up, there’s no problem,supply issues don’t exist, no need to respond, and as we have already read,

-shops are not monitoring sales or limiting sales to 2 units per person

It seems many in Australia are suffering from a severe case of amnesia, or some other disassociative disorder, or more broadly we are the deep Egyptian river …’

Shoppers filmed rushing for baby formula in Sydney supermarket amid fears of supply issues

VIDEO 

Mr Rein said the shoppers were lined up before the store opened at 7am.

ABC NEWS

While some shoppers were scrambling for prawns and dinner rolls on Christmas Eve, others were making a mad dash for the baby formula.

A scrum of shoppers was filmed rushing for the powdered formula at the Wentworth Point Coles in Sydney within minutes of the store’s opening.

Father Alfa Rein recorded the frantic scene just after 7am.

“I went for a morning walk and needed to get lemons from Coles, so I stopped by and saw there was quite a few people lining up waiting for them to open,” he said.

A crowd of people grouped at a small portion of a shopping centre aisle, grabbing baby formula tins.

PHOTO Mr Rein went to the supermarket for lemons but followed the group of shoppers to see what they were rushing towards.

FACEBOOK: ALFA REIN/NEX LOAN

“They waited on one side and the Coles staff opened the entrance on the other side, the group then ran to the other side and ran inside Coles pushing each other aside.

“The Coles staff basically just moved aside and let them run in. [They] knocked over a few cherry boxes on the floor.

“I followed them to the aisle they rushed to and figured it’s gotta be for baby formula.”

Earlier this month, a Coles spokeswoman told the ABC the supermarket was “committed to ensuring our customers have access to infant formula and as a result we are limiting sales quantities to two units per customer”.

“We are working with our suppliers on solutions to improve availability for customers,” the spokeswoman said.

Mr Rein said he saw “a few” of the customers taking more than two cans on Monday morning, but did not know if checkout operators let them purchase more than two at once.

Mr Rein buys formula for his son, who is nearly three months old.

“We usually just buy one whenever we see stock at a supermarket,” he said.

“Lucky we still have three cans at home.”

Empty shelves in the baby formula aisle of a supermarket.

PHOTO Empty shelves in the baby formula aisle at a Woolworths in Walkerville, South Australia, in September 2017.

ABC NEWS: SARAH SCOPELIANOS

 

The video comes a day after Seven News reported on a similar surge of shoppers targeting baby formula at Coles in the Brisbane suburb of Sunnybank.

Like Mr Rein’s video, the footage broadcast by Seven showed customers hurriedly buying tins of the powdered formula.

The shoppers were “running from the store with multiple tins in hand” according to the report, leaving the shelves “almost bare”.

More than a dozen people contacted the ABC this month concerned about Chinese personal shoppers — known as daigou — buying large amounts of formula in Australia to be exported overseas.

The ABC does not suggest that Coles, the shoppers or their distributors are operating illegally.

Consumer group Choice spokeswoman Erin Turner told the ABC earlier this month that it appeared supply issues for Australian parents were more localised than the widespread problems experienced in 2015.

“It stems from safety issues and [Chinese] parents wanting to do the right thing by their children,” Ms Turner said.

China has had several food contamination scares, including the deaths of six babies in 2008 from melamine-tainted milk.

She said there had been a “shift in the market” when some companies began selling directly to China but noted the localised shortages in Australia would “frustrate” parents.

Mr Turner said it was clear that stores that did not monitor limits had formula shortages, but Choice was not calling for regulation changes on formula sales.

 

 

SOURCE:  https://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2018-12-24/shoppers-rush-for-baby-formula-in-sydney-coles/10666496

CAAN FACEBOOK:

https://www.facebook.com/Community-Action-Alliance-for-NSW-744190798994541/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

WEBSITE:

https://caanhousinginequalitywithaussieslockedout.wordpress.com/

Satellite images reveal Beijing’s new weapon installed in South China Sea

While our backs were turned, China quietly installed a sophisticated new network of devices in the South China Sea.

DECEMBER 24, 20184

Pause

Mute

0:33

Fullscreen

Chinese Military Might

China has installed a new platform in the Paracel Islands of the South China Sea, with satellite images revealing Beijing’s continuing quest for power in the disputed area.

Recent satellite imagery shows a new structure that appears to be anchored on the north edge of the Bombay Reef, with solar panels and a radome (a dome protecting radar or other equipment) on top.

According to the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, the dome appears to be an “Ocean E-Station”, a component of a larger “Blue Ocean Information Network” which the Chinese government is developing to aid its “exploration, exploitation and control” of the region. Judging by the dates of comparative satellite images, the dome was set up sometime between April and July this year.

It was most likely developed by the state-owned China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC), which has developed at least two types of these stations to expand its information collection and networks of communication.

Trade brochures provided by the CETC say the machines’ purpose is to “conduct electronic surveillance, provide maritime communications, aid in search-and-rescue, and monitor the ocean environment” — but the superstructure conceals any other facilities or equipment it could contain.

China has installed a new platform in the Paracel Islands of the South China Sea. Picture: CSIS/AMTI

China has installed a new platform in the Paracel Islands of the South China Sea. Picture: CSIS/AMTISource:Supplied

 

 

So what exactly does the Chinese government get out of it?

The AMTI report suggests it’s part of a larger effort to “informationise” the maritime environment — in other words, to enhance the understanding of how to exploit and control the oceans by means of information technology.

Persistent technological surveillance may also decrease the need for ongoing patrolling by fisheries and navy vessels.

This could be especially useful for the Chinese government, considering the ongoing risk of conflict with competing nations in the disputed region.

Just two months ago, shocking images exposed a near-collision between a US navy ship and a Chinese vessel in the region.

The US Navy released a series of photos showing the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Decatur almost crashing into the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy’s Type 052C Luyang II-class destroyer Lanzhou.

The vessels came within 40m of one another — one of 18 encounters since 2016 between the two nations which Washington has deemed “unsafe or unprofessional”.

Just two months ago, shocking images exposed a near-collision between a US navy ship and a Chinese vessel in the South China Sea.

Just two months ago, shocking images exposed a near-collision between a US navy ship and a Chinese vessel in the South China Sea.Source:Supplied

 

 

As the Ocean E-Stations are passive systems, their legal status is unclear. But an AMTI report says the most likely possibility — given Bombay Reef’s strategic location — is that the systems are military in nature.

“The reef is directly adjacent to the major shipping lanes that run between the Paracels and the Spratly Islands to the south, making it an attractive location for a sensor array to extend Chinese radar or signals intelligence collection over that important sea lane,” the analysis states.

TENSIONS TO CONTINUE INTO NEXT YEAR

Tensions between the US and China, as well as other Asian nations making strategic claims in the region, are unlikely to ease as we head into 2019.

Despite a series of near-collisions and tense exchanges of words between the two major powers, some pro-Beijing commentators have called for China’s navy to step it up.

Recent satellite imagery shows a new structure that appears to be anchored on the north edge of the Bombay Reef, with solar panels and a radome on top. Picture: CSIS/AMTI

Recent satellite imagery shows a new structure that appears to be anchored on the north edge of the Bombay Reef, with solar panels and a radome on top. Picture: CSIS/AMTISource:Supplied

 

 

Earlier this month, Dai Xu, president of China’s Institute of Marine Safety and Co-operation, suggested if a US warship illegally enters the disputed region again, two Chinese warships should be sent in response — one to stop it, and the other to “bump against and sink it”.

“In China’s territorial waters, we won’t allow US warships to run amok,” Mr Dai said, according to the Chinese military’s English-language website.

He identified the South China Sea and neighbouring Taiwan as two issues that will create more tension next year.

“Why do we put the battlefield in the South China Sea and Taiwan? If cross-Straits tensions rise, there is no need to think too much,” he said. “Though the economy is the most important aspect of overall development and we should definitely focus on saving it, once the opportunity for reunification comes, why not take it?

“Tensions will accelerate reunification and will only be the beginning of Taiwan’s war of liberation. Therefore, we do not have much to fear, so let’s just wait and be prepared. Once a strategic opportunity emerges, we should be ready to take over Taiwan.”

On the South China Sea specifically, he said “freedom of navigation” advocated by the US is actually a provocation against China and an attack of Chinese sovereignty.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has already warned that China will not be backing down over the South China Sea as we head into 2019.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has already warned that China will not be backing down over the South China Sea as we head into 2019.Source:Getty Images

 

 

Earlier this year, Chinese President Xi Jinping warned his country would not be backing down.

“Our stance is steadfast and clear-cut when it comes to China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Mr Xi told US Defence Secretary James Mattis in June. “We cannot lose one inch of territory passed down by our ancestors. Meanwhile, we want nothing from others.”

Ultimately we’ll just have to wait and see how this all plays out next year — but at this rate, it doesn’t look good.

‘Huge pressure’: DEVELOPERS cutting costs are they the root cause of defects?

THE following may not necessarily apply to the Opal Tower, but is an observation of the industry at large.

 

Such a management approach has reached its zenith in the wide use of design-and-construct contracts to commission many high-rise projects.

KEY POINTS …

-the contracts supply builders with the first half of the design which builders then have to finish

.are often the first stop for developers looking to reduce cost and time of a project

-the builder takes responsibility for the design; to then meet the developer’s budget and time restrictions

-and manage further tweaking of key design elements by the developer to cut costs even more

‘Correcting this process is at the heart of preventing major defects in the building industry today. It begins with recognising the role that developers, at the apex of the design process, play in influencing the design of these buildings and the sometimes negative outcomes that arise.’

‘Huge pressure’: Developers cutting costs are root cause of defects

A 36-storey tower at Sydney Olympic Park is evacuated putting thousands of residents on the street on Christmas Eve. Building movement, loud bangs and big cracks are reported. All this in a building that has opened only recently. The architect, structural engineer and builder are all respected players in the industry.

Much time will now be spent to find cause and culprit. Is the problem a significant structural issue, as it appeared from first reports? And if it is, is it the fault of an individual error by designer or builder or a sign of a wider problem in the industry?

Play Video

Inquiry into Opal Building must be made public: Daley

Play video

1:00

Inquiry into Opal Building must be made public: Daley

An investigation into the structural integrity of a recently-finished building at Sydney’s Olympic Park has been launched by the NSW Government.

 

At this stage we cannot say for sure, but we can say that away from the headlines a pattern is emerging industry-wide.

Down the road from the Opal building, a relatively new, high-rise residential building has not made front page news but is also having problems. The structural failure has been more gradual. The building’s cantilevered balconies started sagging gradually soon after occupation. Some balconies have sagged as much as 180mm on the outer edges over three years. As a result, cracks have opened up, water runs away from the outlets and pools on the balconies. Major structural repair works are being commissioned.

A similar unreported story is to be told at a nearby 300-unit block. Structural deficiencies have led to major deflection of cantilevered concrete slabs. This structural defect is just one item in $6 million dollars worth of waterproofing and other faults found in this new building.

 

In the ACT, residents in a new, high-profile high-rise apartment are woken every two hours or so during the night by a large banging sound. Have been for years.
Structural deficiencies mean that the roof slab scrapes across support walls when it cools down at night. The resulting nocturnal crescendo has been the subject of prolonged court action and numerous expert reports. To borrow a phrase, design success has many parents, building defects are orphans.
The 33-storey Opal Tower was completed in August.
The 33-storey Opal Tower was completed in August. CREDIT:AAP

 

Such stories are being lived throughout our apartment boom-burdened major cities by owners who suspected nothing when they bought.

Culprits and scapegoats for these and other defects are sometimes found but root causes are rarely identified.

I am not a structural engineer but I work with architects, builders and structural engineers dealing with major facade and waterproofing defects.

A forensic approach is needed to look at the process that leads to a defect, including the design stage, rather than just looking at the material issue in isolation.

A root cause common to many of these types of defects is the way design risk has been managed in the building industry over the last decade or so.

Key elements of structural and other design are passed though many hands before emerging triumphant on the skyline. Huge pressure is placed on the various designers by developers and builders to reduce time and cost. They are asked to deliver ever thinner, lighter structures which are quicker and cheaper to build. The margins for error are reduced. The long-term effects are discounted in favour of short-term financial gain.

This does not necessarily apply to the Opal Tower, but is an observation of the industry at large.

This management approach has reached its zenith in the wide use of design-and-construct contracts to commission many high-rise projects. These contracts, which supply builders with the first half of the design (which builders then have to finish) are often the first stop for developers looking to reduce cost and time of a project.

The builder then takes responsibly for the design, however inadequate, and has to meet the developer’s budget and time restrictions, however inadequate, and manage further tweaking of key design elements by the developer to cut costs even more.

Correcting this process is at the heart of preventing major defects in the building industry today. It begins with recognising the role that developers, at the apex of the design process, play in influencing the design of these buildings and the sometimes negative outcomes that arise.

Ross Taylor is the managing director of Ross Taylor and Associates, waterproofing consultants.

Image may contain: sky, skyscraper and outdoor
CAAN Photo:  Wentworth Point

 FREE ACCESS TO AUSTRALIAN STANDARDS DENIED TO THE PUBLIC … WILL AUSTRALIA REGAIN FREE ACCESS IN 2019?

SAI GLOBAL now owned by Baring Private Equity Asia owns ‘AUSTRALIAN STANDARDS’ …

 

THE WEBSITE FOR SAI GLOBAL … gave very little information …

SAI Global:   www.saiglobal.com

EXTRACT from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
STANDARDS AUSTRALIA NOW LISTED AS THE PREDECESSOR! 
-Global Headquarters at 286 Sussex Street Sydney
SAI Global founded 2003; floated on the Australian Stock Exchange 17 December 2003
-the initial shareholding 40% retained by parent organisation Standards Australia having been progressively sold down to zero.

-SAI Global provides a commercial database of Australian standards, called “SAI Global – Standards Online” …

It is now owned by Baring Private Equity Asia

 

HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?  ‘AUSTRALIAN STANDARDS’ NOW OWNED BY AN ASIAN COMPANY!

 

KEY POINTS …

more than 9000 standards which govern industries and products in Australia; developed by Standards Australia; the nation’s peak non-government not for profit standards organisation

-until June 2016 everyone had free access to Australian standards in hard copy and online, through national and state libraries around Australia

-the public will have to pay $100 to $500 plus to purchase and view a Standard

since 2003 Standards Australia has given exclusive publishing rights to SAI Global

SAI Global holds its own agreement with nine Australian participating libraries;  giving each library online access to standards at an annual cost of $14,000

SAI Global offered to cap the unrealistic price point subscription fee at $14,000 for a further three years

NSLA said the company employed an outdated technology platform and denied members of the public access to standards outside a library

-the publishing agreement with SAI Global ends in 2018;  the NSLA was attempting to negotiate an alternative publishing arrangement with Standards Australia

Free access to Australian standards no longer available in public libraries

Children’s toys, playgrounds, car tyres, manufacturing, electrical work and building design are just some of the consumer products and industries guided by principles developed by Standards Australia, the nation’s peak non-government, not-for-profit standards organisation.

VIDEO:
Duration 0:42

Calls for mandatory baby mattress standards

REPLAY

Calls for mandatory baby mattress standards

Replay video

CHOICE has conducted safety tests of Australia’s leading cot mattresses and reported that three popular brands fail

 

There are more than 9000 standards which govern the most everyday industries and products in Australia, such as cot mattresses, for which standards are being reviewed by the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission, to guard against the risk of infant suffocation.

Until recently everyone had free access to Australian standards in hard copy and online, through national and state libraries around Australia.

 

Children's toys, such as this, are just one consumer product governed by Australian standards, vital for ensuring their safety and appropriateness for children.
Children’s toys, such as this, are just one consumer product governed by Australian standards, vital for ensuring their safety and appropriateness for children.

 

However that access has now been limited after negotiations broke down between National and State Libraries Australasia and SAI Global, the commercial publishing outlet which holds exclusive rights to the sale, marketing and distribution of Australian standards.

“We have been negotiating for many months with SAI Global. The various state libraries have licenses expiring in the first half of this year and we have finally given up,” said Dr Alex Byrne, chair of NSLA and NSW state librarian and chief executive.

“[SAI Global] are intransigent, they don’t recognise the public interest and so we have to say ‘No, we can’t continue on this basis’.”

Dr Byrne said he could not see why access to standards, “which govern just about anything you can think of”, should be any different to that of legislation, which is freely accessible to the public online.

Tradesmen like plumbers were accusing the President elect of non payment.
Tradesmen like plumbers were accusing the President elect of non payment.

 

A spokesperson for SAI Global said historically, the NSLA has received “highly discounted subscription rates, in some cases to the magnitude of over 60 per cent.”

“You can see…that SAI is acting reasonably in making standards accessible to all library members while recovering some revenue to cover its costs of service provision, information updating and access facilities.” he said, adding that SAI Global remained open to discussions.

Australian standards are considered fundamental to ensure services and products, like pool fences, are safe, reliable and consistent.
Australian standards are considered fundamental to ensure services and products, like pool fences, are safe, reliable and consistent.

 

A Standards Australia spokesperson said chief executive officer Bronwyn Evans was urging the two parties to resume negotiations.

“It is in the interests of all Australians that Australian Standards are accessible through libraries.”

In NSW, a member of the public will later this month have to pay anywhere from $100 to $500-plus to purchase and view a standard, which Dr Byrne said can be prohibitive for consumers or people starting a small business.

A breakdown in a publishing negotiation will mean consumers will lose free access to Australian standards, governing home building and electrical industry practices.
A breakdown in a publishing negotiation will mean consumers will lose free access to Australian standards, governing home building and electrical industry practices.CREDIT:JAY CRONAN

 

“There might be several standards applying to one business. Electrical standards, fencing, some relating to food…It’s unrealistic to expect a small business with small margins to pay to access those.”

Since 2003 Standards Australia has given exclusive publishing rights to SAI Global.

SAI Global then holds its own agreement with nine participating libraries around Australia, giving each library online access to standards at an annual cost of $14,000.

While SAI Global offered to cap the subscription fee at $14,000 for a further three years during recent negotiations, NSLA said the company set an “unrealistic price point”, employed an outdated technology platform and denied members of the public access to standards outside a library.

“That is impractical for someone who lives in Dubbo or Bourke. They are not going to come into Macquarie Street to check a standard,” said Dr Byrne.

Tom Godfrey, head of media at consumer group Choice, said it “fails a common sense test” that vital documents that are called up into regulation for safety are not available to all consumers through public libraries.

“This is clearly a case of corporate greed where a company has completely lost touch with its community,” he said.

“This company doesn’t need to be ripping off public libraries to make a buck…and when the publishing license is up for review I think Standards Australia should look to find a company whose values are more aligned with the community.”

Dr Byrne said the NSLA would like to see Australia follow New Zealand, who earlier this year took the distribution of standards back into government and committed to maintaining public access.

“Increasingly legislation refers to standards, rather than spelling out legal requirements. All that says the community needs to have access to standards.

The publishing agreement with SAI Global ends in 2018, with an option to renew for a further five year term; however, Dr Byrne said the NSLA was attempting to negotiate an alternative publishing arrangement with Standards Australia.