CHINESE BUYERS LOOKING TO ‘GRAB A BARGAIN’ IN 2019 … AND WHY THE LNP MUST GO!

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JUWAI.com has revealed that the outlook for Chinese residential real estate buying in 2019 will continue to be strong with Chinese buyers attracted by prices falling in Australia …

WHAT if the LNP were to change the policies that allegedly block foreign investment and break the dam wall? 

-ask the ALP what they will do about this!

-Chinese capital controls reduced investment in 2017 and 2018
-Australian fees and charges are nothing to the High Wealth Chinese
HOW likely is it that the Chinese use the Australian Banking & Finance Sector?
Chinese can freely launder their black money through an onshore Proxy in our Real Estate
-the Real Estate Sector was exempted from Anti-Money Laundering Legislation in October 2018
-coinciding with October 2018 the peak for Chinese residential buying inquiries on Australian property

 

Chinese buyers continue to focus their demand on new apartments and house and land packages in outer suburbs

-the yuan currently sits six per cent higher against the Australian dollar than it did at the same time last year.

it sits low against the US dollar; combined with the budding trade war in the US, makes Australia an easy choice for investment.

 

 

Chinese investment in Australian property to stay strong in 2019 as buyers look to ‘grab a bargain’

According to the report, Chinese buyers will be bolstered by strong Chinese wealth growth and the desire to get a bargain while the market is soft.

A lack of investment opportunities both in China and in other regions such as the US due to the trade war are also motives behind further activity in Australia.

“Unlike Australians, Chinese lack appealing alternative investments at home.

Bank deposits earn unnaturally low rates of return, Chinese stock exchanges are still immature and were the world’s worst performing in 2018, Chinese real estate is tightly regulated to make investing difficult, and peer-to-peer lending and private equity funds have collapsed due to fraud, poor management and government crackdowns,” said Juwai.com CEO and Director Carrie Law.

“Because few other appealing investment opportunities exist, Chinese have put 53 per cent of their wealth into real estate. In a 2018 survey, Chinese overseas investors named residential property their favourite asset class.

Barriers to investment

There are, however, a few barriers in the way of Chinese acquisition of Australian property. These barriers mean the rates are far lower than the current demand, according to the report.

*2015 and 2016 were boom years for investment, but that dwindled across 2017 and 2018. The numbers in 2019 are expected to stay the same unless Australia sees change in any of the policies which block foreign investment.

 

“Our metaphor is aquatic. The huge reservoir of Chinese demand is like water held back by a dam.

That dam consists of capital controls, onerous Australian foreign buyer taxes and the difficulties obtaining financing in Australia,” said Ms Law.

2018 activity

“In 2018, Chinese residential buying inquiries were down 20 per cent compared to 2017. But the news wasn’t all bad. In the fourth quarter, Chinese buyers made 58.1 per cent more enquiries on Australian property than in the same period in 2017,” according to Ms Law.

May was the lowest month for enquiries, with October seeing the peak.

These levels are expected to continue in 2019 due to the restrictions mentioned before, but we’ll still see Chinese buyers representing the highest percentage of foreign investment at 22 per cent.

The report shows that Chinese buyers spent approximately three to eight per cent more on foreign property in 2018 compared to 2017 levels, which sat at US$129.3 billion.

Top locations

The most popular Australian cities for Chinese investment in 2018 were Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Canberra. Regionally, the most popular locations were the Gold Coast, Newcastle, the Sunshine Coast, Cairns, Wollongong and Geelong.

“Victoria will continue to receive the greatest share of Chinese residential investment — both by offshore and local Chinese buyers.

The state, according to Foreign Investment Review Board data, receives about $4 of foreign real estate investment for every $3 that go to New South Wales and for every $2 that go to Queensland,” said Ms Law.

“Melbourne retains clear advantages over Sydney in terms of lifestyle, prices and also a foreign buyer stamp duty that at 7 per cent is one point lower than the New South Wales equivalent.”

There is no chance Sydney will be knocked off the second place position in 2019, says Ms Law. With its iconic landmarks and popularity as an ‘iconic city’, Chinese buyers will still want a piece of the action.

“Very few attractions in Melbourne have earned the same level of awareness among Chinese consumers as have the Sydney stand-outs. While official statistics show that 62 per cent of Chinese tourists visit Sydney, only 50 per cent go to Melbourne. One-quarter visit the Gold Coast.”

The interest in Brisbane is driven by families with children who are studying in the city. More than 33,000 mainland and Hong Kong students were studying in Queensland in 2018, a significant increase from 21,000 in 2015. Chinese buyers interested in this area are hoping to make a profit on student accommodation and purchase property which can then be rented out.

“This year, in all four cities, we expect Chinese buyers to continue to focus their demand on new apartments and house and land packages.

 

FILE PHOTO: A house under construction can be seen behind an advertising banner at a housing development located in the western Sydney suburb of Oran Park in Australia, October 21, 2017.   REUTERS/David Gray/File Photo

A house under construction in the western Sydney suburb of Oran Park  Photo: Reuters/David Gray

Outer suburbs where new estates are going up are stealing buyers away from more traditional inner-city locations. Where developers or third parties can provide financing, demand is likely to follow,” said Ms Law.

Why Chinese buyers are keen on Australia

Chinese buyers are getting richer, and the yuan is currently sitting very favourably against the Australian dollar, which makes Australian property a tempting investment opportunity.

China will probably pass the USA in GDP size this decade to become the world’s largest economy. It is already the world’s largest manufacturer and biggest exporter.

There are now 3.5 million US dollar millionaires in mainland China, and wealth per adult has more than quadrupled over the past six years,” said Ms Law.

Much has been made of the weakness in the Chinese yuan and how it may restrain overseas investment. In the case of Australia, we disagree. The yuan’s weakness is not holding back investment in Australian property.”

The yuan currently sits six per cent higher against the Australian dollar than it did at the same time last year. Despite this, it sits low against the US dollar and other major currencies. This, combined with the budding trade war in the US, makes Australia an easy choice for investment.

“Australia has always competed to some degree with the US for Chinese students, tourists and property investment,” said Ms Law.

“With the trade war making some Chinese investors increasingly nervous about making new acquisitions of US real estate, some of those investors may turn to Australia as a natural alternative. Chinese students who turn away from US schools and universities may also choose Australia instead, which would also have spill-over effects on local real estate investment.

“The trade war could mean more Chinese investment for Australia.”

 

The total investment from Chinese homebuyers in Australia amounted to $87.6 billion in 2016.

Photo:  SBS

 

SOURCE:  https://eliteagent.com/chinese-investment-in-australian-property-to-stay-strong-in-2019-as-buyers-look-to-grab-a-bargain/

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Australia’s global corruption ranking sparks urgent calls for federal integrity body

Australia fails to improve on its worst ranking on Transparency International’s corruption perception index

Australia’s score in Transparency International’s corruption perception index was a record low for the nation
Australia’s score in Transparency International’s corruption perception index was a record low for the nation. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP

 

Australia has failed to improve on its record low ranking in a global measure of government corruption, prompting renewed calls for a powerful federal integrity commission to be established “without delay and political wrangling”.

The most widely recognised measure of public-sector corruption, Transparency International’s corruption perception index (CPI), was released on Tuesday afternoon, ranking Australia 13th least corrupt in the world.

Australia scored 77 from a possible 100, placing it just above Hong Kong, Iceland and Austria. New Zealand was ranked the second least corrupt nation in the world, just behind Denmark.

The score represents an equal record low for Australia, which has been unable to improve its anti-corruption and integrity efforts enough to reverse a slide that began in 2014.

Australia has slipped from its best ranking of seventh in 2012 to ninth in 2013, and has remained at 13th from 2015 onwards.

https://interactive.guim.co.uk/charts/embed/jan/2019-01-29T00:21:09/embed.html

 

The score is derived from a range of 13 sources measuring corruption perceived by experts and business executives. It measures the use of public office for private gain, nepotism, bribery, the diversion of public money and state capture.

The score is also a reflection of the strength of integrity and anti-corruption systems, including “the existence of adequate laws on financial disclosure, conflict of interest prevention and access to information”.

Australia’s integrity and transparency systems have faced routine criticism for their weakness. Donations are not disclosed in real-time and failures in transparency face little to no punishment. There is no consequence for breaching federal lobbying rules and the freedom of information regime is undermined by delays, costs and record rates of refusals.

The report’s release has put renewed pressure on the federal government to introduce a strong and effective integrity commission.

https://interactive.guim.co.uk/charts/embed/jan/2019-01-29T01:02:41/embed.html

 

Transparency International Australia’s chief executive, Serena Lillywhite, said a well-equipped commission with a broad remit must be a priority. She said the bill proposed by crossbencher Cathy McGowan was preferred over the Coalition’s current model, which will not have public hearings and requires a high threshold to be met before investigations can start.

“Now is the time, without delay and political wrangling, for our federal parliament to come together and create a well-resourced, nationally coordinated pro-integrity framework, with an emphasis on prevention alongside strong investigative powers,” Lillywhite said.

 

Australia is far from alone in failing to make progress. Of the 180 countries considered by Transparency International, only 20 have made significant progress in improving their CPI scores in recent years. More than two-thirds scored below 50 and the average score was 43.

In the Asia-Pacific, North Korea was the worst performer, scoring 14, while the average was 44. Transparency International’s managing director, Patricia Moreira, said the emergence of leaders with “authoritarian or populist tendencies” had given new urgency to the need for reforms.

“Corruption chips away at democracy to produce a vicious cycle, where corruption undermines democratic institutions and, in turn, weak institutions are less able to control corruption,” Moreira said. “With many democratic institutions under threat across the globe – often by leaders with authoritarian or populist tendencies – we need to do more to strengthen checks and balances and protect citizens’ rights.”

Australia’s mark was an average of nine separate indicators, including the Bertelsmann Foundation’s sustainable governance index, the Economist Intelligence Unit’s country ratings and the Global Insight country risk ratings.

THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY THROUGH THE LENS OF THE OPAL TOWER!

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The NSW state’s construction industry is out of control. We need a NSW Commission of Inquiry. And we need Rowena Orr to run it. And we need it to be state based so that the politicians and bureaucrats can’t hide behind national inquiries.

The construction industry through the lens of the Opal Tower

Opal Tower, Sydney
Opal Tower, Sydney

 

The NSW state’s construction industry is out of control. We need a NSW Commission of Inquiry. And we need Rowena Orr to run it. And we need it to be state based so that the politicians and bureaucrats can’t hide behind national inquiries.

A NSW Commission of Inquiry into the state’s construction industry is the only way to shore up declining public confidence in the built realm and the value of its real property.

The Opal Tower project offers a lens through which most of the construction issues in NSW may be observed. There will be many fingers in this pie, but in the end the state of the local construction industry in NSW, is seen as a state matter.

This week, the residents of 74 Opal apartments were told their homes were safe to re-occupy and any further support for not returning to the building was withdrawn.

 

In the same news window, the residents were advised that 65 per cent of apartments would be ready to occupy by Wednesday 30 January. This suggests 140 will not be.

This experience has parallels in many completed buildings. They just don’t get the same air time.

The situation now calls for a NSW Commission of Inquiry into the state’s construction industry. This must be a wide-ranging deep-dive into an industry that is out of control.

Such an inquiry cannot be headed by any conflicted party or interestmy call is Rowena Orr, who did an excellent exposure of the systemic failures of banking regulators and industry.

Anything less would undermine this state’s credibility and the value of real property assets.

NSW politicians and bureaucrats should not hide behind national enquiries.

The industry knows that harmonisation of national construction policy is all but impossible. NSW claims “first state” status in a dysfunctional sovereign-based system – it should therefore lead.

This article ends by offering eight themes that a NSW Commission of Inquiry could address.

The root causes behind the falling of construction standards and capabilities go back some way. Everyone will have an opinion.

Some suggest the demise of the state’s technical and trade teaching platform, and the rise of a class of constructors who have more theoretical university-orientated qualifications instead of the applied capabilities a complex industry such as construction needs.

Some will suggest that the rise of Design and Construct contracts has signalled a loss of control by “first specifiers” such as architects and engineers.

Others point to the progressive dismantling of the state’s public procurement capabilities and technical resources that could represent the public interest. Others point to privatised certifiers.

The role of public governance of construction needs the strongest light shone on it now.

A commission of inquiry will likely expose hundreds if not thousands of property purchaser and renter experiences that show just how grim the accommodation of today’s construction industry’s shortcomings is. This not a universal situation, but it is deep and concerning.

The state’s governance of the construction industry and the way it accepts some public assets sets the tone for a culture of papering over its cracks, posing as the best the public can expect given the circumstances.

An example is a constant refrain from the state’s safety regulator that they are doing the best they can, given a shortage of skilled industry workers who don’t understand what a safe workplace should be. They claim pressure to downsize and political sway to reduce interference within a fragile industry that is just trying to deliver projects to meet demand.

There is endless blame and accountability shifting between the states and the Commonwealth. State based enquiries such as Lamberts’ 150 recommendations get conveniently swept up into Commonwealth ones like Shergold-Weir’s 24 recommendations.

At a state level the divides of State Significant Developments versus others also plays out.

The partial completion and early occupancy of the Sydney Cricket Ground’s State Significant Bradman Noble Stand for the for the 2014 new year’s Test was always under pressure.

The stand was opened, but without a fire safety certificate. Few would have imagined that thousands were illegally allowed to occupy this facility.

Images were supplied directly to senior offices in the Premier’s Department at the time. They showed fire doors propped open and not working, and doors to the rear of food concessions chocked open that directly shared the emergency escape routes as the only access for food supplies, cooking and waste. Furthermore, poor construction quality was visible in numerous places.

This led to a review and finally a conditional fire safety certificate for the one day match at the SCG a few weeks later. The conditions involved many non compliant arrangements being fixed, but most obvious was restrictions denying access to the upper levels and the heavy presence of fire and rescue crews and wardens on every door. There was acknowledgement that all of this happened, but there were no consequences.

When referred to the state’s Building Professionals Board, responsibility for the role of building certifiers was flagged away, because this was a State Significant Project. Not their patch.

When the Opal Apartments issues arose, the bureaucracy pointed their political masters to building certifiers. This seemed like a convenient but uninformed bandwagon to jump on. That of course has turned out not to be the primary issue here.

But certifiers are not off the hook yet. Following weeks of review, structural engineers for the government, builders and owners’ corporation have determined that despite a significant number of design and construction issues the building will not collapse.

Here, everyone needs to keep in mind that every party possibly risk exposed by Opal is now under the direction of their indemnity insurers. The full facts will only come out way down the track in the litigations that will surely follow.

Everyone should understand that buildings only get built once a construction contract is signed. This is how design becomes a reality, and the beginning of real property occurs.

A few have pointed to the design and construct building contract that was used for the tower. These contracts have some pretty fundamental obligations on the builder.

This contract is between the developer Ecove and the builder Icon. Its likely that the construction contract is similar to AS-4300, and normally heavily amended by the developer’s lawyers to batten down the terms and conditions to minimise loopholes. This is standard industry practice.

The relationship between the owners of the Opal Towers is between them and Ecove.

The developer is responsible for Icon’s performance of the contract and obligations.

These contracts have important fundamentals. Some of these include (or are to the effect):

  • The law governing the contract, its interpretation and dispute resolution will be in the state in which the project is constructed – in this case, NSW;
  • Practical completion is that stage in the execution of the works under the contract where works are complete except for minor omissions and minor defects – which do not prevent the works from being reasonably capable of being used for their stated purpose;
  • Contractor (Icon’s) warranties require the works to only be performed by suitably qualified and experienced personnel who shall exercise due skill, care and diligence in the execution and completion of the Work under the contract who:
  • shall execute and complete the contractor’s design obligations including managing the consultants identified by the contractor in the contract,
  • that contracting (or sub-contracting) out any part of the works or certification thereof will not relieve the contractor from any obligation, with such works being deemed to have been performed by the contractor,
  • shall execute the work in accordance with the design documentation so that the works when completed shall be fit for their stated purpose and comply with all the requirements of the contract and the law (including building codes),
  • The client (developer) shall pay for the work executed and completed (and warranted) under the contract in accordance with the requirements of the contract. (Clients may like to think about the consequences of warranted claims for payment of work done in accordance with the contract not turning out to be so. Ignorance of a builder of not knowing about non-compliant work should not be a valid defence);
  • Certificates of compliance will be verified as part of the completion processes;
  • Upon the date of practical completion, the contractor shall give possession of the site and the works to the client (developer).

These processes and their certifications become the triggers for real property titles to be created – in this case the NSW Strata Titles Act. At this point the developer will communicate to purchasers that the works are complete and fit for purpose. The developer will call on the purchasers to make payment and settle their pre-purchased property.

Financiers will require purchasers to have achieved a pre-conditioned deposit, a valuation and evidence that the property (in this instance the body corporate) has in place the required insurances. These actions go to underpinning the value and certainty ascribed to creating real property.

Some purchasers who have not achieved the conditioned equity or deposit level preferred by a lender will be required to take out mortgage insurance to cover any future non-performance on their part.

Loans with less than 15 per cent deposits may require mortgage insurance. An apartment costing $1.0 million will typically involve a $150,000 deposit and a loan of $850,000 (excluding stamp duty). A typical principal and interest loan for this amount over 25 years at current rates will cost $4250/month. This excludes body corporate outgoings.

Investors who have acquired these apartments will depend on a mix of rental income and frequently, negative gearing, to off-set their own income tax to make this transaction work.

When dwelling access is denied as has occurred at Opal, huge stresses are created for owners. And, especially, for the new body corporate.

The state will claim it is doing its bit via the recent introduction of developer bonds to cover defects. Such cover really only works after all other efforts for rectification have failed. They are a last resort, just like Home Owner Warranty Insurance for ordinary home buyers. A lot of expense is involved.

At the back of all of these real property assurance synthetics is the myriad of insurance covers that everyone who had a finger in the Opal apartments pie has taken out.

These insurers will provide a wall of defences all represented by the best lawyers in town to first deny and then minimise their exposures.

This is despite massive insurance premiums that today’s risk adverse construction industry demands before the first project blow is struck.

The only way forward now

This is an insurmountable task for any new body corporate to tackle. There is only one moral response that the NSW government can make here. Use this project as a test case.

Appoint an Administrator to the Opal Body Corporate in this instance.

Properly fund the most investigative and spirited representation of the owner’s rights and remedies.

Then empower the administrator to openly make all material facts known to the Commission of Inquiry, the public and the industry.

It is time to lay this cupboard bare and face the facts. It’s time for a roots and branches exposure of the construction industry’s condition.

And let’s not overlook the precedent that is being created at the Opal apartments by the developer and builder. They are effectively stepping in and taking re-possession of real property. What does this do for a property in transaction or in possession of a financier?

For a large number of apartments that possession will involve months of disruption. The costs to purchasers and renters will be extraordinary, with this compounded by the stress involved. There will be short or longer-term value loss here, as some properties are in effect un-merchantable, un-occupiable or un-rentable. Real property is under threat here. And what long-term provisions will the owners corporation need to make for its legal costs.

These issues aside, it is hard to describe the works that now need to be performed as “minor omissions or defects

It is hard to gloss over the prospect that the builder has made claims for work which may not have been performed in accordance with the contract.

It flows that some properties sold by the developer to the purchasers are not what they were held out to be.

Irrespective, the developer is faced with reassuming some properties for major repair.

The developer has now to arrange to put the builder in possession of parts of the tower that will revert to a construction site. There will be more design and construction to be performed and certified. Even the most prudent engineer is unlikely to sign off on any fix being the end of the matter.

It is possible that this development may require monitoring of its movements and the consequences of them for its entire lifecycle – well beyond the original defects period – even if the defects periods are extended as provided for under the contract to commence when rectification has occurred.

But here is the twist for the Building Certifiers – just as happened at the SCG. They must now determine an interim works and occupancy plan.

This situation cannot just be left with the builder who will be hurrying consultants and sub-contractors through the building to speed up the end of this nightmare.

It will be untenable for fire stairs to be chocked open, for materials, equipment and rubbish to block the access ways.

The building will need to develop a viable acoustics management plan to minimise noise during the repair process and to ensure that no new noise transfer dynamic has been introduced.

And of course, it will be critical that a nominated responsible person under the NSW Occupational Health and Safety Act is clearly identified to ensure that the building is safe to occupy and work in.

And finally, any interim fire safety management plan will progressively need to be extinguished with a refreshed certificate of compliance.

How AS 4300 or variant standards cope with this will be instructive.

A NSW commission of inquiry needs to look beyond the here and now.

Many wicked issues will arise. The same old fixes will be unlikely to work. The Australian construction industry is yet to modernise. While it claims the application of some modern technologies, the reality is that the construction industry has its customs and practices defined by antiquated business models and professional silos.

The new technologies are not working. The global construction industry is changing. The Commissioner should visit this year’s AEC-BE Summit in Europe in June.

The Australian construction industry is self-facing. It needs to turn this around and become customer-facing – and NSW should lead the national industry.

Here are 8 themes the Commissioner’s report may address to assure real property value

  1. How can construction compliance be underpinned by new trust-based technologies that provide future customers with the assurance that new buildings should provide?
  2. How can the money wasted on fragmented and often worthless insurance products be better deployed to provide single point unavoidable assurances?
  3. How can today’s design and construction technologies be deployed to deliver a seamless integration of design, construction and maintenance for each building?
  4. What mechanisms could be established so that the better builders are rewarded with lower performance risk premiums while risky contractors pay more?
  5. How might new buildings be given individual compliance risk and sustainability ratings that sets one apart from the other, rather than having them all rated equally?
  6. How can digital technologies be deployed to create performance passports for building compliance certifiers and on-site safety officers that go with them?
  7. What future-ready governance practices should construction industry regulators deploy that will not be burdened by last century analogue system and practices?
  8. What should be done to reform construction education and capability building

Adjunct Professor David Chandler is construction practitioner and industry engagement lead at Western Sydney University’s Centre for Smart Modern Construction


SOURCE:  https://www.thefifthestate.com.au/innovation/building-construction/the-construction-industry-through-the-lens-of-the-opal-tower/?utm_source=The+Fifth+Estate+-+newsletter&utm_campaign=b7cc4a3557-1+november+2018_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_5009254e4c-b7cc4a3557-44053365&ct=t(EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_1_COPY_01)&mc_cid=b7cc4a3557&mc_eid=a50592bb7c

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TPG boss warns Huawei ban will cost telcos billions

 

The government’s tough line on banning Chinese technology in the high-speed 5G network could force telecommunications companies to spend billions of dollars in retro-fitting as TPG boss David Teoh warned “[on a] Huawei 4G network you cannot connect even a piece of wire to any 5G network”.

Mr Teoh has spent two years and $100 million creating the country’s fourth mobile network but on Tuesday blamed the government’s ban on Chinese suppliers for scrapping his plans.

TPG Telecom executive chairman and CEO David Teoh.
TPG Telecom executive chairman and CEO David Teoh.CREDIT:DANIEL MUNOZ

TPG had used Huawei equipment since announcing the launch of the country’s fourth network in April 2017, with hopes its small-cell technology could be quickly upgraded to 5G in the future.

This plan no longer works under a widespread ban on Huawei, Mr Teoh said, with the government’s decision making his long-term strategy “impossible”.

 

“We did go through the process in the last few months to look at all the implications of the government ban. Now, Huawei 4G networks can’t connect to any 5G network,” he said.

“We understand from the government’s side it’s impossible. [On a] Huawei 4G network you cannot connect even a piece of wire to any 5G network. It is impossible. It is a very serious issue.”

Mr Teoh also thinks other telcos have been hard-hit by the decision.

“Everyone is affected, everyone,” Mr Teoh said.

“I think if you ask them, everyone has to replace them. They have to,” he said, “You cannot connect the Huawei 4G to the 5G at all.”

Optus and Vodafone use Huawei equipment within their 4G networks and the ban has left some providers confused about how this existing infrastructure will be able to work alongside 5G kit. Telstra does not have any Huawei kit in its mobile networks.

The government banned suppliers like Huawei in August from participating in 5G on security grounds as the new networks are expected to increasingly connect critical infrastructure.

Huawei director of corporate and public affairs Jeremy Mitchell said the business had not had any “detailed conversations” with the government since the ban was announced.

“The 4G and 5G networks need to talk to each other. We are the biggest provider of 4G in Australia,” he said.

Very few companies are choosing to build a 5G network standalone without a pre-existing 4G network, he said, simply because “the costs are just too great”.

Telcos are all required to work to the same legislative requirements, however there are different ways a 5G network can be structured. One way to provide 5G services early in the network’s development is to “bolt on” 5G antennas and equipment to 4G kit, however this could be off the table if Mr Teoh’s assessment is accurate.

A spokeswoman for the government said 5G represented opportunities for an economy-wide transformation.

“The government is committed to protecting this vital technology,” she said.

“While the government wants to realise the full benefits of 5G, we need to ensure that Australian’s information and communications is protected at all times.”

Optus declined to comment.

 

Huawei is the world’s largest telco equipment manufacturer.

It has faced worldwide scrutiny, particularly from ‘Five Eyes’ countries (a cybersecurity alliance including Australia, New Zealand, the US, UK and Canada). New Zealand imposed a ban last year, while the US Justice Department has accused Huawei’s chief financial officer Sabrina Meng Wanzhou and the company of bank and wire fraud and conspiring to steal trade secrets.

Over the weekend, Vodafone’s global parent company put a “pause” on using Huawei in the core of its network, though warned there would be issues with any government-imposed bans in the radio part of the network. Local media representatives declined to comment further about the ramification of the government’s bank on its Australian 5G roll out, though chief strategy officer Dan Lloyd said in a statement the provider had “already taken into consideration the impact of the government’s decision”.

“While national security is of paramount importance, we have always been clear that we believe the restrictions on 5G vendors by government would have practical implications,” he said.

 

Jennifer Duke is a media and telecommunications journalist for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

CHINA EXEC accused of criminal conspiracy set up HUAWEI in Australia

 

 

China exec accused of criminal conspiracy set up Huawei in Australia

 

The Huawei executive at the centre of an international sanctions-busting and trade secrets theft scandal established and oversaw the firm’s Australian operation while she was allegedly engaged in a global criminal conspiracy.

Meng Wanzhou was a director of Huawei’s Australian subsidiary between October 2005 and August 2011, according to corporate records.

The US Department of Justice alleged on Tuesday that from November 2007 to May 2015, Ms Meng was engaged in a criminal conspiracy aimed at defeating trade sanctions to enable Huawei to covertly operate a business in Iran.

 

Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou arrives at a parole office.
Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou arrives at a parole office.CREDIT:AP

 

The indictment, released by the department on Tuesday morning, comes after the US and Australian governments have spent years warning other nations about the security risks posed by Huawei’s ties to the Chinese Communist Party.

 

The outlining of the formal charges against Ms Meng is the latest in a dramatic escalation of hostilities between China and the West after her arrest in December in Canada. Since then, tensions have risen in the on-going trade war between the US and China, and Australian-Chinese writer Yang Hengjun and two Canadians have been detained by Chinese authorities.

 

There is no suggestion in the Department of Justice’s case against Ms Meng that she was involved in any criminal activity in Australia.

 

But while she worked as a director in Australia, Ms Meng is alleged to have been a central player in a conspiracy to defraud international banks and US officials about Huawei’s Iran operations.

Ms Meng was allegedly engaged in this criminal activity for four of the years she was an Australian Huawei director. As a director, she was responsible for Huawei’s corporate governance and strategy, as well as overseeing its early efforts to take part in Australia’s NBN roll-out.

The Gillard Labor government banned Huawei from the NBN in late 2011, citing national security concerns. The ban was later upheld by the Turnbull coalition government.

Huawei was founded by Ms Meng’s father, former Chinese army engineer turned industrialist Ren Zhengfei, and has become one of the biggest telecommunications companies in the world.

Central to Huawei’s Australian operations is its message to politicians, the business community and the media that it can be trusted to withstand potential pressure from the Chinese government to snoop on or sabotage data and phone networks.

In 2011, Huawei sought to amplify this pitch by restructuring its local operations with high-profile director appointments, including former Victorian premier John Brumby, former foreign minister Alexander Downer and former Navy rear admiral John Lord.

Former Victorian premier John Brumby and John Lord were announced as board members of Huawei in May 2011.
Former Victorian premier John Brumby and John Lord were announced as board members of Huawei in May 2011. CREDIT:WAYNE TAYLOR

 

Ms Meng stood down from the Australian board shortly after the trio’s appointment. Huawei has also paid for trips to China for Labor and coalition politicians and hired ex-political staffers as advisers.

Mr Downer resigned from the board in 2014 when he became Australia’s UK High Commissioner.

Since the Australian trio’s appointment as directors in 2011, western intelligence agencies and governments have consistently raised security concerns about Huawei.

Concerns raised since 2010 by Australia’s security agencies culminated in the recent banning of Huawei from Australia’s 5G rollout.

Mr Brumby, Mr Lord and Mr Downer have all claimed there has been no hard evidence to sustain the concerns. On Tuesday, The Age sought comments from Mr Brumby and Mr Lord about the US indictment, but neither responded to interview requests.

In addition to the Iran sanctions charges, Huawei has been indicted for stealing trade secrets from rival T-Mobile.

Earlier this month, Polish officials charged a Huawei manager and a former Polish intelligence agency official with spying for Beijing.

HSBC and several other major banks have moved to cut business ties with Huawei, citing due diligence concerns.

 

In a statement, Huawei said it was “disappointed to learn of the [US] charges.”

“The Company denies that it or its subsidiary or affiliate have committed any of the asserted violations of U.S. law set forth in each of the indictments, is not aware of any wrongdoing by Ms. Meng, and believes the U.S. courts will ultimately reach the same conclusion,” the statement said.

Mr Brumby and Mr Lord and, until he left, Mr Downer, have been well paid as Huawei directors. It’s understood the firm pays some local directors up to $250,000 a year, although the company declined to confirm this.

Mr Brumby is a prominent advocate for Chinese-Australian business ties and sceptic of claims Beijing uses Chinese companies to covertly advance its interests or engage in foreign interference.

In February 2017, Mr Brumby voiced this scepticism to senior Australian government official Richard Maude during a private consultation session on Australia’s foreign policy whitepaper.

A source at the meeting said that Mr Maude explained that the Australian government’s private assessments were at odds with the former premier’s views: “If you read what I read, you wouldn’t be saying that,” the sources said Mr Maude told Mr Brumby.

Outgoing federal Labor MP Michael Danby, a noted hawk on China, and former Victorian Labor parliamentary speaker Ken Coghill said the US charges should prompt the local directors of Huawei to reflect on their own ties to Huawei.

“I would say about all the directors that they have got ethical issues that face them given many of the international actions and reactions of governments around the world regarding Huawei,” Mr Danby said.

 

Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou arrives at a parole office.

 

Nick McKenzie

is an investigative reporter for The Age. He’s won seven Walkley awards and covers politics, business, foreign affairs and defence, human rights issues, the criminal justice system and social affairs.

Richard Baker is a multi-award winning investigative reporter for The Age.

CAAN FACEBOOK:

 

 

Tradesmen work on Opal Tower in Sydney Olympic Park, which was evacuated late 2018. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer

Buyers try to ‘rip off’ Opal Tower owners by offering half the price

 

SOURCE:  https://www.domain.com.au/news/opal-tower-developer-ecove-doesnt-expect-a-return-to-normal-selling-until-may-2019/?utm_campaign=strap-masthead&utm_source=smh&utm_medium=link&utm_content=pos1&ref=pos1

 

 

 

‘Party poopers’: Tensions rise as partygoers flock to Sydney Harbour after lockout laws

 

A group of Sydneysiders will instigate a new push to stop party boats from mooring in the harbour, claiming revellers have poured onto commercial boats since the lockout laws.

Residential group ‘The Friends of Sydney Harbour’ will meet with Roads and Maritime Services, as well as the North Sydney and Mosman mayors on Friday, to discuss the “unbearable” noise levels they say have worsened since the lockout laws were put in place in early 2014.

The survey found boat noise mostly affected residents around Cremorne, Vaucluse and Mosman.
The survey found boat noise mostly affected residents around Cremorne, Vaucluse and Mosman.CREDIT:CHRISTOPHER PEARCE

Flyers began to appear in letterboxes shortly after New Year’s Eve from the group, inviting residents to have their say in a survey.

Director of the group, David Morris, said the survey was set up after “a number of complaints” from residents over the years and they will be taking their findings to Friday’s meeting.

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Flyers from the group began to turn up in letterboxes across harbourside suburbs after NYE.
Flyers from the group began to turn up in letterboxes across harbourside suburbs after NYE.

“A lot of partygoers were forced out of the traditional areas onto the harbour where there is often the misapprehension that because you’re on the harbour there are no rules or regulation,” he said. “We have taken the complaint to maritime before, but one question they have always raised is how bad the issue actually is, so we decided to find out accurately.”

Lavender Bay resident Jerry Ryan, 58, moved to the area in 2012 and said the noise has got progressively worse, regularly calling boat owners to ask them to reduce the amplified music.

“The times I have rang, I think the fish would have been running out of the bay, it’s like a full-on rock concert,” he said. “After 11.00pm they shouldn’t have music on so loud that it makes you turn up the TV, it’s just not on.”

Many took to social media to express their anger over the flyers, with one writing that the harbour was “a place for everyone”. Another user called the group “party poopers”.

Mosman mum Kylie Lucchese, 46, said that while the noise is an issue, residents also should accept that the noise is a part of living on the harbour.

“It’s the nature of living right on the water, and we are very blessed to live here and have the access to the harbour that we do,” she said.

The meeting comes after the busy holiday period,  where the group says it has been "around five to ten per cent" worse this year. 
The meeting comes after the busy holiday period,  where the group says it has been “around five to ten per cent” worse this year. CREDIT:COLE BENNETTS

The meeting comes after the busy holiday period, when the group says it has been “around five to ten per cent” worse than previous years.

Chairman of FOSH John Molyneux said there has been a “lack of consideration” for residents during the busiest days of the season.

“This Australia Day weekend, party boats were again moored at Vaucluse, and there was doof doof music going on as usual,” he said. “This is what I will be saying to RMS on Friday; you couldn’t take a truck to park and carry on, but these people pay a lot of money and suddenly can do things they couldn’t do on land.”

The survey found boat noise mostly affected residents around Cremorne, Vaucluse and Mosman.

The group will also be discussing a recent incident where a resident of Hermit Bay was “harassed” by a party boat owner after requesting via phone that he turn down the music.

“I think this speaks to how serious the issue is,” he said. “People have said, oh don’t be the fun police, but if rules aren’t laid down, tensions will just continue to grow and grow. She is now seeking legal action.”

The group wish to ban party boats from mooring in the harbour, forcing them to circulate instead of staying in one place. They also wish to see higher levels of patrolling from RMS, with responsible service of alcohol checks.

Luxury charter group Sydney Harbour Exclusive director William Kozma said he “highly doubts” any change would get through, and said he had no noise complaints on Australia Day.

“Every now and then we get a few disgruntled people in their million dollar mansions,” he said. “We don’t go into the early morning, if there is a complaint they will ring us up, and I will mention it to the captain.”

Captain Cook Cruises said they have worked with the RMS to develop a policy for the use of amplified music on vessels.
Captain Cook Cruises said they have worked with the RMS to develop a policy for the use of amplified music on vessels.CREDIT:COLE BENNETTS

Captain Cook Cruises said they are “acutely aware of the need to be considerate” to residents and say they have worked with the RMS to develop a policy for the use of amplified music on vessels.

“The harbour is Sydney’s jewel,” a spokesman said. “It needs to be shared, considerately and sustainably, for the enjoyment of all.”

Both mayors invited to the meeting on Friday say they will attend as “onlookers” and have both said that council has no control over harbour noise.

North Sydney mayor Jilly Gibson said council “wouldn’t want to overreact” to the situation, but will be in attendance.

“It’s not the council’s role to be a killjoy,” she said. “I haven’t personally received any complaints from residents, neither has the council, but from what I have heard, the majority think if we live near the harbour we shouldn’t be selfish enough to prevent Sydneysiders enjoying it.”

With Mosman Bay one of the most affected areas according to the survey, mayor Carolyn Corrigan said she “did not have a position” but was “happy to be in the room”.

“I am not certainly not going to be the leader or instigator of any change,” she said.

 

 

SOURCE:  https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/party-poopers-tensions-rise-as-partygoers-flock-to-sydney-harbour-after-lockout-laws-20190124-p50tds.html

IS THE DEVELOPER LOBBY CONCEDING COMMUNITY ACTION COULD PUT A STOP TO OVERDEVELOPMENT ?

 

IT’s all about making more $$$ and lots of $$$ storey upon storey can’t have Heritage or neighbourhood character in the way of that …

The Bullies …

ONE has to look very hard to identify any character or beauty in Shanghai brought to Ryde, Macquarie Park, Hornsby, Epping … you get the drift?

Or in the fugly fortresses invading our low-rise picturesque garden suburbs

Developers appear to have overlooked what we, the Australian community value and have paid for!

This Lobby it seems is OBLIVIOUS to water shortages, inadequate infrastructure, the heat-island effect, the loss of our tree canopy, … and Pandemics flown in!

 

View:  Urbanisation making Australians more vulnerable to Pandemics!

https://caanhousinginequalitywithaussieslockedout.wordpress.com/2019/01/29/urbanisation-making-australians-more-vulnerable-to-pandemics/?fbclid=IwAR2AVUwVKO-Uy6HpRvpCGJQ2lLSlNIQskl1p39pvVDipAf1tK2M02zcqLrY

Population Ponzi destroys our Defence against Pandemics!

https://caanhousinginequalitywithaussieslockedout.wordpress.com/2019/01/29/7715/?fbclid=IwAR0qFS97lXYFET-xuOzbXfjLZ6upuXySKDwa0Rj4nFsuMqsXn2hnErr5AZc

 

CJ must be worried to write a piece like this … it would seem he is no longer holding court with the Pollies?

There’s an Election coming …

Community participation could stop change

The NSW Planning Department has recently issued an Exhibition Draft of its Community Participation Plan which is likely to become a template for councils across NSW.

The plan sets out three key reasons for having a community participation plan. The first is that it builds community confidence in the planning system. The second is that it sets direction on the need to manage growth and change while preserving local character.

The third is that it provides access to community ideas and knowledge. My concern is with the second reason which focuses on preserving local character while somehow managing growth and change.

The chief executive of Urban Taskforce, Chris Johnson.
The chief executive of Urban Taskforce, Chris Johnson.CREDIT:SIMONE DE PEAK

 

Most communities will see this as encouraging them to say no to new development as it will change the local character.

 

 

This is despite Macquarie Park being a Priority Precinct nominated by the NSW government as a place they want development. The NSW Planning Department seems to be confusing communities when it tells them that planning is about preserving local character.

 

Image may contain: skyscraper, sky, tree and outdoor

CAAN Photo:  Chinese Real Estate developer Greenland Lachlan’s Line with 2700 dwellings has had a massive impact on the village of North Ryde and beyond.  It is but one example of community objection to Shanghai overdevelopment.

Image may contain: skyscraper, sky, tree and outdoor

CAAN Photo:  Herring Road Precinct, Macquarie Park, corner Epping Road and Herring Road;  like overdevelopment is proceeding along Herring Road on both sides.  WHO is it all for?  The NSW LNP Government thrust this upon the LGA.

 

Image may contain: sky and outdoor

CAAN Photo:  Top Ryde and what can be described as gaudy out of character of the leafy suburb of Ryde below it!  The NSW LNP have annihilated Sydney at the behest of the Developer Lobby.

 

Surely it would be better to talk about creating a new local character. In many parts of Sydney change will be dramatic particularly where apartment towers are built around a new metro rail station.

 

Image may contain: sky, tree and outdoor

CAAN Photo:  Example of the Fugly Fortresses invading our suburbs with their “new character” …

 

Image may contain: house, tree, plant, sky, outdoor and nature

Photo:  Home in the Heritage Conservation Area in Hurstville … this is an example of the “local character” many people cherish.  However this estate now has a fugly high-rise development towering over it.

 

Chatswood, for instance, was once two to three storey buildings. Imagine preserving that local character when planning proposals for 40-storey towers are submitted. Sydney’s George Street as outlined in the famous Joseph Fowles’ 1848 drawings of the two-storey buildings along the whole of George Street.

With Sydney planned to grow from our current 5 million people to 8 million in the next 40 years clearly there will be a dramatic change to the character of much of Sydney.

 

Image may contain: skyscraper, sky, outdoor and water

CAAN Photo: Wentworth Point viewed from Melrose Park.  It is ugly;  that is the “new character”.  The primary school only opened in 2018 ….

 

The planning system must encourage this growth and get communities involved in the best way to develop the new character of specific growth areas.

The Department of Planning is embarking on a dangerous path if it encourages communities to only preserve the local character of their surroundings. This is a message that is against change.

It is this anti-change attitude that is growing across Sydney fuelled by politicians in the lead-up to the state election next March. We need to rewrite the reasons for community participation to be about shaping the future local character rather than preserving the existing character.

Chris Johnson is the chief executive of Urban Taskforce Australia.

 

The chief executive of Urban Taskforce, Chris Johnson.

 

SOURCE:  https://www.smh.com.au/business/companies/community-participation-could-stop-change-20190124-p50tfr.html

Menindee fish deaths ‘out of NSW Government’s hands’ says Regional Water Minister Niall Blair

29 JANUARY 2019

 

Menindee residents hijacked NSW Regional Water Minister Niall Blair’s press conference on the banks of the Darling River today, to vent their frustrations about the latest mass fish kill there.

Key points:

  • New photos have revealed the extent of the latest mass fish kill at Menindee
  • Niall Blair says the only fix for the Darling River’s health woes is fresh water flows
  • Many people in the outback town say they have been forced to buy fresh water to survive

The town in the state’s far west has been at the centre of a continuing ecological disaster, amid a spate of fish deaths there in the past two months.

Locals shouted over each other to ask Mr Blair questions, after they woke to shocking images of hundreds of thousands of fish floating on the Darling River.

“The lakes were full!” one yelled before another shouted: “Youse let it go … What are you going to do about the cotton?”

People in the outback town blame the crisis on water use by cotton irrigators, as well as authorities’ decisions to empty the nearby Menindee Lakes in 2014 and 2017.

Cotton Australia said all major cotton growing valleys in north-west NSW had no water allocated to them this harvest season.

 

The fish are suffocating as a result of a blue-green algal bloom that has affected parts of the river.

Mr Blair said the situation was unprecedented and he decided to travel to Menindee immediately so he could “see if there’s anything else that can be done”.

“This has to stop,” he said.

“I don’t want to see this ever again.”

‘Let’s see if there is corruption’

The South Australian Government held a royal commission into the operations and effectiveness of the Murray Darling Basin system last year.

The royal commission’s findings were handed to the South Australian Government today.

“Let’s see if there is corruption and make sure that is taken care of … we would start with Canberra because it’s their legislation,” Mr Blair said.

The Minister said he was keen to hear suggestions about how to improve the river and said the water aerators installed earlier this month were a “band-aid” fix.

When Mr Blair visited Menindee earlier this month he faced threats to his safety which saw him dodge a gathering of locals on the river bank.

He said he had not received any threats ahead of today’s visit.

 

Poor water quality in the Darling River at Menindee has sparked health warnings, with many locals forced to buy fresh water.

Local Wayne Marsden, who has lived in Menindee for 66 years, said he is “incredibly stressed” trying to ration his water.

“Last week I was told the next allocation would be cut in half so only 10,000 litres for the month,” he said.

“If it wasn’t for the water delivery by the community of Griffith on the weekend we would be in real trouble.”

Mr Blair said the NSW Government was still assessing the first fish kill on December 15 and would use expert advice to devise an “appropriate recovery plan”.

“We knew that our aerators were nothing better than a band-aid solution, but we were willing to try everything that we could,” he said.

“The only thing that will really change these conditions at the moment is fresh water coming through the system and there is just no possibility of that at the moment.”

TPG stops mobile network rollout after Huawei 5G ban in Australia

After spending $1.2B yet TPG has decided to give it a miss?  Why would they do that?

WHY not go and find equipment from somewhere else?

Is it because they have a cosy arrangement with Huawei?

TPG stops mobile network rollout after Huawei 5G ban in Australia

By Peter Ryan on The World Today

TPG has ceased its rollout of its mobile network after the Federal Government banned the use of Huawei equipment for Australia’s 5G mobile network.

Huawei spokesman Jeremy Mitchell tells ABC’s Peter Ryan the reduced competition means consumers will end up paying more.

 

Duration: 4min 8sec

Broadcast: 
More Information

Featured:

Jeremy Mitchell, Huawei
Paul Budde, telco analyst

Transcript

 

 

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