SUTHERLAND COUNCIL Calls for Shire to be Permanently Exempted from New Housing Law as residents rise up against townhouse projects!



Sutherland Shire Council has warned it may seek to ban townhouse, villa and dual occupancy developments in R2 low density zones unless the shire is permanently exempted from a new state government housing code.

Only seven councils in Sydney, including Sutherlandpermit medium density development in their low density residential zones.

The council has flagged a change if the state government imposes the new housing code, which makes medium density housing complying development.

Residents are protesting across the Shire … notably in Sutherland, Jannali, Sylvania and Carringbah …. Find the link to the Petition below!



FEBRUARY 27 2019

Council calls for shire to be permanently exempted from new housing law as residents rise up against townhouse projects

Sutherland Shire Council has warned it may seek to ban townhouse, villa and dual occupancy developments in R2 low density zones unless the shire is permanently exempted from a new state government housing code.


Only seven councils in Sydney, including Sutherland, permit medium density development in their low density residential zones.

The council has flagged a change if the state government imposes the new housing code, which makes medium density housing complying development.


Under the code, if developers adhere to basic guidelines, they don’t have to go through the normal development application process and neighbours are not notified.


Following widespread protests, most Sydney councils were given a 12-month exemption from the code, which expires on July 1, 2019.


Sutherland Shire Council wrote last year to Planning Minister Anthony Roberts and shire MPs, seeking a permanent exemption.


This month’s council meeting was told there had been no reply from the state government.


The council will further lobby Mr Roberts while preparing contingency measures, such as a possible ban in R2 zones, if the request is not granted.


That change could be included in the next local environmental plan (LEP), which is due to be introduced in 2021, and requires state government approval.


The council will present figures to Mr Roberts showing the shire will meet, and may exceed, the building target set by the government.


Over the last three and a half years, 2003 low rise medium density dwellings have been approved, with a further 461 dwellings still to be determined.


The South District plan set a five-year completions target of 5200 dwellings of all types to 2020/21.


The council has approved 6261 new homes, with a further 1466 pending.


Not all approvals will be converted into new dwellings, particularly with the housing downturn.


The council’s concern about medium density development coincides with protests in several suburbs, including two on the weekend.


About 90 people attended a meeting in Kurrajong Street, Sutherland, where two developments in an R2 zone are strongly opposed.


The meeting was also designed to draw attention to development concerns across the shire.


*Residents were asked to sign an online petition: 

(Google search for the petition)


At Jannali, residents are fighting a development application for 18 townhouses on two blocks in an R2 zone, with one vehicle access point from a cul-de-sac.


Sylvania residents are trying to stop a DA for two blocks at 51-53 Melrose Avenue, providing for 2 homes, comprising nine four-bedroom townhouses and three three-bedroom villas.


Each villa has an attic, designed as a living area, which residents claim is designed to evade the 60/40 rule, which confines double storey to the front 60 per cent of a property.  Residents say, if the development proceeds, the new homes will all effectively be two storeys and look over the backyards of about a dozen existing houses.


Another contentious townhouse DA is in Gannons Road, Caringbah, where, in September 2018, the Sutherland Shire Local Planning Panel gave the developer four months to come up with “a more skillful design” to minimise adverse impacts on adjoining properties.

The proposed complex of seven townhouses would look into the backyards of many existing properties, and was described by Cr Carol Provan as “the worst case of medium density overdevelopment I have seen” during 18 years on the council.











And what about?

-stagnant wage growth, barely or not even keeping up with inflation for nearly 6 years

-profits for many companies, particularly the banks have been in record territory 

-the pay packets of executives have also grown, look at what bankers got up to and the rewards given to them

-the growth in casual employment, wages theft on a massive scale – see those many cases brought upon some big players like 7-eleven and others

-reductions in Award wages

-growing delinquency rates in home loans

housing remains unattainable for many because despite recent price falls lenders are tightening loan criteria so many find buying a house is still out of reach

entrenched policy settings mean that tenants still are not afforded a set of minimum standards in rental properties, many remain unhealthy and unsafe and nothing gets done about it

The list goes on….and on…and on

So where to from here, it’s not looking good with

-more jobs going off shore

-we continue to export the title deeds to our domestic housing 

-less Australian companies are finding manufacturing viable because no effort is being made to stop dumping, market manipulation and trans-national tax evasion

Basically we have allowed thieves to come and rob, few if any restrictions are placed in the way of foreign ownership and

-proxy buying of our domestic real estate continues

-no real additions to our AML have been made

View this and Related Articles:

Real estate agents, lawyers and accountants to avoid money laundering laws

-visa manipulation

Yet another list goes on and on…



Interest rates set to be slashed as jobless rate rises, banks warn


A high shot showing two men working on a construction site.

Several leading economists are warning that 50,000 construction jobs might be lost.



Australia’s unemployment rate is on the cusp of a significant increase, according to warnings from three major financial institutions.

That is in contrast to last week’s parliamentary testimony from Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe, in which he said employment would continue “growing strongly”.

The construction sector has enjoyed a once-in-a-generation boom, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs over the past decade.

But official data released yesterday shows Australia’s construction sector has not only hit the brakes, it has moved sharply into reverse, and with that comes the potential for mass job losses.

“We’re tracking construction job advertisements at the moment and they’re suggesting that in the next six months or so we could see around 50,000 job losses,” UBS economist Carlos Cacho said.

AMP’s head of investment strategy Shane Oliver agreed with that forecast.

“We wouldn’t argue with 50,000,” he said.

“Whatever it is, it’s going to be a significant number.

“Obviously construction is a significant employer … and there will be a net loss of construction jobs as the housing downturn starts to become more evident as we go through this year.”

Growth in the construction sector had been fuelled by the recent huge surge in property prices, especially on the east coast.

But construction activity has fallen as house prices in Sydney and Melbourne have recorded double-digit declines.

Retail jobs may also go

There is also evidence that property investors, home owners, and those in and around the construction industry have become more thrifty, which is producing significantly less foot traffic in shops and malls around the country.

AMP believes this may also lead to sizeable job losses in the retail sector.

“This is probably even more so, in terms of construction, in retailing,” Dr Oliver warned.

“Consumer caution might step-up a notch over the course of the next 12 months as house prices come down.

“We’re looking at quite a slowdown in consumer spending, that’s going to weigh on employment in retailing. You’re probably looking at least another 50,000 or so [job losses], but it’s very hard to put a precise number on it.

“I think the key point here is that the very strong jobs growth we’ve seen in the Australian economy over the last two years is likely to slow down, and that’s already starting to become evident in weakness in job vacancies or job advertisements.”

Mr Cacho described AMP’s forecast of at least 50,000 retail job losses as “reasonable”.

Unemployment could rise back to 5.5pc

Combining job losses in construction and retail, and a significant slowdown in the growth of jobs in other sectors caught in the crossfire of the housing market downturn, UBS warned the unemployment rate could rise as high as 5.5 per cent, its highest level since April last year.

“That’s driven by a slowing in jobs growth, so not outright job losses but jobs growth slowing from around the 25,000 pace we’ve seen per month to more like 14,000 by the end of the year,” Mr Cacho said.

“If you saw more weakness in employment growth, you could see the unemployment rate get to 5.5 per cent by the end of the year.”

AMP has the same downbeat forecast on the jobless rate.

“We see the unemployment rate rising to 5.5 per cent,” Dr Oliver predicted.

“We’ve still got solid population growth — that’s driving a lot of entrants into the labour force — but we think the rate of growth in the economy will fall below the level necessary to stop unemployment rising.”


Dr Oliver told RN Breakfast both the Reserve Bank and the Federal Government were still too optimistic on the outlook for the economy.

Leading accounting firm KPMG has also run the numbers on the economic outlook.

Its economic modelling matches up with AMP’s data.

“The Australian economy, just like every other economy, experiences a business cycle,” the firm’s chief economist Brendan Rynne said.

“In that business cycle there’s a peak, a trough, an upswing and a downswing.

“Where we are at the moment, we’re in a downswing.”

He is not predicting mass job losses, but he is forecasting a rise in the unemployment rate to 5.5 per cent as competition for fewer job openings grows.

That, he warned, could further weaken the economy.

“So we’ve only just recently pulled our forecast down to expect economic growth for the 2019 financial year now to be around 2.3 per cent,” Dr Rynne cautioned.

KPMG is expecting Australia's economic growth rate to keep slowing from recent levels.

PHOTO KPMG is expecting Australia’s economic growth rate to keep slowing from recent levels.


“That’s below the official Reserve Bank GDP forecast of 2.75 per cent growth.

“The results are showing the economy is much weaker than we had anticipated.”

Two rate cuts tipped for next 12 months, rates could go to zero

The global accounting firm also has its eye out for economic threats from offshore.

KPMG said it had come up with what it is calling a black swan scenario, which could see the Reserve Bank drop official interest rates to zero.

“We have that capacity, we don’t necessarily need to go into some sort of quantitative easing [money printing] arrangement,” Dr Rynne argued.

“We expect the December quarter to virtually have zero [economic] growth, but we’re not seeing the economy retreating or going backwards.”

But, given the concerning outlook for the jobs market over the next 12 months and the resulting economic slowdown, many major financial institutions, now including Westpac, are predicting the Reserve Bank will be forced to cut the official cash rate, not once but twice, by this time next year.

“By this time next year we expect the Reserve Bank to have cut [interest rates] twice: one cut in November, and another cut in February,” said Mr Cacho.


Dr Oliver agreed there would be two moves, but said they would be even earlier.

“By the time we get to around August we think they will see things as weak enough to justify another cut, and then we see another cut in November, taking the cash rate down to 1 per cent by the end of the year.”

But Dr Oliver noted the Reserve Bank would want to have a look at what the federal budget looks like in April, who wins the election and what that means for fiscal stimulus.

Economists are now eagerly awaiting the next official reading on the overall performance of the nation’s economy, to be released by the ABS next Wednesday morning.






SINCE 2011 … It appears  ….

“Complex legal terminology and ignorance by the mainstream media is making environmental protection increasingly difficult, writes Sue Arnold.

THE ABILITY OF Australian conservation organisations, community groups and the legal profession to prevent environmental crises are rapidly disappearing in a swamp of jargon and changes which will irrevocably reverse environmental protection.”

Environmental protection is no simple matter

By Sue Arnold |  |   comments
The “vulnerable” status of koalas cannot be upgraded due to the Common Assessment Method (Screenshot via YouTube)


Complex legal terminology and ignorance by the mainstream media is making environmental protection increasingly difficult, writes Sue Arnold.

THE ABILITY OF Australian conservation organisations, community groups and the legal profession to prevent environmental crises are rapidly disappearing in a swamp of jargon and changes which will irrevocably reverse environmental protection.

As Adam Schiff, Chairman of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee, noted in a recent interview with Bill Maher:

“You know, every day, bit by bit, drop by drop, we see our democracy evaporate.”

It’s pretty clear the same thing is happening in Australia as the mainstream Murdoch-dominated media continues its dedicated censorship of this critical erosion.

Stripping democratic rights is always heavily disguised in complex language and the decisions which provide legitimacy are beyond everyday understanding.

By far the most serious, in terms of wildlife protection, is the Memorandum of Understanding which set up the Common Assessment Method (CAM) signed off by Greg Hunt in 2015 when he was Environment Minister. The MoU was signed by all states.


Faunal Extinction Crisis inquiry hears arguments for changes to environmental protection laws  The Advocate The Senate Inquiry into Australia’s Faunal Extinction Crisis began Monday with the panel hearing arguments for… via

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The CAM allows for one national listing of species, in total contradiction of sane ecological protection, science, common sense, regional differences and the importance of protecting small populations of rapidly disappearing and uniquely Australian wildlife.

CAM was used in NSW to deny the upgrading of Port Stephens koalas to endangered. Prior to the repeal of the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995, the NSW Scientific Committee made a preliminary determination to upgrade the colony. When the Baird/Berejiklian Government brought in the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016, which seriously weakened environmental protection in NSW, a new NSW Scientific Threatened Species Committee was set up. This Committee reviewed the Port Stephens koala preliminary judgement and on the grounds of the CAM, denied an upgrade.

An extraordinary decision, given that after the original preliminary determination, three major bushfires had wiped out critical habitat, killing an unknown number of koalas. Development projects have increased and although the second assessment demonstrated a much worse situation facing the koalas, the CAM was the only instrument relevant to the decision.

Koalas are listed under the Environment Protection & Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC) as “vulnerable” in NSW, Queensland and the A.C.T. The “vulnerable” listing now remains the legal status of koalas throughout Australia. The CAM effectively deprives any endangered or critically endangered koala colonies of upgrading, no matter what the circumstances may be.

The Machine@WelcomeMachine1

It’s estimated that koala numbers in Australia have fallen by 95 percent since white settlement, with the marsupial now listed as a vulnerable species.

Three koala experts: Dr Oisin Sweeney, from the NSW… 

How much can a koala bear: is Australia’s cuddly icon headed for extinction?

Estimates of their numbers vary wildly, but experts agree that the koala is facing a very real threat to its very existence.

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In mid-February, Environmental Defenders Office NSW advised its clients that the Federal Minister for the Environment, Melissa Price, is poised to co-sign “minor” amendments to an Agreement that will outsource national environmental assessment and officially endorse the trajectory of biodiversity decline in NSW.

According to the EDO:

In September, the former Commonwealth Environment Minister published an intent to develop a draft bilateral agreement with NSW in relation to environmental assessments, to potentially accredit these new laws (as the existing agreement accredits the former law and policy). The stated intention included to amend the classes of actions that could be exempt from national assessment requirements, and instead be assessed under the new NSW laws.


That intent to endorse new legislation and new standards has since been classified as a “minor” amendment.


The website states:


Most changes reflect wording in the new NSW legislation. While the relevant parts of the legislation keep the same intent, names and numbers have changed and need amendment in the Bilateral Agreement.


This sounds like an exercise in simply updating names and numbers, but it is not. While it is true that the intent of the Bilateral Agreement remains unchanged in relation to the objective to “minimise duplication in the environmental assessment and approval processes of the Commonwealth and NSW”, it is disingenuous to claim the intent of the legislation being accredited is unchanged, given the substantial weakening of NSW biodiversity laws. The actual detail of what laws and standards are being accredited is substantially different.


What this actually means is that the Australian Government is proposing to accredit the NSW biodiversity offset scheme, which simply does not meet national standards.


By categorising the amendments as “minor”, the process can be done with less scrutiny and accountability. The “minor” amendment process avoids requirements to publish reasons for the agreement, publish a report on any comments received on the draft agreements, and undertake consultation, including a requirement to consider the role and interests of Indigenous peoples in promoting the conservation and ecologically sustainable use of natural resources in the context of the proposed agreement, taking into account Australia’s relevant obligations under the Biodiversity Convention. This is significant as the Government is also quietly extending the agreement to cover Commonwealth land, which often has important biodiversity and cultural values.

The EDO also advised that after a major freedom of information battle, the documents reluctantly provided by the Government demonstrated that the NSW Biodiversity Offset Policy for Major Projects failed to meet the environmental standards of the Commonwealth EPBC Act.

sir martir@martiontwit

‘The invisible minister’: Melissa Price accused of going missing on the environment
The criticism comes during a summer of disasters, including the mass fish kill, Townsville floods & fires in Tasmania 

‘The invisible minister’: Melissa Price accused of going missing on the environment

The criticism comes during a summer of disasters, including the mass fish kill, Townsville floods and fires in Tasmania

See sir martir’s other Tweets

It is not possible to challenge the amended Agreement. Submissions will be made by those organisations which follow the Machiavellian environmental non-policies of the Morrison Government. Without media coverage and given the level of complexity, the likelihood of substantive protest is remote.

Professor George Williams, Dean of the University of NSW Law School advised Australians for Animals Inc. that:

  • NSW and federal laws are not invalid for inconsistency with international law. They can operate despite conflict with international law;
  • a separate issue does arise, though, for federal laws where they are enacted under the external affairs power by way of implementing international law. In that case, they must faithfully implement that international law or face invalidity; and
  • a constitutional issue can arise for a NSW law on the basis that it conflicts with a federal law that implements an international convention. So, the state law may be inconsistent and so invalid under section 109 of the Constitution.

In the final analysis, the difficulties faced by environmental organisations in dealing with a potential constitutional crisis are enormous. Pro bono lawyers are an increasingly endangered species.

The issues raised by the CAM and the amended Agreement will have profound impacts on any attempt to protect wildlife, ecological communities and plants.

There’s little doubt that the governments supporting these measures are fully aware that the majority of conservation organisations are overwhelmed. They’re dealing with major environmental crises such as the Lower Darling River, Murray Darling Basin management, the massive fish kills, catastrophic loss of wildlife, the proposal to dump one million tonnes of sludge in the Great Barrier Reef, deforestation and the state of our rivers taking up every spare moment.


They can’t be serious. Agreeing to this… in an election year.
Great Barrier Reef authority gives green light to dump dredging sludge 

Great Barrier Reef authority gives green light to dump dredging sludge

A million tonnes of spoil to be disposed of in marine park – prompting calls for a ban on all offshore dumping

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EDO lawyers are similarly overwhelmed with environmental crises in every state, struggling to cope as funds have been stripped by governments.

With no mainstream media exposing what’s happening behind the scenes, governments who are deaf to protest and the critical importance of healthy ecosystems, Australia is facing an alarming crossroads.

Unfortunately, there’s no Adam Schiff in sight.

You can follow Sue Arnold on Twitter @koalacrisis and Koala Crisis on Facebook here.
















Environmental protection is no simple matter

Environmental protection is no simple matter

Complex legal terminology and ignorance by the mainstream media is making enviro …

The last of Sydney's koalas are doomed

The last of Sydney’s koalas are doomed

A major development in Sydney is touting itself as being environmentally friendly …

Government needs to act on Menindee and Darling disasters

Government needs to act on Menindee and Darling disasters

The environmental catastrophe at Menindee Lakes and the Lower Darling should be a …


A Labor government in NSW would expand national parks to protect koalas, curb feral horses, and step up climate change action including setting a target to source half the state’s electricity from renewables by 2030.

‘Line in the sand’: NSW Labor plans blitz to undo environmental ‘mess’


A Labor government in NSW would expand national parks to protect koalas, curb feral horses, and step up climate change action including setting a target to source half the state’s electricity from renewables by 2030.

A Climate Change Summit would be called within the first year of a Daley-led government to determine the best pathways to achieving net zero emissions by 2050.

The gathering would inform a Climate Change Act to drive the transition, including the setting of interim goals for 2025, Labor said in a statement.

Land clearing is having a devastating impact on koala numbers in the Moree region.
Land clearing is having a devastating impact on koala numbers in the Moree region.CREDIT:NICK MOIR


The burst of election policies, announced on Thursday, was generally welcomed by environment groups, although several called for an immediate moratorium of deforestation of koala habitat to arrest a rapid drop in the numbers of the much-loved marsupial.

“NSW doesn’t have another four years to waste to take real action on climate change and to arrest the biodiversity crisis in the state,” Penny Sharpe, Labor’s deputy leader and environment spokeswoman, said. “This really is the line in the sand.”



Labor would oppose plans by the Berejiklian government to raise the Warragamba Dam wall that would flood some 50 square kilometres of the Blue Mountains World Heritage National Park, and would renegotiate the purchase of the Radiata Plateau to fold into the park.

Labor would resume the removal of feral brumbies from the Snowy Mountains if elected to office in March.
Labor would resume the removal of feral brumbies from the Snowy Mountains if elected to office in March.CREDIT:ALEX ELLINGHAUSEN

It would also stick with plans to nominate the Royal National Park for World Heritage listing and block the government’s plan to drive the proposed F6 motorway through part of the area.

One protection that would be removed, though, would be that of feral horses in the Kosciuszko National Park. Labor would repeal the controversial Wild Horse Heritage Act introduced in 2018.

Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton, though, dismissed the proposals as Labor’s “latest round of recycled environmental announcements”. These fell short of the government’s achievements including the range of programs paid for by the $1.4 billion Climate Change Fund.

“It has all the appearances of a hastily cobbled together series of statements rather than a state-wide strategy”, she said.

‘Urgent action needed’

Labor is hoping its environment policies will strike a chord with an electorate concerned by climate change if polls are any guide.

“The largest emissions cuts would be available in the electricity sector, where there is the most mature, available and affordable technology,” Adam Searle, Labor’s climate and energy spokesman, said.

Environmental groups applauded the ALP’s plan to expand protected regions and reverse loosened land-clearing laws that anecdotal evidence suggests has led to a rise in vegetation loss. The government hasn’t released land-clearing figures for years.

Labor’s proposal for a taskforce of scientists, conservationists and farmers to recommend laws “capable of stopping deforestation”, however, lacks urgency, the Nature Conservation Council said.

“Our koalas can’t wait for another taskforce because hundreds of hectares of koala habitat are being bulldozed every month,” Kate Smolski, the council’s chief executive, said.

“The crisis faced by nature in NSW requires an immediate moratorium on destruction of koala forests and other threatened species habitat, and a rapid end to logging of our public native forests.”

Lyndon Schneiders, the Wilderness Society’s national campaign director, said 99 per cent of the habitat that was on private land was unprotected, and the animal could be extinct in the wild by mid-century.

Labor would also back tighter air quality standards but omitted a commitment to extending the so-called Load-Based Licensing scheme to include coal mines.

“We are unaware of any justification for this blanket exemption that allows coal mines to emit ever-increasing amounts of particle pollution and other pollutants,” James Whelan, a campaigner for Environmental Justice Australia, said.

Labor will release costings of its plans when they are fully unveiled, Ms Sharpe said.



On advice we have received from a local most of the trees have been chopped down (the LNP proposed to cut down 858 trees!)

-the majority of the trees to the left of the site have been chopped down

-all trees at the top of the site have gone

-the site is blocked with a very high wall

The Site density will increase by a whopping 1250% (259 dwellings to 3500 dwellings)


The Mayor’s motion was passed by 8 votes to 4 at the Council Meeting on 25 February that:

Council will commence advocacy and take all steps to ensure extending the E2 conservation zone at the Ivanhoe Estate.

Council confirms its opposition to the extreme overdevelopment of the site – from 259 dwellings to 3500.


“Never forget that this is State owned land. We can do better,” Mayor Jerome Laxale.

Image may contain: tree, outdoor and nature

CAAN Photo:  October 2018; a huge section of Housing demolished and trees chopped.


Image may contain: tree, plant, sky and outdoor

CAAN Photo:  Same site behind a wall; bushland setting across this site


2.2b development: Ryde Mayor Jerome Laxale calls for rethink


Ryde Mayor Jerome Laxale is calling on the State Government to rethink its plans for the $2.2 billion Ivanhoe Estate development in Macquarie Park amid fears it would cause an “ecological disaster”.


In a mayoral minute at tomorrow night’s council meeting, the Labor mayor will launch a bid to force the government to revise the scale, size and impacts of the 8.2ha development on trees and local wildlife.

It’s expected more than 800 trees will be cut down to make way for the revitalisation of Ivanhoe Estate, on Epping Road between Herring Road and Shrimptons Creek.

This is the first major project under the government’s Future Directions policy and $22 billion Communities Plus program.

The Ivanhoe Estate redevelopment plan.


“The revision should include enhanced tree retention, reduced building footprints and more open space,” said Cr Laxale, who will challenge Ryde Liberal MP Victor Dominello at the NSW election next month.

“The Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) has provided extensive comments to the exhibition of the concept redevelopment application for the Ivanhoe Estate and they have supported the council’s view on the importance of retaining the existing threatened ecological Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest community on and adjoining the estate, including along Epping Road.

“In this regard, not enough has been done in the planning and siting of the proposed development to avoid directly impacting on the threatened ecological communities, where more than half of the existing threatened community is earmarked for removal.

Photo taken at the site of the Ivanhoe Estate last year.


“The OEH comments echo council’s policy documents. In 2016, council provided an urban design guideline to Land and Housing Corporation to supplement Ryde DCP 2014.

“This included an objective to ‘Protect the existing natural characteristics of the site by promoting the revitalisation of Shrimptons Creek and the protection of significant trees along Epping Road’.

Trees on the future Ivanhoe Estate taken last year.


“Council’s Development Control Plan 2016 also seeks the provision of open space and the protection of the riparian corridor.”

Cr Laxale said there would be a need for increased buffers and setbacks to the threatened communities or the development’s relocation.

“As a minimum, council will expect a revision of proposed Ivanhoe Estate Master Plan to include the conservation of the Shrimptons Creek Riparian Corridor and to protect significant trees along Epping Road,” he said.

The Ivanhoe estate is being redeveloped at Macquarie Park


“The revision should include enhanced tree retention, reduced building footprints and more open space.

“The removal of trees at the Ivanhoe site is unprecedented for any one site in Ryde. If these plans are allowed to continue, it will be an ecological disaster.”


Australia’s top 10 tax dodgers: Fletcher Building Australia



Australia’s top 10 tax dodgers: Fletcher Building Australia

Fletcher Building Australia is the nation's 9th biggest tax dodger.
Fletcher Building Australia’s materials might be scraping the sky, but its tax payments are sitting closer to the ground. Photo: TND



The New Daily and Michael West count down the 10 biggest corporate tax dodgers in Australia. Return on Monday when we reveal the nation’s eighth-biggest tax avoider.

How, after booking $11.5 billion in total income over four years during the biggest building boom in history, does a construction materials manufacturer pay a touch under $6 million in tax?

New Zealand’s building products juggernaut, Fletcher Building (Australia), managed to do it.

Fletcher is the third Kiwi multinational in our Top 40. Along with New Zealand Milk (better known as Fonterra) at #26 and Burns Philp & Co at #39, the three trans-Tasman transnationals have recorded $25 billion in total income over four years and paid, well, pocket fluff in income tax.

In Australia, Fletcher has admittedly taken some big hits to the likes of its Tradelink plumbing supplies business and Rocla Pipeline Products, while poor management decisions have battered profits – meaning a good deal of its tax avoidance might be deemed “accidental tax dodging” – but at the same time the business’s parent company has been paying not just tax, but dividends as well.

It (Fletcher’s NZ parent) paid $290 million income tax during the same four years of recorded tax office data that its Australian subsidiary – with more than one-third of the cashflows – paid $5.7 million.

Over the following two years, the Kiwi parent paid $177 million in tax, but its Aussie subsidiary, according to filings with the corporate regulator, paid just $25 million.

There is a pattern here used by foreign multinationals operating in Australia; they pay little tax while they send off tens of millions of dollars in interest payments to their associated companies overseas.

This is achieved through a process called ‘debt loading’, where a foreign company makes a loan to its Australian subsidiary, which then sends money back as interest repayments rather then hanging on to it as taxable profit.

In this case, Fletcher has paid $110 million to its associates as interest over the past two years. As at June last year, there were $728 million in non-current loans from related parties, according to the latest filings with ASIC, versus just $8.7 million owed to “other” external lenders.

Yet Fletcher has also generated large tax losses, and those tax losses have shielded the company from paying tax on its profits.

The latest accounts show revenue up from $3.46 billion to $3.64 billion in 2018, for a net profit of $43.7 million.

The group paid $16 million in tax, up from $9 million in 2017. Bear in mind these figures are post the ATO data. In its 2017 Tax Transparency Report, Fletcher Building said it “paid or collected approximately $232.2 million of taxes on behalf of both federal and state governments in Australia”.

Only $1.6 million was corporate tax however. Most of it was collected rather than paid: $77.1 million GST, $3.6 million fringe-benefits tax (FBT), $125.2 million PAYG and $24.5 million in payroll tax.

This is part two of a 10-part series on the nation’s biggest tax dodgers. Click here to see part one. the full details of Michael West’s investigation into Australia’s 40 biggest tax dodgers, you can visit his website, here.





Australia’s top 10 tax dodgers: Ford Motor Company

Australia’s top 10 tax dodgers: Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company of Australia is the tenth biggest tax dodger in Australia.
Ford Motor Company of Australia Ltd has come in at 10 in our countdown of the country biggest tax dodgers.

The New Daily and Michael West count down the 10 biggest corporate tax dodgers in Australia. Return on Thursday when we reveal the nation’s ninth-biggest tax avoider.

Over the four years of available transparency data from the Australian Tax Office, Ford Motor Company has booked more than $11 billion in total income yet paid zero tax, despite producing a small taxable profit of $45 million.

When it comes to the worst corporate taxpayers in Australia, the carmakers are right up there with airlines and the oil and gas industries.

Like its rivals, General Motors and Toyota, Ford contributes little or nothing to Australia in terms of income tax, yet the automakers have won billions in government handouts over the years, often made losses and very rarely pay tax.

In the years when they do make a profit, their profits are reduced by transfer pricing and sheltered by large tax losses incurred in the lean years.

Not all automakers fail to pay tax, however, with Mercedes-Benz being a notable exception.

In defence of Ford, it should be said that this is a high-cost, highly competitive industry and the three automakers on this Top 40 list – Ford, Mitsubishi and Nissan – have collectively recorded total income of almost $30 billion over the four years of available corporate tax transparency data.

Sadly, Ford closed its manufacturing operations in Australia in October 2016 so it has incurred further large losses for redundancies and closure costs since then. The ATO data extends from 2013 to 2016.

In its latest accounts, Ford records a profit of $27 million for the year to December 2017 on revenues of $3.5 billion. Zero tax was paid. Government grants income fell from $41 million in 2016 to $1.6 million in 2017 and the company said it spent $471 million on R&D.

It has also spent $11 million over the past two years on redundancies, so there are some legitimate reasons why Ford is not paying tax.

Due however to Australia having no limit on how long companies can bank tax losses, Ford is unlikely to pay tax for many years to come. Its accounts show $692 million in unused tax losses and another $107 million in tax offsets.

Elsewhere on the Top 40, Nissan at #15 recorded $9.7 billion income over the four years and paid just $476 income tax. Mitsubishi Motors Australia at #23 shows $8.3 billion income and zero tax. General Motors has dropped off the chart this year. the full details of Michael West’s investigation into Australia’s 40 biggest tax dodgers you can visit his website, here.








LNP … Past Masters at cooking the books …

With a pipeline of an additional $22M TAXPAYER funds to run TV and Radio ads leading up to the Federal May Election 

Ask yourself can this guvmnt get any worse?  We keep thinking that … then they prove us wrong …




The Morrison government changes would free taxpayer-funded electoral allowances to be used in TV and radio ads for the first time
The Morrison government changes will allow MPs’ electoral allowances to be used on TV and radio advertising for the first time. Photograph: David Crosling/AAP


After committing more than $200m to advertising in the last year, the federal government has moved to change regulations which would free taxpayer-funded electoral allowances to be used in radio and television advertisements.

The government says the changes will ensure “all communities across Australia get the same opportunity to receive information from their federal member” and put Australian media “on a level playing field”.

The parliamentary business resources amendment put forward by the special minister of state, Alex Hawke, would repeal the section which bans office expenses being used to pay for “production or placement of content for broadcasting on television or radio”.

The current budgeted office expenses allow for just under $110,000 for every senator and more than $136,647 for every lower house MP.

But with an election due within three months and many MPs in close contests complaining of tight budgets, freeing the electoral office allowance for broadcast use is being viewed as a potential boon.

Labor says the regulation changes, which do not have to be legislated, will amount to an additional $22m of taxpayer funds being made available for political advertising, on top of the $200m the government has committed to advertising campaigns since January last year.


“It wants to give members of parliament the ability to spend taxpayer dollars running political ads in their electorates. This is just outrage piled on outrage.”

Labor has vowed to challenge the changes, but with just one sitting of parliament scheduled before the likely election date, it is running out of time.

“If we can’t stop it through the parliament, we will make people pay back the money,” Plibersek said. “Members of parliament should not be using taxpayer funds to run political ads, full stop.”

Hawke accused Labor of “opposing the rights of disadvantaged communities”.

“Labor is a party that lectures us about multinationals, but are opposing changes that take expenditure away from social media giants like Facebook and put it into local Aussie communities,” he said in a statement.

“Labor is a party that lectures us on climate change action, but are opposing changes that will reduce the amount of printing done by parliamentarians.

“By fighting overdue modernisation of the system, Labor have shown that they don’t understand rural and regional Australia and they don’t care about local economies.”

Last month, documents revealed the government planned to spend $36m before the May federal election advertising its infrastructure spending and income tax package plan.

Scott Morrison, who criticised Labor for its advertising spend in 2013, said last month he believed it was “entirely appropriate for Australians to understand what their government is doing”.

The then prime minister Malcolm Turnbull oversaw one of the biggest overhauls of electoral spending in 2017.


In the Senate, Cory Bernardi raised the alarm that attempts were being made to amend public funding reforms the government passed last year, which limited public reimbursement for election campaigns to amounts that were actually spent.

Previously, any party or independent candidate that received more than 4% of the first preference vote received $2.73 per vote, a system which delivered One Nation $1.7m in taxpayer funds after the 2016 election.

Bernardi said this month there was a push to reverse the changes.

“Since then there has been a serious agitation across [the ] crossbench by staff members of MPs to have these changes reversed and whilst publicly many will say last year’s decision was a good one, they are advocating behind the scenes for windfall profits,” Bernardi said last week.

“It is absolutely wrong they have taken the case strongly to government. I will do everything I can to stop the change.”





Westpac: Mortgage arrears rising across Australia



Westpac’s excellent February 2019 Housing Pulse contains interesting information on mortgage arrears, which are rising across the four major markets:

Mortgage arrears provide a timely indicator of urgent or distressed sales – the presence of which can precipitate significant price weakness. For most existing home owners there is a degree of optionality when it comes to transacting in the housing market – a decision to sell can usually be delayed if market conditions look likely to disappoint. However, for owners that are struggling to meet their debt servicing obligations, selling may be a more urgent requirement with vendors more willing to accept lower prices in order to achieve a sale.

The most readily available measure for the Australian market is Standard & Poor’s SPIN data based on the performance of securitised mortgages. These show the proportion of loans by value that are over 30 days in arrears – in most cases meaning they have missed at least one repayment. The monthly measure goes back to 1996 and is available by state.

Charts 18-20 show arrears rates nationally and across the major states compared to estimates of the debt servicing ratio for mortgagor households. The comparison helps identify the extent to which shifts in arrears may be due to budget pressures as distinct from market specific factors such as oversupply.


Note that while it is the best available measure, securitised loans are not always an accurate reflection of arrears across the wider system. Differences have likely been compounded by lower major bank issuance in recent years – a higher share of ‘non-conforming’ loans alone has added 7bps to the total SPIN arrears rate. Recent reports from the major banks suggest systemwide arrears have shown a much milder rise over 2018.

That said, the latest SPIN data is showing a notable lift in arrears since mid-2018 broadly consistent with estimated increases in debt servicing costs following increased to mortgage interest rates (the estimate incorporates changes to rates on investor and interest only loans as well as standard owner occupier loans rates). As at Nov 2018, the arrears rate was 1.6%, up from 1.2% a year ago (about 5bps of the rise reflecting the shifting share of non conforming loans). That is a touch above long run averages but a short of the previous peaks in 2011-12 and 2008.

The picture by state shows rises across every jurisdiction, again suggesting interest rate increases are a key driver. Despite the recent lift, arrears remain considerably lower in NSW (1.2%) and Vic (1.3%) with the rise less pronounced than might have been suggested by the move in debt servicing ratios in these states.

In contrast, arrears rates are more elevated in Qld (1.8%) and very high and rising more quickly in WA (2.8%). The latter may also be reflecting a more significant incidence of balance sheet problems across WA households with a mortgage. Perth’s dwelling price correction has been running for much longer than the adjustments in other capital city markets, with more buyers likely to have experienced cumulative price declines in recent years. Chart 21 shows an estimate of the share of property sales over the last 5yrs by the cumulative price change (based on city level moves in house and unit prices. It suggests that around 1% of sales have seen prices decline by over 15%, all of these being in the Perth market.




Wasn’t skilled migration meant to lift Australia’s productivity?

By Leith van Onselen

Australia’s productivity growth has averaged less than 1% a year since the global financial crisis – well below the 30-year average of 1.6% – and the near-term outlook remains bearish. Productivity Commission chairman Michael Brennan has urged the federal government to pursue measures aimed at boosting productivity in the wake of a new forecast from the International Monetary Fund that real national income per capita will average just 0.3% annually over the next six years. From The AFR:

Productivity began to slow before the 2008 financial crisis and has averaged below 1 per cent since then. Treasury assumes productivity growth will equal its 30-year average of about 1.6 per cent…

Adding to a call by Reserve Bank of Australia governor Philip Lowe for politicians to apply a “laser-like focus” to productivity reforms to help lift subdued wages, Mr Brennan backed up that cry by calling for reforms to competition policy, regulation and the funding and design of the skills, health and education sectors.

The curious thing about Australia’s productivity slump is that is has coincided with the massive ramp-up in skilled migration:

For years Australians have been fed the false claim that skilled migrants are younger, more educated, and more productive than locals, and that without a strong immigration intake, the population would grow old and the economy would stagnate.

Economic models are often cited as proof that a strong immigration is ‘good’ for the economy because they show that real GDP per capita is moderately increased via immigration, based on several dubious assumptions.

First, it is generally assumed in these models that population ageing will result in fewer people working, which will subtract from per capita GDP. However, it is just as likely that age-specific workforce participation will respond to labour demand, resulting in fewer people being unemployed, as we have witnessed in Japan.

Even if this assumption was true, the benefit to GDP per capita would only be transitory. Once the migrant workers grow old, they too will add to the pool of aged people, thus requiring an ever-bigger immigration intake to keep the population age profile from rising.

Indeed, the Productivity Commission (PC) has for more than a decade debunked the myth that immigration can overcome population ageing. For example, in its 2010 submission to the Minister for Population, the PC explicitly noted that “substantial increases in the level of net overseas migration would have only modest effects on population ageing and the impacts would be temporary, since immigrants themselves age”.

Academic demographer and mass immigration spruiker, Peter McDonald, also previously stated that it is “demographic nonsense to believe that immigration can help to keep our population young”.

Second, it is generally assumed that migrant workers are more productive than the Australian born population and, therefore, labour productivity is increased through strong immigration. However, the evidence here is highly contestable, with migrants generally being employed below the level of their qualifications, as well as having lower labour force attachment than the Australian born population (more information here). Migrants have also tended to go into areas that are not experiencing skills shortages.

Third, economists generally ignore obvious ‘costs’ of mass immigration on productivity. Growing the population without commensurately increasing the stock of household, business and public capital to support the bigger population necessarily ‘dilutes’ the capital base, leaving less capital per person and lowering productivity. We have witnessed this first hand with the costs of congestion soaring across Australia’s big cities.

Moreover, the cost of retro-fitting Australia’s major cities with infrastructure to cope with larger populations is necessarily very expensive – think tunnelling and land acquisitions – with costs borne largely by the incumbent population.

Given Australia’s low savings rate, the large levels of housing and infrastructure investment required to keep pace with population growth also puts upward pressure on real interest rates. That, in turn, has kept the Australian dollar elevated for years making it harder to export from Australia and resulting in manufacturing closures.

Finally, high immigration has unambiguously helped to lift housing costs. This has made it more difficult for younger households to invest in businesses, limiting entrepreneurship. High housing costs also creates barriers to labour mobility and social mobility, both of which matter for achieving Australia’s productive potential.

Currently, there is no economic plan other than to flood Australia’s major cities with tens-of-thousands of extra people each year to stoke overall economic growth (but not growth per person), to support big business (e.g. the property industry), and to prevent Australia from going into recession (despite growth and income per person stagnating).

Meanwhile, productivity and individual living standards are being eroded through rising congestion costs, declining housing affordability, paying more for infrastructure (e.g. toll roads and water desalination), environmental degradation, and overall reduced amenity.

Mass immigration has hindered, not helped, Australian productivity.