HOMEOWNERS FORK OUT $10 BILLION TO REPAIR DEFECTS

AGAIN the responsibility for rectification of defects by Dodgy Bros is back on the buyer ..

‘A construction boom that saw some developers and builders cut corners to meet demand …’

That’s code for cutting costs to maximise their profits by designing and constructing on the go having cut the Architect loose, cutting the size of apartments, hiring Visa workers at below Award rates, and using cheap imported materials that don’t meet Australian Standards … and this is all borne out in the end defective products!

Are you still writing submissions Sydney? With more low-rise slums on the drawing board …

TED TABET WED 28 AUG 2019

Homeowners Fork Out $10bn to Repair Defects

Building defects have cost new home owners a staggering $10.5 billion throughout the past decade, new research has found.

While developers have argued that the structural failures that triggered cracks in precast concrete panels in the Sydney Olympic Park’s Opal Tower on Christmas Eve are an isolated occurrence, building defects are now becoming all too common in Australian construction.

The high-profile failures at Opal Tower and Mascot Tower has brought to light the shortcomings in Australia and the lack of protections for the consumers who buy them.

*A national survey undertaken by financial research and comparison group Mozo has found most new and newly renovated apartment and house owners surveyed have been plagued by defects that have cost them $6,434 and $5,839 respectively.

While tracking buildings with defects is a hard task — with owners often subject to private settlements that demand confidentialityMozo surveyed over 1,000 Australian property owners between July and August to gauge the current climate.

*Apartment owners said in the Mozo survey they were “slugged with strata special levies” or had to contribute to a sinking fund to remedy continuing issues within buildings.

▲ The building boom on Australia’s eastern seaboard has unsurprisingly seen the number of reported defects increase.  Image: AAP

▲ The building boom on Australia’s eastern seaboard has unsurprisingly seen the number of reported defects increase. Image: AAP


*Across Australian cities the most common defects were water leaks, cracking to internal or external structures, water penetration from the outside, guttering faults, tiling problems and defective plumbing.

The report also found most new and newly renovated apartment and house owners surveyed have been plagued by defects that have cost them $6,434 and $5,839 respectively.

*While the average cost of apartment repairs was $6,434, Mozo found that 74 per cent of owners had paid up to $5,000 for repairs, while 4 per cent of owners paid more than $50,000 each.

With 670,197 apartments completed in the past 10 years, Mozo estimates buyers have had to pay out $4.3 billion on repairs.

*House owners fared better with 68 per cent of of owners paying up to $5,000 to correct defects, but 5 per cent of these owners still had to pay more than $20,000 for repairs.

Mozo estimates that with 1,059,913 4 houses completed over the past decade, buyers have had to pay $6.2 billion on repairs.

Nearly 60 per cent of apartment repairs were completed in under three months but 21 per cent had to wait up to 6 months and 9 per cent are still waiting for the defects to be fixed.

*Nearly 20 per cent of respondents said their apartment was a different size to the plan and 8 per cent were left dealing with the builder changing the finishes during construction.

▲ Combustible cladding currently affects 1,411 apartments in New South Wales, 1,069 in Victoria and 570 in Queensland. Image: Metropolitan Fire Brigade

▲ Combustible cladding currently affects 1,411 apartments in New South Wales, 1,069 in Victoria and 570 in Queensland. Image: Metropolitan Fire Brigade


“A construction boom that saw some developers and builders cut corners to meet demand coupled with the weakening of regulatory oversight has seen defects rain down on homeowners,” Mozo property expert Steve Jovcevski said.

“Whether you are buying a new apartment or a new house you should budget for repairs for the most common defects that plague properties.

“Don’t assume you’ll escape these problems, because you won’t. If you are still waiting to have your apartment or house repaired, it’s time to act.”

A recent study by Deakin University and Griffith University looking at 212 building defect reports from NSW, Queensland and Victoria found that building fabric and cladding were the most common problems followed by fire protection, waterproofing, roof and rainwater disposal and structural faults.

A report by the CFMEU recently found residential apartment defects including combustible cladding is likely to cost $6.2 billion to repair.

Australia’s two biggest housing markets, NSW and Victoria, have begun to enact reforms to fix the systemic failures within the construction industry.

The NSW government has appointed David Chandler as the state’s first building commissioner while the Victorian government has appointing Dan O’Brien as head of Cladding Safety Victoria, the agency overseeing the state’s $600 million cladding rectification fund.#Victorian Government

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SOURCE: https://theurbandeveloper.com/articles/homeowners-fork-out-10bn-to-repair-defects?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=300819%20NSW&utm_content=300819%20NSW+CID_f94fab57493d88c0c9455b9ae631c01f&utm_source=email&utm_term=Continue%20Reading

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Virgin Australia is ‘reviewing all routes’ — which ones are most likely to go?

Shady Brothers: in pursuit of Virgin Australia’s Chinese pilot-school partners

TWO CHINESE AIRLINES … aka their government … combined own 40% of VIRGIN!

Q is there anything here they don’t own or partly own?

RELATED ARTICLES …

Shady Bros:  In pursuit of VIRGIN Australia’s Big Neighbour Pilot-School Partners

https://caanhousinginequalitywithaussieslockedout.com/2019/08/11/shady-bros-in-pursuit-of-virgin-australias-pilot-school-partners

Voice of Regional Australia:  The Airport, the Pilot School and two Chinese Companies

https://caanhousinginequalitywithaussieslockedout.com/2019/08/02/13776/

Virgin Australia is ‘reviewing all routes’ — which ones are most likely to go?

By business reporter Michael Janda

29 AUGUST 2019

Two Virgin Australia planes at Brisbane Airport

PHOTO: Analysts say flights to smaller Australian cities, New Zealand and the Pacific are most at risk. (ABC News: Giulio Saggin, file photo)

RELATED STORY: Virgin Australia ‘reviewing all routes in detail’, cutting 750 jobs after $349m loss

RELATED STORY: Qantas, Flight Centre and Webjet all feel effect of Australians’ travel holiday

Virgin Australia is in a deep financial hole, with its latest $349 million loss capping years in the red.

Key points:

  • Analysts say second tier cities outside Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane are most likely to lose flights
  • International is Virgin’s heaviest loss-making area and cuts to New Zealand and Pacific Island flights are expected
  • Qantas is expected to take advantage of its “injured and wounded” competitor

“It’s seven years of losses worth over a billion dollars,” said aviation expert Neil Hansford, from Strategic Aviation Solutions.

“When you’re in a deep hole you stop digging, but they haven’t stopped digging. Now they’ve come out with announcements that really should have been taking place over the last several years.”

The response is 750 back-office job cuts, and a full review of its air routes and capacity.

“We intend to further reduce flying across elements of our short-haul international and our domestic network to match our strategic positioning and the market conditions as well as to maximise route profitability,” Virgin Australia chief executive Paul Scurrah said.

“This may involve potential withdrawals from certain markets which are uneconomical for us, however we will be reviewing all routes in detail.”

The managing director of Air Intelligence, Tony Webber, takes the Virgin CEO’s statement at face value.

“For domestic, you’ll see chopping across the board, I think,” he said.

Aviation analyst Geoffrey Thomas from AirlineRatings.com told ABC News Channel that the review will certainly result in fewer flights and may result in some whole routes being cancelled by Virgin.

“They do need to trim the sails and do some trimming of frequencies,” he said.

“Possibly a route or two here or there will have to go.”

Mr Hansford said both Virgin and Qantas had already been reducing the number of flights between the major cities to ensure that planes are full, or close to it.

“They and Qantas have been cutting back capacity primarily by reducing frequency — particularly on the ‘golden triangle’ of Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne — and by cutting frequency you’re still giving an acceptable service,” he said.

Smaller cities likely to see flight cuts

However, both Mr Webber and Mr Hansford agree that the smaller cities and regional destinations are more likely to face big cuts, with some at risk of losing Virgin services altogether.

“You’ll start looking very heavily at the leisure routes, and the leisure routes maybe will have a reduction in daily frequency,” Mr Hansford said.

“Some leisure routes, say the Tasmanian routes, where they get Sydney and Melbourne, they may lose their directs from Perth or their directs from Adelaide.

“Some of the direct services into some of the lesser ports in Queensland — Cairns will be sound, Townsville, Mackay and Rockhampton, but some of the other ports being served really start to be very questionable.”

Mr Webber disagrees about which destinations may be affected, believing that the lower dollar may strengthen demand for some domestic tourist destinations.

“If I was guessing it would be the tier two cities where they would look at cutting capacity,” he said, citing Adelaide, Hobart, Rockhampton, Townsville and Darwin as some examples.

“Hamilton Island, Proserpine, Cairns, Margaret River and south-east Queensland leisure destinations may do OK.”

International flights may be scaled back

*But Mr Webber and Mr Hansford agree it is Virgin Australia’s international division that is the source of the biggest losses.

*“The days of Virgin being on the Pacific and on Hong Kong really have to be questioned,” Mr Hansford said.

*He pointed out that the Hong Kong flights benefit two of Virgin Australia’s major shareholders more than 90 per cent of Virgin’s shares are owned by foreign airlines, with two Chinese airlines owning a combined 40 per cent, and Etihad and Singapore owning about another 40 per cent between them.

But he added that even some popular routes are not necessarily very profitable.

“Nothing’s in and nothing’s out,” he said.

“In the end it gets down to load factor and yield, and prices on Bali — and there’s new entrants — are going down, and you may find that they may retreat and only service Bali say from Perth, Sydney and Melbourne and cut down some of the other Bali services.

“Some of their Pacific Island services may be fairly questionable.”

Mr Hansford said New Zealand was an obvious destination for Virgin to cut capacity to, given intense competition with Qantas and Air New Zealand, which are financially stronger airlines.

“I’m not saying walking off it, but reducing capacity on it,” he added.

Will airfares rise with fewer seats available?

However, the analysts are divided on whether a reduction in flights will see a matching increase in airfares.

Mr Hansford believes Qantas will take advantage of any reduction in Virgin’s capacity to maintain and even increase its market dominance.

“Now that Virgin is injured and it’s wounded, Qantas won’t take their foot off the pedal and they will keep on their competitiveness to maintain their current market share,” he said.

In a recent interview with The Business, Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce seemed to indicate this would be the case.

“We are seeing some of the very cheap airfares disappearing from the market,” he said.

“It’s cheaper to fly [to some destinations] than to park your car at the airports.

“This is the best value we’ve had in 10 years, airfares have typically been down by around 40 per cent, that’s not going to change because we’ve changed our business and passed on those benefits to the consumers.”

However, Tony Webber, who is a former Qantas chief economist, argues that some increase in airfares is inevitable as capacity is cut and as fuel costs rise.

“Virgin’s going to cut capacity, so prices will go up,” he said.

“Unit costs have gone up, so airfares will have to go up.”

SOURCE: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-08-29/virgin-australia-route-review-likely-casualties/11459666

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Sam Dastyari tells ICAC Huang Xiangmo was Chinese ‘agent of influence’

NONE of this is new!

From Dave Donovan at Independent Australia … ‘Beyond Dastyari Liberal Party Agents of Influence’

https://caanhousinginequalitywithaussieslockedout.com/2019/08/13/beyond-dastyari-liberal-party-agents-of-influence/

Will NSW ICAC grill key Liberal figures over Chinese Donations and Influence?

IS Canberra failing to see the whole picture, or to understand what has been happening globally … that which is so apparent to the rest of us?

How many more Pollies and bureaucrats have been flattered and duchessed by our big neighbour to the North? Some of them are Rhodes Scholars even …

https://caanhousinginequalitywithaussieslockedout.com/2019/07/31/will-nsw-icac-grill-key-liberal-figures-over-chinese-donations-and-influence

IS it any wonder that Sam is surprised over the controversy of the $100,000 donation because it was an established practice to accept money from prohibited property developer donors simply by putting the cash in the federal fundraising accounts.

-the Federal rules allow this

-then such donations are fully disclosed

Sam Dastyari tells ICAC Huang Xiangmo was Chinese ‘agent of influence’

Former Federal Labor Senator Sam Dastyari rode off into Sydney traffic after leaving the ICAC hearing. Photo: AAP

Samantha Maiden

Samantha Maiden

*Former Labor Senator Sam Dastyari has told an anti-corruption probe he believes Huang Xiangmo, the billionaire accused of delivering an Aldi bag stuffed with $100,000 to the Labor Party, was “an agent of influence” for the Chinese Government.

The secret evidence was provided to the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) on August 22 but was suppressed from public disclosure until Thursday.

During his compulsory interview with ICAC, the former ALP powerbroker noted that at the time, the billionaire property investor was the largest single donor to the Labor Party outside of trade unions.

“In hindsight, I now have serious questions about whether or not he was, either directly or indirectly, an agent of influence for the Chinese Government,” Mr Dastyari told ICAC.

“Mr Huang was a very, very big donor to the Labor Party.

“He was a very big donor, probably outside the trade union movement, the biggest donor.”

Huang Xiangmo
Huang Xiangmo is now banned from Australia over his ties to the Chinese Communist Party. Photo: Twitter

Mr Dastyari also confirmed he had cultivated a relationship with Mr Huang as NSW party secretary that was then transferred to his successor in the job Jamie Clements.

After Mr Clements left the job in disgrace amid a sexual harassment scandal, Mr Dastyari believes that Mr Clements went to work for Mr Huang.

“I came to the conclusion a relationship was closer than I realised when after he left the party office he went to work for him,” Mr Dastyari said.

Another former ALP secretary and a former NSW Treasurer Eric Roozendal also went to work for Mr Huang’s company, the Yuhu group.

*Despite the Liberal Party and the Labor Party being warned about the Chinese Communist Party donating large sums of money to political parties in Australia by the spy agency ASIO in 2015, both the major parties continued to accept the cash.

*Mr Dastyari described the Chinese Friends of Labor group, which was linked to Mr Huang and former Labor MLC Ernest Wong as “complex” and “opaque”.

Sam Dastyari left the hearing without his phone after he was forced to surrender it for inspection. Photo: AAP

“It’s always a bit complex, it’s always an opaque organisation, which I’m sure you’ve come to learn, about who exactly hold what title but essentially Ernest ran it,” he said.

Mr Dastyari said Ms Murnain was concerned in 2016 that the ALP accounts were “a shit show and “she was whinging to me about how everyone had abandoned her and she’d been left alone in the Labor Party office and we all moved on to our other careers and she was there to clean up the pieces”.

*The former Labor senator admitted he was surprised by the controversy over the $100,000 donation because it was an established practice to accept money from prohibited property developer donors simply by putting the cash in the federal fundraising accounts.

*While developers are banned from donating at a state level, there is no prohibition at a federal level.

*“The bit that’s flabbergasted is that, that I can’t understand, is that money could legally have been accepted if that was the case into the federal campaign account, and the fact that if that isn’t what happened, I don’t, to me what’s incomprehensible about this entire enquiry,” Mr Dastyari said.

*“They could have just accepted the money into the federal campaign account, which is what, how you normally take money from prohibited donors or people about the limits. The federal rules allow you to take that money.”

*“You take the money, accept the money into the federal campaign account, and you fully disclose it.”

SOURCE: https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/national/2019/08/30/dastyari-icac-huang-xiangmo/?utm_source=Adestra&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Morning%20News%20-%2020190830

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Security breach fears raised over China-backed company mining SA military range

THERE seem to be no boundaries for which they won’t cross!

Note CAAN highlights! Yep, it’s that bad!

there seems no boundaries for which they won’t cross!

Security breach fears raised over China-backed company mining SA military range

By Chris Uhlmann and Richard Baker

August 25, 2019

View all comments

A China-backed company mining in South Australia’s Woomera Prohibited Area appears to be in breach of the legal undertakings it made to win access to Australia’s most sensitive military testing range.

*Defence officials have been warned that the company’s own internal review of security of the Cairn Hill mine found a series of potential threats in a new joint-venture, including “the real possibility of electronic eavesdropping”.

A rocket test at Woomera in June 2017.
A rocket test at Woomera in June 2017.CREDIT:DEFENCE DEPARTMENT

*Australian registered but Chinese financed, CU-River Mining secured the mine on the Woomera range under a 2014 permit.

*In 2017, the company struck an $800 million expansion deal with the Australian arm of Chinese steel giant JiuJiang Group to extract millions of tonnes of iron ore.

*JiuJiang Mining Australia’s lawyers met Defence and Foreign Investment Review Board officials in November 2017 to amend CU-River’s approval to reflect the joint-venture financing and those talks were detailed in an application for review board approval in February 2018.

*The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age have obtained the application, which says, “all activities and projects at the Cairn Hill mine will continue to be implemented by CU-River, which will be controlled by its board”.

VIEW MAP OF WOOMERA PROHIBITED AREA AT THE END OF THE ARTICLE

*People familiar with the mine say the financier, JiuJiang, now controls all aspects of the day-to-day operations, even though it has apparently shelved expansion plans in the knowledge that any attempt to do so will trigger revocation of its mining permit.

*The sources say the miners are also in breach of the undertaking to have all personnel vetted by Defence.

Anyone working inside the protected area must complete an application for “approved person status” to Defence with personal details including photo identification, employment history, schooling, details of contact with foreign officials, any travel in the previous two years and the reason for the trip.

*The Herald and The Age have been told of unauthorised Chinese workers visiting the site without Defence approval.

Senator Rex Patrick: "The Chinese government would never allow an Australian company to set up shop next to China’s secret military test facilities."
Senator Rex Patrick: “The Chinese government would never allow an Australian company to set up shop next to China’s secret military test facilities.”CREDIT:DOMINC LORRIMER

*Although the JiuJiang Group claims to be privately owned, its chairman, Zhao Yujiang, is a prominent Hebei provincial member of the Chinese Communist Party. He is also a deputy to China’s 12th National People’s Congress and has travelled abroad as part of Chinese government delegations.

*Defence has also been warned of concerns raised by an internal review of security at Cairn Hill conducted by an ASIO-accredited company. It highlighted “the real possibility of electronic eavesdropping” on top-secret activities at Woomera through Chinese-manufactured equipment delivered to the mine for assembly.

*One alleged security breach at the mine reported to Defence was the apparent turning off of a CCTV camera for a considerable time by an unidentified employee.

*CU-River Mining last year negotiated a 10-year expansion to its lease over to the Woomera mine. As part of JiuJiang’s backing for CU-River, there is a plan for a disused power station at Port Augusta to be turned into a shipping terminal to load iron ore from Cairn Hill on ships bound for China.

**Australia’s security and intelligence agencies have warned that Woomera is of great interest to foreign countries and recommended any mining activity on the site be conducted by Australian-owned and controlled companies.

*Defence Minister Linda Reynolds last week issued a stark reminder about the Australian government’s power to revoke permits for Woomera access.

**South Australian Centre Alliance senator Rex Patrick, who has been pursuing the issue of mining within the Woomera site in Parliament and through the Freedom of Information Act, said the latest revelations about potential security threats and permit breaches warranted an immediate inquiry.

RELATED ARTICLE

The test rocket mounted to the launcher for the HIFiRE4 Hypersonic test from Woomera in 2017.
DEFENCE SPENDING

Australia may bar China-backed firm from a mine it owns on a missile site

*Senator Patrick said allegations of non-compliance with Defence’s conditions of access to the Woomera Prohibited Area were a matter of serious concern.

“The Woomera Range is Australia’s most important and most secret defence aerospace test area,” he said.

“The security of the range, including protection from electronic eavesdropping, must be guaranteed in all circumstances. Security must come first and mining activity in the WPA should be carried out by Australian-controlled companies under a rigorous protective security regime.

“Documents released to me under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that Defence has raised significant national security concerns about China’s interest in developing the Cairn Hill magnetite mine since at least 2010yet Australian government ministers went ahead and authorised the Chinese investment and mining presence on the Woomera Range.

“The Chinese government would never allow an Australian company to set up shop next to China’s secret military test facilities. It’s astounding that the Australian government has allowed Chinese-owned and controlled companies to do just that at Australia’s most secret weapons test range.”

Chris Uhlmann

Chris Uhlmann is political editor for Nine News.

Richard Baker

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

The Woomera Prohibited Area

Image

Source: defence.gov.au

SOURCE: https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/security-breach-fears-raised-over-china-backed-company-mining-sa-military-range-20190825-p52kk1.html

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ICAC NSW Labor inquiry LIVE: Sam Dastyari calls for commission into Federal corruption

BEFORE YOU SCROLL DOWN TO THE END FOR THE START OF PROCEEDINGS … AND WORK YOUR WAY BACK UP TO THE CLOSE OF PROCEEDINGS!

PLEASE consider this ICAC hearing is being conducted during the term of the NSW LNP …

AND with all the evidence gathered to date of ‘political donations and political influence’ particularly from the Chinese community, isn’t it time that such engagements with inducements were banned? That would eliminate any MP confusion?

NOTE … * 75% of Australia China Economic, Trade and Cultural Association  (ACETCA’s) donations over the last 6 years have gone to the Liberal Party *

IS this why political donations have not been banned Federally, and it would appear nor have they been eliminated in NSW?

-ACETCA had risen in prominence since the Australian Council for the Promotion of the Peaceful Reunification of China (ACPPRC); a body linked to Mr Huang, came under intense scrutiny

QUESTION why does this community maintain its prominence in Australia through political donations?

IF not for material gain?

AND to maintain a distinct culture separate from that of Australia?

IS this not further proof of why political donations should be banned? AND why political parties ought distance themselves from such Lobby Groups!

RELATED ARTICLE: NSW MPs ‘completely lost’ on potential foreign influence

https://caanhousinginequalitywithaussieslockedout.com/2019/08/25/nsw-mps-completely-lost-on-potential-foreign-influence/?fbclid=IwAR0BqM2lNokcbBlevkpct7dcbT4QtL1x5SXZJDNb83AheR7S6Mv-yWqrDW8

ICAC NSW Labor inquiry LIVE: Sam Dastyari calls for commission into Federal corruption

By Lisa Visentin

Updated August 29, 2019

On that note, let’s call it a wrap

By Lisa Visentin

That’s it for the ICAC blog.

You can read the full coverage of the day’s events by Tom Rabe and Kate McClymont online, and in tomorrow’s print edition of the Sydney Morning Herald.

The inquiry will resume tomorrow, but for a truncated half-day hearing. The Heraldwill, of course, be following the proceedings and will bring you all the news as it breaks. 

As always, thank you for reading. 

5.23pm

Dastyari out

By Lisa Visentin

Dastyari has left the ICAC without a phone, but with a parting message for ICAC sceptics.

“If there was ever a case for a federal ICAC it’s certainly this,” he said

“The Labor Party can’t and shouldn’t be beyond reproach.”

He directed a second message towards the NSW branch of the party, saying “enough is enough” and called for a ban private donations.

Sam Dastyari arrives at the ICAC on Thursday on a Lime Bike. He departed the same way hours later, after half a day in the witness box.
Sam Dastyari arrives at the ICAC on Thursday on a Lime Bike. He departed the same way hours later, after half a day in the witness box. CREDIT:RENEE NOWYTARGER

“Maybe it’s time to have a serious look about a proper, full statewide ban on private donations because we’ve been through this rubbish enough.

“As someone who has seen the end of my own career as a result of it, I think it’s something that is well overdue.”

Dastyari also kept some final words for his erstwhile friend, Kaila Murnain. 

“As someone who I’ve cared about a lot over [the] years, I hope she’s ok,” he said.

And with the media clamouring around him – just the way he likes it – Dastyari strapped on his helmet, hopped onto a Lime Bike, and rode off into the distance down Castlereagh Street.

4.29pm

A phoneless Dastyari?

By Lisa Visentin

Dastyari may be without his phone tonight, after Counsel Assisting Scott Robertson requested the phone be surrendered to download his WhatsApp records.

Robertson said the WhatsApp messages – some of which Dastyari has voluntarily provided to the inquiry – had “plainly” revealed issues around the timing of key events.

He says the ICAC will need to commandeer the phone overnight to download the data.

Dastyari’s lawyer Bruce Hodgkinson has objected to the request on privacy grounds. 

“Mr Dastyari’s phone has a wide variety of material” including “very personal information”, Hodgkinson says.

The lawyers are now duelling it out in one of ICAC’s meeting rooms. 

The hearing has now concluded for the day, as has Dastyari’s evidence for now. He is not required tomorrow. 

But before leaving the witness box, Dastyari delivers a rather ebullient sign-off. 

“I hope everyone’s enjoyed themselves here,” he quips.

3.36pm

Where was the pickup?

By Lisa Visentin

Confusion abounds over the chronology of events on the evening of September 16, 2016.

Specifically, whether Dastyari picked up Murnain from NSW Parliament (as per Murnain’s evidence) or from the corner of King and Elizabeth Streets in Sydney’s CBD (as per Dastyari’s evidence today).

Ian Neil SC (Murnain’s lawyer) is suggesting to Dastyari that he had two meetings with Murnain. The first one occurred when he picked her up outside NSW Parliament, and the second occasion occurred later that evening when he picked her up on the CBD corner.

Dastyari rejects this: “My recollection is we met once that evening.”

Neil persists, suggesting Dastyari “conflated” the two meetings into the one.

“I don’t believe so, because that’s not my recollection. My recollection is having one meeting with Kaila Murnain on that night,” Dastyari says. 

However, in his evidence on August 22 Dastyari refers to picking Murnain up from NSW Parliament.

“I picked her up from Parliament and drove her back to her office, and that’s when she, she kind of expressed a whole lot of concerns about everything with the party,” Dastyari told Counsel Assisting Scott Robertson on August 22.

2.54pm

‘Save your arse’ Dastyari advises Murnain

By Lisa Visentin

Dastyari told ICAC investigators last week he advised Murnain to “cover your arse” and make sure she told everything to the party’s lawyer, Ian Robertson.

The inquiry has been shown excerpts of Dastyari’s compulsory testimony to Counsel Assisting Scott Robertson on August 22 (before the public inquiry kicked off this week).

Murnain’s lawyer directs Dastyari to a section of the August 22 transcript where he discusses his response to Murnain’s concerns regarding the donations and disclosures.

Robertson: As best you can now recall, do you recall what advice or suggestions you gave Ms Murnain regarding those concerns?

Dastyari: Look, my advice to her would have been, cover your arse, like protect your arse and make sure you tell Ian Robertson and make sure you get the lawyers in and don’t worry about the expense of the party of getting really good lawyers.

2.29pm

Murnain’s lawyer cross-examines Dastyari

By Lisa Visentin

Lunch is over and Dastyari is back in the box.

He is being grilled by Murnain’s lawyer, Ian Neil SC.

Neil is putting to Dastyari that his memory has been “seriously diminished” by the passage of time (3 years), and the personal circumstances in his life at the time (ie the unravelling of his political career).

Dastyari responds: “I’m not quite sure what you mean by ‘seriously’. They certainly have diminished over the passage of time.”

The inquiry hears Dastyari was first contacted by ICAC investigators last week. In a phone call, an investigator told him he was required to give compulsory evidence, which he did on August 22.

2.14pm

Dastyari’s connection to Huang

Before the hearing resumes, it’s worth recalling the broader context to Dastyari’s fateful meeting with Murnain on the evening on September 16, 2016.

Chinese political donor Huang Xiangmo in Sydney last year.
Chinese political donor Huang Xiangmo in Sydney last year.CREDIT:JAMES BRICKWOOD

At the time, Dasytari, then a NSW Senator, was in a world of pain over his own links to Huang.

Herald investigative reporter Kate McClymont has compiled this background.

On 16 September 2016 a very distressed Kaila Murnain revealed to Sam Dastyari that she’d just been informed there could be a major problem over a $100,000 cash donation from Chinese billionaire Huang Xiangmo.

Dastyari had just endured the week from hell over his own connections to Huang and another Chinese donor.

He’d been forced to step down from Labor’s frontbench after giving a trainwreck of a press conference about why Chinese donors were picking up his personal bills.

He also claimed to have “misspoken” or to have been “misquoted” when he was reported by Chinese media to have supported Beijing’s stance on the South China Sea in a media conference while standing right next to Mr Huang.

Only two days before Dastyari and Murnain met, the departing US ambassador to Australia, John Berry, was widely reported saying foreign ­donations were illegal in America, and that the US had been alarmed about the ability of the Chinese government to influence domestic politics in Australia.

“We cannot conceive of a case where a foreign donation from any government, friend or foe, would be considered legitimate in terms of that democracy,” he said.

“We have been surprised, quite frankly, at the extent of the ­involvement of the Chinese government in Australian politics,” Mr Berry had said at the time.

Dastyari left politics at the end of 2017 following further revelations about his relationship with Mr Huang, including that while a senator Dastyari had tipped off Huang that Australian security services were tapping the Chinese developer’s phone.

1.18pm

Lunch break

By Lisa Visentin

The ICAC is on a lunch break until 2pm  – because lawyers gotta eat too!

Dastyari will be back in the witness box when the hearing resumes. 

12.55pm

Dastyari contradicts Murnain about September meeting

By Lisa Visentin

Dastyari has disputed Murnain’s claim that the pair met out the back of NSW Parliament on the evening of September 16, 2016.

Instead, he claims they met in Sydney’s CBD, where he picked her up in his car around 7.54pm and they drove around the city for up to an hour and a half. 

“I believe there was only one meeting between Kaila and I that evening,” Dastyari says.

“I believe I met her at the corner of King and Elizabeth .

Sam Dastyari arrives on a lime bike to give evidence at the ICAC inquiry into alleged illegal donations to the Labor Party.
Sam Dastyari arrives on a lime bike to give evidence at the ICAC inquiry into alleged illegal donations to the Labor Party.CREDIT:RENEE NOWYTARGER

He further adds: “I believe I stopped at a set of lights or intersection and Kaila Murnain came into my car.”

Murnain was “quite distressed” as she told him about her meeting with Ernest Wong, he says.

He says he got the impression that her meeting with Wong “hadn’t been pleasant” and “the ALP [fundraising] accounts for Chinese Friends of Labor weren’t reflective of what had taken place”.

“I recall that Ms Muranin specifically singled out Huang Xiangmo as someone she was concerned about.”

Dastyari says he got the impression Murnain didn’t fully understand “what had gone on” with the accounts. 

He confirms Murnain’s account that he advised her to seek advice from the party’s lawyers, Holding Redlich.

“I very strongly, forcefully gave the advice ‘you need to go see the lawyers’,” Dastyari says. 

He says he was “left with the impression” she would follow his advice and contact the law firm. 

After his conversation with Murnain, Dastyari says he did not follow up the issue with her or anyone else in the party.

12.09pm

Dastyari enters the witness box

By Lisa Visentin

Sam Dastyari has entered the witness box, and is now giving his version of the disintegration in his friendship with Murnain. 

“Kaila and I drifted apart earlier in the year on a personal level,” Dastyari says.

He says he’s “moved on with politics and moved on with my life”.

Sam Dastyari arrives at ICAC on a lime bike
Sam Dastyari arrives at ICAC on a lime bikeCREDIT:RENEE NOWYTARGER


(Murnain has finished giving evidence for now, but she’ll be back in the box next week.)

Dasytari says the last time he contacted her was around August 3 or 4, when he sent her a letter via WhatsApp. 

He says he accidentally dialled her number through WhatsApp last week, but claims he hung up before she could answer. 


11.59am

Murnain signs ‘misleading’ form to the Electoral Commission

By Lisa Visentin

Murnain has agreed she signed a “misleading” form to the electoral commission, after they wrote to the party in December 2016 asking them to explain the donations received by the party in April 2015.

In the letter, the Electoral Commission asked a series of questions, including requesting the party “provide the names of persons who handed the donations to the ALP on the 9th April 2015.”

Labor’s letter in response, signed by Murnain and dated December 19, 2016, nominated party official Kenrick Chea.

(Cheah gave evidence earlier this week that Chinese billionaire Huang Xiangmo carried $100,000 in donations into the office in an Aldi bag and handed it to then-boss Jamie Clements).

Counsel Assisting Scott Robertson asks Murnain if she knew at that time that it wasn’t Mr Cheah who brought the money into the office, “but rather someone else”?

“I was told some time after the money came in that Jamie [Clements] had accepted the funds in 2015,” Murnain says.

She says she delegated the job of drafting the responses to the electorate commission to Labor’s governance director, Julie Sibraa, and asked her to check them with the lawyers Holding Redlich.

Murnain admits some of the answers to the EC were “not correct”, but says she had recused herself from the process.

“I would answer the question very differently now. I didn’t help draft this letter, I signed the letter and sent it off after it was delegated out to others. But yes, it should be a different answer.”

The Commissioner asked Murnain if she deliberately delegated the task of responding to the Electoral Commission to party staffers who did “not have the full story”. 

Murnain agrees they did not have the information she had, but claims she was “trying to follow the appropriate processes in the office at the time.”

11.34am

Murnain tested over chronology of September 2016 meetings

By Lisa Visentin

Counsel Assisting the inquiry Scott Robertson is now questioning whether Murnain has correctly recalled the order of meetings she held on September 16, 2016.

The inquiry has just been shown evidence of WhatsApp messages from Dastyari’s phone which appear to contradict Murnain’s recollection. 

Murnain told the hearing yesterday she met with Ernest Wong around 6.45pm out the back of NSW Parliament, where he told her Huang had illegally donated to the party. She said she then called Sam Dastyari, who advised her to call the party’s lawyers.

After speaking with Dastyari in his car, Murnain said she walked to the MLC Centre to meet Holding Redlich partner Ian Robertson. She texted Mr Robertson at 7.18pm to say she had arrived and was “at the top of the escalator”.

However, a message from Dastyari’s phone, time-stamped at 7.41pm, shows him saying: “Yo, I’ll come to you.”

Murnain queries whether it could be explained by “a time difference in our phones”.

“That’s the only thing I can think of,” she says

Asked whether she met with Dastyari both before and after meeting with Mr Robertson, or if she had in fact only met with him afterwards, she said: “I don’t know the answer to that.”

“My memory is I met with Sam prior to meeting with Ian Robertson,” Murnain said.  But she says it’s also possible “I met up with him afterwards”.

Under further questioning she added: “It is possible I’ve mixed the order up.”

10.49am

‘I was scared’

By Lisa Visentin

Murnain is having a tough time in the witness box now, but agrees to continue giving evidence despite being visibly upset.

She says she did not report the conversation with Ernest Wong to anyone else on the advice of lawyer Ian Robertson, and because she was “scared”.

“I was following the advice religiously. I was scared,” Murnain says.

“Ernest hadn’t given me a name when he gave me this information as to who we needed to look out for.”

She elaborates that she was scared for the party’s future, and was “doing my best” to follow the advice.

“I was scared for the office and the reputation of the party,” she says.

“I obviously recognise now that is something I shouldn’t have done. I should have made different decisions.”

10.37am

Murnain breaks down over friendship with Dastyari

By Lisa Visentin

Through tears, Murnain has told the inquiry about the breakdown in her friendship with Sam Dastyari.

“I’m no longer a very close friend of Sam’s,” Murnain says, adding that in 2016 the pair were close.

She says the pair’s friendship fell apart during the federal election when people “were putting  a lot of pressure on me to resign as general secretary”.

“Sam had the same view,” she says.

She adds the pair “haven’t spoken frequently since the state election” due to “differing views about the future of the party.”

She says Dastyari tried calling her through WhatsApp a few weeks ago, but she didn’t pick up. 10.23am

Murnain back in the witness box

By Lisa Visentin

Murnain has resumed her spot in the witness box.

The line of questioning begins with the news today that Murnain was suspended as general secretary by the party last night.

She says she read about her suspension in the media this morning.

NSW Labor boss Kaila Murnain at the Independent Commission Against Corruption on Wednesday.
NSW Labor boss Kaila Murnain at the Independent Commission Against Corruption on Wednesday.CREDIT:AAP

She adds that she received a letter from the party advising her of her suspension and “briefly read it this morning”. 10.16am

The end of the road for the Boss Lady

By Lisa Visentin

Kaila Murnain was known in Labor circles as the Boss Lady. She was the first female general secretary in NSW Labor’s history.

At the time of the 2015 Chinese Friends of Labor dinner, Murnain was assistant general secretary, working under then boss Jamie Clements. 

But by September 2016, when she claims Ernest Wong told her Chinese billionaire Huang Xiangmo had illegally donated to the party, she was in the top job. 

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Murnain took the party reigns as general secretary in January 2016.

After Murnain’s evidence yesterday, NSW Opposition Leader Jodi McKay called on the party to suspend her.

Labor’s senior officials promptly called an emergency meeting for 8pm, and by 8:30 Murnain had been suspended from “her employment until further notice.”

In a statement released last night, the party said Pat Garcia had been appointed as acting secretary. Until his swift promotion, Garcia had been assistant secretary.

9.30am

What happened yesterday?

By Lisa Visentin

Yesterday, the inquiry heard a surfeit of sensational evidence. So it’s worth recapping the highlights.

First of all, let’s look at the evidence Kaila Murnain, who was one of two assistant general secretaries at the time of the 2015 dinner.

She said she first discovered the party had accepted an illegal donation from Mr Huang after she was called to the back of NSW Parliament by then-MP Ernest Wong on September 16, 2016.

Kaila Murnain outside ICAC in Sydney yesterday.
Kaila Murnain outside ICAC in Sydney yesterday.CREDIT:AAP IMAGE/JOEL CARRETT
Kaila Murnain leaves the ICAC on Wednesday.

Murnain took the party reigns as general secretary in January 2016.

After Murnain’s evidence yesterday, NSW Opposition Leader Jodi McKay called on the party to suspend her.

Labor’s senior officials promptly called an emergency meeting for 8pm, and by 8:30 Murnain had been suspended from “her employment until further notice.”

In a statement released last night, the party said Pat Garcia had been appointed as acting secretary. Until his swift promotion, Garcia had been assistant secretary. Less9.30am

What happened yesterday?

By Lisa Visentin

Yesterday, the inquiry heard a surfeit of sensational evidence. So it’s worth recapping the highlights.

First of all, let’s look at the evidence Kaila Murnain, who was one of two assistant general secretaries at the time of the 2015 dinner.

She said she first discovered the party had accepted an illegal donation from Mr Huang after she was called to the back of NSW Parliament by then-MP Ernest Wong on September 16, 2016.

Kaila Murnain outside ICAC in Sydney yesterday.
Kaila Murnain outside ICAC in Sydney yesterday.CREDIT:AAP IMAGE/JOEL CARRETT

After talking to Wong, she called Sam Dastyari who drove and picked her up from Parliament. She said she was crying as she told him about the donation. He advised her to tell the party’s lawyers – Holding Redlich.

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Kaila Murnain leaves the ICAC on Wednesday.
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She called Ian Robertson, a partner with Holding Redlich, who she says told her to keep quiet about the information, and not to record their meeting.

The inquiry also heard evidence yesterday from Steve Tong, one of the 12 alleged donors.

He said he had never donated money to the Labor Party and did not attend the 2015 dinner.

He also claimed his bosses at property company Wu International used his name to make a $5000 donation without his knowledge.

9.14am

What is the inquiry about?

By Lisa Visentin

The inquiry centres around a Chinese Friends of Labor dinner, held in March 2015, where the Labor Party supposedly raised $100,000 in donations from 12 donors.

However, the ICAC is investigating whether in fact these donors were “straw donors” used to circumvent the state’s donation laws.

The inquiry kicked off this week with the explosive allegations that Chinese billionaire Huang Xiangmo, a property developer, delivered $100,000 cash in an Aldi plastic bag to former party boss Jamie Clements at ALP headquarters in Sydney.8.58am

Good morning!

By Lisa Visentin

Good morning! We are coming to you live from the Independent Commission Against Corruption, which is examining allegations the NSW Labor Party broke political donation laws.

It’s been an extraordinary few days of evidence, with bombshell after bombshell dropped from the witness box.

This morning we can expect to see Kaila Murnain, the now ex-general secretary, return to the witness box.

After giving evidence yesterday, Ms Murnain was suspended from the role in an emergency meeting of party officials last night.

Sam Dastyari and former NSW Labor MP Ernest Wong are also scheduled to appear.

Stay with us as we bring you rolling coverage of the day’s events.


SOURCE: https://www.smh.com.au/politics/nsw/icac-nsw-labor-inquiry-live-sam-dastyari-to-front-commission-over-donations-scandal-20190829-p52lv3.html

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Pauline Hanson says a lot of people been dispossessed of their lands due to the Mabo decision. Is she correct?

SCROLL down for the Verdict!

IS it possible that the Constituency is being deliberately distracted by baseless comments like this … ya think?

Meanwhile our National Security and Sovereignty (possession) … the well-being and quality of life for our Families is under threat … why is this happening?

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Pauline Hanson says a lot of people been dispossessed of their lands due to the Mabo decision. Is she correct?

RMIT ABC Fact Check

29 AUGUST 2019

Pauline Hanson's claim is baseless

PHOTO: One Nation Leader Pauline Hanson says a lot of people have been dispossessed of their lands because of the High Court’s Mabo decision in 1992. (ABC News: Nicholas Haggarty)

The claim

Calls from across the political spectrum have been getting louder to reach a bipartisan consensus on the issue of Indigenous constitutional recognition.

One Nation Leader Pauline Hanson remains sceptical. She recently argued that the rights granted to Indigenous people in the High Court’s 1992 native title decision, colloquially known as the Mabo decision, would be further entrenched by constitutional recognition, and that if Australia became a republic in the future, this could lead to unintended consequences.

“Same as with Mabo, and the native title. We thought we were signing over just to Mabo because his connection with the land. It’s had so much impact on us with native title, that a lot of people have been dispossessed of their lands in Australia because of it,” she said on 2GB radio.

Has the Mabo decision led to a lot of people being dispossessed of their land? RMIT ABC Fact Check investigates.

The verdict

Senator Hanson’s claim is baseless.

Experts consulted by Fact Check could not identify any native title decisions in Australia which have dispossessed a freehold land title holder of their land.

The High Court’s Mabo decision in 1992 did not give Indigenous people the right to reclaim traditional lands from just anyone.

Private property held under freehold title, such as your house and backyard, has already had any native title extinguished under Australian law.

Native title claims can only be made on Crown land, though this land may be covered by a pastoral lease or other interests that are deemed by law to prevail over native title.

But even in the case of pastoral leases, the High Court’s 1996 Wik decision found that the rights of pastoralists and native title holders can co-exist, and that when they are in conflict, the rights of the leaseholder prevail over those of the native title holder.

Experts were adamant that dispossession of freehold title through a native title claim is not consistent with Australian law.

An Indigenous boy of the Butchulla people on Fraser Island in south-east Queensland on October 24, 2014

PHOTO: Native title claim groups can only make a claim over Crown land. (ABC Local: Ross Kay)

Assessing the claim

Fact Check contacted Senator Hanson’s office to ask for the source of her claim, but did not receive a response.

In making her claim, Senator Hanson said people had been “dispossessed of their lands”.

Kate Galloway, an associate professor in the Faculty of Law at Bond University, told Fact Check that dispossession means to “cancel or nullify someone’s legitimate right to land”.

“Dispossession doesn’t relate to public rights to land, or rights to access public land,” she said.

“In Australia, we don’t have private title, generally, to beachfront or other public places … if the general public is stopped from accessing parts of land, that’s not regarded as dispossession. That’s just a loss of public access.”

Associate Professor Galloway said that possession can describe a right of a tenant of a property, for example, but that doesn’t set possession up as the opposite of dispossession in relation to land title.

“When we talk about possession of land, possession can mean, literally, if you’re in possession of a house, then you might be the tenant or you might be a guest. It doesn’t mean that you own it, or that you have the title to it, but you’re in possession of it.

“But if you throw out your guest, you don’t say that they’ve been dispossessed of that land.”

As Senator Hanson spoke of people being dispossessed of “their lands”, Fact Check takes this to mean someone who holds the title of the land under the law.

What was the Mabo decision?

The ruling referred to as the Mabo decision, handed down by the High Court on June 3, 1992, was the culmination of a decade of litigation.

The decision gets its name from one of its plaintiffs, Eddie Koiki Mabo, who along with four other Torres Strait Islanders, began a legal claim for ownership of their lands in the Murray Islands, situated in the Torres Strait between Papua New Guinea and Australia, on May 20, 1982.

A map of the Torres Strait Islands, with the island of Mer highlighted to the east

PHOTO: A map of the Torres Strait Islands, with the island of Mer highlighted to the east (Supplied: National Native Title Tribunal)

In a 6-1 decision, the court established that:

“… the Meriam people [of the Torres Strait Islands] are entitled as against the whole world to possession, occupation, use and enjoyment of the lands of the Murray Islands”, with the exception of land which was “validly … appropriated for use for administrative purposes the use of which is inconsistent with the continued enjoyment of the rights and privileges of the Meriam people under native title … putting to one side the Islands of Dauer and Waier and the parcel of land leased to the Trustees of the Australian Board of Missions.”

The judgment was specific to the Meriam people, and the land over which they had laid claim, and did not automatically transfer control of all unallocated crown land in Australia to its traditional Indigenous owners.

But it did have a profound effect on the common law in Australia, setting a precedent for decisions on other parcels of land.

Terra nullius

According to the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, the Mabo decision “altered the foundation of land law in Australia by overturning the doctrine of terra nullius (land belonging to no-one) on which British claims to possession of Australia were based. This recognition inserted the legal doctrine of native title into Australian law”.

A close-up black and white photo of Eddie Mabo.

PHOTO: Eddie Mabo died before the judgment bearing his name was handed down by the High Court. (Supplied: Jim McEwan)

In simple terms, the court found that the idea that Australia was a land which belonged to no-one — the very basis upon which Australia was colonised — was a “fiction” in terms of supporting British ownership of land titles.

From the judgment:

“It was only by fastening on the notion that a settled colony was terra nullius that it was possible to predicate of the Crown the acquisition of ownership of land in a colony already occupied by indigenous inhabitants. It was only on the hypothesis that there was nobody in occupation that it could be said that the Crown was the owner because there was no other. If that hypothesis be rejected, the notion that sovereignty carried ownership in its wake must be rejected too.”

In the months following the decision, there was much debate over what it meant for land ownership in Australia, and how to deal with its ramifications.

The Keating government was in power at the time and set about enshrining the principles of the decision in legislation.

After protracted negotiations with Indigenous representatives, pastoralists, miners and crossbench parties in the Senate, the Native Title Act 1993 was legislated to provide a “straightforward mechanism to determine whether or not native title exists and what the rights and interests are that comprise that native title,” according to the bill’s explanatory memorandum.

Making a native title claim

The Native Title Act established an independent government agency called the National Native Title Tribunal, to “make decisions, conduct inquiries, reviews and mediations, and assist various parties with native title applications, and Indigenous land use agreements”.

According to the section 61 of the act, a claim can be made by:

  1. A person or persons authorised by the native title claim group
  2. A person who holds a non-native title interest in the land
  3. The Commonwealth Minister
  4. The state or territory minister, if the land falls within jurisdictional limits of the state or territory concerned

An application is filed in the Federal Court, which has jurisdiction to hear and determine claims under the act.

In one of a series of documents written by the tribunal to celebrate 25 years of native title in Australia, entitled Key Native Title Cases, it states the act “requires that native title rights and interests are possessed under the traditional laws acknowledged and the traditional customs observed by any native title holder. Further, that the native title holders have a connection with the claimed land and water under the system of law and custom”.

A map from the National Native Title Tribunal shows the native title status of all areas of Australia

PHOTO: Map shows Australia by claimant applications filed in the Federal Court and determinations of native title, as per the National Native Title Register. (Supplied: National Native Title Tribunal)

Associate Professor Galloway told Fact Check that bringing a native title claim is “extremely difficult for claimants” for a number of reasons.

“As applicants they bear the burden of proving their ongoing connection with their lands under their original system of laws. States are automatically the defendant in this litigation — so the law sets up an adversarial process,” she said.

Associate Professor Galloway noted that claims often take a long time to settle, referring to an Australian Law Reform Commission report which referenced a National Native Title tribunal report.

It said that claims made before 2011 took six years and three months on average to finalise by consent determination, and seven years on average if they were litigated.

Even after many years of litigation, there is no guarantee that native title rights will be granted by the court.

The Yorta Yorta people in Victoria discovered this when the Federal Court, and then the High Court on appeal, ruled against them.

From the tribunal document:

“Olney J found that native title no longer existed due to a lack of continued connection by the claimants and all prior generations of their ancestors to the land subject to claim. He determined that they ceased to occupy the land ‘in the sense that the original inhabitants had occupied it’ and the ‘tide of history has indeed washed away any real acknowledgement of their traditional laws and any real observance of their traditional customs’.”

Tenure matters

According to the Australian Trade and Investment Commission, a federal government agency, most of the developed, privately-held land in Australia, like the land your house sits on, for example, is held under freehold tenure.

“Freehold land (or fee simple) provides people with the most complete form of ownership of that land, in perpetuity,” its website says.

Sean Brennan, director of the Indigenous Legal Issues Project at the Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law at the University of New South Wales, told Fact Check that the Mabo decision explicitly excludes freehold title from native title claims.

“In 1992, opponents of the High Court’s Mabo decision said that recognising native title threatened people’s backyards. That was false and in many cases mischievous. The court in Mabo made clear that a freehold grant extinguished native title.”

Indeed, at the time of the decision and the subsequent debate to legislate the Native Title Act, fears were raised that the court decision and the legislation would result in claims being made on people’s private property.

Eddie Mabo (left) and Jack Wailu

PHOTO: Eddie Mabo (left) the Island of Mer in the Torres Strait Islands. (National Archives of Australia)

Notably, then premier of Victoria Jeff Kennett made this claim. He subsequently retracted it in an interview with the Age almost a decade later.

Associate Professor Galloway told Fact Check: “The Mabo decision specifically preserved all freehold title. The grant of a freehold interest brings the doctrine of tenure into play, and extinguishes native title. Therefore it is impossible for native title to survive a freehold grant.”

Patricia Lane, a barrister and senior lecturer at the University of Sydney Law School, who is also a former registrar and former member of the National Native Title Tribunal, told Fact Check that “where there has been a previous exclusive possession act (PEPA) native title is extinguished”.

“Where a ‘true’ (common law) lease is granted, that will confer a right to exclusive possession on the tenant, which is also inconsistent with the existence of native title rights, and so a lease which confers a right to exclusive possession is also an extinguishing act,” she said.

Section 23B of theNative Title Actdefines a previous exclusive possession act as “a grant vesting of any of the following”:

  • a Scheduled interest (see section 249C);
  • a freehold estate;
  • a commercial lease that is neither an agricultural lease nor a pastoral lease;
  • an exclusive agricultural lease (see section 247A) or an exclusive pastoral lease (see section 248A);
  • a residential lease;
  • a community purposes lease (see section 249A);
  • what is taken by subsection 245(3) (which deals with the dissection of mining leases into certain other leases) to be a separate lease in respect of land or waters mentioned in paragraph (a) of that subsection, assuming that the reference in subsection 245(2) to “1 January 1994” were instead a reference to “24 December 1996”;
  • any lease (other than a mining lease) that confers a right of exclusive possession over particular land or waters.

Section 61A of the act says that an application for native title may not be made if:

(a) a previous exclusive possession act (see section 23B) was done in relation to an area; and

(b) either:

(i) the act was an act attributable to the Commonwealth; or

(ii) the act was attributable to a State or Territory and a law of the State or Territory has made provision as mentioned in section 23E in relation to the act;

Associate Professor Galloway told Fact Check that the only possible exception in relation to freehold grants would be if a government had made a grant of freehold tenure after December 1, 1996 (post-Native Title Act) where “that grant failed to comply with the negotiation processes under the [Native Title Act]”.

“But that isn’t a case of dispossession — it’s a case of the government’s failure to follow its own processes. This is such a rare and unusual situation as to be almost unheard of.”

So if the Mabo decision, and the ensuing Native Title Act do not allow a claim to be made over your land, where can a claim be made?

The Wik decision

If it was the Mabo decision that inserted native title into the Australian common law, it was the Wik decision which that clarified it, especially in relation to pastoral leases.

According to ATIC, pastoral leases are titles “issued for the lease of an area of Crown land to use for the limited purpose of grazing of stock and associated activities. It is a limited property right and does not provide the leaseholder with all the rights that attach to freehold land”.

WA pastoral lease issue progresses

PHOTO: Almost half of mainland Australia is covered by pastoral leases. (Jo Prendergast )

The commission notes that approximately 44 per cent of Australia’s mainland is covered by such leases, and that much of northern Australia is comprised by such leases.

During the debate surrounding the legislation of the Native Title Act, concerns were raised around whether claims could be made on pastoral leases.

In question time, then opposition leader John Hewson repeatedly asked government ministers whether the proposed act would extinguish native title:

“I direct my question again to the Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs. The minister may recall that yesterday the Attorney-General basically admitted that the issue of a valid pastoral lease may not completely extinguish native title; that there may be coexistent native title; and that there may be native title claims over valid leases. Yet in the minister’s document, from which I quoted, issued in June, entitled ‘Rebutting Mabo Myths’, he said that the grant of these titles extinguishes any native title. Who is right — the minister or the Attorney-General?”

On June 30, 1993, the Wik peoples of western Cape York lodged a native title claim in the Federal Court over parcels of land which were covered by pastoral and mining leases.

The claim was made before the legislation of the Native Title Act and eventually made it to the High Court on appeal in 1996.

In relation to the pastoral leases in respect of Holroyd River Holding and Mitchellton Pastoral Holding, the court found that the pastoral leases do not confer the rights of exclusive possession on the grantees of the leases.

In effect, the court said that pastoral leases do not extinguish native title, and that the two can co-exist.

However, where the rights of the pastoralist and the rights of the native title holder are in conflict, the court held that the rights of the pastoralist would prevail.

As summarised by AIATSIS, the court decided that:

“A pastoral lease does not necessarily confer rights of exclusive possession on the pastoralist

The rights and obligations of the pastoralist depend on the terms of the lease and the law under which it was granted

The mere grant of a pastoral lease does not necessarily extinguish any remaining native title rights

If there is any inconsistency between the rights of the native title holders and the rights of the pastoralist, the rights of the native title holders must yield.”

“So if there is a conflict of rights, the native title holders come off second best. If there is no conflict, the rights of each co-exist.”

These kinds of rights over pastoral leases which are non-exclusive do not include the right to control access to an area, but “may include the right to live on the area, hunt, fish, gather food or teach law and custom on country”.

Associate Professor Galloway said that the building of dams and cattle yards, for example, on pastoral leases would be areas where the rights of the pastoralist prevail over the native title holder, and that the title holder would not have the right to traditional ceremony, for example, where these developments had been constructed.

“On that area [of the pastoral lease] it’s not going to co-exist”, she said.

Case study: Shelburne Bay

Experts spoken to by Fact Check maintain that the law does not allow native title to dispossess a person of their freehold land.

Notwithstanding, there are certain situations involving native title which may be misconstrued by members of the general public.

Pastoral leases, for example, can allow pastoralists to reside on a parcel of land, often for decades at a time, and to build on it.

Peoplewho have resided on a parcel of land for a long time might come to view it as ‘theirs’, even if the legal facts are different.

But once a pastoral lease expires, there is no guarantee that a lease will be renewed.

In the late 1990s, the lease on one such parcel of land, around Shelburne Bay in Cape York, expired.

The Queensland government extended the lease, held by the Nixon family for over 30 years, for a short period of time to allow negotiations to continue over vacating the site and compensation for buildings.

Shelburne Bay handed back to traditional owners

PHOTO: The white silica sand dunes of Shelburne Bay. (Supplied: Kerry Trapnell)

However, negotiations broke down, and the Nixons refused to leave the property after the state cancelled their occupation licence.

At the time, a native title claim had been made over the area by its traditional owners, the Wuthathi people.

The Wuthathi people later cancelled this claim and relodged it after the lease had expired.

This allowed them to make an application under section 47B of the Native Title Act, which says the court must disregard prior extinguishment over unallocated crown land, where “one or more members of the native title claim group occupy the area”.

Parliamentary Hansard from the time reveals that there was a significant interest in conservation in the area, with undisturbed white parabolic sand dunes present in the bay.

In 2002,then state minister for natural resources and mines, Stephen Robertson, told Queensland parliament: “Shelburne has been a priority acquisition for conservation for over 25 years. It was well known on the cape that the government would not renew the lease upon expiry.”

Lawyers for the Nixons argued in the Supreme Court that the government was “refusing to extend the term of the lease and in purportedly cancelling the occupation licence intended to confer occupation rights on the Wuthathi Aboriginal people under the guise of environmental or nature conservation”.

The court dismissed the government’s application for a summary judgement for “an order that the relevant defendants deliver up possession of such land and other incidental relief” and ordered that the facts be settled in a full trial.

Shelburne Bay with white sand dunes is handed back to traditional owners

PHOTO: The Wuthathi native title claim to the area around Shelburne Bay was not finalised until a few years ago. (Supplied: Kerry Trapnell)

The native title claim made by the Wuthathi people was settled in 2015.

In the judgment,the Federal Court disregarded any prior extinguishment of native title pertaining to the former pastoral lease, though it is not clear from court records at this point whether any of the Nixon family still occupied the lease area.

Ultimately, whether or not someone sees the land as theirs is irrelevant in the eyes of the law.

Ms Lane told Fact Check the question of extinguishment is one of whether the interest in the land is valid: “If the interest comes to an end, the occupant has no longer any right to be there.”

Associate Professor Galloway view was that that the policies of the National Party government in Queensland in the latter half of last century created an expectation that pastoral leases in the state were “as good as freehold”.

But she said that with the changing of governments and the rise of the importance of conservation and land rights, “the pastoralists, who had expected that they had this ongoing interest in the land, they were confronted with a whole onslaught of different factors that meant this wasn’t the case … those interests were only ever a [pastoral lease of a certain duration] it was always open to the minister to approve or not an additional term on that lease”.

“A leasehold interest has never been as good as a freehold interest.”

What do the experts say?

Fact Check asked experts whether any case where a freehold titleholder was dispossessed of their land; they were emphatic that no such case exists.

Associate Professor Galloway said that such a decision would be widely studied and “would basically overturn Mabo”.

“The very basis of the Mabo decision was that native title could continue to exist until the state evinced a clear and plain intention to extinguish it, and one of the most obvious means of extinguishment is the grant of a freehold estate in land.”

“[Native title and freehold title] are fundamentally inconsistent. In fact, they are so inconsistent, that in a subsequent decision where there had been a grant of freehold, and then the state cancelled the freehold and the traditional owners made a claim … the court said ‘once it’s gone, it’s gone — you can’t bring it back.”

Ms Lane said that it would create a logical fallacy under the law: “It would suggest that it is possible to acquire title to land otherwise than through a Crown grant — which is not legally possible — as the Crown asserts rights over the whole of the land within a state, it is logically impossible for a validly granted right to arise without the ultimate source of the right being the Crown.”

Associate Professor Galloway told Fact Check that “[dispossession as a result of native title] doesn’t happen”.

“Anyone with a registered interest created before 1 December 1996 (freehold, leasehold) has a ‘superior’ interest at law, that will have extinguished native title,” she said.

Ms Lane said Senator Hanson’s claim is “just plain wrong”.

She said the Wik decision meant “there was no legal possibility that anybody’s granted rights, if those granted rights were valid … they couldn’t be extinguished or people couldn’t be dispossessed by the recognition of native title. They could have to co-exist, but they wouldn’t be dispossessed”.

Associate Professor Brennan told Fact Check that Senator Hanson’s claim is “a mistaken view of how native title operates in Australia”.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups face two major hurdles in proving native title: the connection requirement and the technical rules of extinguishment. Groups have to show a continuous connection with the area under their traditional law. That is a high legal bar,” he said.

“Even then, the courts may still refuse them recognition as native title holders, if the Government has already given rights to others, or used the land itself, in a way that ‘extinguishes’ native title. So under Australian law it is the rights of others that can dispossess native title holders of their lands, not the other way around.

“These basic propositions have been confirmed time and time again around Australia over the last 25 years since the Native Title Act came into effect.”

Principal researcher: Matt Martino, online editor

factcheck@rmit.edu.au

Sources

One Nation Leader Pauline Hanson.

Photo AAP

SOURCE: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-08-29/fact-check-mabo-decision-high-court-dispossession-pauline-hanson/11342504

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DIRE WARNINGS FOR BUSHFIRE SEASON!

Key Points …

east coasts of Queensland, NSW, Victoria and Tasmania, parts of southern Western Australia and South Australia, face above-normal fire potential

increased average temperatures and declines in rainfall

-outlook was not good given climate drivers

Earlier, longer and more dangerous: Dire warnings for bushfire season

Photo: ABC

Queensland regional communities have been warned to prepare for a “very active” bushfire season.

The New Daily

Australians are being warned to brace for an active bushfire season, which has started early in states such as Queensland and NSW.

*The seasonal bushfire outlook – released on Wednesday – shows the east coasts of Queensland, NSW, Victoria and Tasmania, as well as parts of southern Western Australia and South Australia, face above-normal fire potential.

*It follows a warm and dry start to the year.

“This year we’re seeing a potentially very active year again across the country,” Bushfire and Natural Hazards Co-operative Research Centre CEO Dr Richard Thornton said on Wednesday.

*Dr Thornton pointed to increased average temperatures, as well as declines in rainfall, particularly in Australia’s east.

*The outlook document notes that areas such as NSW and south-eastern Queensland are into their third year of dry conditions.

An early start to the fire season has been declared in many areas across eastern Australia, the outlook notes.

*“The dry landscape means that any warm and windy conditions are likely to see elevated fire risk.”

Queensland emergency services, in particular, are preparing for a dangerous season, with weather experts warning the outlook is “not a good news story”.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services deputy commissioner Mark Roche said the fire season had already started in the state, with several blazes coming close to homes and killing wildlife in the south-east last week.

“The bushfire season has started early and we expect it will go later as well,” he said.

“Over the last couple of weeks we’ve seen some significant fires. We note this report in the bushfire outlook and we believe we are very well prepared.

*“But we need the local community, we need the local government to be prepared and support us side by side.”

He said significant fire activity was expected from Rockhampton to the NSW border, and also out to the west.

*“We know that we have some dry areas in the Granite Belt and Darling Downs, where we will have some challenges in terms of water supply, so we’ll be looking at some more dry fire-fighting techniques,” he said.

ABC Emergency@ABCemergency · Aug 28, 2019Replying to @ABCemergency @BOM_au

QUEENSLAND – fire season has already started. Expecting fire activity from Rockhampton south to the NSW border, as well as throught the Darling Downs and Granite Belt. Access to water will be a significant issue.

ABC Emergency@ABCemergency

.@bnhcrc‘s Australian Seasonal Bushfire Outlook is forecasting an active season. Above normal fire potential is likely across Eastern Australian and parts of SA and WA.

View image on Twitter

711:23 AM – Aug 28, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacySee ABC Emergency’s other Tweets

The warning comes after last year’s “unprecedented” fires in central Queensland, when more than 2600 fires burnt about 4 million hectares of land.

NSW has also already had several fires this month, NSW Rural Fire Service senior assistant commissioner Bruce McDonald said.

Mr McDonald equated the conditions to those in 2013, when more than 200 homes were lost in one afternoon in the Blue Mountains.

Fire chiefs from all states urged people to be prepared for the bushfire season.

‘Communities not well prepared’

Dr Thornton said this year’s fire season would be driven by many of the same weather patterns experienced in recent years.

*“We will see a lot of the activity in the east, [which] is dominated both by an increased average temperature and also a decline in rainfall,” he said.

Firefighters at Carnarvon Gorge during the catastrophic 2018 Queensland bushfires. Photo: Twitter/Queensland Ambulance

He said much of the community was not prepared for the fire season and this would be a good “trigger point” for people to start thinking seriously.

“Even in the areas that are not in red or above normal, fires are a normal part of the Australian landscape and fires can start anywhere and without warning,” he told the ABC.

“In fact, many communities will not receive a warning because fires will be on them so quickly.”

*David Jones from the Bureau of Meteorology said the outlook was not “a good news story” given the climate drivers.

*“Australia is currently experiencing one of its most severe droughts in our historical records,” he said.

“It certainly will be a very challenging fire season and we certainly anticipate an early start and a long season.”

SOURCE: https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/national/2019/08/28/bushfire-season-2019/?utm_source=Adestra&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=PM%20Update%20-%2020190828

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WHY CHINESE AND HONG KONG STUDENTS CLASH IN AUSTRALIA

So much for free thinking … And they think there’s a separation between state and enterprises …

And they aren’t Communists … wt * 

KEY POINTS …

-the Moral Education curriculum teaches Chinese children to be politically proud of the Chinese Communist Party

.to be loyal to the ideals of a One-China worldview

.moral education through primary, high school and University

Hong Kong students do not study Moral Education; cannot join the Young Pioneers, Youth League or the Communist Party

mainland Chinese students carry with them a moral duty to uphold their national identity

-after study in Western universities for years; unlikely to change their learnt ideological positions

another phenomenon many expressed sympathy for Chinese government

.even after learning about censored facts and events incl Tiananmen Square massacre

THE Australian university sector enrols 182,555 mainland Chinese and 11,822 HongKongers …

ANALYSIS

WHY Chinese and Hong Kong students clash in Australia

The Conversation By Christine Cunningham, Clive Barstow and Wei Zhang

29 AUGUST 2019

VIDEO: Protester lashes out at ABC cameraman after kicking speaker onto him (ABC News)

RELATED STORY: ‘It won’t die’: Police draw guns on Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters

RELATED STORY: ‘You need something extreme’: Aussie expat secretly joins Hong Kong protests

RELATED STORY: Hong Kong protests spread to Australia revealing divisions within Chinese community

The protests in Hong Kong have led to some open clashes here in Australia between students from mainland China and others from Hong Kong.

A pro-China march has been held at Sydney's Town Hall.

SBS Photo: A pro-China march has been held at Sydney’s Town Hall.Lin Evlin/SBS News

There were angry scenes between pro-China and pro-Hong Kong groups in Sydney and Melbourne, as well as at universities in Brisbane and Adelaide.

Police detain a man during a rally at the State Library in Melbourne

Guardian Photo:  Police detain a man during Friday’s rally at the State Library in Melbourne, where there were clashes between pro-Hong Kong and pro-China demonstrators. Photograph: Erik Anderson/AAP

These clashes are troubling for the Australian university sector, which enrols 182,555 mainland Chinese and 11,822 Hongkongers as international students at various educational institutions.

Our research suggests differences in the curriculum studied by mainland Chinese and Hong Kong students may help to explain the beliefs underpinning the protest movements.

We held in-depth interviews with a random sample of more than a dozen international postgraduate students from mainland China who are studying, or very recently have been, at Western Australian universities.

The interviews took place in late 2018 — before the recent Hong Kong protests.

We asked the participants about their experiences studying in Chinese schools where Moral Education is a compulsory subject.

VIDEO: Pro-Hong Kong and pro-Beijing protesters clash in Adelaide (ABC News)

Lessons in China

*The Moral Education curriculum teaches Chinese children to be politically proud of the Chinese Communist Party and loyal to the ideals of a One-China worldview.

Hong Kong’s super rich demand protests end
Hong Kong’s property tycoons are hurting, the share market is tanking and the tourism sector has taken a beating as the pro-democracy movement continues to strangle the city.

Moral Education is a standalone subject and also embedded within other subjects, such as history and Chinese literacy studies. Moral Education starts being taught in the early years of schooling and continues throughout high school and during undergraduate university studies.

In primary school, all Chinese children are supposed to join the Young Pioneers, a 130-million-strong youth organisation controlled by the Communist Party.

In high school, teachers invite students who achieve highly, academically and morally, to join the Communist Youth League. In university, excellent students are invited to join the Communist Party.

*In contrast, Hong Kong students do not study Moral Education and cannot join the Young Pioneers, Youth League or the Communist Party.

When East meets West

Hundreds of pro-Hong Kong protesters sit in Martin Place.

PHOTO: Organisers said the turnout of Hong Kong protesters in Martin Place exceeded their expectations. (ABC News: Kevin Nguyen)

*The interviews suggest that when mainland Chinese students arrive in Western countries for postgraduate studies, they carry with them a moral duty to uphold their national identity. This identity is arguably constructed through the Moral Education lessons.

*The following are translated Mandarin quotes from participants in our study. Each quote comes from a different student, but we have de-identified them to protect their identity. They are talking about their experiences of studying Moral Education in their primary and high school years:

I was taught to love our motherland and love our country. It’s the right thing to do.

We were taught many slogans that were inspirational, positive and patriotic. It taught us to love our country, our family and our society.

In secondary school, Moral Education made us all feel we are part of one China and what the Government is doing is to give us a better life.

*We are also learning from our interviews that even after mainland Chinese students study in Western universities for several years, they are unlikely to change their previously learnt ideological positions.

I think although the Communist Party is a one-party dictatorship, because in a big country like China it is very difficult to apply democracy and maintain the sustainability otherwise it will be too chaotic.

When I was standing under the party flag and sworn in to join our Communist Party it was so exciting. After so many years of ideological and political education, I believe that the Communist Party is the most advanced organisation of our society.

Now, especially when we are living overseas, if you hear the Chinese national anthem it brings me to tears of pride, belonging and identity.

Sympathy for the Communist Party

*Another phenomenon our interviews revealed is that many of our participants expressed strong sympathy towards the Government.

*That holds even after they learn about facts and events that have been censored in China, including the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.

*I will most likely participate [in] rallies like welcoming President Xi’s visit to Australia because I am … Chinese and I have a sense of belonging and responsibility attached to this Chinese identity. I also will be vocal about protecting China’s sovereignty.

China is a big country with a large population and there are still many people who are not well educated, therefore they are easy to be incited by others. Although the one party is never 100 per cent perfect, it at least proved itself that most people in China have a good life under its leadership.

Isolated in Australia

A young woman walks away from a large multi-storied university accommodation building.

PHOTO: Many Chinese students worry that local students aren’t interested in them.

Over the course of three interviews with each participant in our study, we discovered many Chinese international students felt isolated from Australian friendship circles.

CAAN: We suggest this report explains why!

Perhaps the best dissection of the problem came from economics lecturer at the University of Queensland – Dr Cameron Murray – who released the following damning indictment via Twitter:’

SCROLL down this article to find the extract from Dr Cameron Murray!

https://caanhousinginequalitywithaussieslockedout.com/2019/05/06/australias-international-student-rort-is-about-to-be-exposed/

They expressed concern at the lack of opportunities to truly engage with Australian students during their time living here. Many worry that local Australian students just aren’t interested in them.

Actually I have little knowledge about how Australian society works — aside from the common social norms. I don’t know where I can access such knowledge. Some locals take it for granted that we should have known this, but we really don’t as we grew up in a totally different place.

For me I tend to have the impression that the local students believe we Chinese students are not interested in talking to them, so they would not take the initiative and talk to us either. I suggest that our university can do more about it like organising activities so we could access local friendships.

International education should be a two-way transaction, deep in its engagement and fluid in its ability to change as we change.

But what these interviews show is the strong feelings many students from mainland China have about their country and government, which perhaps explains why they feel anger towards those who protest against that way of life.

The growing trend of these Chinese graduates returning to their homeland for work opportunities also has a bearing on their continuing patriotism and sense of national identity.

Christine Cunningham is senior lecturer in educational leadership, Clive Barstow is Professor of Creative Arts/Executive Dean Arts and Humanities and Wei Zhang is a PhD candidate at Edith Cowan University. This article originally appeared on The Conversation.

A group of Chinese and Hong Kong students stand on the footpath next to Monash University campus.

PHOTO: There have been confrontations between pro-Hong Kong and pro-China protesters outside Monash University. (Supplied) Article: Hong Kong protests spread across Australia revealing deep divisions in Chinese community

SOURCE: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-08-29/why-chinese-and-hong-kong-students-clash-in-australia/11457846

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IS THE PROPERTY MARKET REBOUNDING?

Is the property market rebounding?

By Unconventional Economist in Australian Property

August 28, 2019 | 15 comments

ABC 7.30 Report aired an interesting segment on the property market, which featured several ‘experts’ pontificating over whether the market will return to its former boom time glory. Here as the key highlights:

ELIZA OWEN, RESEARCH ANALYST, DOMAIN: There is a turnaround in sentiment in Sydney and Melbourne markets. Prices have even started to increase again.

LOUIS CHRISTOPHER, SQM RESEARCH: Last weekend, we effectively had an auction clearance rate of about 77 per cent in Sydney, and in Melbourne, we had something which looked like about 80 per cent, which are very strong results.

PETER MCCUTCHEON: Data provided exclusively to 7.30 shows the green shoots for a property market recovery.

A month after the federal election, which many were hoping would be the catalyst for a rebound, there were small price rises in the two largest cities…

Recovery within Sydney and Melbourne was strongest at the high end of the housing market over the past quarter while equivalent properties in other cities fell by up to 3 per cent.

ELIZA OWEN: It’s always generally been seen that the high end of the market moves first, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne.

It doesn’t hold across all the cities but generally, we expect that the high end of the market leads and provides an indication for what other markets could do in the future…

ELIZA OWEN: What we’re likely to see is the high end of the market is starting to move now.

It could be another six months or another year before that upswing is realised in areas further from the CBD and on the fringe of the metropolitan.

LOUIS CHRISTOPHER: We’re seeing some evidence of higher auction clearance rates in Brisbane, in Adelaide, and Canberra.

So, this seems to be very much a national event.

So far, Darwin and Perth are being left out. We still think prices are falling there…

ELIZA OWEN: I think if you’re looking to sell, you might be getting a better price for your property than you did at the beginning of 2019.

PETER MCCUTCHEON: The question is whether this tentative rebound has momentum and ultimately, that will require a stronger growing national economy.

ELIZA OWEN: So, the fact that we have sluggish income growth, sluggish economic growth expected, this means it’s going to temper the nature of this upswing.

LOUIS CHRISTOPHER: Housing is still unaffordable for a lot of people and is fundamentally overvalued, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne right now.

This seems like a fair assessment. Prices are clearly rebounding, led by Sydney and Melbourne:

Whereas auction clearances rates are booming:

That said, auction and sales volumes are way down:

Thus, the price rebound remains tentative and far more muted than prior recoveries.

Moreover, with labour market and wages growth remaining lackluster, and mortgage standards unlikely to return to their former deplorable glory (despite some easing), the recovery is likely to remain gradual.

SOURCE: https://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2019/08/is-the-property-market-rebounding/

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WOULD YOU BUY A NEW APARTMENT?

Read … for a summary of the state of play afflicting Australia’s high-rise apartment market …

High-rise apartments enter doom loop as buyer confidence plunges

By Unconventional Economist in Australian Property

August 28, 2019 | 11 comments

Geoff Hanmer, Adjunct Lecturer in Architecture, UNSW, has penned a nice summary of the state-of-play afflicting Australia’s high-rise apartment market, which has entered a doom loop as buyer confidence collapses:

The Conversation: Would you buy a new apartment

“What we need to do is rebuild confidence in Australia’s building and construction sector,” said federal minister Karen Andrews after the July 2019 meeting of the Building Ministers’ Forum). Via The Conversation.

This has been a recurring theme since the federal, state and territory ministers commissioned Peter Shergold and Bronwyn Weir in mid-2017 to assess the effectiveness of building and construction industry regulation across Australia. They presented their Building Confidence report to the ministers in February 2018.

In the 18 months since then, the combined might of nine governments has made scant progress towards implementing the report’s 24 simple recommendations. Confidence in building regulation and quality has clearly continued to deteriorate among the public and construction industry.

In last week’s Four Corners program, Cracking Up, Weir was asked whether she would buy an apartment. She responded: “I wouldn’t buy a newly built apartment, no […] I’d buy an older one.” She went on to say:

We have hundreds of thousands of apartments that have been built across the country over the last two, three decades. Probably the prevalence of noncompliance has been particularly bad, I would say in the last say 15 to 20 years […] And that means there’s a lot of existing building stock that has defects in it […] There’ll be legacy issues for some time and I suspect there’ll be legacy issues that we’re not even fully aware of yet.

These comments may not have delighted those developers trying to sell new apartments, or owners selling existing apartments, but they are fair and correct.

Confidence will not be restored until all the governments act together to improve regulatory oversight and deal with existing defective buildings.

Residents of the LacrosseNeo200Opal and Mascot towers and other buildings with serious defects are already living with the impact of “legacy” problems.

Over the weekend, another apartment building was evacuated – this time in Mordialloc in southeast Melbourne. The building was deemed unsafe because it was clad with combustible material and had defects in its fire detection and warning system…

All the evidence points to a long-term failure to heed repeated warnings about the dangers. Governments and regulators were captive to the interests of the development lobby, building industry and building materials supply industry.

The governments must stop playing a blame game. Effective programs are urgently needed to fix defects, including combustible cladding, incorrectly installed fire protection measures, structural noncompliance, structural failure and leaks.

Buying a high-rise apartment has become a game of financial Russian Roulette, so why would buyers take the chance?

After all, they’ve just witnessed disasters at Lacrosse, Neo200, Opal, Mascot, Zetland, Campsie, among others.

A low rise apartment building at dusk.

PHOTO: An emergency evacuation order was issued giving residents 48 hours to leave. (ABC News: Chris Le Page

To add insult to injury, there’s a flood of apartment completions hitting the market right now just as demand evaporates:

Therefore, any regulatory fix will arrive long after the horse has bolted and won’t prevent the high-rise apartment market from entering a protracted doom loop.

Expect a wave of developer bankruptcies as more faults come to light and buyer confidence slides even further. And expect taxpayers to pick up the tab for repairs.

SOURCE: https://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2019/08/high-rise-apartments-enter-doom-loop-as-buyer-confidence-plunges/

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