LOOKING at the comments on MB’s Website … they seem to have missed the point! Surely the TOP 10% are the AFR RICH LISTERS … just for starters …
SEARCH CAAN WEBSITE FOR MORE ABOUT THE AFR RICH LISTERS! Those that have developed high-rise precincts, destroyed periUrban bushlands for 200M2 lots, run casinos or control packaging … surely?
IT is not about the value of your house surely … it’s shelter … isn’t this about the Sydney Harbourside Mansions, what is in the Caymans, Swiss bank accounts, share and property portfolios, development portfolios, Family Trusts … ?
The Roy Morgan Wealth Report 2019 has been released, which shows that owner-occupied housing accounts for half of Australia’s personal assets. The Report also shows that the wealthiest 10% of Australians hold nearly half of the nation’s wealth:
Australians’ per capita gross wealth increased in real terms between 2007 (i.e. pre-GFC) and June 2019 by 20.9%, from $306,100 to $370,200.
However, the strong growth generally seen over this period has stagnated in the last six months. In fact, we have begun to see a decline, with per capita gross wealth dropping by around $5,000 (1.4%) from the first to the second quarter of 2019.
Owner occupied homes currently account for $4,944 billion, or around half (50.1%), of Australians’ personal asset value.
The growth in Net Wealth is possible because, although debt is growing, it’s growing more slowly than the growth in assets. In real terms, from 2007 to 2019 Australians’ per capita debt increased by 13.7% while assets grew by 20.9%.
The share of Net Wealth held by women is growing, but there is still a gender gap. In 2007, the Net Wealth held by women was 81.9% of that held by men. By June 2019, this had risen to 91.4%.
Globally, the richest 10% of the population hold 47% of the wealth; that figure is matched almost perfectly in Australia, with the wealthiest 10% of the population holding 47.3% of Net Wealth.
Meanwhile the bottom five deciles, a full 50% of our population, have just 3.6% of Net Wealth.
And inequality has increased, rather than decreased, between 2007 and 2019.
You can see from the next chart that wealth inequality has worsened since the GFC:
The top 10% now hold 47% of net wealth in Australia, an increase of 0.5%.
The bottom half of the population now holds just 3.6% of the country’s net wealth, a decrease of 0.9%.
“When … Labor people of a lifetime tell us they feel they are not allowed to question new social standards that seem to be reset every other week, I think we need to listen.
There isa culture developing in the progressive movement where membership is granted with a box of ideas. And if you don’t accept one of the ideas in the box, you do not merely have a different opinion, you are obviously wrong, probably stupid and possibly subhuman.
Not everyone with a concern about the immigration rate is a bigot. Not everyone with a hesitation about changing gender roles is sexist. Not every social change is inarguably a good one.
If Australians feel they can’t question assumptions and positions in conversation with us, they will find someone else to talk to about it.
Since the 1980s, Labor’s economic approach has been to grow the economy by opening it up. With a fair labour market and a good education system, all boats would rise together. Today, that model — it is broken. For the first time, our country is getting richer but ordinary families are going backwards. We have not told a sufficiently compelling story to Australia’s two million small businesses, or to our friends in digital.
I don’t think we are winning hearts and minds out there talking about policy this way. If an election is about whether a family will be 4 per cent better off in five years under one leader and 6 per cent better off under the other one, I think we are missing the mark.
Politics is about offering a compelling story about our country: who we are, where we are going.
One of the most upsetting things I have heard in speaking with people after the election, especially in the regions, was how we sounded on the doorstep.
The impression of many was that progressives were talking down to them. I know this is not what was intended, but if our voters hear sanctimony, that is what matters.”
*This could a breakthrough. It takes an act imagination such as this open up new possibilities.
But it is not enough to stop talking down to people. You have to listen them as well.
Remember, all Labor has to do to win the next election is climb off the floor in QLD where it holds just six of thirty seats. That state has been lost by Labor to nationalist parties that stand for stronger borders in terms of immigration,economic policy and national security.
It won’t be enough to just pretend to care about such things. Policy must shift too.
It’s very easy to do. Just commit to a halving of immigration to boost wages, take pressure off house prices (dump negative gearing reforms if needs be), decongest cities and protect national security.
These are all easily incorporated into a Labor agenda aiming to lift worker’s living standards.
Independent writer, Paul Wallis, has penned an interesting analysis of Murdoch University’s case against Dr Gerd Schroeder-Turk, who is being sued for causing a drop in international student enrolments after he told ABC’s Four corners that entry and teaching standards at the university had collapsed:
You’d think it’d be common sense for international students coming to Australia to have a good working knowledge of English. Not so, apparently. A lot of students are getting student visas, with inadequate English, and they’re not doing well…
The stakes went up, a lot, when Murdoch University sued a whistleblowing professor named Associate Professor Gerd Schroder-Turk for damages and costs after his public criticism of the university regarding the welfare of a number of Indian students who are failing their courses.
The academic battle found its way into the courts soon enough. Schroder-Turk took out a Federal Court injunction to prevent his removal from the university Senate as the matter escalated. The university counter-alleges that international student enrolments are down as a result of his criticism, and that its reputation has been damaged, hence the lawsuit.
The damage seems to be a lot deeper than that, though. Murdoch University’s interesting and fully documented mix of a large number of English language skills waivers for applicants, combined at the same time as numbers of students failing, is making a point of its own.
Students are coming to Australia, apparently paying their fees, and then find themselves quite evidently disadvantaged by their lack of English skills…
This is one of the most important legal issues ever to hit the Australian education sector…
Findings by the court could well rewrite the application and acceptance rules for universities around the country, and affect tens of thousands of students. The findings may also directly affect the right of students to take their own legal actions…
Whatever the outcome of the court cases, these incidents have raised many absolutely critical, fundamental issues for the education sector and for international students.
Senior Australian academics have taken the unprecedented step of protesting to Murdoch University and asking it to drop the case to protect the right of academic free expression. That, also needs to be addressed. There’s too much at stake to be complacent. Governance of universities is too important for a “Code of Silence” to be tolerated.
Wallis is right. This is an extremely important test case for the entire international student market.
If Murdoch University wins, it will strongly discourage other academics from coming forward and blowing the whistle on Australia’s international student scandal.
Effectively, a cone of silence will be placed over academics, criticism will be gagged, and universities will be empowered to operate without public scrutiny.
However, if Murdoch loses, it could empower academics to speak-out, increasing pressure on universities and policy makers to lift entry and teaching standards.
Needless to say, there is a lot riding on this case.
Former Liberal leader, John Hewson, has joined the conga-line of analysts lashing the Morrison Government’s first home buyer (FHB) deposit guarantee:
A key federal government policy on housing affordability is little more than “an election sop”, while piecemeal policy and a lack of forward-thinking are crippling both state and federal responses to the issue, former Liberal leader John Hewson says…
“All they’re doing is saying we’re giving you lower interest rates or tax cuts. But they’re not solving any of these problems,” Dr Hewson told Domain on Tuesday.
“You need to get everyone focused on the magnitude of the problem … One of the big weaknesses of government is there have been no outcomes”…
“I used to write about the coming housing crisis back in the ’80s, and now we’re in that crisis,” he said. “It’s going to take a couple of decades to reverse it.
“On the financial side of things, most of the schemes just add to the price – the developer benefits from the first-home buyer subsidies at the moment; they just put the price up.
“They have that little scheme that came out a couple of days ago, which is just an election sop”…
Dr Hewson suggested an approach to housing affordability that would take into account increasing supply while also curtailing demand. *
Everybody knows that Scott Morrison’s FHB deposit subsidy scheme has absolutely nothing to do with ‘housing affordability’.
It’s blatant stimulus designed to support Morrison’s property lobby mates. Heck, he explicitly admitted as much when he announced the policy in May:
“We want to see more first-home buyers in the market, absolutely, and we don’t want to see people’s house prices go down” – Prime Minister Scott Morrison, 13 May 2019.
The solutions to Australia’s housing affordability woes have not changed, and include:
Normalising Australia’s immigration program by returning the permanent intake back to the level that existed before John Howard ramped-up it up in the early-2000s – i.e. below 100,000 from 210,000 currently [reduces demand];
Undertaking tax reforms like unwinding negative gearing and the CGT discount [reduces speculative demand];
Tightening rules and enforcement on foreign ownership[reduces foreign demand];
Extending anti-money laundering rules to real estate gatekeepers [reduces foreign demand];
Banning borrowing into property by SMSFs[reduces speculative demand]; and
Providing the states with incentive payments to:
undertake land-use and planning reforms, as well as provide housing-related infrastructure[boosts supply];
swap stamp duties for land taxes[boosts effective supply];
reform rental tenancy laws to give greater security of tenure [reduces demand for home ownership and reduces rental turnover]; and
force developers to supply housing for lower income earners via inclusionary zoning [boosts supply of affordable rentals].
Nobody is willing to address these issues. Therefore, nothing will change.
FIRSTLY, isn’t it amazing that in this article we are reading about a foreign company COUNTRY GARDEN aka RISLAND being heavily involved in our domestic Housing Industry?
… if that’s not bizarre … we don’t know what is!
Awful State to be in!
Will he ‘stoke’ the fire of destruction?
The appetite for more and more development is never satisfied.
A comprehensive plan for the SYDNEY BASIN is needed, and for the surrounding areas.
IT would need to take into account:
-existing use -existing character -heritage -environmental assets -built environmental values -enhancing recycling opportunities with existing footprints -transport and access -infrastructure -range of dwelling types including high, medium and low density, their locations, style, use and suitability -energy and sustainability
AMONG other factors …
BUT … will this ever happen?
CHANGE along these lines will only occur when circumstances dictate it has to …
WILL it happen before it’s too late?
OR is it about PEDAGOGY, and preserving their positions of denial should it all go horribly wrong?
NSW Government urged to hit pause on major housing development described as ‘lung cancer for Sydney’
A Supreme Court decision has provided fascinating insight into the shambolic and costly planning issues being created by a major housing expansion that will funnel more than 90,000 people into the southern outskirts of Sydney.
Wollondilly councillors and NSW opposition plead with the NSW Government to pause plans for major housing expansion south of Sydney
Supreme Court documents show developers are encountering planning problems due to the absence of state infrastructure
The documents show conservation planning, in core biodiversity sites ‘lacked finality’, endangering koala habitat
*The Greater MacArthur 2040 plan, unveiled in November 2018 outlined a vision for a new corridor of growth stretching from Camden through Menangle to Appin and Wilton.
*Councillors in some of the surrounding townships have expressed despair at the plan.
*South west of Sydney, Wollondilly councillor Noel Lowry said he believed the proposal was emblematic of a broken planning system.
“Developing Wilton is creating a lung cancer for Sydney,” Mr Lowry said.
“Because we are the lungs of Sydney out here right on the side of the catchment areas or our water supply.
He has a desperate message for the new NSW Planning Minister, Rob Stokes.
Six new precincts in zoning rush
Six new precincts have been created in the rezoning rush since the plan was revealed.
The government decided funding for infrastructure to support the expansion would be collected through a Special Infrastructure Contribution (SIC) at ‘no cost to government’, putting a levy of more than $55,000 on each dwelling for developers.
In its planning documents, the government said the SIC would provide $1.58 billion for key infrastructure.
But prior to the March 2019 NSW election, Wollondilly Shire Council said it had identified a $500 million shortfall in state infrastructure including basic emergency services, roads, health and education.
*Wollondilly Mayor Matthew Deeth had repeatedly urged the Government to pause the project until there is certainty on infrastructure.
Developers caught up in legal disputes in absence of infrastructure
This week, documents from a Supreme Court ruling have revealed some of the planning problems being encountered by developers, as they navigate the space absent of state infrastructure.
Chinese backed company Country Garden won its battle against Sydney based developer Bradcorp in a contractual dispute over the sale of the $297 million, 5,000 home master plan for one of the Greater MacArthur areas at North Wilton.
Bradcorp started the proceedings against Country Garden for not going ahead with the agreement to buy its North Wilton project.
Country Garden decided not to exercise the option to acquire the 870-hectare site because there were unfulfilled commercial conditions that would stop the land from being properly developed.
After a six day hearing, the Supreme court dismissed Bradcorps’s claim and ordered it pay costs.
The documents showed Bradcorp had failed to meet some rezoning requirements and was not able to provide access from its development to the Hume Motorway.
*In February 2019, Bradcorp wrote to neighbouring developer Lendlease offering to buy the off-ramp land, but Lendlease already had plans for more housing on the site.
“In this context, what was required was a zoning which would, in effect, dedicate the land to building the required road works, not a zoning where Lendlease would have a choice either to build the road works or to use it for building houses instead,” Justice Parker said. *
Bradcorp has said it will appeal the decision and is determined to forge ahead with the project.
*The court documents also highlighted environmental concerns and found conservation planning in general “lacked finality” and pointed to developers making decisions in “core biodiversity sites” based on the yet to be completed Cumberland Plain Conservation Plan.
*Environmentalists have also warned about the impact of the development will have on the region’s koala population and last week the NSW Environment Minister said he would talk to cabinet about establishing a national park for the local koala colony.
*Local Labor MP and Shadow Minister for Local Government, Greg Warren said the Supreme Court ruling was symbolic of the government’s failing on this project.
“When you have two developers going at it in the Supreme Court, that says more about a government and their failure to deliver the direction of leadershiprequired for local communities, developers and councils.”
Calls to hit pause on the plan
“The Greater Macarthur plan is flawed, the reason it is flawed is there is not the outline of the services, infrastructure, the road, the rail, the hospitals the schools that these future residents will need to build have a sustainable community,” Mr Warren said.
“If it is good enough for this government to shovel thousands of new families into areas like MacArthur, then it is just as good for that government to provide the services and infrastructure.”
Mr Warren said the government must hit pause on the plan.
“They have to close the boom gate on this and then go and have another look because it is an absolute outrage that they have not planned what these future families will need.”
Minister Stokes was expected to face questions about the government’s Greater MacArthur plan in budget estimates today.
Greens MLC David Shoebridge said questions about the project would be front and centre of his focus.
“Clearly we want to know what the government’s plans are for infrastructure and in light of the obvious concerns even from the developers about the inadequacies of infrastructure, whether the government is going to review the targets and go back to the community and revisit the entire plan.”
Mr Shoebridge said there was an urgent need to pause the project.
The ABC had contacted Minister Stokes for comment.
If you live in an apartment block with an embedded power network, you are probably paying too much for your electricity.
A new study shows that customers on embedded networks generally pay higher electricity bills
Embedded networks are used in multi-resident complexes such as apartments, retirement villages and caravan parks
A contractor or owners corporation buys power in bulk and on-sells to individual residents
A new study by the Victoria Energy Policy Centre, commissioned by the Victorian Government and released exclusively to 7.30, has found customers on embedded networks in Victoria are paying up to $439 a year more than the best deal they could get if they were able to switch retailers.
A typical customer on an embedded network could reduce their bill by 36 per cent if they were able to switch to the best deal on the market.
An embedded network is a set-up that supplies power to a site with many homes, such as an apartment block, retirement village or caravan park.
The electricity running through a main meter before reaching each household.
‘Done out of a considerable amount of money’
Pensioner Mary Preston, 73, has lived at Gateway Lifestyle Stanhope Gardens in Sydney’s north-west for the past 31 years.
She is no longer happy living in the over-50s community and is considering finding somewhere else to live.
That is because she and other residents at Stanhope Gardens have been massively overcharged for electricity by the community’s operators.
In an embedded network, a contractor or owners corporation is in charge of the main meter, meaning they can buy electricity in bulk and on-sell the power to residents.
In theory, residents on embedded networks should get a better deal, thanks to bulk buying their power.
But that often is not the case, because whoever runs the private network has an effective monopoly.
“It’s becoming so difficult now … it’s really starting to affect my health,” Ms Preston said.
*“I don’t think this is fair, they are huge companies against an individual like me, and they’ve put me in a near impossible position.”
*Theowners of Stanhope Gardens, Gateway Lifestyle, declined an interview with 7.30, but provided a statement.
“Refunds have been paid to home owners at Stanhope Gardens in accordance with orders made by the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal as a result of substandard legislative drafting,” the statement said.
“The drafting error in the legislation, which was acknowledged by the Supreme Court of NSW, has created a practically unworkable law.
“Despite the uncertainty posed by the legislation, the operator of Stanhope Gardens was one of the first to proactively update its charging method in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling.”
At the Brunswick Heart apartment complex in Melbourne’s inner north, residents were signed up to an embedded network before they even moved in.
Fred Perera lives by himself in a one-bedroom apartment and is rarely at home.
Despite this, his electricity bills are sky high.
“I got told that my building has an embedded network for electricity and gas after I signed my lease, and I was like, ‘What is that? I don’t know what that is’,” he told 7.30.
“They were saying that they’d be able to give me a better deal on electricity.”
One recent bill was $223 for just two months.
Mr Perera tried to switch his electricity supplier, but could not because he cannot access the meter number for his apartment.
“So some of my neighbours have been frustrated enough to sell up and leave, or just, you know, break their leases and leave where they live because of just how expensive it is and how frustrating it is that they can’t switch away,” he said.
The owners corporation has been trying to switch electricity suppliers for the entire building for the past year.
The embedded network provider at Brunswick Heart, OC Energy, and its new owner Origin Energy, both declined an interview with 7.30.
In a statement, Origin told 7.30 the residents of Mr Perera’s apartment block were only paying marginally more than the default price set by the Victorian Government.
The electricity industry peak body has been aware for some time that better regulation of embedded networks is needed.
“We are aware that there have been some frustrations experienced by customers that feel that the embedded network framework doesn’t allow them enough flexibility,” the Australian Energy Council’s Sarah McNamara told 7.30.
“We simply encourage them to ring their retailer … or ask their strata committee to ring their retailer, and talk to them about whether your embedded network is on the best available deal for your circumstances and your usage.”
She said embedded networks could offer good value and the opportunity for apartment dwellers to take advantage of renewables such as rooftop solar.
“An embedded or shared network does allow the entire building to invest in solar panels, or, for example, perhaps electric vehicle charging stations,” she said.
*Labor frontbencher Clare O’Neil will challenge her colleagues to move beyond election postmortems centred on whether the ALP needs to shift to the right or left, arguing more resonant fault lines are emerging at the ballot box.
O’Neil will use a speech to a Labor thinktank on Thursday to argue Labor needs to rethink its economic program, consider how it engages with voters on cultural issues, recalibrate how it campaigns to change minds rather than confirm pre-existing biases, and think about how it projects political leadership in an era of strongmen and reactionary populism.
Joining Bill Shorten, Jim Chalmers, Joel Fitzgibbon, Mark Butler, Michelle Rowland and other frontbench players ruminating publicly on the consequences of May’s election defeat, O’Neil will argue left and right are no longer defining political divisions.
“I see a bunch of new faultlines emerging which are increasingly important at the ballot box,” O’Neil will say.
*“I see a faultline between winners and losers in a digital economy which provides vastly more economic rewards to people who live in our cities. I see a faultline dividing Australians who want the community to look more like it did in the past, and those who love and value change.
It would appear the faultline has come about accelerated by the Coalition policies of high growth through immigration of both permanent and temporary Visa holders from an average of 70,000 people per annum to some 400,000!
Australians were not asked! 70,000 was sustainable!
-2.2 Million Visa holders in Australia at any point in time
-the need for more infrastructure esp. in Sydney and Melbourne
-yet infrastructure remains inadequate
.causing much stress for residents and business stuck in gridlock
.with privatisation of public services the costs escalate for end users
-where we live has been rezoned for higher density with the loss of community rights, urban bushlands, HERITAGE, and our communities
.high-rise precincts 100% for overseas buyers (FIRB ruling)
.medium density of terraces, townhouses … duplex; loss of amenity for the established community
-the Coalition push for more infrastructure for the major cities is seen as neglect for the regions obviously, but Sydney e.g. is paying a huge price with the crush!
O’NEIL: *“A faultline dividing people who are worried about global interdependence, and those who see opportunity for global influence. A faultline between those who relish economic change and those who resist it.
Would those who see ‘opportunity’ with globalism be those set to profit?
Globablisation has led to a whole Cohort of Australians disadvantaged with the lowest wages growth having to compete with Visa Workers for a job
This follows through with many Australians being locked out of Home Ownership to become life-long tenants in their own country
Loss of Australian manufacturing and the importation of poorly manufactured goods that end up in landfill
The OBOR policy is all about furthering the interests of China and its citizens, not ours
This is how a lot of Australians feel!
O’NEIL: “Between young people who feel locked out of a life enjoyed by older generations, and those who think that kids have never had it better. Between open and closed, authoritarian and decentralised, the elites and the masses.
The authoritarian Coalition has finally united the Media with its ‘Your Right to Know’ Campaign … thankfully … prior to the recent Elections there was much censorship too of social media … blocking the reach and the Truth!
As parents of Millennials we know they have far less than we had … underpaid with no prospect of home ownership …
It cannot be denied that there is a ‘Big End of Town’ enjoying both Share and Housing Portfolios; employing Visa workers on low rates of pay; the divide is being maintained!
O’NEIL: “Political allegiances aren’t static. We don’t have a Brexit to smash open old loyalties. But slowly and surely, tectonic plates are on the move. In these moments, the parties that survive look alive.”
The Labor frontbencher says rather than playing to populist or strongman models of leadership, which are flourishing in a fractured political climate, Australian Labor can look across the Tasman to Jacinda Ardern, who models “irrepressible likeability and [a] vivid, genuine commitment to her country”.
She will say Labor is well placed to project leadership predicated on common values post-election because “there is no more authentic person in Australian politics than Anthony Albanese”.
O’Neil will say Labor needs a new narrative on the economy, because the model Labor has pursued since the 1980s of growing the economy by opening it up is broken.
*She will say the evidence for new approaches is national wealth increasing but families going backwards, business investment at record lows and stalling productivity growth.
“We have not told a sufficiently compelling story to Australia’s 2 million small businesses, or to our friends in digital,” she will say. “Technology is another issue where every political party is underdone. How families are coping with technological change may be the barbecue stopper of the teenies. Yet it is largely peripheral to what we talk about in politics.”
*She argues that there is a strait jacket culture developing in progressive circles
“where membership is granted with a box of ideas, and if you don’t accept one of the ideas in the box, you do not merely have a different opinion, you are obviously wrong, probably stupid and possibly subhuman”. *
*O’Neil says while she supports most ideas in the progressive box, Labor also needs to engage in the conversation about political correctness.
*“Not everyone with a concern about the immigration rate is a bigot,”
CAAN: This correlates with ‘and if you don’t accept one of the ideas in the box …. you are obviously wrong ….. subhuman’ is the response from some!
Never mind the facts … today I have an installer in my home … he apologised for being late … he wasn’t … but he had to come from the other end of Sydney … and the traffic congestion had stressed him!
He then said how expensive Sydney was … the rents … he likes Australia but obviously he feels he is ‘getting nowhere’ … is that because he is an honest hardworking man who has come here to migrate to contribute without ‘black money’?
O’Neil: she will say. “Not everyone with a hesitation about changing gender roles is sexist. Not every social change is inarguably a good one.”
She says Labor will not be able to implement social change without a mandate “and if Australians feel they can’t question assumptions and positions in conversation with us, they will find someone else to talk to about it. The current environment can see political discourse descend to a form of tribal performance art.”
Nothing is gained, she says, when everyone plays to their audience, no one learns anything, no one listens and no minds are changed.
IT was heartening to read the comments … with the majority expressing condemnation for NSW INC and the OVERDEVELOPMENT Agenda … They are not buying it, Gladys!
WITH a token ‘five per cent of the dwellings at both sites will be affordable homes available for low to middle income earners, the plans reveal.’ Too bad, isn’t it, for a whole Cohort of Aussies locked out …. ??
With comments like these the majority are over it:
-Disappointing to see the total absence of the word “vibrant” in this article
-The COALition grand plan: build Metro rail so they can:
* eliminate train drivers * privatise the system * allow fat profits for their developer mates * house more low cost workers to continue to drive down wages and conditions.
Don’t ever trust the neocons when they spend taxpayer money for apparent public benefit – it’s a trap!
-Now the trains will be full right at the start of the journey. Excellent recipe for a more overcrowded unpleasant to live in city.
-Great! Just what Sydney needs. Yet more rickety apartment towers that will no doubt be ready to come down shortly after they are built.
Up to 5600 homes to surround Kellyville and Bella Vista metro stations
As many as 5600 homes will be constructed in buildings up to 21 storeys high around two new rail stations in Sydney’s north-west, under the government’s latest plans for the fast-growing area.
The Kellyville and Bella Vista station precinct proposals by the government’s development arm Landcom, released on Tuesday, show thousands of new dwellings will be spread across terraces and taller apartment blocks in the area, which will also include a town centre and new school.
The government is pushing ahead with its plans for more intensive development in suburbs typically marked by low-rise housing along the $7.3 billion metro train line after it opened in May.
In Bella Vista, the proposal includes a town centre surrounded by between 2905 and 3822 new dwellings in terrace houses and apartment towers reaching 68 metres high, or about 21 storeys.
There are also plans for a primary school for up to 1000 children, shops, new parks and community facilities.
The Kellyville precinct will include between 1410 and 1804 homes in buildings up to 50 metres high, or 15 storeys.
*Five per cent of the dwellings at both sites will be affordable homes available for low to middle income earners, the plans reveal.
The two areas are expected to eventually house 13,486 people and provide 7780 potential new jobs.
Under the plans, the first 200 residential units will be built in each area in 2023.
The Bella Vista precinct – not expected to be completed until 2045 – includes a high-density commercial and mixed use precinct around the metro station.
The tallest buildings will be erected along Old Windsor Road and the northern side of Celebration Drive, and “can serve as an anchor to existing buildings in Norwest Business Park”, the plans say.
“Building heights would then transition to lower scale built form in the central and northern parts of the Bella Vista precinct.”
Landcom’s 10-year plan for the corridor includes 11,000 dwellings around six of the rail stations – Tallawong, Kellyville, Bella Vista, Norwest, Castle Hill Showground and Cherrybrook – on the 36-kilometre Metro Northwest line from Chatswood to Rouse Hill within a decade.
From reading an earlier report it appears Mr Zhou made inroads into the NSW Labor Party when those not so experienced ran the NSW Labor Party Office namely Sam Dastyari and Kaila Murnain …
AS you read on, and ponder where has Zhou’s money come from?
Zhou as an ‘Independent’ with a close association with Huang Xiangmo who has made large donations to the Liberal Party … just how ‘Independent’ is Mr Zhou? With many Liberal politicians and Councillors before him claiming to be ‘Independent’ …. is it possible he could be a double agent not only for the CCP but also for the LNP?
Donor Huang Xiangmo had help from Liberal Party Director; Met Christopher Pyne
The Chinese billionaire stands to make a $135 million profit from a Sydney planning decision, thanks to a local councillor who failed to declare a $4 million link to the developer.
Ryde deputy mayor Simon Zhou, left, with controversial Chinese political donor Huang Xiangmo. Zhou failed to disclose his financial links to Huang before the council approved a development set to make Huang over $130 million.
Chinese billionaire Huang Xiangmo is set to make a $135 million profit from a Sydney planning decision, after the deputy mayor of a local council failed to declare his $4 million interest in another company owned by the property developer.
Simon Zhou, an independent who holds the swing vote on Ryde Council and is a key supporter of the Labor mayor, has only ever disclosed that he knew Mr Huang as a Chinese community leader.
But The Australian Financial Review can reveal that at the time council agreed to support the redevelopment of Eastwood Plaza, Mr Zhou had a financial connection with Mr Huang.
The council in north-western Sydney, which has seen a surge in Chinese-born residents and complaints about over-development, had previously rejected Yuhu’s proposal.
Just weeks after final planning approval was received in August, Mr Huang’s Yuhu Group was in sale discussions, seeking at least $190 million for the site having purchased it for $55 million in 2013.
Despite sitting on council as an independent, Mr Zhou has strong ties to Labor, having previously worked at its NSW head office, given generously to the party and run as a Senate candidate for the ALP at the 2016 election.
Mr Zhou was joint emcee at a Chinese Friends of Labor dinner in 2015, where that donation was allegedly made.
Mr Zhou formed part of Ryde Council’s oversight for the Yuhu proposal, but absented himself from the critical vote on May 28 citing a “less than significant non-pecuniary interest”.
He told council he “knows Mr Xiangmo Huang as a Chinese Community Leader, who he believed to be a family member of the current owner of Yuhu Group”.
Mr Zhou failed to mention he had held a $4 million shareholding in a separate Yuhu company, which owns the $82 million Pymble Corporate Centre – a low-rise office complex on Sydney’s north shore.
That shareholding would not have increased in value because of the Eastwood plaza decision, but his failure to disclose the mutual shareholding with Mr Huang may breach disclosure requirements under the Local Government Amendment Act and the Code of Conduct for local councils.
“Councillors are required to disclose any kind of interest whether pecuniary or non-pecuniary,” said Professor Roberta Ryan of the Institute for Public Policy and Governance at the University of Technology Sydney.
“If there is any possibility of a perceived or actual conflict of interest, historical or current, then you must declare it.”
The 2015 Chinese Friends of Labor fundraising dinner, where Zhou was emcee, is under the ICAC microscope.
Mr Zhou transferred his interest in the Pymble Corporate Centre to his mother, and it was then transferred to a close business associate after Mr Zhou won a seat on council.
Mr Zhou failed to disclose this previous financial connection to Mr Huang prior to council beginning deliberations on the Eastwood Plaza redevelopment.
He is also an alternate member of the Sydney North Planning Panel, which ultimately greenlighted the Eastwood project.
“I’m just a person quietly doing my job,” Mr Zhou told the Financial Review on Monday. “I’m not someone that a business paper writes about.”
Those on council see it differently.
Enter the ‘kingmaker’
Jordan Lane, a Liberal member of council, said Labor mayor, Jerome Laxale, had relied on Mr Zhou’s support to get elected.
“It became obvious after the 2017 election that Simon [Zhou] would be the kingmaker on council,” he said.
“Despite the questionable public benefit, council actively embraced this unsolicited developer deal. While Yuhu will make a fortune, ratepayers are being ripped off.”
Simon Zhou was elected to Ryde council in 2017.
As the numbers currently stand Labor and the Greens, which comprise an informal bloc, have six votes on council.
Mr Zhou, as an independent, provides the crucial seventh vote on the 12-member council and was elected deputy mayor in September last year, with the support of this bloc.
Due to the tight numbers, if Mr Zhou abstains from a vote put forward by the Labor/Green bloc it will pass, as they will have 6 of 11 votes.
“Him leaving the chamber or abstaining is as good as voting for a motion,” Mr Lane said.
“If he does not vote, we can’t win.”
The mayor, Mr Laxale, said there was “no such thing” as a Green-Labor voting bloc and there were no voting arrangements between Mr Zhou and Labor.
He noted Mr Zhou had disclosed his relationship with Mr Huang and abstained from the Eastwood vote.
The matter was concluded by council in May after an outside body, the Sydney North Planning Panel, insisted Yuhu first negotiate a Voluntary Planning Agreement with the council.
The Yuhu motion was carried seven votes to four, as the other independent, Roy Maggio, also gave his support. That means it would have passed even without Mr Zhou’s absence.
Mr Maggio told the Financial Review that Mr Zhou had not disclosed a financial link with Mr Huang or Yuhu.
“If I knew there were financial ties, that would have changed my mind on how I voted,” he said. “We have to rely on the information given to us by the council officers. And they were very supportive of the proposal.”
Mr Zhou never stood to profit from the Eastwood Plaza development but had a shareholding in one of Mr Huang’s unrelated companies.
Professor Ryan said full disclosure was important, as council staff and a general manager who had no knowledge of councillors’ financial interests could be open to pressure from a mayor, or deputy mayor, who controlled their employment.
“The main thing is you put it on the record, so people can say, ‘Has the decision making process been fair?’” she said.
Mr Zhou declined to comment on his business affairs but said he acted with “utmost integrity” in all matters.
Yuhu Group was founded by Chinese businessman Huang Xiangmo.
“I vehemently object to any suggestions that my office or myself have been involved in any dishonest or questionable conduct pertaining to due process in council,” he said.
“I never tried to influence staff or councillors on this matter.”
“It is a pity that I couldn’t vote, but if I could, I would have voted for this proposal, because a new shopping centre including an upgraded Eastwood plaza [is] exactly what our local community has wanted for a long time.”
Mr Huang did not respond to questions from the Financial Review.
Labor took control of the Ryde council at the September 2017 election after getting four candidates elected, up from two before the poll. Its preferences then helped get two Greens elected, one of whom has since joined Labor.
Labor’s former rising star
As the swing member on Ryde council Simon Zhou’s presence, just as much as his voting pattern, is the crucial factor in determining council outcomes.
This makes the manner of his election in September 2017 all the more notable.
He decided to run for council despite not living in the Ryde local government area at the time, having few discernable links to the community, and no profile among residents.
Equally unusual was Mr Zhou spending $68,200 of his own money on the campaign, according to a return filed with the NSW Electoral Commission, for a job on council which pays around $28,000 annually.
Huang’s Yuhu Group bought the Eastwood shopping centre for $55 million in 2013.
By comparison, the Liberals spent around $30,000 across six candidates in three wards.
“Why would you run for council if you don’t live in the area. I always thought that was a bit odd,” said Trenton Brown, a Liberal councillor.
“By its very nature, local government represents those who live in the area.
“If you don’t live there, I’m not sure why you would really care.”
And despite running as an independent, Mr Zhou had Mr Wong, who was still a NSW Labor upper house member at the time, officially open his electoral office last February.
On being elected the previous September, Mr Zhou told reporters he wanted to be “a true independent” and that party politics should not be present at the local level.
In addition to their mutual shareholding in the Pymble office complex, Mr Huang and Mr Zhou were connected through the Australian Council for the Promotion of Peaceful Reunification of China (ACPPRC), which has been described as a Communist Party organ.
Mr Huang was chairman of the Beijing-backed group and during his tenure, Mr Zhou was an executive vice-president.
Membership of the group put Mr Zhou firmly in the pro-Beijing camp, a position he made clear when the council moved an emergency declaration in June to support the Hong Kong protestors.
Mr Zhou voted against the declaration and then succeeded in watering it down at subsequent council meetings.
The long road to council approval
On the surface, Yuhu looked to have made some significant concessions to its initial development application for Eastwood Plaza, also known as the Eastwood Shopping Centre, after it was rejected by council in late 2016.
It cut the number of apartments in the complex by 34 to 409 while allocating five dwellings for affordable housing, up from none previously.
Renderings of proposed Eastwood Plaza upgrade, which adds a tower of apartments atop the older-style shopping centre in Eastwood.
But a closer look at the application shows the number of bedrooms in the complex actually increased by 44 to 784. This was done by slashing the number of one-bedroom apartments by 40 per cent, while tripling the number of higher value and higher margin three-bedroom dwellings.
The overall effect was to increase rather than decrease the number of people who could potentially live in the apartment complex.
As for social housing, the five apartments offered by Yuhu was 40 per cent below the recommended level, a point made by Greens councillor Christopher Gordon, who ultimately still supported the motion.
In addition Yuhu contributed $9.2 million for community infrastructure, up from $1.3 million previously. The project cost remained the same at $277 million.
Simon Zhou, left, with mentor and former NSW Labor upper house member Ernest Wong. Supplied
For six years, Mr Huang had struggled to win planning approval for the Eastwood site, amid community concerns around over-development in the area.
In an effort to bolster support for the project he used the shopping centre as a backdrop for donations to community and church groups, and when announcing a $1 million bequest for children’s cancer research and $1.8 million to set up the Australia-China Relations Institute (ACRI) at the University of Technology Sydney.
Despite these gestures, a development application for the site was knocked back by Ryde Council in late 2016.
It was a period during which Mr Huang’s business and political interests were coming together.
In June 2016, he reportedly cancelled a $400,000 donation to federal Labor after defence spokesman Stephen Conroy criticised Beijing’s actions in the South China Sea.
At the same time he wrote in The Global Times newspaper that Chinese donors “need to learn . . . how to have a more efficient combination between political requests and political donations”.
As Labor was scrambling to fill the $400,000 funding hole from Mr Huang’s cancelled donation, Mr Zhou suddenly emerged as a candidate on Labor’s NSW Senate ticket for the July 2 election, albeit in the unwinnable seventh position.
It would later emerge that in a six-week period from May 15 to July 1, six companies with links to Mr Zhou and an associate, Xudong “Chris” Wang, donated $305,000 to the ALP.
After running unsuccessfully for the Senate, Mr Zhou was hired as an adviser in the ALP’s NSW headquarters, even as his links to Mr Huang were formalised through his shareholding the Pymble Corporate Centre.
In December that year, Mr Zhou set up a company, Zwymble, in which he held 50.5 per cent of the shares. Chris Wang held another 16 per cent.
Mr Zhou’s wife was the sole director.
Six days later Zwymble became a shareholder in Mr Huang’s Austrump Times, the holding vehicle for the $82 million Pymble Corporate Centre deal. Zwymble’s 5 per cent share would be worth $4 million.
It is not clear how Mr Zhou paid for the stake – one of his companies had been hit with a $2.3 million tax bill two weeks earlier. It is not suggested there was anything improper about his stake in the company.
Labor ambitions scuttled
A year into his career at Labor head office, Mr Zhou was forced to resign when his links to China’s Communist Party and his involvement in a gold trading scandal were made public by The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
Unfazed, just two months later he was campaigning hard to win a seat on Ryde Council as an independent.
That same month his company Zwymble filed a notice with the corporate regulator that his wife had been replaced as sole director by Chris Wang’s wife, Yang Yang.
The Neighbourhood Teahouse runs a cafe in Mr Zhou’s electorate office.
The August 23 notice said Mr Zhou’s shares in Zwymble had been transferred to the company owned by his mother.
On December 11, 2017, a new ASIC filing showed Mr Zhou’s original shares in Zwymble, which had been transferred to his mother, had been transferred again.
The new owners were his business partner Chris Wang and his wife Yang Yang, who now had 66 per cent of the company. It’s not known what Mr Wang paid for the stake or whether Mr Zhou retains an interest in future profits from it.
“It was just a change of mind,” Mr Zhou said of selling the Zwymble shares to Mr Wang. “It was supposed to be an investment company but I was too busy to do it.”
Mr Wang and Mr Zhou regularly invest together, and maintain separate nearby offices in the Dymocks Building in Sydney city. In addition to Zwymble they currently have shared investments in two property companies and another new gold trading company.
IT would appear that Mr Chandler has not yet made any official recommendations on the historical defects problem … is that because there are just so many of them?
… however he has on the issue of flammable cladding.
Buyer beware: Building tsar’s warning over faulty units
The man hand-picked by the Berejiklian government to tackle Sydney’s defective apartment crisis has declared regular homebuyers need to take more responsibility for inspections and adopt a “buyer beware” mindset.
The man hand-picked by the Berejiklian government to tackle Sydney’s defective apartment crisis has declared regular homebuyers need to take more responsibility for inspections and adopt a “buyer beware” mindset.
Building Commissioner David Chandler made the remarks as he revealed he has identified another 200-apartment building last week which had “significant issues” and was “incomplete” despite being certified for occupancy, and that there were “at least another two” buildings like it.
Mr Chandler was appointed this year to restore confidence in the building and construction industry after hundreds of people had to be evacuated from defective or risky apartments in the Mascot and Opal Towers and other buildings were identified as unfit for occupancy.
Mr Chandler said last night under a state parliament estimates grilling that people “should go and spend a little bit more time having a look (at their apartment) before they settle”.
He said one of his priorities was to find a way to tackle the defective building problems from “the front end”rather than waiting for owners to move into bad apartments.
*He also conceded he had not yet made any official recommendations on the historical defects problem, but had on the issue of flammable cladding.
*Mr Chandler told the hearing he would “be quite confident to buy an off the plan apartment” in Sydney “if people were prepared to do a little bit of research to work out who might be risky and who’s less risky”.
He said “there are 60 or 70 per cent of developers building an entirely high quality product”.
The comments were described as “remarkable” by Labor MP Courtney Houssos who pursued Mr Chandler with relentless questions, asking him if his “advice is that homeowners become experts themselves?” and whether there was a role for government to regulate.
Mr Chandler said there was a “role for everyone to do what would be appropriate”.
“If I was in the market for a $750,000 apartment I would certainly be looking at who was the builder and I would certainly be wanting to have a better look at the apartment and the building before I settled,” he said.
“We can risk assess the market and we can get out and look at complaints but everyone should have a hand in a little bit of buyer beware.”
Ms Houssos said that Mr Chandler’s implication was that owners in places like Mascot Towers had not done their due diligence but Mr Chandler said he wouldn’t testify on whether those owners had done due diligence.
Mr Chandler said that of the project he’d visited last week,of the 200 people who had settled “only one owner took it upon themselves to inspect the property and that party refused to settle”.
A government spokesman last night confirmed the building in question was currently occupied and did not require evacuation, but would not reveal its location.
Labor MP Daniel Mookhey said: “I would have thought the consumer in NSW would expect the government to regulate so that the product served up (is acceptable)”.