Emails reveal Morrison office’s role in $100 million sports grants program

The first round of $28.3 million was announced in December 2018, the second round of $32.3 million was announced in March 2019 and the third round of $40 million was announced in April 2019, giving the government a boost at the May election.

Emails reveal Morrison office’s role in $100 million sports grants program

David Crowe
By David Crowe

February 26, 2020

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison has rejected new claims of corruption in the government’s $100 million sport funding program after new documents revealed his staff exchanged 136 emails with colleagues about where the money was spent.

Mr Morrison insisted his office did not decide any grants and merely made “representations” to former minister Bridget McKenzie over the projects that should receive money.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison.CREDIT:ALEX ELLINGHAUSEN

But Labor leader Anthony Albanese told Parliament the new details from the Auditor-General showed closer involvement by the Prime Minister’s office than previously claimed.

“This rort knows no bounds,” Mr Albanese told Parliament, before the government used its majority to block a Labor motion claiming the Prime Minister was involved in the “corrupt” scheme.

Weeks after a scathing audit report on the program, the Auditor-General shed new light on the contact between Mr Morrison’s office and the ministerial staff who created a colour-coded spreadsheet to help decide grants.

Labor has declared the scheme corrupt on the grounds the spreadsheet tracked applications according to their electorate and thereby used taxpayer funds to help the Coalition win seats at the last election, a claim the government denies.

Mr Morrison has rejected claims his office ran the program, arguing Senator McKenzie was the decision-maker and responded to suggestions from his advisers.Play Video

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Play video1:24Morrison distances himself from sports rorts scheme

The PM says Nationals MP Bridget McKenzie had ‘ministerial authority’ over the sports grants program.

“All we did was provide information based on the representations made to us as every prime minister has always done,” Mr Morrison said last month.

Australian National Audit Office official Brian Boyd also told a Senate hearing earlier this month the audit did not show that projects that came directly from the Prime Minister’s office were more successful than those put to Senator McKenzie’s office by members of Parliament.

Challenged by Labor in Parliament on Wednesday, Mr Morrison cited a former grants scheme overseen by Mr Albanese to argue Labor had been worse.

“The Leader of the Opposition is trying to throw mud when he sits in an absolute swamp,” Mr Morrison said.

"This rort knows no bounds," Anthony Albanese said.
“This rort knows no bounds,” Anthony Albanese said.CREDIT:ALEX ELLINGHAUSEN

ANAO said there were 136 emails between the Prime Minister’s office and Senator McKenzie’s office about the program in the six months before 11 April last year, the day the writs were issued for the federal election and the government went into “caretaker” mode.

The emails involved two “key staff members” in Mr Morrison’s office and three “key staff members” in Senator McKenzie’s office.

The details from ANAO counter some of the claims made about the program in a submission from Phil Gaetjens, the Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and Mr Morrison’s former chief of staff.

While Mr Gaetjens said he was told Senator McKenzie never saw the colour-coded spreadsheet, the ANAO revealed she had attached part of the document in correspondence with Mr Morrison.

“On 10 April 2019 the minister wrote to the Prime Minister attaching printouts of two worksheets within the spreadsheet – the list of projects she intended to approve for round three funding and the worksheet with the summary tables (of distribution by state, political party and electorate),” the ANAO said.

Senator McKenzie also signed a formal brief to Sport Australia on April 11 with a printout from the spreadsheet to make sure her decisions on the grants took priority over the independent agency.

The first round of $28.3 million was announced in December 2018, the second round of $32.3 million was announced in March 2019 and the third round of $40 million was announced in April 2019, giving the government a boost at the May election.

RELATED ARTICLE

Phil Gaetjens, Secretary of Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, says a controversial sports rorts scheme was not politically motivated.
GOVERNMENT GRANTS

Morrison’s top bureaucrat defends his report on sports rorts

The ANAO has previously revealed there were 28 different versions of the colour-coded spreadsheet, raising questions over which version Mr Gaetjens relied upon in his report into the scheme last month.

Mr Gaetjens said his analysis showed that political considerations were not the “primary determining factor” in Senator McKenzie’s decision to approve grants.

“There is persuasive data that backs up the conclusion that the minister’s decisions to approve grants were not based on the adviser’s spreadsheet,” he said.

Mr Gaetjen’s submission to the Senate inquiry cited a spreadsheet based on information from Sport Australia in September 2018 while the ANAO referred to a spreadsheet based on information from Sport Australia in November 2018.

David Crowe

David Crowe is chief political correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

SOURCE: https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/emails-reveal-morrison-office-s-role-in-100-million-sports-grants-program-20200226-p544n5.html

NSW Government spares wealthy east from migrant deluge

NSW Government spares wealthy east from migrant deluge

Planning Minister Stokes lives in the Northern Beaches … and of course the good northern beaches folk like their patrician in Mosman, Woollahra and Hunters Hill would have lobbied to ensure their numbers were cut … to add more to where we live …

LOBBY SYDNEY! That’s what the so-called Elites do! We have the numbers …

What was put to Stokes?

PROTEST SYDNEY!

NSW Government spares wealthy east from migrant deluge

By Leith van Onselen in Immigration

February 26, 2020 | 12 comments

The NSW Planning, Industry and Environment department has upgraded its housing targets, which have lumped more development on Sydney’s migrant-stuffed west while reducing the development load on the wealthy east and northern beaches:

DESPITE this …

9 News: Sydney Boom Suburbs suffer more than double rate of building defects; July 2019

Planning Minister Rob Stokes said development was taking place at different rates in response to planning, infrastructure and market activity

Areas earmarked for the most development over the next five years include Blacktown (18,700 new dwellings), Parramatta (17,800), City of Sydney (13,650), Cumberland (12,650), Liverpool (12,750), the Hills (12,700), Camden (10,900) and Bayside (10,000)…

The forecasts show 10 times as many homes are expected to be built at Blacktown over the next five years than the northern beaches.

The 1950 new dwellings predicted for the northern beaches represent a 26 per cent fall on the government’s target for the area in 2017.

In contrast, Liverpool in the south-west is forecast to have 12,750 dwellings built over the next five years, a 72 per cent rise on that predicted two years ago.

Western Sydney was already projected to receive the lion’s share future immigration-driven population growth – i.e. an additional 1.2 million people over the next 20 years, according to the Greater Sydney Commission:

Future Sydney residents are also projected to be squeezed into high-rise dog box apartments, according to projections from the Urban Development Institute of Australia:

Back in July 2019, the head of the Greater Sydney Commission (GSC), Lucy Turnbull, outlined an “exciting” future for Western Sydney, which involves being crush-loaded with another 1.2 million people:

NED-0935-NCA-Sydney-Latte-Line - 0

GSC’s chief commissioner Lucy Turnbull… said places such as Parramatta and Bankstown represented the “future of Sydney and Australia” with a youthful and diverse population making them “exciting” corners of the wider city…. “1.2 million people in western Sydney in the next 20 years is a reasonable forecast”…

And this proclamation by Lucy Turnbull came despite data showing that Western Sydney is already suffering from severe disadvantage:

Western Sydney can seem a world away from the wealthier, eastern side of the city… “As much as we are strong advocates of western Sydney, we need to be realistic that too many times we are on the wrong side of that line.

In terms of per capita lower incomes, below average NAPLAN results and school attendance, higher unemployment and higher rates of preventable disease and hospital admissions” [Christopher Brown, Chairman of the Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue, said].

“Western Sydney is the diabetes capital of the country,” he said. “There are also higher rates of domestic violence which is the shameful secret of western Sydney”.

Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue chairman Christopher Brown has said the city’s west has far to go to become equitable with the rest of Sydney. Picture: Adam Taylor

Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue chairman Christopher Brown has said the city’s west has far to go to become equitable with the rest of Sydney. Picture: Adam TaylorSource:News Corp Australia

The wealthy elites living in the city’s east pull the government’s strings.

*As shown in the chart above, Lucy Turnbull’s wealthy enclave of Woollahra has the lowest projected population growth in Sydney, followed by Mosman. (Percentage increase 2011 – 2036)

So basically, the GSC is running a form of economic apartheid where Western Sydney shoulders the lion’s share of immigration and population growth to provide cheap foreign labour and inflated demand to the wealthy barons in the East.

This model enables the Elites in the East to profit from the rentier services of over-priced ghetto apartments and postage stamp houses, inflated land banks, as well as higher volumes of mortgages and retail sales, while not having to share in the downsides of congestion and eroded amenity.

The best way to stop the mass immigration scam is to force the likes of Lucy Turnbull living in Woollahra and Mosman to be swamped by ugly high-rise developments, alongside the associated congestion.

Sadly, the NSW Government has instead lightened their load.

Leith Van Onselen

Leith van Onselen is Chief Economist at the MB Fund and MB Super. Leith has previously worked at the Australian Treasury, Victorian Treasury and Goldman Sachs.

Parramatta, in the foreground, is attempting to re-centre Sydney away from the current CBD, behind.

Parramatta, in the foreground, is attempting to re-centre Sydney away from the current CBD, behind.Source:News Corp Australia

SOURCE: https://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2020/02/nsw-government-spares-wealthy-east-from-migrant-deluge/#comments

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AUSTRALIAs Infrastructure Pipe Dream

Footpaths became roads; ABC News

DESPITE the warnings from the Productivity Commission … the Darling of the LNP and Infrastructure Australia the Coalition Governments persist with the disruption of construction ….

footpaths became roads … don’t walk there as pedestrians are diverted by signs on barriers … roads become more like mazes … the walk of the worker through the chaos!

WHY is this so? What’s in it for them?

Australia’s infrastructure “pipe dream”

By Leith van Onselen in Australian EconomyImmigration

February 26, 2020 | 10 comments

Finally, the ‘Big Australia’ shills at the ABC have come to the realisation that governments can never build enough infrastructure to keep pace with mass immigration:

In our booming cities, one construction project rolls into the next and those living through them are left asking: will we ever get ahead?..

Experts say when it comes to construction projects, Australia will always be “chasing a ball down a hill”.

Across the country, our capital cities are in the middle of an unprecedented infrastructure spend…

Our main cities, our metropolises, have been going through major surgery,” University of Melbourne urban policy professor Brendan Gleeson said.

“Particularly in the past decade, there’s been unprecedented growth, both in population and the built environment.

“But state governments across the nation recognise there’s been a severe infrastructure lag”…

The population debate, and its impact on the country’s infrastructure needs, remains a political football…

Australian National University demographer Liz Allen said investment in the physical infrastructure of Australia’s major cities had been “financially and strategically inadequate for the last two decades at least”.

😟

She said Australia did not need to take a breath on population growth from immigration, but instead leaders needed to “get a grip”.

“We don’t have cities and people spring up overnight,” Dr Allen sai

😵

“The trouble for Australia, and its major cities, has been that political short-termism has prevented investments in major infrastructure because they extend beyond a couple of years”…

*Marcus Spiller, an economist and urban planning expert for SGS Economics and Planning… said that companies and governments tended to downplay the disruption costs and promote long-term benefitsa concept known as “optimism bias” in the industry

*Planning and infrastructure experts are in almost universal agreement on one thing: Australia needs continual major infrastructure investment to catch up to population growth

With Australia’s population predicted to hit 30 million as soon as 2029, major infrastructure projects will continue to define our cities and disrupt our lives

Professor Gleeson… said: “We’re never going to catch up in Australia, we’re just staying on the tail of need

It’s a view also shared by both Dr Spiller and Ms Terrill, who deem the concept of “getting ahead” on infrastructure in Australia a “pipe dream”.

Let’s cut the bull. Australia is never going to catch up on infrastructure as long as the federal government continues to run a mass immigration policy that grows Australia’s population by around a Canberra every year:

And our major cities double in size over the next half century:

Don’t walk there! ABC News: Brendan Esposito

CAAN: Sydney has been a mess like this now for years

This was made abundantly clear by Infrastructure Australia’s modelling, which projected increasing traffic congestion, slower commute times, and reduced access to jobs, schools, hospitals and open space as Sydney’s and Melbourne’s populations balloon to 7.4 million and 7.3 million respectively by 2046 (let alone around 10 million by 2066), irrespective of whether these cities build up or out:

The reason is simple.

*In already built-out cities like Sydney and Melbourne, the cost of retrofitting new infrastructure to accommodate greater population size and densities becomes prohibitively expensive as we buy back, bridge over or tunnel under existing assets, and as each new project disrupts more heavily-trafficked services causing greater productivity losses. These are what economists call ‘dis-economies of scale’.

The Productivity Commission has been at the forefront highlighting the huge infrastructure costs associated with excessive population growth.

In its 2016 Migrant Intake into Australia report, the Commission noted:

*Physical constraints in major cities make the costs of expanding infrastructure more expensive, so even if a user-pays model is adopted, a higher population is very likely to impose a higher cost of living for people already residing in these major cities

Funding will inevitably be borne by the Australian community either through user-pays fees or general taxation

The Commission’s 2018 Shifting the Dial: 5 year productivity review similarly noted that infrastructure costs will balloon due to Australian cities’ rapidly growing populations:

Growing populations will place pressure on already strained transport systems… Yet available choices for new investments are constrained by the increasingly limited availability of unutilised land.

Costs of new transport structures have risen accordingly, with new developments (for example WestConnex) requiring land reclamation, costly compensation arrangements, or otherwise more expensive alternatives (such as tunnels).

Infrastructure Australia has also regularly warned on the rising cost of infrastructure provision caused by rapid population growth. For example, its 2018 Planning Liveable Cities report noted:

construction of new infrastructure is often more expensive, due to the need to tunnel under existing structures or purchase land at higher costs.

The small scale, incremental nature of growth in established areas can also lead to an over-reliance on existing infrastructure, which can result in congestion and overcrowding.

Instead of gaslighting the Australian public into chasing infrastructure pipe dreams,  policy makers must address the problem at its source and halve immigration back to historical levels.

Stop the bullshit.

Roads become more like mazes; ABC

The walk of the worker; ABC News: Brendan Esposito

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Leith Van Onselen

Leith van Onselen is Chief Economist at the MB Fund and MB Super. Leith has previously worked at the Australian Treasury, Victorian Treasury and Goldman Sachs.

SOURCE: https://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2020/02/australias-infrastructure-pipe-dream/

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The Disruption of Construction

THE DISRUPTION OF CONSTRUCTION

AUSTRALIA’s infrastructure pipedream … can we ever get ahead?

The elected representatives in our Parliaments are ‘clever’ educated people
… the cost of the disruption is enormous … why would they be doing this?

It begs the question therefore … ‘What is in it for them?’

HOW can both Berejiklian and Scomo’s solutions to address
immigration be taken seriously as Australia continues to grow by some 400,000 people annually largely through immigration?

Related Article: Immigration Ponzi Fleeces NSW Taxpayers for another $3Bn

https://caanhousinginequalitywithaussieslockedout.com/2020/02/24/immigration-ponzi-fleeces-nsw-taxpayers-for-another-3b/

Cities, disruption and Australia’s never-ending jackhammer

Construction projects disrupt our cities for years on the promise of progress, but experts warn we need to evaluate whether these projects are really worth it.

VIEW AND READ MORE!

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-02-26/construction-infrastructure-disruption-can-we-ever-get-ahead/11892930

Photos: ABC News: Brendan Esposito

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The Disruption of Construction

The disruption of construction

In our booming cities, one construction project rolls into the next and those living through them are left asking: will we ever get ahead?

By Nick Sas with photography by Brendan EspositoUpdated 26 Feb 2020, 6:06amPublished 26 Feb 2020, 5:05am

It’s lunchtime. City workers — most with headphones firmly secured — zigzag around each other, searching for food or somewhere to sit.

The streets are buzzing, but the usual drone of traffic and city sound is drowned out. Something else has taken over: the relentless ra-ta-ta-ta-ta of an industrial scale drill.

Banging a hole under the watchful eye of hi-vis-clad construction workers, the drill is so loud it drowns out the beeps telling the city’s pedestrians it’s safe to cross the road.

Yet for 82-year-old Moses Srour, the noise is irrelevant.

Moses Srour has worked in the city for more than 65 years. ABC News: Brendan Esposito

“I’m half deaf,” he told the ABC. “I only hear what I want to hear.”

The shoe repairman’s hearing may be failing, but his vision is just fine.

And he’s seen it all.

Gaping holes where buildings once loomed above him.

Barriers where he used to walk.

And new buildings emerging where there were none before.

“Of course it’s changed,” Mr Srour told the ABC. “That’s what happens in the city.”

In Sydney’s CBD, where Mr Srour’s business is based, change has been the only constant.

He’s experienced it — and the disruption it brings — himself.

His shoe repair and key-cutting business, which has been operating for 64 years, was forced to relocate because of that incessant drill — the one helping build Sydney’s new train station as part of the $16.8 billion Metro line, Australia’s largest public transport infrastructure project.

A huge chunk of Sydney’s famous Martin Place, where Mr Srour’s shop used to be, has been dug out for the project, which last week was hit with an almost $3 billion cost blowout.

In posters plastered across the site, the NSW Government proudly asserts it will make “Tomorrow’s Sydney”.

Sydney’s Metro project is one of many multi billon-dollar projects promising to transform Australian cities. ABC News: Brendan Esposito

But what about the cities of today? Experts say when it comes to construction projects, Australia will always be “chasing a ball down a hill”.

Across the country, ourcapital cities are in the middle of an unprecedented infrastructure spend.

In Melbourne, the $11 billion Metro Tunnel project is flagged to wrap up by 2025, while the $6.7 billion West Gate Tunnel project — which was originally due for completion in 2022 — will come in 2023.

Perth’s Metronet train line project will transform the city, but has also suffered delays and controversies. Meantime, the Cross River Rail, an underground railway through central Brisbane, is set to cost $5.4 billion with a 2024 finish date.

In Sydney, the ongoing $17 billon WestConnex project — billed as the biggest road project in the world — is still four years away from completion.

“Our main cities, our metropolises, have been going through major surgery,” University of Melbourne urban policy professor Brendan Gleeson said.

“Particularly in the past decade, there’s been unprecedented growth, both in population and the built environment.

“But state governments across the nation recognise there’s been a severe infrastructure lag.”

Some planning experts believe Australia will constantly be playing catch-up on infrastructure. ABC News: Brendan Esposito

Today, independent advisory body Infrastructure Australia will launch its 2020 Infrastructure Priority List at Parliament House in Canberra.

The list is produced every year, and aims to address Australia’s “unprecedented infrastructure demand” by advising governments across the country which types of projects they should be focusing on.

Under this year’s theme of “resilience”, it identified 25 new projects, including four country-wide “high-priority projects” focusing on roads, water security, waste management and coastal protection.

These recommendations though are often ignored and experts have long criticised governments of pork-barrelling, lacking foresight and using infrastructure investment as a fall-back option to stimulate the economy.

Playing catch up

The population debate, and its impact on the country’s infrastructure needs, remains a political football.

In NSW, Premier Gladys Berejiklian recently called for a breather on immigration, while the Prime Minister Scott Morrison introduced legislation encouraging skilled migrants to live and work in country towns in a bid to ease congestion.

The walk of the worker. ABC News: Brendan Esposito

Commuters on a tram in central Melbourne. ABC News: Brendan Esposito

Our cities have become harder to navigate as population and construction grows. ABC News: Brendan Esposito

A couple share a kiss within the chaos. ABC News: Brendan Esposito

Australian National University demographer Liz Allen said investment in the physical infrastructure of Australia’s major cities had been “financially and strategically inadequate for the last two decades at least”.

She said Australia did not need to take a breath on population growth from immigration, but instead leaders needed to “get a grip”.

“We don’t have cities and people spring up overnight,” Dr Allen said.

“The trouble for Australia, and its major cities, has been that political short-termism has prevented investments in major infrastructure because they extend beyond a couple of years.”

Now, it seems, we’re attempting to catch up.

Construction in Martin Place, Sydney. ABC News: Brendan Esposito

Marcus Spiller, an economist and urban planning expert for SGS Economics and Planning, has worked as an independent consultant for governments and private companies for 30 years.

He said before any major project was approved, it required a “cost-benefit analysis” to assess the external costs borne by all parties, its value and projected benefit.

However, he said that companies and governments tended to downplay the disruption costs and promote long-term benefits — a concept known as “optimism bias” in the industry.

“Lots of planners and developers will tend to note the disruption that’s suffered but assume in the long run the city is going to be better off,” he said.

“Is it all worth it? Well, it depends on the prize.”

The orange of the high-vis vest became a constant in the city. ABC News: Brendan Esposito

One of the many barriers put up during the Sydney light rail construction. ABC News: Brendan Esposito

A skater on Sydney’s George Street. ABC News: Brendan Esposito

Was Sydney’s light rail worth it?

This cost-benefit equation was put under the microscope during the construction of Sydney’s $3 billion light rail project.

For more than four years, large chunks of Sydney’s CBD and parts of its eastern suburbs became a construction zone.

Footpaths became roads.

Roads became more like mazes.

Pavements turned a different colour.

Businesses along the route were reassured about “the prize” that would come.

Three years before construction started, a NSW Government document talked about “a quieter and less chaotic environment with more space to move around” once the project was finished and a “more attractive, accessible environment for visitors, businesses and workers”.

After substantial cost blowoutsa parliamentary inquiry and significant disruption for residents and businesses along the route — resulting in a $40 million class action suit — the line finally opened in December, nine months later than projected.

But some commentators questioned whether the disruption was all worth it, as technical difficulties dogged its opening.

The slow speed of the route and passenger numbers have also come under scrutiny.

The NSW Government has since talked up the project being a catalyst for urban renewal and a development boom along its corridor.

A Transport NSW spokeswoman said there had been “around 39,000 trips each day”, but December and January were typically the “quietest months” of the year for public transport usage.

The NSW Government claims the light rail project has sparked a construction boom along the route. ABC News: Brendan Esposito

Planning and infrastructure experts are in almost universal agreement on one thing: Australia needs continual major infrastructure investment to catch up to population growth.

But they’re calling for greater scrutiny of the long-term cost benefits of these major infrastructure projects, known as a “post-completion review”.

Reviews have long been a recommendation from independent body Infrastructure Australia, but governments — federal, state and local — are not mandated to complete them.

A post-completion review of the Sydney project has not yet been conducted.

Don’t walk there. ABC News: Brendan Esposito

Grattan Institute transport and cities program director Marion Terrill said because they were not mandated, the reviews were rarely delivered.

“It costs money to go back to assess how well it went,” she said.

“No-one involved in the project has an incentive to do it — why would they want to highlight the problems?

“But as a population we have a great interest in that. It’s how we learn from mistakes.”

Will we ever get ahead?

With Australia’s population predicted to hit 30 million as soon as 2029, major infrastructure projects will continue to define our cities and disrupt our lives.

For Professor Gleeson, the cost benefit of most “city-shaping projects” is a no-brainer.

But he said: “We’re never going to catch up in Australia, we’re just staying on the tail of need.

“We just need to be smarter with the projects we choose, and when we do them.”

It’s a view also shared by both Dr Spiller and Ms Terrill, who deem the concept of “getting ahead” on infrastructure in Australia a “pipe dream”.

Yet, despite all the disruption these projects caused, for some it’s all just part of progress.

Within the four walls of his new shop in an underground arcade near the entrance to Martin Place station, Mr Srour is largely oblivious to the noise above him.

“I don’t go up there much,” he said. “I like it better down here.

“For me, thank god, everyday here in this city is better than the next.”

Moses Srour said he was happy to see change in his city. ABC News: Brendan Esposito

ODYSSEY FORMAT BY ABC NEWS STORY LAB

Another FIRB failure: Chinese land bank Melbourne property

The vacant block at 16 St Georges Road in Toorak.

LVO has a different take on this … and he could well be right! …

‘ … allow the Chinese owners of these homes to build high-rise apartments on St Georges Road Toorak – Melbourne’s most exclusive patch of real estate … they will inevitably squeal like stuck pigs and demand immigration be cut.

The same with Sydney’s exclusive Mosman, Point Piper and Hunters Hill whereby they have even cut their maximum number of extra dwellings from a max of 300 to as little as 150 down to some 70 – 130 dwellings meanwhile their neighbours in Ryde and Lane Cove are subject to thousands more!

PROTEST SYDNEY!

Another FIRB failure: Chinese land bank Melbourne property

By Leith van Onselen in Australian Property

February 24, 2020 | 11 comments

The paucity of Australia’s foreign investment laws have been exposed again, with Chinese nationals land banking Melbourne property:

Nearly $60 million worth of real estate in one of Toorak’s most-exclusive streets has been reduced to a patch of dirt, with mystery surrounding what’s going to happen to it.

On well-heeled St Georges Road, where two grand mansions once stood side by side, sits a couple of Melbourne’s priciest vacant blocks after bulldozers razed both properties.

Melbourne real estate records were smashed a few years ago when a Chinese buyer paid just under $40 million for the 1920s Mowbray mansion at 18 St Georges Road

The former Mowbray mansion at 18 St Georges Road in Toorak.

The former Mowbray mansion at 18 St Georges Road in Toorak.

Title documents show the property belongs to a buyer by the name of Qi Yang. The Australian Financial Review reported at the time that Mr Qi won Foreign Investment Review Board approval to buy the land, which came with a hefty $5 million stamp duty bill.

The City of Stonnington said no plans had been lodged for the property after a demolition permit was granted in May last year…

The tennis court, pool and mansion are no more at 18 St Georges Road.

The tennis court, pool and mansion are no more at 18 St Georges Road.CREDIT:LUIS ENRIQUE ASCUI

There is no sign of tradies next door either, since the Idylwilde mansion was controversially torn down in 2015, prompting an outcry in the community over lost heritage.

Bought for $18.5 million in 2013, the former landmark 1913 estate at 16 St Georges Road is now chock full of weeds and surrounded by security fencing.

The former house at 16 St Georges Road, Toorak.

The former house at 16 St Georges Road, Toorak.

The Idylewilde mansion was destroyed in 2015.

The Idylewilde mansion was destroyed in 2015.CREDIT:EDDIE JIM

The lack of action has prompted speculation about landbanking.

Owner Xiaoyan “Kylie” Bao put the property on the market last year with a $40 million plus price guide after plans to build a grand $18 million home were shelved…

There are two general problems pertaining to foreign investment in Australian residential real estate.

*First, Australia has refused to implement global anti-money laundering (AML) rules pertaining to real estate gate keepers (e.g. real estate agents, accountants, conveyancers, etc).

CAAN: And Lawyers!

LVO: This has left Australia with the weakest property AML rules in the world, and has opened the way for illegal money to gush through Australian real estate:

*Second, as highlighted above, the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) has been far too liberal granting approvals to buy *established dwellings, whereas the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has failed to enforce the rules precluding foreign nationals from purchasing established homes without prior FIRB approval. *

If I had my way, * I’d allow the Chinese owners of these homes to build high-rise apartments on St Georges Road Toorak – Melbourne’s most exclusive patch of real estate.

The *wealthy elite pull the government’s strings. And once they are forced to suffer from overdevelopment, they will inevitably squeal like stuck pigs and demand immigration be cut.

Put another way, the best way to stop the mass immigration scam is to force the wealthy elites in Toorak to be swamped by ugly high-rise developments, alongside the associated congestion.

Why should their living standards be safeguarded when the rest of Melbourne’s is being trashed? Let them share the pain.

Leith Van Onselen

Leith van Onselen is Chief Economist at the MB Fund and MB Super. Leith has previously worked at the Australian Treasury, Victorian Treasury and Goldman Sachs.

The gates of Mowbray remain after a 1930s mansion was knocked down in Toorak.

The gates of Mowbray remain after a 1930s mansion was knocked down in Toorak.CREDIT:LUIS ENRIQUE ASCUI

SOURCE: https://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2020/02/another-firb-failure-chinese-land-bank-melbourne-property/

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NSW tells flammable building owners to fix it themselves

David Chandler

PHOTO: NSW building commissioner David Chandler said building owners might have to cover the costs of repairs themselves. (AAP: Bianca De Marchi)

WHAT else could we expect?

WERE the Building Commissioner’s hands tied behind his back?

WAS it all a Charade … so that the Berejiklian Government could be seen to be doing somethin’?

THE NSW GOVERNMENT has had its Stamp Duty coffers overflowing for much of its terms since 2011 to date … yet it can’t fund the cost of cladding replacement?

Illustration: John Shakespeare

WE HAVE THE NUMBERS SYDNEY ….

ARE we going to allow these punks to continue to build 85% defective rubbish and clad with cheap combustible cladding? And walk away Scot free?

NSW tells flammable building owners to fix it themselves

By Leith van Onselen in Australian Property

February 25, 2020 | 9 comments

After experiencing an unprecedented boom in high-rise apartment construction over the past decade:

And with flammable cladding and structural faults proliferating across Sydney, the NSW Building Commissioner has told apartment owners not to expect a ‘bail-out’:

David Chandler

The NSW Building Commissioner has warned that owners of buildings with defects will not be bailed out by the Government.

“There isn’t a glove that’s going to land around them and write a cheque to rectify [the problems],” he said during a parliamentary inquiry into the state’s building standards.

He added that in instances where there was not a building company to seek damages from, owners would “have to stump and get that work done”.

The State Government will this week again attempt to get through the Upper House its Building Practitioners Bill, which aims to provide a legislative framework to better regulate the industry.

Going by the ABS’ approvals data, around 200,000 high-rise apartments were built across NSW over the past decade, a significant percentage of which likely contain faults.

The cost of rectification will be massive, with owners facing hefty bills while many developers getting away scot-free.

While the announced Building Practitioners Bill is welcome, it amounts to shutting the gate long after the horse has already bolted.

The NSW Government is too late the hero and should never have allowed this situation to develop in the first place.

Leith Van Onselen

Leith van Onselen is Chief Economist at the MB Fund and MB Super. Leith has previously worked at the Australian Treasury, Victorian Treasury and Goldman Sachs.

SOURCE: https://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2020/02/nsw-tells-flammable-and-defective-building-owners-to-fix-it-themselves/#comments

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NSW Libs wedged on Anti Corruption Measure

Image may contain: 1 person, suit

In the lead-up to the May 2019 Election … The Coalition raked in the most donations from the property sector … in fact eight to one!

We know where the Morrison Government’s allegiances lie. He will do everything he can to block this motion’.

NSW Liberals wedged on anti-corruption measure

By Leith van Onselen in Australian Property

February 25, 2020 

A fortnight ago, we reported that the NSW Government is attempting to block developers from running for local councils, however, the motion was blocked by Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s representative, Alex Hawke.

Federal MP Alex Hawke was key in blocking a move within the NSW Liberal Party to ban property developers from seeking preselection for local government elections.

Federal MP Alex Hawke was key in blocking a move within the NSW Liberal Party to ban property developers from seeking preselection for local government elections. CREDIT:ALEX ELLINGHAUSEN

Now, the NSW Labor Opposition is attempting to wedge the Liberals by introducing legislation to ban property developers and real estate agents from serving as councillors:

Labor's bill is being spearheaded by local government spokesman Greg Warren.

Labor’s bill is being spearheaded by local government spokesman Greg Warren.CREDIT:BRENDAN ESPOSITO

It will be Labor’s second attempt in three years at pursuing such a ban, after the government voted down a similar bill in the upper house in May 2017.

Labor’s push is designed to capitalise on a stalemate within the Liberals, after the party’s state executive, its key governing body, last month voted down a motion to ban developers from seeking preselection for the September local government elections.

Federal minister Alex Hawke, who is the Prime Minister’s representative on state executive and a powerbroker in the party’s centre right faction, opposed the proposal at the meeting on January 31.

A source on state executive, who revealed details of the meeting on the condition of anonymity, said Mr Hawke spoke against the motion “at least a dozen times”…

The meeting exposed a factional divide on the issue, with the party’s moderate and right factions backing the proposal. But it needed 90 per cent support to succeed and was blocked by Mr Hawke’s centre-right group…

“There is a view held in the community that property developers holding office in local government poses an obvious risk as they could influence planning decisions which may have direct relevance to their business dealings, or those of colleagues and family,” the motion said.

Recently we learned that political donations from the property industry favour the Coalition about eight to one, according to Australian Electoral Commission figures.

The Coalition raked in the most donations from the property sector, by far. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

We also know that Prime Minister Scott Morrison worked for six years as a research manager for the Property Council of Australia.

We know where the Morrison Government’s allegiances lie. He will do everything he can to block this motion.

Leith Van Onselen

Leith van Onselen is Chief Economist at the MB Fund and MB Super. Leith has previously worked at the Australian Treasury, Victorian Treasury and Goldman Sachs.

SOURCE: https://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2020/02/nsw-liberals-wedged-on-anti-corruption-measure/#comments

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Levy for developers tripled on new buildings in Sydney’s CBD

SADLY … this is giving developers ‘the green light’ with the comment from

Urban Taskforce CEO Tom Forrest … that the release of details about the levy gave developers ‘certainty’; to factor it into the cost of construction.

The green light for more overdevelopment … even bigger and taller towers of concrete, steel, and glass to emit even more CO2! That’s the certainty!

At least it allows the Council to develop more public infrastructure …

Levy for developers tripled on new buildings in Sydney’s CBD

By Matt O’Sullivan and Megan Gorrey

View all comments

A levy on new buildings in the centre of Sydney will be tripled, amounting to millions of dollars for high-rise towers, under a plan to raise up to $43 million a year for parks, paving and other public infrastructure.

Developers and business will be slugged with the proposed 3 per cent levy on building developments costing $200,000 or more, part of the biggest shake up of planning controls in the core of the CBD in more than four decades.

The changes will allow for towers to be built significantly higher in four areas set for more intensive commercial development, such as near Barangaroo, Circular Quay, Central Station and Town Hall. It will mean towers can be higher than 300 metres.

Building heights in the city centre have been capped at 235 metres for decades, apart from the 309-metre Sydney Tower and Crown’s $2 billion casino tower under construction at Barangaroo, which was exempted from height limits and will reach 275 metres once completed.

The City of Sydney council estimates more than 90 per cent of the money raised from the levy, which has been endorsed by the Berejiklian government, will come from developments costing more than $1 million.

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The proposed changes to the council’s infrastructure taxes are contained in its draft strategy for managing development in central Sydney, which councillors endorsed at a meeting last week.

But Liberal councillor Craig Chung said applying the levy would disproportionately impact small businesses, such as those spending money refitting their shop or restaurant. The existing levy is 1 per cent for developments costing $200,000 or more.

“It really is a tax on small businesses,” he said. “We know the effect of the lockout laws, we know the night-time economy is struggling. We’ve had light rail, coronavirus is having a huge impact on Sydney, and now we want to triple this levy. I don’t think it’s fair.”

In an amendment voted down by the council’s majority bloc, Cr Chung proposed a “sliding scale” where projects between $250,000 and $500,000 were levied 1 per cent of development costs, projects from $500,000 to $1 million gave 2 per cent and projects over $1 million contributed 3 per cent.

Cr Chung estimated such a scheme would reap $41.5 million per year – only slightly less than the $43 million the council expected to amass under the proposed changes.

The deal struck with the NSW government will allow buildings higher than the 309-metre Sydney Tower to be built in clusters in some parts of the CBD.
The deal struck with the NSW government will allow buildings higher than the 309-metre Sydney Tower to be built in clusters in some parts of the CBD. CREDIT:RYAN STUART

He said the council collected about $14.5 million a year from developers under the current 1 per cent levy and the vast majority – about 91 per cent – was gleaned from $1 million-plus projects.

But Labor councillor Linda Scott said developers needed to “pay their fair share” to ensure a “sustainable global city”, and lowering the planned 3 per cent levy would reduce Sydney’s liveability.

Last year, 185 applications for developments in the CBD cost $1 million or more, ranging from office, retail and restaurant fitouts to multi-storey towers.

Property developer group Urban Taskforce said the levy would amount to millions of dollars for some developers constructing large buildings. But chief executive Tom Forrest said the release of details about the extent of the levy gave developers certainty, allowing them to factor it into the cost of construction.

“Broadly speaking, we welcome that certainty,” he said.

The council’s director of city planning, development and transport, Graham Jahn, said at a committee meeting this month the developer contributions had been used to fund infrastructure such as the $220 million project to pave the public spaces along the George Street light rail corridor.

“These infrastructure contributions make meaningful differences towards the tourists, the community and the businesses that visit Sydney,” he said.

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Martin Place in Sydney's central business district.
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Council papers show the levy is comparable with other centres in Sydney, such as Parramatta and Chatswood where a 3 per cent levy is imposed on developments costing more than $250,000.

The City of Sydney pushed to publicly exhibit its draft planning strategy last March after the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment for years declined to endorse the plan.

But Planning Minister Rob Stokes gave in-principle support to the strategy in December, clearing the path for the council to prepare changes to the scheme before it was endorsed for public exhibition.

Matt O’Sullivan

Matt O’Sullivan is City Editor at The Sydney Morning Herald.

Megan Gorrey

Megan Gorrey is the Urban Affairs reporter at The Sydney Morning Herald.

Immigration ponzi fleeces NSW taxpayers for another $3b

Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Transport Minister Andrew Constance at a metro site in August.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Transport Minister Andrew Constance at a metro site in August.CREDIT:BEN RUSHTON

THIS Comment sums it up …

‘dumbest dumb fkning dumb country on the planet – its just so fkng dumb its honestly depressing to think about for too long … ‘

RELATED ARTICLE …

From the China Vision Times

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Immigration ponzi fleeces NSW taxpayers for another $3b

By Leith van Onselen in Australian EconomyImmigration

February 24, 2020 | 15 comments

Incessant claims that Australia just needs to ‘plan better’, invest more and build more, ignore the increasingly costly and constrained options for further infrastructure in the face of such unprecedented numbers of people pouring into our major cities.

In already built-out cities like Sydney and Melbourne, the cost of retrofitting new infrastructure to accommodate greater population size and densities becomes prohibitively expensive as we buy back, bridge over or tunnel under existing assets, and as each new project disrupts more heavily-trafficked services causing greater productivity losses. These are what economists call ‘dis-economies of scale’.

*The Productivity Commission has been at the forefront highlighting the huge infrastructure costs associated with excessive population growth.

In its 2016 Migrant Intake into Australia report, the Commission noted:

Physical constraints in major cities make the costs of expanding infrastructure more expensive, so even if a user-pays model is adopted, a higher population is very likely to impose a higher cost of living for people already residing in these major cities

Funding will inevitably be borne by the Australian community either through user-pays fees or general taxation…

The Commission’s 2018 Shifting the Dial: 5 year productivity review similarly noted that infrastructure costs will balloon due to Australian cities’ rapidly growing populations:

Growing populations will place pressure on already strained transport systems… Yet available choices for new investments are constrained by the increasingly limited availability of unutilised land.

Costs of new transport structures have risen accordingly, with new developments (for example WestConnex) requiring land reclamation, costly compensation arrangements, or otherwise more expensive alternatives (such as tunnels).

Infrastructure Australia has also regularly warned on the rising cost of infrastructure provision caused by rapid population growth. For example, its 2018 Planning Liveable Cities report noted:

… construction of new infrastructure is often more expensive, due to the need to tunnel under existing structures or purchase land at higher costs. The small scale, incremental nature of growth in established areas can also lead to an over-reliance on existing infrastructure, which can result in congestion and overcrowding.

The latest example of these escalating costs comes from Sydney’s Metro train line through the city to the south-west, which was originally predicted to cost between $11.5 and $12.5 billion but may now blow out to $15.5 billion:

Image

The Berejiklian government concedes the cost of its signature metro rail project under Sydney Harbour and the central city is set to blow out by up to $3 billion, laying blame primarily on an “overheated” market for contractors.

An extra $3 billion to complete the 30-kilometre metro rail line from Chatswood to Bankstown via Sydney’s CBD within the next four years will drive up the final cost to $15.5 billion

“I am sorry it happened this way but it is very much market forces at play in terms of the build. We are not denying there hasn’t been significant cost pressures on the project”…

“If you go back five years ago, I think it’s fair to say that not even Treasury could predict the escalation increases in the infrastructure market. And it’s not just in Sydney,” Mr Constance said, citing blowouts in transport projects in Melbourne.

“There has been an overheated infrastructure market for contractors and, of course, that means that … it has been very much an uplift for suppliers as opposed to procurers”.

This latest cost blowout follows the bungled Sydney Light Rail Project which, after lengthy delays, was delivered way over budget and received widespread condemnation from transport experts and the Auditor-General.

If the New South Wales Government cannot deliver these projects on Budget, what hope is there that the other $80 billion of projects will be delivered?

Prepare for billions of dollars of cost blowouts as Sydney tries in vain to keep pace with the population ponzi.

Hundreds to lose properties to make way for Western Sydney Metro

Leith Van Onselen

Leith van Onselen is Chief Economist at the MB Fund and MB Super. Leith has previously worked at the Australian Treasury, Victorian Treasury and Goldman Sachs.

SOURCE: https://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2020/02/immigration-ponzi-fleeces-nsw-taxpayers-for-another-3b/