SYDNEY APARTMENT FAULTS TRAP OWNERS IN ‘FINANCIAL NIGHTMARE’

A warts-and-all royal commission is desperately needed

Sydney apartment faults trap owners in “financial nightmare”

By Unconventional Economist in Australian Property

July 15, 2019 | 18 comments

Owners are facing potential financial ruin after a series of high profile structural faults were discovered at major Sydney apartment complexes, which comes on top of the widespread use of flammable cladding.

Today, The AFR reports that owners at the newly built 36-storey Opal Tower, which was evacuated on Christmas eve amid severe structural cracking, are “caught in a financial nightmare… presented with a $2 million bill for building insurance, 20 times more than last year’s premium”:

Seven months on, Ivy’s apartment, which is an investment property, is still unoccupied… She has tried to get new tenants but there have been no takers. In the meantime, she is financially destitute…

“We have been misled. From the very beginning, we were told that Icon’s insurance company, Proclaim, would be able to help us with claims. That never happened,” she said…

“We hope that the government can come to our rescue”…

It’s a similar story at the 10-year old inner Sydney Zetland apartment building, which was abandoned after water and fire safety defects were discovered. Here, The AFR reports that developers have offered owners about $200,000 each – cents in the dollar – to offload their apartments:

While the price – about $7 million for the lot – may represent a huge loss for those who bought the units for between $400,000 and $500,000 10 years ago, the properties are now worth zero, developers say…

Importantly, it is likely to be more than the total cost of repairs for the building plagued with water damage, faulty fire systems, leaking roofs, falling plaster, mould and wet carpet, which has amounted to more than $5 million so far, strata documents show.

At present, the owners, with nothing left in the bank, will not be able to pay this bill, sources said.

Expect cases like these to proliferate across Sydney.

The city has just experienced the biggest high-rise apartment boom in its history (see below chart), which has left Sydney with potentially thousands of defective buildings and billions of dollars of potential rectification costs.

A warts-and-all royal commission is desperately needed in order to finger those responsible, recommend reforms, and prevent a recurrence in the future.

unconventionaleconomist@hotmail.com

SOURCE: https://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2019/07/sydney-apartment-faults-trap-owners-financial-nightmare/

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HIGHRISE HARRY STRONG ARMS GLADYS BEREJIKLIAN OVERDEVELOPMENT … OOPS!

Billionaire property developer Harry Triguboff. Picture: John Appleyard

IT appears that Gladys Berejiklian is not the first to be subject to such rebuke …

IT goes back some decades … here’s proof of what has happened to ‘the Australian Dream’ …

AND why our Families have lost out to black money from overseas …

HIGHRISE HARRY STRONG ARMS Gladys Berejiklian over development

By Unconventional Economist in Australian Property

July 15, 2019 | 30 comments

Billionaire Meriton apartments developer, “Highrise” Harry Triguboff, has threatened NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian with legal action for Ryde MP Victor Dominello’s opposition to Meriton’s 1270 Meriton unit development in Sydney’s Macquarie Park. From the Daily Telegraph: (maybe Paywall)

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In an extraordinary display of force by the country’s third richest person, the Meriton founder wrote a personal letter to the Premier saying Ryde MP Victor Dominello “is being completely unreasonable” in his opposition to the company’s 1270 unit development in Sydney’s north west.

“Mr Dominello continues to specifically attack my development proposal at Macquarie Park which has endorsement from both council and the state government”…

Mr Dominello, who is the member for Ryde and NSW Customer Service Minister, had prepared an online petition objecting to the development proposal which consisted of four towers, the biggest of which being 42 storeys…

If he is unable to be controlled, then I will have no option but to commence my own legal proceedings,” Mr Triguboff wrote. “Let me know what you can do”…

Meriton’s group general counsel Joseph Callaghan doubled down on Saturday, saying:

“It is entirely appropriate that Mr Triguboff engages directly and transparently with political leaders to hold them accountable for certainty of outcome in industry”…

Mr Dominello told The Sunday Telegraph: “Mr Triguboff might be one of the country’s richest and most powerful men, but I won’t be bullied. I will continue to fight for my community. Harry does not intimidate me and my community will always come first,” he said.

For decades, Triguboff has actively strong armed Australia’s politicians to implement policies that are beneficial to his interests, including running a mass immigration policy.

The below interview from 2006 highlights these dealings in all its hideous glory:

IT’S simple, says Harry Triguboff. Sydney has too much green and not enough grey, and if you want to look at trees – well, go climb a mountain…

“You go north and we have all these reserves and you go south and you have all the reserves, and they are the best part of the coast. That is crazy. We should be building on this area,” he said.

“If they want to see trees, they can go to Katoomba, there are plenty of trees there”…

He also called for a big increase in immigration, saying the population of Sydney should be 20 million by 2050, with the population of Australia 150 million…

He said he spoke far more to Mr Carr than he does to his successor, Morris Iemma, and convinced him to * change laws concerning owners’ corporations to stop rogue elements in body corporates engaging lawyers and consultants without a proper vote.*

He said that about three years ago he convinced Mr Carr there should be more development in Sydney, saying Mr Carr would have more than $1 billion in stamp duty if councils approved developments on all of Meriton’s land.

“He was telling openly he saw me more than he saw cabinet ministers. That doesn’t mean he did what I told him but he knew [my] story very well,” Mr Triguboff said.

“This is the way it works, you have a minister of planning and then sometimes you’re not happy with what he does and you go to Carr … and you say ‘listen, this is the position’.

Harry Triguboff has also claimed credit for changing the Australian dream:

In 1963, Harry Triguboff decided to challenge the Great Australian Dream of owning a house on a quarter-acre block.

“I looked around and I saw cottages everywhereI thought it was time they lived in apartments.”

So, who is setting Sydney’s planning policies: the State Government or Highrise Harry?

It’s high time our politicians set policy in the interests of the ordinary residents, whose neighbourhoods and amenity are being destroyed by ugly high rise towers.

SOURCE: https://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2019/07/highrise-harry-strong-arms-gladys-berejiklian-development/

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BUILDING INDUSTRY DEMANDS GOVT ‘FIX CRISIS’ IN BUILDING INDUSTRY

No photo description available.
No photo description available.

AS we keep sayin’ it is the Deve-loper’s project … all professionals, trades, labour and building materials suppliers work for the deve-loper … it is its project …

ISN’t this a Crisis of their own making?

FROM the comments …

-this started due to self-regulation … means they are allowed to pillage and plunder while the govt ensures taxpayers will pick up the bill … this is what the building industry is asking for!

-suggestion … easier to stick a bunch of dodgy developers in gaol; sequester all their assets

-our govts privatised building inspection and certification (at whose request … cough … cough)

-going after the developers for recompense is unlikely to be successful …

.because these companies cease to exist

-suggest go after the directors (they have assets) and need to face scrutiny … even gaol terms/fines

THAT could soon remedy the situation …

Building industry demands government ‘fix crisis’ in building industry

By Unconventional Economist in Australian Property

July 15, 2019 | 12 comments

Five of Australia’s largest business groups – Master Builders Australia, the Australian Industry Group, the Insurance Council of Australia, the Property Council of Australia and the Australian Construction Industry Forum – have demanded urgent federal government intervention to fix the insurance crisis afflicting private building certifiers in the wake of widespread reports of faults and flammable cladding across Australia’s high-rise. From The Australian:

The groups have voiced their deep dissatisfaction to federal ­Industry Minister Karen And­rews ahead of a meeting she will chair this week with state counterparts that will focus on the ­inability of many private building certifiers and surveyors to obtain compulsory insurance.

In a letter to the minister, the five signatories stress the need to renew “public confidence” in the nation’s building industry as the sector that “provides the most full-time jobs” and contributes more than 7 per cent of GDP as “a vital engine room of economic growth”…

MBA chief executive Denita Wawn said the inability of many private building certifiers to gain professional indemnity insurance in the wake of apartment block disasters in Sydney and Melbourne meant the building industry was “grinding to a halt”…

Driving the escalation of ­indemnity insurance costs, which certifiers say they will be forced to pass on to consumers, is much higher premiums charged by the few remaining operators in the insurers’ market as the discovery of more apartment building cracks and the past widespread use of flammable cladding leads to remedial action and increased damages payouts.

Question: How did this whole fiasco start? 

*Answer: the building industry chose to use materials and construction processes that were inferior, and these passed inspection by dodgy (or incompetent) private building certifiers.

The industry, having walked away with the profits, now wants the federal government to tidy up its mess.

Insurance premiums for professional indemnity reflect the risk that the professional will make an error for which they will be sued. And the increased number of building cracks and problems reflects failure on the part of anyone whose job it was to certify the soundness of said buildings. Hence, higher premiums.

*Across the board, we have witnessed formal de-regulation and less formal ‘regulatory capture’ of regulators who have insufficient resources and clout to do their jobs.

The long-term solution to this mess is, therefore, not to provide the perpetrators with federal government handouts, but to conduct a warts-and-all royal commission into construction processes, standards and regulations.

This will determine the true causes, finger those responsible, and provide recommendations on how to prevent a reoccurrence in the future.

No photo description available.

SOURCE:

https://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2019/07/building-industry-demands-government-fix-crisis-in-building-industry/

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HOME OWNERS MISS OUT ON FULL BENEFIT OF DEEMING RATE CHANGE

††

Deeming rates for pensioners are changing, but homeowners won’t reap the full benefit. Photo: Getty

IS this CUT a consequence of the Scomo govt recruiting more to jump on the Franking Credits bandwagon that will cost the Scomo Govt at last estimate $16 BILLION?

National Seniors Advocate Ian Henschke warned: “We will campaign on this all the way to the next election”

‘Slap in the face’: Home owners miss out on full benefit of deeming rate change

Samantha Maiden

Samantha Maiden

COMMENT

Scott Morrison’s “$800 pension bonus” has been branded a slap in the face for retirees after it emerged only seniors who don’t own a family home have any chance of securing the full amount.

The changes to pensioners’ deeming rates used to determine investment income for the asset test was billed as a “pension bonus” worth up to $804 for singles and $1053 for couples.

However, the vast majority of aged pensioners – 75 per cent – will get nothing from the changes to the deeming rate because they don’t have investments in super, shares or bank deposits.

The New Daily has confirmed that only seniors who do not own a family home will qualify for the maximum amount of $804 or $30 a fortnight.

For example, ‘Alan’ a single aged pensioner who doesn’t own a family home and has $540,000 in financial assets will secure an extra $30.94 a fortnight or $804.50 a year in Age Pension.

However, if ‘Alan’ owned his own home and had $280,000 in financial investments he would only secure $18.44 a fortnight or $479.50 a year extra.

The deeming rates before the government’s proposed changes.

National Seniors advocate Ian Henschke said the outcome was far less than retirees had hoped for and won’t help women who are less likely to have super or invest in the stockmarket.

“We will campaign on this all the way to the next election,” he warned.

It will cost $600 million over the next four years, but is substantially less than the cost of reducing the deeming rate to realign it closer with the cash interest rate as it was in the Howard government years.

“The lower deeming rate will decrease from 1.75 per cent to 1.0 per cent for financial investments up to $51,800 for single pensioners and $86,200 for pensioner couples,” Social Services Minister Anne Ruston said.

“The upper deeming rate will be cut from 3.25 per cent to 3.0 per cent for balances over these amounts,” Ms Ruston said.

“It will mean more money in the pockets of older Australians. Under the new rates age pensioners whose income is assessed using deeming will receive up to $40.50 a fortnight for couples, $1053 extra a year, and $31 a fortnight for singles, $804 a year.”

The deeming rules are used to work out income from retirees’ financial assets for the purposes of an asset test.

If retirees’ actual investment income is higher than the “deemed” amounts, the extra amount doesn’t count as income.

*But if retirees have money in term deposits that is earning less than the “deemed” rate of return, the government assumes they are securing the deemed amount and their pension can be reduced accordingly.

Under the existing rules, pensioners can earn up to $174 a fortnight before their government payments are reduced with income from financial investments included in the pension income test.

*Deputy opposition leader Richard Marles said on Sunday the changes were too little, too late.

“Pensioners today will feel short-changed. We’ve seen five reductions in the cash rates since the deeming rates last changed,” Mr Marles told Sky News.

“This is far too little, far too late. I think pensioners today can feel like this decision is a slap in their face. This is a government which is trying to balance the books on the back of pensioners.”

VIDEO:

Sky News Australia@SkyNewsAust

.@RichardMarlesMP on deeming rate changes: This is simply not enough. Pensioners today will feel short-changed. We’ve seen five reductions in the cash rate since the deeming rate was last changed back in 2015.

MORE: https://bit.ly/2SexeMG  #speers58:57 AM – Jul 14, 2019See Sky News Australia’s other TweetsTwitter Ads info and privacy

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg defended the changes as reflecting the fact some retirees are getting higher rates of return than bank deposits.

“We’re strengthening the arm of around one million welfare recipients,” he told ABC’s Insiders program on Sunday.

“What’s important to understand is — it’s not a linear equation between or comparison between the cash rate and the deeming rate, because the deeming rate applies to a whole suite of assets.

“So it applies to bank deposits and a term deposit, could be at 1.75 per cent today, but it could apply to superannuation returns, and that’s averaging around 5.5 per cent — or to yields on ASX 200 stocks, which are averaging about 4.5 per cent.”

The changes to deeming rate will deliver a better deal for more than 600,000 aged pensioners and 350,000 welfare recipients on other payments including the disability support pension, parent payments and Newstart recipients with investments.

The boost will arrive from the end of September, at the same time as the regular indexation of the pension.

What can I own while still securing a full pension?

To secure the full pension, a single pensioner who owns their home can have investment assets – including super and bank deposits – worth up to $263,250 and still claim a full pension.

The full pension is also currently available to home owner couples with combined assets worth $394,400 or less in super, investments or bank deposits.

For seniors who do not own the family home, the full pension is available to non-home owner singles with assets worth less than $473,750 and non-home owner couples with combined assets worth $605,000 or less.

But for each $1000 worth of assets you have above the full pension threshold, your fortnightly pension payment is cut by $3 – the new taper rate. The previous taper rate was $1.50 per $1000.

Superannuation is included in the asset test [along with assets such as property, cars, boats, caravans and household contents] but the family home is excluded.

The New Daily is owned by Industry Super Holdings

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 1563092199-homeowner-e1563092740750-960x540.jpg

SOURCE: https://thenewdaily.com.au/money/finance-news/2019/07/14/deeming-rate-homeowners/?utm_source=Adestra&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Morning%20News%20-%2020190715

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NSW DROUGHT PROMPTS AERIAL SEARCH FOR NEW WATER RESERVES

A team of scientists are going to do an aerial survey (in September) to try and locate new water supplies across drought-stricken NSW … but there’s more … it’s about finding ‘mineral deposits’ …

Will this present a problem for landholders in our regions due to Compulsory Acquisition and Land Amalgamation legislation?

RELATED ARTICLES ON COMPULSORY ACQUISTION AND LAND AMALGAMATION IN NSW

CAAN Update on Compulsory Acquisition Laws … S71A added to the existing Legislation

https://caanhousinginequalitywithaussieslockedout.com/2018/08/02/597/

So, it has begun … the legalised theft of people’s homes (substitute properties?) to enable more development … Office of Strategic Lands

More about the Office of Strategic Lands and the power of the Planning Ministerial Corporation! 

https://caanhousinginequalitywithaussieslockedout.com/2018/05/07/so-it-has-begun-the-legalised-theft-of-peoples-homes-to-enable-more-development-office-of-strategic-lands/

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NSW drought prompts aerial search for new water reserves

A team of scientists will take to the air in a bid to try and locate new water supplies across drought-stricken NSW.

The three-month aerial survey will look at ways to help farmers maintain their land and cattle.

Linda Silmalis, The Sunday Telegraph

|July 14, 2019

VIDEO: Loaded: 73.22%Current Time 1:04/Duration 2:56FullscreenNOW PLAYING

The Australia drought: Bringing pain to local communities2:56

The drought in Australia is killing fish, wildlife as well as communities. Falling tourism, declining population and job…

One of the most ambitious aerial surveys conducted in the state is set to begin in the hope of locating new water supplies for drought-stricken farmers.

Scouring an area around 17,000sq km in size, a team of scientists will take to the air where electromagnetic technology will be deployed to identify undiscovered regional water supplies up to 200m underground.

The three-month survey, to be conducted between Bourke and Lake Cargelligo in western NSW from late September, is part of a joint arrangement ­between Geoscience Australia and Geological Survey of NSW to urgently find new ­resources for the state.

Scientists will conduct a three-month aerial search for water in parts of country NSW. Picture: Sam Ruttyn
Scientists will conduct a three-month aerial search for water in parts of country NSW. Picture: Sam Ruttyn

The survey will also be looking for mineral deposits.

Nationals leader John Barilaro said identification of both water and potential new mineral deposits was critical for the wellbeing of the state, ­especially the bush.

“Much of regional NSW is struggling through one of the worst droughts on record and this survey is critical in helping to identify previously undiscovered water reserves,” he said.

“That’s why the government is taking part in this ­important initiative which will provide new information about the geology, metal ­potential and groundwater ­resources of these areas.

“Securing regional jobs is a high priority. The minerals ­industry supports thousands of jobs that support the wellbeing of our regions.”

The project is being ­supported by the $200 million MinEx Co-operative Research Centre (CRC), a collaboration between the Federal, State and Territory governments, the CSIRO, Australian universities and the minerals industry.

The Centre, described as the world’s largest mineral ­exploration collaboration, was set up to address the need for mineral resources to meet ­future demand.

With few new mineral deposits exposed at the surface ­remaining to be found in Australia, the Centre is working to discover hidden potential new resources.

The drought has had a severe impact on country NSW. Picture: Sam Ruttyn
The drought has had a severe impact on country NSW. Picture: Sam Ruttyn

The government is counting on the survey to also find desperately needed new water supplies with the technology able to identify below-surface reserves.

Geological Survey of NSW Geophysics and Modelling manager, Dr Ned Stolz, said the technology was able to identify conductive materials such as copper, lead and zinc as well as water.

“We fix a transmitter to a small plane or helicopter which emits a weak electromagnetic signal,” he said.

“That signal can pick up everything from highly conductive to nonconductive ­materials, allowing us to create a kind of underground map down to around 200m.”

Geological Survey of NSW, a major participant in the MinEx CRC National Drilling Initiative, has committed $16 million over 10 years towards the project.

Government figures show the new mineral industries of platinum, cobalt and lithium, for which demand is rapidly ­increasing, paid $1.8 billion in royalties to the state last financial year and also generated thousands of jobs.

SOURCE: https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/nsw-drought-prompts-aerial-search-for-new-water-reserves/news-story/5942bca112ed91f4e5a649ec2ed3e564?utm_source=DailyTelegraph&utm_campaign=EditorialSF&utm_content=SocialFlow&utm_medium=Facebook&fbclid=IwAR123iDW4xidTM5eC3F4ZQQOeul1eKwAxuacX1UkyKUEevO5M8QLUlqEYLs

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HARRY TRIGUBOFF’s THREAT TO VICTOR DOMINELLO AFTER HE CREATES ONLINE PETITION OVER DEVELOPMENT

HARRY’S rebuke of Liberal Ryde MP in a letter to Premier Gladys Berejiklian … he’s really putting it out there through the Meriton Group General Counsel … that she better do something or else!

MEANWHILE … NSW Labor opposition planning spokesman Adam Searle said: “This letter shows a too close relationship between key developers and the current government”.

“No wonder they are dragging their heels on building reforms, and no wonder the government can’t come clean and tell the community how many of the 150 recommendations from the Lambert report they have acted on,” he said.

NOTE … the original development proposal was for a 63-storey tower with 3 other towers ranging from 43 to 27 storeys … Macquarie Park has been rezoned from a Business & IT Park for a number of high-rise Precincts!

NSW

Harry Triguboff’s threat to Victor Dominello after he creates online petition over development

Billionaire property developer Harry Triguboff directly threatened Premier Gladys Berejiklian unless she “controlled” one of her senior ministers after he prepared an petition objecting a development proposal.

READ THE FULL LETTER.

Ben Pike, The Sunday Telegraph

July 14, 2019

DAILYTELEGRAPH1:47The Rich List: Australia’s wealthiest revealed

A look at Australia’s wealthiest citizens, from programmers to property moguls, and see how they made their billions

EXCLUSIVE: Billionaire property developer Harry Triguboff warned Premier Gladys Berejiklian to control one of her senior ministers or he would call in the lawyers.

In an extraordinary display of force by the country’s third richest person, the Meriton founder wrote a personal letter to the Premier saying Ryde MP Victor Dominello “is being completely unreasonable” in his opposition to the company’s 1270 unit development in Sydney’s north west.

NSW Liberal Minister for Customer Service, Victor Dominello, was the MP in question by Harry Triguboff. Picture: Jane Dempster
NSW Liberal Minister for Customer Service, Victor Dominello, was the MP in question by Harry Triguboff. Picture: Jane Dempster

The letter, written in July last year and obtained under freedom of information laws, has been seen as an unprecedented broadside against the government from the building industry.

“Mr Dominello continues to specifically attack my development proposal at Macquarie Park which has endorsement from both council and the state government,” Mr Triguboff, who has a personal worth of $12.31 billion, wrote.

“We find it unusual that a state member takes such an active role in undermining development at a local level which we have never seen before and tried to attack the council and mayor for being consistent with the government’s own polices.”

Billionaire property developer Harry Triguboff. Picture: John Appleyard
Billionaire property developer Harry Triguboff. Picture: John Appleyard

Mr Dominello, who is the member for Ryde and NSW Customer Service Minister, had prepared an online petition objecting to the development proposal which consisted of four towers, the biggest of which being 42 storeys.

He was under enormous pressure about overdevelopment in Ryde in the lead up to the March 2019 state election.

“If he is unable to be controlled, then I will have no option but to commence my own legal proceedings,” Mr Triguboff wrote.

“Let me know what you can do.”

Mr Triguboff wrote to NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian. Picture: AAP Image/Dean Lewins
Mr Triguboff wrote to NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian. Picture: AAP Image/Dean Lewins
How the 27-storey Meriton tower will look in Talavera Rd.
How the 27-storey Meriton tower will look in Talavera Rd.

*Ryde Council later recommended to refuse the development in December 2018.

During that month the Premier announced a public inquiry, to be run by the Greater Sydney Commission, into overdevelopment in Ryde.

Ms Berejiklian refused to say what she said in reply to Mr Triguboff’s letter or to comment for this story.

READ THE FULL LETTER (Maybe a Paywall)

VIEW CAAN COPY: https://caanhousinginequalitywithaussieslockedout.com/2019/07/14/meriton-letter-to-premier-berejiklian-2-july-2018-re-dominello-over-development-petition/

Meriton’s group general counsel Joseph Callaghan doubled down on Saturday, saying: “It is entirely appropriate that Mr Triguboff engages directly and transparently with political leaders to hold them accountable for certainty of outcome in industry”.

“If something needs to be said to the powers that be, he will say it in no uncertain terms,” Mr Callaghan said.

“The Premier always graciously thanks Mr Triguboff for his correspondence.”

Mr Dominello told The Sunday Telegraph: “Mr Triguboff might be one of the country’s richest and most powerful men, but I won’t be bullied”.

“I will continue to fight for my community. Harry does not intimidate me and my community will always come first,” he said.

The Meriton development on Talavera Rd at Macquarie Park.
The Meriton development on Talavera Rd at Macquarie Park.

*The GSC and then Planning Minister Anthony Roberts remain defendants in the case after the Premier was removed as a party in the proceedings last month.

*If mediation fails the case will return to Land and Environment Court for a two-day trial starting August 21.

*NSW Labor opposition planning spokesman Adam Searle said: “This letter shows a too close relationship between key developers and the current government”.

“No wonder they are dragging their heels on building reforms, and no wonder the government can’t come clean and tell the community how many of the 150 recommendations from the Lambert report they have acted on,” he said.

Mr Callaghan said the “government now acknowledges what Harry has been saying for years, that planning in NSW is a mess

In relation to the Talavera Rd development, he said: “The Department of Planning on behalf of the Greater Sydney Commission endorsed it as being the right development in the right area”.

“Since no decision was forthcoming, we’ve asked the question of government on dozens of occasions, ‘if you want us to change something about the plans, tell us.”

“We’re committed to work with you for the best community outcome’.

We heard nothing in reply so reluctantly had to turn to the courts.”

SOURCE: https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/harry-triguboffs-threat-to-victor-dominello-after-he-creates-online-petition-over-development/news-story/92db9a584626f22ae655877443d7572a

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FAULTY TOWERS: THE RISE OF BUILDING DEFECTS

LOOKS like it’s all “moving in a downward direction”, doesn’t it?

Employment, wages, economy, inequality and blocks of flats …

HOW likely is it that defective builds will be confined to high-rise … with some of ‘the same players’ moving across to the new low-rise medium density housing code?

NOW … *The Shoebridge inquiry has a July 28 submission deadline and three meetings scheduled for next month.

The Public Accountability Committee has just started a new inquiry into the regulation of building standards, building quality and building disputes, in particular looking at flammable cladding on NSW buildings and the defects discovered in Mascot Towers and the Opal Tower.

Submissions are now open and due by 28 July 2019. The committee will also be launching an online questionnaire in the coming weeks so keep a look out to have your say on this important issue.

To get involved: http://bit.ly/2XuHhi0

SYDNEY and Melbourne’s real estate boom, falling standards in oversight and a reticence to report flaws have combined to create a defects crisis in the cities’ residential apartments. By Debra Jopson.

THE RISE OF BUILDING DEFECTS

FOR the past 20 years, Sydney solicitor Stephen Goddard anticipated a deadly catastrophe in one of the thousands of residential skyscrapers going up across his city, as developers and investors reached higher and higher in their quest for real estate gold.

“I always thought the threat to life safety would come in the form of a building turning into a vertical barbecue,” says Goddard, who headed up the Owners Corporation Network, an organisation representing 70,000 lot owners in New South Wales strata schemes.

He made himself unpopular with his own constituency by warning the sky would fall in, but he knew that shoddy fire protection abounded in many apartment blocks.

It was in fact cracking, not flames, that forced residents in Sydney Olympic Park to leave Opal Tower last Christmas Eve and Mascot Towers last month.

Then this week, The Sydney Morning Herald revealed that residents had abandoned another building in inner-city Zetland eight months ago over water and fire safety defects.

*NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian admitted that self-regulation in the building industry had failed and a legislative fix was on the way, and journalists scoured the city for further cases. But frightened of the impact on their properties’ values in a stalled market, further victims have been hard to find.

*“Successive owners’ corporations wanted to keep [hidden] their building defects that were not covered by a statutory warranty and for which they had no access to insurance,” says Goddard. “They wanted to fix it all quietly, without anybody noticing, and thereby flicking it and making a profit.”

Now that the two-decade-long development and real estate binge fed by steady capital growth in the major city markets is over, though, this fix-and-flick option is gone, and the extent of the defects crisis is slowly emerging.

In the high-density urban growth areas of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth, Goddard believes, the decade-long thrust upward that has transformed skylines has inevitably spawned faulty buildings subject to water penetration, or fire, collapse or cracking, through a variety of defects.

Tackling the flammable cladding crisis, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews recently expressed concerns for owners who have “stranded assets”, while NSW and Queensland have also been spurred to ascertain the extent of the problem.

*But Sydney will likely prove to be the defects capital, following its massive real estate boom, which eclipsed all other Australian cities.

“WE’VE VERY MUCH EMBRACED THIS HIGH-DENSITY DEVELOPMENT MODEL WITHOUT NECESSARILY HAVING BOTH A WORKFORCE AND THE REGULATORY SYSTEM IN PLACE THAT’S EQUIPPED TO MANAGE IT PROPERLY.”

Goddard argues that as the housing bubble grew, governments and local councils became addicted to the “sugar hit” of stamp duty and increased rates, respectively.

*Many consumer protections, such as home warranty insurance for buildings over three storeys, were ditched or diluted.

*“The only voices governments have been hearing since the beginning of this century are the voices of developers,” he says.

The bow-tied lawyer, something of a media ham, is pleased there is now a NSW parliamentary inquiry into building defects, a state government pledge to legislate for change soon and a university study of 600 high-rise buildings for defects.

Dr Laura Crommelin, one of the key researchers conducting that study at the University of NSW City Futures Research Centre, says in Sydney, in particular, the apparent epidemic of defects is about more than the rush to get buildings up fast.

Governments have encouraged skyward growth, she says, and “we’ve very much embraced this high-density development model without necessarily having both a workforce and the regulatory system in place that’s equipped to manage it properly.

“We’ve transitioned pretty fast from a situation where the majority of stuff we’re building is suburban houses to a situation where a majority of what we’re building is high-density,” says Crommelin. High-rise blocks are much more complex to build, leaving more room for error.

In one survey, City Futures researchers found that 72 per cent of owners knew of one or more defects in their high-rise buildings, which rose to 85 per cent in blocks built since 2000.

The NSW Greens discovered earlier this year, through freedom of information, that Sydney City Council had identified 341 properties in its area with flammable cladding concerns.

“If any one of these properties should have a tragic fire, who’s liable?” asks NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge.

When defects have become public, they have produced spectacles – with vision of residents struggling out of their homes, laden with personal effects and small children, a fridge being wheeled out and people pining for trapped pets. One furrowed-brow TV reporter asked a couple about their “fur child”. There are now stock images of eerily empty apartments, riven with cracks or dripping water, to accompany every story.

*University of Technology Sydney sociologist Alan Morris sees these personal tragedies as the upshot of a dire confluence of circumstance. While the world’s rich funnel their wealth into our real estate, governments neglect social housing.

Professor Morris views the “hyper-commodification” of the market – where housing is seen not as shelter but as “an easy route to riches” – as a main reason prices rose so spectacularly, with an accompanying construction frenzy.

*“A tax regime favouring investors, a rise in foreign investment, very low interest rates and easy access to credit, these create a perfect storm,” he says. “What you had in Sydney, and to a lesser extent in Melbourne, is a craziness where housing became seen as a crucial means of accumulation.”

*Meanwhile, real estate markets have become more international as the world’s rich sought “global city” properties as an alternative to gold and shares. Here, locals with means scrabbled to take advantage of negative gearing and Chinese money became king in the upper realms.

“Very wealthy households are constantly looking for outlets for their money and Sydney was seen as a very safe haven,” says Morris, who has recently seen a retreat in investment as the Chinese government clamps down on money outflows.

*The increased housing supply hasn’t helped those on low incomes.

According to the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute, the vast majority of new buildings have been in the mid-to-high price range.

*Shoebridge, who is chairing the new parliamentary inquiry into the regulation of building standards, says the proliferation of defects is the outcome of “a pretty toxic mix of capital, deregulation and opportunism”.

*In 2011, the NSW Coalition took office pledging to dump Labor’s planning system, which heavily favoured developers. But Shoebridge claims it did the opposite and developers now have more avenues to get what they want.

“There are so many different ways that developers have to get their desired outcome. Anything’s approvable with the right lawyer,” he says.

*Meanwhile, many projects have been built using $2 companies that are extinguished at project’s end, leaving disgruntled consumers with no existing corporate entity to claim against – and weakened home building insurance.

“The pressure on home warranty insurance has been so extreme, pretty much every private insurer has left the market and it’s now just managed by a rump state government scheme called icare,” says Shoebridge.

The Home Building Compensation Fund, run by icare, had losses of $105 million in 2016-17 and $135.9 million in 2017-18, when the NSW government kicked in $181 million to keep it afloat.

“It’s a direct subsidy to the building industry and it’s being paid for at the moment by this rising liability on the state government’s financial books,” says Shoebridge.

*In its survey of 600 buildings, City Futures will investigate flaws in the “buyer beware” system, given it is currently impossible for consumers to know about building defects before they purchase.

Owners now resort to costly, stressful court action, which can still leave them out of pocket, even with a win, Crommelin maintains.

The researchers’ interim report is due at the end of the year.

*The Shoebridge inquiry has a July 28 submission deadline and three meetings scheduled for next month. In concert, they are bound to produce another deluge of building defect stories – and more victims may come forward.

*“The quantum of people being hurt you cannot imagine. It is easy to see the people who were hurt at Opal and Mascot. But there are all of those people in hiding, who have lived on construction sites whilst their apartment is gutted and refitted. They live within it because there’s nowhere else to go,” says Goddard. “That is a very large, unidentified, faceless section of the community.”

The NSW government promised “tough new laws” in February to improve construction oversight, with a building commissioner as watchdog. Goddard has been told the commissioner could be appointed within a month.

This week, Zetland forced Premier Berejiklian to reiterate that her government would act. But it is likely the post-rush hangover will worsen.

*The fix may be much more costly than the NSW government currently envisages.

“The government has benefited from huge income as a result of the property boom. Helping to manage some of the costs that are also part of that same boom and the outcomes of that is part of what we have government for,” says Crommelin.

“I think that providing people with safe, healthy homes to live in that don’t send them broke because of the costs associated with fixing them, that’s a pretty important thing for government to be responsible for.” 

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Jul 13, 2019 as “Faulty towers”. Subscribe here.

SOURCE: https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/news/politics/2019/07/13/the-rise-building-defects/15629400008443

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DOUBTS OVER REFUND STIMULUS AS DEBT SOARS ON BACK OF PROPERTY SPLURGE

HOW was the property market-fuelled? Where did the competition for our domestic housing come from?

-the Libs allowed developers to market 100% of ‘new homes’ overseas …

AND as recently as October 2018 the Morrison Govt exempted the Real Estate Gatekeepers from Anti-Money Laundering Rules …

-shelved for more than 12 years!

AND sadly those who need a tax cut most on $37,000 income p.a. will only get a cheque for $255 … not $1080!

Doubts over refund stimulus as debt soars on back of property splurge

By Shane Wright and Eryk Bagshaw

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*A property market-fuelled surge has left Australians with record debt and more people in mortgage stress than ever before, raising doubts about whether the Morrison government’s tax refunds will boost the economy.

A survey of wealth and income carried out every two years by the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that in 2017-18, the median debt-to-income ratio hit 110 per cent, or $1.10 in debt for every dollar of income.

IFM Investors' Alex Joiner expects about half of the tax refunds, which started flowing into bank accounts on Friday, to be used to pay down debt.
IFM Investors’ Alex Joiner expects about half of the tax refunds, which started flowing into bank accounts on Friday, to be used to pay down debt.CREDIT:WAYNE TAYLOR

*After holding steady following the global financial crisis until 2013-14, median debt to income has jumped by more than 20 per cent.

*It coincided with a sharp run-up in house prices, particularly in Sydney, Melbourne and Hobart, as households without solid income growth resorted to loans from their bank to buy into the property market.

While total debt levels are up, the proportion of Australians holding extreme levels has reached new heights.

More than 30 per cent of the poorest households are carrying debts three times their income. A decade ago, the proportion was less than 23 per cent.

But it is not an issue confined to those with low incomes. The proportion of high-income households with high debt levels has also reached a record 29.5 per cent.

*Across all income groups, there has been an increase in high levels of debt, particularly since the take-off in the property market in 2011. In the past two years, there has been a near 5 per cent increase in the number of high-debt households.

Among high-wealth households, property loans account for 90 per cent of their debt, with almost half having a mortgage of some sort. Fifty-seven per cent of middle-income households have property loans, which account for 93 per cent of their total debt.

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Lower-income households are less likely to have property debt but more than a quarter of their outstanding loans are for university or vocational education.

IFM Investors chief economist Alex Joiner said the high level of indebtedness across Australians suggested the government’s tax cuts, starting with refunds up to $1080 that hit bank accounts on Friday, may have a muted impact on the economy.

“I would expect at least half the people who get a cheque are going to look to use some of it to pay down debt, with much of the rest going into non-discretionary spending,” he said.

“We’ve got high income-to-debt ratios here, some of the highest in the world, and you would expect people to use some of this extra income to look to pay that down.”

The figures also revealed another trend – older people going into retirement with debt.

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*In 2003-04, 44 per cent of people aged between 65 and 74 had some sort of debt. Now, close to 55 per cent of this group owe money while more than a third of those aged over 75 hold debt.

Apart from the financial troubles large debts can cause, they can also have a broader impact on people and their feeling of wellbeing.

NAB’s quarterly measure of wellbeing, released on Friday, found the single largest negative for life satisfaction is non-mortgage debt.

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Work or job issues, the daily commute, substance abuse and social media all detract from wellbeing in small ways, but nothing approaching non-mortgage debt, which detracted from wellbeing for a net 35 per cent of those surveyed. Mortgage debt was a negative for one in five people.

Almost 40 per cent said they withdrew socially, a quarter said they got angry or argued, a fifth filtered phone calls while a similar number left bills unopened. Twelve per cent lied to their partner or family or turned to alcohol and drugs.

Dealing with debt was a particular issue for many.

It follows the release of groundbreaking research from the Reserve Bank of Australia this week that suggested that increasing debt levels are a growing risk to the broader economy.

It contrast to long-term economic theory that people take into account both their debts and the increasing value of their assets when looking at their spending patterns, the RBA research showed there was a “debt overhang” that directly hit household consumption plans.

We’ve got high income-to-debt ratios here, some of the highest in the world, and you would expect people to use some of this extra income to look to pay that down.

According to the research, a 10 per cent increase in debt could reduce household spending by 0.3 per cent.

ABS chief economist Bruce Hockman said more debt was being held by those with higher incomes and total wealth.

*The absence of income growth over recent years showed people had increased their leverage levels in a bid to buy into the property market.

“Without the large income growth, people have looked to borrow more – helped by lower interest rates – to take on property which has added to their wealth, especially for those with higher wealth,” he said.

Shane Wright

Shane is a senior economics correspondent for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.

Eryk Bagshaw

Eryk Bagshaw is an economics correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

For sale sign outside an apartment building along a street in Brisbane on October 31, 2018.

ABC Photo: ABC News Liz Pickering April 2019

SOURCE: https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/doubts-over-refund-stimulus-as-debt-soars-on-back-of-property-splurge-20190712-p526mn.html

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MURRAY-DARLING RECOVERY IN PERIL

KEY POINTS …

-Australian National University hydrologists Dr John Williams and Dr Quentin Grafton are calling for an urgent audit of water use in the Murray–Darling Basin

.echoed this week by some of those who were involved in early moves towards a basin plan, decades ago

-in their detailed analysis they calculated the scheme is likely to be returning 70 gigalitres not 70 billion litres a year to the environment

-the scheme is already 2.5 times more expensive than buying back irrigators’ water entitlements directly

-they refer to ‘a dearth of publicly available information‘ about the water in the Murray-Darling

-the governmnent acknowledges it has paid higher than market prices for water entitlements with prices pushed beyond the reach of small farmers

-in the late ’80s, the then Murray–Darling Basin Commission put huge effort into keeping the basin communities engaged

.through ‘Special Forever‘, a groundbreaking student stewardship program; they brought communities onside!

resourcing for ‘Special Forever’ was wound back under the HOWARD GOVERNMENT and the program eventually closed

NEWS As attempts to restore water to the river basin fail to meet their targets, scientists warn irrigator subsidies may cost 10 times initial estimates. By Karen Middleton.

Karen Middleton 
is The Saturday Paper’s chief political correspondent.

MURRAY-DARLING RECOVERY IN PERIL

*The federal government’s subsidies to restore water to the Murray–Darling river system have fallen dramatically short of their yearly target, recovering less than 3 per cent of what was anticipated by the end of the financial year.

Department of Agriculture figures on efficiency gains suggest that of the government’s forecast 62 gigalitres to be recovered by June 30 this year, only 1.3 gigalitres have been achieved.

*The Saturday Paper has confirmed the timing of the federal election delayed the adoption of some proposed projects, which the states and territories are responsible for putting forward.

*If approved when ministers next meet in August, two pending projects, believed to be from Victoria and the ACT, are likely to cut the deficit by about half.

But a further 30 gigalitres will still need to be found for last year’s target to be met.

The shortfall follows warnings from two of Australia’s most respected water scientists that the government’s irrigation efficiency scheme is already costing taxpayers up to 10 times more per million litres saved than first estimated.

*Australian National University hydrologists Dr John Williams and Dr Quentin Grafton have calculated what they argue is the cost of the government’s contentious scheme to pay irrigators to be more efficient in Australia’s most important river basin, which is struggling to survive the impacts of climate change and overuse.

*They are calling for an urgent audit of water use in the Murray–Darling Basin, echoed this week by some of those who were involved in early moves towards a basin plan, decades ago.

*In a detailed analysis of the subsidy scheme published in March, Williams and Grafton calculated the scheme is likely to be recovering and returning about 70 gigalitres – 70 billion litres – a year to the environment in the Murray–Darling Basin. Not the 700 gigalitres the government has estimated.

Using a mid-point estimate – neither the best-case scenario, nor the worst – the scientists say, “… the actual average cost of increasing stream and river flows per [megalitre] would be 10 times more expensive than is estimated by the Australian Government”.

Under the subsidy scheme, the government has spent about $4 billion – of an earmarked $8 billionpaying basin irrigators to make improvements on their properties, such as building dams to capture runoff and lining channels to reduce seepage. The irrigators are then required to surrender entitlement to some of the water they save, typically 50 per cent, so it’s left for the environment rather than extracted for use.

The discrepancy between the two sets of figures comes in how much water each estimates returns to the environment naturally through irrigation – known as return flows – and how much is flowing as a direct result of the efficiency programs and surrender of entitlements.

The government’s estimate was based on an assumption that infrastructure improvements wouldn’t actually save any water: that the change in return flows would be zero.

Williams and Grafton say the government’s method allows for a kind of phantom count. It counts as savings water that used to leak back to the environment but doesn’t anymore because there will be less natural flow once seepage is reduced.

The scientists suggest the government estimate – that the scheme is costing about $5000 for every million litres, or megalitre, returned to the river system – is out by a factor of 10. They say it is more likely to cost about $50,000.

WILLIAMS AND GRAFTON CRITICISE WHAT THEY CALL “A DEARTH OF PUBLICLY AVAILABLE INFORMATION” ABOUT THE WATER IN THE MURRAY–DARLING. THEIR CONCERN REFLECTS AN INTERGENERATIONAL FAILURE IN THE QUEST FOR A SUCCESSFUL MANAGEMENT PLAN.

Their paper “Missing in action: possible effects of water recovery on stream and river flows in the Murray–Darling Basin, Australia” was published in the Australasian Journal of Water Resources. The journal ensured the work was peer-reviewed in several countries and its methodology endorsed.

A spokesman for the Murray–Darling Basin Authority said that while return flows needed to be monitored and better understood, “generally we’re on track”.

Williams and Grafton disagree.

“We readily acknowledge there remains a great deal of uncertainty about the actual effect on return flows from increases in irrigation efficiency in the MDB [Murray–Darling Basin],” reads their paper, but reductions in return flows from less leaky channels “have not been accounted for”.

*Williams and Grafton say the scheme is already 2.5 times more expensive than the alternative preferred by them and others, which involves buying back irrigators’ water entitlements directly.

While there have been some buybacks, the government favours the subsidies.

Water Resources Minister David Littleproud said subsidies protected rural jobs while water buybacks decimated communities.

“Taxpayer-funded water efficiency projects help farmers grow more with less water and return water to the river system,” Littleproud said in a statement. “This way, the river, the farmer and the community all win.”

*The buyback option would likely reduce the amount of water-intensive farming in the basin over time.

Under the subsidy scheme, as ABC TV’s Four Corners reported this week, irrigators are being paid to undertake infrastructure improvements that, in some cases, they would have made anyway. Having increased their production efficiency, some are now choosing to expand operations, buying water from other existing licences. Those irrigators argue that means the expansion is contributing to the economy without increasing water use.

Some critics of the basin plan argue there is already too much water allocated to farming and industry – an allocation the South Australian royal commission on the basin plan was told last year was not based on the best science – and that the river is suffering.

John Williams said the lack of accurate information on the subsidy scheme – and water use overall – could distort the water market.

He said if the river system were a corporation, the failure to scrutinise it would not be acceptable.

“You can have a set of accounts for a company but until you actually have an audit of them, you can’t know the health of the company,” he said.

The government has acknowledged it has paid higher than market prices for the water entitlements being surrendered under the efficiency scheme.

Some basin producers say prices are being pushed beyond the reach of small farmers, putting more pressure on the system.

Critics also point to the kind of farming being allowed, involving not just water-intensive seasonal crops, such as cotton, which are replanted – or not – each year, but also permanent plantings of citrus and nuts, which require large volumes of water regardless.

The National Irrigators’ Council’s chief executive, Steve Whan, disputes the assumptions made by Williams and Grafton and their findings, suggesting theirs is “quite a narrow opinion” and their estimate of return flows to the river is “just unrealistic”.

“The reality of the basin plan is that nobody particularly likes it and that probably means it’s about right,” Whan told The Saturday Paper.

“We live in a democracy. It was a negotiation. We didn’t get what we wanted out of the plan but it’s the only thing that gives any measure of certainty.”

Williams and Grafton criticise what they call “a dearth of publicly available information” about the water in the Murray–Darling.

Their concern reflects an intergenerational failure in the quest for a successful management plan, reaching back decades.

*First Nations peoples managed the system skilfully for thousands of years, but work towards a formal bureaucratic management system began soon after Federation.

In the late 1970s and 1980s, the Fraser and Hawke governments took steps to forge an intergovernmental agreement, and federal parliament passed the River Murray Waters Amendment Act in 1983.

During that debate, former shadow environment minister David Connolly, who represented the safe Liberal seat of Bradfield, on Sydney’s north shore, spoke passionately about what was happening to the Murray–Darling and what should be done about it.

Connolly observed that “self-interest and parochialism” had been a problem in the basin since well before Federation.

So concerned was Connolly by the state of things that he led a group of opposition MPs on a tour through communities from Albury to Adelaide, which he believes was the first parliamentary delegation to travel the river route.

Connolly was particularly impressed by the local people’s commitment to the river system. He said they were watching “year by year, a gradual deterioration in its capacity”.

“There is a very deep-seated concern for the long-term viability of the Murray system,” he told parliament on August 24, 1983.

In 1996, Connolly retired to a farm outside Canberra, where he still lives. He is no less passionate about the river system, though saddened by its current state.

“I don’t think the situation has improved markedly, despite the huge amount of money that has obviously been spent,” the former Liberal MP told The Saturday Paper.

The fundamental problem that we had back then, that we clearly have today, is there simply is not enough water to meet both the socioeconomic needs and the environmental needs.”

In 1985, the federal government reached what it called “an historic breakthrough” with NSW, Victoria and South Australia on river management, announcing a decision “to shelve parochial interests and adopt a co-operative approach to better management of the basin”.

The communiqué lists among key issues the need for “new institutional structures” to better co-ordinate intergovernmental action, and “the need for effective community participation in the resolution of the water, land and environmental problems of the basin”.

Thirty-four years on, poor community engagement is being cited as a key reason that an agreement on a detailed basin plan stalled for so long.

*In the late ’80s, the then Murray–Darling Basin Commission put huge effort into keeping the basin communities engaged.

The commission established Special Forever, a groundbreaking student stewardship program, run by 1200 teacher volunteers and engaging 38,000 children in protecting and preserving the river and its wildlife. The program’s manager, David Eastburn, was also the head of the commission’s communications unit.

*“At times we were dealing with quite angry people,” Eastburn told The Saturday Paper this week, referring to the anxieties around future livelihoods. “But we’d be around there making the videos, getting to know them, giving them a fish poster for their grandkids. We could often answer their questions on the spot … and because we returned to communities fairly often, they would come onside.”

*Eastburn said resourcing for Special Forever was wound back under the Howard government and the program eventually closed.*

Likewise, early efforts to make the wider basin community part of the preservation process waned.

Eastburn said once “technocrats” took over the basin commission, resources were diverted and community relationship-building effectively stopped.

“They didn’t want the pain of dealing with the community,” he said.

“They didn’t involve the community as authentic partners, as originally promised. The government didn’t have the human or financial resources, the authority or anything. They can’t force the people to do it unless they were onside.”

The current Murray–Darling Basin Authority has a unit handling consultations and defends the extent of its engagement with stakeholders.

But a government-commissioned study of the irrigation efficiency measures by EY consultants published in January last year reported “a general lack of clarity as to measures and objectives, no common language and an absence of trust”.

*“Stakeholders are experiencing fatigue from multiple consultation streams and have expressed a desire to discuss Basin Plan issues on a holistic basis and for deeper two-way engagement,” said the EY report. “To move forward there is a need to better engage with community and industry leaders, build greater trust and develop a social licence.”

The consultants said there should be a greater focus on “centrally collecting information and data specifically relating to water efficiency measures”.

“This is required to better understand the socioeconomic impacts of water efficiency measures, the economics of participation, the associated value for money implications and risks in achieving the program within the required statutory budget,” said their report.

It acknowledged “elements” of the Basin Plan had had an impact but that it had been “positive and negative”.

According to the report, the government’s objective of recovering 450 gigalitres to the river by 2024 can be met, provided its recommendations are followed.

*The ANU scientists query that – and whether it will be enough to restore the river to health.

*Their call for accurate data is a common theme among those with a stake in the future of the river.

“I totally agree,” David Connolly told The Saturday Paper. “That’s what we said in ’83.”

Steve Whan of the Irrigators’ Council concurs.

“We do need more work and we do need more water accounting,” he said.

Along the mighty Murray–Darling, it’s the only bit of common ground. 

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Jul 13, 2019 as “Murray–Darling recovery in peril”. Subscribe here.

SOURCE:

https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/news/politics/2019/07/13/murray-darling-recovery-peril/15629400008434

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