Williamtown cost remains an unknown

IT has been nearly two years since the residents in Williamtown found out their properties were contaminated with toxic chemicals from the nearby RAAF Base, but the federal government still has no idea how much the scandal is going to cost taxpayers.
Nanjing Night Net

In a budget that contained few new spending measures for the Hunter that hadn’t already been announced, there was no money for the Lake Macquarie interchange, which Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon said was a“slap in the face” for the region.

Tuesday’s budget revealed that despite a $55 million pledge to deal with the crisis before the last federal election, the overall cost of cleaning up the contamination across Australia coupled with the potential legal fall-out from the ongoing resident class action lawsuit is still “unquantifiable”.

The stark reality that the federal government doesn’t know how much contamination from perfluro-alkalyne chemicals – otherwise known as PFAS – is going to cost it was buried deep in the budget papers among the government’s financial “liabilities”.

While the government says the Department of Defence has “made a financial provision” for the estimated cost of “restoring, decontaminating and decommissioning” sites “where a legal or constructive obligation has arisen”, it hasn’t figured out how much the wider spread of the scandal may cost.

And, even then, it admits that “costs associated with potential long term management options such as containment and remediation cannot be quantified at this time, but could be considerable given the current lack of practicable management options”.

Despite the uncertainty, Williamtown remained the largest Hunter priority in the budget.

While Treasurer Scott Morrison unveiled an ambitious $75 billion infrastructure program on the back of what he says is an improving economy, the Hunter was largely absent from the splash.

The government announced it will spend $12.5 million over the next four years to establish a national research program into the health effects of prolonged exposure to PFAS contamination, including the “establishment and administration of an expert health panel, which will use its expertise to identify research priorities and gaps in the knowledge base”.

The budget papers also reaffirmed the government will spend $14 million aross the four years period from 2016-17 to “undertake human health related initiatives to support communities in Williamtown [and] Oakey” in Queensland.

However the lack of detail costings on where the whole $55 million promised last year will go is likely to frustrate Labor and residents involved in the ongoing class action.

Elsewhere, the government reaffirmed its previous infrastructure commitments. It will spend $30 million on the Scone Bypass next financial year, while also commiting another $10 million to the duplication of the Tourle Street Bridge.

Upgrades to Testers Hollow will receive $500,000 in 2017-18, and $15 million by 2020-21.

The government also confirmed it will provide $12.5 million over the next six years for the University of Newcastle’s Central Coast medical school, announced a day before the budget.

It will also provide $33.4 million to establish the Commonwealth Redress Scheme for survivors of “institutional child sex abuse”.

The scheme will commence in March next year and will start receiving applications from July next year from “people who were sexually abused as children in Commonwealth institutions”.

Indexation of Financial Assistance Grants to local councils will also resume. Called for by Labor representatives across the Hunter, the government says the decision will result in an extra $836.5 million across the forward estimates.

Need for speed on ‘key’ rail lines RAIL FIX: The federal government has announced a $20 million fund to plan for faster rail between major cities.

THE much-maligned Sydney to Newcastle rail line has a golden opportunity to be overhauled, with the federal government revealing it is “willing to deliver”new rail projects to speed up travel times between cities.

The government announced $20 million for states to develop a business case for projects that lead to the “operation of faster rail in key transport corridors”.

An auditor-general’s report recently found serious deficiencies in the Sydney to Newcastle line, which was considered too slow and unreliable a service.

The federal government will call for proposals from the states, before considering further funding if it is satisfied with the business case.

The government said a $10 billion investment in rail over the next decade would aim to provide “more reliable” transport networks.

What’s in it for the HunterRoads

M1 upgrades … $60 million*

Cessnock Road,Testers Hollow $15 million (over four years)*

Duplication ofTourleStreetBridge… $10 million*

Park Street, Gresford … $1 million*

SconeBypass … $30 million*


National Rail Program for faster services … $20 million


PFAS health study … $12.5 million*


RAAF Base Williamtown redevelopment … $274 million (over six years)*

Child sexual abuse

Redress Scheme for Survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse … $33.4 million*


UniversityofNewcastle’sCentralCoastmedical school … $12.5 million*

*Previously announced

Read More

Jets bank on eye for talent

WINNERS ARE GRINNERS: Ernie Merrick and attacking midfielder after they received the coach of the year and Johnny Warren Medal respectively in 2010. Picture: Getty Images ERNIE Merrick spent six months searching before he found brilliant Brazilian Fred for the Melbourne Victory’s inaugural campaign.
Nanjing Night Net

He pored over dvds, travelled toRio to watch training sessions and surveyeda vast network of contacts.

When Fred left, armed with a championship,for the US, Merrick brought inCosta Rican star Carlos Hernandez. At the same time he was helping develop future Socceroos Robbie Kruse and Mitch Langerak.

At Wellington, he revitalised the career of Nathan Burns, plucked Roy Krishna from the State League and introduced Roly Bonevacia andAlbert Riera, who was in New Zealand back-packing, to the A-League.

“Recruitment is crucial,” Merrick said. “I think (Jets CEO) Lawrie McKinna and I have aneye for talent. If you look at the youngsters we have signed early on or who came from no-where and done extremely well. It is not always about paying top dollar.”

However, signing a marquee is on the agenda as well bringing in experienced top-endAustralian players.

“Lawrie and Iwill travel to China later this month to meet with owner Martin Lee,” McKinna said. “We have to present a case for improving the squad and the type of player we want.”

Top of the shopping list is a creative midfielder.

“The game is pretty simple,” Merrick said.“Invade territory and get into areas where you can score crucialgoals. I think Newcastle had trouble doing that towards the end of the season. If you have a striker you need to get service to him. I would think an attacking midfielder would be crucial for the team. There is the foundation of a very good squad. SteveUgarkovic in the middle of the pitch,Nick Cowburn and Lachy Jackson are in the Olympic team …I would like to add more quality experienced players. The balance then would be very good. There are quite a few good Australian players who are available. Itis case of makingsure they know we are looking for players.”

Merrick, who has coached the most game in the A-League,has a different approach to many.

“I tend to try and build a team around goal-scorers rather than build from the defence forwards,” he said.“If you look at the teams I’ve had previously,whether it be Archie Thompson, Danny Allsopp, Robbie Kruse, Roy Krishna, it is about getting the ball to those players quickly. ”

The Jets have 10 players off-contract headed by Ben Kantarovski, Labinot Haliti and Andrew Hoole.

“It is only fair to let them know as soon as possible,” Merrick said.“That will happen in the next couple of weeks. I have to be thorough. I don’t think it will be a major clean out.”

Read More

Banks hit with new levy, potentially costing billions

ULTIMATE GUIDE: Everything you need to know from Budget 2017-18AT A GLANCE: How the budget will affect youFor Australia’s five biggest banks, this year’s federal budget will go down as another Black Tuesday.
Nanjing Night Net

By the time the federal Treasurer’s speech was over, the banks faced asuper tax, two powerful new regulatory bodies,fines of up to $200 million for breaching tough new misconduct rules and a beefed-up competition watchdog.

The federal government is now on a collision course for a protracted battle with the”four pillars” of the nation’s retail banking sector, along with Macquarie Bank, afterScott Morrison imposeda new “Major Bank Levy”that couldwipe billions from their bottom lines.

The levy of0.06 per cent on their client deposits will start on July 1, and raise $6.2 billion over the next four years.

In addition, bank executives will facetough penalities for misconduct under a Banking Executive Accountability Regime.

“If in breach, they can be deregistered and disqualified from holding executive positions, and be stripped of their significant bonuses,” the Treasurer said. “Banks will also be held to account if they try and hide misconduct by executives with new mandatory reporting requirements.”

The Treasurer has introduced a new federal body called theAustralian Financial Complaints Authority, which he described as a”one stop shop” for customer complaints.

In a final whack at the sector, a permanent team will be established within the ACCC to investigate competition in the nation’s banking and financial system, as recommended by the Coleman Committee.

The moves will negate calls by the ALP and the Greens for a Royal Commission into the banks, while also helping tobring the budget back into balance by 2021.

“We are not sending lawyers around the country for three years, we are acting now,” the Treasurer said, in reference to a Royal Commission.

The Treasurer was unrepentant when speaking about the new tax, which he admits will be used forbudget repair after he was forced to dump more than $13 billion of “zombie” savings measuresfrom the 2014 federal budget that had failed to pass the parliament.

“The levy will only affect our fivelargest banks with deposits of $100 billion or more and does not apply to superannuation funds or insurance companies,” he said. “Customer deposits of less than $250,000 and additional capital requirements imposed on the banks from regulatory authorities are excluded.”

The Treasurer alsowarned the banks not to try and pass the new tax on to their customers, saying they had no right to do so because it did not apply to mortgages or deposit accounts.

“They can’tgo and lie to customers,”he said. “This is not a levy on their deposits. This is not a levy on their mortgages. Banks can jack up prices on their customers any day . . .if they do, take your money somewhereelse, take your money to a regional or smaller bank.”

Rumours the banks were under attack leaked ahead of the federal budget.

A senior executive at one of the Big Four banks warned the government of “unintended consequences” of introducing a new levy.

“There are always unintended consequences when something new flows through a sector,” he said. “This will have an impact somewhere. It might be on credit. It might be on dividends. We will see. What I will say is we desperately need broad tax reform in this country, but is a super tax on just the banks the answer?”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Read More

Chinese buying Australian real estate tops foreign investment: report

Beijing: Chinese buyers of new homes in Sydney and Melbourne dominated foreign investment in Australia last year, the Foreign Investment Review Board annual report says.
Nanjing Night Net

The $55 billion increase in all approved foreign investment in Australia, to $248 billion, was “predominantly driven by increased investment in the real estate sector”, FIRB chairman Brian Wilson wrote in the report released on Tuesday.

China was the largest source of foreign investment ($47.3 billion), of which $31.9 billion was investment in real estate.

The large number of applications for FIRB approval in 2015-16 (41,445) were “largely driven by residential real estate transactions”, Mr Wilson wrote.

Most of the FIRB applications approved were for less than $1 million (33,045).

Chinese buyers won approval for 30,611 applications.

A third of residential real estate approvals were granted for NSW homes, and 44 per cent for Victorian homes.

By value, investment in new homes made up a third of total foreign investment in Australia last year.

Foreign real estate investment overall rose by 36.8 per cent.

The United States was the second-largest source of foreign investment ($31 billion), with approvals spread across services, real estate and finance.

A crackdown on foreign buyers by the Australian Taxation Office led to the forced sale of 39 properties worth $48.7 million during the year, for offences including failing to sell a home once a temporary residence visa has expired, or failing to seek approval for a home purchase.

The figures suggest the introduction of a foreigner buyer surcharge in Victoria in 2015 did little to dampen demand for new homes. NSW introduced a similar surcharge last year.

New rules to clamp down on residential property speculation in China have made it increasingly difficult for Chinese to buy second homes or investment properties in cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, fuelling the trend to buy offshore.

However, the Chinese government has also made it harder for Chinese to move money overseas to finance new apartment purchases.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Read More

Cafe caters for freshness and flavour

TUCKED AWAY: Claire Hart, barista and waitress at Lillies and Limes at Morpeth in the bright dining room. Pictures: Simone De PeakIt’s time for a late lunch on a sunny afternoon and we toddle up a laneway in historic Morpeth to find some food.
Nanjing Night Net

Situated in a protected courtyard, hidden from the road, is Lillies and Limes, part cafe, part gourmet catering company and part last-minute meal saviour. I’ll explain later.

HOW SWEET IT IS: A baked chocolate tart, on a plate like nan would have.

It’s a light, brightspace with white walls, that Nordic-style furniture, bright coloured cushionsand artwork adorning the walls. There’s an open kitchen along a side of the cafe and the overall effect is one of being looked after in someone’s kitchen.

Come with friends or come alone,the warm atmospherelends itself to chatting or just sitting with a good book. And the food nurtures. Even the plates will remind you of grandma.

HEARTY: A breakfast board can be made to serve one or two.

Owner Kellie Brennan began a humble catering company in Moree 17 years ago, focusing on big outdoor weddings. “We were cooking for campers,” she said.

Still catering for big weddings and corporate events, it has now also become an open door catering business and the cafe is busy, even late in the afternoon.

It’s not complicated food, it’s just straightforward and full of flavour. Breakfast is a hearty affair with the breakfast board (smoked salmon, bacon, egg, tomato, mushrooms, fruit and yoghurt), the breakfast bruschetta (herbed mushrooms and poached eggs); bacon and eggs (with or without all the extras); plus toasted waffles: think Nutella, ice cream and fresh strawberries or maple syrup and bacon.

The lunch time offerings are as big or as light as you’d like. For those with an appetite, the Manwich with its grilled steak, caramelised onion, cheddar and tomato on Italian bread with either sweet potato fries or chips will fill you up. As will a crispy chicken burger –the crumbly brioche bun gradually beginning to soften with each bite from the juicy home-made tangy coleslaw that tops the panko-crumbed chicken piece. Add some apple chutney and you’ve got a sweet, savoury, sour punch in every bite. Sweet potato fries are circular and thin, but not too thin that there isn’t any flesh left inside.

For those after a hearty meal without the bread, head for the roasted vegetable andquinoa salad. Vegetables are local and in season, so this time of year the focus was onpumpkin. Add some chicken and creamy feta or smoked salmon for an extra dimension. Sprinkled throughout are candied nuts for crunch and fun.

My pick off the menu are the zucchini and corn fritters. Often they are either falling apart or too oily from frying;these sit perfectly in between. Three are piled high with glistening smoked salmon in between, along with fresh rocket and a strong, but not sinus-clearing, horseradish cream.

Got the kids? There is more than just nuggetson offer. Surely a grazing board with sandwiches (ham, cheese, Vegemite, jam, Nutella or honey), cheese, crackers, fruit, marshmallow and a babycino will more healthily cover a range of appetites.

Sweet treats are home-made and home-style: freshly baked scones, caramel slice, banana bread and fruit toast.Pair with a mug of Sprocket coffee or a pot of tea and lettime drift away.

If you’re wanting to take some of the fare home with you, or you are stuck last minute in need ofdinner, there a range of ready-mademeals for purchase. The family favourite dishes may include chicken cacciatore, lasagne, curries, cottage pie, apricot chicken, quiches and curried sausages.

Lillies and Limes also runs a Friday BYO night dinner, with bookings essential as seats are limited to 20. It’s $50 for two courses plus tea and coffee –perfect for locals and those after a relaxed setting.

Tucked away home-style country fare? Tick. Hearty traditional meals with some modern flare? Tick. Attentive, helpful staff? Tick. Enjoy a cafe that’s laid-back and serving lovely food without any fuss.

QUICK BITEThe essentialsWhat: Lillies and LimesWhere:3/165 Swan St, Morpeth.4933 7721 or lilliesandlimes南京夜网419论坛.Hours:Tue – Sat from 8.30am – 3pm. Friday night dinners.Owner: Kellie BrennanHead chef: Amanda CoultonDrinks: Sprocket coffee, teas, milkshakes, sparkling and juices. BYO at Friday dinner.Vegetarian: Plenty of options.Wheelchair: Full access and toilet.Bottom line: Dishes are around $10-$25.Do try: The zucchini fritters.

Read More

Shop-top housing, plazas in rail corridor plan

Shop-top housing, plazas in rail corridor plan POSSIBLE: Concept plans of the Merewether Street affordable housing plan, which is proposed in addition to the two to three storey shop-top buildings mooted for near Crown Street.
Nanjing Night Net

UNCERTAIN: Civic Station’s future is not laid out in the report, which proposes a “Civic Link” between Hunter Street and Honeysuckle near where it stands.

UNTOUCHED: Green space will remain between the former Newcastle station and near Crown Street, where terrace-style houses will stand.

TweetFacebookProperty Council Hunter director Andrew Fletcher said it was the second time in two weeks the same voting bloc had held up progress.

“Two weeks ago they refused a 30-unit, inner-city affordable housing project reserved for key workers, and last night they robbed the community of a chance to have their say on the former rail corridor this year,” he said.

“It sends shockwaves through the investment community every time they put the NSW government’s vision for Newcastle on ice.

“Councillors are not being asked to give a final stamp of approval –this is about moving on with the process and the next round of community consultation.”

Liberal Brad Luke, one of four councillors who voted against letting it sit, said the decision was an unnecessary delay.

“This just proves that the council still avoids any decisions that might help Newcastle progress,” he said.

The voluntary planning agreement, in conjunction with the Hunter Development Corporation and UrbanGrowth NSW, is the next step in rezoning the former corridor for its mooted future uses.

If ultimatelyapproved, the plan would create several new precincts where the trains once ran.Darby Street would poolinto a plaza opposite where it strikes Hunter Streetto create a link through to Argyle Street.

Nearby, sitting at the top of Crown Street, a small scattering ofshop-top housing similar to thatin the Hunter Street mall could be built bordering onto green space running east towards the Market Street lawn.

The housingproposal drew criticism from the Urban Design Consultative Group, who argued it was“not attractive for residential uses.”

A council report argued shading over the site, road access and a nearby light rail stop shut down considered useslike ball courts, parking and open space.

A widened Civic Lane would help connectHunter Street andHoneysuckle around the former station, which could undergo “partial or full demolition”.

Documents make it clear no firm decision on its future has been made and a separate approval would be required before anything happened to the buildings.

Labor councillor Declan Clausen moved the motion to set the plan aside on Tuesday.

Under that move, the council will prepare a community engagement plan for when the plans do reach public exhibition as well as seek to lift the 5 per cent minimum cap on the portion of affordable housing in the rail corridor changes.

“There needs to be a discussion with the other parties to the agreement about that figure,” he said.“Five per cent is not enough.”

Speaking after the meeting, independent councillorAndrea Rufo said he believed some people would be frustrated they couldn’t comment on the plan yet.

“All we were voting on was putting the item on public exhibition for a 28-day period,” he said.“The report councillors were asking for is being worked on. Why not vote it through and ask for an update?”

Read More

Ernie Merrick is the Jets new coach – it’s time to brush up on our Scottish

Ernie Merrick is the Jets new coach – it’s time to brush up on our Scottish Scottish Style: Scotsman love their bagpipes. Cartoon: John Shakespeare.
Nanjing Night Net

TweetFacebook Check out these images of all things Scottish, with a dash of humour, too.It’s a Scottish takeover, innit.

We are, of course, talking about Ernie Merrick being appointed as new coach of the Newcastle Jets.

Wherever he goes, Ernie is described as an affable Scotsman. And that he is.

Jets chief executive Lawrie McKinna is also a Scot. If our arithmetic is right, that makes at least two Scots at the Jets. Like we said, it’s a Scottish takeover. Jets fans might have to start their own Tartan Army. Before long we’ll all be eating Mrs McGregor’s margarine.

We love the Scots and their world of kilts, haggis, bagpipes and Sean Connery. Their accents are pure dead brilliant.

And, yes, we know this is stereotyping, but Scottish stereotypes are fantastic.

So to mark Ernie’s appointment, we thought we’d share some great Scottish sayings and their translations, courtesy of the Glasgow-based Daily Record.

• Aye Right: Yeah, right. A phrase used when you don’t believe something that you are told.

• Pure dead brilliant: Really good.

• Yer aff yer heid: You’re off your head and a little bit daft.

• Yer oot yer face: Being very drunk.

• Mad wae it: Also being very drunk.

• She’s a bonnie lass: She’s a beautiful girl.

• Yer bum’s oot the windae: Your bum is out the window.You’re talking rubbish.

• Ma heid’s mince: My head’s mixed up.

• Hou’s it gaun?:How are you going?

• Guid efternuin – Good afternoon.

• Taps aff: T-shirts off. To remove one’s shirt due to the slightest hint of sunshine.

• Beggars cannae be choosers: If you ask for something you should not question what you are given.

• Yer at it: You’re talking nonsense. You’re acting like an idiot.

• Ah dinnae ken: I don’t know.

• Whit’s fur ye’ll no go past ye: Whatever is meant to happen to you, will happen to you. Whatever will be, will be.

• Don’t be a wee clipe: Don’t be a little tell-tale.

• Awa’ an bile yer heid: Away and boil your head. It means get lost.

• Haud yer wheesht: Be quiet.

• Yer a chancer: You’re pushing your luck.

• Geein me the boak: That makes me feel sick.

• Ye goan to the dancin’?: Are you going to the nightclub?

• Yer gettin’ skelped: You’re going to get slapped.

• I’m goin tae the pictures: I’m going to the cinema.

• Yer clatty/Yer mingin: You’re dirty and disgusting.

• Gonnae no’ dae that!: I’m not going to do that.

• No ah umnae: No I am not.

• Noo jist haud on!: Now just hold it, slow down, take your time.

Mighty Trees

Newcastle loves a good barney over a tree. Need we mention the figs.

We totally understand this. Trees are cool. Some trees are magnificent.

We reported recently how Herald journalist Ian “Kirky” Kirkwood noticed a big Australian red cedar tree had been chopped down in a car park on the corner of Donald and Beaumont streets, Hamilton.

Joe Friend, of Charlestown, told Topics that the locals were up in arms about the tree’s removal.

“It was a perfectly good show tree,” he said, adding it was among the last mature trees of its type in the low country of the Lower Hunter.

He reckons there’s a bit too much mysteryaround the disappearance of the tree.

He doesn’t know exactly what’s going on, but he’d like some elected councillors to raise the issue and get to the bottom of it. (Michael Osborne will be your man for this, Joe.)

Joe reckons the public has a right to know why the tree was felled. Hear hear, Joe. You tell ‘em.

“I have been researching the demise of this iconic native tree species and found that they were once common along the banks of the Hunter River, all over Kooragang Island and up river to Maitland,” Joe said.

Joe was wondering why authorities hadn’t initiated a restoration of these “once mighty trees”.

Joke of the Day

I used to have a job collecting leaves.

I was raking it in.

Read More

Federal Budget 2017: Retirees given $300,000 incentive to downsize

Federal budget: Foreign buyers hit by vacancy tax, restrictionsFederal budget: First-home buyers get ‘super’ saver scheme
Nanjing Night Net

Retirees holding onto their family homes have been given a $300,000 incentive to sell under a federal budget plan to encourage older property owners to downsize.

Home owners aged 65 and over selling a home they have lived in for 10 or more years will be able to make a non-concessional contribution of up to $300,000 into their superannuation from the proceeds of the sale.

Both members of a couple are allowed to take advantage of this measure for the same home.

The aim of this incentive is to to reduce the barrier to downsizing for the baby boomer generation, many of whom are living in homes with extra bedrooms and sizable maintenance costs.

If these downsizers sell, it would free up larger homes and housing stock for younger families upgrading into more suitable real estate.

Encouraging baby boomers to move into more suitable housing has long been a heated discussion point in the affordability debate.

But it would mean downsizers would be required to find new homes to move into – be it a tree- or sea-change, or follow the more recent trend to buy an inner-city bolthole.

Typically, older home owners have been reluctant to sell for both sentimental and financial reasons. Often selling property is costly and funds left over after buying a smaller home could then be considered in the means test.

For those whose homes have grown in value significantly over the past 10 years – in many cases for Sydney home owners more than doubling in price – this can prove a hurdle.

The new incentive is in addition to concessions already permitted and will be exempt from the age test, work test and $1.6 million balance test.

It is estimated to have a $30 million revenue cost over 2019-20 and 2020-21.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Read More

BUDGET 2017: What it means for you and your family

ULTIMATE GUIDE to budget 2017WINNERS AND LOSERS: Who’s up and who’s down?TAKE THE TEST:Where do you sit in Australia’s wealth divide?INTERACTIVE: How your tax dollars are spentCARTOONS: The budget as told by cartoonists over the yearsECONOMYDeficit of $29.4 billion in 2017/18 but projected surplus of $7.4 billion in 2020-21Increased Medicare levy adding $8.2 billion to the bottom line for three yearsWage growth expected to increase from 2per cent to more than 3per cent over the next four yearsUp to $13 billionof “zombie” 2014-era cuts to education and welfare will be dumped to shore up AAA credit ratingThe ecomonic outlook does looks brighter and projections for the deficit are encouraging but significant risks remain
Nanjing Night Net

BIG BUSINESSExtra funding for the Tax Office’staskforce charged with clawing back $15b from the black economy”Google tax” expected toraise more than $4b from big business and multinationalsBanks subject to bigger fines of $50m-$200m for serious misconductSix-basis-point levy on the five largest banks, raising $6.2b over the budget and forward estimatesThe Treasurer was quick to point out that the banks and multinationals are the only ones who will be paying more tax on July 1

SMALL BUSINESSSmall business $20,000 instant asset write-off extended for second yearBusinesses with a turnover of up to $50m will receive a company tax cutAnnual temporary work visa levy of $1200 or $1800 per worker a year, and one-off permanent skilled visa levy of $3000 or $5000The lifeblood of the economy receives a welcome boost which should spur job creation

HOUSINGFirst-home buyers can salary sacrifice for deposit from pre-tax payRetirees who sell family home can add non-concessional $300k into super”Ghost tax” of up to $5000 for foreign buyers who leave homes emptyCommunity housing associations can borrow money at lower rates of interestIncrease captial gains discount by 60 per cent for investments in affordable housing$1b to fund deals within cities to develop urban areasTo fix housing you need a lot more houses, but in the long term these measures are likely to see prices continue to rise

COMMUNICATIONSGambling ads banned during live sports broadcasts before 8.30pm, and for five minutes before and after start of play$130 million annual licence fee for broadcasters will be scrapped in favour of a $40 million spectrum feeRepealing the 75 per cent reach and cross-media ownership lawsChanges will allow traditional media companies to compete with new companies. Previous laws were outdated

DEFENCEAustralian Federal Police get $321m to recruit anti-terrorism/trafficking specialists$350m for mental health services for veteransDefence spending is expected to rise from $32.4bin 2016-17 to $58.7bin 2025-26Extra funding will help security agencies protect Australians at home and abroad

INFRASTRUCTUREMelbourne-Brisbane inland rail link gets $8.4b with construction to begin this financial yearSecond airport for Sydney at Badgerys Creek to get $5.3b over 10 years$844m to upgrade Bruce Highway$1b for Victorian projects including $550m regional rail fund, $30m for airport link business caseBig-ticket items to boost economic growth,jobs and the national psyche. Victorian funds will help ease frustration on the troubled North East rail line. The ACT will be hopeful of a Sydney link.

HEALTHMedicare rebate to be lifted, costing $2.2b over four yearsMedicare levy to be raised by 0.5 percentage points in two years’ timeExtra $2.8bfor hospitals$1.4b over four years for medical researchPrice cuts for taxpayer-subsidised medicines, which will save $1.8b over fiveyears$115m for mental healthBetter funding of Medicare and the NDIS provides security and insurance for all of us. A fair outcome

FAMILIESOne-off energy payments for pensioners ($75 for singles, $125 couples)Almost $430mto support universal access to pre-school for all four-year-olds$5.5m vaccination campaign. Family Tax Benefit A payments reduced by $28 a fortnight if children aren’t fully immunisedExpanding ParentsNext program to help young parents get jobs$3.4mover two years to expand Specialist Domestic Violence UnitsLittle extra funding for families hurt by Medicare levy increase. However, one family has already welcomed the childcare and health announcements in the budget.

WELFAREDemerit point system means payments deducted if job interviews skipped$375m to extend homelessness service funding to the statesDrug-testing trial will have 5000 welfare recipients put on voucher system if they test positiveSomeof the more controversial measures announced but little actual change

ENERGYGovernment in talks to buy back share of Snowy Hydro from Victorian and NSW governments$90m to secure access to Australian gas for domestic use$37m for new energy infrastructure andgas pipeline in South AustraliaThe Snowy Hydro initiative had already been announced and there is little more here to get excited about

EDUCATIONExtra $2.2b over four years for schoolsReintroduction of Gonski-style needs-based funding formulaHECS debt threshold lowered to $42,000University students face 7.5 per cent tuition hikeUniversities hit with2.5 per cent -or $2.9bn -efficiency dividend over two yearsA welcome injection of cash for schools, but university students are worse off with higher fees and faster payments

Read More

Storming the Port: wealthy young couples snare trophy homes

7 Wharf Street, Port Douglas Photo: Raine & Horne Port Douglas MossmanThe house that includes $50,000 worth of Penfolds GrangeNearly 1500 buyers spend $1 million-plus on a house in only three monthsHidden north Queensland property once belonging to Queen Victoria’s godson up for sale
Nanjing Night Net

A spectacular Port Douglas trophy home has been snapped up for $6.8 million after only just over one month on the market.

The property at 7 Wharf Street, once owned by former Tourism Queensland chairman Don Morris and his wife Verity, was bought by a young couple from Melbourne, who plan to use it as a holiday home with their children.

As holiday homes go, it’s the stuff dreams are made of; with unobstructed, 180-degree views across the Coral Sea towards the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef Low Islands, to the Daintree Rainforest, it’s a veritable paradise complete with a healthy dose of luxury.

Inspired by plantation-style British West Indies architectural style – cathedral ceilings, open island house plan, columns and louvre shutters to maximise the breezes – it’s as stunning as it is practical for the climate.

Raine & Horne agent Barbara Wolveridge secured the deal and says it illustrates Port Douglas’ rapidly changing demographic, where long-term, 20-year residents are moving out and young couples and families are moving in.

“These wealthy young couples and families are able to work remotely – that factor alone has changed things significantly,” she says.

“Our Wi-Fi is as good as anywhere else, which means they can get the dream trophy home and the lifestyle and work … this factor alone has opened up Port Douglas real estate to all over the world.”

Port Douglas has long been a tropical playground for wealthy business executives, who have made it their escape for the winter months.

“We’ve always had people here who have a lot of money – nobody cares. It’s a totally different world, it’s private, it’s spectacular, and it’s also still amazing value,” Ms Wolveridge says.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Read More