PCA Questions New Australian Population Strategy

A CONTROVERSIAL new population strategy – which sets no population target at all – has concerned peak property bodies.

The Gillard government’s first population strategy, Sustainable Australia, Sustainable Communities, is “political in nature’ according to the Property Council of Australia chief executive Peter Verwer, who added it contained “little more than motherhood statements, previously announced government initiatives and ongoing government programs.”

“This is not a detailed plan for managing population growth and to describe it as a policy or a strategy would be stretching credibility,” Mr Verwer was quoted as saying in The Australian. “We need to grow our population, which needs taxation revenue to fund vital services,” he added.

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ASIC Orders Banks to Relax Rules That Restricted Older People From Borrowing

IN A positive move for middle-aged and older Australians, the Australian Securities and Investment Commission has ordered banks to relax rules that restricted borrowing capacity.

On April 23 ASIC announced it clarified responsible lending guidelines introduced in January – which inadvertently resulted in banks and non-bank lenders being rejected credit applications from middle aged people without a substantial retirement egg.

ASIC now says lenders must ask more questions to determine whether a middle aged applicant will be able to repay a 25-year owner occupier mortgage loan, if they are due, for example, to retire in the next decade.

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Northbridge Link to Connect Perth and Northbridge For the First Time in 100 Years

Northbridge LinkTHE final plan for Perth’s Northbridge Link has been announced for a 13.5 hectare site, around Horseshoe Bend.

The $500 million plan will see Perth’s central train and bus station sunk, and a new town square developed on land above. The development will include public gardens, retail, business and residential areas, and will connect Perth and Northbridge for the first time in 100 years.

WA Premier Colin Barnett said work will begin next year, and take four years to complete.

About $250 million of funding will come from the City of Perth council, Federal and State governments.

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BER Waste Being Uncovered

THE levels of waste being uncovered as part of the Rudd government’s Building the Education Revolution are continuing to come to light with a report in The Australian showing school canteens built by the Catholic school system under the controversial $16.2 billion program, are up to five times cheaper than those delivered by the government.

Geraldton’s St Lawrence Primary School at Bluff Point has developed a 10m x 7.5 m canteen for $4043 per square metre.

By comparison, the governments “unusable” small NSW canteens, measuring 8.47m x 3.1 m, costs $23,000 per square metre.

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Class Action as a Result of Bungled Home Insulation Program

TAXPAYERS will flip the costs defending the Rudd government against an expected 800 class action law suits, as a result of the bungled $2.5 billion home insulation program.

Insulation companies are seeking to recover costs associated with materials, training and other expenses incurred had the program continued until next December, as planned.

The insulators will also seek to be compensated for potential lost profits, until that time.

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Land Rezoned in Sydney’s North West

ENOUGH land for more than 15,000 homes has been rezoned in Sydney’s north-west – but bureaucracy might mean it’s a while before construction begins.

The New South Wales government are pushing to see development in the Riverstone and Alex Avenue precincts, two of 16 areas targeted in the state’s North West Growth Centre Plan.

It’s expected 45,000 additional people will call the area home. Six schools and recreation facilities will also be developed.

The Opposition planning spokesman Brad Hazzard told the AFR the “fragmented ownership of land in the precincts meant that it would be nigh on impossible to get a cohesive development plan and the necessary infrastructure to support housing”.

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Institutions Encouraged to Apply For Third Stage of the National Rental Affordability Scheme

INSTITUTIONAL developers are being encouraged to submit applications, for the third stage of the Federal Government’s National Rental Affordability Scheme.

The scheme gives developers incentives of almost $8,700 per dwelling built, with the properties then rented out at a substantial discount to market rates.

More than successful 10,500 applicants, including groups such as teachers, have already taken advantage of the government hand-out.

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Wayne Swan Opens Country’s First Australian Made Concept Store, at Sydney Airport

THE country’s first “Australian Made” concept store opened earlier this week within the walls of Sydney’s International terminal, at the airport.

Treasurer Wayne Swan launched the store, identified by the distictive Australian Made triangle logo with a golden kangaroo, and a green background.

Mr Swan described the logo and concept to reporters as “being at the very core of our future prosperity and success in the global economy”.

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Experts Warn Senate Inquiry Mortgage Holders Will Pay For Rudd’s $315 Billion Stimulus Spend

Kevin RuddAUSTRALIANS will pay higher borrowing rates than they need to, and any economic recovery may be slower than it could be, as a result of Rudd government’s recent $A315 billion spending spree.

RMIT University economists Steven Kates and Sinclair Davidson have joined a chorus of experts at a Senate inquiry warning the Labor Government’s decision to control fiscal policy, now puts it at odds with monetary policy, with mortgage holders one of the big losers expected to pay, moving forward.

The amount of public debt incurred by the Labor government’s program is unjustified, and the stimulus money is being spent on goods and services “that will give no economic momentum”, Professor Kates told the inquiry. 

“[Interest] Rates will go up because we’ve taken our national pool of savings and we’ve spent it”.

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Balmain Leagues Club to Close For Five Years While Station and Apartment Village Developed

THE BALMAIN Leagues Club, in Sydney, will close for up to five years so developers can build a $200 million club, apartments, a public plaza and new station.

Former rugby player Benny Elias is involved in the development, which will start in late March after the club closes.

A metro station will be developed under Victoria Road, near the club – and the clubs existing site will be used as a construction zone.

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Public Housing Building Boom Underway in Australia

Tanya PlibersekThe Federal Government yesterday released this statement, related to the development of more national public and community housing:

The Australian Government today announced that it has approved over $5 billion worth of projects under the Nation Building Economic Stimulus Plan Social Housing Initiative.

The $4.546 billion allocated as Stage Two follows $692 million of projects approved under Stage One in April.

These projects are the biggest ever investment in social housing in Australia.

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Sydney Metro Spends $120 Million Acquiring Sites

Kristina KeneallySYDNEY Metro, the government arm which will commandeer the construction of the city’s new metro rail system, has paid $120 million for offices in the city centre.

NSW Premier Kristina Keneally said Sydney Metro had now stopped buying sites, until the government makes its final decision about the project “shortly” – but a further  $180 million on property acquisitions is put away to be spent, to fund the project, the AFR reports.

Sydney Metro confirmed it has purchased 30 and 36 Clarence Street and 131 Bathurst Street, in the Sydney CBD, and two smaller offices in Rozelle, in the city’s inner west.


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ACCC Condones Commonwealth Bank’s Actions Despite Warnings it Could Disadvantage Consumers

Commonwealth Bank
The Commonwealth Bank has been accused of using its market dominance to try and reduce competition in the $700 billion home lending market.

In a move condoned by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the CBA has told 8000 mortgage brokers they won’t be able to offer the bank’s home loans in future, if they fail to write enough business for them.

In a letter sent from the CBA to Queensland mortgage broker Wayne Ormond last month, the bank insists each of his company’s mortgage brokers must now submit four home loans per quarter. Mr Ormond’s company, Refund Home Loans employed 270 brokers, meaning the bank expected about 4,320 applications per year.

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$28 Billion Rudd Bank Rejected in Federal Parliament

Kevin RuddTHE AMBITIOUS $28 billion “Rudd Bank” – designed to protect the commercial property sector from the global financial crisis – was rejected in federal parliament this afternoon.

The Liberal party and the Greens voted down the fund, officially known as the Australian Business Investment Partnership, which was being lobbied by several property unions and bodies.

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Westpac, NAB Follow CBA and Lift Interest Rates

National Australia BankTHREE DAYS after banking giant Commonwealth Bank announced a surprise increase of its fixed interest rate, rival banks Westpac and National Australia Bank have followed suit.

Westpac yesterday informed its mortgage holders of interest rate increases of between 0.1 per cent and 0.5 per cent, for most of its loans. The bank’s four and five year loan rates have ballooned from 6.69 per cent to 7.19 per cent.

Westpac was followed by the National Australia Bank, which also lifted rates on its four and five year loans, by between 0.15 and 0.4 per cent.

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Federal Government Shelves $8000 Solar Roof Panel Rebate Early

Peter GarrettTHE FEDERAL Government has abruptly ended its $8000 rebate for roof-top panels, three weeks before the scheme was to expire.

Environment Minister Peter Garrett said the government has already spent $700 million on the initiative, more than four times the $150 million it indended when it announced the scheme as part of the governemnt’s $58 billion second stimulus package earlier this year.

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More Concerns About $30 Billion “Rudd Bank” bail-out

KEVIN RUDD’s controversial $30 billion “Rudd Bank” – formally known as the Australian Business Investment Partnership (ABIP) – has been questioned again, this time by a commercial agency-based research department.

ABIP – a joint venture between the major banks and the federal government which would finance the gap between what a developer is able to borrow for a new project, and the actual cost of the project – was first proposed earlier this year.

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Spottiswoode Hotel Sells For $2.335 Million

A YEAR after its owner made headlines warning he could not pay a new $30,000 annual licence fee imposed by the former Brumby Government – the popular watering hole known by locals as “The Spotty” has sold and will be replaced with a high-end restaurant.

Until recently the 1888 Spottiswoode Hotel at 62 Hudsons Road, on the north-east corner of Hall Street, in Spotswood, traded four days a week.

Because of a 14-minute cabaret strip show, however, the ALP government in 2009 deemed the hotel a high risk club and increased its annual licence from $3500.

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VicRoads Applies to Convert Freeway Wedge Into Housing Estate

IN AN environment where government bureaucrats and planners behave like Melbourne has less land for redevelopment than London, it’s no surprise VicRoads is trying to flog off a poorly located site beside the junction of three busy highways.

VicRoads has requested to rezone two parcels of land known as 25 and 55 Burwood Highway, in Wantirna, which it compulsorily acquired to build the Eastlink tollway, but no longer needs.

The affected land is well serviced by transport – abutting the busy intersection of Burwood and Mountain highways, and Eastlink, about 25 kilometres east of the CBD.

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RACV Calls For New Thoroughfare to Connect Melbourne’s East and West

AS PLANNERS continue to approve major new housing estates in Melbourne’s (until-recently-forgotten) western suburbs, a powerful state motoring body has called on the new state government to build a new major road thoroughfare, for what will be an imminent surge in car traffic.

The RACV forecasts 20,000 extra car trips will be travelled based on residential development at one new western suburb proposal alone, recently announced by Lend Lease (refer link below).

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ALP Considers Selling Prominent VicRoads Headquarters, Kew

John BrumbyTHE Victorian State Labor government is continuing to offload its most spectacularly located real estate assets, with a major site in ritzy Kew expected to wind up in the hands of residential developers – possibly as early as next year.

The Department of Treasury and Finance is understood to have employed a private consultant to conduct a feasibility study into the future use of the 60 Denmak Street office site, currently occupied by government agency VicRoads.

A confidential Request for Quotation seen by The Age suggests moving VicRoads staff within three to four years.

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Major Harbour Planned For Melbourne’s Werribee South

Port Phillip BayONE of Port Phillip Bay’s largest and last undeveloped sites will be transformed into a major entertainment, commercial and residential village built around a major new harbour, two beaches and a 1000 berth marina – one of the biggest in Victoria.
The state government, Wyndham City Council and the owner of Werribee South land around the proposed marina – interests associated with Melbourne’s wealthy Liberman family – are expected to unveil plans and images of Wyndham Harbour next week, according to sources.
The proposal – worth about $440 million – is said to include a hotel, retail and restaurant precinct, yacht club, apartments and detached housing. 

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$778 Million Housing Estate Fast Tracked by Planning Minister, Bacchus Marsh

PLANNING Minister Justin Madden has “fast tracked” a massive 141 hectare housing estate in Melbourne’s north-west outskirts.

The $778 million Riverside Estate, in Bacchus Marsh, has been proposed by former Victorian Football League player Stewart Gull and will include 1500 homes.

Being outside of metropolitan Melbourne, homes in the project are eligible for a taxpayer funded regional first-home buyers grant of $4,500 for supporting regional development.

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Government Appoints Baulderstone to Undertake $128.5 Million Hamer Hall Renovation, Melbourne

Hamer HallMAJOR Projects Minister Tim Pallas has appointed construction company Baulderstone to refurbish Melbourne’s Hamer Hall.
A total of $128.5 million will be spent on acoustics, new auditorium seating and staging systems, new connections to central Melbourne, St Kilda Road and the Yarra River, new foyer spaces and stairs, better disability access, escalators and lifts.
The redevelopment is a joint venture between Arts Victoria, the Arts Centre, Major Projects Victoria and architects Ashton Raggatt McDougall.

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