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One third of mortgage owners have less than a month’s buffer against financial instability, the Reserve Bank has warned, in a review highlighting increased risks in the heated Sydney and Melbourne property markets.
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The RBA’s half-yearly financial stability review, released on Thursday, also took aim at the noticeable rise in investor credit, stating a decline could trigger a sharp downturn in the market.

“The concern is that investors are likely to contribute to the amplification of the cycles in borrowing and housing prices, generating additional risks to the future health of the economy,” the RBA said.

“Periods of rapidly rising prices can create the expectation of further price rises, drawing more households into the market, increasing the willingness to pay more for a given property, and leading to an overall increase in household indebtedness.”

According to the RBA, aggregate mortgage buffers are high, at about 17 per cent of outstanding loan balances.

“But these aggregate figures mask significant variation across borrowers, with available data suggesting that around one-third of borrowers have either no accrued buffer or a buffer of less than one month’s repayments,” the RBA found.

“Those with minimal buffers tend to have newer mortgages, or to be lower-income or lower-wealth households”.

The RBA’s assessment follows Treasurer Scott Morrison’s push for regulators to crack down on investor loans after they rose to more than 50 per cent of all loans in January, amplifying market risk and entrenching the housing affordability crisis.

House prices surged 1.4 per cent across in March, pushing annual price growth to 19 per cent in Sydney and 16 per cent in Melbourne.

Of particular concern to the RBA was the rise in interest-only loans, which now represent 23 per cent of owner-occupier lending and 64 per cent of investor lending.

“Interest-only lending has the potential to increase households’ vulnerability in part due to the higher average level of indebtedness over the life of an interest only loan compared with a regular principal-and-interest loan,” the RBA stated.

TD Securities strategist Annette Beacher observed that “interest-only” lending was mentioned 17 times in the report.

“This report is a not-subtle threat against rising ‘risky’ investor mortgages.”

The RBA also took a swipe at the big four banks for poor culture that led to the financial planning and life insurance scandals exposed by Fairfax Media and Four Corners.

“International experience has shown that banks that allow or encourage a culture of excessive risk-taking can pose significant harm to financial stability if poor culture becomes pervasive,” the RBA stated.

It said banking regulator the n Prudential Regulation Authority had found in some cases, “banks allowed a culture to develop within their core banking divisions over recent years that prioritised protecting market share … over sound lending practices”.

On the global economy, the RBA said the outlook had improved over the past six months, though some longstanding vulnerabilities in the US, Europe and China remain.

“Risks related to some international political developments have increased, though markets have generally reacted to events in an orderly manner so far,” the RBA stated.

“While still under discussion, some of the new US administration’s policies, particularly in relation to trade and financial regulation, could adversely affect global economic growth and financial stability.”

The RBA said the influence of “Eurosceptic” parties in elections to be held later this year could undermine the resilience of European banks and sovereign debt markets.

On China, the RBA warned of rising levels of debt “with particularly strong growth in lending from the less regulated and more opaque parts of China’s financial system.”

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SportTuggeranong Vikings Vs Canberra Royals. Royals’ Tom Cusack.Filed: Saturday, 27 July 2013 6:18:40 PM Photo by Rohan Thomson, The Canberra Timesrt130727Union-4883.jpg Photo: Rohan ThomsonRio Olympian Tom Cusack had to take a pay cut to chase his ACT Brumbies dream, but the former n sevens stars says it will all be worth it when he makes his debut.
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Cusack is poised to play his first Super Rugby game after being named on the Brumbies bench for the clash against the Melbourne Rebels on Saturday night.

The 24-year-old spent the past four seasons travelling the world to tournaments in Las Vegas, London, Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand and the Rio Olympic Games.

But the well-travelled back-rower has never played a competitive match in Melbourne and is bracing for a brutal battle against the Rebels.

Cusack was one of ‘s best performers at the Olympics last year, and was named in the team of the tournament.

However, he turned his back on another year in sevens to pursue his Super Rugby ambitions.

The Brumbies tried to lure Cusack to Super Rugby in 2013 and 2015, but Olympic and Commonwealth Games campaigns convinced him to stay in sevens.

This time he took the deal and a pay cut just to join the Brumbies’ extended chance in the hope of achieving a childhood dream.

“I was happy to go down the sevens path and then when it became an Olympic sport, that dragged it out to four years,” Cusack said.

“Ticking off a Commonwealth Games, an Olympic Games and travelling the world for four years is something I will never regret.

“But I always wanted to play for the Brumbies. It’s always been a gamble, but I’ve put my hand up to throw myself into the deep end.

“You have a fear that you won’t get the chance to do what you want. This is where I want to be and sometimes you have to take a step back to go forwards.

“For me it was never about money. I do need to make money because it is my job. But the financials weren’t the issue, I wanted my foot in the door.”

Cusack has been biding his time in the first two months of the season, but Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham is throwing him into the clash against the Rebels.

No. 8 Jordan Smiler injured his hamstring and will miss at least two weeks, opening the door for Jarrad Butler to move into the starting XV and for Cusack to join a forwards-heavy bench.

Larkham made five changes to the team that beat the Queensland Reds last weekend.

Butler replaces Smiler, skipper Sam Carter has been recalled after being rested, Andrew Smith will move to inside centre to replace Kyle Godwin (broken hand) while Cusack and Jordan Jackson-Hope have been added to the bench.

Smith is starting his first game for the Brumbies in three years after a stint in France and injuries last year limited his involvement.

“Smitty is a very consistent competitor and I think has the skill set to play [either inside centre or outside centre],” Larkham said.

Andrew Smith of the Brumbies evades the tackle of Samu Kerevi of the Reds. Photo: Getty

“He’s been here in the past more as a No. 13, but we feel like we’ve got the right game plan to utilise him at No. 12. He looks very comfortable in that position.”

Cusack’s balancing act has been keeping the speed that made him a key player in sevens while also bulking up to match the physical demands of the Super Rugby back row.

“Sevens has given my game so much and in my mind it was the best thing that could happen in my career in the early stages,” Cusack said.

“I got to try something unique and now I get to transition back to 15-a-side and bring those things back with me.

“Until you’re a stalwart of the team, you still have some doubts. All I’m here to do is to make sure I put my hand up, get bigger and train harder.

“This is where I always wanted to end up – playing Super Rugby. Being a Canberra boy, this is what I see as a natural fit and it’s humbling.”

SUPER RUGBY ROUND EIGHT

Saturday: Melbourne Rebels v ACT Brumbies at AAMI Park, Melbourne, 7.45pm. TV time: Live on Fox Sports 1.

Brumbies team: 15. Aidan Toua, 14. Henry Speight, 13. Tevita Kuridrani, 12. Andrew Smith, 11. Tom Banks, 10. Wharenui Hawera, 9. Joe Powell, 8. Jarrad Butler, 7. Chris Alcock, 6. Scott Fardy, 5. Sam Carter, 4. Rory Arnold, 3. Allan Alaalatoa, 2. Robbie Abel, 1. Scott Sio. Reserves: 16. Saia Faingaa, 17. Nic Mayhew, 18. Ben Alexander, 19. Blake Enever, 20. Tom Staniforth, 21. Tom Cusack, 22. De Wet Roos, 23. Jordan Jackson-Hope.

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DELIVERING: Maitland City Council General Manager David Evans.Maitland residents are being asked to comment onthe city’s draft operational plan which will beon public exhibition until May 15.
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Councillors supported the detailed plan at a meeting this week and called on ratepayers to have their say.

The delivery program and draft operational plan, which incorporates the city’s annual budget, fees and charges (including rates) and capital works program, sets out what will be deliveredover the next financial year.It also shows how council objectives and actions will help achieve goals specified by residents in the community strategic plan Maitland + 10.

The$148 million draft plan is forecast to reap an additional $4.7 million in rate revenue.While council is budgeting for a surplus of $12,000 it also has to fork out a myriad of levies to various government departments.

General Manager David Evans said over the next year council willfocuson completingmanyprojects. “This is ourlargest budget to date. Projects identified in theplan which willprogressinclude construction of the Riverlink building, the Mount Vincent Road wastetransfer station, reconstruction of Athel D’Ombrain Drive (east), a new community centre at Gillieston Heights and construction onMaitland Regional Sportsground athletics track. Wehave also set a target of increasing grant revenue,” he said.

Mayor Peter Blackmore said this is an extraordinary plan guided by an elected council sitting beyond their standard four year term.”The announcement council will not amalgamate with Dungog was followed by a proclamation that we will go to the polls on September 9.As such this operational plan has been prepared with a tight focus on business as usual and completion of identified initiatives,” he said.

A range of other priorities have been highlighted in the plan such as crime prevention strategies, affordable housing and the launch of a new corporate website.

“Next financial year we will also spend nearly $13 million on the reconstruction rehabilitation and resurfacing of roads,’ the mayor said.

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Senator Derryn Hinch at Parliament House in Canberra on Thursday 1 December 2016 Photo: Andrew Meares Photo: Andrew MearesThere are two four-letter words you will never hear escaping from the lips of politicians.
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One is “rich” and the other is “poor”.

Tune into question time on any given day and all manner of euphemisms are used instead – “hard-working families”, “battlers”, “lifters and leaners” and “millionaires”.

Even the Prime Minister – a rich man by anyone’s standard – can’t describe himself as such.

“We’ve worked hard, we’ve paid our taxes, we’ve given back,” Mr Turnbull said shortly after becoming Prime Minister in 2015, in an attempt to deflect Labor’s accusation that a man of his means could not understand the lives of ordinary folk.

The budget is now four weeks away and the framing of who deserves help from the government and who should work harder for that help is well under way.

The big issue – housing affordability – is emerging as the new class divide.

No longer are people working class, middle class or upper class – they can either afford to be home owners or they cannot.

Judith Brett, emeritus professor of politics at Melbourne’s La Trobe University, says the housing debate is “bizarre”.

“If you talk about inequality, housing is now an enormous issue. It’s not just about having a job, it’s also about having parents who can afford to help [with a deposit]. That’s going back to a Jane Austen kind of time when access to capital was a major determinant of life choices. That wasn’t the case for me and my parents’ generations.”

Income is still important but so is a source of capital separate to someone’s salary.

Brett, whose book Menzies’ Forgotten People examined the post World War 2 Liberal Party’s cultivation of the middle class, scratches her head when she considers the modern day Liberal Party’s approach to housing.

Under Sir Robert Menzies it “was the party that did everything it could to promote home ownership,” Brett says.

“The Liberal Party now seems to be very confused. It seems to be protecting home ownership as a form of investment.”

Immediately after World War 2, levels of home ownership hovered at about 50 per cent in the cities; the working classes were life-long renters.

“Menzies worked very hard to turn that around through war service loans and banks having to put aside money for housing loans. That was central to what the Liberal Party stood for,” Brett explains.

As result, home ownership levels began to rise.

Contrast this to today, where budget speculation has been dominated by what measures – if any – the Turnbull government will introduce to make home ownership feel more like a realistic aspiration.

“Housing affordability is very damaging to the credibility of the Liberal Party in terms of its political position. Menzies was very keen not to be seen as a party of the wealthy and the current Liberal Party has a problem with that at the moment,” Brett says.

Owning a home in Sydney or Melbourne is quickly becoming the new class divide.

Debates in Parliament about whether or not an income of $180,000 makes someone rich seem nonsensical to someone trying to buy their first home at a time when median property values were a record $1.123 million in Sydney at the end of 2016 and $795,447 in Melbourne.

A politician’s advice that home buyers should get good jobs or get their parents to help them out seems particularly tone-deaf when the median prices of apartments and units has reached $711,256 in Sydney and $459,181 in Melbourne.

Earlier this week Justice Party senator Derryn Hinch said home ownership was no longer something young people should feel was their right.

“The problem here is that people – I get it’s unpopular to say this – but owning your own home is not an n right. It’s a dream and everybody wants to do it,” Senator Hinch said on Tuesday.

“I think [my parents] were in their 40s before they could afford to buy their first home. It’s not something you’re meant to get – the two-car garage [house] when you’re 22. I think… that this generation and the one before think that’s the way it has to be. Well, I’m afraid it’s not that way.”

Add to this stagnating wage growth and a widening gap between the top 10 per cent of income earners and the bottom 10 per cent and it is not difficult to see why the n National University’s 2016 election survey found ns’ satisfaction with democracy has collapsed to its lowest level since the Whitlam dismissal with more than half the people surveyed saying politicians were out of touch and only governing for a few big interests.

Earlier this week the n Bureau of Statistics revealed the typical n was a 38-year-old woman living with her husband and two children in a three-bedroom house with a mortgage.

But the typical politician, according to Buzzfeed, was a married 51-year-old father of two, who owned two homes and was called Andrew.

“Obviously this budget will be about housing affordability. Housing and class defines your position more than it ever did before,” Nicholas Biddle, deputy director of the n Centre for Applied Social Research Methods at the n National University, says.

Home ownership is now a “signal of middle classness” and something that seems further and further out of reach for people with incomes at the lower end of the scale.

Dr Biddle says it might feel as if people are able to climb up society’s rungs but their ability to do so has decreased in recent years.

“In there’s less mobility than there was in the 1950s and 1960s,” he says, pointing to post-war migration and the opening up of the higher education system as mechanisms that allowed people to rise through the ranks.

What academics call “associative mating” became more common.

“Previously you would have had a relatively low educated mother with a more highly educated father and everyone goes up,” Dr Biddle explains.

Now “people tend to marry people from within their group”.

Neighbourhoods are becoming more homogenous and education has become about “getting your children into the top school and the top university”.

All of this is “bad news for people at the bottom”, Dr Biddle says.

Someone with direct experience of this is Olga Srbovski.

???Srbovski has worked for The Smith Family for nearly 15 years in Canberra, Wollongong and regional NSW.

She sees first-hand the struggle faced by the people at the bottom and believes must confront the emergence of a new class – the working poor.

“There’s so much hidden poverty. People are working but they’re just scraping by,” Srbovski says.

Housing is a bigger and bigger issue each year. The waiting times for public housing are increasingly forcing people to seek affordable private housing.

The services she oversees – such as programs to help families with education costs – are becoming increasingly stretched.

“We’re beginning to see more and more families coming in and saying ‘we’re really struggling’. What we’re finding is that more and more classes are asking their kids to bring in their own tablet. If you have three kids and the class is asking you to come in with a tablet it’s incredibly expensive. It’s all of the added costs.”

Families are facing multiple types of disadvantage in addition to financial stress – housing pressures, family violence, disability, mental and other types of health issues.

Srbovski worries about the children in families struggling to overcome these issues.

“It stresses the kids watching their parents struggle,” she says.

“They don’t go to swimming lessons or play sport. It’s a real issue for our young kids. We’re seeing a lot of anxious kids. They become isolated, disengaged. That affects how they go through later life. If you’re not building relationships when you’re young then how hard is it to do it later in life?”

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IMPACT: Holding midfielder Jane McDonald, right, controls the tempo of the game for United.UnbeatenHeraldWomen’s Premier League leadersMerewether will face a stern test in Port Macquarie on Sunday when they take on Mid North Coast withoutexperienced trio Alison Logue, Jane McDonald and Rhali Dobson.
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Logue, United’s goalkeeper, misses the game through suspension after she was red-carded in Merewether’s come-from-behind 2-1 win over defending champions Warners Bay in round five.

McDonald holds the midfield for United and has the ability to control the tempo of the match. She misses the game as she is overseas with the Emerging Jets girls’ teams playing in the Dallas International Cup.

Strike weapon Dobson is also overseas.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve played without Jane and I think it will be a good test for our team,” Merewether coach Cass Koppen said.

“She is a solid midfielder and controls things for us, so if will be interesting to see if we can maintain our composure and discipline without Jane. I still think we have a quality enough side.”

Koppen remained wary of what she described as a tough road trip to Port Macquarie and acknowledged Mid North Coast had been a bit of a bogey side for United in recent seasons.

“Mid North Coast have always been a very athletic and very coachable side and they’ve always been one of our harder rivals,” she said.

“Then add in the experience of Sophie Jones, Shannon Day and Imogene Tomasone this year and we are definitely expecting a tough game.”

South Wallsend coach Gary Wilson expected former W-League player Stacey Day to have more impact when they travel to The Gardens for a local derby with Wallsend.

Day returned to the field in the Wolves’ 5-0 win over Thornton last weekend. She played the final 20 minutes of the match and the appearance was herfirst since having a second knee reconstruction last year.

Wilson said she would continue to be eased back into playing with the focus on having her firing by the end of the season rather than rushing her back too soon.

The match will be the first in four days for South Wallsend, who back up against Warners Bay on Wednesday night.

Adamstown travel to Thornton to take on The Redbacks in the other round-six match.

Adamstown coach Ben Herron said patience would be key to their success and was wary of the winless Redbacks, who defend well then can catch teams out with their pace in transition on the counter attack.

“I’m not entirely sure what to expect; they’ve had a big loss in round one then it sounds like they pushed Warners Bay fairly well, so they seem inconsistent,” Herron said.

“We travelled up there last year and they showed a fair bit of energy and were leading at half-time.

“Our focus will on being patient in what we do. We can’t go gung-ho and rush into everything, so I will be making sure they are all aware and understand that patience is probably going to win it on the weekend, and that we need to be making wise decisions rather than forcing it.”

Warners Bay have the bye.

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IT has taken fourweeks, but the Newcastle Knights have finally copped it on the chin –just as fullback Brendan Elliot did in their round-three loss to South Sydney.
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Elliot was crunched in a grade-two reckless high tackle on March 18, which earnedSouths centre Hymel Hunt a four-game suspension.

The incident was also costly for the Knights, who incurred a $100,000 breach notice for not removing Elliot from the field for a head-injury assessment. Newcastle lodged a submission, arguing they should not be fined, and the NRL reduced the sanction last week to a $50,000 penalty, with $50,000 suspended for 12 months.

The Knights indicated they would appeal against the fine but the club announced on Thursday it had abandoned any further legal action.

“As a club, we absolutely support the NRL in strengthening the rules and improving the management of head injuries suffered by players,” Knights chief executiveMatt Gidley said.

In a statement, the Knights said they “thoroughly investigated the matter and sought independent evaluation by a leading concussion specialist” and were “extremely disappointed in the process that the NRL has undertaken”.

“We adamantly support our medical staff and the integrity they demonstrate in the management of our players … we will write to the NRL and express our disappointment,” Gidley said.

Meanwhile, Knights forward Daniel Saifiti is confident his teammates can provide more resistance against the Roosters at McDonald Jones Stadium on Friday night than they did last season.

The Roosters overpowered Newcastle 38-0 in round nine last year –their third successive defeat in what would ultimately become a club-record 19-game losing streak.

“All I remember is that they were big,’’ Saifiti said.

“They were probably the first big team that I played last year, and probably the first game that I thought this is what the big league is like.

“Just big forwards andmobile. That’s the main thing I remember.’’

Saifiti said Newcastle have “come such a long way” in the past year and he was confident they could notch their second win of the season.

Knights skipper Trent Hodkinson said it was important for Newcastle to end a run of narrow losses.

“I don’t think we’re too far away,’’ he said. “The confidence is growing each week.”

* A man-of-the-match performance on his Super League debut by former Knight JakeMamowas not enough to prevent Huddersfield crashing to a 29-22 home defeat by Catalans Dragons. The 22-year-old, who arrived in England with a broken ankle, scored a try and produced a series of dashing runs.

FLASHBACK: Knights fullback Brendan Elliot stays down for treatment during the loss to South Sydney on March 18. Picture: Getty Images

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Luke Lazarus has had advantages in his life. And he likely had a sense of overdue entitlement at Soho, the Kings Cross nightclub that his father owned and where he worked as a promoter.
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But, continued defence barrister Phillip Boulten, SC, Mr Lazarus “is a young, decent fellow, never been in trouble before, studying, going about his life the way you expect a young fellow might”.

Mr Lazarus is accused of raping an 18-year-old woman, who was on her hands and knees, in a laneway behind his father’s club in the early hours of May 12, 2013.

In his closing address, Mr Boulten told the court that although Mr Lazarus may have been less inhibited after drinking alcohol throughout the evening, he did not force himself on the woman.

“This charge is an act of violence. It’s a despicable act of violence if it is what it is said to be and you would need to be very, very drunk to be so disinhibited as to go from someone who is not normally violent or sexually oppressive to be so in this instant,” Mr Boulten said.

“He was someone who was popular, he got on well with young women, better than most it seems, and their evidence about him suggest that he is not really the sort of person who would force himself upon someone even when he was sexually excited.”

The court has heard that Mr Lazarus, now 25, approached the woman on the nightclub dance floor and told her he was linked to the club before taking her to the VIP area and introducing her to the DJ.

He then asked her if she wanted to go somewhere more private before they left the club together and had sex in a dark gravel laneway. Soon after, Mr Lazarus asked the woman to write her name in the notes section of his phone, where he also kept a list of his “conquests”.

In her closing address, Crown prosecutor Cate Dodds told the court that Lazarus took advantage of the woman’s intoxicated state.

“She was an 18-year-old virgin, who had known this accused for a matter of minutes and who had engaged in consensual kissing and possibly body rubbing, but did not give consent to the anal intercourse that followed,” Ms Dodds said.

But Mr Boulten told the NSW District Court on Thursday that the woman may have been drinking but not so much that she did not know what she was doing.

“She was though, we say, intoxicated enough to be uncharacteristically acting out on sexual urges. She was an active participant in what might be described as intimate acts,” Mr Boulten said.

“She probably wouldn’t have done if she had not had alcohol and was not in a club at Kings Cross at 4’o clock in the morning but that does not mean that the alcohol was such as to overbear her will.”

Mr Lazarus was found guilty by a jury of raping the woman and was sentenced to a maximum of five years’ jail in 2015 but his conviction was quashed and a retrial ordered last year.

Judge Robyn Tupman?????? has now retired to consider her verdict.

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The n Grand Prix Corporation is confident that it’s mix of sport, business, innovation and industry is exactly the recipe that Formula One’s new owners are keen to promote as they look to maximise their multi-billion dollar investment.
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AGPC chief executive Andrew Westacott said this week that Liberty ceo Chase Carey and commercial operations manager Sean Bratches had been impressed by what Melbourne had to offer both on and off track.

Westacott said the Melbourne race at Albert Park would continue to provide a unique fan experience that brought together motorsport enthusiasts from around n and the world – which is Liberty’s core plan to grow the sport.

“In Sean Bratches’ case, he has been 27 years in ESPN and enviously he has been to 28 Super Bowls, but that was his first ever Formula One event that he’d been to in the world,” Westacott said. “And what he saw was something that absolutely fits with where they want to take Formula One.

“I’m not saying therefore that we get everything right, but what they saw they liked and they saw that we do what they want to do for Formula One, and therefore we can both grow together and there was a really good feeling of continued optimism of expanding our great event.

Westacott said Liberty was focused on making the sport more accessible for fans through face-to-face and digital engagement.

“It’s brought a new focus of ‘can do’ on the fan experience, elevating the Formula One brand and separately to that digital and partnerships,” he said. “So everything that Chase [Carey] and and [Sean] Bratches particularly talk about is partnerships and maximising the benefit for Formula One and maximising the benefit for the promoter.

“We loved having them out here, they had a great time, they saw a great event and we have really got 12 months of optimism and continued new ideas. If Melburnians and the world thought this year’s event was great, wait until we conjure up next year’s event.

And while the n race organisers continue to attract criticism for not providing detailed crowd figures, Westacott says there’s little doubt that interest from fans and corporate backers is increasing as Daniel Ricciardo continues to impress on the world stage.

“I felt that with what the team has done over the years we have had continued growth since about 2010-2011in terms of revenues, and the reason I see Melburnians embracing it is that it has now been here for 22 years and the expansion of the footprint of Formula One, it is not just a car race.

“It’s not just motor sport, it is industry and innovating. It is a way to do business in that unique way because corporate and the corporate world has to entertain and it has to do business and it needs to do business in ways that are creative and fun and interesting and Formula One and our event provides that in terms of networking opportunities, inbound trade missions and just business and technology coming together with sport.”

Westacott conceded Ricciardo’s poor weekend had been a dampener on the event, but said the wider story was that he was still scrapping.

“I didn’t have too many disappointments across the weekend, but unfortunately sport is sport and that is why we love it and you know if Daniel couldn’t get up and win, at least the Red Ferrari was there. We just have to be patient. People say Daniel expended too much time and effort into the PR activity. We are always very mindful of that, only Daniel knows that and his team. I think it was just unfortunate, just not a good racing weekend.

“I think what he continues to show that he is a very mature, level-headed, likeable sportsman and fantastic young n and he can drive.

For his part Ricciardo conceded ahead of this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix that he was not particularly happy with his fourth in China, but it was at least better than his woes at Albert Park.

“That was kind of what I felt was my first real race of the year. In Melbourne I didn’t really race. Didn’t get the real experience,” he said on his website DanielRicciardo苏州夜总会招聘.

“Obviously when you are close to the podium you always feel like … I wasn’t stoked with the result but definitely take something from it and it wasn’t a disaster by any means. Hopefully the races continue to be more exciting like they were in China.”

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SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 31: Lucky Gattelari is escorted to a police car under special security at King Street court on January 31, 2017 in Sydney, . (Photo by Daniel Munoz/Fairfax Media) Photo: Daniel MunozAfter nearly three weeks of deliberations, the jury in the murder trial of property developer Ron Medich has been unable to reach a majority verdict.
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Mr Medich, who celebrated his 69th birthday on Tuesday, had pleaded not guilty to the murder of Cremorne wheeler dealer Michael McGurk and the subsequent intimidation of his widow Kimberley.

Shortly before 4 o’clock on Thursday afternoon, the jury of seven men and five women sent a note to Justice Geoffrey Bellew indicating they had not been able to form a unanimous verdict. “This does not look likely to change,” the note said.

Because the voting patterns disclosed to the judge were so far apart, he decided it would be pointless to offer them a chance to reach an 11-1 majority verdict.

The accused frowned while his daughter Pamela cried.

Mrs McGurk comforted her two daughters in the King Street court room as they wept.

It had all come down to the word of one man.

The Crown’s star witness and Mr Medich’s once close friend, Fortunato “Lucky” Gattellari, gave evidence that Mr Medich was “the big boss” who had ordered and paid for the 2009 murder of Mr McGurk.

The NSW Supreme Court heard that Mr Medich was enraged over a string of lawsuits in which he and Mr McGurk were embroiled.

Accusations of fraud flew back and forth with each claiming the other owed him millions of dollars. The pair were feuding over soured property deals, a loan company and mortgages linked to a house in Point Piper.

According to Gattellari, by early 2009, Mr Medich had had enough.

After a series of losses in court, Mr Medich complained bitterly to Gattellari that Mr McGurk was making “a fool of me, the laughing stock of the eastern suburbs”.

“I want it done,” Mr Medich allegedly told Gattellari.

Gattellari, a former professional lightweight boxer and one-time Qantas steward, told the court he hoped Mr Medich’s desire for the ultimate revenge would blow over. But Mr Medich allegedly continued to badger him about whether he had found a prospective hitman.

Gattellari’s lifestyle, which kicked off each morning with a cognac and cigar, was funded by Mr Medich’s astonishing largesse. Not only did Mr Medich fund their daily boozy lunches, visits to brothels and overseas jaunts, Mr Medich also poured $16 million into Gattellari’s failing electrical companies.

With his younger brother Roy, Mr Medich had made his fortune developing industrial sites in Liverpool.

In 2008, the brothers fell out and, after selling their interest in Leichhardt’s Norton Street Plaza for $112 million, Roy and Ron went their own ways.

Around the eastern suburbs, Mr Medich had the unfortunate nickname “Cottee’s” after the Thick’n’Rich ice-cream topping. The portrait painted of Mr Medich’s business acumen throughout the trial was not a pretty one. He squandered millions of dollars on questionable business deals, with dubious partners and without any documentation.

He invested in an Aboriginal funeral business (which was shut down by the corporate regulator), a failed property development with an Aboriginal land council (which was referred to ICAC) and had offered a $25 million loan facility to a pay-day lending company.

On top of that, there were the millions of dollars he had invested in Mr McGurk’s property deals, the $16 million in Gattellari’s companies as well as a host of unsecured and undocumented personal loans to associates and hangers-on.

The cycle of Mr Medich’s business failures meant that whoever became his new “best friend” was asked to try to recoup Mr Medich’s investments, usually by way of menace, according to the evidence.

Gattellari’s predecessor was the Scottish-born Mr McGurk who was dispatched to Hawaii by Mr Medich to threaten Paul Mathieson, the founder of Amazing Loans, the court heard.

In November 2008, Mr McGurk firebombed the home of Adam and Sally-Anne Tilley in Point Piper.

The waterfront house in Wolseley Road had been owned briefly by Mr Medich and his then-wife Odetta. The Medichs had found a superior residence up the road so they lent the Tilleys the money to buy their redundant mansion.

However, the Tilleys fell behind with the payments so Mr Medich handed this problem to Mr McGurk to fix.

When legal action against the Tilleys failed, Mr McGurk went to plan B, firebombing their house. Mr Medich posted his $100,000 bail when Mr McGurk was charged with arson in January 2009.

The charges were dropped not long before Mr McGurk was murdered.

But within weeks Mr Medich had withdrawn the bail surety and the duo were now at war. This meant the vacant position of consigliere to Mr Medich was free for Gattellari to fill.

Keen to keep his benefactor happy, Gattellari said he recruited brothers Haissam and Bassam Safetli to murder Mr McGurk.

The brothers, who were doing odd jobs for Gattellari’s electrical company, set the price for murder at $300,000 plus expenses.

“F—, that’s a lot of money,” Mr Medich complained, according to Gattellari.

After initially baulking at the cost, Mr Medich eventually forked out between $500,000 and $600,000 for the murder of Mr McGurk, the court heard.

And, when Mrs McGurk didn’t pay the millions Mr Medich felt her husband owed him, Mr Medich instructed Gattellari to have her threatened.

Gattellari’s evidence was that he organised the murder on behalf of Mr Medich. However, complicating matters for the Crown was that he was recently charged over trying to extort $15 million from Mr Medich to change his evidence (using the now convicted murderers Roger Rogerson and Glen McNamara as go-betweens).

“Lucky Gattellari is never going to be awarded n of the Year,” Crown prosecutor Gina O’Rourke, SC, told the jury.

“But who do you go to if you want to arrange a murder and an intimidation?” she posed. “If you are the accused, ladies and gentlemen, you go to Lucky Gattellari. That is exactly what he did.”

On the evening of September 3, 2009, Haissam Safetli, then 45, and Christopher “The Kid” Estephan, 19, fortified with Jim Beam bourbon from the local Cremorne bottle shop, waited for Mr McGurk.

At 6.25pm Mr McGurk and his nine-year-old son arrived home with a takeaway chicken and chips for dinner. As Mr McGurk alighted from his Mercedes he was shot in the head.

His terrified son ran up the side path of the family’s Cremorne home screaming, “Mummy, mummy, dad’s been hurt. There was a pop and there’s blood.”

Mrs McGurk rushed out to find her husband, half out of the car, a bullet hole behind his right ear.

At 8.03pm, Bassam Safetli sent a text to Gattellari’s right-hand man Senad Kaminic, saying: “Job’s done.”

Kaminic told an earlier hearing that Bassam complained to him about his brother’s stupidity, including that, on the night of the murder, Haissam had burned his clothes, forgetting that some of the murder money was still in his pocket.

“Look at this idiot. And they believe it was a professional hit,” Bassam is alleged to have told Kaminic.

The Director of Public Prosecutions will now decide whether Mr Medich will face a new trial, a likely prospect according to his barrister Winston Terracini, SC. Mr Medich left the court without speaking.

Shouts could be heard from the jury room after they left the courtroom. Whether it was from relief or joy was not clear.

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Waiting for a tragedy Concerns: Margarete Ritchie on the side of Brandy Hill Road early this year as trucks drive to and from the Hanson-owned Brandy Hill Quarry. Residents fear more crashes if the quarry expands.
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Fatality: A car driven by a man, 27, who died at the scene of a crash on the intersection of Clarencetown Road and Brandy Hill Road at Brandy Hill on Thursday. Picture: Simone De Peak.

Warnings: Residents were horrified by the fatal crash only a week after they filmed the intersection because of crash concerns. Picture: Simone De Peak.

Expansion: The intersection where a man died in a crash on Thursday is likely to see much greater use if quarry expansion plans go ahead.

Fatal: The car in which a man died on Thursday.

TweetFacebookIt was going to happen. We knew it was going to happen.

Brandy Hill resident Margarete RitchieTraffic accident data showed five crasheswithin a 500 metre radius of the intersection within the past six years, including one fatality, with only one crashat the intersection itself. No crashes involved quarry trucks.

It recommended increasing road safety by reducing the Clarence Town Road speed limit to 80kph.

At a meeting on March 22 involving the Department of Planning, Brandy Hill and Seaham Action Group and Brandy Hill Quarry representatives, action group member Deb Fisher spelt out residents’ concerns about the intersection.

“There is insufficient time for a car to stop when a truck is passing through the Clarence Town Road and Brandy Hill Drive intersection,” she said.

While it took a loaded truck and trailer up to 20 seconds to cross the intersection from a standing start at the stop sign leading from the quarry, cars travelling at 100kph on Clarence Town Road towards the intersection had only six seconds to brake after cresting a hill at which the intersection became visible.

“There are safety concerns not only for residents but the truck drivers themselves,” Mrs Fisher said.

Mrs Ritchie said she was invited to spend a day with a truck driver several years ago when the quarry’s increasing operations caused alarm for residents because of the number of trucks using Brandy Hill Drive.

“The first thing we did was pull out of the intersection and the truck driver said to me ‘This is where I start praying’ because they pull out and cars crest the hill at speed and the trucks can’t drive any faster,” Mrs Ritchie said.

Residents strongly opposed increasing the quarry’s operating hours from 6am to 6pm to 24 hours a day, and said the combined impact of an expanded Brandy Hill Quarry and an expanded Martins Creek Quarry on roads that were not designed to accommodate hundreds of heavy truck movements a day would make the area inherently unsafe.

A record of the March 22 meeting shows Department of Planning team leader Colin Phillips told residents that “at this time it is agreed that the current intersection analysis (including the Clarence Town Road/Brandy Hill Drive intersection) is not sufficient”.

Mr Phillips also agreed that bus stops along Brandy Hill Drive where Brandy Hill and Martins Creek quarry trucks travel were “not big enough”, which Mrs Ritchie described as an understatement.

“The increase in truck traffic is enormous. The current 340 trucks per day will be increased by 505 to844 truck movements per day. At peak this will be 110 trucks per hour,” Mrs Ritchie said.

“Add to this the same number of truck movements from Martins Creek Quarry with itsproposal of 1.5million and you can see that the residents of Brandy Hill Drive will find it very hard to exist.”

In its environmental impact statement Hanson said the truck movements would have low to moderate impact on residents.

Hanson has identified more than 78 million tonnes of available material within the proposed new extraction area of more than 78 hectares.

”The ability to continue supplying the Hunter region with products from Brandy Hill Quarryensures a competitive market in the region. The high cost of transporting materials creates the need for quarries to be in close proximity to large existing markets, such as the Newcastle, Hunter and Central Coast areas,” Hanson said.

The crash on Thursday was “very sad”, and its traffic reporthad been independently assessed, a Hansonspokesman said.

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Barnaby Joyce has been called “irresponsible” by one of ‘s most senior conservationists after the Deputy Prime Minister dismissed wetlands adjoining Adani’s Abbot Point coal port as little more than a “duck-shooting pond”.
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The brawl over Adani’s threats to the onshore environment and the Great Barrier Reef escalated as Liberal backbencher Sarah Henderson broke ranks to question a potential $1 billion government loan to develop rail infrastructure for the Indian conglomerate’s proposed Carmichael mine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin.

n Conservation Council president Geoff Cousins said Mr Joyce had “failed to check his facts” on the Caley Valley wetlands, a 5000-hectare bird habitat that environmentalists say was damaged by coal dust contamination from the Adani terminal during cyclone Debbie.

Mr Joyce this week played down the wetlands’ ecological value, describing it as a “swamp” built for duck shooters.

Minister for Resources and Northern Matt Canavan repeated the claim on Wednesday, saying the area was “a man-made swamp that was created for duck shooting in the 1950s”.

The first member of the government to make the claim appears to have been Dawson MP George Christensen, who was quoted in 2015 as saying “the area the extreme greens pretend to care about was actually a dry flat plain until two gun clubs got together in the 1950s to divert a watercourse and create a pond where they could shoot ducks”.

According to the federal government’s Directory of Important Wetlands in , Caley Valley is a diverse and permanent wetland “exceptionally important for waterbirds” and eligible for international importance under the Ramsar Convention.

It estimates that just 0.2 per cent of the wetlands have been modified by humans.

The directory, issued by the Department of Environment and Energy, places the hydrological history of the area as “post-ice age” when sediments from the Euri Creek and the Don River met the “recently inundated (by a post-ice age sea level rise) coastline”.

A 2010 baseline report to the Queensland government acknowledged that the wetlands were modified in the 1950s to increase fresh water to “promote recreational waterfowl hunting”, but that was banned in 2005.

Mr Cousins said the bund walls made by shooters were never effective and did not significantly alter the wetlands.

“Barnaby Joyce showed a complete lack of effort to check the facts,” he said.

“He’s acting irresponsibly and damaging the credibility of the government. I don’t think this person is a fit person to be a minister of the crown.”

A spokesman for Mr Joyce said nothing in Mr Cousins’ comments changed the wetlands’ history as a duck-shooting pond. “You can’t pretend a historical fact doesn’t exist simply because you don’t like the fact,” he said.

Despite Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s pledge that the loan decision process would be done “scrupulously independently”, Mr Joyce and Mr Canavan have been enthusiastic about the prospect of Adani’s Carmichael mine receiving the $1 billion concessional loan from the government.

Fairfax Media revealed on Wednesday that comments by Adani saying the finance was not “critical” to the project could rule it out of receiving the loan via the $5 billion Northern Infrastructure Fund (NAIF).

Ms Henderson, who holds the marginal Victorian seat of Corangamite, has become the second Liberal MP to raise concern about Adani receiving a public loan, after Queenslander Bert van Manen said the rail line should not be in the hands of one company.

Following a meeting with representative from GetUp, Ms Henderson wrote to the activist group outlining her concerns and saying she had contacted Mr Canavan over them.

“I too share your concerns on commercial grounds,” she wrote.

“I am advised that the project has now been significantly scaled back and involves just an open-cut mine, and no underground collieries … Due to the scale back, total investment has been reduced significantly as have the number of new jobs forecast.

“I note the NAIF’s Investment Mandate Direction 2016, which provides a number of important investment safeguards. Notwithstanding, I am concerned about the commercial risk involved in the government providing such a significant loan to Adani under these circumstances.”

GetUp director Sam Regester claimed people were “outraged” at the prospect of the loan to Adani.

“Queensland needs a lot of money for reconstruction from cyclone Debbie,” he said. “But this government would prefer to pay for infrastructure that only benefits foreign coal companies.”

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CREATING HISTORY: Artist Gino Volpato, the creator of the Munmorah Mural, inspects the work in the power station’s foyer. Picture: Volpatohatz苏州夜总会招聘
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Support for saving the mural at the decommissioned Munmorah Power Station is coming from afar – but remains close to the heart of the artwork.

The facility is being demolished, with the power station’slandmark 155-metre high twin stacks alreadytoppled by a controlled explosion in March.

Agroup of former power industry workers, calling itself the Munmorah Reunion Committee, is trying to rescue the 9-metre long mural from the old administration building before it is demolished.

The‘Munmorah Mural’ was created from more than 800 ceramic tiles by artist and architect Gino Volpato in 1966, when the power station was being built. It depicts the electricity generation process.Mr Volpato died in 2008. Buthis son, Marco Volpato, who is an architect based in Switzerland, said thefamily was delighted that there was a push to save the mural,as he and his sister had been trying for five years to garner support.

“We were pretty much in despair about what to do,” Mr Volpato said from his officein Basel. Mr Volpato said they had approached several state government departments, the Powerhouse Museum, councils and businesses, “but we kept hitting dead ends”.

Mr Volpato said his father was “immensely proud” of the mural, because of its scale and thathe had portrayed the importance of the power industry.He and his sister were “lost for words” when they received an email from committee members in Lake Macquarie, explaining their campaignto have the mural rescuedand rehoused.

“There is still some hope out there to be able to preserve history,” Mr Volpato said. “We can provide backing, both on the historical and technical side of things.”

Committee member Bob Porter, who had worked at Munmorah Power Station, said “it was startling news to us” to learn from MarcoVolpatothat the familyhad been trying for years toarouse official interest to savethe mural.

“We’re very keen to further the alliance and to garner the family’sexpertise in the preservation of the mural,” Mr Porter said.

Steve Saladine, the managing director of Generator Property Management, the NSW Government business that owned Munmorah Power Station, told the Herald in March that experts had advised him it would be difficult to remove the mural without damaging it.However, Mr Volpato said he saw the mural three years ago, and “I think it’s salvageable”. He saidit would require further inspection and may have to be removed piece by piece.

As for finding a new home for the mural, the committee is already receiving offers, including from the CFMEU’snorthern district office.

CFMEU northern mining and NSW energy district president Peter Jordan said many members had worked at Munmorah Power Station, and he believed a covered area near the memorial wall at the union’s Cessnock office could offer apossible site for the mural.

“We’d pride ourselves to show off that bit of history for ever and a day,” Mr Jordan said.

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Long road to Testers solution | PHOTOS Testers Hollow was blocked for almost five days in January 2016. Picture: Nick Bielby
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OVERDUE: Great-granddaughter of William Tester June Hirst believes the flooding problem should have been fixed long ago. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

FRUSTRATION: Cliftleigh resident Sonia Warby and daughter Kirra-lea after the January 2016 storm closed Testers Hollow for almost five days.

Testers Hollow was blocked for almost five days in January 2016. Picture: Nick Bielby

Testers Hollow was closed from April 21 to May 7, 2015 due to flooding. Photo: Sage Swinton

Testers Hollow was closed from April 21 to May 7, 2015 due to flooding. Photo: Sage Swinton

Cars contend with flood waters as Testers Hollow rises during the April storm. Photo: Sonia Warby.

Boat crews help send supplies to Gillieston Heights, which was cut off by floodwater on both sides in April 2015. Photo: Sonia Warby.

Boat crews help send supplies to Gillieston Heights, which was cut off by floodwater on both sides in April 2015. Photo: Sonia Warby.

Testers Hollow was closed from April 21 to May 7, 2015 due to flooding. Photo: Sonia Warby.

Testers Hollow was closed from April 21 to May 7, 2015 due to flooding. Photo: Sonia Warby.

Boat crews help send supplies to Gillieston Heights, which was cut off by floodwater on both sides in April 2015. Photo: Sonia Warby.

Testers Hollow was closed from April 21 to May 7, 2015 due to flooding. Photo: Sonia Warby.

A bus trapped in floodwater at Testers Hollow in 1929.

A bus trapped in floodwater at Testers Hollow in 1929.

Passengers from the stranded bus were rowed to dry land.

Testers Hollow

East Maitland, across from golf course. Picture by Charles Willacy

Morpeth. Picture by Charles Willacy

No through road, Morpeth. Picture by Charles Willacy

Morpeth park. Picture by Charles Willacy

Horseshoe Bend, Maitland. Picture by Charles Willacy

Morpeth. Picture by Charles Willacy

East Maitland. Picture by Charles Willacy

TweetFacebookRelated contentFairfax Mediahas pushed with its Raise the Road campaign, community members have collected signatures on petitions calling for action and local politicians have exerted pressure on the ruling party.

Newspaper archives from as early as1927contain reports of the chaos caused when rain flooded the major road between Maitland and Cessnock–twohubs of the Lower Hunter.

The Maitland Weekly Mercuryreported on New Year’s Day, 1927, that the water had cut the road after rising two metres.

A couple of years later, in October, 1929, aCessnock Eagle and South Maitland Recorderreport contained details of five people being rescued after the bus they were travelling in hit strife on the inundated road on a journey to Kurri Kurri.

In that same month, theNewcastle Morning Herald and Miner’s Advocatecalled Testers Hollow a“flood menace”.

“Since the opening up of the Maitlandcoalfield and the construction of the existing road from Maitlandthrough KurriKurri to Cessnock,the necessity for raising that part of the road, known as TestersHollow, hasbeen stressed by localgovernment bodies, progress associations,and engineers,” the newspaper reported.

Asearch of Trove–the National Library of –shows there has been ongoing talk about raising the road for at least 90 years.

Most recently, the issue came to a head in the aftermath of the April super storm in 2015, when the road at Testers Hollow was cut for more than two weeks.

Thiswas part of the reasonthe suburb ofGillieston Heights was isolatedfrom the remainder of the community forseveral days.

The road didn’t make it another year before it went under again.In January, 2016, the road was closedfor several days.That’s whenmomentumbehind the community campaign andFairfax Media’s Raise the Road campaign started tobuild.

Within months it became a key federal election issue in the seat of Paterson, with Labor promising $10 million to fix the road and the Liberal Party pledging $15 million.

The state government has been tight lipped on its plans, but a joint announcement with federal Infrastructure Minister Darren Chesterthis week means that, after decades, a timeline for a fix is on the table.

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