‘Underquote the sh– out of it’: Agency cops record $880k fine

A Balwyn-based real estate agency has been fined a record $880,000 for underquoting 22 properties in some of Melbourne’s blue chip suburbs, the strongest penalty for the practice in Victoria.
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In handing down the fine on Thursday, Justice Bernard Murphy said the size of the punishment would deter other agencies from similar behaviour, given several recent Consumer Affairs prosecutions, “and common experience” pointed to “a widespread problem of underquoting by residential real estate agencies”.

Fletcher and Parker (Balwyn) Pty Ltd was fined $40,000 for each of the 22 properties that was underquoted by sales representatives in its Canterbury and Blackburn offices in 2015.

The agency had a cavalier attitude to its responsibilities, Justice Murphy said. The evidence included: The quote of the week in one 2015 sales meeting was: “market the f— out of it and then underquote the shit out of it – good vendor management”;Sales staff were at least once provided training which focused on cases where underquoting had seemingly led to a high sales price and a significant spike in interest;One agent telling a vendor the best way to get “a record price” was to advertise a property with a low price, and later remove the price guide altogether;Sales agents describing Consumer Affairs as “a toothless tiger”;Agents in the Canterbury and Blackburn office were warned by the chief executive to ensure their price quotes aligned with price estimates.

Justice Murphy highlighted one example where the seller of a Balwyn North property asked her agent why her house was marketed between $1.1 million and $1.2 million when the agency estimated it would sell for between $1.5 million and $1.65 million.

She was told the quote was low because “it brings in a broader market range” and ‘people with a low budget will often come up, and it will also catch the people with bigger budgets as well”.

The $880,000 penalty is more than double the commission it made from the 22 properties and constitutes more than one third of the company’s profit for the last financial year.

Thursday’s case was the latest in a string of prosections for underquoting, the biggest of which was last year when the Richmond office of Hocking Stuart was fined $330,000 for underquoting on 11 properties listed for sale in Richmond and Kew.

Fletcher and Parker Balwyn chief executive Bradley Brown apologised to those affected.

“I want to apologise to all the homebuyers whose valuable time we wasted as a result of this unacceptable conduct by a few members of our team,” he said.

“This type of behaviour went completely against everything we stand for as a business and how we treat our customers, which is why we have taken significant steps since the incidents were uncovered in 2015 to ensure they never happen again.”

Mr Brown acknowledged that homebuyers faced enough challenges in the market.

“They don’t need underquoting, and we don’t tolerate it either, which is why we have put strict compliance measures in place to stamp it out for good,” he said.

Justice Murphy ordered Fletcher and Parker publish notices about its misleading and deceptive conduct in full-page newspaper ads and on its website, and to pay $40,000 to Consumer Affairs, the prosecuting agency.

Consumer affairs minister Marlene Kairouz said: “Underquoting is dishonest, misleading and against the law – and today’s decision shows that if you do it, you’ll pay the price.”

With AAP

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The Trip: Borneo wildcat safari

NAME Margarita Steinhardt, Sydney, NSW
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THE TRIP Wildlife watching safari in Deramakot Forest Reserve, Borneo

THE ITINERARY Over the past three years, Deramakot Forest Reserve in the Malaysian state of Sabah in Borneo has been gaining a reputation as the go-to place to see Borneo’s wild cats.

Urged by the desire to see a clouded leopard in the wild, I teamed up with three other wildlife watchers and we booked a 10-night safari with Adventure Alternative Borneo. We all flew to Sandakan, and from there on AA Borneo took care of everything else: transfers, permits to enter Deramakot, all food and drink and accommodation. They also provided us with an unstoppable support team: Mike our eagle-eyed guide, Caleb – the fearless driver and Giddi – a talented cook, who wasn’t opposed to cooking some of our meals out in the field.

For the next 10 days, our activities alternated between long night drives in search of wildlife and lazy days around the living quarters. After searching the jungle for seven nights, we finally found our main quarry – the notoriously elusive clouded leopard. The following night, we found an equally elusive marbled cat camped up on a tree branch about 40 metres above our heads. While looking for cats, we had close encounters with Borneo pygmy elephants, watched flying squirrels soar across the sky, saw orangutans, colugos and a plethora of other wildlife.

The accommodation in Deramakot is not flash, but comfortable. We had a three-bedroom chalet to ourselves that came equipped with airconditioning and en suite bathrooms.

BEST BITS Apart from the unique and rarely-seen wildlife, it was the magic of the jungle at night. On clear nights, we could see the bright band of the Milky Way arching over the treetops.

WORST BITS Borneo is one of the wettest places on earth, so be prepared to get caught in a tropical downpour at least once during your stay.

BEST TIP Visit between March and November to have the highest chance of dry weather.

WHERE TO NEXT Argentina and Brazil for jaguars and ocelots.

Community spirit shines

FAMILY FIRST: Meryl Swanson MP, Member for Paterson pictured with her family.As the year draws to a close I find myself reflecting on thepeople who’ve touched my life during the year. The trials and triumphs they’ve faced. And, ultimately, the courageous spirit that defines our community and lifts us through every adversity. I’d like to thank every individual, school, community,business group, and sporting association that has invited me along to functionsand meetings during the past year. I’ve been grateful for your warm welcome. I also thank my team, who have helped many, many people with issues such as NDIS, NBN, Centrelink and so much more. They make my role so much easier and I couldn’t do it without them.
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It has been an absolute delight to meet volunteers and advocates who give so much to our region, and to help allocate hundreds of thousands of dollars in Stronger Communities and Sporting grants to support great work in our electorate.

I’m proud that I have been able to bring our plights and our achievements to the halls of federal Parliament. I’ve had the opportunity to advocate for our veterans; fight for the rights of those affected by PFAS contamination; and demand that the Government come up with an energy policy that ensures fairer prices for individuals and reliable electricity for industries. The chambers of Parliament House have rung with my praises for a multitude of people and projects that have helped make our community the wonderful place it is to live, work and play.

The Parliamentary record reflects my gratitude to the firefighters who battled the devastating bushfires that struck the Coalfields in January and again in September, and the pages of Hansard convey the colour and atmosphere of the Kurri Kurri Nostalgia Festival and the eucalypt scents of Port Stephens Koalas.

On a personal note, my family has this year supported my eldest daughter Lara through her HSC and this month welcomed a new foal to our farm. She was born the day the Marriage Equality bill passed Parliament, and we named her Aequitas in honour of thehistoric occasion. From my family to yours, we hope you have a safe and happy festive season. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.Meryl Swanson MP, Member for Paterson

Merewether is top of class

Stars: Elly Diamandis- Nikoletatos, Jazmyn Wood, Lizzy Mee. Front row, Libby Ellis, Owen Small, Rachel Vakil and Priya Vakil. Picture: Simone De PeakMEREWETHER High can lay claim tosome of the region’s brightest stars in this year’s Higher School Certificate, after 15 studentsachievedmarks that landed them in the state’s top 20 for at least onesubject.
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Principal Christine Rippon said it was the first time in recent memory thenumber of students on theTop Achievers list –for those whoreceivea ranked place in a subject as well as a mark over 90 –hadbroken through to double digits.

“The results keep getting better and better each year,” Ms Rippon said.

“We want to support our kids to get the best they can, because they have dreams and things they want to achieve.”

A day after Owen Small was named first in Geography, his resultspropelled him into second place in German Continuers and 17thin Legal Studies. He received a mark of 97 for all three.

“It was a pretty big surprise but I am very happy,” Owen said. “I never could have imagined or thought first in Geography was possible, but I’m pretty proud of my efforts.”

Lizzy Mee was fifth in Chemistry and eighth in Geography, while Libby Ellis was third in Hospitality and seventh in Food Technology.

Rizina Yadav –who is overseas attending an interview with the University of Oxford and been offered a $50,000 scholarship to the University of Sydney – was ninth in Society and Culture and 16thin Legal Studies.

Owen and Lizzy’s results follow their receipt of the state’s equal fourth and seventh highest markin Biology, which they completedas an accelerated course last year.

Lizzy has since been offered Australian National University’s prestigious Tuckwell Scholarship.

Owen, 18, said his performance in German Continuers was the most personally rewarding.

“It’s the subject I’m most passionate about and I’m pleased with how I improved over the years.”

Owen balanced study with his part time job, exercise and volunteering at Cooks Hill Surf Life Saving Club, but said he still put in “a big effort” to achieving his high results, including about three hours study each afternoon and devoting one day of each weekend to schoolwork.

“I didn’t always have good time management but towards the end of the year it improved –it’s a good skill to come out of the HSC with.

“I did not really want to finish the yearand think ‘I wish I had done a little more work’. It was not the most fun year but it was a good experience to knuckle down and work hard for something.”

Owen is hoping to take a gap year in 2018 and travel, including to Germany. He is interested in a biology or science based degree.

Merewether’s Rachel Vakil said she was “overjoyed” to receive fourth place in Food Technology, alongside classmates Lauren Moore who was second, Caitlin Field who was sixth and Libby Ellis who was seventh.

“I’m so proud our girls made it up there, we had such an amazing class,worked together and couldn’t have done it without our teacher Vicky McCudden who supported us through everything.”

Rachel’s twin sister Priya was 10thin Ancient History. “We would study together and keep pushing each other to do our best,” she said. “It was good competition but also a support system to help each other out.”

Libby Ellis said her results wereanother step towards her dream of opening a cafe. She has received six offers from American colleges to play soccer and study business next year.

St Francis Xavier’s College at Hamilton had the Hunter’s next highest number on the Top Achievers list.

Lachlan Tolomeo was fourth in the state in MathematicsGeneral 2, while Thomas Howlettwas fifth in Industrial Technology with a mark of 98.

Thomas, 18, said he had never heard of the subject until he enrolled at the school in year 11. “I was pretty surprised and did not think I could do something like this. But I put my mind to it and here I am.”

Scone Grammar’s Shannon Nichols was fifth in English Extension 1 and sixth in Community and Family Studies.

Hunter excels in HSC 2017.Lambton High and Newcastle Grammar named among All Rounders.Hunter students top state in subjects.Merewether sets ATAR record.

Historic home moving on

Historic home moving on NEW CHAPTER: Developer Melissa Calder-Mason with Bruce Gow. Picture: Marina Neil
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WELL-KNOWN: The home at 81 Patrick Street, Merewether was built in 1887. Picture: Marina Neil

TREE CHANGE: The residence will be relocated to Lovedale to make way for a new development. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Developer Melissa Calder-Mason with Bruce Gow, whose great-grandfather built the home at 81 Patrick Street, Merewether. Picture: Marina Neil

FOURTH GENERATION: Peter Gow grew up in the house at 81 Patrick Street, Merewether that was was built by his great-grandfather in the late 1880s. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

IMMACULATE: The gardens at 81 Patrick Street are well-known to Merewether residents. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

81 Patrick Street, Merewether was built in the late 1880s.

81 Patrick Street, Merewether was built in the late 1880s.

81 Patrick Street, Merewether was built in the late 1880s.

81 Patrick Street, Merewether was built in the late 1880s.

81 Patrick Street, Merewether was built in the late 1880s.

81 Patrick Street, Merewether was built in the late 1880s.

81 Patrick Street, Merewether was built in the late 1880s.

81 Patrick Street, Merewether was built in the late 1880s.

81 Patrick Street, Merewether was built in the late 1880s.

81 Patrick Street, Merewether was built in the late 1880s.

81 Patrick Street, Merewether was built in the late 1880s.

81 Patrick Street, Merewether was built in the late 1880s.

81 Patrick Street, Merewether was built in the late 1880s.

81 Patrick Street, Merewether was built in the late 1880s.

A copy of an original image of the house in the early 1900s.

The home at 81 Patrick Street through the years.

81 Patrick Street, Merewether houses the oldest registered flushing toilet in Newcastle.

81 Patrick Street, Merewether was built in the late 1880s.

81 Patrick Street, Merewether was built in the late 1880s.

81 Patrick Street, Merewether houses the oldest registered flushing toilet in Newcastle.

81 Patrick Street, Merewether houses the oldest registered flushing toilet in Newcastle.

81 Patrick Street, Merewether was built in the late 1880s.

81 Patrick Street, Merewether was built in the late 1880s.

81 Patrick Street, Merewether was built in the late 1880s.

81 Patrick Street, Merewether houses Newcastle’s oldest toilet.

TweetFacebookNewcastle Heraldwhen McGrath Estate Agents listed to home for sale in August.

“I think the gardenis it’s most iconic, remembered feature, and how mum’s been out there forever.”

Historic Merewether home listed for first sale

MsCalder-Mason hopes to relocate as much of the gardens as possible to Lovedale and also plans to move the city’s oldest registered toilet which is housed at 81 Patrick Street.

It was the third ever toilet plumbed and installed in Newcastle and in its formativeyears strangers would reportedlyturn up on Sunday afternoonsto view it in action.

Grill’d boss wants to resolve Hoges dispute over a burger – ‘but no knives’

Paul Hogan is to be given an AACTA award for lifetime achievement.6th December 2016.Photo: Steven Siewert
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The owner of burger chain Grill’d is bemused by the fact that entertainment legend Paul Hogan is suing him for using a version of the classic line, “That’s not a knife, THAT’s a knife”.

Simon Crowe says he wants to sit down and “resolve the matter man to man – but no knives”.

Mr Crowe said he was surprised to discover the Crocodile Dundee star was suing Grill’d for using a version of the iconic line attributed to Hogan’s character Mick Dundee on its cutlery sleeves.

“I’m surprised and touched, a little sheepish that this is something that has actually registered in the public domain,” Mr Crowe said.

“He’s an institution of the country and who knows where this goes but I certainly hope there’s no bad blood between us.

“If I could have my way, I’d suggest that he come to one of our local restaurants and we sit down over a burger to actually resolve the matter.”

Court documents filed by Sydney firm Robinson Legal on behalf of Mr Hogan claim Grill’d has breached copyright and made “false and misleading” representations implying sponsorship or approval by Mr Hogan or his production company Rimfire Films.

Hogan, who co-wrote the 1986 comedy, is seeking an injunction to stop the burger restaurants using the quote plus damages and costs.

The actor’s lawyer Andrew Robinson said the phrase was only associated with Hogan and the film.

“What could your purpose possibly be unless you were trying to convince your customers you had some association with Paul Hogan or Mick Dundee?”

“It’s an incredibly famous line and everyone associates it with Paul Hogan and these guys are trying to get commercial benefit from being associated with Hogan and we believe the law will stop them.”

“We asked them to stop using the line and they’ve refused so I assume they’re going to defend and argue that we’re wrong.”

“They didn’t ask for our consent.”

Mr Crowe believes the line from the 30-year-old movie is now so famous that it’s become part of the language.

“We’ve never claimed that [Hogan] has endorsed this but we certainly believe the term is now part of the Australian vernacular,” he said.

“I’m not sure from a legal perspective where he stands but from a public perception perspective I hope he’s not going to own or try to own the term ‘G’day mate’ or even ‘Where the bloody hell are you?'”

“These things enter the public domain and they’re part of the Australian vernacular. I don’t know why he’s doing it.”

Hogan, who lives in California, is currently in Australia to promote his new film That’s Not My Dog!

This is not the first time the 78-year-old star has taken legal action over references to his career-defining moment.

In 1986 he successfully sued Grosby Shoes over an ad parodying the film.

He won another court battle in 1988 when he sued a Surfers Paradise shop for calling itself Koala Dundee.

Mr Hogan has also had a long-running dispute with the Australian Taxation Office.

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Land tax to surge by an extra $870m as values continue to rise

Land tax receipts from owners of investment properties and holiday homes in NSW are forecast to be $870 million higher than expected over the next three years due to a spike in values.
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The windfall figure is contained in the half-yearly budget review released by NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet on Thursday, which also reveals the initial anticipated cost of the government’s announcement that motorists who pay more than $1300 in motorway tolls a year will receive free registration.

While Premier Gladys Berejiklian initially estimated the cost at up to $100 million, the half-yearly update says it is forecast to cost $162 million over the four years from 2018-19 and 2021-22.

The review says that following a determination by the NSW Valuer-General in July, land tax revenue is expected to be $105.9 million higher than the forecast in the June budget for 2017-18.

Over the three years to 2020-21 it says land tax revenue is expected to be $867.2 million higher than forecast in June “due to higher than expected land values and their ongoing effect through three year averaging”.

As foreshadowed by Fairfax Media on Thursday, Mr Perrottet announced the forecast surplus for 2017-18 has increased from $2.7 billion estimated in June to $3.3 billion.

This is due to a shift in the timing of agency expenditure, leading to a reduction in expenses this financial year.

Average surpluses of $2.1 billion a year are forecast across the forward estimates to 2020-21.

The review also shows NSW’s infrastructure spending will increase from $72 billion to $80.1 billion over four years.

Net debt sits at negative $9.3 billion, but the review shows it is expected to climb to $23.7 billion by 2020-21 as surpluses and the proceeds of transactions like asset privatisations are ploughed into infrastructure projects.

As also foreshadowed, stamp duty revenue in the three years to 2020-21 being revised down by $657 million.

This was largely due to the take up of stamp duty concessions for first home buyers in a housing affordability package announced in the June budget.

Between June and November, 13,672 people have received stamp duty concessions, compared with 3970 people in the same five month period last year.

The review reveals that payroll tax revenue has also been revised upwards by $189.5 million since June due to strong employment growth. In the three years to 2020-21, payroll tax revenue is expected to be $991.2 million higher than forecast in June.

However, expenses are forecast to grow by an extra $2.4 billion to 2020-21 due to new policies including $2 billion in reservations for projects from the government’s Restart NSW infrastructure fund as well as energy rebates and regional council roads grants.

Announcing the results, Mr Perrottet said despite the surpluses “slowing revenue growth and emerging expense pressures will create challenges for the budget in the years ahead”.

“These challenges will require the government’s continued financial discipline and pursuit of reforms that contribute to economic growth and maintain a sustainable budget position,” he said.

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Dave’s pepperoni pizza budgie smugglers could win him the title of “Australia’s Most Ordinary Rig”

Dave’s pepperoni pizza budgie smugglers could win him the title of “Australia’s Most Ordinary Rig” Hot Stuff: Dave Eddy is the third Novocastrian to qualify for the prestigious Budgy Smuggler Ordinary Rig Gala.
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Dave Eddy striking a pose.

Dave Eddy and some other budgie smuggler-wearing mates.

Dave in his budgie smugglers.

Dave in his budgie smugglers.

Dave’s budgie smugglers.

Dave’s budgie smugglers.

TweetFacebookToday show on Wednesday, December 27, wherefinalists strutted their stuff ahead of the grand final to be held in the New Year.

At theevent –to be held on January 3 at Ivy nightclub’s pool bar in Sydney –contestants will compete for the coveted crown of “Australia’s Most Ordinary Rig”.

Topics reported recentlythat Merewether’s Will Mowbray and Hamilton South’s Hayden Gavin had also made the top 10.

Australia’s Most Ordinary Rig Gala in 2016. Dave said Budgy Smuggler was an iconic Aussie brand.

“They make it fun and OK to flaunt your ordinary rig,” he said.

“If it wasn’t for [the company] Budgy Smugglers, you probably wouldn’t wear dick-stickers or Speedos.”

When Dave heard about the competition, he knew he had a chance.

Read more: Who will take home the title on January 3?

“I had some great ordinary glamour modelling shots on my phone. I thought it’d be rude not to share my rig with the world, really,” he said.

Asked to describe himself in three words in his event profile, he said: “Happy, silly, dad-bod”.

He listed his hobbies as“short walks on the beach” and admitted his first crush was Sigourney Weaver when she “played the hot chick” in Ghostbusters.

His hidden talents includemaking “real good fart noises with my armpit”, whilehis life motto is “be grateful”.

Read more:

Newcastle’s budgie smugglers starAnd another Newcastle budgie smuggler star

Unemployment rate falls to boom-time levels for nearly half of economy

Generic photo of pedestrians shopping at Pitt Street Mall in Sydney on 30th September 2017. Photograph by Katherine GriffithsSure, national employment growth was healthy again last month as the unemployment rate remained at 5.4 per cent – but in the economic powerhouse of Greater Sydney the unemployment rate probably started with a 3.
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In October, the unemployment rate for the Greater Sydney statistical area was just 3.9 per cent. That’s the stuff of booms. The last time Greater Sydney scored 3.9 was in 2007. It hasn’t been below 3.9 for 17 years.

That boom-time unemployment rate is a reflection of the strength of Sydney’s economy – an economy estimated to account for nearly half national growth.

The rest of NSW matched the national 5.4 per cent rate. Greater Melbourne was also 5.4 per cent, Brisbane 5.1, Adelaide 5.8 and Perth 5.9.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics’ regional labour force figures are in “original” terms – not seasonally adjusted.

The November breakdown won’t be available until next week, but the original unemployment rate for October and November was steady on 4.4 per cent and NSW enjoyed a lift of 26,000 new jobs in original terms last month (28,500 seasonally adjusted) – making it a reasonable bet that Greater Sydney’s unemployment rate remained around the 3.9 per cent.

Next week’s figures will show the Greater Sydney unemployment rate has been below 5 per cent – generally considered “full employment” these days – for eight months. According to the text books, an unemployment rate starting with a 3 should mean businesses competing for labour, bidding up its price.

So where are the wage rises? There’s precious little sign of them.

The most recent wages index – published last month for the September quarter – showed NSW private-sector hourly pay rates up 2.1 per cent over the year, not far above the total Australian figure of 1.9 per cent. The NSW public-sector hourly rate rise was up 2.4 per cent – the same as the national figure.

The most recent Reserve Bank pronouncements on the problem of low wages growth continue to keep the conventional economic faith – “tighter labour markets should still push up wages and prices, even if it takes a little longer than we are used to”, governor Philip Lowe said last month in his Some Evolving Questions speech.

The RBA’s own understanding is evolving. In a July speech on the issue, Lowe didn’t once mention the reduction in organised labour or the attitude of chief financial officers in suppressing wages growth. Now Lowe includes “changes in the nature of work and bargaining arrangements” and management’s cost-cutting mindset among the factors at work.

With Greater Sydney’s unemployment rate now so low, all the suppressing factors are under the microscope.

The NAB analysis of customer spending provides insight into how the lower unemployment rate does or does not translate into spending.

Excluding government services, taxes, mortgage and other credit payments, spending by NSW metropolitan customers was up 3 per cent in the September quarter on the previous corresponding period, compared with 3.3 per cent in metropolitan Victoria and 2.4 per cent metropolitan nationally.

That’s a slowdown from the June quarter that saw 4.1 per cent growth in Sydney and Melbourne compared with 3.3 per cent nationally.

The average monthly spend by NAB customers in metropolitan NSW was $2168 in the latest quarter – within a dollar of their Victorian equivalent, $32 less than Adelaide customers, $94 more than those in Brisbane and $123 more than those in Perth.

The significantly lower unemployment rate isn’t doing all that much.

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Firefighters battle blaze near Lovedale Road

Firefighters battle blaze near Lovedale Road Picture: Max Mason-Hubers
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A possum, exhausted from outrunning the flames, was plucked from the firegrounds by Fairfax photographer Max Mason-Hubers

The view of the fire from Majors Lane, Keinbah. Picture: Andrew Clark

Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

The view of the fire from Majors Lane, Keinbah. Picture: Andrew Clark

The view of the fire from Majors Lane, Keinbah. Picture: Andrew Clark

The view of the fire from Majors Lane, Keinbah. Picture: Andrew Clark

Picture: David Paul Heffernan

The Lovedale fire from Nulkaba. Picture: Brenda Watson

The Lovedale fire from Nulkaba. Picture: Brenda Watson

Picture: Belinda Hodge

TweetFacebookLovedale Rd Fire near Cessnock continues to burn. Over 180 Ha has been burnt across the afternoon and more than 100 firefighters continue to work on containing the blaze. No homes are at threat. Crews will remain on fireground overnight. #NSWRFSpic.twitter南京夜网/r4vkSrZ6Iw

— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) December 14, 2017Advice: Lovedale Rd, Lovedale. Fire now moving away from properties and weather conditions are easing. Residents should monitor the situation. The fire is producing a large amount of smoke. Only call Triple Zero (000) if you see an unattended fire. https://t.co/3uVSOdbZZ4pic.twitter南京夜网/mqhUdooRmD

— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) December 14, 2017Watch & Act: Lovedale Rd, Lovedale. Fire approx 7km NW of Cessnock, burning SSE direction under strong NW winds toward Old Maitland Rd. Residents in area should follow their bush fire survival plans & know what they’ll do if fire threatens. More: https://t.co/YUkrQHShX3#NSWRFSpic.twitter南京夜网/NWqBZNJxeu

— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) December 14, 2017This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Community spirit shines

FAMILY FIRST: Meryl Swanson MP, Member for Paterson pictured with her family.As the year draws to a close I find myself reflecting on thepeople who’ve touched my life during the year. The trials and triumphs they’ve faced. And, ultimately, the courageous spirit that defines our community and lifts us through every adversity. I’d like to thank every individual, school, community,business group, and sporting association that has invited me along to functionsand meetings during the past year. I’ve been grateful for your warm welcome. I also thank my team, who have helped many, many people with issues such as NDIS, NBN, Centrelink and so much more. They make my role so much easier and I couldn’t do it without them.
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It has been an absolute delight to meet volunteers and advocates who give so much to our region, and to help allocate hundreds of thousands of dollars in Stronger Communities and Sporting grants to support great work in our electorate.

I’m proud that I have been able to bring our plights and our achievements to the halls of federal Parliament. I’ve had the opportunity to advocate for our veterans; fight for the rights of those affected by PFAS contamination; and demand that the Government come up with an energy policy that ensures fairer prices for individuals and reliable electricity for industries. The chambers of Parliament House have rung with my praises for a multitude of people and projects that have helped make our community the wonderful place it is to live, work and play.

The Parliamentary record reflects my gratitude to the firefighters who battled the devastating bushfires that struck the Coalfields in January and again in September, and the pages of Hansard convey the colour and atmosphere of the Kurri Kurri Nostalgia Festival and the eucalypt scents of Port Stephens Koalas.

On a personal note, my family has this year supported my eldest daughter Lara through her HSC and this month welcomed a new foal to our farm. She was born the day the Marriage Equality bill passed Parliament, and we named her Aequitas in honour of thehistoric occasion. From my family to yours, we hope you have a safe and happy festive season. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.Meryl Swanson MP, Member for Paterson

Salim Mehajer accused of breaching strict bail conditions

Controversial property developer Salim Mehajer has denied he contacted his estranged wife Aysha in breach of strict bail conditions, as he fights charges of dangerous driving and breaching an apprehended violence order.
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Mr Mehajer, the former deputy mayor of the now-defunct Auburn Council, appeared in Burwood Local Court on Thursday in a bid to vary his bail conditions to remove a 10pm curfew and a requirement he report three times a week to Rose Bay police station.

He was also seeking to travel interstate for work.

On November 20 Magistrate Joy Boulos imposed “very stringent” bail conditions on the 31-year-old, which she said would ensure he was kept “virtually under house arrest” at a residence in Vaucluse.

He had been arrested at 1am that morning over alleged breaches of an AVO protecting his estranged wife and an incident of alleged dangerous driving following a crash near her home in Kingsgrove.

One of the bail conditions imposed by Magistrate Boulos was that he should not contact his estranged wife on social media site Instagram or elsewhere, including via third parties.

The prosecution opposed any variation to the bail conditions and grilled Mr Mehajer in the witness box on Thursday about his compliance with existing conditions.

He denied he had emailed his estranged wife from an email address that he had also used to correspond with police, saying the email was sent by his sister Aisha and was a “company email address”.

“Aisha is my sister and also the company director,” he said.

“I just became aware of it [the email] minutes ago, or about an hour ago.”

Asked why he was 1?? hours late reporting to Rose Bay police station on December 1, Mr Mehajer said there was “an issue” with opening the gates at his Vaucluse residence.

“You couldn’t jump over the fence and get a cab?” the police prosecutor asked.

Mr Mehajer said the gate was three metres high.

His lawyer objected when Mr Mehajer was asked whether he was “a prisoner” inside his own home.

The court heard police have visited Mr Mehajer at his home virtually every night to ensure he is complying with his 10pm to 5am curfew.

Asked why he did not answer the door at 10.25pm on December 2, Mr Mehajer said “of course I was home” and speculated he may have been “in the shower”.

The court heard he made a series of 000 calls on the evening of November 20, the day the bail conditions were imposed, about a dispute over his car.

He denied he admitted in the calls that he was not home by his curfew and said “at all times I have been home before 10pm”.

Mr Mehajer had previously told the court he needed changes to his bail conditions so he could attend late-night callouts from residents at Skypoint Towers, the Lidcombe apartment block he developed and manages.

He said in his affidavit he was appointed to the building manager role on September 15.

Magistrate Boulos said she found it “difficult to understand” why Mr Mehajer would not have a strata manager to oversee the site.

She also said Mr Mehajer would have been aware of this information when he applied for bail on November 20 and should have told his lawyers.

Mr Mehajer’s sister Zenah Osman, a solicitor, had offered to provide $50,000 surety in support of varying the bail conditions.

But Magistrate Boulos said that, “having had regard to the serious allegations that were before me … no amount of money will satisfy the court and will be sufficient in the circumstances to vary the bail that I set back on the 20th of November”.

“I see no reason whatsoever to depart from the original bail,” she said.

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

Innovation in the Hunter

Ashleigh Tikolevu, a Health Promotion Officer at NSW Family Panning in Hunter. The Family Planning NSW Hunter clinic is the community’s most trusted source for reproductive and sexual health care. The local services on offer continue to expand and cater to the diverse and changing needs of the Newcastle community.
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“Our clinics welcome everyone and as the state’s leading provider of reproductive and sexual health services, our staff is dedicated to providing high quality health care and expert advice,” said Ms Jodie Duggan, Director of Clinical Operations, Family Planning NSW.

The clinic’s Sexuality and Disability Service supports the sexuality needs of people with disability, and those who support them, with tailored individual and group-based programs. Family Planning NSW is a registered provider of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) so all sessions are included in a person’s NDIS plan.

“We won a NSW Disability Industry Innovation Award this year for our ‘Sexuality and Relationships Forum’ for parents and carers of people with disability. The forum was hosted in Newcastle in March to great success,”

A longstanding Youth Drop-in Clinic, open every Tuesday and Wednesday 12pm- 5:30pm, was set up specially to suit the needs of young people living in the Hunter region. People aged 12-24 years are able come to the Hunter clinic without any appointment, and with bulk billing available to people under 18 years, full-time students and concession card holders.

“Whether it is for an STI check, contraception, pregnancy testing and options, or any other concerns, our expert clinicians are able to help with all reproductive and sexual health care needs in an easy, non-judgmental way.

“We even have free condoms, confidentially available for people under 25 years, through our Condom Credit Card (CCC) program. Participating service providers can be located through the CCC app,” said Ms Duggan.

With changes to the National Cervical Screening Program coming into effect 1 December 2017, Family Planning NSW is inviting all women who are due, or overdue, for their regular cervical screening to come in and get up-to-date.

“The new Cervical Screening Test is more accurate than the traditional Pap test meaning you’ll now only need it every five years. Having it regularly is still very important as we know that 8 out of 10 women who are diagnosed with cervical cancer have not had regular screening,” said Ms Duggan.

The light rail construction has affected access to the clinic with Hunter Street now closed to vehicles but the clinic is still open as normal. Pedestrian access is available and buses are still running to drop you off close by.

Check 梧桐夜网newcastletransport.infoforup-to-date information or give the clinic a call on (02) 4929-4485.