‘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

Top three: Allhomes’ pick of open homes to see this weekend in Canberra

GRIFFITH
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4 Jansz Crescent(pictured)

$2.5 million +

5 bed 3 bath 2 car

EER: 4

Nestled within a canopy of oak trees and backing reserve parkland and ovals, a property of distinction offers generous and flexible living for families. A spacious entrance way sweeps down to the formal lounge and dining rooms – both with French doors opening onto private courtyards.

The large, north facing family room and meals area flows from the well-equipped kitchen and onto the paved entertaining area with a sensational indoor swimming pool.

The indoor swimming pool area features a spa, sauna and full bathroom. Cathedral ceilings frame a wall of glass looking out to the mature trees and landscaped garden.

Live a lifestyle of convenience, a very short walk from Canberra Grammar School, or wander as a family down to Manuka Village and Lake Burley Griffin.

Agents: Richard Luton & Sophie Luton, Luton Properties Manuka, 0418 697 844 & 0410 750 413

Auction: Saturday, February 24, 10am

CASEY

55 Dalkin Crescent

$650,000 +

3 bed 2 bath 3 car

EER: 7

55 Dalkin Crescent, Casey Photo: Luton Properties Canberra City

Built to the highest of specifications with energy efficient inclusions throughout, this unique 222-square-metre home sets a new benchmark in designer living. It combines a chic country industrial aesthetic with seamless indoor and outdoor flow, while the local community shops are a stroll away.

Agents: Jess Smith & Kris Hellier, McGrath Estate Agents Gungahlin, 0410 125 475 & 0413 799 700

Auction: Saturday, December 16, 3.45pm

TORRENS

3/9 Darke Street

$845,000 +

3 bed 2 bath 2 car

EER: 7

3/9 Darke Street, Torrens Photo: Luton Properties Canberra City

Positioned in the highly regarded suburb of Torrens, this architecturally designed residence has been meticulously considered to focus on liveability, flowing spaces and quality. The property also enjoys an abundance of natural light and more than 200 square metres of private courtyard space perfect for the summer months.

Agents: Slade Minson, Luton Properties Canberra City, 0435 659 746

Private sale

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How do these three-year-old twin white lions beat the heat? With an icy-pole, of course!

How do these three-year-old twin white lions beat the heat? With an icy-pole, of course! STAYING COOL: White lions Nala and Kovu cool down in the spray of a hose at Hunter Valley Zoo on Thursday, when the temperature hit 40 degrees. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers
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STAYING COOL: A squirrel monkey investigates a fruity iceblock at Hunter Valley Zoo on Thursday, when the temperature hit 40 degrees. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

STAYING COOL: A squirrel monkey investigates a fruity iceblock from zookeeper Krissy Simmonds at Hunter Valley Zoo on Thursday, when the temperature hit 40 degrees. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

STAYING COOL: A squirrel monkey investigates a fruity iceblock at Hunter Valley Zoo on Thursday, when the temperature hit 40 degrees. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

STAYING COOL: A squirrel monkey at Hunter Valley Zoo on Thursday, when the temperature hit 40 degrees. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

STAYING COOL: Squirrel monkeys investigates a fruity iceblock from zookeeper Krissy Simmonds at Hunter Valley Zoo on Thursday, when the temperature hit 40 degrees. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Kovu the white lion cools down in the spray of a hose at Hunter Valley Zoo on Thursday, when the temperature hit 40 degrees. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

White lions Nala and Kovu cool down in the spray of a hose at Hunter Valley Zoo on Thursday, when the temperature hit 40 degrees. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

White lions Nala and Kovu cool down in the spray of a hose at Hunter Valley Zoo on Thursday, when the temperature hit 40 degrees. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

White lions Nala and Kovu cool down in the spray of a hose at Hunter Valley Zoo on Thursday, when the temperature hit 40 degrees. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Kovu the white lions cools down in the spray of a hose at Hunter Valley Zoo on Thursday, when the temperature hit 40 degrees. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Kovu the white lion cools down in the spray of a hose from zoo owner Jason Pearson at Hunter Valley Zoo on Thursday, when the temperature hit 40 degrees. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Hunter Valley Zoo owner Jason Pearson sprays the hose to cool down white lions Nala and Kovu on Thursday, when the temperature hit 40 degrees. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

White lions Kovu and Nala cool down in the spray of a hose at Hunter Valley Zoo on Thursday, when the temperature hit 40 degrees. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

White lions Nala and Kovu cool down in the spray of a hose at Hunter Valley Zoo on Thursday, when the temperature hit 40 degrees. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Kovu the white lion cools down in the spray of a hose at Hunter Valley Zoo on Thursday, when the temperature hit 40 degrees. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Kovu the white lion cools down in the spray of a hose at Hunter Valley Zoo on Thursday, when the temperature hit 40 degrees. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Kovu and Nala the white lion cool down with some blood ice blocks at Hunter Valley Zoo on Thursday, when the temperature hit 40 degrees. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Kovuthe white lion cools down with some blood ice blocks at Hunter Valley Zoo on Thursday, when the temperature hit 40 degrees. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Black-and-white ruffed lemurs have their first try of a fruity iceblock from zookeeper Krissy Simmonds at Hunter Valley Zoo on Thursday, when the temperature hit 40 degrees. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Black-and-white ruffed lemurs have their first try of a fruity iceblock from zookeeper Krissy Simmonds at Hunter Valley Zoo on Thursday, when the temperature hit 40 degrees. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

A lemur investigates a fruity iceblock from zookeeper Krissy Simmonds at Hunter Valley Zoo on Thursday, when the temperature hit 40 degrees. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Black-and-white ruffed lemurs have their first try of a fruity iceblock at Hunter Valley Zoo on Thursday, when the temperature hit 40 degrees. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Black-and-white ruffed lemurs have their first try of a fruity iceblock at Hunter Valley Zoo on Thursday, when the temperature hit 40 degrees. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Black-and-white ruffed lemurs have their first try of a fruity iceblock from zookeeper Krissy Simmonds at Hunter Valley Zoo on Thursday, when the temperature hit 40 degrees. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Tamarind monkeys investigate a fruity iceblock from zookeeper Krissy Simmonds at Hunter Valley Zoo on Thursday, when the temperature hit 40 degrees. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Black-and-white ruffed lemurs have their first try of a fruity iceblock from zookeeper Krissy Simmonds at Hunter Valley Zoo on Thursday, when the temperature hit 40 degrees. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

A lemur investigates a fruity iceblock from zookeeper Krissy Simmonds at Hunter Valley Zoo on Thursday, when the temperature hit 40 degrees. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

A pygmy marmoset investigates a fruity iceblock at Hunter Valley Zoo on Thursday, when the temperature hit 40 degrees. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Tamarind monkeys investigate a fruity iceblock from zookeeper Krissy Simmonds at Hunter Valley Zoo on Thursday, when the temperature hit 40 degrees. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

A lemur investigates a fruity iceblock from zookeeper Krissy Simmonds at Hunter Valley Zoo on Thursday, when the temperature hit 40 degrees. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Kovu the white lion cools off at Hunter Valley Zoo on Thursday, when the temperature hit 40 degrees. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Ernie the emu plays in a sprinkler at Hunter Valley Zoo on Thursday, when the temperature hit 40 degrees. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Lemurs investigate a fruity iceblock at Hunter Valley Zoo on Thursday, when the temperature hit 40 degrees. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Ernie the emu plays in a sprinkler at Hunter Valley Zoo on Thursday, when the temperature hit 40 degrees. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Ernie the emu plays in a sprinkler at Hunter Valley Zoo on Thursday, when the temperature hit 40 degrees. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

TweetFacebookThe zoo’s new ring-tailed lemurs tried ice blocks for the first time on Thursday, while resident emu Ernie enjoyed a run through the sprinkler.

Mr Pearson said the animals will take it easy during the heat and find a spot in the shade.

“Animals are a lot smarter than human beings –they won’t force themselves to do anything,” he said.

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Myanmar arrests two Reuters journalists

Rani Begum 28 yrs old (left) and her daughter Sadiya Begum 10yrs old (right) at the entrance to a temporary shelter inside Camp 1 home to 71 Rohingya families that fled the violence in Myanmar in 2012. Rani??????s husband was killed by the Myanmar police and his body was found 3 days later in several pieces. Her daughter Sumiya was also wounded by a machete attack in Myanmar 5 years ago, she was 7 at the time. They fled Myanmar for Bangladesh then to India. Rani occasionally works as a domestic cleaner earning approx 1500 to 2000 rupee??????s a month. The Indian government is threatening to deport Rohingya refugee??????s. Balapur, Cyberabad, Hyderabad. 22nd September, 2017. Photo: Kate Geraghty Bangkok: Myanmar’s government has charged two Reuters journalists who had been leaked documents on brutal military-led attacks on Rohingya Muslims in the country’s Rakhine State.
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Reuters said it was “outraged” by the arrests of Wa Lone, 31 and Kyaw Soe Oo, 27, who have been held under the country’s draconian Official Secrets Act that carries penalties of up to 14 years jail.

“The two journalists obtained the documents by deception from the two policemen who came back from Rakhine state after serving security duties,” Myanmar police said in a statement.

The United States embassy in Myanmar said it was “deeply concerned” about the arrests and urged the government to allow access to the pair.

“For a democracy to succeed journalists must be allowed to do their jobs,” it said.

The European Union has also voiced its concern.

More than 625,000 Rohingya have fled Rakhine for Bangladesh since August after Myanmar’s military and vigilante Buddhists rampaged through villages, killing, raping and burning them in what the United Nations says amounts to “textbook ethnic cleansing” and “very likely” crimes against humanity.

A humanitarian emergency is unfolding in Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh.

Myanmar’s Information Ministry said in a statement the reporters “illegally acquired information with the intention to share it with the foreign media.”

The ministry’s Facebook page showed them in handcuffs standing behind a table with documents, mobile telephones and currency.

Irrawaddy online news said Wa Lone was found in the possession of a Myanmar Border Guard document that detailed security force numbers and the amount of ammunition they had used in the first wave of atrocities in late August, after Muslim insurgents had attacked 30 police posts.

Myanmar’s military has denied killing any innocent civilians.

Reuters said Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe, an ethnic Rakhine Buddhist from the state’s capital Sittwe, went missing after being invited to meet police officials over dinner in Yangon.

Two policemen have also been arrested.

Stephen Adler, editor-in-chief of Reuters, said “we are outraged by this blatant attack on press freedom”.

Myanmar journalists have faced increasing harassment this year under the government led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been widely condemned for failing to defend 1.1 million Rohingya who were living in Rakhine.

Hatred of Muslims has swept the Buddhist-majority country under Suu Kyi’s leadership.

Several Myanmar reporters have been arrested in recent months.

Two reporters from Malaysia and Singapore and their driver were jailed for flying a drone over Myanmar’s parliament.

In one prominent case, Myanmar Now news editor Swe Win was charged with insulting a Buddhist monk who praised the killer of a Muslim government lawyer.

The trial is still ongoing.

Shawn Crispin, senior south-east Asia representative for the Committee to Project Journalists, said the arrests “come amid a widening crackdown which is having a grave impact on the ability of journalists to cover a story of vital global importance.”

The Turnbull government has resisted growing calls to end the Australian Defence Force’s training and support to Myanmar’s military in response to the atrocities.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has said Australia is “deeply concerned” by the violence but has avoided directly condemning either Suu Kyi’s government or the Myanmar military.

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Jobs data ‘surprisingly’ strong in November

RESTAURANT 090103 AFR photo TAMARA VONINSKI **AFR FIRST USE** Otto Ristorante Italiano in Woolloomooloo. generic restaurant bar cafe coffee barista espresso fine dining upscale tourism service industry meal wine glasses dine table Sydney waiter waitress wait staff jobs work worker employment unemployment economy***FDCTRANSFER***Australia’s labour market is still the economy’s shining light, with employers maintaining the longest continuous hiring run in 23 years in November, keeping the jobless rate at a 4 1/2-year low.
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The figures support the Reserve Bank of Australia’s optimism that the economy is gathering pace, with the jobless rate plateauing at 5.4 per cent for the past three months, the lowest level since February 2013 and much stronger than expected. The last time the jobless rate was so low for so long was in the three months ended February 2013.

The economy created 61,614 new jobs last month, its biggest monthly gain since the addition of 74,474 positions in October 2015, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said. Over the past year, trend employment increased 3.1 per cent, which is above the average year-on-year growth over the past 20 years at 1.9 per cent.

The data shows a positive split between full-time and part-time work, with the former growing by 41,900 persons in November and the latter growing by 19,700. The participation rate jumped to 65.5 per cent, above economists’ expectations of 65.1 per cent.

Financial markets reacted positively to the release with the Aussie dollar jumping to US76.64?? from US76.30??, showing ongoing steady improvement has lifted spirits the tightening labour market will eventually boost the wages growth the Reserve Bank and the government are hoping for.

The optimism comes amid widespread consternation at the disappointing quarter of weak wages growth.

Unemployment remains not just below the Reserve Bank’s forecast for the next two years – which is 5.5 per cent over the next two years – but is just 0.4 percentage points above the 5 per cent level the bank signals as “full employment.”

Underemployment has fallen from a historical high of 8.7 per cent in February to 8.4 per cent in November.

New South Wales recorded a pickup of 28,000 new jobs, already at the levels where companies are forced to pay higher wages due to a dearth of skilled works.

Victoria added the most with 33,000.

In Queensland, where the state election has just wrapped up, the jobs data was positive for the re-elected Labor government, showing 7,000 new jobs were added in November.

Economists were largely positive on the news, but warned it will need to continue into 2018 before wages start to stir enough that the Reserve Bank will feel confident enough to begin hiking official interest rates.

“It was a surprisingly strong result which is really positive,” said Felicity Emmett, senior economist at ANZ. “But we will need to see unemployment fall a bit more for wage growth pressure.

“We expect next year to see a gradual pickup in wages. Firms are now reporting it’s harder to find workers in particular areas which is a good sign.”

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Light rail ‘as planned’ but no rent relief for business

Light rail ‘as planned’ but no rent relief for business BIG BUILD: Scot MacDonald and transport officials inspect the Newcastle light rail project on Thursday. Pictures: Marina Neil
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BIG BUILD: Scot MacDonald and transport officials inspect the Newcastle light rail project on Thursday. Pictures: Marina Neil

BIG BUILD: Scot MacDonald and transport officials inspect the Newcastle light rail project on Thursday. Pictures: Marina Neil

BIG BUILD: Scot MacDonald and transport officials inspect the Newcastle light rail project on Thursday. Pictures: Marina Neil

BIG BUILD: Scot MacDonald and transport officials inspect the Newcastle light rail project on Thursday. Pictures: Marina Neil

BIG BUILD: Scot MacDonald and transport officials inspect the Newcastle light rail project on Thursday. Pictures: Marina Neil

BIG BUILD: Scot MacDonald and transport officials inspect the Newcastle light rail project on Thursday. Pictures: Marina Neil

BIG BUILD: Scot MacDonald and transport officials inspect the Newcastle light rail project on Thursday. Pictures: Marina Neil

TweetFacebookHe said fuelling the downturn was a perception in the community Hunter Street was a “no-go zone”.

“It would help us a lot if people realised that you can still come and shop on Hunter Street,” Mr Scott said.

“On any given day you can pull up out the front and find a park … people think the whole street is inaccessible and that’s partly to do with the signage, which I think is diverting people away.

“The city is not closed.”

Mr MacDonald pushed the case for seeing the government’s revitalisation program to the end. He said“all the signs are there” the CBD would be heavily populated at the end of the project.

‘Enough is enough’: Why Sir Frank Lowy walked away from Westfield

After nearly 57 years as Australia’s shopping centre czar, Sir Frank Lowy has opened up about the reasons he is walking away.
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On Monday, it was announced that Europe’s largest listed commercial property company, Unibail-Rodamco, agreed to buy his Westfield Corp in a $32.8 billion deal.

In an interview with The Australian Financial Review, Sir Frank said it was time to step away from the “useless formalities of public life”.

“It took away a lot of the pleasure,” Sir Frank told the AFR.

“I won’t have to face elections and non-elections and all the other public company issues I have been engaged with for such a long time. Enough is enough!

“Most of that box ticking that was created over the last 15 years or so was a waste of time.”

Sir Frank said he was looking forward to whatever the next chapter brought.

“I’ve been thinking how long can I cope. How long could I expect to be at the top of my game, when is it when I’m no longer at the top,” he told the AFR.

“One way or another I’ve been 57 years at the head of this company and I’m looking forward to the change.”

Sir Frank’s decision to stand back marks the closing stages of one of the most successful careers in Australian business.

Along with then business partner John Saunders, he built up their Westfield shopping centre empire from scratch in Australia in the 1960s, before expanding to the US, New Zealand and the UK.

The empire was split in 2014, with the international business run by Steven and Peter Lowy, and the Australian and New Zealand malls spun off into the separately listed Scentre Group.

Sir Frank cut all ties with Scentre last year but remained at the helm of Westfield Corp. Steven Lowy is still on the Scentre board and the family retains a 4 per cent stake in the local shopping centre operator.

The Lowy family has agreed not to sell its interest in Westfield while the Unibail-Rodamco deal is underway, and to vote in its favour provided the board doesn’t recommend a superior proposal and an independent expert finds it is in the best interests of Westfield securityholders.

with Carolyn Cummins

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Graffy’s back: Basketball legend joins UC to boost sporting bid

NEWS – Carrie Graf will not be re-applying for the role of Opals coach, but will become the UC’s first coach in residence, Bruce, Canberra. 14th February 2013. Photo by, Colleen Petch of The Canberra Times.The University of Canberra has recruited the most successful coach in WNBL history to help them make a “quantum jump” as Australia’s leading sports university.
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Former Australian Opals and Canberra Capitals mentor Carrie Graf has been appointed as the university’s director of sport in a newly created position to oversee the WNBL program and a women’s rugby union sevens team.

The Capitals haven’t made the finals since 2011 and are fighting to avoid the wooden spoon this year after once being regarded as the benchmark for women’s sport in Australia.

University of Canberra vice-chancellor Deep Saini said Graf was the perfect person to help revive the Capitals and build the rugby program, as well as managing the Australian University of Sport program and University Games participation.

Saini committed to increasing the Capitals’ funding to help them compete with WNBL rivals after the team’s budget was cut in recent years, hindering coach Paul Goriss’ ability to recruit star players and maintain a roster.

The University of Canberra bought the Capitals’ licence three years ago, but the team has struggled to fire on the court.

“[Graf’s] job will be to raise the profile of the University of Canberra as a leading sports university in the country, and if there’s a person in this country that can do it, Carrie Graf is that person,” Saini said.

“We are at a different stage of our evolution five years ago … we are now at a point where we need someone of the calibre of Carrie to get to the next step. This next step is gradual or incremental … it’s going to be, in my view, a quantum jump.

“We’re going to look for all possible sources of funding for the Capitals, we recognise the Capitals need greater financial backing to be a more successful team and definitely for them to get back to their glory days.”

Fairfax Media revealed last month the university had started a strategic review of its sports programs, with Graf emerging as a key figure in its plans for the future.

Graf is the first piece of the puzzle, with a Capitals administration reshuffle expected to follow after Graf starts in the role on January 22.

Coach coached the Capitals for almost 15 years and guided the club to six of its seven championships. She has won more games than any other coach in WNBL history.

But she quit coaching in 2015 to spend more time with her family and to give the Capitals a fresh start under a new leader.

“It’s exciting to be a part of the university going forward and in terms of what they want to do with sport,” Graf said.

“The foundations are already here. Now it’s about how we take it to the next level. The Capitals have been a massive part of my career … but this role appealed to me for a whole lot of different reasons.

“I’ll always have a soft spot for the Capitals … we set the standard for a long time but now a lot of clubs have surpassed us. But it wasn’t the only reason, this was a sporting opportunity for me.”

Graf’s long-term vision is for women to have the opportunity to be full-time athletes rather than juggling work and sport to earn a living.

The WNBL is trying to keep pace with the rapidly changing women’s sporting landscape, which now includes national Australian football, cricket, rugby league, rugby union, netball and soccer competitions.

Minimum wages have increased across the board and some athletes are able to have sport as their sole income. But Graf wants athletes and administrators to aim higher.

“I like to think women’s sport in Canberra helped set the stage … but I still think it’s got a long way to go,” Graf said.

“There’s a wave right now about women’s sport, but I think when we look at it more critically, there’s still a long way to go in terms of being fully professional, wages and full seasons. It’s a great start … put it on TV and people will watch. We can certainly take another step.”

Meanwhile, the Capitals climbed off the bottom of the WNBL ladder with an impressive 91-80 away win against the Spirit in Bendigo on Thursday night.

Skipper Nat Hurst (18 points) and Kate Gaze (10 points, six rebounds) impressed for the visitors, who led by just one point at three-quarter time before a dominant final quarter (20-10) secured Canberra its fourth win of the season.

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Arnold denies being approached by FFA for Socceroos job

Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold cooled suggestions he will become the next Socceroos coach having denied he’s been approached by Football Federation Australia to take charge of the national team.
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Reports surfaced late on Wednesday night linking Arnold with the vacant post at the Socceroos, suggesting the FFA offered Arnold the job. However, on Thursday morning, Arnold quashed those reports and reiterated that he’s had no contact with the FFA about coaching Australia at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

It’s understood the FFA are yet to open talks with any potential coach and could delay an appointment until as late as February once an external panel of experts has finalised its recommendations. The panel met for the first time late on Wednesday night and are still forming the criteria for the next Socceroos coach. Arnold was flattered to be considered the frontrunner for the position but denied having any contact from the FFA.

“There’s nothing been offered so I don’t even think about that,” Arnold said.

“I could sit here and say exactly the same as I did last week. It’s obviously flattering to be considered for the national team as a proud Australian. But I have a contract with Sydney FC, I believe we’re doing well but we need to do greater than we are at the moment.

“The reality of everything is I’m contracted to Sydney FC. I love this club, I love that group of players. I treat those players like my kids and I wouldn’t sit here and say something that’s not real out of respect for those boys because those boys work hard for me every week, they perform at a high level every week. This is all getting in the way of us talking about what a fantastic team Sydney FC is.

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

Church leaders told to put aside ‘resentment’ to address abuse

Church leaders told to put aside ‘resentment’ to address abuse Healing: Abuse survivor and former Newcastle Anglican Bishop Greg Thompson outside the royal commission final sitting with Audrey Nash, whose son Andrew committed suicide, aged 13, after sexual abuse at a Hunter Marist Catholic school.
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Joy: A survivor hugs an emotional shadow social services minister Jenny Macklin.

Renewal: Bill Shorten and Audrey Nash take part in a smoking ceremony outside the royal commission final sitting.

Relief: Abuse survivor and lawyer for many Hunter victims, John Ellis, outside the royal commission.

Questions: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull arriving at the royal commission.

Bipartisan: Bill Shorten and Malcolm Turnbull arrive at the royal commission.

TweetFacebook Sexual abuse of children a “national tragedy”: commission Calls for change across Australian institutionsTHE Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has called for church and other institutional leaders to put aside their resentment and support necessary changes to address the “national tragedy” of child sexual abuse, duringan emotional final sitting.

In a speech on Thursday in front of a packed gallery, including Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and shadow social services minister Jenny Macklin, commission chair Justice Peter McClellan said children were abused over decades because society failed.

“Some of our most important state instrumentalities have failed. Police often refused to believe children. Child protection agencies did not listen to children. Investigation processes were inadequate and criminal procedures were inappropriate. Our civil law placed impossible barriers on survivors bringing claims against individual abusers and institutions,” Justice McClellan said.

“In some cases the aggressive hand of the lawyer was engaged, ensuring that an appropriate and just response to a survivor was not possible.”

Shine the Light: the Newcastle Herald’s complete coverage of the Royal Commission

The final sitting in Sydney was held a day before the royal commission hands a final report and recommendations to Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove in Canberra, ending the landmark five-year inquiry.

Justice McClellan said the more than 8000 survivors who had given evidence in private sessions and the many more who gave evidence at more than 50 public hearings had had “a profound impact on the commissioners”.

While many churches had referred to institutional child sexual abuse as a problem in the past, Justice McClellan told the final sitting that “child sexual abuse in institutions continues today”.

“We heard in private sessions from children as young as seven years of age who told us they had been recently abused,” he said.

While many thousands of children had been sexually abused in institutions, it was important to remember that the number of children sexually abused in home settings “far exceeds” those sexually abused in institutions, he said.

“The sexual abuse of any child is intolerable in a civilised society. It is the responsibility of our entire community to acknowledge that children are being abused. We must each resolve that we should do what we can to protect them,” Justice McClellan said.

Ian Kirkwood: From the darkness, the light starts to shine

The royal commission final sitting included many people who had campaigned for a commissionor had given evidence during public hearings.

They included Chrissie Foster, whose two daughters were sexually abused by a Catholic priest and whose husband Anthony died in June before the royal commission completed its work. They also included Hunter royal commission campaigners Bob O’Toole, Audrey Nash and Steve Smith, lawyer for many Hunter survivors John Ellis,advocate for children abused in homes, Leonie Sheedy and retired Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox.

Abuse survivor and former Newcastle Anglican Bishop Greg Thompson, whose apology to survivors in 2015 and vow to stop a culture of “mates looking after mates” within the church led to extraordinary scenes during a Newcastle Anglican diocese hearing in late 2016.

Outside the commission Mr Shorten committed to supporting the royal commission recommendations, saying: “I don’t believe Australians will accept excuses from the parliament if we don’t fully embrace the royal commission, and that starts with a redress scheme, a proper national compensation scheme.”

The decades of institutional child sexual abuse were “a national shame, a national tragedy”.

“Now is not the time to use legal tactics or insurance company practises to somehow discredit or demolish the royal commission report. Australians of good conscience should get behind this royal commission report,” Mr Shorten said.

Mr O’Toole said the final sitting was a fitting end to a royal commission that validated the lives of many thousands of Australians, where survivors and political leaders sat together to acknowledge the work of the commission.

Audrey Nash, whose son Andrew took his own life at the age of 13 while a student at Marist Hamilton school, said the final sitting “brought it all back – all the pain and misery”.

“But it took five years with the commission and Ifinally found out what happened to my boy.”

Bishop Thompson said the final sitting was “an important affirmation”.

“Institutions have to continue to listen and be truthful about what they’ve had to confront and they have to have the courage, leaders have tohave the courage, to stand up for survivors.”

He said he would “give it a 50:50 chance” that that would happen.

“It depends on who they appoint in the leadership in the future.”

Hunter survivors including Steve Smith will stand outside Government House in Canberra on Friday to wave the commissioners as they present the report and recommendations to Sir Peter Cosgrove.

At least some part of the report is expected to be released on Friday.

Iconic harbour swim back

DIVING IN: The Newcastle Harbour Swim will return on Australia Day next year with up to 400 competitors expected to take on the cross-harbour challenge. Picture: Daniel DanuserNEWCASTLE’S iconic AustraliaDay harbour swim will return next year after organisers gained approval to run the event.
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There were fears the trans-harbour swim would never return after Stockton Surf Life Saving Club was forced to cancel itin Januarydue to safety concerns and “increased marine activity”.

Club president Callan Nickerson said the swim had been running for 24 years and had only been cancelled twice.

“It’s a really uniquely Newcastle event and we wanted to ensure it had a future,” he said.

“The swim is great way tokick off your Australia Day and not something that we wanted to lose. You don’t get to swim across the world’s biggest coal portevery day.”

Upto 400swimmers from across NSW and Queensland are expected to compete in the ocean swimon January 26.

Previously about 60 per cent of the swimmers have beenfrom the Hunter, with other large groupsfrom country NSW.

Newcastle-bredOlympic swimmers Thomas Fraser-Holmes and Justin Norris are both previous winners of thecharity swim that raises money forStockton surf club.

The swim has traditionally been the club’s major annual fundraiser.

Mr Nickerson said funds were used to buyinfrastructure or equipment for the club.

“It’s basically for buying surf life saving equipment that allows us to patrol the beach,” he said.

“This has always been our biggest fundraiser and the funds arevital for our surf life saving operation.”

The main 1400-metre swim across the harbour to Stockton and back begins at Queen’s Wharf at 11am.

It will be preceded by the single crossing for social swimmersand juniorsat 10am from Stockton to Queens Wharf.

Iconic harbour swim back TweetFacebook Photos from the final swimPictures: Fairfax MediaFerries will be available to take swimmers from Newcastle to Stockton for the start.

Swimmers in the 700-metre event are allowed to use flippers and other swimming devices.

“You can swim in a three-piece suit if you like for the single crossing,” Mr Nickerson said.

“We’ve had people in their eighties do the swim and there will beplenty of water safetyon hand in IRBs, boards and skis to make sure everyone has a great day.”

The harbour swim wascancelled in January 2015 due to debris and increased marineactivity.

Flooding left its fate in limbo until the last minute in 2016, but it ultimately went ahead.

Mr Nickerson said he was confident the harbour swimwould continue well into the future.

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