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  • admin 12:43 on 04/18/2019  

    Grounded: Warnervale airport will not be developed as a regional airport for the Central Coast, although its backers have vowed to fight on.THE future of controversial Warnervale airport –and a true accounting of its secret history, cost and impact on the Hunter –is shaping up as the first big test of the amalgamated Central Coast Council.
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    In November amajority of councillors rejected the former Wyong Shire Council’s plans for a Central Coast regional airport and aviation hub at Warnervale, at a likely cost to the council of nearly $400 million, only weeks after calling for all reports and feasibility studies to be made public.

    But by December a move to overturn the decision was only narrowly defeated;a long-time airport backer, Councillor Greg Best, was vowing to force renewed voting on the airport every three months, and negative airport studies had not been made public despite the council resolution.

    “There is absolutely no doubt the airport is a huge test of who’s in charge of this big amalgamated council only a few months after the election of its new councillors,” said Laurie Eyes, whose long-term campaign against an expanded Warnervale airport resulted in NSW legislation in 1996 restricting its operations.

    “It’s a battle in some respects between some of the elected councillors and the staff, but it’s not just about the airport itself. It’s about what this council stands for, and whether that is fair and open process, transparency andcommunity consultation, which were all missing with this airport proposal.”

    In November the council made public reports showing a regional Central Coast airport at Warnervale would have anegative impact on more than 7000 Lake Macquarie homes in its direct flight path. The reports, dated November, also showed that positive economicassessments were predicated on the overturning of the 1996 legislation to allow the expansion plans. This isdespite the NSW Government in August saying the legislation would remain in place after an extensive review, and the Department of Planning in December confirming there was “no intention for it to be repealed”.

    The council has so far not released an internal feasibility study from 2013 saying the airport would continue to be a liability for the council, and industrial or related development would deliver nearly twice the cost benefit.

    The council has also failed to release a 2008 internal report which recommended closing the airport because of the cost, availability of other airports in close proximity, and the loss of job opportunities from developing the site as an industrial area.

    At its first 2018 meeting in February the council will consider a report on alternative uses of the site after a commitment to divert$6 million – earmarked for the airport in early 2017 under a council headed by an administrator –to job-development projects.

    Mr Eyes called for a full accounting of the money spent on the former Wyong Shire Council’s various regional airport projects, including a doomed airport on a ridge, which continued while the amalgamated Central Coast Council was under an administrator.

    He said it was “fantastic news” when a majority of councillors rejected the aviation hub and regional airport but “the council has spent millions of dollars in the past two years forno return”.

    Central Coast mayor Jane Smith said councillors were keen to see an improvement in transparency and accountability on key issues like the airport and other legacies from the former Gosford and Wyong councils, “and it is a process”.

    “The community made it clear that is what it expected from us. We need to improve the accountability of council,” CrSmith said.

    Continue reading Warnervale airport and the fight for its future is the first big test of an amalgamated Central Coast Council
  • admin 12:43 on 04/18/2019  

    WORTH 1000 WORDS: Each day we will publish a finalist in the Herald short storycompetition. The winner will be announced on January 27. Picture: Max Mason-HubersDAN hated birds. And birds hated Dan. There wasn’t a mutual respect of two foes. Just pure hate.
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    Birds of the area knew not to fly into Dan’s yard, because if they did, they were punished beyond all recognition. Dan would tempt new birds to come into his yard. He would put out the tastiest seed and leave fresh fruit that he knew birds loved. The birds most caught out were migrating birds or birds that had just moved to the area because of the better schools. When they went into Dan’s yard they never left. They would be eating some delicious seed and then boom! Wing by wing, feather by feather, they were gone.

    Dan was a tall, thin man. He worked in an office by day and at night he read the newspaper and watched his dreams slip by. He also liked gardening. His specialty was delicate fruit trees like figs and dates. Anything that birds would find sweet. Beside the loathing of birds, he was quite a reasonable man. He even donated to charities and took the lids off bottles before he recycled them.

    Magpie, who was native to the area around Dan’s house, had had enough. He decided that the birds needed to fight back. In his words “no more birds were to be harmed”! Magpie talked at a local watering hole to some of his friends. He said that it was time to take a stand.

    The other birds looked at him funny and asked if he’d been drinking pool water again. They flew away to sit in a tree where they could talk about the rising price of real estate and gossip about domestic chickens.

    Parakeet came closer to Magpie and sat on the branch he was perched on. He explained to Magpie that he liked his idea and that he had had some similar ideas but hadn’t told anyone for fear of being called a revolutionary. Parakeet knew of a bird that would be more than interested in getting involved.

    Magpie made his way to a tree on the outskirts of town where he had agreed to meet Parakeet and his friend. When Magpie arrived, waiting for him was Parakeet and his friend, Toucan. The birds greeted each other in the usual way birds do and Toucan introduced himself. He had run with the infamous Calle gang of El Salvador and had a tattoo of Che Guevara on the inside of his wing. He had moved to this part of the word for the breezy air.But he missed the action of his past life, and wanted in on Magpie’s plan.

    As they were sitting there a car pulled up not far from the tree. Without warning, when the couple got out of their car, Toucan swooped down and launched an attack. They swooshed and flapped and dived for cover in the car. Magpie and Parakeet thought this was hilarious. Toucan even grabbed a tuft of hair. Magpie knew he needed this bird on his side.

    The three decided on a date for the attack. They got the word out on social media, which for birds is very direct. Birds aren’t interested in pictures of puppies or posting political opinion and acting as if it is fact. They said the truth about Dan’s torturous ways andadded some other stories foreffect. It made all the birds, everywhere, raving mad.

    Finally, the day of reckoning arrived. Parakeet and Toucan flew up to Magpie and they exchanged steely glances. Dan was ready and waiting. He’d hired some local thugs and some out-of-work economists as his militia. He added vicious dogs. He had spades and shovels at the ready and set the sprinklers off around the house.

    Magpie looked at the menagerie of birds that had assembled. He puffed out his chest and rallied the troops. He began, “A bird sitting on a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking because its trust is not on the branch, but on its own wings”. Then he let out a mighty squawk. Each bird was ready, screaming.

    The sky turned black with feathers, and wings and beaks and malice. There were ground troops of emus and cassowaries. The eagles and cormorants shot down at the enemy like F-18 jets. Even the smaller birds did their job by tormenting the dogs. The stalks turned the sprinklers on Dan and his posse. A few sniper-like robins snuck in and unchained the dogs. Afraid of so many birds, the dogs ran off down the street. The economists ended up being useless as they only argued about Keynesian Theory and,inspired by the birds, went to start their own utopian society. Toucan went straight for Dan. He didn’t hold back and made a mess. Dan didn’t stand a chance. He turned and ran and ran. He didn’t stop until he was far away.

    After the battle, the birds took over Dan’s house and gave any tortured birds proper burials. Then they ate all the fruit off the trees and lounged on his sofa. They watched a documentary on penguins, which they were sure was filled with inconsistencies. Then all the birds left. Toucan, Magpie and Parakeet thanked each other, smiled approvingly andflew off in different directions.

    Magpie was glad.He was sick of revolutionary talk. Now he just wanted to rest and talk about seeds.

    Soon after, the council reclaimed Dan’s house and land as consolidated revenue, then redeveloped it as medium-density housing. Not one fruit tree was planted where Dan’s house had been. Many birds had left the area and nothing seemed the same.

    Sometimes when Magpie sat on the tree across the road and looked at what was Dan’s house, he wondered if it was all worth it.

    Continue reading short story competition finalist 2018: Squawk
  • admin 12:43 on 04/18/2019  

    n shares advanced for a fifth straight session, to a fresh decade-high level, navigating a hot-and-cold confession season for the retail sector.
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    The S&P/ASX 200 Index closed 5.4 points higher or 0.1 per cent to 6135.8 points on Tuesday. It was the smallest gain in three weeks.

    Noni B became the second retailer to upgrade this year, following Lovisa’s upbeat update last week. First-half sales were up 3 per cent on a like-for-like basis; Noni B shares rose more than 4 per cent to $1.98.

    Retail Food Group has downgraded again, this time forecasting first-half net profit below the $22 million level flagged on December 19. Retail Food shares fell 6 per cent to $2.32.

    The PAS Group, owner of the Review, Black Pepper and JETS apparel businesses, reports soft trading conditions for the first-half, where like-for-like sales at Review and Black Pepper were below last year’s numbers. Shares of PAS fell 2.4 per cent to 40??.

    Magellan Financial Group was 1.3 per cent lower to $26.46. Funds under management slipped to $57.9 billion in December, from $58.6 billion at the end of November. Platinum Asset Management rose 1.4 per cent to $7.91 after disclosing after-market on Monday that funds under management rose to $27.1 billion at the end of December, up $80 million that month.

    Brambles has sold CHEP Recycled, its North American recycled whitewood pallet business, to Grey Mountain Partners for an enterprise value of $US115 million. Brambles shares were flat at $10.03.

    Iron ore shipments to China from ‘s Port Hedland terminal rose 11 per cent to 39.1 million tonnes in December from 35.2 million in November, port data released on Tuesday showed.

    Total December iron ore shipments from the world’s biggest export terminal for the steelmaking raw material totalled 46.2 million tonnes versus 41.3 million tonnes the previous month, according to the Pilbara Ports Authority.

    Japan’s real wages posted their first gain in 11 months in November, helped by a rise in year-end bonuses. Japanese wages rose 0.1 per cent in November from a year earlier after adjustments for inflation, labour ministry data showed.

    The yen jumped on Tuesday after the Bank of Japan trimmed its buying of long-dated Japanese government bonds in market operations, helping to stoke speculation about a future exit from its massive stimulus policy.

    The yen rose about 0.4 per cent to 112.62 yen to the dollar, bouncing back further from its two-week low of 113.40 per dollar touched on Monday.

    On Wall Street on Monday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average edged down 0.05 per cent, the S&P 500 gained 0.17 per cent, and the Nasdaq added 0.29 per cent. What moved the market:

    Raise the roof

    Residential building approvals surged by 11.7 per cent, significantly above market expectations which centred on a fall of 1 per cent. The n dollar was slightly higher at US78.58??. Approvals for apartment construction jumped nearly 6 per cent in Victoria and plunged in the n Capital Territory by nearly 22 per cent, the official statistics agency said. Earlier, ANZ Job Advertisements fell 2.3 per cent in December largely unwinding the increase over the previous two months, in seasonally adjusted terms. On an annual basis job ads are up 11.4 per cent, a slight moderation from 12 per cent year-on-year growth the previous month.


    Gold prices inched down early on Tuesday as the US dollar held steady amid expectations of more US interest rate hikes this year. Spot gold slipped 0.3 percent to $US1,317.06 an ounce. Last week, prices touched their highest since September 15 at $US1,325.86. Investors bet on further rate hikes after Friday’s payrolls data did nothing to challenge the outlook for monetary policy tightening by the Federal Reserve. While job growth slowed more than expected, a pickup in monthly wages pointed to labour market strength. Gold is highly sensitive to rising US rates, as these increase the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion, while boosting the US dollar, in which it is priced.

    Bottom line

    n major banks’ cost-to-income or expense ratios have been broadly steady at an average of 43 to 45 per cent over the past few years, Morgan Stanley finds. Its forecasts assume the average expense ratio falls from around 43 per cent to 41 per cent in 2019-20 and then to 40 per cent in 2021-22. In fact, although a regression analysis method suggests roughly a 5 per cent expense ratio reduction, “we believe that it will be a challenge for ‘s major banks to achieve this outcome”, the broker said, sticking to a forecast for roughly 3 per cent over five years. Hurdles to faster efficiency gains are low revenue growth, risk of new entrants via the real-time banking, open banking, and positive credit reporting channels, and increased political scrutiny.

    Steel will

    China’s iron ore futures rose more than 3 per cent on Tuesday to their highest in four months as investors reacted to moves by Beijing to tighten up on implementing steel production capacity cutbacks. On Monday, the world’s biggest steel producer ordered mills in environmentally sensitive regions, including its steel hub Hebei, to phase out at least 1.25 tonnes of old capacity before building one tonnes of new capacity. The most-traded iron ore futures on the Dalian Commodity Exchange were 3.1 per cent higher at 558 yuan a tonne, after touching a peak of 562.5 yuan a tonne, the highest level since September 13. Meanwhile the most-active construction steel rebar futures on the Shanghai Futures Exchange rebounded from three days of losses and rose 1.3 percent to 3,819 yuan ($587.45) a tonne.

    Stock watch: MNF Group

    Morgan Stanley lifted its price target on the former My Net Fone to $7.70 from $6.15. The broker has greater conviction on MNF’s ability to sustain “high teen” earnings per share growth organically over the next few years and takes an above-consensus view on the stock. Morgan Stanley also cut its earnings forecast by 3 per cent for 2018-19 to reflect investment in research and development talent, “laying the foundation to sustain 15 to 20 per cent” earnings per share growth at the expense of a near-term earnings upgrade. It raised earnings per share by 3 per cent in 2019-20. The stock is recommended “overweight” and warrants a higher market multiple because it offers earnings quality, where Morgan Stanley sees little focus from traditional telcos on voice over internet protocol and unified communications as a service.

    With Reuters

    Continue reading ASX advances for fifth day
  • admin 12:43 on 04/18/2019  

    Sport. The Canberra Raiders have signed PNG international Kato Ottio to a two year contract. 26 February 2016. Canberra Times photo by Jeffrey Chan. SportRaiders training on Wednesday afternoon. Elliot Whitehead and Kato Ottio holding hands25 May 2016Photo by Rohan ThomsonThe Canberra Times
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    Canberra Raiders players are organising a tribute to their former teammate Kato Ottio after the 23-year-old Papua New Guinea international’s shock death on Tuesday.

    The centre spent the past two years on the Raiders’ books and was England-bound after signing with Super League club Widnes Vikings following a stellar Rugby League World Cup campaign with the Kumuls.

    It is understood Ottio was training in Port Moresby with players from Queensland Cup side PNG Hunters when he collapsed after a long running session. He was taken to hospital but fell into a coma and never recovered.

    PNG Rugby Football League chairman Sandis Tsaka confirmed the Ottio passed away at the Pacific International Hospital in Port Moresby at 2am Tuesday.

    After signing for Canberra in early 2016, Ottio established himself as a major part of feeder club Mounties and was named in the NSW Cup team of the year after scoring 29 tries in a standout debut season.

    Steve Antonelli coached at Mounties last season and said he was still coming to grips with the tragedy after talking to Ottio about his future last week.

    “I only spoke to him last week about his move to England and he was so excited to be heading over there, one door shuts and another one opens, it was a new adventure for him and I told him it would be great move and wished him all the best,” Antonelli said.

    “He did his ACL at the back of 2016 and that took him a bit to get over but I think heading to the Super League would have really developed him further and he had a massive future in front of him.

    “He was always cheeky to me because we became so close through Mounties and he’d have a giggle at me but it was always respectful and he always had a smile on his face.”

    Ottio had only taken up rugby league just over three years ago, before the Raiders spotted the former volleyball star playing in the Queensland Cup in 2015.

    “He wouldn’t say boo when he first came across then after 12 months we couldn’t shut him up – but the group loved him – he never had a bad word to say about anyone,” Antonelli said.

    “He was a soft-natured and gentle kid with a cheeky side but a loving cheekiness, the type of player a whole group takes to and everyone is just massively in shock.

    “Kato was always happy and bouncing around, I was talking to Blake Austin this morning and he said the world is so unfair and that only the good ones go early, it’s so true.”

    Antonelli confirmed Austin was among a number of senior Canberra players organising a tribute in the capital to Ottio on the same day as his funeral in PNG.

    Austin was one of several Raiders to come out in mourning and pay tribute to Ottio on social media.

    “Shattered to hear the news about Katsy. Wasn’t a day he wasn’t smiling, gone way too soon. Prayers with all his family.,” Austin said on Instagram. Shattered to hear the news about katsy. Wasn’t a day he wasn’t smiling, gone way too soon. Prayers with all his family. ????A post shared by Blake Austin (@blakeaustin6) on Jan 8, 2018 at 12:31pm PSTWe are extremely shocked and saddened at the sudden passing of Kumul #269 Kato Ottio. PNGRFL statement: https://t苏州夜场招聘/2oNkReWvpo#PNG#rugbyleaguepic.twitter苏州夜总会招聘/Yz1OvFMWKM??? PNG Kumuls (@PNGKumulsRL) January 8, 2018

    Continue reading Raiders players organising tribute to former teammate Kato Ottio
  • admin 12:43 on 04/18/2019  

    The concept plan for the Cambridge Hotel site.
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    Two more high-rise developments are on the way for Newcastle’s west end as property developers look to cash in on greaterheight limits and the Wickham transport interchange.

    Newcastle City Council has received a development application for a 14-storey tower at 809 Hunter Street andapproved a DA for an adjoining15-floorunit block in Denison Street last year.

    The $11 million Hunter Street buildinghas just 22 two-bedroom apartments, two per floor, above three levels of parking and ground-floor commercial space.

    Read more

    Concerns for Cambridge’s futureCouncil wants extra floor at Newcastle West officeThe $14 million Denison Street tower holds 58 apartments with three floors of retail and commercial space.

    Both are close to the Cambridge Hotel, which is on the market for $9.2 million after the owners developed a concept plan for 153 apartments taking full use of the site’s 60-metre height limit and 6:1 floor space ratio.

    GOING UP: An artist’s impression submitted with the development application for 809 Hunter Street. The development includes two units per floor and a rooftop garden.

    All three sites are within a blockof the Gateway office development on the corner of Hunter Street and Stewart Avenue, where the council will take up residence next year, and the state government’s Store site, which has the city’s top height limit of 90 metres.

    On the other side of the rail line, Wickham is booming with hundreds of millions of dollars in apartment complexes in various stages of planning and construction.

    They include a $125 million plan to convert Wickham Woolstores into 310 units, Thirdi Group’s $64 million Eaton On Union and $39 million Hannell Street Apartments, and Doma Group’s $37 million Bishopsgate development.

    Iris Capital’s $700 million redevelopment of the Hunter Street Mall, comprising 500 units, won concept approval from the Joint Regional Planning Panel last week and work will start on the DA-approved stage one in the next three months.

    Doma sold out its 144 harbourside Lume unitsin five days at Honeysuckle, has bought the block next door from the state government for a 92-apartment project and has plans for a 48-unit tower in Merewether Street.

    The Verve Apartment tower is under construction in King Street, as are a $43 million “vertical village” for seniors, childcare centre and Holiday Inn in Little King Street.

    Land west of Stewart Avenue appears to be the latest to catch the eye of developers.

    The Gateway office building under construction in Newcastle West.

    John Palmieri, a co-owner of the Cambridge, told the Herald last year that the area was the “downtown Beirut” of Newcastle when he and two friends bought the pub for $1.075 million in 1991.

    But the latest projects and the Cambridge’s price tag, albeit boosted by liquor and poker machine licences, suggest the area will find new life as a residential precinct.

    The listing agent for the 14-storey building in Hunter Street, John Trzecinski, of Dotcom Property Sales, said the council’s foresight in transformingWickham from light industrial to residential had helped reinvigoratethe west end.

    Continue reading More high-rise apartments planned for Newcastle as developers look west
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