Fun in the sun as Cessnock’s Jungle Juice Cup moves to October

Sparkling day for Jungle Juice Cup | PHOTOS, VIDEO Sophie Stapleford, Bree Egan, Brodie Egan, Rachel Zaichenko, Kirsten Hugo, Elli Hugo and Libby Campbell at the Jungle Juice Cup at Cessnock Racecourse on October 13. Picture: Krystal Sellars
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A group of happy punters, celebrating Rob’s 50th birthday, at the Jungle Juice Cup at Cessnock Racecourse on October 13. Picture: Krystal Sellars

The Jungle Juice Cup at Cessnock Racecourse on October 13. Picture: Krystal Sellars

Hannah Rorke, of Belmont; with Alexander, Elizabeth and Sheldon Lindsay, of Toowoomba, at the Jungle Juice Cup at Cessnock Racecourse on October 13. Picture: Krystal Sellars

The Jungle Juice Cup at Cessnock Racecourse on October 13. Picture: Krystal Sellars

Dakota Wicks, of Seahampton, and Mick Higgins, of Minmi, at the Jungle Juice Cup at Cessnock Racecourse on October 13. Picture: Krystal Sellars

Daniel and Jane McConville, of Maryland, at the Jungle Juice Cup at Cessnock Racecourse on October 13. Picture: Krystal Sellars

Dylan Radford and Olivia Watson, of Cessnock, at the Jungle Juice Cup at Cessnock Racecourse on October 13. Picture: Krystal Sellars

Margaret Wilson and Jennifer Peel, of Cessnock, at the Jungle Juice Cup at Cessnock Racecourse on October 13. Picture: Krystal Sellars

Theresa Wallace, of Shortland; Tanya Milajew, of Maryland; Lynn Graham, of Cameron Park; Kim Gibson, of Cardiff; Lee Whiting, of Holmesville, and Natalie Watts, of Shortland, at the Jungle Juice Cup at Cessnock Racecourse on October 13. Picture: Krystal Sellars

The Jungle Juice Cup at Cessnock Racecourse on October 13. Picture: Krystal Sellars

The Jungle Juice Cup at Cessnock Racecourse on October 13. Picture: Krystal Sellars

Caitlyn Biscoe and Angela Priest, of Newcastle, at the Jungle Juice Cup at Cessnock Racecourse on October 13. Picture: Krystal Sellars

The Jungle Juice Cup at Cessnock Racecourse on October 13. Picture: Krystal Sellars

Steven Abel and Ellen Harley, of Cessnock, at the Jungle Juice Cup at Cessnock Racecourse on October 13. Picture: Krystal Sellars

Natanya Caban, of Bellbird; Zak Caban, of Bathurst, and Kate Jackson, of Abermain, at the Jungle Juice Cup at Cessnock Racecourse on October 13. Picture: Krystal Sellars

Casey Hutchinson, of Fletcher; Gemma Brown, of Gillieston Heights, and Kath Hounslow, of Thornton, at the Jungle Juice Cup at Cessnock Racecourse on October 13. Picture: Krystal Sellars

Joe and Sarah Baldwin at the Jungle Juice Cup at Cessnock Racecourse on October 13. Picture: Krystal Sellars

Whistle Dixie performed at the Jungle Juice Cup at Cessnock Racecourse on October 13. Picture: Krystal Sellars

Whistle Dixie performed at the Jungle Juice Cup at Cessnock Racecourse on October 13. Picture: Krystal Sellars

The Jungle Juice Cup at Cessnock Racecourse on October 13. Picture: Krystal Sellars

The crowd cheers on a race at the Jungle Juice Cup at Cessnock Racecourse on October 13. Picture: Krystal Sellars

Chris O’Brien brings Hammoon Boy back to scale after winning the 2017 Jungle Juice Cup at Cessnock Racecourse on October 13. Picture: Krystal Sellars

Chris O’Brien brings Hammoon Boy back to scale after winning the 2017 Jungle Juice Cup at Cessnock Racecourse on October 13. Picture: Krystal Sellars

Chris O’Brien brings Hammoon Boy back to scale after winning the 2017 Jungle Juice Cup at Cessnock Racecourse on October 13. Picture: Krystal Sellars

Newcastle Jockey Club director Robert Dan, Hammoon Boy’s owner Paul Frampton, winning jockey Chris O’Brien and Cessnock Leagues Club CEO Paul Cousins at the presentation for the Jungle Juice Cup at Cessnock Racecourse on October 13. Picture: Krystal Sellars

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An inconvenient truth: you’re paying less for your mortgage now than a decade ago

Record-low mortgage rates have made it easier to meet the payments on home loans than it has been in decades, despite record-high house prices, new figures show.
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Confounding talk of unaffordability, the Bureau of Statistics calculations show that as recently as 2005-06 it took an average household 19 per cent of its gross income to meet ongoing housing costs. By 2015-16, it had fallen to 16 per cent, the least in records going more than 20 years.

The average mortgaged household now spends less of its income on housing than it does on food, a turnaround from earlier surveys in which it spent more. Housing costs include mortgage payments and water and rate payments.

Adjusted for inflation, the average mortgaged household paid $434 per week in 2015-16, much the same as in 2005-06. But over the same period the average income of mortgaged households climbed from $2272 per week to $2759.

“Mortgage and property values have also increased in the last decade,” said Dean Adams, the Bureau’s director of household characteristics and social reporting. “Ten years ago, the real median dwelling value was $449,000, which climbed to $520,000.”

Mr Adams said the burden imposed on mortgaged households might be even lower than the survey suggested.

“Our survey measures what they chose to pay in mortgage costs, not what they had to pay,” he said. “As rates have come down, some will have spent more than they need to in order to get ahead on their loans.”

Canberra is the easiest city in which to pay off a mortgage, with monthly payments of 15 per cent of income, a near record low. Darwin is the most expensive, with monthly payments of 18 per cent. Sydney and Hobart have monthly payments of 17 per cent, and Melbourne, Brisbane Adelaide and Perth monthly payments of 16 per cent.

Housing costs have deteriorated for renters. The average cost for households renting privately is $350 per week, less than the $452 cost for mortgaged households, but as a record high of 21 per cent as a proportion of income, up from 19 per cent ten years earlier. Renters in public housing pay less again, $167 per week, but the cost also amounts to 21 per cent of household income.

Private renters are worst off in Hobart, paying 22 per cent of household income, and best-off in Darwin, paying 19 per cent. Sydney, Canberra and Adelaide renters pay 21 per cent, and Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth renters 20 per cent

The best-off ns are those who own outright who typically spend just $51 per week on housing; 3 per cent of their incomes.

The proportion of households renting privately has climbed to 25.7 per cent, the highest on record. Twenty years ago it was 19 per cent. The proportion renting public housing has slid from 6 per cent to 3.6 per cent, and the proportion owning or buying homes has slipped from 70.9 to 67.2 per cent.

Among home-owning households the proportion that have paid off their mortgages has fallen dramatically, from 42.8 per cent of all households to 31.4 per cent.

The proportion of older households still paying off mortgages has tripled in the past ten years, climbing from 7 per cent to 21 per cent.

Grattan Institute chief John Daley said the most important finding was that low-income households were increasingly stressed. The poorest were now spending 28 per cent of their income on housing, compared to 23 per cent ten years ago. Most middle earners there had seen little change.

Two out of every nine homeowners owned more than one property, either for use as a second home or for renting out. One in 14 owned more than three.

The number of people per home fell from 2.7 in 1995-96 to 2.5 in 2005-06, but has since climbed back to 2.6.

The number of bedrooms per household climbed from 3 to 3.2. Four out of every five homes have at least one bedroom to spare.


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From George Miller to an Egyptian mummy, Chinan Museum unveils 200 treasures

n Museum Director, Kim McKay, (second from left) with Gabi Hollows, Premier Gladys Berejiklian, George Miller and Ita Buttrose at the opening of the 200 Treasures exhibit at the n Museum in Sydney. 13th October 2017 Photo: Janie Barrett 200 Treasures of the n Museum Exhibition preview to open in October 2017. Included is a cape gifted to Captain James Cook. Seen pictured with it is Logan Metcalfe – Collections Officer Pacific at the museum. Photographed Thursday 29th August 2017. Photograph by James Brickwood. SMH NEWS 170829
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200 Treasures of the n Museum Exhibition preview to open in October 2017. Photographed Thursday 29th August 2017. Photograph by James Brickwood. SMH NEWS 170829

200 Treasures of the n Museum Exhibition preview to open in October 2017. Photographed Thursday 29th August 2017. Photograph by James Brickwood. SMH NEWS 170829

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – SEMPTEMBER 28: Kim McKay Director at the n Museum on SEMPTEMBER 28, 2017 in Sydney, . (Photo by Christopher Pearce/Fairfax Media)

200 Treasures of the n Museum Exhibition preview to open in October 2017. Photographed Thursday 29th August 2017. Photograph by James Brickwood. SMH NEWS 170829

200 Treasures of the n Museum Exhibition preview to open in October 2017. Photographed Thursday 29th August 2017. Photograph by James Brickwood. SMH NEWS 170829

200 Treasures of the n Museum Exhibition preview to open in October 2017. Included is a cape gifted to Captain James Cook. Photographed Thursday 29th August 2017. Photograph by James Brickwood. SMH NEWS 170829

200 Treasures of the n Museum Exhibition preview to open in October 2017. Included is a cape gifted to Captain James Cook. Photographed Thursday 29th August 2017. Photograph by James Brickwood. SMH NEWS 170829

Film director George Miller of Mad Max fame is used to viewing the world through a camera. But as one of the n Museum’s newly chosen 200 treasures – along with ‘s first female prime minister Julia Gillard, a 2800-year-old Egyptian mummy and a Tasmanian tiger pup – his image will shine brightly inside and outside the museum.

Mr Miller is one of 100 people living and dead – including Billy Hughes, Eddie Mabo, Cathy Freeman, Bob Hawke and Sir Donald Bradman – who the museum selected because they had shaped the nation through contributions to history, science and nature or culture.

Attending the launch in the newly restored Westpac Long Gallery, Mr Miller said the honour was surprising, especially as his mother attended the National School – which now forms part of the Museum – as a girl about 90 years ago.

“Today is a big Mum day because it goes back a long way,” said Dr Miller, who also made The Dismissal and Babe.

When the Long Gallery first opened at the n Museum in May 1857, nearly a quarter of Sydney’s 45,000 residents – equivalent to a million people today – visited within a week to see stuffed cabinets stuffed with jaw-dropping curiosities and lit by gas lamps.

On Saturday the refurbished gallery reopens, showcasing 200 of the museum’s 18 million treasures: 100 objects showcased in cabinets with related items that tell a story, and the stories of 100 people considered to be the nation’s brave and the bold. Images of the 200 people and things will be projected nightly in a Vivid-style light show from sunset from October 13 to 22.

Museum director Kim McKay hopes the quirky collection will pique visitors’ thirst for knowledge enough that they will come back again and again, and give the world’s fifth oldest natural science museum and ‘s first museum the stature she believes it deserves.

“We are ranked the 34th largest in the world, which is extraordinary given that it is newer [than most]. We have got this extraordinary collection, which is worth close to $1 billion, and it tells us so much who we are and where we came from,” she said. “We are using [the Long Gallery’s] incredible form and architecture combined with the collection to show people that the n museum sits beside the great museums of the world,” she said.

Chosen by guest curator and historian Peter Emmett, the 100 objects include a Hawaiian ‘ahu’ulaa red and yellow feathered cape which was given to Captain Cook in 1778 or 1779 by chief Kalani’opo’u who was regarded the English by the Hawaiians as a god. With yellow feathers plucked from the neck of tiny birds that had tufts of one or two feathers on each neck, it would have taken years to make. The 140cm wide cape was meant to give the wearer power, and provide spiritual and physical protection. Yet its mythic powers didn’t work for Cook, who died soon after in a fight with locals.

Other treasures from the collection – many which defeat attempts to give them a monetary value – include a Tasmanian Tiger female pup collected and pickled about 70 years before the last animal died in captivity in 1936; Papuan Asaro mud men masks with comic hungry tongues created last year; a family of Aboriginal toy dolls collected in Arnhem Land in 1948 made from shells wrapped in cloth; the paradise parrot, the only mainland bird to become extinct since the arrival of Europeans; and the night parrot, thought to be extinct but recently found to be alive.

“This is an n story,” said Dr Emmett. “Not a narrative of firsts and greats, but a unique and distinctive story of our entanglement with people, places, and animals and things.” Nearly every item was still the subject of current research.

When the original gallery was opened with its glass ceiling, money had run out before a stairway to the upper floor could be built. The $9 million refurbishment, split three ways between Westpac, the NSW government and n Museum’s Foundation, has let new light into the restored and updated gallery.

Ms McKay says museums are the ark of humanity, preserving the past and predicting the future. The top 59 museums, with the n Museum in 34th place, hold 90 per cent of the world’s natural and object specimens.

With her trademark enthusiasm, she showed off a tableau including a kangaroo nearly standing erect, a koala, and a cockatoo with a wing tag used in an ongoing study.

They sit under a large rug made from 75 platypus skins.

It was “quite the thing in the day to have one of those”, said Ms McKay.

“What we are looking at is a tableau about n conservation in the future, and the species that helped us define who we are as a nation. And yet our attitude to them has changed over the years so, and God forbid, there should ever be another Platypus rug in existence.”

Under Premier Mike Baird, the museum was asked to increase visitor numbers by 15 per cent by 2019, a goal that Ms McKay says the museum has exceeded with visitor numbers up 20 per cent. There were 440,000 visitors to the n Museum in 2016-17, 419,902 in 2015/16 and 392,927 in the previous financial year.

She is now lobbying for more funding to allow the museum to host more temporary visiting exhibitions, and didn’t miss a chance to call on the Premier and the Arts Minister at the launch on Friday for more funding to expand the floor space.

“We punch way above our weight in science and reputation, and I would just like to have this museum restored in such a way and funded in such a way that reflects that,” she said.

“Last year we discovered 199 new species in our collection and in the field, and that is over 1 per cent of all the new species found on the planet last year.

Only recently a group of visitors told her they hadn’t been to the museum since they were children. That’s something she wants to change.

But former n Museum director Des Griffin said the impact of repeated budget cuts had taken their toll.

“All the time we are told to do more with less, and the phrase, ‘We all have to feel some of the pain’,” he said.

“After 20 years there has been substantial pain, and what is the gain? If anything, the patient is less well than we started out,” said Mr Griffin.

He said governments needed to realise that museums were, more than anything else, places of ideas.

“There is not enough understanding of the contribution museums have made, or the gains they have made to the understanding of the environment, and what museum people have done with citizen science and expeditions,” he said.

“One of the things that used to gall me was people saying,’Oh museums, they are great halls of dead stuff’.

“That’s bloody rubbish.”

Opens October 14, 2017

n Museum, 1 William Street, Sydney

Free after general admission. Adults $15, kids are free


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Big business of change

It’s been all over the Hunter’s media – on the front page of this newspaper and on our television screens – that the new Anglican Dean of Newcastle wants her church to be a safe place, and that’s a heartwarming sentiment.
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What she means is that she is hoping the Anglican church in the Newcastle region will no longer be the hotbed of paedophilia that was exposed in the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, that Anglican clergy will no longer be free to sexually abuse children, that Anglican leaders will no longer protect the abusers or at the least turn a blind eye to their clergy preying on children.

Dean Katherine Bowyer’s hope is delivered with a smile, of course. As the city’s new Anglican Dean she uses all the right words: courage of the victims, respect, vulnerability, humbling, deeply sorry.

She tells us that the Anglican diocese is committed to changing the cultures that led to the paedophilia, and she and her church seem to expect that we should be thrilled about that.

But how long will it take to change the cultures?

The extraordinary outbreak of memory lapses among Anglican leaders at the royal commission hearings in Newcastle a year ago suggests that the culture of protection is alive and well.

The ugly fact is that the people the Very ReverendDean Bowyer will have to rely on to reassure us that the Anglican culture will change are the very same people who have supported the church and its culture.

Can any Anglican (or Catholic) clergy who enjoyed and helped preserve the culture that sanctioned paedophilia be blameless?

And those who supported the church, the churchgoers who believed that priests were too close to god to be doubted, who therefore helped protect the depravity, who therefore helped put the priests beyond the reach of the families of victims, should be more than a little uncomfortable.

They should have no doubt that the money they put on the plate on Sundays or otherwise contributed to the church rewarded men who preyed on children and the men who protected those who preyed on children.If there is a single reason priests in the Anglican and Catholic dioceses of the Hunter were able to thrive as predators of children, it is the mindless adulation of their devotees.

Can those devotees be blameless? No.Despite the smiling and virtuous reassurance of the Very ReverendDean Bowyer that the church is committed to changing its cultures, that there has been lots of work towards change and that she wants to build on that, why do we give this organisation any amount of time to change its ways?

We don’t give other businesses that prey on children time to change their cultures after their activities – on the dark web, say – have been exposed.

We don’t then have a smiling new director of these purveyors of paedophilia declaring in the media that they’re changing a few things to try to make their business a safe place for children, that, for example, they’re going to move into adult films.

The fact is that the church is a business, one that sells religious services.

Just as some businesses sell their products on the promise of status, as in car manufacturers, or good times, as in cruise ships, the church sells its services on the promise of forgiveness and eternal life.

For the clergy the attraction is a career that can climb the ladder of reverence from the reverend through the very reverend and the right reverend to the most reverend, with benefits that include the adulation of customers, channelling the word of god, being seen as unerringly godly and, until recently, beyond accusation. A free hand, and if things get a little too warm there’s a transfer to another parish.

Like any business, and like the businesses that peddle paedophilia on the web, the church was created for the benefit of those who created it and who manage it, the clergy.

Now the Very Reverend Dean Bowyer assures us that the Anglican diocese based in Newcastle is hoping to remove paedophilia as one of the benefits.Children would be safer sooner if the Anglican and Catholic dioceses in the Hunter closed up shop.


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Abbas’ return to Sydney will be emotional

Ali Abbas has never been afraid to spark a feud, but never before did that lead to complete isolation. At South Korean giants Pohang Steelers last season, he was sidelined completely from the first team and the club.
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A new coach had arrived and wanted to clear out every foreign player on the books but offered minimal severance packages instead of the contractual amount. Most accepted those deals simply to escape. The stubborn Abbas stood firm but soon found himself persona non-grata.

He trained alone, wasn’t allowed near the team and was effectively stranded in South Korea. He turned up to the training ground to find the Steelers went abroad for a training camp in Thailand without telling him, abandoning him at the club’s door step. As he recalls, it was part of their plan to bully him out of the club without paying out the remainder of his contract.

It left him a foreign country where he couldn’t speak the language and nobody by his side. Isolated, Abbas turned to the man who had been by him in his darkest hour of need; Sydney FC’s fitness coach Andrew Clarke. When the Iraqi international faced a potentially career-ending knee injury, Clarke helped rehabilitate him and over the course of that year, the pair formed a very close bond. That continued this year, on the other side of Asia, when Abbas was again in turmoil.

And, it’s relationships like this which make it so difficult for Abbas to face his former club, coaches and teammates. After eventually reaching an agreement with Pohang, the 31-year-old joined Wellington Phoenix and is now set to play against Sydney FC for the first time since his departure. Already, the feelings are stirring about the prospect of walking into the opposite change room at Allianz Stadium.

“I have mixed emotions,” he said. “I was there for four years and it will be good to be back at Allianz but obviously I’ll be playing against Sydney. I’ll have mixed emotions but I have to go there and do my job.”

A player facing a former club is nothing new in the A-League where the salary cap and cautious player recruitment has led to a merry-go-round of transfers. However, for Abbas, Sydney FC represent more than just a former employer. Three years ago, a crunching tackle from then Western Sydney Wanderers midfielder Iacopo La Rocca ruptured Abbas’ anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament. The Iraqi’s season was definitely over, so too his hopes of playing in the Asian Cup and his hopes of ever playing professionally hung by a thread. There were times he wanted to quit, but Sydney FC showed faith in seeing out his recovery. That, Abbas says, will never be forgotten.

“I had a difficult time at Sydney [with injuries] but I had the support from the fans and the club. They’ve done a really good job. I don’t know what it’s going to be like to play there but obviously I have to represent my new club and defend the jersey,” he said.

For months, Clarke would take Abbas to Bondi Beach at 7am to run fitness drills to help the winger regain strength in his knee. Physio Elias Boukarim remained by his side for the 405 days Abbas laboured through an often unclear path back to playing.

Clarke, in particular, remained his confidant through Abbas’ dark spell in South Korea and it’s that bond that will make Sunday’s game at Allianz Stadium an emotional one for the former fan-favourite.

“When I was in [South] Korea, I was actually always in touch with them,” Abbas said. “I’ll never forget what they’ve done for me … I’ll never forget that. I’ve never played against them and for the first time, there will be plenty of emotions. The everyday people who do good things for you, you can never forget that. They’ll always be close to my heart.”


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An inconvenient truth: you’re spending less on your Melbourne mortgage now than a decade ago

View of the Melbourne city skyline from Mickleham Road in Greenvale. Generic urban sprawl, urban development, new housing estate, outer suburbs, housing developments, urban fringe, rooftops, green wedge, rural fringe, city planning, commuter suburbs. Picture by PAUL ROVERE / THE AGE. 31 March 2011. NEWS View of the Melbourne city skyline from Mickleham Road in Greenvale. Generic urban sprawl, urban development, new housing estate, outer suburbs, housing developments, urban fringe, rooftops, green wedge, rural fringe, city planning, commuter suburbs. Picture by PAUL ROVERE / THE AGE. 31 March 2011. NEWS
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Melbourne homeowners are spending a smaller portion of their income on mortgages than 10 years ago, due to lower interest rates, challenging perceptions and the prevailing levels of mortgage stress.

The average mortgaged household in Victoria spent $439 a week on housing in 2015-16, down $12 from two years ago, but up from $396 in 2005-06. The increase was more than offset by rising incomes.

The amount spent by the average household renting in the private market stabilised at $359 a week in Victoria, but was still $100 higher than in 2005-06. Those renting in the state system paid $172 a week on average, up $26 in just two years.

The figures released on Friday by the n Bureau of Statistics, show that around the country the average mortgagee spends 16 per cent of household income on housing – down from 19 per cent a decade ago. It is the lowest rate since the ABS records began more than two decades ago.

That was largely down to the huge reduction in interest rates, which remain at near-record lows, and the growth in household incomes over the decade, the ABS said.

John Daley, of the Grattan Institute, warned the housing affordability crisis persisted in spite of the figures.

“Spending on housing is not going up particularly fast. But only because interest rates have fallen so far,” he said. “If interest rates go up from here, it will get ugly quite quickly.”

Across the nation, the average mortgagee household now, for the first time, spends more of its income on food than it does on housing. Housing costs include mortgage payments and water and rate payments.

Adjusted for inflation, the average mortgaged household paid $434 per week in 2015-16, much the same as in 2005-06. But over the same period the average income climbed from $2272 per week to $2759.

“Mortgage and property values have also increased in the last decade,” said Dean Adams, the ABS director of household characteristics and social reporting. “Ten years ago, the real median dwelling value was $449,000, which climbed to $520,000.”

Mr Adams said the burden imposed on mortgagee households might be even lower than the survey suggested.

“Our survey measures what they chose to pay in mortgage costs, not what they had to pay,” he said. “As rates have come down, some will have spent more than they need to in order to get ahead on their loans.”

Canberra is the easiest city in which to pay off a mortgage, with monthly payments of 15 per cent of income, a near record low. Sydney and Hobart have monthly payments of 17 per cent, and Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth monthly payments of 16 per cent.

But housing costs have deteriorated for renters. The average cost for households renting privately is $350 per week, less than the $452 cost for mortgaged households, but as a record high of 21 per cent as a proportion of income, up from 19 per cent 10 years earlier. Renters in public housing pay less again – $167 per week – but the cost also amounts to 21 per cent of household income.

Private renters are worse off in Hobart, paying 22 per cent of household income, and best off in Darwin. Sydney, Canberra and Adelaide renters pay 21 per cent, and Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth renters 20 per cent

The proportion of households renting privately has climbed to 25.7 per cent, the highest on record. Twenty years ago it was 19 per cent. The proportion owning or buying homes has slipped from 70.9 to 67.2 per cent.

Among home-owning households the proportion that have paid off their mortgages has fallen dramatically, from 42.8 per cent of all households to 31.4 per cent.

The proportion of older households still paying off mortgages has tripled in the past 10 years, climbing from 7 per cent to 21 per cent.

Mr Daley said the most important finding was that low-income households were increasingly stressed. The poorest were now spending 28 per cent of their income on housing, compared to 23 per cent 10 years ago. Most middle income earners had seen little change.

Two out of every nine homeowners owned more than one property, either for use as a second home or for renting out. One in 14 owned more than three.

The number of people per home fell from 2.7 in 1995-96 to 2.5 in 2005-06, but has since climbed back to 2.6.

Treasurer Scott Morrison this week moved to reassure US investors, and n investors, that is not headed towards a housing market crash, arguing house prices are high but their value is still “real”.

His comments followed the Domain Group’s State of the Market report, which found growth in house prices in Melbourne had slowed, but has still risen in every quarter for five years.


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A-League: Newcastle Jets teammates become new dads on same day

NEW DAD: Newcastle Jets defender Jason Hoffman with baby daughter, India, and wife Natasha. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers JASON Hoffman joked that the Jets’ W-League team better get ready.
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Hoffman’s wife,Natasha, gave birth to the couple’s first child, daughter India, in the early hours of Wednesday.

Unbeknownto the Hoffmans, Nikolai Topor-Stanley and his wife, Kylie, were in the birthing suite across the hall at John Hunter Hospital.

Baby girl, Luna Topor-Stanley was born just before midday.

– Jason HoffmanTweetFacebook New father, Jason HoffmanPictures: Max Mason-HubersBoth Hoffman and Topor-Stanley were were by their wife’s side for the birth.

“I already had the utmost respect for the wife,” Hoffman said. “I started to get a bit light-headed in the room. I thought there is no way I can take time out. Football, even though it is front of mind 99 per cent of the time, went out the window. All I could think about was my wife and daughter.”

Topor-Stanley said nothing could have prepared him for the roller coaster of emotions.

“The whole labour experience and the birthing is the hardest thing and the best thing,” he said. “Until you have experienced it, you don’t fully understand it. You go through every single emotion.”

Both players trained with the squad on Thursday.Hoffman, who missed the 5-1 win over the Mariners in round one, has recovered from a minor groin strain but is unlikelyto be in the squad to tackle Wellington on Sunday.

Topor-Stanley was one of the Jets’ best against the Mariners.

“I went to training Thursdayand was tearing up being away from her,” Topor-Stanley said. “She had the first night in hospital and there was no where for me to sleep. Now she is at home and starting to settle in.I will train Saturday if everything keeps going the way it is going. Then itis up to the coach whether he selects me.”


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ASX rallies to its best week since March

BULL. 011017. AFR. PHOTO ILLUSTRATION LOUIE DOUVISGENERIC BULL MARKET, STOCK EXCHANGE, MARKETS, INVESTMENT, BUSINESS, MONEY, SHARES, TRADING, TRADERS, MONEY.S***AFR & COLOUR FIRST USE ONLY***n shares rallied to their best week since March, in a broad-based advance led by consumer discretionary and utility companies.
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The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index climbed 19 points, or 0.3 per cent, to end the day at 5814. The All Ordinaries 20 points, or 0.4 per cent, higher at 5884.

For the week, the S&P/ASX 200 rose 1.8 per cent, its best week in percentage terms since the last week of March. The n dollar traded at $78.38??.

“n shares had a good rebound from the bottom of the range they have been in for the last few months,” said AMP Capital’s head of investment strategy Shane Oliver on the week’s movements.

“Data was a bit more upbeat over the last week with continuing strength in business conditions, a slight rise in business confidence and an improvement in consumer confidence albeit only back to long term average levels.

“Beyond short term uncertainties we remain in a sweet spot in the investment cycle – with OK valuations particularly outside of the US, solid global growth and improving profits but still benign monetary conditions.”

More records were broken in global equity markets this week, with Germany and the US hitting fresh highs. Oil and copper staged a bit of a recovery as well ahead of China’s Communist Party congress next week.

Iron ore prices continued to fall over the week, however, and Capital Economics said investors have belatedly woken up to the fact that the Chinese government’s directive to close large swathes of steel capacity during the winter months will depress iron ore demand.

“This is at a time of high iron ore stocks in China and rising supply from and Brazil,” Economist Caroline Bain said.

The mining sector was the worst performer in percentage terms over the week, eking out a 0.1 per cent advance. That compared to a 4.4 per cent advance for the consumer discretionary sector and a 3.5 per cent rise for the utility sector.

Standouts on a company level over the week included Mantra, which jumped 20.1 per cent in the week after it accepted a $1.2 billion buyout offer from French hotels group Accor.

Nine shares rallied 14.9 per cent over the week. It intends to launch a new ad platform 9Galaxy, which the free-to-air broadcaster says can predict audiences and dynamically change campaigns based on more than 10 years worth of data.

Platinum Asset Management soared 10.1 per cent for the week. The global equities manager earlier in the week showed funds under management swelled by around $1 billion to $24.8 billion at the end of September. Stockwatch

Bellamy’s jumped 32.per cent over the week. The infant formula maker increased its revenue forecast for the current financial year amid indications its turnaround plan is bearing fruit. The stock had been battered over December and January, shedding two-thirds of its value, after new import rules in top market China threatened the company’s profits. While there are still “challenges to navigate” as Bellamy’s implements its turnaround plan, it now expects its core business to post a revenue growth of about 15 per cent to 20 per cent in the year to June 2018, versus a prior view for a 5-10 per cent rise. Last year, Bellamy’s swung to a loss after China imposed rules requiring foreign vendors to register by 2018. Some skipped registering and dumped their product, triggering a price drop and a profit warning from the n firm. It has since announced a plan to help its business turn a corner based on renegotiating its supply deals and buying a China-registered formula cannery in Melbourne. Bank of Queensland

Bank of Queensland revealed a special dividend alongside forecast-beating full year cash earnings of $378 million on Thursday. However, both Citi and Morgan Stanley downgraded their ratings after the result. Citi’s Craig Williams cut his rating on Bank of Queensland to neutral from buy citing the 10 per cent increase in the shares over the past three months. “While BoQ is relatively well positioned against a challenging industry backdrop; it has outperformed for investors this year and no longer offers much upside,” Mr WIlliams said. Meanwhile, Morgan Stanley analyst Andrei Stadnik said “we think the share price implies margin expansion beyond the first half of 2018, lower-for-longer loan losses and buyback,” and downgraded the bank to underweight. Shares lost 0.3 per cent over the week. China imports

Iron ore imports by China surged above 100 million metric tons to a record, smashing the previous high set in 2015, as the country’s concerted push to clean up the environment stoked demand for higher-grade material from overseas while hurting local mine supplies. Purchases of iron ore expanded to 102.8 million tons in September from 93 million tons a year ago, surpassing the previous record of 96.3 million tons in December 2015, according to customs data out Friday. Over the first nine months, imports climbed 7.1 percent to 817 million tons, putting full-year purchases on course to top 1 billion tons by a comfortable margin.China has been pulling in ever-greater volumes from miners in and Brazil to meet resilient demand from steelmakers, who’ve benefited from rising profit margins. As Asia’s top economy presses home a drive to clean up the air, mills are seeking out higher-grade material. At the same time, local mines have been restricted,with Macquarie Group saying Chinese iron ore output has collapsed. Kobe Steel

Kobe Steel sank more than 40 per cent this week as its fake data scandal expanded into its core business after the company said there had been “inappropriate actions” related to its steel wire produced overseas. Kobe Steel falsified quality certification data for steel wire used to support engine drives in automobiles and to strengthen tires, the Nikkei newspaper reported Friday. The scandal is reverberating around the world as Kobe Steel customers from Toyota Motor to General Motors scramble to determine if they used the suspect materials and whether safety was compromised in their cars, trains and planes. Ford said it used aluminum from the company in its Mondeo car hoods in China though it hasn’t confirmed whether the parts were compromised. The affair has wiped $1.8 billion off the company’s market value and led to speculation it may be broken up. Apple crown

China has become the world’s largest apple producer, state-run Xinhua news agency reported, citing information from the 10th International Apple Expo in Luochuan, Sha’anxi. China has been developing the agriculture industry in recent years, said Bi Meijia, head of the Ministry of Agriculture’s Department of Personnel and Labor. The apple industry has enjoyed steady growth with constantly improving quality, product mix and competitiveness, Bi said. Chinese apple production accounts for about 50 percent of the global market in terms of planting area and yield, and the country is moving from a major apple producer to an apple industry powerhouse, with ever-increasing demand for both direct consumption and processing, he said. China is a leading apple exporter, said Bi.

– With wires


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Man shot in leg during bungled break-in at Teralba

Newcastle courthouse. A MAN who had his leg blown off during a bungled break-in at a remote property at Teralba could avoid a jail term due to the “considerable extra-curial punishment” he has suffered.
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Benjamin Rhodes was in a wheelchair when he appeared in Newcastle District Court for sentencing on Friday,while his co-accused, Ryan Graham Jewell, was in custody.The pair were confronted by a homeowner while breaking into a farm shed on The Weir Road in the early hours of May 14, 2016.

Rhodes was shot in the leg at close range, while Jewell sprinted across the property, shots ringing out over his head, and jumped into Cockle Creek.After he was shot, Rhodes went to run, but he could only crawl.

He was eventually found by a police dog lying in long grass in a ditch, bleeding profusely from a serious wound to his leg.

He had lost so much blood he was considered critical and was in a coma when he arrived at hospital.

Rhodeshad to have his left leg amputated and now requires a wheelchair to get around, the court heard.

The homeowner has not been charged over the incident.

The pair appeared in court on Friday for sentence afterpleading guilty toaggravatedenter dwellingwith intent, which carries a maximum of 14 years in jail,and larceny.

“I think the loss of a leg is … it’s not something that just relates to now,” Judge Roy Ellis said to DPP solicitor Geoff Kidd.”Not that we’re joking, but one could say you’ve already got your pound of flesh.”

He sentenced Jewell to a maximum of three years in jail, with a non-parole period of two years, meaning he will be eligible for release from custody in October, 2018.

Judge Ellis indicated he would sentence Rhodes toone year and nine months, but adjourned the matter to see whether Rhodes was suitable to serve the termas an intensive corrections order (ICO), in lieu of full-time jail.Rhodes had served four months in custodybefore being granted bail and Judge Ellis indicated that if unsuitable for an ICO, he would consider sentencing Rhodes to a non-parole period of about that length.


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Hunt’s reforms just healthy for private insurers’ profits

HOSPITALS 00122602 AFR PHOTOGRAPH BY GLENN HUNT 181210.GENERIC- hospitals, surgeons, surgery, greenslopes private hospital, medicine, healthcare.AFR USE ONLY DIGICAM 00122602 health2.0 fin reviewThe stock market reaction tells one of the stories about federal Health Minister Greg Hunt’s health insurance reform package: it was written by the private health insurance industry for the private health insurance industry.
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The two listed PHI companies, NIB and Medibank, were up and out of the blocks first thing on Friday morning as Hunt fell into line with their desire to reverse the outflow of customers from the industry. More carrots and sticks for consumers to enrich the sheltered workshop that is PHI, penalising consumers if they don’t pay, promising discounts if they start paying early.

The changes are primarily about forcing reductions in one area of private hospital costs – medical devices – and making PHI more marketable to those under 30 with the offer of higher excesses to reduce annual premiums, youth discounts and “gold, silver, bronze and basic bronze” packages. (Shame they didn’t adopt HG and Roy’s description for the fourth category – “the potato medal”.)

A friend observed it sounds like PHI will be marketed like sports betting – cash out halfway through the race, an extra fiver on Winx, a saver if up by 24 ???

Or the offering may end up more like Foxtel packages – to get the sport you want, you still have to pay for a lot of rubbish that comes with it.

As the market reaction signalled, what the reform clearly doesn’t do is put pressure on health insurers to cut their own costs as they continue to operate in a cost-plus world, fronting up each year for the government to rubber-stamp premium increases. And it promises the insurers will have more customers pushed in their doors.

And there’s already a gap between what the industry was promising would happen to premiums if it got its way, and what will happen. The industry said a $200 million reduction in prosthesis costs would result in a 1 percentage point reduction in premiums. The reforms are touting a $300 million reduction, but NIB CEO Mark Fitzgibbon is being quoted as saying that, after a premium rise of 4.84 per cent this year, next year will see a rise at “the low end of 4 per cent”.

The less obvious and much bigger story is that the Hunt/PHI reforms seek to lock in a second-rate public hospital system for ns. That’s the implicit reality of government policy – the public hospital system is a bit crappy, so you really need private health insurance.

The industry’s desire was spelt out by NIB’s Fitzgibbon in February: “We need to be thinking about how do we create a future in which 70 per cent of the population have health insurance – and it did before Gough Whitlam introduced Medicare.”

Ah, the good old days.

The implication is a second-rate public health system for those who can’t afford or who can’t be forced into PHI.

If it was policy to have a first-rate universal health care system, large-scale PHI wouldn’t make sense – why pay a fortune in insurance for something you might not need and, if you do, you can get just as well for “free”?

The economics of continuing to channel the health dollar through private insurers skimming their costs and (very healthy) profits also is questionable.

Moving some of the nation’s health costs off the government expenditure account into the less-visible but still real “tax expenditures” list is a poor pea-and-thimble trick.

What the private sector has not been able to do is demonstrate that it delivers superior health outcomes more efficiently while happily selling fear – the “fear” that the public system is not much chop and will kill or maim you.

As they get on top of the Big Data they gather, the private health insurers know quite well where the inefficiencies and overservicing lie. The higher cost for prostheses in private hospitals as compared to the ones in public hospitals has been one of the obvious follies. There are others, such as the abuse of “rehab” private hospitals, clusters of overservicing specialists and some doctors exploiting the opaque nature of medical performance by charging way over the odds for procedures delivered with no superior skill or outcome.

Given the power of other vested interests, there’s little a motivated insurer can do about that lot, but the promised reforms do suggest more evidence can be sought.The insurers might be able to justify themselves if they could solve those problems and thus, perhaps, offer an economically rational reason for their hand in the public purse.

The government’s reforms ameliorate an immediate concern for the insurers – the exodus of young people in particular who have done the maths and realised they are being screwed.

The reforms don’t begin to tackle the greater inefficiency of the taxpayer coughing up for both tiers of the system, instead of concentrating on delivering a first rate public offering.

Instead, the reforms implicitly promise the public system will be second-rate. Either that or there’s an implicit admission that the private system is a con.


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