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How many twists to change a light bulb?

Wednesday, 25 July, 2018

NEW LIGHT: An impression of the architecturally designed bulbs that could be installed to achieve a similar look to the original lights. Picture: Newcastle Council
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NEWCASTLE COUNCIL staff have baulked at orders to look at returningdome-shaped lightingto the Cowper Street Bridge, warning councillors it would be a costly exercise for lights that arelikely to “self destruct”.

Residents of Carrington lauded it as a victory last month, when councillors ordered a review of a staff decisionto replace the original dome-shaped lamps with“soulless”energy efficient LED lights.

The review was to examinereplacements that wouldrespect“the heritage values” of the entryway to the suburb.

But with that review now finalised– and set to go before councillors at Wednesday’s meeting–council staff are still insisting the lighting installed in January be kept.

Sphere-shaped lights were no longer widely available,the review said,and a bulb suggested by residentswas“not fit for purpose”.

How many twists to change a light bulb? The “much admired” dome lights that once lined Cowper Street Bridge.

The new LED lights that have caused outcry since they were installed in January.

NEW LIGHT: An example of an energy efficient, architecturally designed bulb that could be installed. Staff say they would achieve a similar look to the original dome lights. Picture: Newcastle Council

NEW LIGHT: An example of energy efficient, architecturally designed bulbs that could be installed. Staff say they would achieve a similar look to the original dome lights. Picture: Newcastle Council

TweetFacebook The changing lights of Carrington “This style of sphere dome light will quickly self-destruct due to the severe vibration caused by traffic on the bridge, will not survive in the salt environment and will be prone to vandalism,” it said.“Note that the previous sphere-shaped lights were a regular target for vandalism.”

But Carrington resident Susan Mitchell couldn’t recall any instances of the old lights being vandalized.

“The lights that we researched, I’m sure that a light manufacturer would know his lights need to be of a robust nature, made out of suitable materials to be functional,” she said.

The review said that if councillors proceeded with the replacement, there were energy efficient, architecturally designed fittings that could achievea similar look to the original dome lights.

They would not be compliantwith pedestrian lighting standards but that could be overcome by installing lighting on the bridge’s handrails.

”Council could propose a selection of three lights, one of which could be selected through consultation with the local community,” the report said.

The cost of installing thelights in January was just over $48,000.To replace all 44 lights would cost $305,000, but a compromise could be reached by installing just 12 lights instead for $88,600.

Labor councillor Stephanie Posniak had not seen the report on Friday, but said she expected she would be asking for clarification onsome aspects of it.

“We’re not questioning the staff’s ability but in this particular case you have to be sensitive to what the community wants,” she said.

Ms Mitchell believed the community would be open to a compromise.

“The reflection on the water from the old lights was beautiful. If they could just replace the ones on the outside of the walkways, it could relive that effect.”

The review warned there would also be ongoing financial costs of about $7,800 or $2460 a year–depending on how many lights were installed–as a result of extra maintenance on the bulbs and power consumption.

Six degrees of Bob: celebrating an AFL legend

Wednesday, 25 July, 2018

Six degrees of Bob: celebrating an AFL legend Bob Murphy of the Bulldogs poses during AFL Captains Day 2017 at the MCG. Photo: Michael Dodge/Getty Images
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Easton Wood and Bob Murphy with the trophy during the Western Bulldogs AFL Grand Final celebrations at Whitten Oval. Photo: Getty Images

Bob Murphy celebrates a win. Photo: Getty Images

Bob Murphy celebrates that 2016 Grand Final win. Photo: Getty Images

Robert Murphy of the Bulldogs leads the team off after the final siren during the 2017 JLT Community Series match in February 2017. Photo: Getty Images

Bob Murphy celebrates during the 2016 AFL First Preliminary Final match between the GWS Giants and the Western Bulldogs at Spotless Stadium. Photo: Getty Images

Bob Murphy and Easton Wood embrace after the 2016 AFL Grand Final win. Photo: Getty Images

Bob Murphy of the Bulldogs holds up the premiership cup with Easton Wood. Photo: Getty Images

Bob Murphy is embraced by team mates as he heads onto the stage to receive his 2016 Premiership medal. Photo: Getty Images

Bob Murphy and Easton Wood of the Bulldogs celebrate with the trophy after the 2016 grand final. Photo: Getty Images

TweetFacebookPaul Kelly, Wil Anderson, friends, even his publican on what Bob Murphy means to them as the Western Bulldogs captain prepares for his 300th match.PAUL KELLYMusician, songwriterDear Bob,

In show business, things aren’t always within your control. So it was that I found myself flying home from Dublin via Abu Dhabi last grand final day. We were three hours from landing when the game started. I paid for a wi-fi connection and managed to get score updates that clicked over every couple of minutes. By the last quarter a large swathe of passengers around me were tuned in to my announcements. With five minutes to go I called it for the Dogs just before all electronic devices had to be switched off as the plane prepared to land. Jubilation all round.

That night I watched every second of the replay on TV and, like many others, I suspect, wept as Luke Beveridge draped his premiership medal around your neck. Like many others, too, I’d been barracking for you and your brothers throughout your seemingly Quixotic finals campaign.

You’ve been called the “spirit of the club”. It’s a cliché overworked. But, in your case, perfectly apt. Cruelly injured for the whole season and unable to join your brothers in the heat of the final battle you were the animating force, the touchstone, the one everyone turned to and sought out.

Rockdogs: Bob Murphy and Paul Kelly at the Community Cup in 2012. Photo: Craig Johnstone

Before the grand final youwrote about the loch locked inside of you, the secret sorrow at the deep heart of joy. You and Keats. “Ay, in the very temple of Delight veil’d Melancholy has her sovran shine.”

Things may not have turned out the way you imagined in your childhood dreams, your adult hopes. But something bigger, wider, deeper happened. Your particular trial made the whole a greater triumph. Your absence from the field made you even more present in the story. Your constraint generated enormous power.

Congratulations, Bob, sprite of the club. (Sprite – a legendary creature with magical powers). Congratulations, tough elf, on 300 bone-jarring games. Congratulations and thanks for it all, the great long story you’ve told. Your story isn’t done yet. It will run long after we’re gone.

WIL ANDERSONComedianI remember distinctly the first time I saw The Artist Formerly Known As Robert Murphy play for the Dogs. As a fellow Gippslander I was excited to see this player who had been described as having the skill of a young Robert (Robbie not Bob) Flower.

But when young Robert took the field wearing the number 22 on his back, it seemed like the club was so poor they had got him a guernsey two sizes too big in the hope he would grow into it.

Physically he probably never did – I have a theory the reason he ended up wearing number 2 was, when they took the jumper in, his shoulders weren’t wide enough for two numbers – but 300 games later he is a giant of the club and the game.

Sometimes as footy fans I think we are disappointed when the way someone plays on the ground doesn’t represent who they are off it. But that has never been the case with Bob.

On the field his greatest skill is that he makes those around him better, and in turn makes the game better. And that’s what he’s like off the field too. A unique individual who loves being part of a team.

So congratulations, Murph. As Bulldogs fans, we’ve had way more than our two Bob’s worth. In fact there’s an idea, is it too late to clone him?

JOHN SCHULTZChampion Footscray ruckman, 1960 Brownlow Medallist, mentorI first met Bob during the pre-season of 2000 when I was fortunate to act as a mentor at the induction of the 1999 draft players. Former players are often asked to speak to inductees to explain what they can expect. We, past players, are always interested in the composition of the team each year and when you speak at an induction you forever have a special interest in these players. I found Bob to be a particularly interesting person; he certainly thinks outside the square and is, in many ways, not your typical league footballer. I recall him lobbying to retain the old tree stump in the property room, the stump that the boot-studder had used for many years as a support when he worked on the boots. I think Bob thought it had historical significance.

What a draft year that was for the Western Bulldogs. Bob, Daniel Giansiracusa, Lindsay Gilbee, Mitch Hahn, Ryan Hargrave and Nathan Eagleton. They formed lifelong friendships and Bob and Gia, who is now a Bulldogs coach, still do part of Bob’s pre-game warm-up together.

Class of ’99: draft buddies Daniel Giansiracusa and Robert Murphy Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

When Bob seriously injured a knee in the dying minutes of an exciting game against the Hawks on Sunday May 10, 2016, he only needed five more games to achieve the dreamed-of footballer’s goal of 300 games. It was an especially cruel blow because Bob had a similar injury in 2006 and he knew the hard work that the recovery would entail. His dilemma was whether to retire then or at his age try to recover the fitness and form that would assure him of a place in the side. Thankfully he decided to play on and what a joyous celebration it will be when he runs onto the ground on Saturday.

DIEGO ORTUSOOsteopathIn 2008 we struck a deal with a handshake, a so-called gentleman’s agreement, Bob and me. “I will get you to 200, but you have to get yourself to 250.” Back then he was injured, low, uncertain, hurting – but I knew he would get better, he just needed to become whole again. He couldn’t even see himself making it to 150 games, but he worked hard – physically, emotionally and mentally.

I used to tell him in those dark days, “I begin the treatment and will help bind your wounds, but it’s you who finishes it and heals them.” He is smart. He understood what needed to happen. He trusts me and I trust his health. This is the basis of our relationship. He bestows upon me the great privilege of caring for that which is most precious to him – his health. Even more importantly, the health of those he loves most – his family.

Murphy has had two knee reconstructions, 10 years apart. Photo: Martin Philbey

You can judge the size of the man by the size of the things that bother him, and recent setbacks have changed the way he views the horizon. But Bob understands perspective. In treatment we talk all sorts of things – about his body, what worries him, what’s on his mind and what’s in his heart. He’s not a tortured artist, though – he loves stories and he laughs easily, which can only be a good thing in the magnified world he exists in.

They also say you can judge a man by the company he keeps. Bob is wise enough to realise you only become better if you surround yourself with people who are better than you. He definitely has that in Justine. She is his wife, adviser, confidant, right-hand woman, the mother of his children and the real captain in his most important team. My wife describes Bob and Justine best. “When I’m around them I just feel like hugging them all the time.”

I’m proud to have watched the young rebel become a wise leader. Proud that he picked himself up from the ashes again. Proud that he stands up for what he believes in. Proud that on the field he can once again “move like Jagger”. Proud to call him my friend.

BEN HUDSONFormer teammateHe cares for people, and that’s probably something not as common in footy circles. He’s the first to admit he’s not your typical footy nut, but you can see how the young players at the Bulldogs admire the way he goes about things, and he shows that care and empathy that goes beyond when they cross that white line.

I was lucky enough to share car rides with him to training, so I got to listen to his music and see what he wore into training. His fashion is left of centre and his music is the same, but that’s what makes Bob unique and such a loveable character. He’s pretty quiet and likes to keep to himself. Probably, in all honesty, he hates all the attention he’s copping his week.

People’s beard: Murphy has described Ben Hudson as one of his his favourite teammates, while “Gia” is like family. Photo: Paul Rovere

When Luke Beveridge gave him his premiership medal, that’ll go down as one of the greatest sporting moments. When Beveridge let him lift the premiership cup, it was very emotional, but at the same time you could see the passion and care and what it meant to him, but also to all the supporters in the west. For that iconic moment, he got to share that moment that not many captains or players get to do. You’d have to ask him how he felt about not being able to play, but I reckon, at that split second, he didn’t care.

PATRICK WALSHPublicanI’ve always said that if somebody was going to marry your sister you’d be pretty happy if it was Robert Murphy, and if you needed someone to find a target on their non-preferred side you’d be equally pleased.

We met for the first time in my pub, not long after he wrecked his knee for the first time. I was struck by him from the start – he was interested and interesting. Always admirable qualities, but especially so for someone who lived in the rarefied air of AFL. I felt like we were from a similar place. We talked about music, travel, love, family, writing, Guinness and sunscreen, occasionally arguing about football despite the vast difference in our qualifications.

An osteo (Diego Ortuso), a publican (Patrick Walsh) and a footballer (Bob Murphy).

We’ve covered a fair bit of ground since then and my understanding of a footballer’s life has changed how I watch the game. What hasn’t changed is that I’m very proud of my friend.

Usually after Christmas we have a kick, where he does all the running. I have never got a better appreciation of how good he is than in these moments. It’s like standing in the straight as the ponies head for home. If we get interrupted by his kids, or someone else’s, his football face goes and the other Robert seamlessly appears. Then it’s back to business, and just so you know, even when he’s easing into it, the ball smacks into your hands well before but exactly where you expect.

The Age

Clint Eastwood’s next project is a film about hero backpackers

Wednesday, 25 July, 2018

They were the American backpackers who made headlines around the world after crash-tackling a would-be terrorist armed with an AK-47 on a crowded European train.
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Now, Clint Eastwood wants to immortalise the story of the three men who risked their lives to save their fellow passengers.

The Hollywood veteran has decided to produce a movie based on the real-life survival story and subsequent book The 15:17 to Paris: The True Story of a Terrorist, a Train and Three American Heroes.

Eastwood has directed a string of action movies in recent years, including Sully and American Sniper. The latter snapped up more than $700 million at the box office worldwide and a string of Oscar nominations, including one for Best Picture.

The demand for the genre doesn’t appear to be dying down, with Eastwood currently working on a film about an aid worker who is kidnapped by Somali pirates, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Anthony Sadler, Spencer Stone and Alex Skarlatos’ quick-thinking on the Paris-bound train fits with Eastwood’s love for stories about ordinary people who are forced to do extraordinary things.

On the day of the thwarted attack, the three mates – who grew up in California together and were in Europe to celebrate Mr Skarlatos’ return from a tour of duty in Afghanistan – attacked the gunman while he was cocking his assault rifle.

Mr Stone choked the man while Mr Skarlatos hit him over the head. The would-be terrorist was armed with an AK-47, pistol and box cutter and one of the men almost lost their thumb in the process.

Mr Stone also had to stick his fingers into an injured man’s neck to stem the bleeding until paramedics arrived.

The trio were awarded French Legion of Honour medals by president Francois Hollande after the ordeal.

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

If George Clooney was a house, this would be it

Saturday, 13 July, 2019

Contained simplicity in Middle ParkMarvellous mini manor in KewGood design makes life better
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Sometimes it’s nice to gaze upon the good-looking, especially if the recipient of your contemplation is an inanimate object, incapable of catching you in the act.

It’s how we felt when we happened upon this sharp new townhouse in North Caulfield. There’s a shock of stark bold versus beautiful – it’s handsome, honed and kind of appealingly brawny at the same time.

There are some good angles here too, a heft of black steel beam creating a wedge out of the garage to the side; imported Danish grey bricks to give it a sober, semi monumental feel and the double height wall of acid etched glass to draw the light and up the dramatic ante.

Then there is the timber. Honestly, what’s not to love about the black stone, white wall, timber accent combination? It’s like looking at George Clooney, it seems to get better the longer you stare at it.

Now there’s a bit of hyperbole going here, sure, but this is effortlessly stylish, the sort of place you could come home to and feel a bit special about yourself.

Swing back the full-height timber door and you’re immediately in the living room, that wall of glass on your right, luminous and lovely. European oak floorboards flow back to the north and take in the dining room where a side door offers access to the appealing front courtyard.

Further back and superbly delineated by a lower timber clad bulkhead the kitchen is the best expression of the fine material palette here. The timber above, deeply cool black stone benches and crisp white cabinetry incorporating good amount of storage – the basics and not just the urbanity, are well covered here too.

Across to the east the black-framed slider opens out onto another neat courtyard with decking and artificial turf to keep things easy. Doors lead off here back into the double garage as well a laundry and powder room that link back to the central section of the house.

Rise up the gorgeous stair ascending with that fine glass and you’ll come to an open retreat area – the upstairs best showcasing the excellent, generous windows throughout.

Two bedrooms sit down a small passage serviced by a chic bathroom. The main bedroom presides over the western side of the house and is an elegant beauty with a wonderful window over the street and an opulent walk through robe and stone accented en suite. Best you come take a lingering look. 20 Orrong Crescent, Caulfield North

$1.75- $1.95 million 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 2 car spaces

???Auction at 2.30pm, on Sunday, April 30 To inspect, contact agent Sally Zelman, Gary Peer & Associates 0412 294 488

Need to knowThis is the first time the house has been offered for sale and the highest recorded house price in Caulfield North (past 12 months) was $5,725,000 for 117-119 Kooyong Road in September 2016. Recent Sales:$2.1 million for 123 Kambrook Road; $1.54 million for 11 Malakoff Street, and $1,295,000 for 31 Bambra Road, all in March 2017.

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

Where in Canberra are house prices growing the fastest?

Saturday, 13 July, 2019

Canberra’s median house price surpasses $700,000 for first time: Domain reportA record-breaking year for Canberra property: 36 suburb records smashedCanberra public service decentralisation risks hurting property market
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Three Gungahlin suburbs have led Canberra’s house price growth over the past five years, Domain Group data shows.

Harrison has led the charge with house prices more than doubling, surging a staggering 104.6 per cent to $628,000 as of December 2016.

In Crace and Bonner prices have grown 66.7 per cent and 62.5 per cent respectively, rounding out the top three.

Crace’s median is $690,000, while Bonner’s median is $585,000.

The results show the biggest sales don’t always translate to the biggest growth, with two of the three suburbs recording figures below the ACT’s median house price of $684,395, as of December.

Since then, Canberra’s median has surged past the $700,000 mark.

ACT house prices have jumped 19.6 per cent over the past five years, from the beginning of 2012 to the end of 2016.

During this period the nation’s capital has experienced falling interest rates and bounced back from public sector shake-ups.

Allhomes data scientist Nicola Powell said Canberra’s residential property market had “weathered that storm and come through”.

“Jobs are more secure, interest rates are so low and it really has been in catch-up mode,” she said.

All but two ACT suburbs recorded house price growth over the five-year period, with small drops in Bonython (-0.7 per cent) and Florey (1.2 per cent).

Florey’s suburb record has been broken twice this year.

In Yarralumla house prices have risen 42.1 per cent to a median of $1,442,500; the territory’s fourth-biggest result.

Weston recorded the fifth-highest growth rate with house prices increasing 32.1 per cent to $700,000.

The highest growth suburbs largely fall in central Canberra, Weston Creek and parts of Gungahlin.

The data includes suburbs with a minimum 30 sales over the five years.

Domain Group chief economist Andrew Wilson said the top three Gungahlin suburbs for house price growth were still relatively affordable.

“I think that reflects the value as Gungahlin’s development progresses over the period,” he said.

Dr Powell said the rise of Gungahlin house prices aligns with the latest ABS figures, which place Harrison, Crace and Bonner in the top 10 for population growth.

“[The data] reflects the buying habits of a lot of first home buyers and upsizers,” she said.

“They quite like purchasing a new home and these three suburbs have seen a lot of development occurring.”

Pete and Amber Nichols with their two children Charlie, 3, and Olive, 1, at home in Harrison. Photo: Rohan Thomson

Amber and Pete Nichols bought in Harrison a year ago and while they welcomed the news of price growth in the suburb, it wasn’t the main reason they chose to buy in the area.

“We’d been living in Gungahlin and we absolutely loved the area,” Ms Nichols said. “We didn’t want to move outside Gungahlin, but we wanted to be close to the city.”

Ms Nichols said it was the perfect place to raise Charlie, 3, and Olive, 18 months.

“We loved the Gungahlin community; it’s a community of families and it’s a multicultural community,” she said.

ACT unit prices have fallen 4.4 per cent over the past five years however, prices have grown substantially in a number of suburbs.

The city has lead the way with prices jumping 22.1 to a median price of $570,900.

Unit prices in Nicholls have grown by 13.7 per cent to a $520,000-median, while prices in Watson have increased 11.6 percent to $410,000.

Half of the 28 suburbs analysed recorded a drop in prices over the five-year period.

Dr Powell said some of the suburbs’ unit prices have been buoyed by townhouse growth.

“Townhouses are that affordable alternative for entry-level buyers,” she said. “Nicholls has been driven forward by townhouse growth.”

Dr Wilson said the city’s apartment price growth reflected the demand for higher density living in inner city areas.

“It’s the old proximity argument, that people pay more for an centralised downtown environment,” he said.

He said the jump in median price seemed to reflect a bigger price mix and more diverse buying habits.

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

Houses of Parliament: Politicians own an estimated $370m of property

Saturday, 13 July, 2019

The House of Representatives stands in silence after condolence speeches from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten after the terror attack on the UK Parliament at Parliament House in Canberra on Thursday 23 March 2017. Photo: Andrew Meares Photo: Andrew MearesTalk about skin in the game: Australia’s 225 federal politicians have $370 million tied up in the property market.
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And that’s a conservative estimate based on the assumption that each of their 561 declared properties is worth the average Australian dwelling price of $656,800.

These 561 properties include primary and secondary homes, investment properties, holiday homes, commercial buildings and vacant undeveloped land owned by the MPs and their spouses. They also include a handful overseas.

Some – homes in remote areas, small holiday homes, modest units in Canberra – are likely to be worth a bit less. But a majority of MP’s homes and investment properties are located in major capital cities, scores of them in the overheated Sydney and Melbourne markets and likely to fetch seven figures. Or in the case of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s Point Piper mansion, eight figures.

Then there are those properties we don’t know about: concealed through companies, trusts and self-managed super funds. Or kept out of the public gaze through the clever use of parliamentary rules. More on those later.

So let’s say the true figure is somewhere between $370 million and $500 million – yes, half a billion dollars.

If politicians owned $370 million worth of shares in fossil fuel companies, no one would trust them to make sensible or impartial decisions on environmental or renewable energy policy. So on housing affordability – the great barbecue stopper of modern times – it makes sense to keep your expectations very low indeed.

Of course, politicians should, like all of us, be allowed to own and invest in property. But an exhaustive analysis by Fairfax Media of every federal MP’s most recent pecuniary interest register (except for new senators Lucy Gichuhi and Peter Georgiou, who haven’t completed theirs yet) highlights just how far removed they are from the experience of everyday Australian home buyers.

Nearly two-thirds of MPs – 144 of them – own more than one property, a rate more than three times the national average. That’s 64 per cent of MPs, compared to less than 20 per cent of Australians.

Some of those 144 have two houses for personal use – one in their electorate and one in Canberra, for example. But most of them explicitly label at least one of their properties as an investment property.

That’s about 50 per cent of MPs, compared to just over 10 per cent of ordinary Australians. The numbers

In both absolute and proportionate terms, Coalition politicians – who largely oppose any crackdown on negative gearing and capital gains tax concessions – are by far the biggest property owners.

The Coalition’s 105 MPs and their spouses own 315 of the declared properties – 56 per cent of the total number. Labor MPs declare 198 properties and minor party and independent MPs declare 48.

At least 18 of the 22 government cabinet ministers have declared more than one property – Peter Dutton is the biggest owner with seven. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his wife Lucy have six, including a New York apartment, bringing the Coalition cabinet’s total to 58 declared properties.

And at least 16 of the 22 members of shadow cabinet also own more than one property in their total of 51. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten owns just one home. His agriculture spokesman, Joel Fitzgibbon, owns five.

That means the 44 members of the two cabinets own 109 properties between them.

Fifty-three MPs or their spouses own property in Canberra, not including the four that live there permanently. Most charge taxpayers $273 a night to stay in those houses during parliamentary sitting weeks.

Sixty-seven MPs declare interest in only one property, leaving just 14 of Australia’s 226 federal MPs who do not declare any property ownership. Fairfax Media asked all 14 whether they truly do not own any property but only two – Liberal MP Trent Zimmerman and Nationals MP George Christensen – confirmed that was the case.

Christensen said he could not afford to get into the market when he was in his 20s and by the time he made it to Parliament prices in his home town of Mackay had skyrocketed, leaving him wary of investing.

“Now that Mackay prices have come down a bit I’m thinking of getting in but haven’t made up my mind yet,” the 38-year-old says. The high rollers

At the other end of the spectrum are the high rollers: 18 MPs declare an interest of five or more properties. Again, it’s Coalition MPs who dominate, accounting for 14 of those 18 and nine of the top 10.

Nationals senator Barry O’Sullivan owns 33 properties, Nationals MP David Gillespie owns 18 and Liberal Karen Andrews owns 10. The others in the top 10 are Nola Marino (9), Ian Goodenough (8), Dan Tehan (7), Dutton (7), Turnbull (6), Tony Pasin (6) and Labor’s Deb O’Neill (6).

Most don’t like talking about their portfolios.

Indeed, after Fairfax Media sent Marino questions about her property holdings, she sent all Coalition MPs an email – in her capacity as chief government whip – instructing them not to respond.

“A reminder to members that they should not respond to any surveys”, she said in the email on Wednesday.

However some MPs are prepared to talk about their interests. West Australian Liberal Ian Goodenough ignored Marino’s edict to respond to questions about how to improve housing affordability.

His prescription: reduce the cost of “headworks” by finding more cost-effective ways to provide utility services to new lots, more timely planning approvals to reduce holding costs and more land releases.

He also supports the idea floated by the Coalition recently of letting first home buyers tap into their superannuation, provided there are limits.

His other advice to people trying to get into the market? “Do not overcommit yourself by borrowing too much. Location is very important in terms of amenities such as services and transport. Always look for rezoning potential or proposed developments in the vicinity that will increase the future value of the property.”

Gillespie says he worked hard to build his portfolio. “I was a hard worker and a good saver. I did a decade or more of my life where I was working 60 or 70 or 80 or even 90 hours a week in the UK, in Australia, lots of weekend overtime,” he said recently.

“I got a base and I drilled my mortgage and then I was able to make investments.

“The first thing that I can recommend to anyone, if you do have a mortgage, is drill your mortgage. Get it out of the way and then you can make extra investments, whether it be to superannuation or to your non-superannuation investments.

“Don’t use your income to 100 per cent support your lifestyle. My grandmother always taught me keep your savings growing and that’s what I’ve been doing since I was a teenager.”

All sage advice. And there’s no doubt Gillespie did work very hard to build his 18-strong property portfolio.

Then again, he was fortunate enough to find work as a well-paid gastroenterologist on the relatively cheap NSW north coast – and get a firm foothold in the market years before the current crisis took hold.

While half of MPs have at least one investment property, less than a quarter – 49 by our count – declare any rental income. So some MPs are either not very good at finding tenants, or not very good at following parliamentary disclosure rules.

Then again the rules are a toothless joke.

Independent MP Bob Katter simply refuses to detail his wife’s property interests, which are believed to be quite extensive.

“She does not provide me with this information – regards this as private news,” the maverick MP says on his register. He’s done it this way for years and no one has ever seriously challenged him on it. A matter of trusts

Others evade transparency with a little more subtlety – and that’s where those companies, trusts and self-managed super funds come in.

While MPs are required to declare their company shareholdings, trusts and SMSFs they are not explicitly obliged to detail any of the investments made by those vehicles – allowing them to easily conceal property interests and therefore undermine the integrity of the entire pecuniary interest system.

Research by Fairfax Media earlier this month revealed politicians and their spouses are using family trusts more now than in any parliament before them, and at 10 times the rate of ordinary Australians.

Almost half of Coalition MPs or their immediate family members have an interest in a trust, and another 13 government MPs have self-managed superannuation funds or other investment vehicles. Labor MPs are much less trust-inclined, with 22 per cent of caucus declaring an interest in a trust.

Some MPs voluntarily disclose their trust or company holdings. But many do not, citing Department of Finance advice they don’t need to.

For example, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann has a stake in a vacant block of land in Kalgoorlie but you won’t find any direct mention of it in his register.

“These properties are owned by the Cormann Family Superfund,” a spokeswoman for Cormann said trecently. “The Cormann Family Superfund is appropriately declared on the senator’s register of interests as required. Senator Cormann and his wife are trustees of that fund, which is also declared on the register. The original purchase contracts were entered into by Mathias Cormann and his wife in their capacity as trustees of the Cormann Family Superfund.”

Cormann has not done anything untoward or broken any rules. But his case clearly demonstrates that the public does not get a complete picture of the parliament’s interests. In theory, an MP could have a stake in dozens of properties this way and we’d be none the wiser.

And then there’s what’s known as “form B”.

For reasons no one can adequately explain, senators don’t have to declare their spousal interests in the same way as lower house MPs. While a lower house MP is expected to make it all public, senators can put their spouse’s property on a separate form – “form B” – that is not made public.

Cory Bernardi’s $1 million party headquarters is apparently declared this way; so too Richard Di Natale’s farm.

Of the 14 MPs that don’t publicly declare any property, 10 are senators. One, the Coalition’s Zed Seselja, confirmed to Fairfax that his home is declared on his wife’s form. Others, including frontbenchers Arthur Sinodinos and Kim Carr, were not so forthcoming, declining to answer questions.

“All of Senator Carr’s declarations have been made on the Senate’s register of interest,” Carr’s office said in a statement. Which could mean he has nothing to declare, but more likely means everything is on “form B”.

Clearly then, transparency needs to be improved. If politicians are going to make decisions on housing affordability – decisions that could affect the wealth and wellbeing of millions of Australians for generations to come – the public has a right to know how much skin they truly have in the property game.

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City of Stonnington picks up strata property

Saturday, 13 July, 2019

The City of Stonnington has snapped up a strata property in the heart of the Forrest Hill precinct in South Yarra, paying $2.275 million on a tight 3.1 per cent yield.
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There are four other owners in the low-rise seven-unit property at 6-9 Almeida Crescent, which is on an 875-square metre parcel of land surrounded by Forrest Hill high-rise apartment towers and potential development sites.

Documents show the City of Stonnington now owns two units. It is understood the council has plans to eventually raze the building and turn it into parkland as part of its program to introduce more green space into the area. Apart from Melbourne High School and its grounds, the Forrest Hill precinct, which was formerly an industrial area, has very little open space.

Rich Lister Paul Little owns one of the units in the Almeida Crescent building. His Ilk residential project, completed in 2013, is just behind the building and it is believed he bought the unit in 2009 in an attempt to block any development of its northern views and light.

The 290-square metre ground floor showroom, unit 1, was sold with four two-year lease terms to the South Yarra Art House Gallery, which pays $70,000 a year in rent.

The deal was executed by Fitzroys agent Chris Kombi, who declined to comment.

The move follows recent decisions by Stonnington and the planning tribunal rejecting developer Paul Fridman’s proposed 37-storey tower next door at 627 Chapel Street. Mr Fridman’s company Fridcorp occupies the six-storey office building, which he planned to demolish.

The tower, two-and-a-half times the local height limit, is next to Larry Kestelman’s $500 million Capitol Grand building, which has its own entrance on Almeida Crescent.

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New infrastructure boosts the ‘burbs

Saturday, 13 July, 2019

The revamp of Sydney’s north shore commercial sector involves more than $2 billion worth of investment developments that are in the pipeline over the next few years.
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This has been prompted by office towers under construction or approved, including the new home of the Nine Network as the anchor for the Winten Property Group’s landmark 1 Denison Street office tower, which is scheduled to be completed in early 2020.

There is also the demolition of properties for the Metro rail system, which has led to a drop in vacancy in the area.

A private investor has taken advantage of the changing nature of the area by paying in excess of $16 million for a site in Willoughby Road on a sub 5 per cent yield.

The 1712 square metre building sits on a 1019sq m site at 168 Willoughby Road in Crows Nest and has ground-floor accommodation for two retail tenancies, occupied by Top 3 by Design and The Comfort Shop .

The creative space on the first floor is leased by GuihenJones???. The property is zoned B4 Mixed Use and there is an opportunity to create a mixed-use development, subject to North Sydney Council’s approval.

According to Robert Lowe and Eddie Petro of Savills who negotiated the sale, the planned infrastructure spend in the area is driving investment demand as Crows Nest continues to attract strong inquiries from investors and developers seeking to capitalise on consolidating commercial stock.

“With large site amalgamations along the Pacific Highway, Christie Street, Chandos Street, Atchison Street and surrounds, the resulting outcomes are becoming increasingly accommodative to residential/mixed use opportunities within the precinct,” Mr Lowe said.

Sydney Metro Northwest is the first stage of Australia’s first fully automated rail system. Due for completion in 2019, at a cost in excess of $8 billion, it will deliver eight new railway stations to a region that will grow faster than any other part of the Sydney metropolitan area.

“In addition to the existing St Leonards train station, the Crows Nest/St Leonards market is further set to directly benefit from stage one via the delivery of a train station along Pacific Highway and Clarke Street, just 380 metres from 168 Willoughby Road,” Mr Lowe said.

The property is also close to Sydney’s arterial road network, including the Pacific Highway and the M2 Motorway, which is undergoing a $550 million upgrade.

Mr Petro said vacancy rates have been falling across Sydney’s main suburban markets and the north shore office markets have a vacancy factor of 7.2 per cent. Crows Nest/St Leonards has a vacancy factor of 8.3 per cent.

“Both of these reflect the lowest vacancy factors achieved in these markets since 2001” Mr Petro said.

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Low interest rates underpin strata strength

Thursday, 13 June, 2019

Strata office deals in the CBD are continuing to set records as owner occupiers take advantage of low interest rates to stake a claim on city real estate.
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Colliers International agents Chris Ling and Anthony Kirwan recently negotiated a series of strata deals, including a unit at 552 Lonsdale Street which fetched $2 million, a 25 per cent premium on the last office sold in the building.

The 258 square metre office on level seven was sold with vacant possession to a local accounting firm looking to establish a presence in the city.

“The sale price represented a significant increase on the sale price of level six, which sold for $1.6 million in September last year – a 25 per cent uplift in six months,” Mr Ling said.

“We received more than 120 enquiries for this property and six genuine offers, underscoring the substantial lack of supply for well-located whole-floor office assets.”

It followed the recent sale by Supreme Court judge Michael Sifris of his 777-square-metre strata office at 530 Lonsdale Street in Lonsdale Chambers which fetched $4.25 million or $5500 a square metre.

While most of the interest is coming from local owner-occupiers encouraged by low interest rates, there is steady enquiry still coming from Asia and United States-based investors, he said.

However some buyers are starting to show concerns about the potential for interest rate rises limiting how much they can borrow.

“With recent increases in residential interest rates and new rules about interest-only loans, we are seeing some cautiousness from buyers who are uncertain as to what will happen in the commercial property environment in the near future.”

“It’s at the back of everyone’s minds,” he said.

Strata sales in the western end of Collins Street nonetheless reflected strong demand. A local financial advisory firm paid $1 million for the 104 square metre suite 202 at 546 Collins Street, in the Art Deco McPherson’s Building.

Its neighbour, suite 310, fetched $1.175 million or $8,835 a square metre. A management consulting firm bought the 133 square metre office with plans to occupy it in the future and grow its portfolio in the office building.

Mr Ling said an international expressions-of-interest campaign generated 132 enquiries for the office and several first-round offers.

“We are experiencing strong demand from owner-occupiers who are desperate to secure CBD office space – buyers are willing to pay over the odds,” he said.

Off the plan strata sales are also selling well. Owner occupiers and one investor helped sell out four off-the-plan strata office units at 420 Spencer Street, West Melbourne for Bill McNee’s Vicland Property Group.

“We managed to transact the four first-floor offices on Spencer Street in the past five months for rates of $6,600 a square metre, which translates to transactions between $1.55 million and $2.6 million per office,” Mr Ling said.

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‘I might ring Cheika’: Furious Maguire slams ‘rugby rules’

Thursday, 13 June, 2019

An incensed Souths coach Michael Maguire has scolded the NRL’s multi-million bunker and claimed he would call Wallabies coach Michael Cheika to brush up on the rules of rugby union after two controversial refereeing moments plagued the Broncos’ wild win over the Rabbitohs on Friday night.
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Anthony Milford snapped a dubious 78th-minute field goal after appearing to fumble the ball in the lead-up to settle the contest 25-24 at ANZ Stadium – barely 10 minutes after also being the centre of attention in Tautau Moga’s bizarre try that levelled the scores.

Rabbitohs skipper Sam Burgess also said lead referee Ashley Klein was “confused” as the voice of an emotional Maguire, who is normally so reserved in post-match press conferences, wavered on several occasions when he spoke about his players “busting their arses” after the loss.

In a game plagued by multiple referrals to the NRL Bunker, on-field officials didn’t check Milford’s handling in the lead-up to the game-deciding one-pointer in which he appeared to momentarily lose the ball.

“I came in here looking to blow up, but to be truthfully honest I don’t think that’s going to do anything anyway,” Maguire said. “They’ll just hunt me up for a fine or something or other that usually happens in this situation.

“I think the on-field ref said we’ve got to have a look at [Milford’s field goal], but sure enough they actually called it. That’s the decision made.

“We’re spending a lot of money in areas of our game and we’ve got to get them right, especially in moments like that. Those games change your season. Those two points are what every team is fighting for. We’ve got a multi-million dollar system in place and everyone in this room saw it.

“Was it a knock-on or wasn’t it a knock-on? You can say that, but I can’t because it’s around decisions. Make a call. I don’t want to have to get charged 10 grand.

“Can you [then] explain that to all the Souths fans that continually turn up to our ground that are passionate around our club, we’re a building team with young kids … they have to sit in the change room there disappointed because of things that went on out there on the field? Ridiculous.”

Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett claimed Milford had not lost control of the ball and the player himself was adamant it was a fair catch.

Rabbitohs officials will also seek clarity from the NRL over a first-half concussion incident involving Milford, who jumped to his feet to kick a penalty goal after a Sam Burgess hit before being taken off immediately for a Head Injury Assessment.

The call was made on the instruction of the Broncos’ medico Dr Peter Hackney, who followed the NRL protocol of making a sideline assessment from vision provided to him when the on-field trainer initially cleared Milford to stay on the field.

“The trainer didn’t make the decision,” Bennett said. “The doctor wanted him off. That’s why he came. Anthony had no symptoms. I spoke to him at half-time and it was just the doctor [going] by the letter of the law, which is totally fine.”

Milford wandered back onto the field in the second half after passing his tests and was then involved in the game’s two flashpoints.

The first came when he scrambled over the line before spitting the ball out the back for Tautau Moga to score.

Klein sent it upstairs as a try, but replays were inconclusive over whether Milford had actually grounded the ball.

Fumed Maguire: “I might ring up Michael Cheika and find out about his rules in rugby union?”

“I think we might start playing rugby union down close to the line. I thought when you cross the line and the arm actually touches the ground that that is actually classed as a tackle but they seem to say, ‘play on and let’s throw the ball back and score a try’.”

Added Burgess: “I think [Klein] was a bit confused at times as well. I think if you see the footage of our conversations – it’s all recorded – he seemed pretty confused with the calls. It’s out of his hands I guess when it goes up to the big screen.”

Corey Oates’ first-half double powered the Broncos to a 10-point lead before the Rabbitohs, thanks to two try assists from Robbie Farah, who was unused in the first half, helped the hosts reel off 16 straight points.

But the late intervention of Moga and Milford settled the result with Bennett, who was spotted deep in conversation with Maguire in the Rabbitohs’ sheds after the game, admitting even he was confused with some decisions.

“When they get across the try line I’ve got no idea when the play is dead, I’ll be honest with you,” Bennett said of the Moga try after Milford appeared held up. “I don’t think there’s any rules they go by.

“It was a crazy game. That’s the best way to describe it. I couldn’t put it any other way. There were lots of controversial moments. Just weird.”

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Greenwood Hotel to test hot pub market

Thursday, 13 June, 2019

One of the most recognisable pubs in Sydney, the Greenwood Hotel’s leasehold is being offered for sale as the operators take advantage of the booming hotel sector, which has seen more than $200 million worth of assets and leases change hands this year.
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Mirvac will continue to own the freehold interest of the hotel, which is connected to the Greenwood Plaza.

Where buyers and leasees were once mainly investors when the pubs sector was in a distressed state and laden with debt, they are now being snapped up by food and beverage operators, determined to offer more than meat pies and poker machines.

Daniel Dragicevich and Sam Handy of CBRE Hotels have been appointed to steer the Greenwood leasehold campaign, which is timed to capitalise on the current bullish market conditions, as evidenced with recent Sydney leasehold sales such as the Cargo Bar, Bungalow 8, Winery and Verandah Bar.

The hotel is being sold on behalf of the Balmain Pub Group, who own a stable of Sydney pubs including the Swanson Hotel in Erskineville and the Balmain and Town Hall Hotels in Balmain.

The North Sydney institution, formerly a church, comes hot on the heels of the sale of the Hotel Marlborough, Newtown to Solotel, run by chef Matt Moran and Bruce Solomon. They paid about $34 million and were advised on the sale by Andrew Jolliffe, national head of hotels at Ray White Hotels.

Australian Pub Fund, run by long-time business partners Geoff Dixon and John Singleton, were the sellers of the Marly and are expected to also sell the Kinselas middle bar in Taylor’s Square this year.

Originally built as a church in 1878, the Greenwood Hotel has evolved into one of North Sydney’s landmark pubs and sits across a 1761sq m trading footprint with multiple bars, function rooms, outdoor areas plus a dedicated gaming and wagering area.

It is located immediately above North Sydney train station, bus interchange and Mirvac’s Greenwood Plaza which comprises over 100 retailers, 273 car parks and delivers in excess of $100 million in annual net sales across 18 million visitations per annum.

CBRE National Director Daniel Dragicevich said the Greenwood Hotel is “truly one of Sydney’s iconic establishments”.

“The venue has only had a few operators over its 25-year lifespan which is testament to its ongoing popularity and standing. It will undoubtedly appeal to a wide spectrum of hospitality operators across the country,” Mr Dragicevich said.

“The business currently achieves revenues of $9 million per annum and the recently reconfigured model is well positioned to take advantage of the of the short to medium term exponential growth within the North Sydney CBD.”

North Sydney is the state’s second largest CBD, outstripping Parramatta, Chatswood and Bondi Junction with the skyline set to be dramatically reshaped over the next few years with in excess of $2.5 billion worth of development investment.

At least three commercial skyscrapers, including a $200 million 44-level tower in the heart of Mount Street and a 30-storey commercial tower on Denis Street, are set to rise in the next 24 months with these developments following a rash of approvals which has seen five commercial towers and 14 residential towers approved over the last 18 months.

CBRE Director Sam Handy said the North Sydney CBD has undergone a real resurgence over the last few years. The CBD has previously been dominated by retail and commercial towers but there has been a renewed focus on residential development over the last 12-24 months.

“The North Sydney population is forecast to grow by 25 per cent over the next 20 years via increased supply of commercial and residential developments, accommodation hotels and the addition of the new Victoria Cross train station,” Mr Handy said.

The sale also comes as Dixon Hospitality, owners of over fifty food and beverage leasehold venues across Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, are rumoured to be being circled by private equity buyers eager to acquire a strong cash flow offering an immediate national footprint, market share, size and scale.

It has been reported that Quadrant Private Equity and Adamantem Capital are currently running their rule over the entire portfolio.

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Investors circle SW Sydney land sites

Thursday, 13 June, 2019

The Malouf family is taking to market its large land holding in Sydney’s south-west, to take advantage of investor demand for assets near to the site of the proposed Badgerys Creek Airport.
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It has been in the family for many years and is one of the few “englobo” sites of this scale that has been bought to the market.

Englobo is an undeveloped lot, group of lots or parcel of land that is zoned to allow for, and capable of significant subdivision into smaller parcels under existing land use provisions.

There is no price guide but based on recent sales the ranges are from $1 million to $4 million per hectare depending on size, current zoning terms and location.

Colliers International’s Harry Bui, Fab Dalfonso and Joe Sacco are the agents on the site located at 565 Bringelly Road, Rossmore, and covering about 45.44 ha within the South West Growth Centre.

Other sales in the area have included the Dahua Group, which acquired 89 hectares of rural land at Menangle Park from Campbelltown City Council for $65 million in late 2016; Boyuan Holdings bought 40.5 hectares of rural land on the Northern Road in Bringelly for $70 million in January 2017; Aqualand bought a 12.51 hectare site, for $87 million in Baulkham Hill in January 2017.

Late last year, Dyldam Development bought a 20.02 ha Leppington Town Centre site for about $85 million.

“As one of the last remaining large englobo land sites in Sydney’s South West Growth Centre, this is a rare opportunity to acquire a strategic land holding in close proximity to Leppington train station and the proposed Badgerys Creek Airport,” Mr Bui, the national director, investment services at Colliers International, said.

“Demand for englobo sites of this scale have attracted strong interest from local and offshore developers keen to capitalise on consumer demand for new housing in growth corridors that offer proximity to existing or committed public infrastructure.

“Over the past 18 months similar land sales have resulted in substantial prices for their owners.”

The Department of Planning Sydney Growth Centres Strategic Assessment Draft Program Report May 2010, indicates 565 Bringelly Road, Rossmore, falls into the Rossmore precinct, although it is yet to be released or rezoned.

Mr Bui said, that according to government sources, subject to release, rezoning and development approval, the Rossmore precinct is expected to house about 9000 dwellings with a population of about 25,000 people, and a proposal to build a new town centre, neighbourhood centre and commercial space.

The site is also identified as part of an “enterprise corridor” in accordance with the 2014 Metropolitan Strategy – A Plan for Growing Sydney, which was released in December 2014 by Department of Planning and Environment.

“Sydney is currently experiencing a once-in-a-generation infrastructure boom, with Rossmore situated perfectly within close proximity to the Moorebank Intermodal employment hub and proposed Badgerys Creek Airport site,” Fab Dalfonso, the national director, industrial at Colliers International, said.

“Construction of the proposed new airport alone is expected to generate around 4000 new jobs during the peak of construction according to the government.

“The federal and state governments have also committed significant funding to infrastructure upgrades including the Bringelly Road upgrade and the NSW government is planning for growth in the area by preserving an additional public transport corridor in the south-west.”

According to Colliers International research, south-west and Western Sydney are predicted to be the growth engine of Australia’s economy.

“Over the next 20 years the government expects the population of south-west Sydney to grow by more than 325,850, which means more jobs, increased amenity and greater opportunity for local residents,” Joe Sacco, senior executive, investment services at Colliers International, said.

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CBA raises interest rates on investor and interest-only loans

Monday, 13 May, 2019

Australia’s biggest bank has hiked fixed interest rates on investor and interest-only home loans.
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The Commonwealth Bank said the move was to ensure it “continue[d] to meet our regulatory requirements”.

Fixed rates on interest-only loans will rise by 25 basis points, while investor home loans that are principal and interest will rise by 25 basis points. Investor loans that are interest only will rise by between 25 and 50 basis points.

The changes are effective immediately.

The big four banks have been lifting rates on investor and interest-only loans after the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority moved to tighten lending in those areas amid concerns about heightened risk in the housing market.

The regulator wrote to all banks last month, outlining new requirements for banks to reduce interest-only lending to 30 per cent of total mortgage lending. Currently the banks sit at around 40 per cent.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission is also conducting surveillance in the interest-only lending sector to identify lenders and mortgage brokers who are recommending high numbers of more expensive interest-only loans.

Interest-only lending allows borrowers to pay back only the interest on a loan over a period of time, usually up to five years. They are considered higher risk because the repayments rise sharply once the interest-only period ends.

CBA said home loan customers who already had a fixed rate loan with the bank would not be affected by the changes.

“Home buyers looking to make principal and interest repayments and live in their property are not affected,” a spokesperson said.

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