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Are the 457 visa reforms an illusion act?

Thursday, 15 August, 2019

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Immigration minister Peter Dutton during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra on Thursday 20 April 2017. Photo: Andrew Meares Photo: Andrew MearesThere was tellingly little outcry from business groups as the federal government promoted itself as tightening the tap on access to global workers.
Nanjing Night Net

Even as the government put up a No Vacancy sign to the world’s goat herders, turf growers, deer farmers, blacksmiths, wool buyers, historians, potters and sculptors some industries were breathing a sigh of relief that the crackdown on the controversial 457 scheme didn’t go further.

The lobby group representing restaurants and caterers, for example, was relieved to learn that chefs and cooks would remain on the list of skilled jobs that could still be filled using the new-look temporary work visas after the federal government’s announced this week that 457 visas would be “abolished”.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says the move would ensure “Australian jobs and Australian values are first”.

But is this really the big shake-up and transformation of the temporary labour migration system the Prime Minister’s press conference and Facebook announcement earlier this week led us to believe?

There are 95,000 holders of 457 visas in Australia which are issued for four years but have been a path to permanent migration. iFrameResize({resizedCallback : function(messageData){}},”#pez_iframe_tipstar_56″);

Turnbull says a reduction in the visa intake would help ensure that “Australian jobs are filled by Australians” and that foreign workers are only brought in to fill critical skill gaps and not because an employer finds it easier to recruit from overseas.

That sort of rhetoric has raised scepticism about the substance of the reform. Critics argue that many of the occupations that remain on the eligible list are not areas of genuine skills shortages such as accountancy and IT systems engineers. The retention of employer-based market testing suggests exploitation of the visa system will continue. The lack of independence at arms length of government means political interference will continue to influence the shape of the skilled occupations list.

Some obscure jobs have been removed from the list prompting outrage in blindsided sectors even as mainstream employer groups largely welcomed the move. Scientists, ICT support technicians and engineers are among the 200 jobs removed. Executive recruitment will also become harder because employer-sponsored visa applicants will need to be under the age of 45 and the difficulty of gaining residency.

Under the changes, the 457 visa will be replaced with two new Temporary Skill Shortage visas – one of up to two years, with one opportunity for renewal. Another visa of up to four years can be renewed and provide a permanent residence pathway after three years. Other changes to the system include tougher English language tests and a requirement to have a tax file number.

Migration law expert Dr Joanna Howe, an Associate Professor in Law at The University of Adelaide, says the government is “talking the talk” about restoring credibility to the visa system because Australians are waking up to its problems.

“It is interesting that if this is really the radical transformation of the temporary labour migration system, why are employer groups not up in arms about restrictions? It’s because the main occupations and industries which rely on temporary migrant workers haven’t been pared back under this change.”

Employment relations expert, Dr Chris F Wright from the University of Sydney business school agrees, describing the move as a “rebranding exercise”.

“Tinkering around the edges of the 457 visa isn’t going to make employers more seriously engage with the local labour force,” he says.

In their research, Wright and his colleague Dr Andreea Constantin found employers were using 457 visas in the hospitality industry to overcome recruitment difficulties, which are not the same as skills shortages.

“This was especially the case in accommodation and food services and the three main occupations are cooks, cafe and restaurant managers and chefs,” Wright says.

For a skills shortage to exist as distinct from a recruitment difficulty, Wright says it has to be across the labour market and not specific to a particular employer. And it has to be persistent. List of occupations removed from 457 scheme

Employers can respond to a skills shortage by setting higher wages, providing better career opportunities or training workers.

But in a tough business environment only 1 per cent of 1600 employers using 457 visas were prepared to address a job vacancy by increasing wages. They were more likely to recruit labour from overseas.

“Employers in hospitality were 13 times more likely to prefer 457 visa holders over similar Australian workers,” Wright says.

“The scheme is designed to address shortfalls of qualified workers, but hospitality employers were just as likely to recruit 457 visa workers because they were perceived as being harder working or more loyal.

“The scheme has essentially been misused by many employers in this industry. The evidence suggests that employers, especially in hospitality, aren’t prepared to improve the quality of jobs in the industry to make them more attractive to locals.”

To fix the scheme workers on temporary skilled visas need to have greater capacity to switch employers and there should be an independent assessment of skills shortages, rather than taking employers at their word.

Howe supports a more independent system of labour market testing.

Left in the hands of employers, labour market testing can amount to a job advertisement. More genuine labour market testing considers the wording of the advertisement and the wages and conditions offered.

Howe’s research reviewed international best practice in migration policy and found a more credible system in the UK where an independent committee of economic and legal experts are responsible for labour market testing. The testing is used to determine if wages and conditions and public investment in an occupation need to increase before overseas labour is used to fill employment gaps.

When Turnbull says he was implementing the recommendations of a 2014 review of the 457 visa system led by John Azarias, he stepped around one of its “core” recommendations.

The Azarias review recommended the replacement of the ministerial advisory council on skilled migration (MACSM) with a new tripartite ministerial advisory council to report to government on skilled migration issues and that the new advisory body should be supported by labour market data.

Michaelia Cash reconstituted the MACSM when she was the assistant minister for immigration in 2015.

Howe says this did not create a tripartite body capable of providing independent and evidence-based advice to government. She says the eight-member committee was “stacked” with six people (now five) with an employer background or favourable view towards greater levels of skilled migration, one trade union member, ACTU president Ged Kearney and one independent member, Azarias.

Author of the 2014 Azarias review, John Azarias. Photo: Daniel Munoz

Kearney resigned her position on Friday citing the government’s failure to consult with MACSM over its new visa policy, rendering the advisory body irrelevant.

“I would have made it clear that the occupations that remain on the list, which include roof tilers, carpenters, joiners, chefs, cooks midwives, nurses and real estate agents, do not accurately reflect the genuine labour shortages in Australia,” Kearney says.

“The changes to the skilled migration visa system are only relevant to one in 10 visa-holders so actually do not protect jobs for local workers.

“The visa system is being rorted and workers are being exploited every day but the government only cares about its political survival.”

Another “core” recommendation of the Azarias review was to acknowledge, as the OECD had pointed out, that employer-conducted labour market testing is not “fully reliable”, and in the Australian context has proven ineffective and “that the current legislative requirement for labour market testing be abolished”.

Azarias, a non-executive director and former senior partner with Deloitte Australia, told Fairfax Media his 2014 recommendation that employer-based labour market testing should be abolished and was not accepted by either side of politics.

“The minister of the day made the political call to do what the government wanted,” he says.

“It was not our job to do labour market testing, we made suggestions on the governance. Both the government and the opposition says no, we will keep [employer-based] labour market testing.”

He says changes to the skilled occupations list announced by the government this week had provided a “better system that relies on expert advice from various government departments”.

“It is a more transparent system than it was before,” he says.

“The old list was not fit for immigration purposes.”

Decisions on which occupations stay on the skilled occupations list are made by government based on advice from the ministerial advisory council.

The Azarias review did not recommend abolition of the 457 visa.

“The decision to abolish the 457 is probably more about political sound bite than something that needed to happen in substance,” Howe says. “What they are replacing it with is something fairly similar by just tweaking the regulation on the 457 visa.”

While the federal government’s reforms are a “step in the right direction”, Howe believes they do not go far enough because a key Azarias recommendation has been ignored.

“They retain the worst element of the 457 visa which is employer-conducted labour market testing,” she says.

“The compilation of lists within the department of employment is not consistent with international best practice because it can be subject to political influence and lobbying by powerful employer groups.

“Evidence of this is that the top 29 occupations for the 457 visa have not been taken off the list and the occupations which have been taken off the list are more marginal and obscure like goat herding and deer farming.”

Howe’s research argues for a more accountable and transparent way of compiling skilled occupations lists using robust economic data from independent experts instead of public servants beholden to a minister and subject to political influence.

“There is such strong employer group lobbying on this that it is difficult for a government department to put a list together like that free from political influence purely on the economic data,” she says.

“There are real integrity concerns around occupations like cooks and accounting and how those are being exploited under the 457 visa.

“They are still on the lists because the peak employer bodies are so powerful. For example, for the Restaurants and Catering Association it is a key issue for them being able to hire overseas cooks because they can pay them less and they provide a ready labour supply. If they have to employ locals it is a different ball game as local workers often have higher wage expectations which reduces profits for the industry.”

John Hart, the chief executive of Restaurant and Catering Australia says cooks are one of the most sought after occupations in the country and the industry is facing a “gaping skills shortage”. He says his organisation has successfully argued its case on policy, not politics.

RCA chief executive, John Hart. Photo: Mark Metcalfe

He says the Department of Employment’s own projections suggest there is a 28,000 shortage of cooks between now and 2020.

“Our occupations in our industry are the highest projected employment growth of any sector in the economy,” Hart says. “We need to have skilled cooks brought in from offshore to train local apprentices in the kitchen.”

Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox says the new approach to the skilled occupation list would help identify genuine skill shortages and guard against “often opportunistic spikes” in applications for vague or non-essential skill categories.

He says the 457 visa system was a highly valued program but misunderstandings of its use and “exaggerations of its misuse” led to it becoming a lighting rod for anti-immigration sentiments.

Ending the visa category, adding limits and more clearly defining its successor visas would return its focus to addressing persistent areas of skills shortages.

Changes to English language testing would need to be monitored to ensure they did not adversely impact on access to skilled workers in lower-skilled categories. Willox says many workplaces are multilingual and a working knowledge of English was “sufficient” in many cases to meet operational and safety requirements.

IT professionals have contacted Fairfax Media to complain they have been unable to get jobs in Australia which are filled with cheaper labour from overseas.

The Australian Population Research Institute has found that IT professionals are the largest single occupation represented in the 457 program and more than three-quarters are Indian nationals who mostly work in Sydney or Melbourne.

The study found that the proportion of IT professionals from India granted 457 visas and paid base salaries of $53,900 or less, much lower than experienced Australian IT professionals, has significantly increased.

The NSW government has also confirmed it uses people on 457 visas to fill full-time jobs following its decision to outsource ServiceFirst which looks after IT, human resources and payroll services.

With more than a quarter of 457 visas granted to people from India, particularly those working in the ICT software sector, Australia India Business Council National chair Sheba Nandkeolyar says the Prime Minister’s announcement this week had “come as a surprise” and had created some uncertainty in the ICT market.

Australia India Business Council National chair Sheba Nandkeolyar. Photo: Louie Douvis

“We are hoping that industry does not get affected because that is a very specialised skill that Australia needs,” she says.

Ms Nandkeolyar says engineers, health workers and medical professionals had also contributed to addressing skills shortages in the past and she hoped these areas could continue to be supplemented.

Moves to tighten the visa scheme was welcomed. “Yes we do know that 457 visas have too many categories and probably some categories which were being misused. To that extent, the government tightening the categories within the 457 visa category is good,” she says.

Migration lawyer Angela Chan, the past president of the Migration Institute of Australia, says the federal government has taken a “big stick” to the 457 visa program which represented a small proportion of temporary visa holders.

She says the existing system was working well, including effective monitoring by the Fair Work Ombudsman, but the Department of Immigration had been lax in enforcing penalties against some businesses.

She says labour market testing had been problematic for restaurants that could not find local staff to fill vacancies.

“It’s not as if people haven’t been advertising,” she says.

Neville Roach, chair of a 1995 report that recommended the introduction of the 457 visa believes the federal government needs to return to the original purpose of a high-skilled visa program. The program was introduced in 1996 and originally focused on growth resulting from deregulation in the finance sector, the resources and construction boom and the IT revolution.

“We needed a lot of new skills very rapidly … without the 457 visa it is hard to see how Australia would have coped,” Roach says.

High vetting standards were also applied to visa sponsors, who were generally large employers, to ensure integrity in the system.

“If you did that the risk of the system being rorted was very low,” Roach says.

As the visa program expanded to include a wider range of skill levels and industries, its integrity became compromised. Entry standards were relaxed and a large number of semi-skilled people and students started entering Australia on temporary visas.

The policy was brought in to cater to one type of skill entrant and instead was applied to all skills, high and low.

Sponsorship was also extended to family businesses.

Roach believes the 457 visa was not the right vehicle to bring in chefs and hairdressers. It is much harder to check skills and sponsor integrity and he agrees there is need for reform.

“I think they need to look back to the original idea. It worked exceptionally well.”

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

The new enemy of renters: Mums and dads

Thursday, 15 August, 2019

Where there are housing investors, there must be renters. Few seem to care about their fate but, for once, a little help may be coming renters’ way.
Nanjing Night Net

Such is the dynamic of Australia’s housing market that at the same time as the federal government is defending those who negatively gear one, two or three properties, it’s also all of sudden taking a very keen interest in those who are putting up big fortnightly payments for the privilege of sleeping in them.

That is because the army of renters is growing. A record 31 per cent of Australian households now rent from private landlords, up from 18 per cent 23 years ago. Thirty-six per cent of households are mortgaged and 31 per cent owned outright.

All told, more than 1.5 million homes are rented throughout Australia, according to the Bureau of Statistics, a figure that will climb based on current trends, especially if younger generations listen to Deloitte Access Economics’ Chris Richardson.

“The one bit of advice I give to young Australians is right now is ‘don’t buy’,” he told the National Press Club last week.

So it is politically convenient for the government to look after both the tenant and the landlord.

Fortunately, it is also good policy to add tenants to the list of beneficiaries.

Which is why we shouldn’t have been surprised when Treasurer Scott Morrison stood up at the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute last month and without explicitly backing it, discussed a rental scheme that to-date is about the only sure bet in the May budget.

It’s about time.

For centuries renters weren’t recognised under English common law.

Today’s landlords were “freeholders,” who tolerated the presence of serfs who worked for them and were paid in lodgings and food.

As recently as the 19th century (and the 20th century in some Australian houses of parliament) only landowners were able to vote.

Fast forward to 2017, when soaring house prices have meant the number of renters is growing and the number of owners is shrinking, in any major Australian east coast city the cost of renting teeters perilously close to the edge of week-to-week disposable income. On Friday, Domain figures showed Sydney’s median house rent had the biggest annual surge in five years, increasing $25 a week to $550.

Eight out of 10 renters surveyed by consumer group Choice recently said they have little to no long-term security. One in every four said they have requested repairs and never even received a reply. Many are scared to complain out of fear of being “blacklisted”.

So after a millennia of second-class status, you can imagine my surprise when Morrison decided he was going to do something about it.

“If they can’t be in sustainable, reliable accommodation, all of the other jobs get harder, the problems of joblessness, the problems of other ailments that they have to deal with,” he said.

“I am as much concerned about someone who is on a low income struggling with their rent as I am with someone who I know wants to get on the home-ownership market themselves. They are both important challenges for Australians.”

Morrison is especially concerned about Australians such as teachers and nurses who we need to live in the cities they serve but who are having trouble keeping up.

An Affordable Housing Finance Corporation based on Britain’s “bond aggregator model” would raise up to $200 million per project at much lower government interest rates from the bond market for low-risk lending to the providers of community housing, the full cost of which we are likely to see in the budget.

The government is hoping for hundreds of new community houses at the lower end of the market, particularly in Melbourne and Sydney.

For its part, Labor backed the bond aggregator model on Friday because it has no real rental policy of its own.

It is accusing Morrison of crying “crocodile tears” after he abolished Labor’s own poorly structured National Rental Affordability Scheme which ended up putting money into low cost rentals for international students and actually reduced the supply of affordable housing by 16,000 dwellings.

“They could have changed it, improved it, if that was their wish but they abolished it,” Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen said.

By focusing on lending to build, rather than subsidising rents as the Labor scheme did, the proposed corporation shows promise. But governments of either stripe also need to do more, because they know, as the renting class grows, so will its political influence.

Historically, the logic in catering to homeowners and ignoring renters was that renters were always destined to evolve into owners, so a government could count on an aspirational vote.

In the midst of a generation-dividing housing affordability crisis, that is now far from sure.

In this, a government looking for votes could look to private solutions for public problems, and not towards the supposed heroes of the government’s housing crisis: mum and dad investors who have long dominated the rental property market and delivered poor outcomes for tenants.

Providers of community housing, corporations, and even super funds could make better landlords. They are less anxious about each individual house, better able to provide centralised maintenance.

Britain’s housing white paper recommended inducements and changes to planning rules to encourage the building of more institutionally-rented long-term housing, with the explicit intention of providing competition to mum and dad landlords and driving down prices.

The London School of Economics found the build-to-rent model would minimise risks for developers and investors, while actually boosting supply.

The British Property Federation expects 240,000 such properties to be built by 2030.

Oddly, one hurdle to this sort of solution comes from the Coalition itself.

As pressure builds on what are seen as overly generous tax arrangements for landlords, a proposal has been floated to limit the dollar value or number of properties that each investor can negatively gear.

It would protect mums and dads, 90 per cent of whom own less than two properties, but it won’t encourage the economies of scale required for-rent-to-buy schemes and it certainly won’t help renters.

Eryk Bagshaw is economics reporter, Ross Gittins is on leave.

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

How the 457 visa changes are hitting start-ups

Thursday, 15 August, 2019

Annie Parker in Lighthouse’s communal space in Barangaroo International Tower 3 .Photographed Wednesday 30th November 2016. Photograph by James Brickwood. SHD NEWS 161126 Photo: James BrickwoodLiz Kaelin is the human face of how the crackdown on 457 visas is “catastrophic” for Australian technology entrepreneurs.
Nanjing Night Net

Kaelin is the founder of Caitre’d, an online platform to connect caterers and corporate clients and a graduate of Telstra’s start-up accelerator program muru-D.

Her business, which employs six people, is growing rapidly and Kaelin has applied to sponsor her marketing specialist Iris van der Staak from the Netherlands.

Van der Staak has a Masters in marketing and worked at adidas before visiting Australia on a working holiday visa. After she started working at Caitre’d, the company’s revenue tripled to six figures a month.

Caitre’d has spent thousands to support the application and van der Staak is on a bridging visa awaiting the outcome.

But this week’s overhaul removes the marketing specialist role from the skills list effective immediately, leaving Caitre’d and van der Staak in limbo.

“She has particular expertise … and it’s also the fact she’s been working alongside me for an extended period of time, I don’t know if that’s replaceable,” Kaelin says.

“This is the specific reason why the 457 visa news has been so catastrophic … the new skills list came into effective immediately so all the applications currently in progress are retroactively affected. My lawyers have no other information for us and say all we can do is wait. It’s taxing on the morale of the team and affecting our productivity.”

The 457 visa program will be replaced with another temporary worker visa. However, only people on a list of approved skills shortages are eligible and several roles were dropped from that list.

Three technical roles were removed from the skills list, but these were not widely-used categories. Most software and systems roles are still eligible for the revamped visa.

However, as Kaelin’s story shows, technology start-ups are looking for more than technical skills.

Annie Parker, chief executive of start-up precinct Lighthouse, says start-ups also have skills shortages in areas such as sales, marketing, business development and operations.

Parker, who headed up muru-D until recently and is well-connected in the Australian tech start-up community, says the proposed replacement to the 457 visa has problems.

“The two-year visa doesn’t qualify you to apply for permanent residency afterwards and to attract really great talent I don’t think that’s good enough,” Parker says.

“You have to also qualify by showing you have at least $1 million in revenue and five employees – that doesn’t work for any early-stage start-up. On a macro level we’ve just made it harder for any early-stage start-up to attract talent to come to Australia.”

Parker came from Britain on a 457 visa to set up muru-D and is now a permanent resident. She wanted to move here and wouldn’t have accepted the job if it hadn’t been a path to residency.

“I’m worried about the message that it sends … that anyone who has the growth skills to help early-stage companies be the next Atlassian or Campaign Monitor or Canva will think ‘maybe Australia doesn’t really want me and I’ll look at Canada or New Zealand instead’,” she says.

“My worry is that something that was meant to appeal maybe to the nationalist part of the Australian government has backfired into impacting an area of early-stage innovation and growth that can genuinely help the Australian economy in the long term.

“The 457 visa is a replication of what [US President Donald] Trump has done to H1B visas and it’s a colossal missed opportunity. Frankly I think we’ve shot ourselves in the foot.”

Of course, start-ups are not the only users of 457 visas within the technology sector. Big IT outsourcing projects often employ a large number of technical workers on temporary visas and there is criticism this is often done without market testing.

For example, the Public Services Association has claimed the NSW Liberal government brought in 32 Indian temporary visa holders as part of outsourcing ServiceFirst, a government body for IT, human resources and payroll.

Parker says such concerns are a “fair point” but if the government had consulted with the sector, they could find ways to support early-stage start-ups in ways that could not be abused by other companies.

Parker says many entrepreneurs are wondering what happened to Malcolm Turnbull’s innovation agenda.

“A good chunk of the [start-up] eco-system, including myself, is disappointed.”

Caitlin Fitzsimmons is the Money editor and a regular columnist. Find her on Facebook and Twitter.

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

Blackmail and intimidation: Why a top Olympic exec quit

Thursday, 15 August, 2019

olympics Mike Tancred Communications manager for the AOC and Fiona de Jong Director of Sport for the AOC announcing the Olympic team in Sydney yesterday fri . 180708 Tim Clayton SMH Sport Photo: Tim Clayton For more than a decade, Fiona de Jong was a key player in Australia’s Olympic movement.
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A lawyer and businesswoman, she ended up chief executive of the Australian Olympic Committee. It was rumoured that supremo John Coates was grooming her to take over from him as president.

Then suddenly, in October last year, following her 10th Olympic campaign in Rio de Janeiro, de Jong tendered her resignation.

She had no other job to go to. She said at the time she wanted to explore a global role closer to her husband’s European family, and to spend more time with her young family.

Those things were true, de Jong has now told Fairfax Media. But the rest of the story was darker: it was about a powerful man who would not cede control, and a culture at the top level of the organisation he ran which tolerated bouts of serious bullying.

For 27 years, John Coates has run the Australian Olympic movement, a job which now earns him $760,000 a year. Now, for the first time, he is being challenged. A younger woman, former Hockeyroo Danni Roche, is campaigning to supplant him, take a huge pay cut and shake up Australia’s Olympic culture.

Following the recent revelation that Coates told rival sports administrator John Wylie, “I don’t shake hands with liars … I don’t shake hands with c—s,” the culture of the organisation the Olympic chief presides over, and persistent allegations of bullying within it, have become a key issue in a campaign that has split Australian sport.

At the heart of the bullying claims is Mike Tancred, the AOC’s powerful, aggressive, media director and John Coates’s right hand man. Tancred is described by multiple sources as a “protected species” as long as Coates remains AOC president.

Fairfax Media can reveal that Tancred has been the target of a number of complaints, formal and informal, from staff over many years. Each time he has survived, while the alleged victims have felt no option but to resign.

And it was Tancred who delivered the final indignity to his one-time boss, de Jong.

In December, well after she had tendered her resignation and as her leaving party was being prepared in AOC’s Sydney headquarters, de Jong was trying to save her reputation from internal attack.

Another AOC executive had accused her of leaking board discussions to the press. She vehemently denied it, complained, and demanded the person withdraw the allegation. De Jong says that minutes after she sent her confidential complaint to Coates, her phone rang. It was Tancred.

“He said, ‘Fiona, withdraw the complaint or I will bury you’.”

Then, she claims, Tancred issued a highly detailed and personal threat. De Jong does not want to spell it out, except to say he was “abusive and threatening to me and would have affected my family life”.

“The nature of his conduct could best be characterised as blackmail and intimidation,” she says now.

“Over the course of my career I’ve been exposed to plenty of heated discussions, and poor choice of words or bad language in the workplace, but this went way beyond that.

“It’s one thing to take me on, but quite another to involve my family.”

Later that evening, de Jong formally complained to Coates about Tancred, copying in the chief financial officer, who was as close to a human resources manager as the AOC had at the time. Four months later, she has heard nothing. De Jong believes the organisation is on a “go slow,” waiting until after the May 6 election for the AOC presidency to address her complaint.

“There’s no reason for such a delay,” she says. “It’s deeply disappointing when you stand for a matter of integrity and it’s swept under the carpet by the very people that are there to uphold it.”

De Jong says the leadership of any organisation has responsibility to provide a safe workplace for employees. Her motivation is “in the interests of the staff and members of future Olympic teams,” she says.

Tancred declined to comment on this, or any other bullying complaint. When Fairfax Media asked him last month about allegations against him, Tancred said they were “isolated issues” and all were “years ago”.

Through lawyers, Coates did not respond to a question about whether the AOC’s culture tolerated bullying. Of de Jong’s complaint, he said it was “unfair and prejudicial” to those involved for its details or the outcome to be the subject of “speculation”.

It could not be resolved now, he said, because “the AOC election will affect the membership of the AOC Executive”.

History suggests that, if Coates wins the election, Tancred will continue in his $320,000-per-year job. Over the many years that allegations have been made against Tancred, Coates has sometimes prescribed anger management courses, sometimes changed Tancred’s line of responsibility so he reported direct to him.

Meanwhile, “everyone who has ever complained has been the one who left,” de Jong says.

It was 2004 when Ryan Wells, a British citizen on a working visa, says he was threatened as he sat at his desk at the AOC office in Sydney.

“Mike Tancred came in,” Wells recalls. “He stood about 60cm from me, stood over me and threatened me: ‘I will kill you’.”

Wells does not remember exactly what the disagreement was about, but, “I remember not having a chance to have a discussion – it came out of the blue, he was aggressive, menacing.”

“I was quite shaken about it. I felt very sick. It was a horrible confrontation.”

Wells complained verbally to senior AOC secretary general Bob Elphinston and director of sport Craig Phillips but nothing really changed, Wells says.

He later received a negative assessment from Tancred in a report on the 2004 Olympics and, six months later, was made redundant.

“For me it had very large consequences: I had to leave Australia and the job I love. That really makes me angry today, the injustice of that,” Wells says.

“There’s such a double standard here. If this was an athlete, they’d get kicked off the team for getting back to the village at 6 o’clock in the morning, but you can have 12 years of this sort of thing and nothing. It just beggars belief.”

A number of cases followed. In 2008 a young woman complained about Tancred yelling, swearing, and questioning her commitment. She left soon afterwards. In 2013, a second young woman lodged a formal complaint about Tancred’s alleged unpredictability and frequent furious outbursts.

Employees from that time recall that, ironically, the complaint arose after Coates put staff through a bullying awareness course that had been inspired by complaints against the then chief executive of retailer David Jones, where Coates was deputy chairman.

That time, sources say, a finding akin to inappropriate conduct was made against Tancred – something short of bullying. He was supposed again to change his behaviour, but former colleagues say he did not. The young woman left her job a year later, still unhappy.

A similar thing happened in 2015 with a third young woman, who documented a series of blow-ups with Tancred. De Jong says the woman raised these issues informally, considering it futile to formalise the complaint.

Soon afterwards, sources say Coates stepped in and heavily criticised the woman in communications with senior management over an apparently unrelated issue. Coates ordered her to apologise for “wasting his time”.

Shortly afterwards, she quit the AOC.

Through lawyers, Coates said he “strenuously denies” that he took any action against the young female worker “for having made an informal complaint against Mike Tancred” nor that he took “any other adverse action against her as a result”.

The following year, Tancred received a $32,000 pay rise. His total package is now $330,000, the highest in the organisation below Coates himself and the chief executive.

“Tancred’s and Coates are incredibly loyal to each other,” says one former staff member.

“I can’t imagine any other workplace where an employee has multiple formal and informal complaints raised against him, and he continues to work there.”

Coates said Tancred’s remuneration was determined by the AOC Remuneration and Nominations Committee of which Coates was not a member.

On May 6, 40 sporting organisations and the members of the Australian Olympic Committee board will gather at the Museum of Contemporary Art to decide whether Coates remains at the helm, or is replaced by former hockey champion Danni Roche.

Fiona de Jong did not want to be part of any campaign, but she feels, for the sake of the staff, she cannot remain silent.

“My motivation is sincere in my concerns for the AOC staff that remain,” she says.

“Sadly, this has become an organisation that falls short when it comes to upholding the very standards we ask of our Olympic athletes.”

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

Port’s new football club has industrial tinge

Thursday, 15 August, 2019

The City of Port Phillip could easily have ended up with a completely different scheme for a new football club in Port Melbourne, rather than this one designed by K20 Architecture.
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The first scheme, presented by another architectural practice was located on another spot on the oval and was considerably more lavish (read “expensive”).

“That result made it open the design for a limited competition, one that was more in line with the council’s budget,” says architect Theo Kerlidis, director of K20 Architecture, who was presented with a football oval and one Norm Goss grandstand on the Williamstown Road site.

K20 Architecture received the “nod” to proceed after winning the competition, choosing to locate the new football club on the other side of the oval from the initial location suggested.

“This position is slightly elevated (approximately one metre) and allows the city vista to form part of the backdrop,” says Kerlidis, who saw the high-rise apartments, many of which have angular “crowns”, as forming an inspiration to the design of the football club.

“The oval is also surrounded by numerous pitched-roofed factories,” he adds.

As well as referring to the oval’s industrial context, K20 Architecture was keen to use timber extensively, not only for its ability to be moulded into a form, but also as a result of its economy.

“Our brief was to deliver a fairly large building (approximately 900 square metres) within a relatively modest budget,” says Kerlidis, who used inexpensive pine to “fold over” the glass and steel southeastern facade.

As well as animating the long rectilinear building, the timber-folded forms create clearly articulated arrival points at both ends of the building.

The folded canopy at the Ingles Street entrance has also been skewed to allow those arriving to see through to the action on the football oval.

“Creating a sense of transparency from outside was paramount, as well as for those watching from inside the club,” says Kerlidis.

The low-slung building was not only designed for club members, but also for the broader community, which regularly uses the facilities.

While there’s one large function centre at the hub of the club, there are also two smaller function rooms, and each of them feature operable doors to allow one space to expand into three or, alternatively, to be used independently.

A central bar services all three-function spaces. Having the separate entrances also allows different groups to use the club at the same time.

Given the potential for use by multiple groups, K20 Architecture was mindful of acoustic control.

Hence there’s an insulated perforated steel feature wall that separates the main function area from the commercial kitchen behind.

At night, the LED lights dispersed across the exposed ceiling create a series of crosses (reflecting the ceilings beams).

As well as the function rooms and bathrooms, the design also includes administration offices, the latter cleverly nestled below one of the timber “outcrops”.

“We wanted to ensure staff also enjoyed unimpeded views of each match or players practicing,” says Kerlidis, pointing out one of the picture windows.

Cross-ventilation was also considered paramount in the scheme with the main function room benefiting from operable steel-framed windows with thermally treated glass.

“We saw this place as a viewing platform but, as importantly, a place that feels comfortable to be in, whether it’s used for awards nights or simply locals catching up.

“The spaces should be as pleasurable as watching the game itself,” adds Kerlidis.

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
Nanjing Night Net

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
Nanjing Night Net

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.
Nanjing Night Net

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

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.
Nanjing Night Net

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.

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

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.
Nanjing Night Net

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.

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