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OPINION: Market closes door on Hunter’s needy

Posted by admin on 20/09/2019
Posted in 南京桑拿网 

Greg Budworth is the chief executive officer of Hunter-based Compass Housing.
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LAST week the Newcastle Herald had a story on the fact that children as young as 11 are among hundreds of homeless youth being turned away from crisis accommodation in the Hunter (‘‘Streets of shame, 6/2’’).

Homelessness of any form is certainly a shame. It is a problem that has been with us on a significant scale for a number of years and the situation is worsening. Homelessness is affecting many more people than just our disadvantaged youth.

The Herald correctly identified that in the case of youth crisis accommodation, there are several contributing reasons for homelessness. A lack of money is not the fundamental reason for the lack of crisis accommodation.

The fundamental reason is a lack of accommodation, more specifically, a lack of housing stock. This applies across all accommodation, crisis or otherwise, for youth as well as for many other citizens. On Friday the Herald reported comments by NSW planning director Andrew Jackson that infrastructure was the main reason behind the Hunter’s housing shortage. We simply have too few new dwellings being created to accommodate the demand for housing.

In our economy the level of housing is mostly driven by supply and demand and partly by government policy and interventions. If demand exceeds supply, prices rise. Rising housing prices means more people opt to rent and so rents rise with the result that working families struggle to make ends meet and more disadvantaged members of our community don’t even get a look in. We have a situation now where working people and families in the Hunter and Central Coast are also living in cars and at friends’ houses. Just build more housing, I hear you say. Higher housing prices should encourage more people to build more houses and then the prices will come down. It is not that simple. The market is constrained by land-release strategies, planning laws and codes, and availability of finance.

Rightly, governments at various levels are intervening in the market, such as directly funding more social and affordable housing, first-home buyers’ schemes, Commonwealth Rental Assistance, as well as tax laws such as negative gearing of investment properties. In the Hunter and Central Coast regions we have benefited from these programs and the situation would be more dire were it not for them.

Last year the state government transferred the title of $150million worth of social housing properties to Compass Housing. This is significant because it is allowing Compass to leverage the equity in those properties to generate a minimum of a further 150 affordable houses over the next 10 years.

Compass also received Commonwealth financial incentives as well as $9.55million in NSW government funding to work with developers to build additional affordable housing in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie under the National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS).

These measures are promising but they are not enough to tackle the severity of the problem. According to the State of Supply Report 2011, produced by the federal government’s National Housing Supply Council, the gap between underlying demand for dwellings and supply was 186,800 as at June 2010. The biggest gap was in NSW (73,700) and over the next 20 years, the gap is expected to widen to 640,000.

Unless there are more radical measures to increase the supply of housing and supply constraints reviewed, disadvantage will be exacerbated with more homelessness, crime, unsafe streets, gated communities, greater impact on health, policing and welfare budgets.

Hardly a week goes by without a media article about homelessness yet housing is never a major priority election issue. The housing supply crisis needs to be one of the highest priorities of governments. With the federal government elections coming up in 2013, this policy area should be one that the community demands from the incumbents or contenders alike.

It is up to us to make housing an election issue. Housing should be fundamental, not a privilege in our wealthy society.

Australians for Affordable Housing is a coalition of over 60 national housing, welfare and community sector organisations, highlighting the problem of housing affordability. To see what you can do to help undo our streets of shame visit housingstressed.org.au.

Jobe Wheelhouse out of Jets clash with Perth

Posted by admin on 20/09/2019
Posted in 南京桑拿网 

INJUIRED: Jobe Wheelhouse.JETS captain Jobe Wheelhouse will miss at least two weeks of action after succumbing to a groin tear and being ruled out of Newcastle’s away clash with Perth Glory on Saturday night.
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Scans revealed yesterday that the hard-nosed midfielder had a grade two adductor tear in his right leg suffered early in the 3-0 win over Melbourne Heart on Saturday night at Hunter Stadium.

‘‘I’ve just been struggling with it for a couple of weeks and getting through it,’’ Wheelhouse said.

‘‘Finally it was probably a bit too much.

‘‘Last week in the first half I felt it go a bit and it got worse and worse through the game.

‘‘Obviously I didn’t want to come off because we were doing well and needed to win.’’

Wheelhouse’s absence further weakens the Jets’ depleted midfield stocks.

Ben Kantarovski is on Olyroos duty in the United Arab Emirates, and former midfield general Kasey Wehrman is out of favour.

The injury is another setback for the 26-year-old, who missed a month of football with a foot infection and has been one of the Jets’ best since returning in a 1-0 loss to Wellington on January 20.

Newcastle have since gone on a four-game unbeaten run, taking 10 out of a possible 12 points.

Wheelhouse will have platelet-rich plasma injections tomorrow to help his recovery and hoped he would miss only the Perth game and the match against Adelaide the following Friday night at Hunter Stadium.

‘‘The blood injection normally speeds the healing process up by half, so hopefully it will only be a fortnight if I’m lucky,’’ he said. ‘‘I’m just hoping the team go to Perth and get the result.’’

Wheelhouse believed his latest injury was a result of his time on the sidelines with a foot infection.

‘‘Missing the month off with the foot, I didn’t really get to do much cardio, because I couldn’t even put a shoe on with it,’’ he said.

‘‘I’m guessing the month off and coming straight back into the team, it’s caught up with me. It’s frustrating and not ideal, but hopefully we can get the results over the next two weeks and I get back and push into the team for the finals.

‘‘It’s the same scenario as the last couple of weeks. They’re three points above us on the table and if we can get the three points we jump into the top four.’’

THE reconstruction of Laman Street will take ‘‘10 to 12 months’’, Newcastle City Council heard last night as the council’s management was grilled about an Anzac Centenary funding submission for the street.
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Concept plans for ‘‘Anzac Centenary Place’’ were submitted to the federal government in September 2010 and have since attracted considerable criticism from supporters of retaining Laman Street’s fig trees.

GALLERY: Laman Street without the figs

Laman Street has been the site of heated protests and the figs have been chopped down. However, the council said it would replace them.

Concerns raised by councillors last night included that the plans had not been endorsed in any way by the elected council, that the RSL had not been properly consulted, and that concept designs appeared to show the relocation of the memorial grove in Civic Park.

Cr Michael Osborne said the council had told the NSW Land and Environment Court in September 2010, during a court case on the fig trees against the Parks and Playgrounds Movement, that it had no proposals for Laman Street.

Cr Osborne also said councillors should have had a say on the plans.

‘‘One of the problems with the submission process was that a submission the council sent in wasn’t endorsed by council,’’ he said.

‘‘In future submissions … really should come to the elected council.’’

Council future city director Judy Jaeger stressed last night that the plans were ‘‘conceptual’’, had not been costed or designed in detail, and would require further design if the federal government indicated it was interested in funding the idea.

Ms Jaegar also said any revamp of Laman Street would need to conform to relevant plans of management for the civic precinct.

General manager Phil Pearce said during the meeting he estimated the reconstruction of the street would take up to a year, and that a report including design for the reconstruction would be discussed on March 20.

Ms Jaegar said the reconstruction and Anzac proposal were based on principles and objectives adopted by the council for Laman Street and the civic precinct.

EPA says “minor” spill at Koppers in Mayfield

Posted by admin on 20/09/2019
Posted in 南京桑拿网 

Keith CraigRESIDENTS and the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) are at odds over a napthalene spill from the Koppers Australia Mayfield plant yesterday.
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EPA spokeswoman Liza Cassidy said the incident was ‘‘very minor’’, and Koppers had been given seven days to provide the authority with a ‘‘full incident report’’.

But Stockton activist Keith Craig and his Mayfield colleague John Hayes said the incident was anything but minor.

It was also a test of new post-Orica reporting regulations that mean companies with EPA licences are supposed to tell authorities ‘‘immediately’’ after an incident.

Ms Cassidy said the EPA had sent people to Koppers at Woodstock Street, Mayfield, about 7.30am yesterday but that members of the public, and not Koppers, had alerted the authority.

She said Koppers had told the EPA the leak of napthalene had happened after a pipe was blocked during a cleaning procedure at about 7am yesterday.

But Mr Craig, who rang Koppers after smelling the napthalene fumes from his Stockton property yesterday morning, said a Koppers manager had told him on the phone that the incident had happened at about 5am.

‘‘It would take a while for the fumes to get from Mayfield to Stockton and if it’s so strong where we are that you could hardly go outside, I don’t know how they consider it to be minor,’’ Mr Craig said.

He said napthalene was a carcinogen and the emission was another sign of Hunter industry having trouble operating to acceptable standards.

Newcastle Greens councillor Michael Osborne said that if Koppers had not told the EPA, it was worth asking whether the authority had written to the companies it regulates, telling them of the changes it had made in reporting procedures.

The Koppers plant makes pitch and other carbon-based products using raw materials brought to Newcastle by ship from Whyalla and Port Kembla steelworks.

It had been fed from BHP Newcastle until the steel-making plant shut in 1999.

RULES: John Davies at his property. – Picture by Peter StoopCHANGES to Hunter Water ‘‘customer contracts’’ have shifted potentially expensive repair bills from the authority to property owners.
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The changes, which Hunter Water defends, involve the definition of the ‘‘point of connection’’ between a property owner’s sewage system and the main sewer lines owned and maintained by the authority.

Plumbers say that point was traditionally near the property boundary, and was often marked by a ‘‘boundary trap’’ or ‘‘boundary shaft’’.

Householders were responsible for pipes on their side of the connection point, while Hunter Water was responsible for lines running under streets or neighbouring properties, to the sewer main.

But this is no longer the case.

A Hunter Water spokeswoman said yesterday the organisation had consulted widely on the new contract, which was explained to customers, the media and MPs, and posted on the organisation’s website.

But customer John Davies said he found out the costly way when repairs were needed at a family property at Kotara South.

An old sewer pipe on the property had given way and raw sewage was flowing through soil underground just before Christmas.

‘‘They said the point of connection was on the main under a neighbour’s property, and we – not them – were responsible for the costs of those repairs,’’ Mr Davies said.

‘‘In my opinion, the government realises the Hunter sewage system is an ageing asset that will increasingly need repair and updating and they have quietly shifted their responsibilities onto the individual.’’

He said the new rules raised legal questions about access to neighbouring properties or digging under streets that were better handled by having Hunter Water do the work.

Mr Davies also said it could be a form of double-dipping if Hunter Water had included the likely costs of such work each year in setting its charges but was now passing the costs on to the public.

Toronto plumber Jason Preddle said Hunter Water had written to plumbers in July last year telling them of the new arrangements.

‘‘There’s more work for us because it’s now customers not Hunter Water having to get the work done but it’s bad for consumers,’’ Mr Preddle said.

He said the pipes in question could easily be two or three metres underground and repair jobs could easily cost $10,000 or more.

The Hunter Water spokeswoman said sewer pipe responsibilities had not changed with the new contract. Previously, Hunter Water had ‘‘assisted customers to undertake repairs to the customer’s sewer shaft, which was always the customer’s responsibility’’.

Plumbers have told the Newcastle Herald that repair responsibilities have changed.

And Mr Davies said plumbers seemed to be the only people who had been told about those changes.