Month: June 2019

The Block 2017: View the five Elsternwick houses for sale by auction



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46C Regent Street, Elsternwick – The Block 2017, Ronnie and Georgia’s houseAfter three months on site, and several weeks watching themselves on TV – and finding out if loves or hates them, the slog of The Block is about to end for five couples.
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For these couples, the work has all been for one day: auction day, now just a matter of weeks away. Each of the five houses will go under the hammer at the end of the month, with agents guiding price expectations of $2.4 million to $2.64 million.

And for all the anguish of styling cushions, early morning painting sessions and choices about architraves – not to mention the constant bickering between couples – auction day is the only day that really counts. Here’s a look inside the houses, and an inside word from Domain’s Alice Stolz, who has awarded a weekly $5000 prize to the best team:

Photo: Hocking Stuart46A Regent Street, Elsternwick

Team: Elyse Knowles and Josh Barker

Selling agency:Hocking Stuart Caulfield

Agents: Todd Newton and Sophie LaForest

Photo: Hocking Stuart

???Stolz says: The highlight here is obviously the outdoor area that integrates seamlessly with the interior. The house also has terrific on-trend features like that amazing pod path and an extremely open-plan living area. There are touches of impracticality but the house is in that sweet spot where it’s ideal for DINKS (a double income, no kids couple).

Photo: Noel Jones Real Estate46B Regent Street, Elsternwick

Team: Mark “Sticks” Croker and Clint “Wombat” Price

Selling agency:Noel Jones Doncaster

Agents:Daniel D’Assisi and David Fileccia

Photo: Noel Jones Real Estate

???Stolz says: This is a fantastic blank canvas. With creme de la creme craftsmanship, it has a little bit of a bachelor pad feel, and, let’s face it, who wouldn’t love a bit of that in their life? It’s super fun with all its quirks: the climbing wall in the kids’ room, a TV coming from the roof and the James Bond-style drinks cabinet. The boys have put their signature on the house and it’s safe, but not too safe.

Photo: Biggin & Scott46C Regent Street, Elsternwick

Team: Georgia and Ronnie Caceres

Selling agency:Biggin & Scott Elsternwick

Agents:Daniel Ashton, Angelos Stefanis and Bill Stavrakis


Photo: Biggin & Scott

Stolz says: Uber stylish and uber sexy, this is a house with grown-up glamour and decadence. It has a wonderful sense of luxury and is completely on trend – but I don’t think it will date. It’s like living in a beautiful hotel and with that sense of opulence, you could forget your reality pretty easily here. You really need to see the house and you’re able to feel these two at every turn; it has a bit of spunk in the way that others don’t. It’s anchored and they know what they’ve been doing.

Photo: The Agency46D Regent Street, Elsternwick

Team: Hannah and Clint Amos

Selling agency:The Agency Victoria

Agents:Sam Babalis and Peter Kakos


Photo: The Agency

Stolz says: This is a really lovely, pretty and elegant house for the area. It’s light-filled and has spots of panache every now and then, particularly the wallpaper choices and the beautiful sitting room. The bathroom, aka the disaster from hell, has delivered great results and there’s that hallway with privacy. They have made mistakes but they’ve really done well to fix everything.

Photo: Gary Peer & Associates46E Regent Street, Elsternwick

Team: Sarah and Jason Price

Selling agency:Gary Peer & Associates

Agents:Jeremy Rosens and Daniel Micmacher

Photo: Gary Peer & Associates

Stolz says: This place has the most amazing hallways with beautiful proportions. It’s the most-family friendly home The Block has seen. It has a true sanctuary for parents, amazing bedrooms for children with that Jack and Jill bathroom. With hydronic heating and a beautiful fireplace, it’s practical and liveable. This is a house for families.

St Mary’s Gateshead buys Lake Macquarie Council land it has maintained since the 1980s for $150,000



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Lake Macquarie mayor Kay Fraser.A Gateshead school has agreed to spend $150,000 to buya parcel of Lake Macquarie Council land it has maintained since the 1980s, after the council said it discovered the school was using the site.
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The Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle will buy about 1600 square metres of land that the council says St Mary’s High School has been using as part of its sporting fields. While the diocese says the triangular shape of the land meant it was unsuitable for sports, a spokesman saidthe fact that it bordered the school“might create the impression that it is part of the field”.

A council report released this week called for councillors to go ahead with the sale.

The land, wedged between Kennedy Creek and the school grounds, was dedicated to council in 1966 as a public reserve bythe Department of Housing.

“It came to council’s attention that part of council’s land …was being utilised by St Mary’s High School, Gateshead as part of their sporting field,” the council report noted.

Lake Macquarie mayor Kay Fraser said council found the school was using the block as a result of rezoning a piece of the diocese’s adjoining land at Birkwood Close in 2013. She said selling the land was council’s preferred option because its location between adrainage channeland the school made it inaccessible.

“The parcel of land has been reclassified to allow a sale to occur and the parties have agreed on a price,” Cr Fraser said.

“A report recommending the sale was endorsed by the Corporate Services Committee [on Monday]and will be considered at the Ordinary Council meeting on October 23. Following that meeting, council will provide contracts to the church to finalise the sale.”

The diocese spokesman told the Heraldthat the school had mowed, clearedand maintained the block of land since the 1980s to keep the area free of snakes and safe for students.

“There is also a Landcare partnership between the school and the Lake Macquarie Council which has been in place since around 2006,” he said. “As part of this Landcare partnership, the school has planted hundreds of trees and native shrubson this block of land and – together with council – continued to maintain this block of land.”

The diocesan spokesman said the sale would allow the school to run a stormwater drain through to Kennedy Creek.

EDITORIAL: Offshore gas a possible addition to energy mix



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IT was late 2010 when a Western n based explorer, Advent Energy, brought a test rig to the waters off Newcastle to drill for gas or oil.
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Documents produced by Advent and an associated company, Asset Energy, said that other energy companies, including Santos, had looked at the area since the early 1990s, with sea-floor“pock marks” and“surface oil and gas seeps” regarded as likely indicators of sizeable resources below the seabed

Advent’s intentionscreated controversy at the time. Professional fishers and environmentalists were concerned about the impact on the sea floor. But as it turned out, the drilling was unable to locate any hydrocarbons despite bullish predictions beforehand that the offshore coast between Newcastle and Sydney could be a new Bass Strait.

Despite theearlier setback, Asset Energy is again looking to explore within its state government exploration zone, using seismic testing that is usually regarded as a precursor to physical drilling.

Concerns are again being raised, with the NSW Greens citing a University of Queensland study to say that the noise from seismic testing would interfere with whale migration.

The company, for its part, says its procedures are appropriate.

Given the massive reserves of coal under the Hunter Valley and parts of the Central Coast, it would hardly surprise if reservoirs of gas were found offshore.

At this stage of ’s energy debate, the potential for gas or oil production close to the NSW east coast raises some interesting questions.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is pushing hard for NSW and Victoria to lift their bans on onshore gas production. While Victoria has reserves of conventional or reservoir gas, NSW would be reliant on coal-seam gas, which generally means fracking to maintain adequate supply.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian has made it clear her government has no intention to reverse its position on coal-seam gas, but if is to start de-carbonising its power grid by closing coal-fired power stations, it will need gas from somewhere –and in substantially larger quantities than is used at present –to balance the grid against the uncertainties of wind and sun.

While we are not there yet, it could come down to an argument over a lesser of two evils: fracking at Narrabri or drilling off the Newcastle coast.

Issue: 38,620.

Government accused of insulting ‘robo-debt’ recipients in inquiry response



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Minister for Human Services Alan Tudge visited the Channel Operations Facility in his department in Canberra on Wednesday 5 April 2017. Photo: Andrew Meares
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SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – APRIL 29: Human Services Minister, Alan Tudge on April 29, 2016 in Sydney, . (Photo by Kirk Gilmour/Fairfax Media)

The Turnbull government has rejected findings of a Senate inquiry into its controversial “robo-debt” system for welfare payments, refusing to suspend data matching and defending procedural fairness in the recovery of payments.

Responding to a June report which slammed the process of issuing debt notices to thousands of ns based on matching and averaging of income records held by Centrelink and the Tax Office, the government said some third parties’ complaints had been “aimed solely at scoring political points”.

The inquiry said debts calculated by averaging of income across a 12-month period should be reassessed, with the system redesigned and effective risk assessment process put in place.

It said the program had caused a “profoundly negative impact on the lives of thousands of ns” and was responsible for trauma suffered by innocent welfare recipients required to prove they did not owe money demanded by Centrelink.

In April, a Commonwealth Ombudsman report found Centrelink’s demands on former welfare recipients were neither “reasonable” nor ‘fair”.

On Tuesday, the government said there was no evidence to support the recommendation that the online system should be put on hold.

“The government’s clear position, supported by the independent Commonwealth Ombudsman report, is that it is appropriate to ask people for information when there are differences between their income details held by the Department of Human Services and other third parties such as the n Taxation Office,” it said.

“This principle has been in place under successive governments and has not changed.

“Welfare payment recipients have a responsibility to provide the most current information to maintain eligibility.

“The n government will continue to invest in digital technologies to make government services simpler, faster and more efficient, making it easier for the public to work and interact with government.”

It said the Department of Human Services was in the process of writing to all recipients of debt notices from the online system to remind them of their review rights.

The department was seeking to call recipients who had been referred to debt collection agencies.

The government said it took seriously use of individuals’ private information and income reviews were only used when recipients failed to provide the information needed to calculate their fortnightly income.

Controversy about debt demands has dogged the government since late 2016, despite Human Services Minister Alan Tudge maintaining the system was working effectively.

Greens community services spokeswoman Senator Rachel Siewert said the response was grossly inadequate and showed contempt for recipients of debt notices.

“It is frankly insulting to the people who gave evidence at the inquiry to be referred to in this response as third parties looking to score political points,” she said.

“The comments that the chair’s report relied on evidence that was inaccurate is insulting to those who gave evidence.

“The people who gave evidence at the inquiry were vulnerable people, whose data had been automatically matched without oversight, people who had been harassed by debt collectors days before Christmas, people living below the poverty line wrongly told they only had a number of weeks to pay back thousands of dollars.

“This inquiry was about the lives of vulnerable ns,” she said.

Senator Siewert rubbished government suggestions recipients had been given a reasonable opportunity to provide information and explain any discrepancies.

“Is it reasonable to ask people who have worked sporadically over ten years, moved countless times and escaped domestic violence to provide pay slips from a job they had five years ago for three months?”

Last month the government admitted it issued robo-debt recovery notices to 20,000 welfare recipients who were later found to owe less or even nothing.

Everest: Kris Lees pleased with draw and final hit-out of Clearly Innocent



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COOL DOWN: Mal Ollerton takes Clearly Innocent for a swim at Horseshoe Beach on Tuesday after his last piece of trackwork. Picture: Lees RacingKris Lees believes Clearly Innocent would appreciate a slightly longer race, but the Newcastle trainer hasno concerns about the draw or preparations of his runner forthe $10 million The Everest (1200m).
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Clearly Innocent, one of the last confirmedto fill a slot in the world richest race on turf, was drawn in six of 12 for Saturday’s inaugural edition at Randwick on Tuesday.

Lees was not at the draw on Sydney Harbour, and slot-ownerDamion Flower, ofJadesyke Racing, did the honours for Clearly Innocent, which will be ridden by Hugh Bowman on Saturday.

“I don’t get too flustered either way with barrier draws because a lot can happen once the gates open,” Lees said. “But if you said ‘pick a barrier’, I would have said ‘somewhere in the middle’.

“The ones drawn inside, they’ll push forward and you’ll get a nice trail. It looks all right for him.

“He’s going to get the race run to suit and, to be fair to him, he probably wants a touch further. In a perfect world, for this horse, I’d like it 1300, 1400 metres, but it is what it is, and we’re pretty happy with where he’s at.”

Mal Ollerton gave Clearly Innocent his final piece of trackwork on Tuesday morning over the course proper at Newcastle and Lees was pleased with what he saw.

“He had his final gallop this morning and he’s as good as he can be,” he said.“He worked over 800 metres but he was quite strong at the end of his work and he looks well.”

Clearly Innocent was third in the group 2 Premiere Stakes (1200m) first-up on September 30 at Randwick and the fast finish was enough to convince Flower to confirm the six-year-old Cressfield Stud gelding as his pick.

Flower had been negotiating with Lees and Cressfield Stud boss Bruce Neill for two months.

“The team, they are very happy with the horse, especially Kris Lees,” Flower told Sky Racing at the barrier draw.

“He was out giving him a walk and a dip this morning. Bruce and Hughie are quite confident. We were looking for a mid-barrier and we got barrier six.

“I had him earmarked out in early August. I got a really good promotional video from Bruce Neill himself and I’ve just been waiting for him to come back, and just seeing him in the Premiere sort of hit its mark for me.”

Clearly Innocent drifted from $11 to $13 with TAB Fixed Odds after the draw.

Lees said his Everest star was likely to be one of only two or three runners on Saturday’s Randwick program.

He said Sense Of Occasion may run in the $500,000 Craven Plate andYulong Xingsheng would feature in the Reginald Allen Quality “but the rest probably won’t run”.

He said Admiral Jello would not race in the St Leger Stakes andCraven Plate nominationSound Proposition would be saved for the Crystal Mile on Cox Plate day.

The Everestalso featuresHunter connections inother runners,including $4.60 favourite She Will Reign,Chautauqua ($6), Brave Smash ($31) and Houtzen ($26).

Hunter syndication company n Bloodstock brought Brave Smash from Japan with The Everest in mind and co-director Jamie Lovett drew barrier nine on Tuesday. The Darren Weir-trained Brave Smash will wear blinkers on Saturday.

“[Weir] has sortofbeensaying for a month or so that he’s a blinker horse so I guess we’rejustfronting up on Saturday excited to see him run up to his best,” Lovett said on Sky Racing.

“We think he’s best will put him into the race. Obviously he’s got his knockers but that’s racing.”

“He’s run time overseas and even the day at Caulfield he ran behind Vega Magic, he did run time, so we’re going there with a fair bit of confidence and we’re very excited to be in the event.”