The 2017 Australian Interior Design Awards shortlistForget disposable decor and choose handmadeThe latest retro trend making a comeback
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With over 450 submissions making 2017 the biggest field ever to present projects in the 14-year history of Australia’s premier interior design excellence awards – or IDEA – the final entry gates closed at the start of this month.

And that became the signal for some of the country’s most respected designer peers to get down to the long winter business of sifting, selecting, and debating what, why and who has orchestrated the most outstanding projects in 11 different categories, from residential, to workplace, to hospitality, to events and objects.

After that, the seven jurists of the calibre of last year’s overall winner William Smart of Smart Design Studio, Albert Mo of Melbourne’s Architect’s EAT, and Hannah Tribe of Sydney’s Studio Tribe, sort out who they deem worthy of the five special awards that include the gold medal, designer of the year, emerging designer and editor’s medal. All are career-defining accolades.

Yet while the main prizes are announced in a blaze of publicity at the late November gala event, even being commended, or making the shortlist is welcome acknowledgement because, as long-time industry operative and winner of last year’s award for residential decoration, Andrew Parr underlines.

“The IDEA awards are similar to the national annual awards of the Australian Institute of Architects. They have real street cred.”

Having been in the interior design industry since he graduated from what was then Melbourne’s only specific degree course at RMIT, (“the rest were decorator courses”), Parr, a director at SJB Interiors which is in the prize or shortlists almost annually, believes the industry has matured remarkably – especially in the 17 years since the Sydney Olympics stimulated Australia to take interior design seriously.

“The industry grew up very quickly with Sydney and with a lot of high-profile hospitality venues there evolved both the work and the clientele. There had always been hotel design here, but where other hospitality work had been random, suddenly it was being done by serious designers.”

Since then, the leading and influential edge that stimulates new applications of interior design has been shifting from one category to another. Parr proposes the cross-pollination is now very blurred across all industry sectors: “There is a lot of cross-over, a lot of fusion.”

But he does cite workplace design as being the currently interesting laboratory “because office design is becoming more residential. With relaxation areas, cafes and communal spaces, offices are offering the best time you’ve ever had away from home”.

Winning the vaunted residential decoration award in 2016 for his own home, Peninsula Residence, demonstrated Parr’s preference for “composing spaces using large furniture and with colours given to me by the house or that referenced every shade of green outside the windows”.

Ordinarily, he admits, he isn’t a big user of red. But having found it as lino in the 1958 Modernist house, he reintroduced it in the form of a red leather chair, red details in the kitchen, and in more startling applications on the walls of the stairwell and bathroom.

“I did what the house told me to do.”

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Two weeks ago Gladys Berejiklian was given the honour of delivering the inaugural address to the Canberra-based National Press Club’s new outpost in Sydney.
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As anyone who has watched press club speeches knows, for politicians in particular they provide a great opportunity to grab national headlines and possibly set an agenda.

They are long form, set pieces with a national audience that give the speaker an opportunity to go a little deeper into a subject or perhaps make a persuasive argument for reform.

So when Berejiklian climbed to the podium anticipation was high that we might witness the new Premier place a marker; perhaps offer a signal as to where she wanted to take NSW in the two years before the 2019 election.

Instead, we got what amounted to little more than a stump speech. Yes, the Premier called for Canberra to butt out of NSW’s business and for the state to get a greater share of GST receipts.

But neither of these remarks is groundbreaking. For a Premier who has yet to establish her reputation and is struggling to escape the shadow of her predecessor Mike Baird, it was a significant missed opportunity.

The fizzer of an address did tell us something, however. It confirmed that, post-Baird, NSW politics is suffering an inspiration deficit. Indeed, our risk-averse political leaders are in danger of boring us to death.

It’s not just Berejiklian who is to blame; when was the last time something opposition leader Luke Foley said registered with you?

In both cases it may be symptomatic of a deliberate small target strategy that could well run right up until the next state poll.

Ask a cabinet minister why it seems very little is going on in government at the moment and they will likely smile and respond with: “Isn’t that a good thing?”

Inside the government there is a view that the electorate remains shell-shocked by the pace of change under Baird as Premier; that voters need a period of calm.

So, despite Berejiklian’s repeated claim that she is full steam ahead on reform, thus far her government appears determined to be quite the opposite. The determination to not make waves extends even to a reluctance to comment on topics of significant interest.

Take the debate over voluntary assisted dying legislation this week that was sparked by a cross party working group’s unveiling of a draft bill that will go before parliament in August. When news first broke in January of the group’s intention to develop a bill, as befits a political leader, then Premier Baird was happy to put his personal view on the record as did Foley. Yet when Berejiklian was invited on Tuesday to do the same, she declined.

Given the entire parliament has been on notice since January, this is extremely unlikely to be because she has yet to form a personal view. As for Foley, you would think an oxygen-starved opposition leader would be jumping at the chance to fill the void. Yet still we hear very little.

Each leader likely has their reasons. Berejiklian has the Baird backlash. In Foley’s case it may be the desire to make the government the story while there is still residual voter anger over reforms such as council amalgamations and the impact of major infrastructure projects.

He also could be keeping his powder dry until closer to the election so as to not have the government attack his policies for two years.

Foley and Labor seem to be adhering to a classic small target strategy, honouring the adage that the electorate doesn’t vote oppositions into government, they vote governments out.

Both strategies are an insult to voters, who deserve more than to have two of the highest offices in the state effectively running on automatic pilot.

Whether this changes before the election campaign is anyone’s guess, but the signs are not encouraging. The next opportunity is in next month’s state budget.

Pressure is building on Berejiklian to make good on her pronouncement that housing affordability is a priority of her government, alongside local infrastructure and a strong economy. A couple of days later Foley gets a moment in the spotlight with his budget reply speech.

For both it’s a set piece opportunity to make a splash. They should take it.

Sean Nicholls is state political editor.

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march 10 2011 news henrietta. gary schafer photo Canberra Times.Asingleshaft of sunlight singles out DAramalan College year 7 student Patryk Bylinski as he waits to commence the NAPLAN test with over 200 other students. Photo: Gary SchaferIt came as a surprise earlier this year to see a full-page advertisement by a Canberra private girls high school boasting about the academic success of its high achievers.
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Each student was shown with her Australian tertiary admission rank score and the name of the university she was accepted into.

(Private schools don’t have the field to themselves. A number of public schools have better results, and at least one parades them on its website.)

I know schools have always been competitive, and I know ATAR scores mean something, but in a month in which thousands of Australian students sat their national literacy and numeracy tests, it’s worth asking whether more tests and a greater emphasis on test results actually harms us.

An Australian National University lecturer told me recently about a number of first-year students who were so worried about attaining high marks they were paralysed and unable to start assignments. “This is the time of their lives when everything should be low-stakes,” she said.

Year 12 scores are a far from perfect predictor of professional success and an even less perfect predictor of personal contentment. They tell us little about so-called “soft skills”, such as getting on with people and developing decent and mutually supportive relationships. They tell us little about the employability of young people and their capacity to take part in and contribute to society.

When students are told that marks are more important than anything else, they can lose perspective. On an SBS Insight program, former high-performing students who left school were asked about their lives. Liesel described the stress she felt because she got up at 7am, rather than 5am as she used to for her HSC.

“I feel so lazy that I’m not doing enough or I’m not changing the world or I’m not doing, I’m not the best in the world at something anymore,” Liesel said. “I get fives at uni, which is a credit for statistics, which I’m really proud of, but that’s not good enough for me. I want sevens and I want to be the best in the world, so I’m really struggling to come to terms with that sort of not doing enough.”

Psychologist Rebekka Tuqiri says pressure is good when it motivates us, but too much of it damages our brains and prevents us from performing well. The answer isn’t to avoid stress, but to build resilience.

At a symposium on mental health at the ANU this month, students and staff tried to come up with a definition of resilience. The one they liked best was “the ability to bounce back”. The seminar heard of a radical proposal (an idea only) to ditch the usual system of grades for first-year students and instead award only a “pass” or a “fail” so they felt less pressured and able to collaborate, experiment and even play.

Our experiences in homes and offices tell us that openness and cooperation help make things work. Complex cooperation (the kind that is needed in increasingly complex workplaces) requires practice and skill. “Modern society is really, ironically, deskilling people from many of the competences they need to deal with a very complex world,” says sociologist Richard Sennett (author of Together: The Rituals, Pleasures and Politics of Cooperation). He wants classrooms to more often arrange themselves into groups of students who study together and talk about what they are learning face to face.

Our headlong rush into isolating technologies makes this more difficult, but Sennett finds that, where it does happen, students are better able to communicate and less accepting of economic inequality. As he puts it: the more unequal a society is, the less social it is.

At a forum on student engagement and success organised by my local Parents & Citizens Association this year, parents were divided into groups and asked three questions about what they wanted for their children by the end of high school: This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.Read More →

I am 69 and am considering obtaining a reverse mortgage lump sum with a bank and would like to understand the impacts on the age pension tests. As this is effectively me taking on debt, how does Centrelink treat the money? My questions: 1. Is the lump sum considered an asset? 2. Is any interest earned on the lump sum considered as income? 3. If I give part of the lump sum as a present to my son is it considered a gift? 4. If a gift, how does Centrelink deem the gift? As income or assets, or both? I am not interested in the government reverse mortgage scheme. Mine would be privately arranged. F.F.
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Reverse mortgages have not proven popular in Australia, possibly because the loan rates are significantly higher than standard variable mortgage rates. In its recent survey, research company Canstar listed only four on offer and their rates are Bankwest 6.2 per cent, CBA 6.37 per cent, Heartland Seniors Finance, Victoria, 6.19 per cent and P&N Bank, WA, 6.24 per cent.

Bankwest allows a loan up to 25 per cent of the property value, the others up to 20 per cent, while Bankwest and P&N only pay lump sums, the other two offering periodic payments. Google the survey results at “Canstar reverse mortgages”.

Under Centrelink rules, if you draw a lump sum from a reverse mortgage, up to $40,000 is exempt from the assets test for up to 90 days but is immediately subject to deeming by the income test until you spend it. You can gift $10,000 to your son before June 30 and another $10,000 in July and still fall within the gifting rules that restrict gifts to a maximum of $10,000 per financial year up to $30,000 over five consecutive years. Excess amounts are counted by both means tests for five years.

If you draw regular payments, they are not counted as income by the income test and, if spent immediately, say, to pay bills, have no affect on your age pension. But if the money builds up in your bank account, it is subject to the means tests.

Centrelink’s Pension Loans scheme (which one can also find on Google) has attracted criticism for being “just for the wealthy”, which I think is a little unfair.

Under the scheme, people who own their own home or investment property, can take out a loan via fortnightly payments to top up an age pension or, in limited cases, no pension, up to the maximum age pension rate, to be repaid when the property is sold. The current rate charged is 5.25 per cent.

The catch lies in the eligibility requirements. Property owners are eligible and only if he, she or their partner is of age pension age (which rises to 65.5 from July 1) and one or both receives a reduced, or zero age or veterans’ pension. The latter case must be due to the effect of one of either the income or the assets test, that is they get a loan if denied an age pension by one means test but not both.

In other words, you are not eligible if you either get the full pension or have too much income AND too many assets to get any pension at all. The latter restriction is obvious in that if someone is too well-off to get a part age pension under either test then the government has no place offering them a taxpayer-subsidised loan.

The former restriction, for the full pensioners, can be justified in that full pensioners are already getting an income stream equal to the maximum fortnightly loan available, without any need to pay anything back. The reverse argument, if you excuse the pun, is that people on a full pension are more likely to need a loan more urgently, although the counter argument is that a homeowner on a full pension is more likely to depend fully on the home as an asset to eventually fund a move into aged care.

I am a 61-year-old woman, single with no dependents. I own my unit and earn $65,000 a year of which I salary sacrifice $2200 per month to superannuation, which I will cease or reduce to $1500 a month after June 30. I have $730,000 in super with three fund managers, which forces me to scrutinise performance. I have some $324,000 in a portfolio of cash, shares and unit trusts. I would like to retire in early 2018 when I will be 62. I plan to carry out some renovations, replace my car and travel overseas once every one or two years. Do I have enough funds to retire? And when I do retire should I convert all (or only part of my super) to pension mode? K.S.

I estimate you are bringing in around $33,700 a year after tax and super contributions. If you retire with current assets and spend about $50,000 on a new (small) car and (minor) renovations, and $10,000 on a trip, you can expect to have around $1 million (and hopefully more) to fund your retirement.

If you are able to receive $33,700 after tax, or with no tax payable, from your portfolio, you will have sufficient for your life expectancy of 25 years plus a further five years if you are healthy, providing you don’t buy a Rolls Royce or go around the world on the Queen Mary more than once.

Since superannuation can provide you with a tax-free income, then I suggest you marshal as much cash as possible, without triggering any capital gains tax liability e.g. by selling shares, and place it into a super fund before June 30. The current maximum untaxed non-concessional contribution of $180,000 falls to $100,000 after June 30.

You can expect to receive income around $10,000 to $15,000 a year from your current non-super portfolio, which means you’ll need to draw a minimum 4 per cent pension from between a third to a half of your current super assets. If you have enjoyed the experience of running your non-super portfolio, have you considered running your own self-managed super fund?

How will the new super rules affect those on high defined benefits, such as retired prime ministers, judges and so on? I.M.

You’ll be pleased to know that “constitutionally protected” super funds are caught under the new rules. For example, concessional contributions to such funds will count towards the concessional contributions cap of $25,000 a year. Although they cannot result in an excess contribution to that fund (and this is true for all “capped defined benefit funds”), they may cause concessional contributions to other funds to breach the cap.

Constitutionally protected funds will also be subject to the $1.6 million “transfer balance cap” that limits the amount that can be used to produce an untaxed pension.

Are you still resenting the successful lawsuit launched by judges to exempt them from the old “surcharge” on super contributions that existed between 1996 and 2005? Now that was truly an act of the elite likely to cause resentment among us lesser folk.

If you have a question for George Cochrane, send it to Personal Investment, PO Box 3001, Tamarama, NSW, 2026. Help lines: Financial Ombudsman, 1300 780 808; pensions, 13 23 00.

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The interior trends you’ll be loving in 2017How to style your home for winterHow to create warmth in a large, vast space
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Growing up in a draughty farmhouse in a part of Australia with bone-chilling winters, the fireplace wasn’t just a charming addition to the living room – it was a necessary source of warmth and comfort.

In fact, some of my most vivid childhood memories are associated with it. The satisfaction of setting up a little pyramid of kindling and wood that took to the match relatively quickly; and the disappointment of the occasional log that smoked and hissed and refused to convert itself into a merry blaze despite the most liberal application of firelighters and crumpled-up newspaper.

On the weekends, I’d head out into the paddocks with my dad and watch as he chopped up fallen redgums with his chainsaw, often attracting a circle of curious Hereford cattle who observed our activities with limpid brown eyes.

And on especially cold days, we’d cook jaffles in the embers using cast-iron sandwich presses with long, thin handles.

Perhaps that’s why I’m unreasonably attached to the idea that a proper home must include a fireplace – and happily, I’m not alone.

Interior designer Miriam Fanning of Mim Design says that fireplaces (both traditional and gas) remain popular because our response to them is primal.

“A fireplace gives a sense of cosiness, even when it’s not on,” she says. “It evokes an emotion, which is really important.”

Aside from the obvious purpose of providing heat, a fireplace can serve a number of functions, Ms Fanning explains, providing an in-built statement that lends proportion to a space, helps zone areas in an open-plan design and acts as a natural focal point.

In living rooms with large TVs, a fireplace can be a welcome addition as it acts as an alternative locus of attention, she says.

For two recent projects, MAH Residence and DRF Residence (pictured), Ms Fanning surrounded the fireplaces in a soft, undulating curve finished with polished-wax plaster.

“[The fireplace] doesn’t have to be a hole in the wall,” she says. “You can really push the boundaries with it, because it is a statement piece.”

B.E??? Architecture is another firm that has channelled its creative energies into fireplace design in recent projects, with a whimsical reinterpretation of a traditional fireplace in the pre-existing Victorian section of its Winter Street project and a seriously minimalist granite version at its Walsh Street apartment development.

In terms of practical considerations, B.E Architecture principal Andrew Piva advises people dealing with one or more fireplaces in a renovation or new build to plan carefully.

Things to bear in mind include regulatory requirements (for example, regarding hearth size), the size of the room and simple things such as the proximity of curtains.

“It’s a lot better to plan it earlier on, rather than throwing it in at the last minute,” he says.

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Local designers desperate for reforms to protect their workDesigners share the inspiration behind projectsThe interior trends dominating 2017
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They’re the rising stars of interior design creating exciting new spaces in which to live, work and shop. Their work has the design world talking and the awards flooding in.

Here they shine a light on the projects that have put them on centre stage, revealing how they marry the creative process with their client’s vision. David Flack of Flack Studio in Melbourne

After just two years in his own studio, the young Swinburne graduate has retail, residential and overseas clients lining up to be ”Flackified”.

They find him through Instagram (he has 52,000 followers) and through word of mouth. With 18 projects on the go and another 20 in the wings, the future is bright for this creative dynamo who describes himself as ”slightly bonkers”.

Explaining his ethos, aka to ”Flackify”, his goal is to inject playfulness into exquisitely executed, textural detail. To create warm spaces and refined, beautifully edited rooms that celebrate heritage as well as natural surroundings.

When it comes to Flacktastic homes, David nominates a kitchen in Armidale where he used layers of brass, oak and marble to create ”casual grandeur”.

A lounge room in a ’70s Elsternwick home was modernised while paying homage to its original post-war style, using custom joinery (with a caramel stain that took a month to perfect) and statement artwork.

In a ”monotone” country home in Bendigo, Flack gave the space a signature colour hit using a blue rug from his own bespoke range.

“We are always contemporary but there is always a nod to another era – there’s always a twist or a turn and punches of colour. We definitely have our own style, people either love it or hate it,” says Flack, who designed the new Caravan restaurant in Seoul, South Korea, and has begun a large retail project in Shanghai.

Flack credits mentors Kerry Phelan and Fiona Lynch as influential in his success, which has been acknowledged with three places on the short-list of this year’s Australian Interior Design Awards.

“Every project looks different because of architecture but ultimately I want people turning the page of a magazine and saying that’s a Flack Studio design – we have a very strong language and look.” Claire Stevens of CSID in Brisbane

It didn’t take long for Claire Stevens’ talent to start turning heads. She was named Head of School on graduating from the Queensland University of Technology’s Bachelor in Interior Design, and, a year later, nabbed the Design Institute of Australia’s Emerging Student Designer award.

She went out on her own five years ago and has a portfolio of elegant and dazzling transformations under her belt. She’s in demand to work on everything from detail-rich, family-sized “Queenslanders” to Brisbane’s explosion in apartment developments.

Bringing clever design concepts to the rituals of daily life is a philosophy that informs most of her residential work. The ‘Indooroopilly residence’ by Claire Stevens Interior Design.Photo: Daniel Maddock

“Certain drawers that fit certain things like phones or keys, bathrooms and wardrobes that reflect people’s rituals, cupboards that include a place to plug in a vacuum cleaner, somewhere specific to put your shoes when you walk in the house – it’s about incorporating mundane things you do every day into a design,” said Claire.

A West End apartment project aimed to transform a ”cookie cutter” look by injecting some personality.

“In one long room we created three separate spaces with cabinetry to define a living area, dining and a library nook,” said Stevens. “It also provided a platform for displaying objects and artwork.”

A dream kitchen in an Indooroopilly Queenslander kept original timber detail in a contemporary update, resulting in a relaxed, luxe tropical vibe. “One of the joys of working with Queenslanders is they have a lovely sense of nostalgia and you don’t have to lose that if you modernise.” Cushla McFadden, Chloe Matters and Jade Nottage of TomMarkHenry in Sydney

Until now, grabbing the paper, shopping for sausages or waiting for your fish and chips could hardly be described as high-end design “experiences”.

But that was before this talent powerhouse got hold of three shops in Sydney that are wowing customers from Barangaroo to Double Bay. Architects at TomMarkHenry: Chloe Matters, Jade Nottage and Cushla McFadden. Photo: Damian Bennett

Bondi’s Best, a seafood takeaway and restaurant, now has a custom see-through fridge doubling as a work of art; the 1888 Butcher in Double Bay has turned the traditionally hidden ”prep” room into something of a theatre through the use of large windows; while workers at Barangaroo have their daily visit to a convenience store elevated with stone, arched shapes and elegant lighting.

“Our response to the briefs really challenged the perception of what those spaces should look and feel like,” said Cushla McFadden, who met her partners while all students.

“We thrive on and value the human connection – so we want customers to walk into a space and feel something different. We like to figure out how we can get customers to engage in a site and have that moment to appreciate the design, rather than just walk in and out.”

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Car park for sale in Melbourne: 2332/181 Exhibition Street Photo: Cocoon Real EstateSydney car space sells for $190kDriving the price of car parks upParking cash in a car space
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Think housing is expensive? What about this Sydney car space, on the market for a staggering $400,000?

For just over a third of the city’s median house price, you might want to sleep on this premium slab of concrete yourself. But instead it will be your car – or two – enjoying one of Sydney’s most sought-after locations.

The tandem spot, part of the Mantra 2 Bond Street complex, is just a short stroll from the ASX, The Rocks and the Sydney Opera House.

Seller Terence Chuh has had multiple inquiries, but says most potential buyers are searching for a single space, rather than a double.

“I think the last sale for a single car spot was $188,000 – that was about three-and-a-half years ago,” he says, noting that it’s rare for a car park to be sold on a separate title to an apartment.

Chuh says the building’s car parks generally fetch a monthly rent in “the high 900s” for a single car space, or about $1100 for tandems.

But he’s in no hurry to sell, believing his money is better off invested in car parking than earning low interest rates in the bank. If anything, he’s thinking about upping the price.

But at $400,000, surely he’s dreaming?

Actually, says Francis Armstrong, founder of website Findacarpark, the asking price is realistic. “The location is absolutely bang-on.”

Armstrong says when it comes to this type of investing, location is the number one factor.

“If you have a car park in the inner city it will always be rentable,” he says. “In fact the biggest challenge for us is actually stock.

“A car park is like gold – it’s a finite resource.”

A secondary consideration is access and security. Armstrong says a space with a roller door or secure door is valuable because it can double up as storage.

On his website, the most searched locations in NSW are Sydney, Woolloomooloo, North Sydney, Surry Hills and Darlinghurst. In Victoria it’s Melbourne, South Melbourne, East Melbourne, Docklands and Southbank.

According to Findacarpark’s statistics from the March quarter, the average price across New South Wales was $73,000 for a single car space, followed by Victoria on $51,000 and Queensland on $45,320.

Over the same timeframe, NSW car spaces – the most expensive on the site – recorded returns (or rental yield) of 6 per cent. In Victoria that figure was 9 per cent, eclipsed by Queensland and WA, both on 13 per cent.

Armstrong says several factors, including poor public transport options and new planning rules limiting the number of car parks in high-rise developments are also pushing car park prices skyward. “We’re seeing the ratio of car parks to apartments becoming less.”

If $400,000 is out of your league, there are a few cheaper options on offer.

This level two car park in Melbourne’s Docklands precinct is going for $57,000, featuring such amenities as a security bollard and easy access to the lifts.

In Liverpool, Sydney, a seller has advertised 10 car spaces (two have already sold) for $33,000 each on Gumtree.

A tiny, 10-square metre parking space in Sydney’s Liverpool Street – squished between a handrail and a concrete rail – sold for just over $60,000 in April, with the agent noting that most cars wouldn’t be able to even fit in the spot.

In Hindley Street Adelaide, close to the city’s casino and convention centre, you’ll have a better chance of being able to open your car door in this CBD car space, selling for $43,000.

Armstrong says Brisbane is another hot spot for car park sales because of poor council planning and expensive street metre parking.

” target=”_blank”>This Brisbane city car park, in Spring Hill, is on the market for $48,000.

So who actually buys car parks?

Armstrong says it can vary widely, from inner-city workers, to super funds, mum and dad investors and large investors.

As with buying any kind of property, buyers must fork out for stamp duty, council rates and body corporate or strata fees.

Beyond that, there’s virtually no upkeep ??? “unless you’ve got a bomb parked in your car park and it leaks oil, that’s all’,” says Armstrong.

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Southbank residents: Melbourne doesn’t know our suburbEuropean-style park coming to SouthbankWhat does it mean to be world’s most liveable city?
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There’s no doubt we’re experiencing a population explosion in the inner city and inner suburbs of Melbourne and why not? It’s the world’s most liveable city.

But one of the corollaries is that as density increases in the inner city, the pressing need to find open space gets more and more difficult.

In the past 25 years, I’ve seen Southbank go from a wasteland of old factories and warehouses to Melbourne’s densest suburb, and the only City of Melbourne suburb in Australia’s 20 densest suburbs.

That has meant that Southbank has less open space than any other postcode in the municipality, at just three square metres per resident.

Our 2015 Places for People report revealed that just 18 per cent of Southbank residents accessed open space locally compared with 90 per cent in Docklands and 31 per cent in the central city.

That’s why the City of Melbourne tries, wherever and whenever possible, to turn asphalt into green open space in the inner city: it’s for the benefit of those residents who are purchasing with the confidence of employment and recreation but not always on the basis of open space.

The most exciting of these projects in the city is Southbank Boulevard. We can, through an investment of $35 million, turn part of the road into a park that will be bigger than anything we have created since Birrarung Marr. Nearby Dodds Street has been partially closed for some time now, so to turn part of it to green space is a no brainer.

Traffic modelling indicates that the proposed changes would have minimal impact on parking and traffic in the area. In 1988, Southbank Boulevard carried 40,000 vehicles a day. The boulevard now carries 13,000 vehicles a day after direct access to the central city was closed following the construction of Queensbridge Square in 2001.

Equally, you can take existing spaces like University Square: one of the three traditional squares in Carlton and transform it from a fairly unloved and underutilised space into an extremely green space, even spilling over into the surrounding roadways, given there are no private dwellings adjacent to the square.

Some of the most exciting work we do is not on large scale projects such as these, however; it is identifying the small, underused, no longer needed roadways that can be turned into the smallest of pocket parks. If it’s unused roadway, still better to have it as park than as asphalt. Indeed, the City of Melbourne has converted around 80 hectares of underutilised asphalt and other infrastructure into expanded public open space over the last 30 years.

Finally, of course, in the coming years the largest open space project the city will be involved in will be the conversion of 1.5 hectares at the Queen Victoria Market from an asphalt car park (over the site of Melbourne’s first cemetery where there are still 6000-7000 bodies buried) into an open space immediately adjacent to the market. The space could be used for dining, restaurants, events or just enjoying yourself in a very large public open space immediately adjacent to the Flagstaff Gardens and in a precinct where we expect to see 12,000 new residents in the next five to six years.

Access to quality open space is integral to our quality of life and something that our forefather Charles La Trobe recognised at the time of Melbourne’s settlement when he set aside large parcels of land around the city for parks and open spaces which we enjoy to this day.

Melbourne lord mayor Robert Doyle is a regular Domain columnist. His fee for this article will be donated to Odyssey House Victoria.

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A burning candle with a coffin and a flower arrangement on the background in a mortuary generic funeral photo: candle, coffin and flowers Photo: FairfaxAustralia’s biggest funeral services provider, Invocare, is in the business of taking care of the business of the “departed”, and it is good to see the ASX-listed group’s board is taking this vocation seriously.
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One of the resolutions that will be presented to investors at this Friday’s shareholder meeting asks them to give the board a rubber stamp for the “approval of potential termination benefits” if a senior executive happens to have, well, departed.

Corporations law requires that a company get investor permission for any termination payout that is more than an executive’s fixed annual pay packet.

As the Australian Shareholders Association points out, the board is seeking a three-year pass instead of coming to investors on a case-by-case basis. Needless to say, the ASA is opposing this, along with the remuneration report and another granting performance rights to the chief executive, Martin “Wyatt” Earp.

It is all part of aligning the interests of executives and investors, according to the Richard Fisher-led Invocare board.

It wants to allow the vesting of performance rights post-employment if an executive’s termination has been deemed a “good departure”.

It says the rationale is to keep long-term incentives active – rather than shut them down upon the executive’s departure – to ensure they are “motivated to make decisions that will deliver long-term sustainable value for shareholders”.

The interesting bit is that “good departure” does not include an executive resigning to go to a better place. Instead, it covers a situation where one of its head undertakers retires, takes a bona fide redundancy or – heaven forbid – dies.

The latter, of course, represents a potentially tactful business opportunity for Invocare, which reported double-digit earnings growth last year despite “a lower than expected level of demand”. Wait in line

Sure, James Packer owns half of Crown Resorts, but the board has made clear it will not be playing favourites.

A Crown release to the ASX on Thursday announced that Packer has received all appropriate regulatory approvals needed for the billionaire to rejoin the board.

And he will rejoin the board – at the appropriate juncture.

“Mr Packer’s application for appointment as a director will be considered by the Crown Resorts board at its June or August board meeting,” said the statement from Crown’s board, led by Packer lieutenant John Alexander.

No rush, huh?

Packer must be breathing a sigh of relief, though, given the China crisis and the probe into gift-giving to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Israeli press have been reporting that charges are expected to be made within months. While there is no suggestion of wrongdoing by Packer, the close association with Netanyahu has not helped. The big stage

Former child actor and current Commonwealth Bank boss Ian Narev has been preparing for his big role of the year – announcing the Sydney Theatre Company’s results at its annual general meeting on Thursday evening.

As STC chairman, Narev reported that the consolidated group result – “including monies received towards capital raising” – was $2.31 million for last calendar year.

It “was a very strong year across our four stages and beyond”, said Narev, who spoke of highlights such as the Louis Nowra masterpiece The Golden Age.

The production might even have matched Narev’s starring role in Kiwi kiddies’ drama Children of Fire Mountain.

“This is a company of talented and dedicated people united by the common purpose of supporting the ambition, invention and success of Australian theatre-makers,” said Narev.

STC was supported by Malcolm Turnbull’s government through the Australia Council, but at least Narev doesn’t have to worry about Treasurer Scott Morrison hitting him with a super profits tax in return for this support.

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Last weekend I spent some time thinking about families and mothers in particular. They have a big job to do and they often need a second job to do it.
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My mother was no different. She had four children in war years and simply had to find paid work to supplement my father’s saw miller’s wage in order that we had basic housing and food.

But it was rarer in those days that mothers would have an additional paid job.

Now of course the majority of mums return to the workforce. I got chatting to a couple of them last weekend and I came to the conclusion that a lot of senior people in business and public service don’t realise how difficult it is to manage the competing demands of a young family and the requirements of the workplace.

Women who find themselves back in a paying job are, more often than not, very highly motivated people with relentlessly busy lives and I don’t think we are making it easy for them.

I thought my conversation with these two successful middle-class women would have been dominated by the effects of the budget, negative gearing, superannuation and all the other big financial policy issues that have been in and out of the headlines for the last month or so.

But they weren’t their concerns at all. They were worried about managing a tight schedule of childcare with their paid job and trying to balance a budget that includes a complex bureaucratic array of rebates and benefits. They also had real fears about their mortgage payments, level of debt, job security, the rising cost of food and no wage increase for more than half a dozen years.

Their concerns boil down to a deeply worrying feeling that their family’s future is not secure in the way it once seemed to be.

Any wonder therefore that Treasurer Scott Morrison’s best go at economic wisdom didn’t give him much of a bounce when it landed. He’s just not talking about what a huge section of our society is worried about.

We have an economy that has been through a decade-and-a-half of boom time like nothing we’ve seen since the gold rush of the 19th century. It’s been a time of plenty without any hard landing because money has been freely available. You could borrow with low interest and it wasn’t too hard to pay back.

But those days are over and working people, especially women, know that. They also know that our leaders don’t really understand them especially when they try to convince the community they have moved to the middle of the road. As one famous Texan politician said, “The only things in the middle of the road is a white line and dead armadillos”.

“Or rabbits in our land of plenty,” pipes up Louise.

We’re crushing the confidence out of our own people with a combination of bureaucracy, weak political leadership steeped in spin and irrelevant gobbledegook. It was Woody Allen who said: “I believe there is something out there watching over us. Unfortunately, it’s the government.”

We are over-governed and under-led at every level – national, state and local ??? with some exceptions!

The feeling of an insecure future really kicked off with the GFC and we have never recovered. And nothing any leader has said has created confidence that our institutions can handle what confronts us.

Families know that the very structure of day-to-day life has changed. Grandparents, aunties, uncles and brothers and sisters don’t live around the corner anymore and with half of all marriages ending in divorce, mothers and fathers can end up living in different cities. As a result, childcare has been corporatised and almost forced out of the reach of ordinary people. One example I just discovered is a family that is paying $1000 a week to keep their two kids full-time in childcare so they can hold down their jobs. And they need to be very well paid ones to have something worthwhile left over.

Our regular working families know that we all face in our own lives a big structural problem of lengthening lifespan, shrinking workforce, high debt, low wage growth and a threatened environment.

They also know that we are in gridlock trying to fix the situation.

Louise is keen that we learn from the gallant emperor penguin. You can do your own research, but basically mum lays the egg then leaves for holiday while dad spends four months in the freezing Antarctic winter hatching the new offspring. Mum returns in the spring with a job of being mum all done by dad, while losing 45 per cent of his body weight keeping out the cold. The emperor of course, had no clothes.

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