Archive for 2020

Who will be the next Frank Lowy or Rupert Murdoch?

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – MARCH 15: Mike Cannon- Brookes, Atlassian talks with the afr’s Paul Smithat the n Financial Review Business Summit 2016 at the Grand Hyatt Melbourne on March 15, 2016 in Melbourne, . (Photo by Josh Robenstone/Fairfax Media)Retail shopping centre king Frank Lowy is getting out, Rupert Murdoch is set to do much the same thing.
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These n post-war empire builders, and others like the Pratt and Packer families, Gina Rinehart and Andrew Forrest have amassed their fortunes by either dominating their respective industries in , or digging up ore.

But who will replace them?

Other members of ‘s club of the uber wealthy are Stan Perron, Harry Triguboff and John Gandel – all of them property developers.

There many never be another generation of billionaire traditional industrialists, who make their fortunes by conquering our local market.

Technology has fostered a new level of dominance, but at a global rather than a local level. Take Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Netflix chief Reed Hastings, or even Tesla’s colourful billionaire boss, Elon Musk.

There will be new n billionaires – there already are – but rather than building their empire here and then maybe venturing offshore, they will need to straight away act on a world stage, and their competition will be global.

At its simplest, technology and the corporate giants that dominate that space have been eating away at the businesses that the likes of Lowy and Murdoch built.

Amazon and the other large digital retailers have undermined the owners of bricks and mortar property – on which Lowy built his fortune. The digital distribution of television and movie content by operators like Netflix have pulled the rug from traditional operators like Murdoch. Online advertising behemoths like Google have decimated the traditional print and television businesses that Murdoch created.

The AFR’s Young Rich list for 2017 shows very clearly where the newly created wealth is coming from. Top of the list is the duo of Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar whose Nasdaq-listed software development group, Atlassian, has grown into a global $10 billion player.

Dave Greiner and Ben Richardson, who are next on the list, created an email marketing firm, Campaign Monitor. Running down the list, all but two of the top ten are about technology-based products or services.

It’s a fair guess that in five years time the rich lists will be more heavily dominated by entrepreneurs that have built companies by disrupting the traditional empires created over the past 50 years.

For example, fintech disruptors will eat away at parts of the market that have long been dominated by the banks.

In retail, Ruslan Kogan has already made the young rich list by growing his online enterprise and become a thorn in the side of traditional retail companies like Harvey Norman and its largest shareholder, billionaire Gerry Harvey.

But it remains to be seen whether Kogan himself can continue to prosper as Amazon builds up its business in .

And TPG’s David Teoh has amassed billions by disrupting the telecommunications market.

Our success in growing and nurturing a new breed of n innovators will be crucial to whether we can capitalise on our well-educated workforce, rather than rely on digging up minerals, building infrastructure and providing holidays for international tourists.

The extent to which the post-war industrialists will keep a legacy through the generations is not so clear.

The Pratt family has grown its wealth following the death of its patriarch, Dick, while James Packer has had a more patchy record in the period since his father Kerry died. His major success was recognising the challenges of traditional media, which arguably saved the Packer empire.

Packer’s casino business, which has now been restructured and refocused on its domestic properties, should be fairly bullet-proof. He understands the digital disruption to gaming and has been growing Crown’s online assets.

Andrew Forrest and Gina Rinehart have made or grown their fortunes through iron ore. Rinehart has had a difficult and litigious relationship with most of her children, so where that fortune ultimately ends up if difficult to predict. Forrest has already made it clear that most of his billions will go to charity.

Frank Lowy’s boys, now in their late 50s and 60s, have proved themselves adept at shopping centre management – but following the sale of their family’s shopping center empire they will take a back seat and hold a passive investment in its acquirer, Unibail.

If Rupert Murdoch sells the majority of his assets to Disney – as is widely expected – his son James is speculated move across to Disney while his elder son Lachlan will retain his position in what remains of the Murdoch business.

The digital revolution has opened up opportunities for a different style of entrepreneur to build their fortunes.

If they remain in they can replace the Lowys and the Murdochs as our home grown success stories.

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FFA dismisses approach for World Cup winning coach

Football Federation have dismissed an approach for Luiz Felipe Scolari to become the next Socceroos’ coach despite the Brazilian World Cup winning coach claiming they were interested in him.
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The FFA denied the Brazilian’s claims they spoke with Scolari about taking charge of the national team for the 2018 World Cup, with senior officials suggesting his claims have been fuelled by agents. But it’s understood Scolari is one of several candidates on their radar.

“There has been a high number of expressions received, some very high profile but we are just commencing our process now,” FFA’s head of national performance, Luke Casserly said.

The Brazilian announced his candidacy on Wednesday morning, saying that he would be interested in taking charge of after recently ending his three-season spell with Chinese giants Guangzhou Evergrande. Scolari says he was spoken to about the Socceroos job but would only be interested if it was for a longer term project beyond just the World Cup in June.

“I am one of the names they spoke with … to see if I was interested in taking them to the World Cup,” Scolari told Reuters on Tuesday.

“I don’t intend in just taking a team to the World Cup,” the former Chelsea manager said.

“I intend on leading a team with an organised project for one or two years. But I am interested.”

Fairfax Media understands the FFA has been bombarded by applications for the job and agents putting forward high-profile candidates. However, the organisation is yet to open discussions with any potential coaches. Its external advisory panel will make recommendations on who Ange Postecoglou’s replacement should be. A shortlist will be devised but it’s unlikely any appointment will be made until February.

The panel, which includes former Socceroos Mark Schwarzer, Mark Bresciano and Stan Lazaridis, met for the first time on Wednesday to begin devising the criteria for the next coach of .

There is no immediate rush to make an appointment with the Socceroos not scheduled to play again until a yet-to-be-confirmed friendly in mid-March.

At the top of the FFA’s wish list is 62-year-old Argentinian coach Marcelo Bielsa, whose attacking style influenced Postecoglou and Matildas’ coach Alen Stajcic. Bielsa is a free agent after being sacked by Lille but is regarded as somewhat of a risky replacement given his volatile results with clubs and countries. Bielsa had successful stints with Chile and Athletic Bilbao but oversaw a disappointing spell while at Lille.

German coach Jurgen Klinsmann is another linked with the job and has close ties to Football Federation forged during his tenure as coach of USA between 2011 and 2016. Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold remains the frontrunner for the job and boldly declared his criteria of what the next coach of the national team should be judged upon at a press conference last week.

Italian Gianni De Biasi has been reportedly linked with , so too Iran coach Carlos Quieroz and former Saudi Arabia and Netherlands coach Bert Van Marwijk.

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Is Canberra on track for a bumper year?

A renewed confidence has shone on the Canberra property sector throughout 2017 and it looks set to continue.
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The current state of the market is a far cry from the shakiness that was displayed only a few years ago. The conditions reflected the underperforming local economy and public sector job cuts that undoubtedly hampered buyer and seller confidence. Certainty has returned following this period of sluggish growth that was experienced in 2013-14.

Sellers have had good reason to feel more confident this year: the 2017 March quarter notched the highest annual house price gain since 2010, almost achieving double-digit growth at 9.9 per cent. The strong annual gain during the March quarter pushed the median house price above $700,000 for the first time. Sydney house prices broke a $700,000 median in 2013 and Melbourne in 2015.

The September quarter fell marginally behind the March peak, pushing Canberra’s median house price to a new high of $714,975, moving ahead by 9.1 per cent a year. The annual growth recorded over the September 2017 quarter set Canberra as the third top performing n city. Melbourne and Hobart were the only cities to record double-digit annual growth in the September quarter. Canberra’s track record so far this year provides the foundations for robust house price gain in the final quarter of 2017.

More than a year has passed since the Reserve Bank of moved interest rates lower: the further away from a rate cut the less capacity it has to spark market activity, fuel the housing market and prices. Despite the banks decision to make out-of-cycle rate hikes, comparatively interest rates are low, which has helped to maintain an element of momentum in the Canberra housing market.

This momentum is evident through the elevated level of demand. Mortgage commitments jumped annually by 7.1 per cent to almost 11,000 owner-occupied loans financed in the ACT during the first ten months of the year, providing an additional 726 buyers compared to 2016. Entry-level participation provided the biggest boost, with a further 448 first-home buyers and 278 changeover buyers compared to the corresponding period the year prior. During the five months to October, first-home buyers have accounted for about 20 per cent of the owner-occupied mortgage commitments financed. This has provided the highest entry-level participation rate since 2013.

Market buoyance is anticipated to remain in to 2018 – dependent upon monetary policy and local economic conditions. Aggressive interest-rate hikes could dash the buyer and seller sureness evident in the current market. Realistically, a forceful rate move is unlikely given the lack of wages growth and the nation’s rising household debt. These have been two key considerations that have impacted the board’s decision to kept official cash interest rates at 1.5 per cent since August 2016.

The great debate remains heated as when the next rate hike will take place. If the speculative rate rise ensues and wages growth remains flat, it will create a tough environment for homeowners, particularly for those who have overextended. Several notable economists have tipped a rate move north during the latter part of 2018. Forecasts constantly alter but one theme that appears consistent is the prediction of rate hikes further into 2018 and perhaps even 2019.

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letters to the editor December 15 2017

JUST SUPER: John Freund of Adamstown argues that parts of the city are beginning to re-open after Supercars, marking time to reap the rewards of upgraded infrastructure.IN the last year major council works have been carried out all over Newcastle. Thankfully much of this work was and is being carried around our Newcastle beach area. The Bathers Way is a work in progress, winding up through King Edward Park to join up with the Strzelecki lookout.
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Over that time major road works are still being carried out. Meanwhile Watt Street and some roads in Newcastle East have had work done to improve road safety and general appearance.

Also in the last twelve months plans for the most unique sporting event to ever happen in Newcastle were launched. Supercars were coming to town. This town has many motorsport enthusiasts, and we have had to wait a long time for something this great to happen. We saw plans for a track that was world class, and yet unique with the way it challenged drivers and at the same time put Newcastle on the world map. I want to live here, and I am proud to be a Novocastrian of a few decades who has seen both good and bad changes in my time.

So a few trees were removed? Ithappens a lot around here. Some grass was damaged, some by vandals and some by entertainment coming to town. This council has been proactive and will restore our parks and gardens as quickly as possible. I am a patient person and look forward to the roads all opening up, the grass growing back near Wharf Road and all the litter ending up at the tip.Let’s get Newcastle looking great again, welcome tourists and visitors and visit East End businesses toshow we care.

John Freund,Adamstown HeightsSAVE IT FOR RESCUERSA GREATgroup of volunteers, hell bent on keeping an eye on the boating public, had the most convenient of locations at Shepherds Hill (“New dawn for historic Shepherds Hill house”, Herald 11/12).

This location gave these tremendous volunteers an overview of the area they were servicing with up to date visual confirmation of theconditions of the sea. This location could easily be repaired and returned to these volunteers at probably not much cost to Newcastle Council.

The boating public, who avail themselves of this wonderful service, I have no doubt, would gladly gather and repair and rebuild the cottage to then allow these wonderful people the opportunity to return to their former base.

Marine Rescue Newcastle commander Ron Calman is the most dedicated man I have had the pleasure to know.His whole life has been dedicated to the protection of the boating public, and he deserves to be able to take his crew back home.

Come on, Newcastle council; don’t put the mighty dollar in front of these mighty volunteers. Give them a chance to rehabilitate their base.

Dave Watson,DungogBAY NEEDS MORE CAR BAYSSTEVE Barnett’s comments on Nelson Bay’s parking problems (Short Takes 12/12) have merit.

The responsibility belongs to council.

A start is to allow new tenders for the two sites, this time with ample advertising and time for interested parties to do due diligence. Entering the area is typical of country areas you see all over ,tired towns neglectedby council staff for years.

Look to the entry to the Maitland CBD:flags, proper monument demonstrating entry to the city. Salamander’s sign is hidden by overgrowth. What about Nelson Bay’s sign? I’m not sure about Steve’s comment ‘Let council do their job’ -is there a hidden agenda for the cemetery?

Leave the cemetery alone. It is not the entrance to the bay.As some would say, it’s the departure area. Either way, it’s tidier than other areas. Do you want to get rid of the funeral business as well?

Let’s see a bit of class on entry to Salamander and Nelson Bay.Corporate and businesses please have a say and let the do-gooders sit quietly on this one.

De Sharp, Nelson BayWE WON’T HAVE THE POWERTHE redevelopment of the 1680-megawattLiddellpower stationwith renewables and gas power(“Closure an opening for renewable energy”,Herald11/12)deserves further analysis.

Theproposed 1600 megawattsof renewables is a nameplate value only. Actual delivered power would average only about 400mwat bestgoing by present performance ofwind andsolar farms. Some days almost nothing would be generated.

Even so, the amount of land required for thatnameplate farm would far exceed what is available at the Liddell site.The 500mwgas power plant and the 250mwgas plant for Newcastle (where is that located?) were not described further. Both are very small units and probably would be open-cycle plants that are not very cost-efficient generators. Ahugeamount of greenhouse gases would still be emitted.

The 250MW battery, more than twice the size of the token battery in South , would be the world’s biggest. Even so, that would be 250 megawatthours,which could power NSW for twominutes.

Those numbers don’t add up to replacing the coal station’s 1680MW reliable, cheap power.It is all looking, apart from the 500MW gas plant, very hypothetical.

The repeated call for NSW to have 100% renewable electricity by 2030 is farcical nonsense, all but impossible to achieve in the timeframe.

Peter Devey,MerewetherWHY NOT BUILD IT TO LASTI cannot believe the government is hell bent on demolishing Allianz and ANZ stadiums only to replace them with something similar. It truly beggars belief.

I have not been to ANZ for about two years but have been regularly to Allianz for rugby matches. I have found this stadium to be one of the best for watching any football either from the general admission seats or corporate box.

Surely something completed in 1988 is not worn out to the point of a need to demolish and rebuild.Same goes for ANZ, we only held the “best ever Olympics” there just 17 years ago.All government projects just keep blowing out, perhaps this will cost us $3-4 billionby the time of completion.

A lot of country towns would appreciate $1 millionfor sporting facilities but the funds can’t be found.

Thank God we had real politicians, engineers and builders in the past or we may have had need to demolish the Sydney harbour bridge and build a new one.

Jim Weston,Raymond Terrace

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Great summer reads

DOES the world need another telling of the tragic tale of doomed 19th century explorers Burke and Wills?Their ambitious venture was to try to cross the harsh n continent, from south to north, from Melbourne to the Gulf of Carpentaria, a distance of more than 3000 kilometres in 1860-61.
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PETER FITZSIMONS: Burke & Wills, Hachette , $49.99.

I was of the generation who learned all about these famous heroic failures, Robert O’Hara Burke and surveyor William Wills, while at school too long ago now to remember.Then came the 1985 film starring Jack Thompson as the brave but tragically flawed Burke. It recorded disappointing box office returns. Maybe its lacklustre performance might have something to do with what a critic said at the time, something like: “I don ‘t think audiences want to see a film about two guys dying in the desert”.

That said, there are newer Aussie generations, plus newcomers to our shores, who have probably neverheard this tragic tale.

So, despite my initial misgivings, in the masterly hands of prolific n storyteller Peter FitzSimons, Burke & Wills proves to be a compelling narrative.

Burke & Wills is a sprawling saga, impressively researched and written in FitzSimons’ inimitable, idiosyncratic style. It’s a hefty 700 pages, well-illustrated and infused with enormous detail. The 19-member expedition was farewelled by 15,000 well-wishers but was weighed down with 20 tons of equipment on six wagons. Add to this 23 horses and 26 camels.O’Hara Burke was totally lacking in bush skills to lead such a bold expedition. Then came serious disputes, plus having to tackle the hostile environment. Later through bad timing, three of the final four expedition party died, left stranded in the wilderness with almost no supplies. FitzSimons reports that a grim, running joke in the prestigious Melbourne Club afterwards was that Burke was its only member “who ever died of thirst”.

CHRIS MASTERS: No Front Line, published by Allen & Unwin, $32.99.

Award-winning journalist Chris Masters reckons his latest book – set in war-torn Afghanistan – is as tough an investigation as he has ever undertaken.And despite its recent controversy on publication, time may well judge his book, No Front Line, as one of the most important ever penned about our special forces in combat zones.

The meticulously researched book tells what it’s like to be a member of the nation’s elite fighters whose work is often secret. Little wonder Masters’ extraordinary book took 10 years to write.

Rather than take a broad view of the Afghanistan war and the deeper politics involved, Masters, seeking truth and balance, gives us a forensic examination of the individual silent heroes at the pointy end of fighting missions.

Through extensive interviews, the author even managed tobecome the first and only reporter to be embedded with n Special Forces.

The recent book controversy concerns what’s been described as an unwarranted attack on some soldiers, although the book’s manuscript was read and vetted by the n Defence Force over sensitive issues like operational security and protecting identities.

n Victoria Cross winner Ben Roberts-Smith, however, has criticised the book for the way it portrays the Special Air Service (SAS).He’s even described it as “un-n” and “bewildering” and certainly not an official SAS history.

His anger stems from the aftermath of a clandestine SAS mission back in 2006 when an Afghan teen suspected as working as an enemy Taliban “spotter”, and who threatened to expose the SAS patrol, was killed.

Retired Air Chief Marshal Sir Angus Houston, however, described the sudden and intense combat experience capturing the highs, the lows and courage of our n soldiers as making for a “remarkable book”. I wouldn’t disagree.

ROLAND PERRY: Monash & Chauvel, Allen & Unwin, $34.99.

There are two brilliant Aussie battlefield commanders from World War I who deserve greater acknowledgment today.Writer Roland Perry has come to the rescue with Monash & Chauvel.

Subtitled ‘How ’s two greatest generals changed the course of world history’, the book traces the emergence of both men who played a huge role in defeating the German and Turkish forces in the Great War (1914-1918).

Harry Chauvel led the 34,000 strong Desert Mounted Column whose efforts are largely remembered for the successful, almost suicidal, charge on the strategic town of Beersheba in October 1917 and then the final drive in 1918 to push the Turks out of the Middle East after a 400-year occupation

Chauvel was a British Empire man first and an n second. That changed when he took the war initiative by ignoring his British superiors.

The other outstanding general was John Monash who commanded n forces on the Western Front in 1918 and masterminded crucial battles. Considered an outsider because of his German Jewish heritage, he devised tactics to break the stalemate of brutal trench warfare, including successfully re-using the discredited strategy of ‘oversized mechanical slugs’ (tanks) and always giving his men adequate artillery support to save lives.

Monash and his warrior force of diggers, all volunteers, were the driving force in defeating the German Army, a fact the Germans themselves admitted, Perry writes.

Meanwhile, General Chauvel was overshadowed in the 1920s and 1930s by the writings of T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia), followed by a brilliant, if romanticised 1962 movie based on the book which distorted events in the Middle East war of 1915 to 1919.In reality, Lawrence’s war was a valuable sideshow. Chauvel and his Anzac-dominated werethe main force behind the defeat of two Turkish armies in Palestine, Jordan and Syria.

A long, but fascinating account.

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ABC launches new radio show dedicated to rural affairs

The ABC is launching a new country-wide rural affairs program three years after axing Radio National’s Bush Telegraph.
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The new radio show is expected to hit the airwaves on January 22. Like its national predecessor, it will provide in-depth news and analysis of issues important to rural and regional ns.

The show is tentatively titled The Dirt and is set to be hosted by Perth-based broadcaster Sinead Mangan. It will be broadcast on all regional ABC radio stations from 6.05pm to 6.30pm Monday through to Friday, before being replayed on Radio National and Radio .

Bush Telegraph was given the chop under the leadership of previous managing director Mark Scott. Current director Michelle Guthrie said she wanted to renew the broadcaster’s focus on rural and regional , recently announcing a swathe of new jobs outside the capital cities.

But the new program has left some within the ABC scratching their heads and wondering why Bush Telegraph was axed in the first place.

The national broadcaster received numerous calls and emails after the axing was announced, with one columnist for The Weekly Timesarguing it was like the ABC had just bombed “the bridge crossing the rural-city divide”.

“I don’t think this new format will be set up to achieve the same sorts of things or have the same sorts of discussions as Bush Telegraph,” one ABC employee said.

Another regional ABC employee questioned why the program was going to be called The Dirt, arguing the title had negative connotations and potentially stereotyped country life.

“They may as well call it the pumpkin half-hour,” the employee mused.

The program’s name, however, has not been set in stone and the ABC has called for feedback, as well as story ideas. An ABC spokeswoman said the 25-minute show will provide people in rural and regional communities a “strong voice in national conversations”.

“Bush Telegraph played an important role in explaining rural issues to largely metropolitan audiences on Radio National, however all programs on ABC networks are subject to review and change,” she said.

“The new current affairs program will attract higher audiences and will be directed at regional audiences, reflecting their issues and concerns via the regional radio network. These stories will also be told to national and international audiences.

“The new team will have access to stories from the whole regional reporting team – news and features reporters, as well as rural reporters – commissioning content not just for the radio program but online [and] mobile too.”


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Anchorage Marina upgrades unveiled at opening ceremony

A $3 million upgrade of the Anchorage Marina is now complete – and justin time for the busy summer holiday period.
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Twenty-two new berths have been created at the Corlette marina, specifically designed for large and luxury boats up to 66ft.

Speaking at the official opening ceremony on Wednesday morning, marina co-owner Greg Shandfrom Barana Group said the Anchorage tookadvantage of the winter months to push the upgrade’s completion through in time for the upcoming season.

New-look marina officially open | photos, video Port Stephens Mayor Ryan Palmer with Anchorage marina owners Greg Shand and Allan Vidor cutting the ribbon.

Mel Turner from Moonshadow-TQC, Port Stephens councillor Glen Dunkley, mayor Ryan Palmer and Tomaree Business Chamber president Leah Anderson on board Moonshadow IV on Wednesday morning.

On board Moonshadow IV on Wednesday morning.

On board Moonshadow IV on Wednesday morning.

Moonshadow-TQC skipper James McArthur.

The Anchorage.

Mel Turner taking a photo of the new-look Anchorage Marina.

The new fuel station at the Anchorage Marina.

Docking the Moonshadow IV at the new-look Anchorage Marina.

Docking the Moonshadow IV at the new-look Anchorage Marina.

Departing the Moonshadow IV at the new-look Anchorage Marina.

Patrick Whetter, manager of Anchorage Marina.

Docking the Moonshadow IV at the new-look Anchorage Marina.

Docking the Moonshadow IV at the new-look Anchorage Marina.

The new-look Anchorage Marina.

Marina owner Greg Shand speaking at the opening ceremony on Wednesday.

Moonshadow IV at the new-look Anchorage Marina.

Patrick Whetter, manager of Anchorage Marina, speaking with Mayor Ryan Palmer and councillor Glen Dunkley.

Port Stephens Mayor Ryan Palmer speaking at Wednesday’s opening ceremony.

Port Stephens Mayor Ryan Palmer with Anchorage marina owners Greg Shand and Allan Vidor cutting the ribbon. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

Attendees of Wednesday’s opening ceremony.

Departing the marina.

Farewelling the Anchorage Marina from the Moonshadow IV.


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Rodney Lawrence sentenced for role in murder of Elizabeth “Betty” Dixon in Ashtonfield in 1982

Betty’ Dixon’s murder: Rodney Lawrence walks free from court QUESTIONS: From left: Rodney Lawrence heads into Newcastle Supreme Court on Wednesday. Danielle Martin (middle) and her mother Ann Martin (right) outside court after the sentence. And Elizabeth “Betty” Dixon.
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Rodney Lawrence walks out of Newcastle courthouse on Wednesday a free man after being sentenced for his role in the murder of Elizabeth Dixon. Picture: Darren Pateman/AAP

A file photograph of Elizabeth “Betty” Dixon and the scene of her murder.

GRIEVING: From left: Elizabeth “Betty” Dixon’s sister, Ann Martin, Siobhan Veitch, and Elizabeth Dixon’s niece, Danielle Martin, leaving Newcastle courthouse after the sentence. Danielle Martin said the family was “gutted”. Picture: Darren Pateman/AAP

GRIEVING: Elizabeth “Betty” Dixon’s sister, Ann Martin, outside Newcastle courthouse after the sentence on Wednesday. Picture: Darren Pateman/AAP

GRIEVING: Elizabeth “Betty” Dixon’s niece, Danielle Martin, leaving Newcastle courthouse after the sentence. Ms Martin said the family was “gutted”. Picture: Darren Pateman/AAP

TweetFacebook Rodney Lawrence walks out of Newcastle courthouse on Wednesday a free man after being sentenced for his role in the murder of Elizabeth Dixon. Picture: Darren Pateman/AAP THE family of murder victim Elizabeth “Betty” Dixon say they are “gutted” that the man who kept her killer’s secret for more than 30 years has walked free from Newcastle Supreme Court.

And Danielle Martin, Ms Dixon’s niece, said the family are still desperate for answers about what happened to the popular Northern Irish lass – who was found tied up and brutally stabbed 27 times in her car at Ashtonfield on April 6, 1982–and remain “dubious” about the version Rodney Lawrence told his son and thendetectives after decades of silence.

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RODNEY LAWRENCE GUILTYFAMILY NEED ANSWERS“There are too many inconsistencies with the story,” Ms Martin said tearfully outside Newcastle courthouse on Wednesday.

“He hasn’t come clean at all with what’s happened.”

Lawrence walked out of courta free man on Wednesday after Justice Ian Harrison sentenced him to a maximum of two years and four months in jail, with a non-parole period of 18 months and five days –the period he hadspent on remand awaiting a murdertrial.

Last month, onthe first day of his trial, Lawrence pleaded guilty to the backup charge that he assisted the murderer after the fact and the prosecution dropped the murder charge.

Since breaking his silence, Lawrence has alwaysclaimed another man, who has since died, was responsible, and that the murderer put a knife to his throat, threatened him and made him help dispose of Ms Dixon’s body and her car in the bush.

But after the sentence on Wednesday, Ms Dixon’s family said they were still waiting forLawrence to “tell the truth”.

But Justice Harrison said he accepted Lawrence’s version that hewas“threatened or coerced” into helping dump Ms Dixon’s body.

Justice Harrison also said he was satisfied that following Lawrence’s guilty plea that“the long awaited truth has now been revealed”.

That truth, according to Lawrence, who was represented by Public Defender John Fitzgerald,was that he wasasleep in the back seat of the murderer’s car after drinking with him at the George and Dragon Hotel at Greenhills on the night of April 3, 1982.

He said the murderer, who cannot be identified,drove to a location where he said he was meeting someone.

But Lawrence said when the man returned to the car he woke him up and said he had“just killed someone”.

Lawrence claims he told him he“didn’t want anything to do with it”, but the murderer threatened him with a knife and told him he would kill him if he didn’t help out.

Lawrence claims they went to Ms Dixon’s unit where he saw her body. He then tied her hands and helped move her into the boot of her car.

When Lawrence asked why he killed Ms Dixon, the man replied:“Because she called me an old man.“No one calls me an old man.”

But there were anumber of troubling aspects to Lawrence’s version of events.

Firstly, a forensic pathologist who examined Ms Dixon’s body in 1982 opined that her hands were tied before her death.

Also, Ms Dixon’s sister, Ann Martin, told police she repeatedly went to Ms Dixon’s Metford unit during the time she was missing and found nothing was out of place.

Outside court on Wednesday, Danielle Martin,who was flanked by her mother, AnnMartin, said Lawrence was“just as guilty” as the killer.

“That part that he has played in this,” she said.

“It’s not just to apparently help somebody, which is dubious.

“He has kept going with that and he had 20 years before he even came good with his story, he had time to decide what he wanted to say.”

Justice Harrison saidMs Dixon’s family would have been“literally tormented” by the uncertainty of what happened to her.

But he said Lawrence had“undoubtedly carried the terrible burden of his special knowledge”, with thelonger he remained silent, the harder it would have become to divulge the truth.

He concluded that Lawrence’s 18 months and five days on remand was punishment enough for his decades of silenceand Lawrence walked free from court.

Ms Martin,said the family were“gutted” that Lawrence was sentenced to time already served.

“It was nowhere near long enough for what he actually admitted to doing,” Ms Martin said.

“We’ve just done everything that we can and there is nothing else we can do.

“A man that did a lot of things that were verywrong gets away scot-free.”

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Uniting Church concerned about ATO not safeguarding holiday workers

The Uniting Church has criticised the n Tax Office for failing to provide a safeguard against employers that illegally underpay backpackers and avoid paying enough tax.
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The n Tax Office has decided against publishing the names of employers registered to pay the backpacker tax.

A ministerial submission by the ATO released to the Uniting Church under Freedom of Information laws says “employer registration information will not be displayed on the n Business Register ABN lookup tool”.

Under the Treasury Laws Amendment (Working Holiday Maker Reform) Bill 2016, which has not yet been debated, employers of working holiday makers are required to register with the ATO and confirm what rate they could expect to be taxed.

When it introduced the bill, the federal government said backpackers would be able to look up employers via ABN Lookup, making the register publicly accessible.

Mark Zirnsak, director of justice with the Uniting Church Synod of Victoria and Tasmania said the Federal Government should stick to its original promise to let backpackers know which employers have registered to pay the correct tax.

“Backpackers suffer as a result of being exploited and the community suffers due to loss of tax revenue to fund things like schools, hospitals, mental health services and aged care,” Mr Zirnsak said.

“It is completely unacceptable for the ATO to act as if the government has gotten its secrecy law for the employers of backpackers through the parliament.

“The government should abandon its secrecy bill and ask the ATO to implement a proper public register of those employers of backpackers who are doing the right thing on wages and taxes.”

Labor MP Andrew Leigh, the Shadow Assistant Treasurer, wrote to the Commissioner of Taxation Chris Jordan to ask if the Treasurer had advised the ATO not to publish the employer register as originally proposed.

In his reply to Mr Leigh, Mr Jordan said at this point in time he has “chosen not to make an employer’s working holiday maker registration publicly available”.

He said he had the discretion “to make certain information publicly available”.

A spokesman for the ATO said as the Registrar of the n Business Register (ABR), the Commissioner was “exercising his discretion not to make an employer’s working holiday maker registration publicly available”.

Mr Leigh said needed transparency to reduce the exploitation of vulnerable workers, “but the government is creating the opposite”.

“This has been a fiasco from the beginning, when the so-called “Backpacker Tax” first appeared in 2015. The government is denying working holiday makers something they promised, a public register that allows for visa holders to review who is registered for the program,” Mr Leigh said.

“The government can send a clear signal to the Tax Commissioner by immediately removing this dodgy policy from the notice paper.

” has some of the greatest attractions in the world for young globetrotters – our workplace laws should be among them.”

A spokesman for the Treasurer Scott Morrison said the bill was proposed by Senator Leyonhjelm.

“The government agreed to introduce the amendment after reaching an agreement with the senator to pass the original WYHM legislation. The government will honour its commitment,” the spokesman said.

“This commitment did not extend to the successful passage of the amendment.

“The government is committed to protecting the rights of backpackers and protecting them from exploitation.

“We provided additional funding to the ATO and FWO to assist with ongoing compliance initiatives and to address exploitation of working holiday makers.”

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Postcodes: Griffith, 2603

Established in 1927, with tree-lined streets and prestigious old-style brick homes, Griffith represents the quintessential Old Canberra suburb.
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Formerly named south Blandfordia, the inner-south suburb is home to several ACT heritage council listed areas including Griffith Oval, St Paul’s Church and the Whitley Houses.

While it is one of Canberra’s oldest suburbs, many Griffith homes have undergone refurbishments in recent years, adding a contemporary feel to the leafy suburb.

Griffith borders Manuka and Narrabundah. At the 2016 census it recorded a population of 4575.

The neighbourhood centres around the much-loved Griffith shops. This retail strip is home to a variety of dining options, both casual and fine dining, alongside your typical shops, and offers immense character. /**/


Clearance rate: 67%

Median price houses: $1.495 million

Median price units: $493,000

Highest selling property in the past 12 months: $2.97 million, 16 Durville Crescent, November 25, 2017.



Duck breast, confit cumquat, roast pumpkin, and fermented daikon at Aubergine. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

The jewel of the Griffith Shops crown, Aubergine is one of the ACT’s most renowned restaurants. It has won an array of accolades on both a national and local scale, and has been given two chef’s hats for seven consecutive years. The ever-changing degustation menu offers delectable seasonal food of high quality and stunning presentation. Our top pick off its current menu is the brown butter ice cream with almond praline and frozen lemon verbena milk – absolutely amazing!

Griffith Vietnamese Restaurant

Signature wall at Griffith Vietnamese Restaurant. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

What sets Griffith Vietnamese Restaurant apart is the many posters adorning its walls with personalised messages and signatures, most of which belong to politicians who have called the venue their go-to for years. This unassuming restaurant is a favourite among pollies and locals alike, and upon eating the food you can see why. Make sure you try the Yummy Chicken, a classic dish that’s one of the chef’s specialities.


Rubicon restaurant’s twinkling fairy light ceiling. Photo: Karleen Minney

The perfect spot for a romantic date night or catch-up over dinner and wine with friends, Rubicon offers a warm and cosy atmosphere through its four small dining rooms and open terrace-style space. Both an a la carte and degustation menu is available showcasing contemporary n cuisine with a twist. If you choose the a la carte, make sure you accompany your meal with the kipfler potatoes in duck fat, serrano and mustard.


M16 Artspace


Bowen Place Crossing 2016 gouache by Christopher Oates, part of his exhibition on Infrastructure at the M16 Artspace last month. Photo: Supplied

An intimate gallery which also offers residencies to local artists, M16 Artspace is the perfect Saturday afternoon activity. The gallery is currently showing finalists from the annual M16 Drawing Prize which seeks to examine, challenge and open a dialogue concerning perceptions of what drawing can be. This runs until December 17. Related: Postcodes: Ainslie, 2602Related: Home of the week: An established oasis in GriffithRelated: Top three: Allhomes’ pick of open homes to see this weekend in Canberra


Mountain Creek Wholefoods

Mountain Creek Wholefoods in Griffith is comfortable and unpretentious. Photo: Mountain Creek Wholefoods Facebook

Comfortable and unpretentious, Mountain Creek Wholefoods is a health food store offering a combination of whole food, vegan cosmetics, health and wellbeing books and vitamins. Each day there is a new selection of healthy freshly baked goods, which unlike most healthy snacks, actually taste naughty!


2 Hayes Crescent

2 Hayes Crescent, Griffith. Photo: Peter Blackshaw Real Estate Manuka

Auction: December 16, 12pm

Agent: Mario Sanfrancesco, Peter Blackshaw Real Estate Manuka, 0412 488 027

EER: 2.5

Canberra’s iconic boundary hedges offer their fortunate owners unrivalled privacy and nowhere is this better expressed than in the leafy Griffith sanctuary of No. 2 Hayes Crescent.

Nestled behind thick foliage and the security of electronic gates is this wonderfully extended and renovated character home.

The cottage originally built in 1927 has been faithfully remodelled by its current owners to highest levels of contemporary living. Design by Peter Byfield, the home has not only delivered a warm and inviting family retreat, but it has also been recognised with a wealth of industry awards.

4 Jansz Crescent

4 Jansz Crescent, Griffith. Photo: Luton Properties Manuka

Auction: February 24, 10am

Agents: Richard and Sophie Luton, Luton Properties Manuka, 0418 697 844 & 0410 750 413.

EER: 4.0

Nestled within a canopy of oak trees and back reserve parkland and ovals, a property of distinction offers generous and flexible living for families.

The standout feature of this home is the indoor swimming pool area, with a spa, sauna and full bathroom. Cathedral ceilings frame a wall of glass looking out onto mature trees. It is fully heated, allowing year-round fun.

This Griffith home allows you to live a lifestyle of convenience, a very short walk from Manuka Village and Manuka Oval and then on to Lake Burley Griffin. An opportunity not to be missed.

33 Carstensz Street

33 Carstensz Street, Griffith. Photo: Belle Property Kingston

Price: By negotiation

Agents: Richard Davies & Louise Harget, Belle Property Kingston, 0414 517 658 & 0412 997 894

EER: 2.5

On a sought-after, tree-lined street, 33 Carstensz Street embraces a stunning fusion of period elegance with seamless contemporary living.

A statement of refined luxury with premium fixtures throughout, its expansive yet versatile floor plan has been tailored to suit a growing family’s need.

Lush and private gardens provide you with multiple spaces to entertain or relax while the kids play. This spectacular residence presents a remarkable lifestyle opportunity within one of Griffith’s most exclusive enclaves.

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