Post archive for ‘苏州美甲’

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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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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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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Newcastle City Council appoints Jeremy Bath chief executive officer

Council appoints Jeremy Bath chief executive officer TweetFacebook Jeremy BathJeremy Bath said he had thick skin and was willing to wear the fallout of unpopular decisions after being appointed as Newcastle City Council’s chief executive officer on Tuesday night.
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The 41-year-old formerpublic affairs manager and interim chief executiveat Hunter Water has been a high-profile figure at the council since being appointed to the $390,000-a-year job on an interim basisin April.

Councillors voted on Tuesday to remove the “interim” from his job title, and he has signed acontract to lead the council for the next five years.

Read more:

Meet Jeremy BathJeremy Bath appointed interim CEOCouncil staff move to west endHis seven-month stewardship to date has included divisive battles over the city’s first Supercars race and the rail corridor rezoning, but he said he was willing to wear some bruises in his position.

“I was a spokesperson for the registered club industry. I’ve certainly been shot at on many occasions and I’ve got very thick skin. But the reality, whether I like it or not, is it comes with the job,” he said.

“If you can’t handle being the spokesman for an organisation and having to defend unpopular decisions, as well as explain the popular decisions, then, frankly, don’t apply for the job.”

One decision which has proven particularly unpopular this week was the councillors’ vote on Tuesday to award themselves a 16 per cent pay rise.

A council report recommending the pay hike was authored by another staff member, but Mr Bath told the meeting that it was his decision to revisit the issue after the previous council had rejected a wage rise in June.

He told theNewcastle Heraldon Wednesday that the timing of the pay-rise debate justminutes after the council had voted to hand him the CEO job was unfortunate, but he stood by his decision to raise the pay issue again.

“The decision on my appointment was done prior to the decision on the pay rise, and the author of the paper wasn’t me. I had deliberately not put my name to that paper.

“Back in June this year I made it very clear to the senior managers that I thought it was a poor decision for them to put a paper up to the council that had a blank line in it where it was up to the councillors to insert what their councillor fee should be.

“I’d like to think that ratepayers would understand that it is a far better outcome for the council administrative staff to be recommending a figure than for councillors to be recommending their own figure.”

Mr Bath’s interim appointment in April followed claims fromCr Allan Robinson that a mystery manin Belmont had told him two days before interviews began whohad won the job, butan Office of Local Government investigation foundnothing “improper or unethical” in his recruitment.

Apart from his roles at Hunter Water, Mr Bath has been a press secretary for Liberal senator John Tierney, Fairfield Council communications officer, media relations manager for ClubsNSW and Clubs and lobbyist for conservative strategistsCrosby Textor.

He said rumours that he had political ambitions were off the mark.

“Having seen what politicians have to go through on a daily basis, the invasions into their privacy, the misconstruing of their actions and decisions, frankly, I couldn’t think of a job that is less appealing.”

Lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes said in a statement on Wednesday that Mr Bath had proved his worth asa “collaborator and negotiatorto achieve great outcomes for the city and the organisation”.

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Mengmei Leng’s uncle says he cannot remember killing her

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – APRIL 30: A police officer removes evidence from the Campsie home of Michelle Leng who was murdered on April 30, 2016 in Sydney, . (Photo by Dominic Lorrimer/Fairfax Media)Mystery woman found dead in blowhole revealed as UTS graduate Michelle LengSnapper Point Blow Hole murderA man who murdered his niece and dumped her body in a Central Coast blowhole says he has no recollection of his crime because he was on a drug binge that had caused him to black out.
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Derek Barrett, 29, murdered Chinese student Mengmei Leng in April 2016 at the home they shared with his wife and stepdaughter at Campsie in Sydney’s west.

On Wednesday, the NSW Supreme Court began a sentencing hearing for Barrett, who pleaded guilty in August to murder and 19 counts of filming private parts without consent.

The killer spoke for the first time, claiming he did not remember the murder nor dumping Ms Leng’s body because he was high on ice and synthetic cannabis, which caused a 48-hour gap in his memory.

“AlI I remember is an argument,” he told the court. “I remember seeing myself in the reflection of a mirror and looking down at blood in the sink.

“It’s almost like I was waking up in the bathroom … there was a lot of blood.”

During cross-examination by Crown prosecutor Margaret Cunneen, SC, Barrett recalled seeing his niece’s distressed face. She was shouting at him in Chinese, and he was apologising to her.

“I don’t remember the actual stabbing itself or anything leading into the stabbing,” he said.

“I remember a scared face on the bed … she was yelling something back at me. I think she may have been cursing at me. I said ‘I’m so sorry.'”

Ms Leng was 25 when Barrett tied her up with tape and took numerous photographs of her naked body, including close-up photos of her genitals, then removed the restraints and stabbed her to death.

He then bundled her body in the boot of his car and drove to Snapper Point on the Central Coast, where he dumped her body in the water. Tourists found her there shortly afterwards, on April 24.

Barrett sniffled at times as he gave evidence, mumbling, taking long pauses and fiddling with a tissue in his hands. At other times he responded forcefully, when Ms Cunneen suggested he was simply pretending he could not remember.

“There’s no words,” he told the court. “I can never reverse the actions that I’ve done. I’d gladly exchange positions – I’d rather her be here than me. She had a beautiful future ahead of herself.”

In a victim impact statement, which was read by a police officer, Ms Leng’s mother Mei Zhang said Barrett was a “fiend” who should be jailed for life.

She said her daughter became the centre of her life after her husband died in 2008, and she sold her home in China to help fund her daughter’s future.

Ms Zhang said she still could not accept her daughter was tortured and murdered, with her body “abandoned to the sea”.

“Now that this child is gone, my whole life is shattered,” she said. She sobbed as her statement was read out.

Forensic psychiatrist Richard Furst told the court Barrett was most likely motivated by a sexual deviance or a sadistic fantasy, and took pleasure in having “complete” and “fatal” dominance over his niece.

In his opinion, Barrett was “basically not telling the truth about his memory loss”.

“It’s not the kind of thing one would forget,” Dr Furst said. “His actions are all purposeful, from the time of the killing to the disposal of the body.”

Barrett claimed he was taking up to 15 grams of ice a week in the lead-up to the murder, which he funded by helping to deal drugs.

His estranged wife left the court shortly after he began to give evidence, later returning with a policewoman.

Justice Helen Wilson will hand down a sentence on Friday.

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Family Court judge blasts ‘obscenely high legal costs’ of Sydney lawyers

A Family Court judge has delivered a blistering judgment on the “culture of bitter, adversarial and highly aggressive family law litigation” in Sydney and blasted two law firms for charging “outrageous” fees.
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In a judgment published on Wednesday, Justice Robert Benjamin said he regularly heard cases filed in the Sydney registry of the Family Court and was “increasingly concerned about the high levels of costs charged by the legal profession in property and parenting proceedings”.

He asked the Legal Services Commissioner to investigate whether the fees charged by the solicitors acting for a former couple fighting over parenting arrangements and property could constitute professional misconduct.

Justice Benjamin said the couple, given the pseudonyms Mr Simic and Ms Norton, had spent an “eye-watering” $860,000 in the proceedings and “these amounts are, on their face, outrageous levels of costs for ordinary people involved in family law proceedings”.

The Hobart-based judge took aim at the “win at all costs, concede little or nothing, chase every rabbit down every hole and hang the consequences approach to family law litigation” he had observed in Sydney and the culture of “bitter, adversarial and highly aggressive family law litigation”.

It was unclear whether this approach was “a reflection of a Sydney-based culture” or an approach by some lawyers or a combination of both, Justice Benjamin said.

“Whichever is the cause, the consequences of obscenely high legal costs are destructive of the emotional, social and financial wellbeing of the parties and their children. It must stop,” he said.

The scathing comments come amid an n Law Reform Commission review of the Family Law Act, commissioned in September by Attorney-General George Brandis.

The review will include a consideration of whether reforms are necessary to promote the “appropriate, early and cost-effective resolution” of family law disputes.

Justice Benjamin asked the Legal Services Commissioner to investigate whether the fees charged in the case before him were fair and reasonable, as well as whether the legal work undertaken was necessary and performed in a “reasonable manner”, taking into account the proceedings were launched “on behalf of otherwise unsophisticated parties … and in highly emotional circumstances”.

Justice Benjamin said he had read “each and every one” of the letters sent by the parties’ lawyers and some of them were “inflammatory and reflected the anger of the parties or one or other of them”.

” Solicitors are not employed to act as ‘postman’ to vent the anger and vitriol of their clients,” he said.

Justice Benjamin said lawyers had “a duty to minimise costs and to reduce conflict” and “some of the communications appear to add ‘fuel to the fire’ of conflict rather than dampen it down”.

“The children of these parties depend upon the income and assets of their parents to support them,” he said.

“Yet, in this case, the costs of the proceedings have taken a terrible toll on the wealth of the parties and consequently their ability to support and provide for their children.”

He anonymised the names of the law firms on the basis the solicitors should not be punished by the negative publicity if the Legal Services Commissioner did not make a finding of misconduct.

The parties’ barristers were not the subject of criticism and Justice Benjamin said he was not provided with details of their fees.

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ArtReviewers’ picks of 2017

POWERFUL ADDITION: One of Fiona Foley’s high-impact images at Maitland Regional Art Gallery.Jill StowellPerhaps the most memorable of the exhibitions I have written about this year was at Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery, with books treated as objects as much as cultural signifiers. Curator Meryl Ryan brought many insightful things together in a coherent visual essay.
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In conjunction with this exhibition, Lezlie Tilley, whose paper-based works have been widely shown this year, enhanced her text pieces to create a musical score. Music, specially composed, was also a component in another of the year’s highlights, when Brett McMahon continued his haptic abstract interpretation of shoreline and rock platform in huge installations at the University Gallery.

Another notable event there celebrated the 90th birthday and 70 years exhibiting by chameleon artist Rae Richards, with new paintings experimenting in lyrical landscape. An equally notable individual project was the enormous exhibition of selections from a wide-ranging anonymous private collection.

Private collectors have made lavish gifts to the Maitland Regional Art Gallery. Chinese scroll paintings cover 500 years of tradition, while the celebrated etchings and wood engravings of Lionel Lindsay remain fresh. Also at Maitland, the photographs of Fiona Foley startlingly displayed the power of the mask.

Newcastle Art Gallery has through summer the vast and mysterious paintings of Tim Maguire, as well as welcome works from the permanent collection. Earlier in the year there was a rewarding show from the National Gallery of of paintings by women abstractionists and there was a tribute to the late Mazie Turner’s translucent paint.

There is still has no official encouragement for the overdue expansion the gallery so badly needs. The Kilgour Prize deserves a rethink, but it is good to report I’ve seen works from our collection in exhibitions around the country, adding to its national profile.

What else took my eye? Christine Ross interpreted Japan in dazzling geometrical paintings at Art Systems Wickham, where Dino Consalvo also celebrated minimal geometry with monotone bridges and John Barnes engendered bouncing constellations of abstract exuberance.

Timeless Textiles constantly expands the range of the sewn, stitched and dyed in work by national and international fibre artists such as Judy Hooworth. Olivia Parsonage’s fabric fables made a strong appearance at Gallery 139.

Curve had another good year, with Michael Bell’s dog walker encountering mortality at the Obelisk and Jane Lander invoking a heaving overcast ocean. The Lock-Up accommodated Andrew Styan’s giant, gently breathing globe as well as Angelica Mesiti’s mysteriously immersive video and the high-profile artmaking of James Drinkwater and Lottie Consalvo.

There were artist books at Acrux, Frank Murri played with π (Pi), Kelly Ann Lees turned preloved metal into flowers and seeds and Steve Glassboro’s evermore elaborate deco nymphs posed at Cooks Hill Galleries. Doctoral student Vanessa Lewis continues to inventively explore the underpinnings of historical painting. Anne Maree Hunter’s prints incorporated maps. Sally Reynolds’s wood block printed forest is truly monumental. John Earle won the second annual Newcastle Club Foundation art prize.

John BarnesThere have been a number of big exhibitions at Lower Hunter public galleries this year, but some smaller offerings have carried the most weight. While the Kilgour Prize, Phantom Show, Michael Zavros’ decadence and Tim Maguire’s mega-flora dominated Newcastle Art Gallery’s spaces, three more sedate exhibitions created greater impact through a combination of great skill, artistic integrity and conceptual clarity.

In The Island, sculptor Alex Seton’s presented life-jackets, palm trees, oars and outboard motors, all masterfully carved from marble to form an evocative memorial to all refugees who have perished seeking a better life. Through the fusion of ancient traditions with contemporary technology Seton has produced deeply contemplative works of great beauty and poignancy.

Another highlight was Montages: The Full Cut 1999–2015,a collection of eight short films by Tracey Moffatt made in collaboration with Gary Hillberg. These reconstructed video montages were totally engrossing, full of social, political and emotional insight, laden with sharp wit, keen observation and rare humour.

Abstraction: celebrating n women abstract artists was an immensely important and satisfying exhibition curated from the n National Gallery’s collection. It is hoped that exhibitions of similar quality might emerge from Newcastle’s collection. The very well-considered Painting Memory is proof that size and sparkle isn’t everything.

At Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery major touring exhibitions, gallery-curated shows and work from local and regional artists are always presented with utmost professionalism and clarity of purpose. The historically-based Scanlines was an intriguing examination of pre-digital n video art, but it was the beautifully printed photographs in Diane Arbus, American Portraits that really left an indelible impression. Lake Macquarie was one of only four galleries entrusted by the National Gallery of to present this exhibition, and hopefully many more such gems will follow.

In the gallery’s sculpture park Jamie North’s towering structure of decaying concrete and steel, Succession, continues to transform itself as the plant life that is integral to the work thrives.

North’s exhibitionSlidings, at the Lock-Up in May, expanded his use of industrial materials combined with living plants into a series of fully realised installation pieces, ideally positioned in the historically charged spaces of the former jail.

The Lock-Up continues to cement its position as Newcastle’s leading contemporary art space. Strong exhibitions from progressive local artists, work from internationally recognised headliners such as Shaun Gladwell, and performance and musical pieces shared the space with highly significant local projects like Stitched Up, whichinvolved more than 50 fibre artists.

With five exhibitions running at any one time, Maitland Regional Art Gallery continues to attract a strong audience with its diverse range of quality shows. Major touring exhibitions, like the internationally significant Colonial Afterlives featuring indigenous art, neighbour work from established and emerging Lower Hunter contemporary artists and exhibitions of particular historic and artistic interest, such as Lionel Lindsay’s wonderful suite of prints.

The café and top-rate gift shop cannot be separated from this small gallery’s on-going popularity.

BAR BEACH: John Earle’s Newcastle Club Foundation Art Prize winner.

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Christmas lights

IF I do nothing else over the next week or so –and doesn’t that sound wonderful, doing nothing for a week? -I’m determined to talk to the owner of a house up the street from my place, around the corner and about 200 metres along.
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I want to talk to him, her,them or it about theChristmas decorations that have taken over the property, because they’re fabulous.

And a warning before we go any further. Regular readers of this space will know I love Christmas lights. The more the merrier. The goofier the better. The flashier, twinklier, more garish and colourful, the more I like it.

If inflatable Santa’s backside is protruding from a chimney I’m entranced.

If aroof is festooned with reindeer or sleighs, or the three wise men, or shooting stars, giant trees, Christmas bells, meteors, “Merry Christmas” signs, sheep, kangaroos,Santa’s little helpers or candy canes, I’m as happy as Larry.

If every bush in a front yard is draped in twinkly lights that flow from the bush to the footpath and on to the front gate, I’ll stand for ages watching the colours change.

If a car pulls up outside your house at a weird time of night, for what seems like a disturbing amount of time, just check if it’s a woman with a smile on her face and wave. It could well be me.

If it’s an affliction it’s lifelong. I was the kid walking the streets in the 1960s and 1970s looking for that era’sChristmas decoration excess –a tree with coloured baubles, tinsel andlights, and extra lights around the window. When my sonswere young I used the children as an excuse to indulge my affliction while assuring myself it was both educational and good for their health to have them walking the streets with me after dark, checking out the neighbours’ displays.

But back to the house near my house.

It’s a normal-looking place –single storey brick with a tile roof.My brickie’s daughter instincts tell me it’s probably 1980s vintage.

The owner/owners don’t do the house over in Christmas gear in one weekend hit.

No, that’s the best thing about this Christmas transformation. It’s the decoration equivalent of a slow striptease in reverse.

The Christmas tree in the big front window appears first, covered in enough lights to illuminate a small village, with a giant star on the top.

Then the maypole appears in the front yard. Why a maypole? I don’t know. But that’s the beauty of Christmas decorations these days. There are no rules or guidelines. I don’t know why people have twinkly Christmas sheep on their roof either, or kangaroos, but I love them anyway.

So, the maypole appears next. Pass by the following day and there’s a line of lights twirling up the pole and across to the roof. A day later there’s an inflatable Santa by the gate. A day after that and every camellia and oleander isoutlined in lights. The big frangipani out the front is dripping with blue and white icicles.

And it doesn’t stop there.

The roof display isn’t complete until you canbarely see tiles. A giant Santa lollsgently in the breeze, like a slightly tiddly old uncle on Christmas afternoon. Another smaller Santa sits in a sleigh pulled by a pile of reindeer.

A series of Christmas trees of different heights make a small roof forest, and shooting stars and other lights arrangements takeup any spare space.

Even in daylight it isimpressive.

I want to say hello to the owner of the house and ask how the decorating started. Is it the work of one crazed Christmas nut in a household of decoration cynics –“Really Gerald, aren’t we a bit old to be putting out illuminated ‘Santa please stop here’ signs?” –or is it a family thing –“Beryl, you hold Rudolf while I climb up the ladder and hitch the reindeer to the sleigh”?

Is it just lights at Christmas or do they have strings of little lanterns on their back veranda all year round?

I first wrote about Christmas lights 15 years ago, a short time after the first Bali bombing and while the world was still convulsed by the fallout from the September 11 terrorist attacks.

I’d had an ordinary day –and I can’t remember why –and I passed a small timber house on the Central Coast on my way home. Quite afew years earlier the house was the scene of a shocking double murder, where a man killed his wife and their young daughter, and attempted to kill their baby, aged just three months.

It was difficult to report on. I drive on that main road a few times a year. The house is still there, virtually unchanged.

There was a woman sitting on a chair on the house’s front porch when I passed back in December, 2002. On a whim I pulled over and said hello. We got talking. The woman was aware of the house’s history. She knew the family and went to school with the murdered woman’s sister.

The lights she’d put up with her partner followed the line of the veranda railings, continued around the windowsanddoorsandran up to the roof, where they seemed to form awingshape.

Her partner had climbed the roof to place lights in a pattern he thought was random, she said. People had said it looked like an angel’s wings but they hadn’t planned it that way.

They put the lights up because it was a little cottage with a sad history on a busy main road, but the familywas happy there.

“I do it for my kids and other people’s kids and for everyone to share the enjoyment of Christmas,” she said.

My neighbours across the road –a lovely couple and their two children –have gone to town this year after doing up their front garden. Their front deck is festooned with flashing lights. Their new front garden retaining wall is beautifully draped with strings of twinkling things. Even a giant gum tree is lit up with a rope of blue lights.

At night peoplewalk the streets,enjoy the show and talk about inflatable Santas while cicadas ring in summer.

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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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