The biggest factors that stop home owners from selling up

Generic green wedge, urban sprawl, outer suburban development, Melbourne city skyline, growth boundary, property development.Melbourne. 13 June 2012.Picture by PAUL ROVERE / THE AGE Photo: Paul RovereAffordable housing in Tamworth spearheads growthKeith Urban and Nicole Kidman’s potential new mega-penthouseDid Boomers have it better than Gen Y in Canberra?
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More than one-third of homeowners who have had their homes appraised by a real estate agent would not go through with the sale because of high government costs, an LJ Hooker survey has found.

Head of research at LJ Hooker, Mathew Tiller, was concerned stamp duty was stifling sales.

“The cost of change was the biggest deterrent for home owners when deciding to list their properties,” he said.

“It’s not associated with the selling but it’s homeowners looking where they’re going to buy next and how much it’s going to cost.”

Mr Tiller said the government charge should be abolished or reworked to free up more stock in the market to increase supply, as a way of reducing costs.

“We asked if stamp duty was lower, would you list and 50 per cent said yes, we would,” he said of the survey’s 2700 respondents. “We also asked if stamp duty was abolished would you list? And 61 per cent said yes they would.”

Mr Tiller was critical of upcoming plans to make first home buyers exempt, saying the measures didn’t go far enough.

“It needs to be uniform across all buyer types so everyone’s on the same playing field,” he said. “We also need to look at the other end of the spectrum as well and that’s people looking to downsize.”

Domain Group chief economist Andrew Wilson was critical of LJ Hooker’s push to remove or reform stamp duty.

“You’d get a release of demand by not having to pay more, but those following on will have to pay more anyway because of higher prices,” he said. “It won’t change the frequency of people selling.

“The barrier will then be higher prices.”

Dr Wilson warned that cutting a source of government income would have wide-ranging impacts, and not achieve the desired effect of lowering prices long-term.

“[Stamp duty] provides community services on a state level because it’s a state tax, how do you replace that in an equitable fashion?” he said. “We’re talking billions of dollars a year here.”

Dr Wilson said those asked if they wanted stamp duty abolished may not have considered the potential consequences.

“Everyone would say, ‘yeah, we don’t want to pay stamp duty’ but do you want a police force?”

A land tax was suggested by Mr Tiller or even plans to pay back stamp duty instead of a lump sum.

“As long as it’s a uniform approach it would offset that concern, because everyone’s on a level playing field,” he said.

Dr Wilson dismissed the calls to reform the property tax mix. “These are cynical propositions that are narrowly focused. The debate should really move to something rational, something that will really improve the housing market, and that’s more supply.”

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Following a songbird

SONGBIRD: Catherine Alcorn as Christine McVie in Go Your Own Way. The show is being staged at Cessnock Performing Arts Centre.IT is appropriate that Catherine Alcorn’s Go Your Own Way, a touring show looking at the life and songs of Fleetwood Mac rock band member Christine McVie, is being staged at Cessnock Performing Arts Centre.
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McVie, who was a vocalist, keyboard player and songwriter with Fleetwood Mac from 1970 until 1998, came out of retirement in 2014 to join other legendary members of the band in a global tour that included two sold-out shows at nearby Pokolbin’s Hope Estate in November, 2015.

Ironically, when Alcorn first staged Go Your Own Way at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival in 2013, Christine McVie was repeatedly rejecting offers to return to performing and touring.

Alcorn and the show’s writer, Diana Simmonds, have regularly got together to update it for capital city seasons and tours. What began as a 60-minute cabaret-style show is now a moving 80-minute musical that shows how the things that happened in McVie’s life affected the songs she wrote and performed. Catherine Alcorn is joined in delivering the songs by band members and background vocalists.

Alcorn first showed her talents for putting together and presenting shows about well-known performers with The Divine Miss Bette, in which she stepped into Bette Middler’s shoes. It played to a sold-out audience at Cessnock last year.

Go Your Own Way: A Tribute to Christine McVie can be seen at Cessnock Performing Arts Centre on Thursday, May 11, at 7.30pm. Tickets, $45 to $55, can be bought from the theatre box office, 4993 4266.

The show includes many of Fleetwood Mac’s biggest hits, most of which were written or co-written by McVie. Her songs include Over My Head, Say You Love Me, You Make Loving Fun, Don’t Stop, Little Lies, As Long as You Follow and Songbird. The show’s title number is by Lindsey Buckingham.

In her initial years with Fleetwood Mac, Christine McVie was often overshadowed by a more colourful female member, Stevie Nicks, even though many of her songs were among the group’s best-sellers. It was often her relationships that made news stories. Originally a member of the band Chicken Shack, she joined Fleetwood Mac after marrying its bass guitarist John McVie in 1968. The couple divorced in 1976, and she subsequently became engaged to Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys, but they broke up before his death. Her second marriage, to keyboardist Eddy Quintella, likewise ended in divorce. It’s hardly surprising that her best-selling songs, including Got a Hold on Me and Love Will Show Us How, reflected what was happening in her life. Now aged 73, she and Lindsey Buckingham have a new album that will be released this year.

Man vs kilogram schnitzelVIDEO

Eating a kilogram of chicken is an impressive feat on its own, but to down that and a handful of chipsin three-and-a-half minutes is astonishing.
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Thatfeat was recently achieved by Isaac Harding-Davis at The Belmore Hotel.

Mr Harding-Davis, who lists himself as Australia’s number onecompetitive eater on his Facebook page, devoured the monster schnitzel in a record time of three minutes and 34 seconds.

The Belmore Hotel co-owner Nick Murphy said it was very impressive to watch.

“He went so quick,” Mr Murphy said.

“He’s very tidy for a competitive eater.”

The pub owner also saidMr Harding-Davis was surprisingly tall and fit for someone who can eat so much.

It came after the champion eater visited the High Street pub in 2014 to take on the SchnitHausStack –two 300 gram schnitzels with chips and a pint of beer or soft drink in less than 20 minutes.

Mr Murphy said they decided to take the time limit off the new challenge due to the sheer size of the chicken.

“If you complete it, you’ve done very well,” he said.

Mr Harding-Davis was one of 12 people to have conquered the challenge so far. Finishers are added to the wall of fame and thefirst 20 to complete it receive a free t-shirt.

But beware…it’s not for the faint-hearted.

“Many have tried, many have failed,” Mr Murphy said.

Want to try your hand at the Hunter’s food challenges?Adams Ribs & Pizza’sRibs ChallengeLone Star Kotara’s Dallas DogOutback Jacks’ Steak ChallengeSoho on Darby’s 3kg Blazing Wing ChallengeBelmore Hotel 1kg Schnitzel ChallengeRestaurant 616’s 616 Burger ChallengeGoodtime Burgers Newcastle’sMan vs Burger ChallengeNewy Burger Co’sBiggest Burger ChallengeLemon grove Hotel’sDude vs Food 5 Schnitzel StackCrinitis Kotara’s Metro Mania Pizza Challenge (1 metre 1 person, or 2 mates 2 metre pizza challenge)Related contentSantel plans to eat through Newcastle

Who’sking of crumbs in this schnitty city

Isaac Harding-Davis mid-schnitzel challenge. Picture: Facebook

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The humpback highway is open

The humpback highway is open A whale breaching off Forster. Photo by Shane Chalker Photography.
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Photo by Shane Chalker Photography.

Photo by Shane Chalker Photography.

Photo by Shane Chalker Photography.

Photo by Shane Chalker Photography.

Photo by Shane Chalker Photography.

Photo by Shane Chalker Photography.

Photo by Shane Chalker Photography.

TweetFacebook Tis the season for a whale of a timeRelated Content:

Migaloo the white whale spotted off Port Macquarie coast | videoPort Macquarie offers prime viewing for migrating whalesKeep your eyes on the horizon as chances are in a matter of days they will land on somefriendlygiants of the ocean.

The owner of a Port Macquarie whale watching business Anthony Heeney said there had been a couple of sightings at Jervis Bay, signalling the mammals are on track to reach Port Macquarie by the end of May.

Mr Heeney said the whales can be spotted consistently especially in the month of June.

Migaloo is an albinowhite whale who has become notorious for his travels which have been documented along the eastern coastline.

According to the White Whale Research Centre,Migaloo is Australia’s most well-known humpback whale.

When he was first sighted he was the only known all white whale in the world.

Migaloo, the white whale, spotted off Port Macquarie in 2016. Photo: Jodie Lowe

As he migrates up the east coast of Australia from Antarctica to the warmer waters of Tropical North Queensland his distinctive all white colouring allows people to report sightings.

Mr Heeney said said there is every chance Migaloo could make an appearance in 2017.

“He definitely stands out when he is around,” he said.

People can expect to see mainly humpbacks and possibly killer and southern right whales.

Whales travel up to the north in May seeking the warmer waters and will travel back down the coast once they have given birth. They can continue to be seen off the coastthrough to October.

“We’re very lucky in Port to see them without having to travel very far at all,” Mr Heeney said.

“It may even be the best place in Australia to view them.”

Go on, take the challenge with ourwhale quiz:

Port Macquarie News

First Nations curators headed to Venice Biennale

Two Indigenous curators will represent Australia at the 57th Venice Biennale as part of the Australia Council for the Arts’ professional development program for first nations curators.
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???Clothilde Bullen and Emily McDaniel are members of the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) and will act as First Nations senior and emerging curators, respectively. The MCA is the only cultural institution with more than one first nations curator participating at the event.

??????Ms Bullen expressed her pride at being selected for the role. “To be able to show leadership in the Indigenous visual arts area, and to align this with the MCA’s values around supporting the professional development of Indigenous staff is a privilege. On this unique occasion, embedded round the opening of My Horizon by Tracey Moffat, it is critical to have Indigenous arts workers participate fully in the experience.”

Australia has had a presence at the event since 1954, with esteemed artists including Sidney Nolan and Arthur Boyd having works showcased throughout the past 60 years. Moffatt will this year become the first Indigenous Australian to have a solo exhibit at the Biennale.

MCA director Elizabeth Ann Macgregor said: “It is especially fitting this year when the Australian Pavilion is devoted to a solo presentation by an Aboriginal artist for the first time. The MCA undertook the biggest survey of Tracey Moffatt’s work in 2003. I would like to thank the Australia Council for their support for this important initiative.”

“Clothilde Bullen and Emily McDaniel make significant contributions to MCA’s exhibitions with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island artists, and the extension of this through our public programs. We wish both curators well at the 57th Venice Biennale, in what will not only become valuable professional experience but will also help tell the story of contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art to audiences and our peers abroad,” Macgregor said.

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From airport to court: the rising tide of foreign drug mules

It’s every traveller’s nightmare. One moment you are at the airport, bound for your next destination, the following, you are whisked away by police and end up in prison in a country where you don’t speak the language and where penalties can be draconian.
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In early April, South Australian woman Cassandra Sainsbury, 22, found herself living this nightmare. She was detained at Bogota’s El Dorado International Airport by police, apparently acting on a tip-off. They allegedly found 5.8 kilograms of cocaine distributed between sets of headphones in her luggage.

She reportedly told her Colombian lawyer that she was tricked and given the headphones by a man she knew only as Angelo or Tom.

The man offered to buy her the headphones cheaply and brought them to her at the airport.

As she awaits her next hearing and adjusts to life in El Buen Pastor, a Colombian women’s prison with a fearful reputation, it makes sense to put this all in context.

Is this a freak occurrence or part of a larger trend? Could it happen to another young Australian visiting Latin America?

Already this year, 19 foreign drug mules have been arrested, according to a statement to the press from Lieutenant Colonel Jorge Triana, head of the anti-narcotics police at the El Dorado International Airport.

To find out whether there was an emerging trend of foreign, female mules, Fairfax Media spoke to Coletta Youngers, a Senior Fellow at The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), an influential think tank focused on policy and development in Latin America.

Ms Youngers was candid that, although there was a general dearth of hard evidence, her many years of first-hand experience on the ground on the continent leads her to believe a shift is happening. The numbers that do exist seem to paint a picture of a trend as well.

According to a 2011 study in Argentina, nine out of every 10 foreign women in prison for drug offences at the federal level in Argentina were there for serving as mules; 96 per cent were first-time offenders.

“There does seem to be a trend for foreign women to be incarcerated for carrying drugs across borders in Latin America,” Ms Youngers said.

“A lot of time, the women don’t understand the risk they are taking. They don’t understand that if they get caught they are going to end up in prison, with penalties that are extremely high.”

There seems to be a silver lining, though, with judges across Latin America handing down softer penalties where appropriate and permissible.

“My impression is that judges [in mule cases], where they have flexibility and don’t need to enforce mandatory minimums, seek out the lower range of sentences. They are a bit more lenient on foreign women.”

However, Ms Youngers said those penalties could still range on average from eight to 20 years in prison.

“These prisons are very unpleasant. Often there is not enough food and medicine available, so it has to come from family outside, family that this women often won’t have in-country,” she said.

Colombian prison statistics included in a 2010 report from the Transnational Institute showed that, of the 320 foreigners in custody in the 2007-2009 survey period, 237 (74 per cent) were there for drug-related offences.

According to a 2016 WOLA Report, the population of women prisoners in Latin America climbed 51.6 per cent between 2000 and 2015, compared with 20 per cent for men. In Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica and Peru, more than 60 per cent of female prisoners are behind bars for drug-related offences.

“The population of women incarcerated for drug offences climbed 271 per cent in Argentina between 1989 and 2008; and 290 per cent in Brazil between 2005 and 2013,” the report reads. Why use foreigners?

“Women have long been used in drug smuggling and foreigners have often been used because they can face less scrutiny than others,” said Dr Vanda Felbab-Brown, a senior fellow of foreign policy at US think tank The Brookings Institution in email correspondence with Fairfax Media.

“The visa-free requirements for many foreigners helps in travel and often they are more credible tourists and thus can receive reduced scrutiny at airports.”

To delve deeper, Fairfax Media talked to the woman who literally wrote the book on the subject. In 2014’s Drug Mules: Women in the International Cocaine Trade, Jennifer Fleetwood, lecturer in criminology at the University of Leicester explored how women become involved in trafficking, focusing on the lived experiences of women as drug mules. In her research, she spoke to the people whose job was to target and recruit mules.

“In a nutshell most drug mules are male. Trafficking is male-dominated across the board, but [across Latin America] 30 per cent of arrests are women,” she said.

“Previous research done in the 1990s and early 2000s found that recruiters were looking for people who already had valid reasons for travel.”

Dr Fleetwood said all the recruiters told her that, when it came to setting up an unsuspecting dupe to carry drugs, they had all heard of “someone else doing it”, but not done it themselves.

“There are already plenty of people out there willing to do this work and many things can go wrong if the person you use doesn’t know they are carrying drugs,” Dr Fleetwood said.

So what can travellers do to protect themselves, beyond not coming into contact with recruiters in the first place?

“I can put my hand on my heart and say I’ve unthinkingly taken packages for other people, but, if there’s one golden rule: don’t take packages for other people, just don’t,” Dr Fleetwood said. A day in the life of a foreign, female drug mule

A woman profiled in a 2016 piece by Broadly, a channel of Vice, is a living, breathing example of the human cost of the trade. Known as Sylvia A, the Slovak woman now shares a cell with another four English-speaking foreign women, serving four years in an Argentinian prison.

Sylvia A was found out by Argentine police before she even got to the airport: She had cocaine strapped to her body and another kilogram in her stomach. She took the risk so that she would be able to send her son to school. Instead, she now talks to him from a cell on the other side of the Atlantic. The Peru Two

Another famous case of foreign, female mules in Latin America garnered world-wide attention: two British women dubbed the “Peru Two”.

Melissa Reid and Michaella McCollum??? were jailed in 2013, at the ages of 18 and 20 respectively, after 11 kilograms of cocaine worth an estimated ??1.5 million ($2.6 million) was found in their luggage at the international airport in Lima, Peru.

Reid and McCollum originally faced a maximum of 15 years in prison if found guilty but decided to plead guilty in the hope of getting a lighter sentence. They were jailed for six years and eight months in December 2013.

They were released and expelled from Peru three years ahead of schedule because of good behaviour and international pressure.

Even with serving a reduced sentence, there was still a readjustment for Read.

“‘I think it will take quite a lot of time to sink in and for me to readjust to normal life. I was 19 when I was arrested and now I’m 22 ??? there is a big gap to come to terms with,” she told Britain’s Daily Mail in June 2016. What next?

Across the continent, dozens, if not hundreds of foreign women languish in prison, while the next round of recruits are taken on board.

However, as for Sainsbury, she will need to wait until the final verdict to find out what lies in store for her in the years to come.

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‘He wasn’t a laugh a minute’: Hotelier Jasper Conran on Andy Warhol

Living in a luxury hotel: What it’s really likeThe life of luxury at home sweet hotelMelbourne’s richest buyers moving to The Lyall Hotel
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The designer Jasper Conran has a look ??? chin dipped, tight pout, side-glance, eyebrow aloft ??? which, along with a “hmmm”, he deploys when he hears anything in questionable taste. He uses it with withering precision when, as we sit in the January sun in his new hotel in Morocco, I disclose that London is so cold I’ve been wearing tights under my jeans. “My goodness,” he declares. “What denier?” But it’s also there for the “upsets” of Brexit and the US election (although Donald Trump reduces him sotto voce to one dramatic word: “bigot”).

His riad, on the other hand, is a cathedral to good taste – a converted 19th-century palace called L’Hotel Marrakech. Five suites of four-posters swathed in a total of nearly a mile of white voile along with baths of trough-shaped tadelakt plaster are all set around a quadrangle of orange trees and a pretty tiled fountain.

The place radiates the sort of 1930s decadence once found in Tangiers. This is in part because of the private-house feel, but also the simple elegance, the pinks and greens, the oil paintings of maharajas as well as Conran’s insistence that you can drink rose for breakfast if you feel so inclined or smoke by the fire in the bar while listening to Duke Ellington on a hidden radio.

There’s a touch of Brideshead Revisited’s Sebastian Flyte about Conran, too. He has ridiculously boyish looks ??? even at 57, with his blondish-grey hair combed to one side and a preppy jersey loose over the shoulders ??? and an air of camp mischief, not to mention the complicated childhood at the hands of Sir Terence and Shirley Conran (questions about whom earn me the look).

What is decidedly un-foppish is his drive. He has wanted to be a hotelier “since the age of eight: it was a toss-up between clothes or hotels”. Clothes initially won: Jasper Conran became a household name in his early 20s as the favourite designer of Diana, Princess of Wales (“None of the big sailor collars, mind. I would like to disclaim those”). The relationship was close, “although she nearly bankrupted me ??? I was making couture at wholesale”.

Later he diversified into china and glass, designing for Wedgwood and Waterford. More recently he produced lines for Debenhams (a favourite were his ??45 “bottom-boosting” jeans), as well as fragrance and books.

Then two years ago he returned to his early ambition (while continuing to design clothes), “to see if I had the aptitude”, he says. “I thought I’d see whether I could do it, whether I’m able, whether I can make it into a business.”

“I’ve loved Marrakech since I first came here in 1984 and harboured this idea that I’d buy a riad.” No small task, given there are already 1200 operating in the city.

Conran and members of his loyal team spent months trawling the narrow passageways of the medina looking for the perfect place. “I looked at about 60 riads. Pretty exhausting.” He chose this building, tucked in deep and hidden behind a studded fortress door, because it had more depth than the average riad and “good bones”.

The herringbone-tiled passageways are lantern-lit and staircases seemingly coil away in all directions. My room, the Casablanca, has an original high, painted, wooden ceiling and a terrace checker-boarded with chocolate-brown zellige tiling.

But Conran’s touch is everywhere: from the massive orange and pink carpet in the sitting room (“made by very well-paid Berbers, judging by how much it cost”) to the green painted passageways (a colour he mixed himself), the art, the rare lamps and the floor-to-ceiling crittall steel-framed windows that have a deco feel. The bed linens are bought in the market (and the bed is wonderfully high and hard and sprawl-out big).

“I did it by instinct, really. I didn’t map it out. I sort of arrived at it. It was really good fun. Hotels bring together what I like doing best: food, textiles, interiors, gardens. I get to have fun with all the things that I like.”

It’s probably no coincidence that the timing of his decision to become a hotelier coincided with his fallout from his father’s furniture design empire. After giving the fleet of Conran Shops a much-needed overhaul, he read an interview in which Sir Terence made disparaging remarks about his ability. The next day he resigned. Not that he will discuss this – “at all”. (He gives me the look.)

Happily, they are back on good terms and the entire family descended on Conran’s riad for New Year’s Eve. His siblings share his strong creative flair (his older brother Sebastian is a designer and academic; Tom is a restaurateur and Sophie has her own crockery collection for Portmeirion) and are “very, very close”. Is that because of their shared experience of Sir Terence?

“I have two very interesting, fascinating, extraordinary parents who are who they are,” he says with a knowing laugh. “They are omnipresent. I absolutely take my hat off to both of them for their achievements and extraordinariness. I’ve always tried to plough my own way in life and it’s not easy to be the child of two very successful people. Because you wonder how you’re going to come out from under their yoke. And sometimes those two very successful people like to remind you, even into their late 80s, of how very successful they are.” Fortunately he can call up his siblings, in dire times. He mimics picking the phone up: ” ‘Oh my God, can you believe it?’ And so that connection is always there.”

Today, he’s here with his assistant, Jake Barrett, who has worked with him for 15 years, and the improbably good-looking Luca Ravera, an Italian who runs the riad and is dubbed The Night Manager by everybody in tribute to Tom Hiddleston’s improbably good-looking character in the TV series (which Conran made him watch). Tonight Pierre Berge, co-founder of Yves Saint Laurent, is coming to dinner and everyone’s excited. The hotel’s clientele has included designers, music industry players and Voguettes.

We eat three different types of tagine on the rooftop terrace, with Conran refusing bread because “no one over the age of 35 can eat bread without bloating”. His husband, Oisin Byrne, 32, a sweet and softly spoken artist from Dublin, joins us for lunch, and we discuss the idea of Conran getting an Irish passport to circumvent the effects of Brexit.

Both Conran’s parents were at his wedding to Byrne. It took place first at Chelsea Register Office before “the Full Monty” at his Dorset home, Wardour Castle. The grooms wore white tie for dinner, he says, and “my mother wore pink. And feathers”.

Ructions between Conran and his mother (one paper reported they didn’t speak between 2002 and 2015) have been “very overplayed”, he says. “Mostly because I won’t react. We’re family. These things happen in families. And I just think pfffff. We see each other. She comes to stay. She came to my wedding.”

He’s close to his stepmothers, too. When I ask which is his favourite (his mother was the second of Sir Terence’s four wives), he says, archly, “I’m blessed: all three are wonderful”.

Conran was about 23 when his mother’s racy bonk-buster Lace came out ??? “You remember the goldfish don’t you Charlotte?” he teases.

“Everyone does. Clever, my mother. I know the backstory and, well, I can just say that it’s not, in my opinion, a work of fiction. But I’m saving that story for a later date when we’re not talking about hotels.”

Anyway, the 23-year-old Conran was far too precocious to be shocked. He’d not long returned from New York, where he attended Parsons Art College (aged 15) and witnessed the birth of Studio 54.

“I saw the whole thing from conception. I went out with Truman Capote and Andy Warhol. Actually I wish I’d read Truman Capote then. I saw him as this absolutely sozzled person gurgling everywhere. If I’d only known what beautiful writing he was capable of I wouldn’t have been so scornful. Well I wouldn’t have been scornful at all; I would have been adulatory.”

Of Warhol, Conran says: “He wasn’t a laugh a minute is all I can say. To my young eyes he was a bit dull. But we now know he wasn’t really dull. He was just dull to be with.”

He says he drank orange juice and watched sex on the dance floor. “They didn’t get me drunk and I wasn’t interfered with, if that’s what you were going to ask. But I did see a lot. Your eyes were out on stalks because they weren’t holding back on the dance floor. The world was changing at that point; things were busting out. All sorts of walls were being broken down.”

Will this be in his memoirs? “Yes, that could be an interesting read, I admit it,” he giggles. He is keen to emphasise that his was not an overtly “monied” childhood; he saw his parents work. “I grew up knowing I need to be in control of my life, rather than having to ask [for money], yes.”

Was it hard to be both creative and good at business? “I worked out something simple very early,” he says. “If my clothes didn’t sell, then I was going to be out of business very quickly and what was I going to do then? So I had to be good at business. When people say, ‘Oh creatives are not made like that’, I say, ‘Well come on! Who is?’ Teach yourself. Being creative is a luxury. Being able to do the thing that you love is a luxury, not a God-given right. And you know sometimes you have to sacrifice part of your creativity. If you want to pay your staff, you have to have sold that jacket.

“I have seen lots of wonderful, fantastic creative people go by the wayside because they didn’t think that they had to involve themselves in the realities of life.”

The realities have paid off. As well as his business here (which he is expanding, and he hopes to open a chain of hotels), he has a beautiful 16th-century holiday home in Lindos, Greece, as well as his country retreat in Dorset. “I did think to myself: did you just do this riad because you wanted to buy another house? I had a bit of soul-searching and I think the answer is probably yes. I’m turning hospitality into something that pays for me.

“I am very, very lucky. I do work that I love.” He adds: “Shall we go and have a lovely drink on the terrace?” It’s at least half past 11 in the morning – why not?

– Austral Scope

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The ‘Hampton’s style’ home with its own Lichtenstein

Renovation tackles small space on a low budgetHouses inspired by US architecture making a splashArchitectural styles that have become modern classics
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“Hamptons style” is the modish descriptor of an American type of coastal, casual, understated design. But rather than using it just as a simile, Melbourne’s Nexus Designs reappointed the interiors of a three-bedroom weatherboard weekender on the South Fork of Long Island in New York State for some long-term and obviously incredibly loyal clients.

Nexus creative director Sonia Simpfendorfer says the Canadian-Australian couple for whom the practice had previously done the interiors of a Melbourne house and a Manhattan loft, and who claim their two pavilion house to be “the un-Hamptons” or in the un-snobby part of the island – had specifically asked for the all-seasons holiday home to exemplify what is Nexus’ signature style: “Simple, open, purposeful, not too over-stuffed and not too overmatched,” Simpfendorfer says.

They didn’t want either version of the accepted Hamptons style; “either beautiful but safe, or over-the-top and grandiose”. “This was their escape. They wanted it to feel good and liveable. That was incredibly important to them because they have a lot of visitors.”

One of the Nexus team made a couple of trips to the house. But given such a well-established and trusting rapport, the rest of the project was completed via email and Skype consultations.

The clients found most of “the high-low furniture during the process”, Simpfendorfer says. “They included vintage and generic pieces and design classics. And along the way they found the Lichtenstein ‘wallpaper’ which they bought in as an art piece.

“We said ‘wow!’ we can work with that.”

Following the Nexus tenet “that it is better to have one standout piece rather than lots of little things”, the designers worked the giant graphic of a lounge room into the real living area, picking up on the blues and yellow in the 3D furnishings.

If you look at the silvery lamps and the key pops of yellow that appear both in the real and the art work scheme, there’s a nice bit of wit in play.

“Because the seating group merges into the painting, you’re not sure whether the lamps are in the room or in the image?”

Uncharacteristic of US-derived Hamptons style, is the featuring of the many different and sometimes strong shades of blue in the living, dining and bedroom areas, “from sky blue to deep slate blue, to a blue/green in the dining chairs”.

“We deliberately avoided (truer) greens because there is just so much greenery in the landscape – loads of green. We didn’t want to compete with that.

“So instead we used blues and yellows as links to the Lichtenstein and to the colours of the (nearby) ocean and sunshine.”

Both are referential of place, Simpfendorfer says. “But are not stereotypical beachy schemes.”

The opportunity to do such a comprehensive makeover of a house in another country was not an exercise in aping the local mode, neither was it about exporting a cliche Australian coastal look.

“We didn’t want to do odd or jarring in the location, and there is nothing that is not appropriate to the clients or to the place.

“But we were happy to find that our Australian aesthetic was so very transferable and workable and that the project came out as what we think is such a happy, delightful and very liveable house.”


This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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Drayton valued at $1

Drayton valued at $1 Auction: Drayton machinery sold off by Anglo American in March after the controversial Drayton South mine was not approved and the Drayton mine closed.
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Sale: Some of the heavy machinery that went under the hammer at the Drayton auction.

Boom: Drayton coal mine outside Muswellbrook during boom times for the mining industry.

Anglo: Drayton Mine outside Muswellbrook. About 500 workers lost their jobs when Anglo’s plans for a Drayton South mine were not approved.

No: Horse trainer Gai Waterhouse was one of many prominent members of the thoroughbred breeding industry who opposed the Drayton South mine.

Objection: Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders Association president Dr Cameron Collins says the NSW Government needs to block any further attempts to mine Drayton South.

Object: Darley and Coolmore thoroughbred studs were the two most likely to be negatively impacted by a Drayton South mine.

TweetFacebook Drayton coal mine gets $1 valuationAnglo American has sold Drayton coal mine as the NSW Valuer General delivers its view DRAYTON coal mine’s formal land value has dropped to $1 only months after the mine’s closure, and as owner Anglo American on Friday announced the sale of its controlling interest to Malabar Coal.

The NSW Valuer General has revalued the land at Muswellbrook from $7 million to $1 in an assessment that is likely to be subject to a challenge from Muswellbrook Shire Council.

A council spokesperson confirmed on Friday that “one of our larger mining assessments has been revalued from around $7 million to $1”, and it is considering an appeal because the revaluation is likely to have a negative impact on council finances based on reduced rates.

The council did not name the mine but said the possible appeal is “on the basis that it appears the Valuer General’s office did not value the best use of the land, which in this instance might have included re-use of the land and its infrastructure for other mining purposes and power generation”.

The Drayton site includes planning approval for AGL Macquarie to dispose of fly ash from its Hunter power stations.

Malabar Coal acquired Anglo American’s controlling 88.17 per cent interest in the Drayton mine less than three months after the NSW Planning Assessment Commission refused the Drayton South mine because of “key effects” on Darley and Coolmore studs from “air quality, blast noise and reputation”.

The commission noted that mining and equine operations were “co-existing at this current point in time” but it believed the proximity of Drayton South would “tip this relationship out of balance to the detriment, and ultimate decline of the internationally recognised Hunter Valley equine critical industry cluster”.

Malabar Coal chairman Wayne Seabrook said that by using the existing infrastructure thecompany couldrealise efficiencies and, “most importantly, reduce the impact of its operations on the local community, neighbours and the environment”.

HunterThoroughbred Breeders Association has called on the NSW Government to confirm there will be no coal mining on the Drayton South site.

Association president Dr Cameron Collins said a clear and immediate statement from the government was needed to “avoid another senseless round of mining applications at Drayton South”, after four separate Planning Assessment Commissions rejected mining at Drayton South.

Lock the Gate Hunter spokesperson Steve Phillips said the $1 land valuation drop for Drayton was “pretty shocking”, but confirmed what community groups had been warning of for many years –that mine sites were virtually worthless once mining ceased.

“This is Drayton’s gift to the community –they’ve been making squillions for years and once they didn’t get the approval they wanted they’re spitting the dummy and leaving the community with a wasteland,” Mr Phillips said.

The sale of the site to another mine company left too many questions, and NSW Government assurances that rehabilitation bonds covered the cost of rehabilitating mine sites had been challenged, he said.

Rehabilitation bonds are the subject of a NSW Auditor-General review.

Mr Phillips said the Drayton refusal in February, its speedy sale, community concerns about another round of divisive mining proposals for Drayton South and the land revaluation “highlights that the Government has no plan for what’s going to happen to the Hunter region when mining closes down”.

Anglo American was approached for comment.

St Pius deals with legacies from its past

St Pius deals with legacies from its past Protest: Former St Pius X High School Adamstown student James Miller wrote a book, titled The Priests, in which he said he was abused by late principal Tom Brennan.
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Knowledge: The late Catholic priest and St Pius X, Adamstown teacher Patrick Helferty.

Convicted: Former St Pius X, Adamstown principal and Catholic priest Tom Brennan was convicted of making a false statement to police about paedophile priest John Denham.

Jailed: Former Hunter Catholic priest John Denham jailed for crimes against more than 60 boys.

Tough: James Miller as a teenage student at St Pius X, Adamstown.

Haunted: James Miller in 2000 after writing the book Shoot and Demonise, about the death of Ron Levi who was shot and killed by police at Bondi.

Allegations: Tom Brennan in 2012 not long before his death.

TweetFacebookThe Priests, by another former student, James Miller.

“This change of name has been made because there are public allegations that the house patron, Father Helferty, was aware of the sexual abuse of students that occurred at St Pius X in his time there in the 1970s and 1980s,” Mr Emery said.

“It is alleged that Father Helferty failed to act to stop the abuse. Since Father Helferty is deceased these allegations will remain as allegations.”

House patrons had to be “strong, inspiring, Catholic role models of impeccable character”, Mr Emery said.

“Out of respect for our students, staff and parents, and all victims of child sexual abuse, the school executive team has made the decision that a change of name was required for Helferty House.”

A former St Pius X student, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said he was pleased by the renamingbut concerned that it took so long to occur.

“The school is a crime scene for a lot of people. Having Helferty’s name so prominent, and others who knew about what went on, means it’s still in your face every time you go there,” the former student said.

In his book Mr Miller said he was sexually abused by former principal and Catholic priest Tom Brennan, who was charged with child sex offences and concealing the crimes of John Denham at the time of his death in 2012.

Mr Miller alleged Brennan and Helferty were “lifetime lovers”, and he disclosed Brennan’s sexualabuse to Helferty.

He alleged Helferty replied: “We won’t put up with boys telling lies about Father Brennan or anyone else.”

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