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The wind beneath Hanson’s wings

13/02/2019 | 苏州桑拿会所 | Permalink

Bill McNee???, the reclusive Melbourne millionaire developer at the centre of a political storm over Pauline Hanson’s aircraft use, failed to tell a potential buyer the true value of a multimillion-dollar rival bid and the fact it had been withdrawn.
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In a civil proceeding in the Victorian Supreme Court Mr McNee and two real estate agents were the subject of scathing comments on their negotiating tactics and commissions of fact used to induce the buyer into a contract that resulted in a successful claim for misleading and deceptive conduct and damages of almost $3 million.

In 2014 Justice John Digby made a finding against Mr McNee and two real estate agents over the $5.93 million purchase of a commercial property at 255 Chapel Street, Prahran.

The court heard that Mr McNee and colleagues failed to tell purchaser Thi Huong Nguyen??? that an offer by another bidder of $5.92 million was in fact $5.57 million and it had lapsed the day before.

Justice Digby found Mr McNee and others had made or implied a number of misleading and deceptive statements, adding that the developer had made alleged statements “with no honest belief in the truth of those statements”.

A subsequent valuation found Mr Nguyen had paid $2.1 million above the market price. Justice Digby made a finding of fraud against Mr McNee and others. He assessed damages at $2.8 million. Justice Digby ordered Mr McNee and another pay 85 per cent of the damages. An appeal against the finding was dismissed last year.

The low-profile Mr McNee came out of nowhere in the early 2000s to turn himself into Melbourne’s $100 million man courtesy the boom in off-the-plan units but he has been rudely thrust into the national spotlight thanks to a snowballing story surrounding a cute Jabiru 230-D two-seater aircraft Hanson used to reboot her political career in the run-up to the 2016 federal election.

Labor has referred Ms Hanson’s One Nation party to the n Electoral Commission over allegations the purchase of the aircraft breached political donation laws.

The first indication Ms Hanson and Mr McNee were close came as Ms Hanson delivered her first speech to the Senate last September.

Mr McNee was sitting in the public gallery with his partner, and Ms Hanson’s latest svengali and personal pilot James Ashby, when she made a cryptic reference to the Jabiru 230-D.

“A couple of strangers came along at the right time, helped me spread my wings and gave me the support and assistance I needed that now sees me standing on this floor today,” Ms Hanson said.

“These people are no longer strangers but dear friends, welcome at home any time for another lamb roast. Thank you, Bill and Renata.”

Mr McNee refused to talk about his relationship with Mr Ashby or the money allegedly contributed to buy Ms Hanson’s campaign plane, when contacted by Fairfax Media. Mr Ashby failed to return calls.

Mr McNee has donated generously to political parties: Since 2014, he has given about $150,000 to the Liberals, $80,000 to the ALP and $70,000 to Hanson’s One Nation.

No longer.

“We will never, ever make a political donation again. In hindsight it’s something we probably shouldn’t have done,” he told Fairfax Media.

“We are constantly approached by people for donations. We have stopped making political donations. Everything that I’ve done has been publicly disclosed,” he told Fairfax Media.

The son of British migrants, Mr McNee was born in the Melbourne bayside suburb of Frankston in 1972 and grew up in the hardscrabble housing commission estate The Pines.

After a building apprenticeship, he started renovating suburban homes before moving into property development and speculation, registering a small South Yarra-based company A.K. Smith Pty Ltd. in 1998.

Six years later he hit Melbourne’s CBD.

His first project was a renovation job in the old Kings Street night club strip. He moved on to the RACV building, South Yarra, Richmond, Fishermans Bend. His current big project is a 38-story apartment block on the former site of The Age newspaper in Spencer Street. Mr McNee’s property speculation and development outfit VicLand Property Group is run by a handful of workers from a rented South Yarra office.

As his wealth was turbo-charged thanks to the apartment boom, Mr McNee astutely appeared in real estate stories but never allowed photographs.

(Until the Senate public gallery photograph, the only publicly available shot of Mr McNee accompanied his website testimony to Finnish lifestyle coach Tomi Kokko under whom he trained in Melbourne: “I reached my target weight, I feel happier, my blood pressure is back to normal and I now make better business decisions for the company – Bill McNee – CEO of Vicland Property Group.”)

One story captured the man’s mercurial talent or luck: A property deal to buy 62 Hopetoun??? Road, Toorak, saw Mr McNee flip the 4000 square metre block of land he purchased from Toll Holdings executive Mark Rowsthorn in 2006 for $11 million to three Chinese buyers two years later for more than $20 million.

Peter Janson???, Melbourne’s man about town and nationally famous party host, recalls Mr McNee moving next door circa 2004 when he arrived in the CBD and meeting him when a burst water pipe flooded his cellar.

“Couldn’t have been nicer,” Mr Janson said. “We became quite good friends. I showed him how to deal with the Melbourne Council and hosted a party for his building mates and a planning minister. He liked taking photos of himself with friends.”

Mr Janson also says he helped Mr McNee obtain his first Rolls-Royce.

“It was a Silver Spirit but he was short of cash so I held it for him until he was in a better position. I must say, the impression that lingers was how hard the man worked.”

‘Extreme case of dirty laundry’: Siblings’ fight over will turns ugly

13/02/2019 | 苏州桑拿会所 | Permalink

The court warned the Barbanera children about the consequences of not resolving a dispute over the will of their father Antonio.
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“The findings in this case, whatever its outcome, would be unlikely to make comfortable reading for any of them or for any of their acquaintances,” according to NSW Supreme Court judge Michael Slattery.

However, the three siblings could not co-operate to prevent the public airing of their acrimonious family history.

John Barbanera took his siblings Nancy and Peter to court after he was left out of his father’s will. He sought up to $300,000 from his father Antonio’s estate, which included a house worth more than $2 million and $50,000 cash.

Antonio Barbanera attached to two of his wills a detailed explanation of why he had excluded his oldest son.

“While living at the family home at Haberfield, he was constantly abusive towards me, my wife and his siblings,” he wrote. “He was often physically violent towards his siblings, beating each of them on a number of occasions.”

In deciding he was not entitled to a portion of his father’s estate, Justice Slattery found John’s relationship with his parents was “extremely turbulent and volatile” and was characterised by abuse, threats and intimidation.

The judge said John behaved in a controlling manner towards his siblings, detailing an incident involving his deceased sister Angela.

“I accept that on one occasion in 1983 when John discovered that Angela had a boyfriend, John became enraged and punched Angela very hard in the face, causing her to fall to the kitchen floor with her face heavily bleeding,” the judge said. “He then stepped on her and kicked her while she lay motionless on the floor.”

On another occasion, John chased Angela with a firearm, threatening to kill her, after she ended a relationship with one of his friends.

Justice Slattery said the three siblings’ evidence “was profoundly distorted by their personal prejudices”.

The judge criticised John’s obsession with Nancy’s romantic life as a teenager, and his claim that she had an affair with a married man.

“He demonstrated an unshakeable sense of entitlement to judge the private life of his female siblings that was difficult to comprehend,” he said.

The judge was also critical of Nancy, who he said displayed “profound revulsion” and an “uncontrollable courtroom abhorrence” of John.

“At one point in her testimony, Nancy turned to John in the court room, ignoring both counsel and the court, and delivered an obscene and vitriolic rant directly towards John,” he said. “She accused him of many things, but in substance of ruining her life.”

Justice Slattery said Peter nursed a “powerful resentment” against John based on their childhood and a falling out over business that involved Peter attempting to hit his brother with a crowbar.

The judge said Nancy and Peter tried to keep John away from their dying mother. They also humiliated John and his wife Pina at their mother’s funeral by hiring security guards to watch him.

“The other major act of humiliation was the complete deletion of John’s name from mention at the funeral,” Justice Slattery said. “So effective was this that I accept Pina’s evidence that after the ceremony, the priest conducting Maria’s Requiem Mass approached John and her to apologise.”

But Justice Slattery rejected John’s claim for family provision because of his “comfortable” financial position of more than $5 million as well as his “capacity and a propensity to work” despite health issues. Other family members, in contrast, had “real and oppressing financial concerns”, he said.

The judge also pointed to the “tumultuous family history”, describing John as “the prime aggressive mover in creating family chaos and disharmony over the years”.

Prue Vines, a professor in the University of NSW’s Faculty of Law, said John’s history of violence did not necessarily mean he should be cut out of his father’s will.

“In this jurisdiction the testator is supposed to be wise and just, and sometimes forgiving as well,” she said. “It is the combination of the violence, unwillingness to end the estrangement along with the fact that he was clearly the best-off sibling that meant there was no evidence that he had been inadequately provided for.”

Professor Vines added: “This is an extreme case of a family’s dirty laundry being exposed. It is extremely sad.”

Phillip McGowan, the director of De Groots wills and estate lawyers, said taking a wills dispute to court can be highly emotional and is usually expensive.

“While a legal resolution may be obtained, this is often at the expense of personal or family ties or emotional wellbeing,” he said.

Climate challenges line up in China’s front and back yards

13/02/2019 | 苏州桑拿会所 | Permalink

As Rockhampton residents braced for a nine-metre-high major flood this week, efforts were bolstered by some of the 1600 n Defence Force troops deployed to help cope with Cyclone Debbie and its aftermath.
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In the past fortnight, the military dispatched helicopters, four landing craft, two larger naval ships and conveys of heavy vehicles to deliver water, medicine and other emergency supplies after the category four storm hit.

“Only the military has the large-scale capability of relief response,” Michael Thomas, a retired army major, said.

It’s a capability that has been tested in recent years, whether from category five Cyclone Winston that smashed Fiji last year or the huge El Nino which brought severe drought to Papua New Guinea.

And the challenge might have been made even tougher had Cyclone Ernie – which rapidly intensified this week into a category five tempest – not turned away from the n continent when it formed off the WA coast this week. A weaker but still dangerous cyclone is heading towards Vanuatu this weekend.

“Disaster relief is increasing in frequency and scope and scale,” said Mr Thomas, who will publish a book on the US and n readiness for climate change in June. ‘Disaster alley’

lies in the midst of what Sherri Goodman, a former Deputy Under Secretary of Defence for environmental security in the US, dubs “disaster alley”.

The region is home to large and swelling populations in coastal and delta regions exposed to cyclones and other extreme weather. These events are predicted by scientists to worsen with global warming.

Ms Goodman, who met senior n military members during a visit this week to Canberra, noted admiral Samuel Lockler III, the former head of the US Pacific Command, had described climate change as the biggest long-term security threat in the region.

“The n military and the Department of Defence are very interested to be leaders” on this issue, she said. “They know it’s the right thing to do.”

Fairfax Media sought comment from the ADF.

Ms Goodman coined the phrase “threat multiplier” a decade ago as the Pentagon stepped up efforts to focus on planning for the consequences of a warming world.

Among the challenges is the vulnerability of military assets themselves, such as naval bases that are at risk from rising sea levels and storm surges, she said.

Armed forces must also prepare for greater instability as fragile nations become more unstable through crop failure or forced migration within and across borders.

And militaries such as ‘s will need to be ready to divert more personnel and equipment to meet disaster relief needs both at home and abroad, Ms Goodman said. ‘Significant impacts’

David Titley, a retired US admiral, said regions between 30 degrees north and south of the Equator are among the most vulnerable on earth to climate change.

“[It’s] where precipitation is likely to decrease, temperatures will increase in some places to near lethal levels, and potentially stronger tropical cyclones will come ashore on an ever-higher sea level,” Admiral Titley said.

Much of falls within that zone “so there will likely be significant impacts to your country – but there will be large impact throughout South and Southeast Asia”, he said.

Mr Thomas, who last year inaugurated a week-long climate change and security course at the n Defence College, said Cyclone Debbie also served as a reminder that military bases “are not islands”.

They remain reliant to varying degrees on civilian infrastructure such as electricity, water and sewerage systems that could be disrupted by big storms.

Similarly, their staff, whether civilian or military, “have to be able to get to the bases” – something that’s not always possible when bridges or roads are damaged or destroyed by extreme weather, he said.

Film shows how to overcome our obsession with phones and other screens

13/02/2019 | 苏州桑拿会所 | Permalink

Sexting, online bullying, video game addiction, obsessive checking for messages, disruptions to lessons and sleep, anti-social behaviour.
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Three years ago, American doctor and filmmaker Delaney Ruston started grappling with how much time her children spent on screens and all the issues that threw up.

Her daughter Tessa wanted her first smartphone at age 12. Son Chase was heavily into playing video games at 14.

“I was really struggling with my daughter who wanted more social media and my son who wanted more video games,” Ruston said. “I was completely at a loss at what to do and frustrated with all the tension in the house.”

When Ruston began investigating, she discovered the medical consequences of constant immersion in screen technology, which one study showed was 6.5 hours a day for an average teenager.

“Excessive screen time can lead to problems such as decreased attention span, problems with developing social skills and a risk of real clinical internet addiction,” Ruston said. “These can affect kids currently in their studies but also in the future with their careers.”

Ruston, who has made the documentary Screenagers about her own family’s struggles with technology, believes we have accepted screens into our lives without enough questioning of the negative effects.

“When I was making the film, people would say to me ‘the cat’s already out of the bag. Screens are everywhere. We should just accept that our kids are going to be glued to devices’,” she said.

“I just didn’t buy that. We’re still their parents and frankly if you talk to kids, they want our help in setting boundaries.”

The documentary shows that companies that want us to spend more time on our screens, including Facebook and Google, often stop their own staff using phones and laptops during meetings so they are not distracted.

“All of us think we can multi-task but the data consistently shows that our performance is degraded on both things that we’re doing,” Ruston said. “There’s also human decency – a society that allows us to disconnect when we’re in the same space as others is frightening.”

In the film, Ruston and her husband realise how much they are distracted by their own phones, tablets and computers, even while criticising their children for being too focused on their devices.

“Now I work to have two nights after dinner when I’m not on my devices for at least two hours and my kids help me with that,” she said.

While Ruston agreed there were benefits for teenagers from smartphones and video games, particularly access to information and connecting with friends, she is opposed to phones in bedrooms when it’s time to sleep.

“A major study showed that just having devices in the bedroom can affect critical sleep cycles,” she said. “You can imagine that if kids have their smartphone, they might start to wake up and quickly want to check it, as opposed to finishing that sleep cycle.

“We see that even when kids have to get up super early for school, they will get up earlier to be able to check their device.”

Tessa, now 15, said making the film opened her eyes to the problems that she and her friends faced because of their phones.

One of the big changes has been stashing her phone in another room while doing her homework.

“I couldn’t really sit through all my homework before without my phone,” she said. “Now I take breaks on my phone and that’s a better balance.”

The documentary showed one student who became so obsessed with video games that he had go to an internet addiction rehab centre.

“Even as a physician, I didn’t know about true clinical internet addiction before making the film,” Ruston said. “Studies show anywhere from 5 to 15 per cent of young adults have serious problems with their internet use.”

Screenagers is getting community-organised screenings in . Details at fan-force苏州夜总会招聘.

THE DOCTOR’S PRESCRIPTION FOR LIMITING SCREEN TIMEDr Ruston suggests putting phones and other devices away at meal times, in the car and during family outings.While studying, teenagers should put their phones in another room but can take “tech breaks”.No phones, tablets or other devices in the bedroom when it’s time to sleep.Rather than relying on your phone, buy an alarm clock and a calculator. Limit interactive video games to certain times – the weekend, for example – especially for younger children.Try what a group of teenagers do in the film: when they eat out, they put their phones in the middle of the table. First to check their phone pays for dinner.Set aside regular time to calmly discuss any issues about mobile phones and other devices rather than letting them spark arguments.Parents worried about their children’s screen usage should think about what they are doing themselves.

Red tape increasing for DIY super trustees

13/02/2019 | 苏州桑拿会所 | Permalink

???In regard to “limited financial advice provided by accountants”, I went to my accountant the other week to discuss a re-contribution using the bring-forward rule. She informed me the only way this can be completed since the rules changed on July 1, 2016, is if she does a “statement of advice” that will cost me $1500 plus. She did a recontribution for me last year costing significantly less. I suggested I do it myself using last year’s re-contribution as a template and she thought it was not a good idea. I just want the paperwork associated with the recontribution, not superfluous paperwork costing an arm and a leg. This sly bit of legislation will affect every self-managed super fund (SMSF) trustee, if my accountant is right. Is she? Should I find another accountant? Finally, is completing a re-contribution strategy oneself fraught with problems? P.F.
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You accountant is correct in that the law changed last July. Since then, an accountant must be licensed to give advice on establishing or winding up an SMSF, and other advice such as when to start a pension or make additional contributions.

Once a person is licensed, they then have to follow ASIC’s onerous requirements, which include writing a report or “statement of advice” each time. So, to that extent, your accountant is following the law.

That said, the information you want is fairly simple and can be found on the n Tax Office’s website by Googling “ATO non-concessional contributions cap”. The major trap for novices is the danger of making an “excess contribution”. As explained by the ATO, if you haven’t made a non-concessional contribution exceeding $180,000 in each of the past two financial years, and are under age 65, you can “bring forward” three years’ contributions or $540,000, before June 30 this year, after which the caps are to be reduced. Then make no further non-concessional contributions until July 2019.

Note also that, if you make a deductible (“concessional”) contribution and, by mistake, no tax is deducted, it is then treated as a non-concessional contribution and this together with a $540,000 non-concessional contribution can push you over the cap. You then have to withdraw the excess and pay tax on it amid much paperwork.

If you’re unhappy, try using one of the many SMSF administrator companies, they’re very competitively priced. On the other hand, if you don’t understand simple rules regarding super, why do you want to run an SMSF? Why not just use a low-fee, public super fund with a myriad of investment options? You’re quite likely to earn more on your savings, even after fees.

I have had difficulty trying to ascertain my tax liability, if any. I have not filed a return for some years, having given up full-time work in 2012. My income for the last 2?? years has been my age pension, plus wages, currently $179 a week – no tax paid; interest on an investment of $20,000 plus an income stream of $5360 annually. I spoke to an ATO rep in a shopping centre last year and he said my income was not taxable but I am not sure I told him about the allocated pension. What is the work bonus and how does that affect my tax situation, if relevant? P.B.

Your allocated pension would be tax-free and you can earn up to $32,279 without paying tax, assuming you claim both the $445 low-income tax offset and the $2230 single senior ns and pensioners tax offset. The ATO offers a calculator on its website, Google “ATO Do I need to submit a tax return”.

Under Centrelink’s work bonus scheme, the first $250 a fortnight of employment income is ignored by the income test. Sign up ASAP!

I am 85 and my wife is 86 and we have received a part pension since December 2008. In October 2016, we submitted our periodic details to Centrelink showing assets of $771,463. In December, Centrelink advised our fortnightly pension would be $7.50 each plus supplements of $59.70 each. This $15 combined fortnightly pension means we are only $5000 (viz. $5000 x $3) under the cut off which therefore, must be $776,000, not $816,000. It seems to me that Centrelink have used the pension rate plus supplement for one calculation, yet pension only for another. I spent 1?? hours on the phone to Centrelink, finally got a lady, then her supervisor, both of whom agreed with me, but could not give an explanation. I have often stated, much to the amazement of others, that we do not need what we were getting from Centrelink but, as we were entitled, we accepted. All I want is an explanation that passes the factual and arithmetic test. Do hope you can help. N.T.

Note that your assets of $771,463 would be rounded down to $771,000. This is $396,000 more than the $375,000 lower threshold. As you note, the full pension of $1339.20 (since March 20) reduces by $3 for every $1000 above this, resulting in a combined fortnightly pension of [$1339.20 -($396 x 3)=] $75.60 combined.

The pension supplement of $49.70 a fortnight per couple is comprised of a “minimum amount” of $26.70 (which you can elect to receive quarterly), a “basic amount” of $18.90 and a “remaining amount” of $4.10.

The “basic amount” and “remaining amount” can be reduced to nil by the means tests. For example, where a pensioner is eligible for the pension supplement, the means tests will first reduce, in the following order, your basic pension, then the pension supplement’s “basic amount”, then its “remaining amount”, rent assistance if payable, energy supplement ($10.60) and finally the pension supplement minimum amount, the latter being payable in full or not at all.

It could be the existence of this final amount that confuses you.

Since you don’t need the pension, you can end the confusion and the anxiety by telling Centrelink to go away and keep their pension, to the cheers of taxpayers like me!

Concerning health care cards available to eligible persons, you said that the low-income health care card (LIHCC) provides benefits to eligible persons that are not otherwise available under the Commonwealth seniors health card (CSHC) “such as energy bills, public transport costs, council rates, healthcare costs, including ambulance, dental and eye care”. I recently sought advice from the Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Society about applying for a LIHCC and was advised that I would be wasting my time as it was only applicable to people who have dependants. Your comments would be appreciated. T.R.

The CSHC doesn’t cover dependants, nor utilities. The LIHCC nominally covers both while some services, such as ambulance, are covered by both cards.

The Victorian Department of Human Services prepares a chart showing the LIHCC brings with its concessions for water, gas, power and utility relief grants. NSW has similar schemes (Google “NSW utility relief grants”) as do other states. However, I get sporadic reports, that such concessions are not always offered by differing utilities.

As we discussed on March 12, what we need is an under-worked civil servant with the time to put together a table, or a series of tables, to answer such questions.

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

How to get the most bang for your Easter egg buck

14/01/2019 | 苏州桑拿会所 | Permalink

ns are expected to buy 3000 tonnes of chocolate this Easter – and that’s just at Coles.
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At Woolworths, Easter chocolate spending is up 5 per cent from last year, amid expectations that 13 million chocolates will sell, while Haigh’s Chocolate plans to sell 4.5 million Easter eggs and 50,000 Easter Bilbies.

Post estimates ns on average will spend more than $72 each buying sweet treats online.

‘s three major supermarkets have been responding to ‘s increasing appetite for chocolate this year, with aggressive discounts hitting shelves well in advance of the Easter weekend.

“I’m a bit of a bargain hunter,” said mother-of-two Elizabeth Post, who estimated she will spend $100 on chocolate this Easter.

“I’ve already bought some eggs and I bought them because they were 25 per cent off at Woollies. Now I’ve got the next couple of days to check out the prices at Aldi.”

A consumer survey by ME Bank last year found around 48 per cent of ns planned to spend up to $50 on Easter eggs, while almost 20 per cent planned to spend double that amount.

n annual sales of “seasonal chocolate” (Easter and Christmas holiday seasons) forecast to increase from 5800 tonnes in 2016, to 6700 tonnes by 2021.

Mrs Post said she usually did her Easter chocolate shopping in stages so it did not “look so scary”. !function(e,t,s,i){var n=”InfogramEmbeds”,o=e.getElementsByTagName(“script”),d=o[0],r=/^http:/.test(e.location)?”http:”:”https:”;if(/^\/{2}/.test(i)&&(i=r+i),window[n]&&window[n].initialized)window[n].process&&window[n].process();else if(!e.getElementById(s)){var a=e.createElement(“script”);a.async=1,a.id=s,a.src=i,d.parentNode.insertBefore(a,d)}}(document,0,”infogram-async”,”//e.infogr.am/js/dist/embed-loader-min.js”);

“We really don’t go overboard … We usually have an egg hunt in the morning with the kids and then another in the afternoon with our extended family,” she said, adding that it was hard to avoid in-store marketing for chocolates at the supermarket.

“It is frustrating when you are at the register and the kids can see [eggs] right there in front of them. But I guess it’s good marketing.”

This year Woolworths estimates it will sell more than 13 million Easter chocolates, up more than 5 per cent on 2016.

“NSW is expected to be the biggest chocolate shopper in 2017, after purchasing around a third of the total Easter chocolate sold last year,” a Woolworths spokesman said.

Among the best value offering at Woolworths is the 100-gram Cadbury Dairy Milk hollow egg for $3, and the 250-gram Cadbury Dairy Milk bunny for $4.

German discount chain Aldi is offering a range of exclusive chocolate brands as well as other mass-market labels.

From its exclusive range, Aldi’s 125-gram Dairy Fine chocolate bunny is 99?? (79?? per 100 grams).

Alternatively Aldi is also offering a 175-gram Mars gift box for $8.99 ($5.14 per 100 grams).

At Coles shoppers are opting for larger packs over individual eggs.

The best value options at Coles include the 500-gram bag of Coles-brand solid milk chocolate eggs for $5 ($1 per 100 grams), and the Cadbury Crunchie egg gift box, which is 205 grams and retails for $8 ($3.90 per 100 grams.)

Shoppers seeking the best value for money on chocolates this Easter may be best served shopping around.

While a 500-gram bag of mini eggs at Aldi costs $5.39, the same product under the Coles-brand is a slightly better deal at $5.

However those after chocolate bunnies will be better served at Aldi, where the 125-gram Dairy Fine bunny is 79?? per 100 grams, half the price of that offered at Woolworths and almost 40 per cent cheaper than the Red Tulip Elegant Rabbit at Coles, which is $6 ($2 per 100 grams). Latest consumer newsInteract with us on Facebook – Savvy Consumer

Every time he had an excuse’: Unlicensed builder up to old tricks

14/01/2019 | 苏州桑拿会所 | Permalink

Carol Nicol Photo: SuppliedCarol Nicol trusted the builder she had hired to renovate her home to do a good job while she shuttled her teenage son, who has cystic fibrosis, to and from hospital.
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The builder did an acceptable job of ripping things out, but Sam Robinson’s next steps caused her great grief.

He had removed the bulkhead in the bathroom ceiling, which voided her home insurance, failed to replace door handles, which left her stranded outside, and had not passed on payments for the stacked stone fireplace, which left a debt collector on her back.

“I have to regularly take my son Tony to hospital, and he took advantage of that, not doing any of the work we paid him to do,” said the mother-of-three from Hinchinbrook, in Sydney’s south-west.

“Every time I questioned him, he had an excuse, a sob story: someone was sick, he had a slight heart attack, the stores were closed.”

NSW Fair Trading is urging the public to not deal with Mr Robinson, also known as Bassam Marouche, who might be seeking building work despite not possessing a licence.

He has two companies: ATS Group (NSW) Pty Ltd and BMF Building Consultants Pty Ltd.

The consumer watchdog issued penalty notices to Mr Robinson in 2014. In 2015 and 2016, it prosecuted him in court.

In August, he was ordered to pay $28,800 in fines and costs and $28,000 to a consumer by Parramatta Local Court.

He will soon appear again in court for a final sentencing in relation to an offence under the Crimes Act.

“He has a track record of defective work, failure to carry out work, and failure to return money, and anyone transacting with him may end up having to pay a whole lot more,” said Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe.

“We want people to have nothing to do with him. We’ve had nine complaints about him [in the past five years].”

Ms Nicol made 21 payments totalling $39,000 to Mr Robinson – 30 per cent more than the original quote – between November and March.

His main job was to renovate two bathrooms. Despite four months of work, they were left unusable – the taps fell off, the toilet leaked and shoddy wiring in the ceiling short circuited the house.

She is now forking out another $40,000 to repair the damage and realise her dream home.

“I’m lost for words, how can another human being do that? How does he sleep at night? He’s done this before, so hasn’t he learnt his lessons?” she said.

“What’s worse is that he knew I was regularly taking my son to the children’s hospital, so he knew I wouldn’t be home, and he’d lie about when he arrived or the work he was doing.”

Increased enforcement action saw 200 defendants hit with $1.4 million worth of fines and penalties for 463 offences under the Home Building Act last year, up from $1 million the previous year.

Mr Stowe reminded the public to only deal with licensed builders. Consumers can visit Fair Trading’s website to check builders’ licences, see what type of work they’re authorised to carry out, and view their track record.

“The top warning signs are builders asking for deposits above that mandated by the building act, asking for continuing payments when work hasn’t started, and making constant excuses,” he said.

“Anyone who has had problems in their dealings with Mr Robinson and his companies, or has information about his continued operation, should contact Fair Trading.” Latest consumer newsSavvy Consumer – Interact with us on Facebook

How to avoid squeeze of rising mortgage rates

14/01/2019 | 苏州桑拿会所 | Permalink

SUN HERALD NEWS MORTGAGE RATES Pic shows Shell Cove residents Graeme and Kim Perry who were on a 12 months intro deal of 3.59 per cent with a smaller lender and the rate reverted to 3.99 per cent. Graeme rang his lender and asked for a better deal and his lender reduced his interest rate to 3.73 per cent. Pic to go with a story on lenders increasing interest rates on their mortgages and what borrowers can do. 7th of April 2017 Photo: Adam McLean Photo: Adam McLeanMortgage costs are going up.
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Although the Reserve Bank cut the cash rate twice during 2016, lenders have been increasing their mortgage rates. And experts are predicting more out-of-cycle increases.

But haggling can pay off, as Graeme and Kim Perry, who live just outside Wollongong in NSW, have found.

The couple’s home loan was on a 12-month introductory or “honeymoon” rate of 3.59 per cent with a smaller lender.

At the time they signed up for the mortgage the “revert” rate was 3.84 per cent. But by the end of the honeymoon period the lender had increased the revert rate to 3.99 per cent.

“At the end of the 12-months they cranked it up it up to 3.99 per cent and I was none too happy,” says Graeme, a 44-year-old who works in sales.

“I told the lender that they are advertising mortgage interest rates that are cheaper than mine.”

He pointed out to the lender that he and Kim have substantial equity in their home and they had never missed a repayment.

After a couple of discussions on the phone and hinting strongly that he was prepared to switch to another lender, there was still no joy.

But after Graeme initiated the switching process, the lender reduced the interest rate to 3.73 per cent.

Anyone who has not checked what their lender is doing and how that stacks-up against other lenders could easily be paying more than they need to. Rising rates

The latest round of “out-of-cycle” increases over March has mostly affected property investors. That’s because the banking regulator has been forcing lenders to tighten lending to investors, who are behind the rapidly rising house prices in Sydney and Melbourne.

But mortgage rates for owner-occupiers are on their way up as well. The latest round of rate increases during March saw the big four banks’ standard variable rates for owner-occupiers average 5.29 per cent, figures from RateCity show.

Three of the Big Four have increased their standard variable rates by up to 0.07 percentage points during March, while ANZ has not increased its variable rate for owner-occupiers.

An increase of 0.07 percentages adds $261 a year to repayments on a $500,000 mortgage over 30 years, RateCity says.

All of the big banks have made big increases on their mortgages for investors and also have made big increases on interest-only mortgages for owner-occupiers.

Most of the increases are of the order of 0.25 percentage points, which adds $1250 a year in repayments on a $500,000 mortgage over 30 years.

Smaller lenders have mostly followed suit, though they still have lower interest rates than the big banks. Ask for discount

Sally Tindall, a spokeswoman for comparison site RateCity, says some smaller lenders start with rock-bottom interest rates and, as a result, don’t give themselves much leeway to offer discounts.

The big banks usually have more capacity to discount, she says.

“The big banks offer a wide variety of discounts based on loan-to-valuation ratio, borrowing size and history of repayments.

“The ‘ideal’ borrower can get up to 0.9 percentage points off their banks’ standard variable rate,” Tindall says.

“And, if you are content with the most basic home loan offering from one of the big banks, then you could get a rate that is over 1 percentage point lower.”

However, basic loans may not have an offset account or allow you to make extra repayments. Offset accounts can save a fortune in interest. They are attached to the mortgage, where the balance in the offset account is deducted from the balance owing on the mortgage for the purpose of calculating the interest payments. More rate rises

Experts are expecting more out-of-cycle mortgage rate rises.

That especially after figures from CoreData this week showed “dwelling” prices, houses and units, rose by almost 19 per cent in Sydney over the year to March 31 this year and by almost 16 per cent in Melbourne.

This week Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe blamed the too generous tax breaks for the property investors as well as lax bank lending standards for the explosion in Sydney and Melbourne home prices.

The n Prudential Regulation Authority, which regulates lenders, has been requiring lenders to tighten lending to investors for the past two years, but it may have to do even more to slow the growth of investment loans.

“I think that there is the potential for even more rate rises, particularly from more of the smaller lenders,” says Mitchell Watson, the research manager at Canstar.

And with the official cash rate set by the Reserve Bank at a record low of 1.5 per cent, the next change in interest rates, when it comes, could well be up, Watson says.

Almost 90 per cent of 36 economists and other experts told a survey by comparison site, Finder, that they expect the next move in the cash rate to be up.

Most of the experts say the out-of-cycle rate hikes by lenders allows the Reserve Bank to hold-off for longer before increasing the cash rate.

However, a rate rise isn’t likely to occur for some time with 70 per cent of the experts believing a rate rise won’t occur until 2018.

Shane Oliver, the chief economist at AMP Capital Investors, says that for the Reserve Bank to hike rates just to slow the Sydney and Melbourne property markets at a time of softness elsewhere would be “madness”.

“The arguments to cut or hike rates are evenly balanced and we can’t see an official rate hike until the second half of 2018,” Oliver says.

Canstar’s Watson says borrowers should be making sure that they have the capacity to meet repayments if there are higher interest rates. Get a better deal

While the big banks have standard variable owner-occupier rates of 5.29 per cent, on average, there are many smaller lenders who have rate of well under 4 per cent.

Reduce Home Loans’ Rate Buster Standard Variable is the lowest variable rate loan for owner-occupiers listed on Canstar’s database at 3.39 per cent.

Though you may never of heard of Reduce Home Loans, it is regulated to the same standards as other lenders.

Even though fixed rates have also been on the way up recently, there are still some competitive fixed rate mortgages at the moment. For example, the big banks have three-year fixed rate for owner-occupiers of just over 4 per cent.

Smaller lenders have three-year fixed rates of well under 4 per cent.

Some borrowers prefer fixed rates for the certainty of repayments, but they are less flexible than variable rate mortgages. If you have to break the fixed rate period because you want to upgrade, for example, you can be up for the economic costs to the lender of breaking the loan, depending on what interest rates have done in the meantime.

Mortgage Choice says fixed rate home loans accounted for only 21 per cent of all loans written by its brokers in March, down from 22 per cent in February. “Given that home loan interest rates are rising, I am somewhat surprised to see a fall in fixed-rate demand,” says John Flavell, the chief executive at Mortgage Choice, which has the biggest network of mortgage brokers in .

Flavell says fixed rate demand could potentially increase as more borrowers look to lock-in a fixed rate and therefore beat any future rate hikes. “There is no doubt that interest rates will continue to rise over the short to medium term. As and when this happens, I think we will see more borrowers looking for interest rate stability and security,” he says.

The $300m GST grab hardly anyone knows about

14/01/2019 | 苏州桑拿会所 | Permalink

To tell this tale properly, I have to publicly confess to buying a very expensive coat for my husband’s birthday.
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Doubtless some people will poke fun of my extravagance, or even be offended by it. But, dear reader, I’m willing to sacrifice myself in order that I can write a useful column for you about GST on imported items.

n retailers have won the long-running debate about whether consumers should have to pay GST when they buy from an overseas website.

Since the introduction of the GST in 2000 ns have copped the tax if they spend more than $1000 from an overseas website.

Not many people realise that from July 1 this year, they’ll also have to pay GST on items worth less than $1000, plus digital products such as movie streaming, e-books, apps and games and services such as architectural and legal services. Details are on the Tax Office website.

Some people call it the “Gerry Harvey tax” since Harvey, the co-founder of Harvey Norman, was one of the most vocal agitators for extending the GST to all overseas purchases to create a “level playing field” for local retailers.

It was a particular issue for his business when the n dollar was at parity with the US, where consumer electronics are much cheaper.

It’s also going to boost the government’s coffers. The 2016-17 federal budget reported the new rules would increase GST revenue by $300 million over the forward estimates period to 2019-20.

A Treasury spokeswoman says the GST for low-value items and digital products and services will be collected at point of sale.

Any supplier that makes at least $75,000 in annual turnover from n sales will be required to charge GST. Suppliers using an online marketplace that exceeds that turnover will also be included, regardless of the size of the individual seller.

That’s less hassle for consumers but the risk is that many overseas retailers may decide that the compliance costs are too high and it’s not worth the bother.

Meanwhile, the Treasury spokeswoman says there are no proposed changes to the current arrangements for goods worth more than $1000, where the GST is paid by the consumer before the goods are released by Customs.

This is the category I fell into, and the experience was eye-opening. This is where I have to come clean about the size of my recent purchase.

The price tag for my husband’s coat was ??697.50, including delivery from the UK. That translated to $1148.95 on our n bank statement. (I showed him the coat online and we have a joint bank account, so I’m not destroying any great marital mystery here).

Before I go on, I will say in my defence is that it’s not an everyday purchase and it’s a very beautiful, high-quality coat that will last for years.

Buying one coat for a significant sum of money is less environmentally damaging than buying several cheaper ones for less. That’s something I care about.

And I also believe it will work out financially. If he wears it every week day throughout winter for just one season, it would be $17.40 on a cost-per-wear basis. That’s less than many items of fast fashion that people buy from the likes of H&M.

In reality he’s unlikely to wear it literally every day, but he won’t retire it after one season either. I told him I expected him to wear it for 10 years and he countered that he hoped to pass it on to our son one day. We’ll see how we go.

But I digress. This was actually the first time I’d bought anything for more than $1000 from an overseas retailer online, so it was the first time I’d paid GST on an overseas purchase.

I could see when I paid for it that the British retailer had removed VAT from the purchase price, and I was vaguely aware that I would be contacted before delivery to arrange payment of GST.

What I didn’t realise was that GST was only a small portion of what the n government would sting me for.

The GST rate is 10 per cent so I was expecting a bill for $114.90. That’s what it would take to make it a “level playing field”, right?

The actual bill from Customs, via delivery service UPS, was $277.33.

The GST component was $128.73 – I have no idea why it was an extra $13.83 but let’s not quibble.

There was also a customs entry fee of $83, a duty/tax of $54.65 and a security fee of $9.95. All up that’s about 25 per cent in tax!

Obviously there was not much I could do about it by this point, so I paid up. It felt a bit like the coat was being held to ransom by Customs.

Delivery was prompt, though I was shocked that UPS then left the box on our front porch, against the retailer’s terms and conditions. I’m all for that most of the time – there’s nothing worse than queuing at the post office to sign for something worth all of twenty bucks.

But a coat that’s come all the way from England at a total cost of $1426.28? Nah, she’ll be right mate, just leave it on the front steps. I mean Sydney’s just a big country town, right? Hmm.

Anyway, all’s well that ends well, and I have the coat ready to give to my husband this weekend. I hope he likes it. Next year he’s getting a book!

Caitlin Fitzsimmons is the editor of Money and a regular columnist for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. Find her on Facebook or Twitter.

Bryan Rose, the buyer of Mosman’s most expensive $22.5 million house

14/01/2019 | 苏州桑拿会所 | Permalink

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What’s hot in Sydney’s new homes this spring

Mosman estate of Ying Li nudges North Shore record, selling for about $22.5 million

Easybeats guitarist Harry Vanda sells Rose Bay house for $15 million

The secret $22.5 million buyer from the eastern suburbs who recently bought Mosman’s most expensive house is revealed as Bryan Rose, the son of multimillionaire Bob Rose who now heads up the family’s property development giant Rose Group.

The purchase marks a triumphant return to Mosman for Rose, who grew up in the harbourside suburb and lived in the Balmoral Beach trophy home Seacliff.

The waterfront property is set on one of the suburb’s largest privately held holdings and was sold last week by little-known Ying Li, from China, who had left it largely untouched and vacant since it last traded in 2012 for $20 million.

Details on the sale have been shrouded in secrecy thanks to strict gag orders on agents Mark Manners, of Simeon Manners, and Monika Tu, of Black Diamondz Concierge, but Rose has been a regular on the house-hunting trail in recent months, shopping for waterfront accommodation close to schools on the lower north shore.

Settlement will confirm the exact sale price, but it is understood to have topped an underbid of $22.3 million.

Sources say Rose has already started tidying up the garden of the Vaucluse home he bought almost a decade ago for $4.62 million, which would time in well with a post-Easter sales campaign.

Talk of an eastern suburbs buyer actually moving to Mosman left high net worth watchers stumped given the challenge involved in luring such buyers over the Harbour Bridge, but made sense when it was revealed Rose had grown up on the lower north shore.

Rose’s new Beauty Point estate includes a main residence with a swimming pool, tennis court, slipway, boatshed, tidal beach and a separate guest house. There is already talk of subdivision plans for the estate to create another two new dwellings on the waterfront.

It was the home of retired car dealer Laurie Sutton for 35 years after it was sold in 1977 for $376,960 by the late television presenter and quiz show host Bob Dyer and his late co-star wife Dolly.

Rose Group was founded by veteran property developer Bob Rose in 1976, and his son Bryan is joint managing director with his brother Stuart, who upgraded from Darling Point to a $15.5 million waterfront home in Rose Bay two years ago.

A few months after Sutton sold in Mosman, he set a Palm Beach house record at $19 million, buying the Kalua trophy residence.

Given the tight circles that Sydney’s uber-wealthy move in it is perhaps unsurprising that Sutton’s Palm Beach home is two doors from the Rose family’s summer getaway, which in turn is next door to Gretel Packer’s weekender.