Don’t be a Scrooge this Christmas

Generous: Mr and Mrs Claus with Shieldy of the Salvos getting ready for Sunday. It’s December, so we can officially talk about Christmas, can’t we?
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We’ve got a story for you.

Around Christmas time last year, an honest politician, a generous lawyer and Santa Claus all got into alift at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Newcastle.

As the lift began to move, the trionoticed a $50 note lying on the floor.

Which one, do you think, picked up the $50 noteand handed it in at reception?

Why Santa of course. The other two don’t exist!

OKOK. Just one more Christmas story, we promise.

On Christmas Eve, a bloke named Brettwent to do his Christmas shopping for his wife.

Brett, a successful accountant, wasn’t short of a quid.

He went to thecosmetics section at David Jones at Westfield Kotara.

“I’m looking to buy some perfume for my wife,” Brett said.

The sales girl, who was immaculately presented like most David Jones staff,showed him a bottle costing $200.

“That’s too expensive,” Brett said, shaking his head.

The assistantreturned with a smaller bottle worth $100.

“No way. That’s still too dear,” he said.

The sales girl thought Brett was mean. But it wasn’t her job to judge.

She offered himthe cheapest fragrance they had.

“It’s on sale –20 per cent off,” she said.

Brett wasn’t happy.

“I’m looking for something really cheap,” he said.

So, without missing a beat, the sales girl handed him a mirror.

Boom tish!

The point of the story is, don’t be a Scrooge this Christmas!

Why not follow the lead and generosity of the bikers who do the Newcastle Toy Run each year.

The bikers will be part of a big Christmas party atWickham Park on Sunday, with live music, markets and amusements.

Topics has been reliably informed that the park willcome alive with Christmas cheer. We could all use a bit of that.

Toys canbe donated to the Salvos’ Christmas Appeal, bringing joy into the lives of underprivileged families.

A big donation point will be designated for new and unwrapped toys, with Salvation Army mascot “Shieldy” roving the park and greeting guests.

The event runs from 10am to 3pm.

The bikes will start arriving about10.30am.

School’s Out ForeverAfter 28 years as Black Hill Public School principal, Brian Adamthwaite is headed for retirement.

In a couple of weeks when the school bell rings for summer, Brian will vacate the principal’s chair and start settling into a life of freedom.

Well, that’s not entirely true.

He is a Lake Macquarie councillor, which means he’llstill have quite a bit of work on his hands.

But there’ll still be plenty of time to kick back and appreciate the blue wrens that live out his way at Seahampton.

Brian might be leaving Black Hill Public, but his family will still have a connection to the school.

His grandson Jack Newman will startkindergartennext year.

Reflecting on a long career in education, Brian said: “When I retire, it will be 42 years since I signed on as an 18-year-old with the Department of Education”.

“Teaching has been a pleasure,” Brian said.

“As I say to younger teachers, it’s the best job in the world.

“In this profession, you have the potential to change someone’s life for the better every day.”

Brian has never tried to hide his passion for education …or politics.

He once gave an emotional speech about Gough Whitlam at a council meeting,after the former prime minister’s deathin 2014.

Brian was particularly grateful for Whitlam’s policy of freeuniversity education.

So to mark Brian’s retirement, here’s a famous Whitlam quote: “We are all diminished when any of us are denied proper education. The nation is the poorer – a poorer economy, a poorer civilisation.”

[email protected]南京夜网419论坛 Brian Adamthwaite and grandson Jack Newman will [sort of] trade places.

The highs and lows of Canberra house prices

A property cycle depicts four phases that are associated with the movement of home values. The stages are most commonly referred to as the boom, bust, bottoming and recovery.
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I have an aversion to the use of the word “bust”. The descriptive insinuates prices move to negative territory. It is important to note that not all price cycles result in a period of backwards growth.

Preferably it should be looked upon as a reference to the rate of growth. Of course the bust phase can result in prices declining. However, often it displays moderation to the rate of growth, whereby prices move at a slower pace compared with the level that was experienced during the boom growth phase.

There is no single property cycle in Australia – there are a number to keep your eye on. They differ between cities, property types and even regions. An example is Australia’s current east and west contrasts. Perth is tipped to be at the bottoming phase while market indicators suggest Sydney is moderating from a period of booming price growth; two major cities at opposite ends of the spectrum.

Many experts describe a property cycle to exist roughly every seven years. The truth is that Australian housing cycles have been occurring in greater frequency. Since the millennium, Canberra’s house market has experienced a number of property cycles, with the boom phase having an annual peak growth rate in 2003, 2007 and 2010. The current cycle is still unfolding.

Following the boom phase of the property cycle in 2003, 2007 and 2010, house prices did experience an annual moderation that dipped to negative territory. The most notable fall to house prices followed the boom of 2007; at the peak of the cycle values scored 15 per cent growth annually, whereby prices topped at $501,954. The median house price then tumbled to a low of $474,616 by December 2008. Price recovery took until the September quarter of 2009 to surpass the prior peak. Related articles: Selling your home in the summer Canberra market

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Related articles: Buyers prepared to pay more in the Inner North of Canberra

House prices in 2003 notched the greatest annual percentage change compared with 2007 and 2010 at 28.9 per cent. The median house price peaked at $392,219 before a minor downward adjustment by 1.3 per cent to $386,973, although prices did bounce back by the following quarter.

In 2010, house prices gained 16.4 per cent at the peak reaching $569,665 and a low of $552,778.

A series of factors influence property cycles with monetary policy having a notable impact. Other influences include supply and demand, socio-economic factors, consumer sentiment, as well as unemployment and job security.

So far, the highest annual rate of growth in Canberra’s current housing cycle was achieved in the March quarter of 2017 at 9.9 per cent. This is the highest annual rate of growth since September 2010. House prices are now at a record high $714,975 as of the September quarter.

Purchasing decisions can be swayed by assumptions of the current position in the property cycle. A booming market can often lure purchases to be made at the peak of growth in the fear of missing out. Understanding the property cycle can help time a home purchase at the lower period of growth rather than high.

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The first step to getting your backyard ready for summer

Summer brings with it a raft of marvellous things; stone fruits, long days, and so many parties. Whether you plan on playing the host, or would prefer to enjoy a little R&R in your green haven, we’ve asked some experts for their best tips to show your outdoor space some love.
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The first step is a good assessment of your space and a thorough clean-up to banish the winter neglect. “Clean the paving, walls and windows next to your outdoor living space,” says Joanne Neylon, company director of Joanne Green Landscape and Interior. If budget permits, splash out on some new outdoor furniture, “then install some well selected pots and plants for maximum impact – you’ll only need a few.”

If your space is in need of a little more attention, Neylon’s biggest advice is to ensure you have some flat zones to work with. “Providing level areas for lawn or paving can make a big difference quickly. Add some walling, where necessary, to achieve these.”

William Dangar, creative director of outdoor furniture retailer Robert Plumb and author of Garden, recommends keeping your outdoor style and materials in line with your interiors.

“Even when working on a large garden I like to create areas of containment – be that a paved area where a dining table and chairs can be placed, or a seating area for generous, comfortable lounge chairs. These zones should have a relationship with the style of the house for a sense of continuity.”

When it comes to defining the entertaining space, Dangar is more of an advocate for blurred lines. “Planting can help to define a zone, and I like to use swathes of mass planting of the same species rather than lots of individual plants, but I prefer plants to drift over the edge of an entertaining space to soften the delineation.”

There is great debate over outdoor dining versus outdoor lounge, and if you’re lucky enough to fit both then relish in the fortune, but heed Dangar’s advice if space is at a premium: “In a small space, go for one generous piece and support with smaller items – such as stools which double as side-tables – and don’t try to squeeze too much furniture in, it will only look cluttered and overstuffed.”

The fire pit remains a firm favourite in the entertainer’s arsenal for 2018. “They create a focal point to an evening, a place to gather and bring family and friends together,” he says. Related: What happened to the great Australian backyard?Related: What to ask yourself before starting a gardenRelated: How to choose the best plants for your balcony

“I always recommend that fire pits are positioned on non-combustible surfaces. When in lawn spaces, I often fabricate a mild steel ring to create a crisp edge and then use a gravel surface for the fire pit and stools to sit on.”

For times when the flickering light of the bonfire isn’t going to cut it, we turned to Ted Smyth, co-owner of EST Lighting for his tips on getting the mood right outdoors.

“For entertaining spaces, we really enjoy deleting every floodlight from our client’s lighting plan,” says Smyth. “In place of these we add fixtures usually reserved for indoors – decorative pendants, floor lamps, and table lamps, all dimmable, weather-proof and ambient.”

At meal time, “Small, rechargeable LED table lamps can add a subtle layer of light for dining tables and look fantastic,” he says. And to really get the party started it’s hard to go past weatherproof festoon lights. “They can be hung up quickly, and are always a fun addition when friends drop in or when luncheons last ’til after dark.”

When it comes to the final flourishes, stylist and author Jason Grant admits he’s always won over by attention to detail. “I love a beautiful table setting with abundant shared dishes on handsome platters, glinting glasses, interesting serving ware and accessories – complete with fresh flowers of course! I always strive to bring a splash of colour to a table.”

Bringing indoor comforts outside is another winning formula. “Treat your outdoor space like you would a room indoors and decorate it just the same. Or a cute outdoor umbrella is a great, cost-effective way to update your space and inject some personality,” says Grant.

So now, with the arrival of friends and family imminent, the last thing left to do is fire up the barbecue and get the bubbly on ice.

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$13 billion river rescue heads for failure, report says

News.November 30th 2014.Danny Hull monitors the irrigation system at the Canturf farm in Fyshwick as a golden sun sets over Canberra. Canberra Times photo by Matt Bedford. WATER AFR 070510 PIC JESSICA SHAPIRO… The Campaspe River, a tributary of the Murray River runs through Rochester in Central Victoria and irrigates land for the surrounding agriculture. GENERIC crops, grain, paddock, livestock, murray darling basin, water allocation, restrictions, farmers, feed, agriculture, crisis, drought, climate change, environment, rain, irrigation, export, import, trade… AFR FIRST USE ONLY PLEASE!!! SPECIALX 64942
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The $13 billion reform to restore the health of the Murray-Darling Basin is “at great risk”, amid excessive payments to irrigators, failing environmental flows and an ignorance of water extraction that is “inconceivable” given available technology, a review of the 10-year plan has found.

The independent report by the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists, released on Thursday, singles out Queensland and NSW for weak regulation. Victoria, too, is criticised for putting its river gum forests at risk by not backing overland flooding that downstream users support.

The Wentworth report said a weakening of oversight of the costly plan had led to a “systematic weakening” of the plan, “leaving Australia’s most productive basin seriously compromised”.

Jamie Pittock, a water expert from the Australian National University who was a key author of the report, said this year’s alleged water theft in NSW that spawned a spate of inquiries was “just the tip of the iceberg”.

There was “institutional corruption”, Dr Pittock said. “It’s the capture of state agencies by the powerful industry interests against the broader public interest.”

For its part, the Murray-Darling Basin Authority said it welcomed the Wentworth report but said it was “confident we are on track” to implement the plan.

“We do not support the report’s finding that Basin Plan implementation is inherently flawed,” a spokesperson said. “We are just five years into implementing the plan that is designed to repair 100 years’ worth of damage.” Irrigators win

The Wentworth report is among the latest in a flurry of recent reports into water management in the basin.

These include a compliance review released last week, a scathing assessment by the NSW Ombudsman earlier this month – which disclosed for the first time it had conducted three previous investigations in the sector – and the NSW government’s own independent commissioner’s report also released on Thursday.

The irrigation community had been a “major beneficiary” of water reforms so far, with “windfall gains” made from a large transfer of water entitlements from public to private ownership, the report said.

These gains had been boosted by the plan’s $2.7 billion investment in acquiring water entitlements from “willing sellers” and $3.6 billion in investments to modernise irrigation infrastructure worth an average of $400,000 per irrigation business, it said. That latter sum could rise to $700,000 by the end of the plan. ‘Inconceivable’

Despite the largesse, however, metering remains poor with about one-third of overall water use in the basin continuing to be unmetered despite $500 million invested in water accounting.

“[I]t is inconceivable that we do not know how much water is being extracted from surface and groundwater systems for consumptive use,” the report said.

Metering varied, with South Australia monitoring 95 per cent of water use the best, and Queensland the worst, at just 32 per cent. NSW, by far the biggest extractor, metered only about two-thirds of use.

Dr Pittock said the implementation of the readily available technology “would go a long way to rebuilding trust in the governance of our water”.

Another way to boost support for the plan would be to divert more of the remaining $5.1 billion to diversify industries in towns doing it tough, such as Moree and Deniliquin in NSW and Renmark in SA, Dr Pittock said.

Many of the agricultural job losses experienced across the basin were due to the automation of farming, such as round bailing machines, and “have nothing to do with Basin Plan”, he said. Total demand for seasonal workers in the irrigation industry had dropped 75 per cent between 1999 and 2013. ‘Appalling’ environmental progress

Environment measures, too, continue to be poor across the basin. Native fish populations in the Murray River have dropped to just 10 per cent of pre-colonial era levels over the past century, the report said.

While many of the wetlands had shown some improvement – such as the Gwydir wetlands – “they remain in a degraded condition” and fall short of the ecological standards listed in the plan’s treaty, it said.

The plan had aimed to “export” or remove 2 million tonnes of salt a year, but was averaging less than half that goal.

“It’s appalling that we’re only exporting half the salt that we targeted,” Dr Pittock said. “It’s appalling that the health of the red gum forests continues to decline, and it’s appalling the number of water birds has flatlined.”

The plan to recover 3200 gigalitres of water for the environment from an annual use in 2012 of 13.6 GL, was about two-thirds achieved.

Even so, that sum fell well short of the 3.86 to 6.98 GL the Murray Darling Basin Authority gave as its best estimate of water recovery to secure the system’s health, the report noted.

One issue was to insure that environment water secured in say, Queensland, did not “become fair game” for extra extraction once it flowed across the border into NSW, Dr Pittock said.

“The public’s paid a lot of money for that water in Queensland and it should be able to be shepherded all the way down the Darling, and down to the Coorong [in South Australia],” he said.

He also singled out Victoria for bowing to farmers – such as between the Eildon Weir and Seymour on the Goulburn River – for blocking pulses of environmental water needed for downstream ecosystems.

“They’ve gone backwards,” Dr Pittock said. “It means the floodplain forests of Victoria will die, let alone those further down river.” ‘Who wears the loss?’

The basin-wide recovery estimates also ignored the potential for the loss of so-called return flows, as irrigation became more efficient and less of the irrigated water leaked back into environment.

The issue of climate change also remained largely overlooked.

“There is a big risk with climate change that we end up with less water in the basin, particularly in the southern basin,” Dr Pittock said.

“The governments have said ‘it’s too hard…that we’ll deal with in 2026′” when the plan will be reviewed, he said. “That’s not really good enough.”

“If there’s less water in the basin due to climate change, who wears the loss? Is it the farmers, is it environment or is the federal government?” Dr Pittock said. ‘Balance’

Niall Blair, NSW’s water minister, said his government was committed to “balancing the requirements of our food and fibre growers, communities and the environment”.

“NSW will follow the COAG-agreed implementation plan for the Basin Plan as the most credible way to deliver the Plan on time and in full,” he said.

COAG ministers are due to meet to discuss progress on the plan on December 19, with a follow-up meeting next year to implement changes.

Jeremy Buckingham, the NSW Greens water spokesman, though, said the Wentworth report shows the plan is “on the brink of failure because of recalcitrant states, a tame Murray Darling Basin Authority, a dysfunction water market that is being rorted, a lack of compliance, and National Party water ministers acting to destroy it”.

“We have had cascading reports concluding the Murray Darling Basin Plan is failing and billions of taxpayer’s dollars are being wasted on projects that are not restoring our rivers and wetlands,” he said.

Steve Whan, chief executive of the National Irrigators’ Council and a former NSW MP, said removal of constraints on flooding was one of the “very challenging issues to be dealt with”.

“It’s easy for someone sitting in Canberra to make statements about needing to speed this up,” Mr Whan said. “On the ground though, we are talking about flooding people’s properties, and most Australian’s would agree that needs to be approached in a cautious and consultative way.”

The group “strongly disagreed” with some aspects of the Wentworth report, particularly criticism about infrastructure investment and the poor metering in some regions.

“The overwhelming majority of water users on the system have modern and accurate meters,” he said. “We need to tackle the exceptions not the majority.”

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Mugga Way home almost triples its last sale price

Mugga Way has proved once again it is worthy of its status as Canberra’s ‘golden mile’ with No. 73 almost tripling its last sale price at auction last Saturday – the half-acre block sold for $3.16 million.
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This comes just eight years after its last sale, in 2009, when the five-bedroom home sold for $1.3 million.

The house was originally built in the 1930s, and the current owner has completed extensive renovations and additions to the home. The selling agent, Mario Sanfrancesco of Peter Blackshaw Real Estate attributes the increase to these changes.

“The heart of the home has a wonderful outlook over the pool and the entertaining space, so we held the auction in the living area to add to the feel of the property’s superb location,” he said.

He described Saturday’s auction as positive all around.

“There was a wonderful atmosphere, with friendly neighbours,” said Sanfrancesco. Related: The perfect parcel in ForrestRelated: Auction watch: Narrabundah cottage sells for $610kRelated: Home of the week: Renovated family home in Narrabundah

Red Hill’s median house price is $1.3 million; however, Mugga Way continues to consistently exceed this.

In fact, the street is home to two of the highest-ever-recorded sales in the nation’s capital. In 2010, 27 Mugga Way sold for $7.3 million and in 2013, 20 Mugga Way sold for $7.2 million.

In 2017, seven properties on the ‘golden mile’ have been sold and all have been significantly over the $1 million mark.

The biggest sale this year occurred in February at 18 Mugga Way for $5.2 million.

Sanfrancesco said that Mugga Way is one of Canberra’s most desired addresses because of a multitude of reasons.

“It continues to hold its position due to the streetscape, proximity to Red Hill reserve and the largeness of the blocks,” he said.

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Home of the week: Renovated family home in Narrabundah

This tastefully renovated family home perfectly balances form with function. Inside, the living areas set in a spacious open-plan design.
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Timber floorboards and pale colours enhance the crisp modern lines of the interior, while sun streams in through the large windows, thanks to the careful orientation of the design.

The modern kitchen will take your breath away. Alongside acres of bench space, the facility boasts modern appliances, stone benchtops and a servery window.

An azure pool and deck space make the home a perfect place for summer family living. Set in a spacious backyard living area, the space is perfect to relax on a long lazy evening.

Fully renovated, the home is laid out across a single level. An additional living space offers flexibility, with the capacity to be adapted as an additional bedroom.

The segregated master suite offers privacy, while all bedrooms offer built-in robes. Bathrooms are luxurious, with slick modern fittings.

The home boasts reverse-cycle airconditioning with additional gas heating.

The perfect family home, 1 Bayley Street sits nestled in the tree-lined streets of Narrabundah close to shops and schools.


Price guide: $1.3 million

EER: 2.5

Agent: Richard Davies, Belle Property Kingston, 0414 517 658

Inspect: December 2, 1pm-1.30pm

Auction: December 9, 4.30pm

3 bed, 2 bath, 3 car

Highest recorded sale in Narrabundah during the past 12 months: $1,720,000, 68 Finniss Crescent, February 16, 2017

Recent sales:

$1.1 million, 12 McKinlay St, April 10, 2017

$1,075,000, 8/25 Jerrabomberra Avenue, March 17, 2017

$1,030,000, 35 McKinlay St, April 19, 2017

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Selling your home in the summer Canberra market

Summer and Christmas collide at a time of year when home buyers are frantic to settle their biggest piece of festive season shopping.
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Justine Burke of Luton Properties Weston Creek & Molonglo Valley says the end-of-year deadline ups the pressure on buyers to secure a property.

“Most of them want to buy a home, get the contract settled and to move in before Christmas,” she says.

“They certainly want to ensure that school enrolments are also in place so they can relax into the new home for a few weeks.”

Burke says the pressure to secure a home in the lead-up to Christmas also affects prices.

“While buyers are super keen, a lot of owners decide to hold off putting their homes on the market,” Burke says.

“As supply tightens, we often receive really strong pre-auction offers as buyers try to outwit their competition.” Related articles: How to keep your indoor plants vibrant in Canberra’s climate

Related articles: Which Canberra neighbourhood is best for me?

Related articles: What are the chances of my Canberra home passing in?

Stephen Bunday of LJ Hooker Dickson says buoyant summer sales are a highlight of the Canberra property calendar.

“We are usually really busy in the first quarter of the year when Canberra experiences a boost in new arrivals,” he says.

“But supply can also be very tight and listings are often down.

“I remember one year when I had 60 groups waiting to inspect a very humble home in the Belconnen area,” Bunday says.

The LJ Hooker principal says that despite the supply levels, buyers are still looking for residences that push all the right buttons: price, kerb appeal, plenty of space for the family – and pools are enjoying a new level of popularity.


Timing. Spring is the best time to begin looking if you want to be in a home by Christmas. The new year also heralds the arrival of new entrants to the housing market.

Be prepared. A tightening of supply into the early part of the new year may mean being willing to make a strong pre-auction offer if you want to secure your dream home.

It’s in the detail. Sellers should present their properties in the best possible light. If you put off a spring clean in September, now’s the time – before the sign goes up.

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Did this beachside suburb inspire Big Little Lies?

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 30: View of Avalon Beach, on January 30, 2017 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Anna Kucera/Fairfax Media)It’s known for its fabulously bronzed surfer mums, stunning coastline, oceanfront real estate and tight-knit community feel.
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But did the suburb of Avalon Beach on Sydney’s far Northern Beaches really inspire Liane Moriarty’s gossip-fuelled book – and the subsequent Emmy-winning TV series – Big Little Lies?

The novel is set in a “fictional” Northern Beaches community but in the past year Australian media outlets have hinted that the made-up suburb’s resemblance to Avalon Beach – known colloquially as Avalon – may be more than a coincidence.

And with Moriarty confirming that she has been workshopping ideas for a Big Little Lies sequel, interest in the true setting of the original book seems unlikely to subside.

The novel depicts a loosely affiliated group of affluent mothers who juggle careers, their children’s demanding school environment, relationships with their spouses and – in one case – domestic violence.

Big Little Lies is full of inter-family drama, seaside yoga sessions and real estate with panoramic ocean views. In the end, the women band together to protect one of their own.

According to Stephanie Hammond, principal of Shores Real Estate in Avalon Beach, speculation about Moriarty’s inspiration has increased in the past year.

“One of the girls who works at my office read the book on a holiday in Bali about six months ago,” she says. Related: Z-shaped Avalon Beach house a marvel Related: Family suburb offers a sea changeRelated: Watch Avalon Now Season 2

“When she came back to work she told me how good the book was, and how she really recognised Avalon in it. She’s a mum with kids at the local school and told me she could have been a character straight out of the book.”

The novel pokes fun at the local primary school, suggesting that the children’s birthday parties and school fundraising events are really competitions between the parents. And it suggests that there is considerable pressure in the suburb to appear radiantly healthy.

Hammond says Avalon can feel that way, too. “People here are really aware of their health and fitness, so they look really good,” she says. “Sometimes that can be a bit intimidating.”

Avalon Beach is dominated by successful professionals with young families, as well as worldly retirees, which creates a competitive feel, even in the eyes of visitors.

But Hammond says the suburb is fundamentally a warm and welcoming place. “It’s a gentle and forgiving community. When times are tough, people really come together.”

She adds: “There’s an easiness about Avalon, an old-fashioned vibe that’s very appealing. In a world that feels quite threatening, especially to parents of young children, it feels sunny and safe.”

Its location north of the “Bilgola Bends” – a windy stretch on the Northern Beaches’ main road – gives it a tucked-away feel. And the commute to the CBD, which takes an hour even in good traffic, encourages many people to work from home and stay close to the suburb.

“Security’s not really a concern up here,” says Hammond. “No one locks their houses.

“Everyone knows the local GP, the local chemist, the local lawyers.”

Lucy Creegan, a full-time mother, moved from Britain to Avalon Beach with her husband, an infrastructure consultant, and their four young children nine years ago.

“We heard about Avalon through a friend and we just knew that, even though it would be a horrible bus commute into the city for my husband, we had found paradise,” she says.

Creegan says the Avalon community welcomed her family whole-heartedly. “By the end of the first week I was with new friends down at the RSL, our kids playing in the playground.”

Creegan has also heard rumours about Big Little Lies being based on Avalon, but takes issue with the book’s darker content, particularly the feuds between the women.

“The book is certainly not my perception of where I live,” she says. “Avalon’s a friendly place. In my nine years here, I can only think of one example of nasty gossip on Facebook.”

Jan Roberts, a retired historian and author who has written two books about Avalon Beach, says the suburb attracts residents for the long term. (Her children and grandchildren are locals, too.) But she fears a crowded future.

“The trouble is, Avalon is getting far too much publicity. We’ve got one of the largest primary schools in the state. It’s bulging at the seams,” she says.

“The movement in and out of our precious suburb is becoming very compromised by traffic, poor transport and too many people.

“We are absolutely mushrooming – like most of Sydney.”

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Changing of the guard: police chief moves on

LAST DAY: Superintendent John Gralton at Waratah police station on Thursday. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers WHEN Superintendent John Gralton took the reins of Newcastle police six years ago, the hangover of alcohol-fuelled violence on city streets was still throbbing.
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Officers had just come through years of going to “brawl to brawl to brawl”, before controversial lockout laws were introduced in 2008, but the reality was that five Newcastle venues were still on the state’s most violent list.

Superintendent Gralton decided that Newcastle needed a culture change, and it’s why he doesn’t hold back in fighting attempts to relax lockout laws.

“I say caution, caution, caution,” he said. “The city has changed, the culture has changed, and that’s because we’ve done that work. We implemented those restrictions.”

Speaking on his last day as Newcastle police chief, Superintendent Gralton lists building on the lockout laws asone of his proudest achievements in leading thecity’s “exceptional” officers since 2011.

He admitted it was with an “element of sadness” that he left the coveted post, but also great pleasure as he looked back.

Superintendent Gralton also recalled a press conference where he vowed to “leave no stone unturned” after two elderly residents were murdered in the SummitCare nursing home in Wallsend in 2013.

Superindendent John Gralton will make the move to Tuggerah Lakes. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

He said police got their guilty verdict through “thousands of hours” of investigation.

“Our detectives didn’t let us down,” he said.

“They worked methodically. Things like pouring over, frame by frame by frame, of CCTV to eliminate suspects. Unbelievable. You can only imagine how tedious it was,but how committed they were.”

Then there was the time police came under intense scrutiny as the Special Commission of Inquiry probed alleged cover-ups of child sexual abuse in the Hunter.

“We were absolutely vindicated in that Commission of Inquiry,” Superintendent Gralton said, highlighting the fact Newcastle police had charged a number of people from inside and outside the church with child sexual offences.

Despite those challenges, Superintendent Gralton said his toughest daycame when Senior Constable Tony Tamplin –one of the Hunter’s most loved officers –died after suffering a heart attack.

“The day Tony died –it took a piece of the city’s heart,” he said.

Throughout all the ups and downs, he said Newcastle police remained a “tight” unit.

“I’m very proud of that,” he said. “The men and women, the backup administration support, the volunteers. They are the ones who make a difference on the street.”

Superintendent Gralton will continue fighting crime as Tuggerah Lakes police chief. Superintendent Brett Greentree will take over as Newcastle’s top cop next week.

Government in name only as PM surrenders on the politics

There have been plenty of bizarre “firsts” this year, like finding out the deputy prime minister was not a member of Parliament.
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Or watching a Prime Minister slam dual citizenship allegations as a disgraceful witch-hunt, right up until he introduced a Parliament-wide citizenship register.

But the spectacle of a government being dragged kicking and screaming to conduct a royal commission it had utterly, repeatedly, indignantly opposed, until two days ago, was almost too much to take in.

Driven by the prospect of a humiliating loss on the floor of the Parliament, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Treasurer Scott Morrison did not mask their contempt in policy terms for a “regrettable” inquiry process to which they had just allocated $75 million and a heap of government attention and resources.

They could not reassure taxpayers that the inquiry would be money well-spent, nor even that it would meet its unrealistically tight 14-month deadline, with Turnbull conceding the normal course for royal commissions is to drag on interminably, often expanding in scope along the way.

In lock-step, right down to their ties, the two men rationalised an excruciating about-face on the spurious grounds that resisting a banking royal commission was becoming more dangerous to fragile confidence in the financial system than holding the damn thing. This, despite the fact that they had always said an inquiry would increase the risks for that same system.

In his pre-capitulation phase (i.e. 24 hours ago), Turnbull would have welcomed John Howard saying he would be “staggered” if a royal commission into the banks was ever called by a Coalition government.

Now, however, what Howard regarded as unthinkable and had dubbed “rank socialism” is government policy – an emergency intervention to protect the financial system.

No one’s buying it.

Yes, there was a rapidly worsening risk equation here but it wasn’t declining confidence in the banks the PM was worried about, so much as collapsing confidence in the government itself.

In the end, Turnbull realised the mortal threat from a party room in open revolt.

What followed was utter capitulation, powerlessness personified, marked by a theatrically exaggerated attack on the opposition for backing the royal commission when plainly it was Turnbull’s own troops who had forced his hand.

As for the banks, who we’re told asked for the inquiry, it seems their “political” antennae were more attuned to the forces threatening to swamp the government than the government itself.

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