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New Housing Minister Bill Marmion has shocked the property market by saying he wants to flood WA with housing lots to cut home prices.

In a speech to Parliament that has set alarm bells ringing throughout the real estate industry, Mr Marmion said the Barnett Government’s aim was to “bring house prices down”.

“The Department of Land is looking at this issue very closely,” he said.

“It owns land and it is looking at its land stocks and will release as much land as possible.

“That will reduce the pressure on housing supplies. Our aim is to bring the median house price down and to have it lower than the median house price in other States.”

Mr Marmion, who took over the job last month after Troy Buswell was sacked, said the only thing the Government could do to achieve its aim was “release more land and houses”. He refused to elaborate on his comments yesterday.

March quarter figures from RP Data put the median house price in Perth at $480,000, equal to Darwin, but behind Sydney ($500,000) and nation-leading Canberra ($510,800).

Hobart had the cheapest prices in Australia at $323,750.

The State Government established an Office of Land and Housing Supply in Thursday’s Budget and is reviewing available government land which Premier Colin Barnett said would “achieve a comprehensive and co-ordinated approach to housing affordability issues”.

Shadow housing minister Mark McGowan warned the policy could result in houses being worth less than what people paid for them.

“If people go into negative equity with their house, that’s the worst possible outcome,” he said.

Real Estate Institute of WA chief executive Anne Arnold said Australians stored their wealth in the family home and it would be “politically unwise for any government to go down that path”.

But the plan won support from developer Nigel Satterley, who said land needed to become more affordable.

But he said the policy would not cut the price of existing houses.

“We’re on the cusp of a block shortage and whatever the Government can do should be encouraged,” Mr Satterley said.

Analysts at RP Data found in April that houses in Perth’s cheapest suburbs cost at least $60,000 more than those in the most affordable areas in the other major Australian cities.

Hillman was named the cheapest suburb in Perth, with a median house price of $280,000 – higher than the cheapest suburb in Adelaide ($200,000), Brisbane ($205,000), Melbourne ($218,000) and Sydney ($219,000).

Perth had less than 10 per cent of its 259 suburbs with a median house price under $350,000, compared with more than 20 per cent in all other big cities.

Blocks of land in Perth were the most expensive in Australia, according to a recent analysis by RP Data and the Housing Industry Association, with a single square metre of “prime earth” now costing an average of $521.

Source  :  www.thewest.com.au

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IMMIGRATION officials are preparing a 50-year migration plan to ensure that intakes consider a range of long-term issues such as climate change, water needs and national security.

The Secretary of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, Andrew Metcalfe, said yesterday the department was conducting a review of the nation’s migration needs to ensure a more rounded and visionary approach.

”In terms of the future, we are trying to lift ourselves away from year-to-year decisions to a 50-year vision,” he told the Australian and New Zealand School of Government conference in Canberra.

”We are trying to move away from an immigration department that is responsive to one that can help the government achieve long-term objectives … A long-term planning framework … is something whose time has come.”

Mr Metcalfe said a well-planned skilled migration program could contribute to Australia’s long-term economic, demographic and environmental goals.

”We want to ensure our skilled migration programs are responding to longer-term skill needs which cannot be addressed through domestic training and skills development,” he said.

”The question then is how we can best address shorter-term labour market requirements … It will be important that the skilled migrants we choose are not only young and healthy but also have a high level of education, language proficiency and other skills. This will ensure that skilled migration contributes both to labour force growth and to the productivity of our labour force.”

Mr Metcalfe said the review will include an examination of the points system used to select skilled migrants, known as the Migration Occupations in Demand List.

”The MODL is not as flexible as we would like to address a rapidly changing and uncertain global environment. In my view, one of themes of this century will be the increased mobility of people around the globe, and we need to manage this adroitly.”

But the Government has denied it has adopted a new policy towards asylum seekers in the wake of a decision this week to process a group of 10 Afghan children on the mainland rather than on Christmas Island.

”These are 10 unaccompanied minors and therefore what’s happened is that they’ve been transferred from Christmas Island to the mainland on September 2,” he said

Asked whether there had been a change of policy, the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, said: ”Absolutely not.”

He told 3AW yesterday the group of 10 children had been transferred to the mainland because unaccompanied minors were given priority in processing.

”That’s what’s happening in the case of these minors,” he said. ”That’s why they’re treated separately.”

Source  :  www.smh.com.au

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A new report has found Australia’s migration program is more effectively meeting the needs of employers with a 60 per cent increase in the number of employer-sponsored skilled migrants to Australia in 2008-09 compared with the previous year.

The Report on Migration Program 2008-09 shows that the Rudd Government’s targeted approach to overseas workers is helping to fill critical skills gaps in the healthcare, engineering, financial services and IT sectors.

The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, said that changes introduced in January including the Critical Skills List (CSL) of high value occupations and prioritising employer-sponsored or state/territory-sponsored skilled migration visa grants were having a significant impact.

Overseas workers who were sponsored by employers comprised 33 per cent of the 2008-09 skill stream compared to 22 per cent in 2007-08 and 17 per cent in 2006-07.
“A properly targeted migration program will ensure we have the right sized and appropriately skilled labour force to meet Australia’s needs now and into the future as our economy recovers and grows.”

The Government cut the 2008-09 permanent skilled migration intake in March 2009 by 14 per cent from 133 500 to 115 000 and reduced planning levels for the permanent skilled migrant intake in the overall 2009-10 migration program to 108 100 places.

“This is in direct response to the economic slowdown and represents an overall drop of almost 20 per cent on previous planning levels,” Senator Evans said.

“The migration intake in the coming year reflects the economic conditions while ensuring employers can gain access to skilled professionals in industries still experiencing skills shortages such as healthcare and engineering. “The reduction is being achieved through a cutback in places in independent skilled migration rather than in the high-demand employer-sponsored category or in areas in which Australia has critical skills shortages.”

Across all permanent skilled visa categories, the top three occupations for successful applicants were accountancy (6238), computing professionals (3879) and registered nurses (3355) while the top three countries of citizenship under the skill stream were the United Kingdom (23 178), India (20 105) and China (13 927).

“Australia’s migration program is better targeting the needs of Australian employers who are still experiencing skill shortages,” Senator Evans said.

Source  :  www.manmonthly.com.au

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THE design of the new display village for Honeywood Estate at Wandi is a noticeable departure from a more traditional approach to planning.

Focus is centred on making the village as pedestrian friendly as possible.

The display village will feature about 30 homes, all of which are within easy walking distance of the central sales office and a car park.

“The pedestrian-friendly village will ensure people do not have to drive from one side of the estate to the other to see the wide range of builders’ products displayed on different lot configurations,” Satterley Property Group’s manager of urban and built form, Max Pirone, said.

Mr Pirone said the Honeywood village would contain a diverse range of housing types and lot sizes.

Visitors can expect to find 400sqm cottage lots with 12.5m frontages, as well as super lots measuring more than 1000sqm with 25m frontages at the display village.

In a move to differentiate the Honeywood village from other display centres, cafe facilities will be provided to make the visit more enjoyable for prospective purchasers.

Many of the State’s best builders are already lined up to participate in the $850 million project at Honeywood.

Satterley Property Group chief executive Nigel Satterley said plans were made for 1700 lots and a total population of more than 5000.

In addition, areas have been allocated on the master plans for a school, first-class community and family amenities, retail and commercial services, and park and ride facilities at the proposed Wandi rail station.

About 25 per cent of the estate has been set aside for public open space, with at least 17 pocket parks.

Source  :  www.inmycommunity.com.au

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A Perth hospital has become the first in WA to be awarded the internationally recognised Magnet Hospital award. Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital has been given the accreditation by the American Nurses Credentialling Center, joining prestigious hospitals including Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles and the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.

 Health Minister Kim Hames said staff at SCGH had been providing high-quality care for the past 51 years and he was “delighted” at the achievements of the hospital. SCGH executive director Dr Amanda Ling said a growing body of research showed Magnet Hospitals offered high quality care to patients, who experienced better outcomes and fewer complications.

“By fostering a supportive environment which promotes professional development, staff increase their expertise and become more innovative in their approach,” Dr Ling said. “They enjoy greater job satisfaction while patients benefit from improved care.”

Acting director of nursing at SCGH Sue Davis said Magnet Hospitals also had much better records recruiting and retaining nurses.

“When staff are provided with an environment and the skills that allow them to provide high-quality care, they are more fulfilled and far more likely to remain with the hospital,” Ms Davis said.

Magnet status is valid for four years.

Source  :  www.thewest.com.au

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The public are being asked not to approach whales during their annual migration.

Several whales have been spotted near Perth, off Ocean Reef over the weekend.

Whales often seek out protected waters close to shore and if people harass them they are likely to leave the area.

Whales are not accustomed to people, and may defend themselves when approached.

People who get up close on surfboards and boats are at particular risk, as these whales may react violently, which can result in serious injury or death.

In Western Australia, boats must be within 100m of a whale by law.

You need to keep your distance so they can continue their journey without interference.

People should be able to enjoy the spectacular sight of  whales off Perth’s shores for the next few weeks.

If boats and surfers keep their distance, we can all get a view of these creatures from the beach as they pass through our waters.

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A PLAN to help up to 124,000 retrenched workers has united the states but drawn criticism in Canberra.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd signed a deal with the states and territories to give intensive help to unemployed people aged over 25.

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) conference in Darwin agreed to give the jobless access to government-subsidised vocational training.

Labor says the “compact with retrenched workers” will help up to 124,000 people.

“Workers who have been retrenched as a consequence of this global recession have lost their jobs through no fault of their own,” Mr Rudd said.

“Acting to support young Australians who are finding it hard to enter the labour market … represents an important intervention by government.”

Under the agreement, the Federal Government’s new employment agency Job Services Australia matches retrenched workers, aged over 25, with a path to a qualification.

The state and territories would set aside training places.

The training is for people who have been out of work since January 2009 and who are registered with a Job Services Australia provider.

The entitlement is available from now until the end of 2011.

It follows an “earn or learn” COAG agreement reached in April to make youths aged 15 to 19 undertake training and guarantee places for 20-24 year-olds in skills development.

The Rudd Government says it has invested $300 million in programs to help retrenched workers, but it did not provide a cost for the latest one.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said COAG’s new scheme would prepare Australia for economic recovery.

“We know only too well how quickly this country can find itself in a situation of serious skills shortage.”

But Opposition employment participation spokesman Andrew Southcott said training programs for the unemployed had failed when Labor last took that approach in the mid-1990s.

“Training for training’s sake, without a job at the end of it, is cruel to the unemployed,” Mr Southcott said.

“The experience around the world is that a skills-first approach for the unemployed tends to be very expensive and you have poor outcomes.”

Source  :  www.news.com.au

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AN MP wants Queenslanders to be buried in cardboard coffins in natural bush cemeteries where the decomposing bodies can promote vegetation growth.

coffinThe “green in death” approach has been advocated by Labor’s Barbara Stone who told Parliament about a body’s “natural nutrients.”

 

She suggested that more local authorities follow the lead of the Gold Coast City Council which is planning the state’s first natural bushland cemetery.

 

“The site will be an old quarry to be filled with suitable soil so that bodies can decompose and provide valuable nutrients that encourage the rejuvenation of native flora,” she said. 

Body disposal should have as little impact on the environment as possible after taking into account the deceased’s personal, cultural or traditional practices, Ms Stone said. If someone wanted to be buried in a cardboard box “under a shady tree” this should be permitted.

Ms Stone, who represents Springwood, said responsible Queenslanders should go to their grave in eco-friendly coffins made from fibre waste.

“Testing has shown that they release half the emissions of a standard coffin,” she said.

Of the 24,500 coffins used in Queensland last year, less than 100 were made from this alternative material.

This represented a waste of timber and valuable metals and exposed the environment to toxic embalming chemicals.

New South Wales, South Australia and Tasmania have bushland cemeteries where only native stone can be used as burial markers.

But Ms Stone said that if there was no stone the “savvy techno can have a GPS device placed in their hands so their families can return to honour the bushland settings and their loved ones”.

Queensland bans burials on private land although there are some exceptions – former premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen is at rest in the grounds of his home Bethany, near Kingaroy.

Source  :  www.news.com.au

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More than 40% of Australian employers are struggling to fill positions, according to Manpower’s Fourth Annual Talent Shortage Survey.

Engineers, technicians and machine operators were all in the top 10 list of jobs that employers are having difficult filling.

Nearly 11,500 Australian employers were interviewed as part of the global survey.

“Despite high levels of unemployment in many markets, this year’s talent survey suggests a mismatch between the type of individuals available for work and the specific skills that employers are looking for,” Manpower’s managing director Lincoln Crawley said.

According to Crawley, companies are being pressured to shift their mindset to think more strategically and creatively about how to do more with less and the same approach is being applied to how they manage their talent.

“Employers are looking for ways to accelerate their business strategy with less people. It’s this specificity of skills required in the individuals that employers are now seeking that is creating a sense of talent shortage amidst an overabundant pool of available workers.

“This conundrum is frustrating both employers and individuals,” he said.

According to the survey, skilled trade vacancies have become the most difficult to fill in recent years, moving from eighth place in 2006, to fifth in 2007, fourth in 2008, and second in 2009.

Source :   http://www.liveinaustralia.com/home/news.asp

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Two WA businesses have joined forces to resurrect the 80s trend of home trading to give today’s buyers a new approach in the tough economic climate.
  
Tradehomes.com.au launched last week, in conjunction with OrangeTee Real Estate, to offer a forum where sellers can advertise their properties and negotiate an equal trade for other property, cash or any item with an asset value.
  
Common trade items include houses, land, vehicles, boats, gold, gems, stocks, bonds and jewellery, providing the traded assets total the value of the property’s price.
  
Trade Homes Australia director Kara Tripp said the service was nothing new but was giving a new breed of buyers and sellers a fresh option in a difficult market.
  
“At the end of the day, trading has always been going on behind the scenes, with people exchanging properties for properties etc; we are just creating a forum for people to do it,” Ms Tripp said.
  
“It is getting harder for some buyers to get finance so it is just thinking outside the box. If they have other assets, such as a boat, it is essentially turning that into property.” 
   

OrangeTee Real Estate was theexchanging properties for properties, providing support for traders at the negotiation and settlement stages.
  
“A lot of people get quite daunted when it comes to negotiating deals, so we thought it would be helpful to have experienced real estate agents on board, for people who like the idea but are not comfortable doing it themselves,” Ms Tripp said.
  
So far, one deal has involved the trade of an apartment for assets that included gemstones and gold.
  
REIWA president Rob Druitt said the practice was fine as long as it was well managed and researched, with all parties seeking the appropriate valuation and advice before entering into discussions.

 

LOUISE BAXTER  www.thewest.com.au

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