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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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One in two West Australians believes there will be greater skills shortages and more pressure on house prices compared with the last mining boom, the latest Westpoll has found.

The results revealed 53 per cent of those surveyed thought there would be more pressure on a housing price bubble and skills shortages than last time, while 32 per cent believed there would be the same level of pressure.

Just 9 per cent of those polled said there would be less pressure.

“There is a clear community expectation that there will be quite severe skills shortages in WA and, perhaps of greater concern, a view that there will be an upward pressure on housing prices,” pollster Keith Patterson said.

“This may lead to significant levels of speculation in housing in the anticipation that values will surge as the resources boom unfolds.”

Australian Manufacturing Workers Union secretary Steve McCartney said the community was right to be concerned about increasing prices.

“I think lower paid members of our community should be concerned because sometimes the benefits of those booms don’t filter down to the low-paid workers,” he said.

Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union spokesman Gary Wood said he did not believe there would be more pressure as the WA economy improved.

“There might be the perception put out by the likes of the employer associations so they can attempt to justify the use of overseas labour but it needs to be fully demonstrated they are not just a propaganda war to bring in overseas labour,” he said.

Opposition Leader Eric Ripper said the Government needed to demonstrate a sense of urgency over labour supply, training issues and housing.

“The experience of the last boom was that house prices rose and rents rose and there were skills shortages which made life difficult for small to medium enterprises,” he said.

“The Government is not ensuring that enough housing lots are released.

“The industry is not building enough houses.

“We are storing up a problem for the future.”

Premier Colin Barnett had previously said there was a need to attract more skilled workers to WA and there needed to be more mobility of workers between States.

Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard said last month that interstate and international migration was needed to help fill future job vacancies. 

Source  :  www.thewest.com.au

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Further increases in petrol prices are predicted as Australia’s unleaded benchmark price scaled a 10-month high of almost $100 a barrel in the past week.  

While the continued signs of a recovery in the global economy had been great news for share market investors, the same could not be said for motorists, Commonwealth Securities economist Savanth Sebastian said.

The Australian Institute of Petroleum’s weekly report showed the unleaded petrol prices rose by an average 1.9 cents per litre in the past week to 124.5 cents.

The average metropolitan price rose by 2.6 cents a litre to 124.2 cents, while the regional average price rose by 0.7 cents to 125.1 cents.

“The glut of oil inventory on global markets is not putting downward pressure on prices,” Mr Sebastian said, adding traders and investors were focussed on the recovery story.

Even a strong Australian dollar has not been able to significantly absorb the rally in oil prices.

This resulted in the benchmark for Australian unleaded petrol – the Singapore gasoline price – rising to a 10-month high of $99.70 from $97.33 in the past week.

“If there is any consolation for motorists, it is that the rise in pump prices is likely to be rather sedate,” Mr Sebastian said.

“The petrol price will rise over the next fortnight, but only modestly, up around three to five cents a litre.”

Source  :  www.thewest.com.au

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CHRIS Badenoch’s elimination has left Poh and Julie to the final.                                                                          chris-badenoch-masterchef-hats-hubris                                                                              

Poh, is lucky to be in the final after she was given a second chance and allowed back on the show two weeks ago.

Julie, mother-of-three who is also in the final  has consistently been in the bottom two and faced numerous pressure tests but has always managed to scrape through.

Badenoch had dismissed Julie’s chances of staying in the competition in a magazine article earlier this week. 

The final three had to impress guest judge Donna Hay with the three dishes they wanted to see in their first cookbook.

Badenoch’s dished up quail, beef cheeks with sherry, and pigs trotters cooked in beer.

“It’s hugely disappointing. Unfortunately some of my dishes didn’t live up to my usual standards,” he said

Badenoch was distraught to miss out on Sunday’s final.

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Colin Barnett is on the brink of caving in to worried Liberal backbenchers and accepting an 8pm closing for weeknight shopping rather than the 9pm time he took to the election last year.
  
The Premier has been softening the public up for an 8pm closing time in recent days and again said yesterday that it was an acceptable alternative. 
  
The West Australian understands that most Liberals don’t want 9pm and would prefer a 7pm closing time but are prepared to accept 8pm to save the Premier the embarrassment of being rolled by his own party.
  
Mr Barnett has been canvassing his MPs one-on-one in recent days and knows that 9pm is beyond his reach.

The Nationals say they will not support changes to shopping hours, which they fear would deliver a crucial blow to WA producers because it would increase the market share of big supermarkets
   
The Government will rely on Labor to get legislation on later weeknight shopping hours through Parliament but the ALP took a position of 7pm to the election and is not guaranteed to support a later closing time. A Labor spokeswoman said yesterday that shadow Cabinet and caucus would discuss the party’s position once the Government’s preference was known.
 
Cabinet discussed the shopping hours issue last Monday and Mr Barnett is expected to take his preferred position to the party room on Tuesday, but the Upper House is not sitting, and the meeting will be only for Assembly MPs, meaning that a vote on the issue will probably be delayed a week.
  
Mr Barnett said yesterday that most people in the retail industry, including the unions, favoured a 9pm closing time from Monday to Friday to bring all weeknights into line with existing late-night shopping.
  
“That’s a position I think is logical, however a number of people are saying 8pm might be better. I don’t think there’s a big difference between the two,” he said.
  
“To simply extend it to 7pm would be pointless.
  
“So, 8pm, yeah that’s OK, 9pm might be better but at least either of those would be a significant extension to weeknight shopping.”

But backbenchers are under pressure from small businesses to wind back the closing time, believing that the later hour is supported only by Coles and Woolworths.
  
Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief James Pearson urged politicians from both sides to “stand up to vested interest groups, which are determined to deny West Australians more choice and lower prices when they shop”.  

ROBERT TAYLOR, PETER KERR and AMANDA BANKS

Source www.thewest.com.au

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