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The median price for a Perth house will pass $600,000 within three years as the city’s property market reclaims its title as the strongest and fastest growing in the country, a new report predicts.

The BIS Shrapnel residential property report forecasts house prices in Perth will climb an average 7 per cent a year for three years, pushing the median price to $610,000 from $500,000 today.

No other capital is expected to enjoy such strong capital growth, with even higher interest rates unlikely to slow the Perth market as much as others.

Senior project manager Angie Zigomanis said even though the Perth market slowed before other cities in 2007, conditions were improving on the back of another resources boom. Money flowing from commodities would soon push up house prices across Perth.

“With prices below peak levels in real terms and income in Perth set to grow substantially as the next round of resource expansion projects get up and running, solid price growth should continue,” he said.

“Nevertheless, further increases in interest rates will prevent the boom in prices that we saw in the last upturn.”

Mr Zigomanis said the median house price would climb 22 per cent by the middle of 2013. This growth would be quicker if the Reserve Bank did not increase interest rates in the next six to 12 months.

Growth at that rate would surpass other capitals such as Sydney (up 20 per cent), Melbourne (11 per cent), Brisbane (12 per cent), Adelaide (20 per cent), Hobart (12 per cent), Canberra (14 per cent) and Darwin (12 per cent).

House prices climbed rapidly through the second half of last year and into the first four months of this year.

Mr Zigomanis said this was directly because of record low interest rates in response to the global financial crisis and a “pull forward” of demand from the first-homeowner’s grant. Not only would house prices outpace inflation, they would affect rents.

“Even though overseas migration inflows are steadily easing, a deficiency of stock is still in place with dwelling construction below underlying trend,” he said.

Recent Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show a fall in loans for people buying homes but an increase in loans for investment properties. Financial market analysts do not expect official interest rates to rise until May next year.

source  :  www.thewest.com.au

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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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Cathay Pacific flights sale 2010: Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Perth, Melbourne & Sydney travel deals

Fly via Hong Kong to Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Perth, Melbourne or Sydney in April, May and June 2010 for from £689 return – Cathay Pacific’s flights sale is on until 16 February 2010.

Cathay Pacific Australia flight sale prices: 

Cathay Pacific’s quality makes it worth considering the prices in the Hong Kong airline’s current flights sale. British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have slightly better prices on roughly the same dates, but it is arguably worth paying the extra £20 or £30 – particularly if you fancy a Hong Kong stopover or are flying to cities other than Sydney.

The Cathay Pacific Australia and New Zealand flights sale is on until 16 February 2010. As part of it, return flights from London to Adelaide, Melbourne and Perth via Hong Kong cost from £689, while economy class tickets to Sydney, Cairns, Brisbane and Auckland in New Zealand cost from £699.

Cathay Pacific Australia flights sale: Terms and conditions:

The following are taken from the Cathay Pacific website:

Terms & conditions

  • Sale period: until 16 February 2010.
  • Fares are for travel from London Heathrow.
  • Offer valid on all CX operated flights.
  • The above displayed fares are valid for outbound travel in selected dates only: 06April – 15June 2010. For travel in other periods fares may differ.
  • Stay: 5 days minimum / 1 year maximum.
  • Dates Changes: Outbound- Not Permitted.  Inbound – Permitted GBP50.
  • On changing the outbound travel date when permitted, if the itinerary results in a higher fare then difference applies along with the date change fee. If the itinerary results in a lower fare then the date change fee still applies and no refund will be made.
  • Name changes are not allowed.
  • Cancellations/Refunds: Non refundable. Cancellation fee £200. No-show: nil refund.
  • Fares are subject to change without prior notice.
  • Other Terms and Conditions apply.
  • The fares detailed in the offer/promotion are subject to availability and offered on a first come, first served basis. The limited number of seats for the subject fare allocated to a particular flight may be fully booked although seats are still available in other fare types in the same class of travel.

Note: The fares displayed include taxes, fees and surcharges, which are subject to change at the time of booking due to currency fluctuations. 

Source  :  www.australiaflightbargains.com

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THE market odds have moved firmly against an interest rate rise by the Reserve Bank in February.

The sharp change in direction, which began on Tuesday after the central bank revealed its December 1 meeting minutes, accelerated yesterday following a speech by RBA deputy governor Ric Battellino.

Mr Battellino signalled that rates could stay on hold when the RBA next meets in February, saying the “overall stance” of monetary policy was “back in the normal range”.

His comments, at the Australian Finance & Banking Conference in Sydney, surprised the markets, triggering a slump in the Australian dollar to below US90.

Last night the dollar was hovering around US89.70.

Financial market betting on a 25-basis point rate hike in February retreated from a 67 per cent chance to 45 per cent.

Mr Battellino said that although the cash rate still seemed “unusually low” at 3.75 per cent, monetary policy was back “in the normal range” because the current level of deposit, housing and business lending rates made the cash rate equivalent to a “before the crisis” level of 4.75 per cent.

“Taking these considerations into account, it would be reasonable to conclude that the overall stance of monetary policy is now back in the normal range, though in the expansionary segment of that range,” he said.

The deputy governor’s remarks were made half an hour after the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed economic growth in the September quarter was weaker than expected.

The national accounts showed GDP edged up just 0.2 per cent in the three months to September, half the pace of growth expected by the market, for an annual rate of 0.5 per cent.

The main drag on growth was a slump in exports which coincided with a jump in imports.

However, demand from households, businesses buying more equipment and government investment was solid.

ANZ acting chief economist Warren Hogan said the GDP figures indicated there was little urgency to get official interest rates back to a neutral setting, adding that Mr Battellino’s comments had “dealt a solid blow” to the prospect of substantial gains in the cash rate over coming months.

“Put another way, the emergency setting for interest rates has now been removed and policy will be adjusted as and when required by economic conditions,” he said.

Westpac chief executive Gail Kelly told reporters after the bank’s annual meeting in Melbourne yesterday that the RBA was likely to raise rates “very carefully” in 2010.

However, she said the official cash rate was not quite yet at a “normal” level.

Mrs Kelly said she remained cautious about the economic outlook while the bank’s chairman Ted Evans said a “V-shaped” recovery for Australia was unlikely.

“It will be a long recovery and that’s what our plans are based on,” he said. 

Source  :  www.news.com.au

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A SPECIALIST integrity unit has been formed inside the Department of Immigration to deal with widespread fraud in the working holiday visa program, on which industries such as fruit growing depend.

More than 200 internet advertisements have been found offering to buy or sell documents allowing backpackers to claim they had worked in rural jobs without them leaving Sydney, and thus extend their working holiday visas. The standard fee is $400. So far, 64 visas have been cancelled over the fraud and at least 19 more are being reviewed.

One man, an Irish national, has been convicted of fraud. ”There’s been more than 100 fraudulent claims identified this financial year,” a spokeswoman for the department said. ”The answer is we don’t know [the full extent of the fraud]. At this stage it’s too early to determine and we will be looking at it over the next six months.”

The working holiday visa (subclass 417) allows people to extend their stay in Australia by a year if they can prove they have worked in a rural area for three months. Applications are lodged online but have been abused by people selling Australian business numbers linked to farms so backpackers can falsely claim they worked on farms.

”Second year visas for sale,” one ad read. ”Will email completed 1263 form and add your details to my books so you can gain second year visa with ease.”

Another ad offering similar services, posted on the Gumtree website on Saturday, had received more than 2000 hits by last night. Unlike visa scams targeting international students, mainly Indians, this fraud is used mainly by European visitors.

One backpacker told the Herald he had been offered the false documentation as soon as be arrived in Australia, by people staying at the same hostel.

”People told me about buying the documents – getting the numbers to put in,” he said. ”When I arrived here people said you can go there [to a farm] or you can buy. Everyone knows about it. It’s easy. All the people who are here know about that.”

The federal Opposition spokeswoman on immigration, Sharman Stone, said the widespread fraud reflected under-resourcing of the department.

Source  :  www.smh.com.au

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George Michael will perform two Australian concerts in February, and the first will be in Perth.                                                          

Rumours had been rife that the Too Funky star was headed down under, and today his Australian trip has been confirmed.

Heading to Australia for the first time since 1988, the Wham! star and solo pop vocalist will perform at Member’s Equity Stadium on February 20.  He will then perform in Sydney at Sydney Football Stadium on February 26.

He will perform tracks from the early days, Wham! and his latest material.

Promoter Paul Dainty said it was thrilling to bring Michael back to the country following his Faith tour in the 80s.

“He is a consummate performer and will deliver a stunning show to his fans who have waited 22 years to see him perform in Australia,” Dainty said.

Michael has performed for more than 2 million fans on this 25 Live arena tour so far. More than 350,000 people flocked to his London performances alone.

Michael has sold more than 100 million pop albums, had six American number one singles and won plenty of awards for tunes including Faith, Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go, Careless Whisper, One More Try, Freedom, Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me and Too Funky.

Tickets will go on sale through TicketMaster on December 8.

Source  :  www.watoday.com.au

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The project, known as Solomon is expected to cost around US$3,34bn.

Within the next two years Western Australia’s big new iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group Ltd (ASX: FMG) will decide whether it will open up a new iron ore mining area in the Pilbara of Western Australia.

The project known as Solomon was detailed at the Sydney Mining Club and was said to have a development cost of A$3.6 billion (US$3.34 billion).

Fortescue launched its operations through the Cloudbreak mine in the Chichester Range to export to China through a port developed by the company at Anderson Point in Port Hedland. The company has started development on its second mine, Christmas Creek, also in the Chichester Range.

Solomon is well west of Cloudbreak. It was indicated the company’s capacity out of Port Hedland may cater only for ore from the Chichester hub, so a second port and new rail link would be required to a Pilbara port at Anketell Point – particularly if Fortescue ramps up beyond 155 million tonnes per annum of export ore.

The cost of developing Solomon would take in A$850 million (US$790.8 million) for the mine, a similar amount for the railway, and A$700 million (US$651.3 million) for processing plant

The company claimed that while a lot more drilling was required the Solomon hub had potential to be much larger than the Chichester Ranges operations, currently mining at a rate of 38 Mtpa and gearing to increase to 95 Mtpa.

The Solomon mine could begin at 60 Mtpa, expanding to 100 Mtpa.

While Cloudbreak and Christmas Creek are bedded iron formations, not mined elsewhere in the Pilbara at this stage, Solomon has a mix in its iron ore geology and includes what is known as channel iron deposits.

Sydney Mining Club delegates were told that exploration in the Pilbara in the past five years has yielded reserves and resources for Fortescue of 6.3 billion tonnes, including reserves of 1.6 billion tonnes.  The discovery cost was put at A2cents a tonne.

Fortescue dominates the landholdings for iron ore in the Pilbara with 17,400 square kilometres, compared to Rio Tinto with 11,000 sq km and BHP Billiton 6,500 sq km.

Fortescue’s holdings include a large number of coastal and offshore tenements, assumedly for ironsands shed over the eons. The company also holds coastal and offshore tenements in New Zealand for ironsands.

Source  :  www.mineweb.co.za

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