Former Reserve Bank chief Glenn Stevens advises NSW on housing affordability

Glenn Stevens says housing affordability is a “growing challenge for many residents of NSW”. Photo: Louie DouvisFormer Reserve Bank of Australia governor Glenn Stevens will advise the NSW government on measures to improve housing affordability that are expected to be unveiled during or before the next budget.
南京夜网

Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced on Wednesday that a cross-government working group had been established “to explore all options to make housing more affordable for NSW residents”.

Housing affordability was one of three priorities announced by Ms Berejiklian upon becoming Premier in January.

She said Mr Stevens accepted a “personal invitation” to review and advise “on the options being considered by the government to tackle housing affordability issues in the state, and in Sydney in particular”.

A spokeswoman said Mr Stevens would not be a member of the working group – which includes senior officials from the Department of Premier and Cabinet, Treasury and Planning – or provide formal recommendations.

But she said he would be free to raise issues he felt were being overlooked or were otherwise important.

The working group is expected to deliver recommendations to the government in time for Treasurer Dominic Perrottet’s first budget, which is likely to be in June.

Mr Stevens, who retired as RBA governor in 2016, said housing affordability “is a growing challenge for many residents of NSW and I look forward to working with the government on measures that might help address it”.

“I am pleased that the government has indicated it has an open mind when it comes to reviewing existing and new avenues of dealing with the issue,” he said.

Ms Berejiklian and Mr Perrottet have not indicated what type of policy changes are under consideration – such as stamp duty changes – but have said boosting housing supply is the biggest “lever” for the NSW government.

Also on Wednesday, Planning Minister Anthony Roberts said housing completions in NSW reached the highest level since 1972.

Mr Roberts said more than 33,000 homes were built in the year to November 2016.

“NSW is experiencing a boom in housing construction like we’ve never seen before, with record housing approvals and completions an important ingredient in our quest to make housing affordable,” he said.

Dan Miller relied on pact to his wife to survive while trapped under excavator in dam near Port Stephens

Firefighters work to free Dan Miller from the dam at his property in Charlotte Bay. Photo: Facebook/Saimaa Miller The moment Dan Miller was pulled from the dam.
南京夜网

Dan and Saimaa Miller at their home in Charlotte Bay. Photo: Scott Calvin

When Dan Miller found himself trapped under an excavator in a dam, it was a pact he had made to his wife years earlier that made him fight for hours to keep his mouth and nose above water.

The 44-year-old builder was working on his property at Charlotte Bay, north of Port Stephens, last Tuesday, when the excavator he was driving began to slide. Before he knew it, it was heading for the water.

“I hit the water and was still on the machine but trying to get off. I pushed off and was underwater and I felt the roll bar come down just below by shoulder blades. I was completely submerged and I thought ‘shit, this is heavy’.”

Face down, Mr Miller slid up until the roll bar reached the small of his back in a position similar to a Cobra pose in yoga. He put his hands in the mud and tilted his head back to keep it clear from the water.

“That first, gasping breath is my clearest memory.”

Within 10 minutes the excavator had turned off, it was silent apart from the machine ticking away.

“I thought there’s no one coming for a long, long time. I stopped yelling almost straight away, it was pretty pointless, you’ve got to keep calm, there’s no point.

“I’ve done a lot of surfing, and when you’re in the water, no matter what happens you stay calm, you make good decisions. You panic you’re going to be swallowing water, diesel and hydraulic fluid you won’t last.”

When he tried to dig himself out he sunk further into the murky water. Water got into his ears, only his nose was above the waterline.

Mr Miller began playing through scenarios in his mind of what would happen if he succombed, realising it would most likely be his four-year-old daughter and her minder who would find him.

“They would bring her home and see the excavator in the dam.

“That gave me strength. I just thought ‘You can’t do that to a four-year-old, or my son,’ and I thought of the promise I made to my wife.

“Saimaa’s mother died when she was really young. When we got married we made a pact.

“It was humorous in that it was a horrible topic, but she made me promise I wouldn’t die first. When I hit the water that was the first thought in my mind.”

Mr Miller was stuck in the dam for five hours – he was rescued when a neighbour heard his well-timed cries for help.

“At three [I knew] my neighbour Mel would be home – I needed to give 10 minutes of energy. It was extreme and excruciating and I pushed my body up and didn’t worry about the pain in my back. I just yelled and yelled and yelled. I had to go down and suck in breaths through my nose and just keep yelling ‘help, help, help’.”

When his neighbour’s car came up the driveway, he gave it “one last burst” and was finally discovered.

“She was amazing, she just got on the phone and just bang, bang, bang. Then came more neighbours, then police, then the fire brigade – legends who saved me.”

Mr Miller’s wife, Saimaa, only found out about the ordeal when she finished work at her day spa in North Bondi and saw two missed calls from her neighbours.

​”Funnily enough I had the exact same thought that he did, he couldn’t die, because he promised me. Then [my neighbour said] ‘I can just see his head’.” ​

Great Lakes Advocate

HistoryStory behind Christo RdMike Scanlon

Then and now: John Shoebridge at Murdering Gully with a picture of what the copper smelter there once looked like.DOWN most streets, there’s a hidden story.
南京夜网

Or perhaps, should I say, behind most street signs lurks a tale. It may be a forgotten story, but an interesting one.

Today’s tale is about the likely unknown background behind the naming of a familiar street running today through Georgetown, Waratah and Waratah West.

It all started with an email to Weekender about the history of Christo Road, Waratah which went like this: “Hi Mike, my name is Greg Archbold and I’m a regular reader of your local history column. In researching my family history, I came across information that may be of interest to you and the readers of your column.

“It relates to John Penrose Christoe, whom I believe Christo Road, in Waratah, is named after,” he wrote.

“I feel this may be of interest to your readers because it relates to Newcastle’s industrial heritage. He arrived in Newcastle about 1869 to establish a smelting works at New Lambton where I believe (the old) Goninans is now located.He also managed the (smelter) works at Burwood Beach, on the southern side of Merewether hill.”

So far, so good. A little sleuthing soon discovered there was once a now forgotten New Lambton Smelting Works still employing a large number of men in 1880-81.

A quick check of council records then confirmed the Waratah street was named after a J.M.Christoe, a “prominent resident in the area about 1870”.

“But that’s a mistake, that initial M, rather than a P, ” Greg Archbold later told me. “I believe it’s definitely the same J.P. Christoe. Names were also often shortened when being written down.”

More surprising is that Greg Archbold’s recent research into the past is not because he’s a relative.

“I’m not related to Christoe. I was instead researching my own relative Thomas Hussey, whose name is like the Australian cricketer, when I came across Christoe’s name. I believe they were associates. Hussey then died in 1874 after he fell from a horse.”

Pioneer industrialist Christoe later moved to Queensland where he died in Mackay in 1918 aged 88 years.Christoe had originally been a Welsh copper smelter and assayer born in 1830 in either Truro, Cornwell, or Swansea, in South Wales.

He arrived in the Kapunda copper mines in South Australia about 1850 where he married Dorothea Blood, the daughter of a local doctor in 1852.

They then returned to Wales where he gained further experience in the smelting of copper which was vital to make wire, to have the then telegraph system operating.

They then came back to Australia in July 1858. Here, John Christoe set up copper smelting works in NSW at Byng and Cadia in western NSW, before arriving in Newcastle about 1869.

Christoe had left inland NSW in 1866 to become a smelter manager in Queensland. Soon after, in late 1867, copper prices fell and the miners started to leave Cadia despite having producing 2000 tons of copper.

The mine was put up for auction in January 1868, and here’s where this background story gets a little more interesting. The old Cadia mine site is today 25 kilometres south of Orange, in western NSW. It’s a series of large underground and open-cut gold and copper mines in the Cadia Valley, operated by Newcrest Mining Ltd.

And on the company’s online historical timeline, Welsh smeltermanJohn Penrose Christoe features strongly in the pioneering years of 1859-61. For it seems the secrets of smelting were very closely-guarded.

The Welsh had developed the tightly held expertise in smelting in England from the 1850s onwards. Meanwhile, the Cornish tried to circumvent the high costs charged by the Welsh and gain the almost magical knowledge for themselves.

And it appears Christoe may have left another NSW legacy behind. It’s the striking Cadia engine house and tall chimney that are now listed on the NSW State Heritage Register.

The unique Cornish-style engine house, built in 1865, is the only such engine house in NSW. Newcrest Mining restored both historic items in 1994.

But let’s turn now to Christoe’s role supervising the copper smelting works in the dunes of ‘Smelter’s Beac’, better known today as Burwood Beach, or Murdering Gully, in 1872.

Noted Hunter mining historian John Shoebridge knows better than most that there’s nothing left of the famous 19th century smelter on site today, except for some copper slag. Back in 2013, he conducted a tour of the site revealing Dr James Mitchell set up a smelter here in 1851-52. The site then reopened on a grand scale in 1868-69, but closed in 1873, probably producing about only 300 tons in its whole lifetime.

It was indeed a grand venture with eight buildings sprawled across the landscape behind Burwood Beach. Today, however, all have vanished.

Instead, in its place nearby amid the trees, is the Burwood Beach Wastewater (sewage) Treatment works. A lot of copper slag, however, may have helped build the only road today down to the isolated site, Shoebridge said.

Speaking of Newcastle street names, another relevant and topical name that comes to mind is humble Telford Street, in Newcastle’s historic East End.

It commemorates forgotten British engineer Thomas Telford (originally Telfer) known for improving road construction and bridge building.Well, that’s a massive understatement. Telford’s nickname was the Colossus of Roads.

This engineering genius (1757-1834) overcame early poverty to invent the modern road. A stonemason turned architect turned engineer also built 35 churches, plus harbours and canal docks. He also built the famous Menai Bridge, at Bangor, in North Wales. It was the first great suspension bridge of the modern age, back in 1826.

Astonishingly, almost everything he ever built remains in use today. In his 77 years he worked on 184 big projects, among them 93 large bridges and aqueducts, plus 17 canals and 37 docks/ harbours.He constructed more than 1200 miles (2040 km) of roads and 1076 bridges to open up the Highlands of Scotland, improved the navigation of four major English rivers and surveyed the route of three early British railways. Who’d have guessed it?

Finally, a fascinating, fitting tribute to this virtually forgotten revolutionary genius by author Julian Glover entitled Man of Iron (Bloomsbury $35) will be published in March.

[email protected]南京夜网 What’s in a name: A Christo Rd street sign reveals no hint of why it was so named.

Wildlife Aid blames Singleton bat deaths on lack of tree cover in Burdekin Park

BAKED: Flying foxes lay dead on the ground in Singleton’s Burdekin Park after last week’s heatwave. Wildlife volunteers say the removal of trees in the park contributed to the heat stress. Picture: Wildlife Aid IncANIMAL welfare organisation Wildlife Aid has blamed the deaths of up to 1000 flying foxes in Singleton in last week’s heatwaveon the felling of treesin the town’s main park.
南京夜网

Volunteers are still removing dead bats from Burdekin Park, in the Singleton CBD, where they “cooked from the inside, out” as temperatures soared to 46 degrees on Saturday.

Many of the bats were found still gripping the trees as their lifeless bodies hang below.

“We’ve seen bats die after a heatwave before, but nothing like these figures,” Wildlife Aid bat coordinator Jaala Presland said.

“It wouldn’t be unreasonable to estimate 1000 bats have died, and they’re still dying –that’s a very big chunk considering the size of the camp before the heat.”

The influx of bats over more than a decade had all but destroyed most of the trees in thepark, which was eventually shut to the public due to the danger of falling branches as well as other health and safety concerns before a councilclean-up campaign.

Before Friday, Wildlife Aid estimated the size of the camp in Burdekin Park to be about 2000, which is down significantly on estimates of up to 30,000 bats that called the park home before dozens of badly damaged trees were removedlast year.

Bats lay dead in Singleton’s Burdekin Park after the heatwave. Video: Wildlife Aid IncFormer mayor John Martin said the strategy was successful, as there was nowhere for the bats to roost, granting reprieve to residents who had been “tormented” by the colony for years.

However, Ms Presland said the removal of trees took away shade and a source of nutrition in the park, producing a nasty side effect on the endangered species.

“You can’t imagine what they would have went through,” she said.

“In the past, theywould have climbed up into the canopies of the trees to cool down in the shade. Taking away their habitat may have moved some of them on, but most of the bats still in the park had nowhere to go and cooked from the inside, out.”

No trees turned flying foxes into frying foxes: rescuers Bats at East Cessnock on November 8, 2016. Picture: Marina Neil

Bats at East Cessnock on November 8, 2016. Picture: Marina Neil

Bats at East Cessnock on November 8, 2016. Picture: Marina Neil

Bats at East Cessnock on November 8, 2016. Picture: Marina Neil

Bats at East Cessnock on November 8, 2016. Picture: Marina Neil

THE BATS ARE BACK: Hundreds of flying foxes have returned to the corner of Long Street and Old Maitland Road, East Cessnock in November 2016. Picture: Krystal Sellars

THE BATS ARE BACK: Hundreds of flying foxes have returned to the corner of Long Street and Old Maitland Road, East Cessnock in November 2016. Picture: Krystal Sellars

THE BATS ARE BACK: Hundreds of flying foxes have returned to the corner of Long Street and Old Maitland Road, East Cessnock in November 2016. Picture: Krystal Sellars

THE BATS ARE BACK: Hundreds of flying foxes have returned to the corner of Long Street and Old Maitland Road, East Cessnock in November 2016. Picture: Krystal Sellars

THE BATS ARE BACK: Hundreds of flying foxes have returned to the corner of Long Street and Old Maitland Road, East Cessnock in November 2016. Picture: Krystal Sellars

THE BATS ARE BACK: Hundreds of flying foxes have returned to the corner of Long Street and Old Maitland Road, East Cessnock in November 2016. Picture: Krystal Sellars

THE BATS ARE BACK: Hundreds of flying foxes have returned to the corner of Long Street and Old Maitland Road, East Cessnock in November 2016. Picture: Krystal Sellars

THE BATS ARE BACK: Hundreds of flying foxes have returned to the corner of Long Street and Old Maitland Road, East Cessnock in November 2016. Picture: Krystal Sellars

Bats in central Maitland, November 3, 2016. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Bats in central Maitland, November 3, 2016. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Bats in central Maitland, November 3, 2016. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Bats in central Maitland, November 3, 2016. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Bats in central Maitland, November 3, 2016. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Flying foxes in the Hunter region in early 2016.

Flying foxes in the Hunter region in early 2016. Picture: Rachelle Corcoran

Bats at Carrington in early 2016. Picture: Susan Mitchell

Flying foxes in the Hunter region in early 2016.

Flying foxes in the Hunter region in early 2016.

Flying foxes in the Hunter region in early 2016.

Flying foxes in the Hunter region in early 2016.

Flying foxes in the Hunter region in early 2016.

Flying foxes in the Hunter region in early 2016.

Flying foxes in the Hunter region in early 2016.

Flying foxes in the Hunter region in early 2016. Picture: ShayLeigh Riddle

Flying foxes in the Hunter region in early 2016.

Bats on the barricades at Burdekin Park in early 2016.

Flying foxes in the Hunter region in early 2016.

Flying foxes in the Hunter region in early 2016.

Flying foxes in the Hunter region in early 2016.

Flying foxes in the Hunter region in early 2016.

Member for Hunter Joel Fitzgibbon inspects the bats with East Cessnock residents Cindy Jeffery and Pamela Jeffery in April 2016.

East Cessnock bats in early 2016.

Behind Cessnock East Public School, early 2016 Picture: Emmie Price

Bats in the Hunter region in early 2016. Picture: Kimberly Johnson

Dead bats near East Cessnock School in early 2016. . Picture: Michelle Bond

Bats in the Hunter region in early 2016. Picture: Crystal Maree Norden

Bats in the Hunter region in early 2016. Picture: Daniel Radford

Bats in the Hunter region in early 2016. Picture: Kylie Radford

Bats in the Hunter region in early 2016. Picture: Kylie Radford

Bats in the Hunter region in early 2016. Picture: Kylie Radford

Cessnock Bat Camp in early 2016. Picture: April Hatchamana

Taken Cessnock Bat Camp. Picture: April Hatchamana

Cessnock Bat Camp in early 2016. Picture: April Hatchamana

Cessnock bat camp, early 2016. Picture: April Hatchamana

Bats in the Hunter, early 2016. Picture: Candice Preece

Bats in the Hunter, early 2016. Picture: Tiarna Croft

Bats in the Hunter, early 2016. Picture: Walter Upson

Bats in the Hunter, early 2016. Picture: Walter Upson

Bats in the Hunter, early 2016. Picture: Walter Upson

Bats in the Hunter, early 2016. Picture: Dyarnie Riddock

Bats in the Hunter, early 2016. Picture: Neil Lyle

Bats in the Hunter, early 2016. INSTA @ynot_young_nomads_on_tour_ #battyhunter #battyhunters

Bats in the Hunter, early 2016. Fried bat in Blackwood Avenue. Picture: Nathan Wright

Bats in the Hunter, early 2016. Bats and damage in Burdekin Park, Singleton. Pictures: Shannon Dann

Bats and damage in Burdekin Park, Singleton in early 2016. Pictures: Shannon Dann

Bats and damage in Burdekin Park, Singleton. Pictures: Shannon Dann

Bats and damage in Burdekin Park, Singleton in early 2016. Pictures: Shannon Dann

Bats and damage in Burdekin Park, Singleton. Pictures: Shannon Dann

Bats and damage in Burdekin Park, Singleton. Pictures: Shannon Dann

Bats and damage in Burdekin Park, Singleton. Pictures: Shannon Dann

Bats and damage in Burdekin Park, Singleton. Pictures: Shannon Dann

Bats and damage in Burdekin Park, Singleton. Pictures: Shannon Dann

Bats and damage in Burdekin Park, Singleton in early 2016. Pictures: Shannon Dann

Bats and damage in Burdekin Park, Singleton in early 2016. Pictures: Shannon Dann

Bats and damage in Burdekin Park, Singleton in early 2016. Pictures: Shannon Dann

Bats and damage in Burdekin Park, Singleton in early 2016. Pictures: Shannon Dann

Bats and damage in Burdekin Park, Singleton in early 2016. Pictures: Shannon Dann

Bats and damage in Burdekin Park, Singleton in early 2016. Pictures: Shannon Dann

Bats and damage in Burdekin Park, Singleton in early 2016. Pictures: Shannon Dann

Bats and damage in Burdekin Park, Singleton in early 2016. Pictures: Shannon Dann

Bats and damage in Burdekin Park, Singleton in early 2016. Pictures: Shannon Dann

Bats and damage in Burdekin Park, Singleton in early 2016. Pictures: Shannon Dann

Bats and damage in Burdekin Park, Singleton in early 2016. Pictures: Shannon Dann

Bats and damage in Burdekin Park, Singleton in early 2016. Pictures: Shannon Dann

Bats and damage in Burdekin Park, Singleton in early 2016. Pictures: Shannon Dann

Bats and damage in Burdekin Park, in early 2016. Pictures: Shannon Dann

Bats and damage in Burdekin Park, Singleton in early 2016. Pictures: Shannon Dann

TweetFacebook The Hunter’s bat plague: photosA collection of photos of flying fox camps across the Hunter. Pictures: Various photographersCr Martin defended his council’s decision to remove the trees.

“It was done legally and legitimately,” he said. “The park was broken down and ruined, the situation was unbearable. My opinion was then, and still is now, we had to do something about it.”

There had not been any reports of deaths at other troublesome bat colonies in Cessnock and Maitland.

Elsewhere in the state, thousands of bats died in Casino in northern NSW.

Ms Presland said while it was common for a percentage of bats to die in hot weather, the weekend’s death toll was the worst since the first “heat stress event” in 2004, when 2500 bats died.

Theweekend roasting killed a higher number of bats as a proportion of the total colony, and came after another 100 died in January.

Residents are being warnednot to touch thebat carcasses, which can carry the deadly lyssavirus, instead urging they be reported.

Newcastle Supercars race will make foreshore a ‘construction zone’ for eight months

Foreshore to become a ‘construction zone’ STILL ON: John Bisegna with, Lachlan Smith 9, Sarah Bisegna 7, and Samuel Bisegna 10, were relieved the Flatrock surf competition will go ahead. PICTURE: Marina Neil
南京夜网

TweetFacebookNewcastle City Council did not respond to questions about the letter before deadline on Wednesday, but shortly after the Newcastle Heraldinquiredabout the decisionfestival organisers were contacted to say they could hold the competition.

The Herald understands the council made the decision to allow the event to go ahead because the surf festival was so close to the works period.

John Bisegna, from the East End Boardriders group, said he was “relieved” by the change of heart.

“The council initially said they’d work with us to find a new location, but you can’t have the Flatrock surf festival somewhere else, because it’s a different surf break, it becomes the Merewether surf festival or wherever,” he said.

Despite the decision, the letter raises questions about other events slated to be held inNewcastle for eight months during2017.

A number of other events includingtheDestination NSW sponsored Newcastle Supermoto race –are held in the same precinct.

It will also reignite debate about access to the Newcastle foreshore in the lead up to the race. The council has previously said beaches will be accessible “as usual”, and that no decisions had been made about road closures.

On Tuesdaytourism minister Adam Marshall said in a speech in parliament that “any suggestion that the public will be prevented from using Newcastle’s finest beaches and public areas is not correct and couldn’t be further from the truth”.

It comes after the Heraldreported Supercars Australia would develop a heritage plan beforethe event.

The race –which enjoys the support of both the state government and Newcastle council –has become increasingly controversial among some East End residentssince it was announced last year.

On Tuesday the government introduced a bill into parliament that will see the race officially moved from its former home in Homebush to Newcastle.