Thursday, November 02, 2017

Refugees who refuse refuge

They have been given refuge in New Guinea but are doing a big tantrum in the hope of being relocated to Australia instead.  It never was refuge they were after.  They were trying to steal a Western standard of living

Refugees on Manus Island were braced for potential calamity on Tuesday evening as they refused to leave the now-decommissioned detention centre and feared violent clashes with locals and the military.

Five years after the centre reopened under Labor and took in its first asylum seekers - and six months after its closure was announced following a Papua New Guinea Supreme Court ruling - the ugly and potentially violent standoff marks another dark episode in the history of Australia's offshore processing regime.

All Australian and PNG staff abandoned the site on Tuesday morning, heading for the airport, while power and water were cut later in the afternoon.

About 600 men - mostly refugees, but also some failed asylum seekers - have refused to move to alternative accommodation in nearby Lorengau, citing fears for their safety and vowing to resist as long as possible.

As the situation deteriorated, an angry Immigration Minister Peter Dutton blasted the refugees and their advocates, declaring their claims "nothing more than subterfuge" and reiterating they would never come to Australia.

The men plan to sustain themselves on rainwater they have collected in jerrycans, but fear a confrontation with local Manusians - up to 50 of whom broke into the site on Tuesday and looted fans, chairs and other goods.

Refugees have patched up a broken gate with wire, but it remains insecure. There is a heavy police presence on the island, including the PNG military and the infamous "mobile squad", which has been described as a paramilitary force.

"The situation is a humanitarian emergency, there is no other way to describe it," said Greens senator Nick McKim, who was on Manus Island on Tuesday.

He witnessed about 100 locals in Lorengau rally against the relocation of refugees into their community, arguing instead they should be taken to Australia.

Senator McKim also said Mr Dutton's claim of providing sufficient alternative accommodation was untrue, because one of the facilities was still "two weeks away" from being ready.

"It is still a construction site," he said. "It consists of two demountables in a paddock full of mud. It is in no way fit for human habitation."

While some refugees and asylum seekers have moved into the alternative accommodation, the remaining 600 intend to hold out as long as they can.

PNG's armed forces are due to resume control of the site as soon as Wednesday, but have promised not to use force to remove the refugees.

However, police chief Gari Baki has warned nobody's safety can be guaranteed, while refugees recall with anguish this year's Good Friday riot in which drunk PNG soldiers fired bullets into the detention centre.

Early Tuesday evening, Iranian refugee Behrouz Boochani described the atmosphere at the detention centre as "calm", but worried it was the "calm before [the] storm". "The refugees are waiting and they are really scared and really worried," he told Fairfax Media.

Another man, Rohingyan refugee Imran Mohammed, conceded the group "won't have any choice" but to comply if authorities used force against them. "We have nothing, we are unarmed," he said. "Everyone is saying we prefer to die here than dying in the town. We are really concerned about our future and about our lives out there."

In a lengthy statement on Tuesday, Mr Dutton said the alternative accommodation provided to refugees and asylum seekers was ready, safe and contained food, power and medical services.

He singled out Senator McKim for "breathtaking duplicity", accusing him of deliberately inciting trouble and grandstanding.

Mr Dutton said refugees had "clear pathways ahead of them" to resettle in PNG, the United States or Nauru. But he warned they had "sought to subvert Australia's laws" and "none will ever resettle here".

"They have long claimed the Manus RPC was a 'hellhole' - but the moment it was to be closed they demanded it be kept open," Mr Dutton said.

Labor's immigration spokesman, Shayne Neumann, said it was incumbent on the minister to "de-escalate" the situation on Manus Island. Transferring people from one facility to another was "not a long-term solution", he said.

Meanwhile, lawyers acting for the refugees lodged a last-minute challenge to the centre's closure, and were waiting to appear before a PNG judge on Tuesday evening.

Documents filed in court allege the men's rights would be breached by placing them into danger in Lorengau. "The current situation is now totally out of control and fears of a possible 'bloodbath' are mounting by the day," lawyer Ben Lomai argued.

However, with staff having already departed the island, a reversal of the closure appeared impossible.


Governments who are failing to learn  from the past:  "Pro-tenant" policies will choke off rental accomodation, driving up rents

Shocked residential property investors bracing for the spreading impact from the dramatic 20 to 25 per cent fall in Sydney inner-city used apartment prices are being threatened new blows.

NSW politicians are looking to follow Victoria and are considering draconian new laws to hit residential property investors even harder. But, as I explain below, an investor fightback is starting led by the largest apartment owner in Australia: Harry Triguboff.

Triguboff has threatened an effective capital strike on building rental properties. Politicians need to brace for shocks — helping one sector of the community to the detriment of another can backfire.

Both political parties operating at state level reckon they have found a new and huge pool of voters — those who are renting residences. And there is no doubt that renters in some situations have been treated badly.

But the politicians have decided that the small and large residential investors — often the local trades person — should be given a good hard kick to promote the cause of renter votes. Victoria’s Andrews government started the game with a series of measures to limit rent rises and make evictions harder. The NSW ALP saw what their counterparts in Victoria were doing and went much further; including giving tenants the option of five-year leases.

The NSW Coalition government could see that the ALP might be onto a vote winner, and so is looking at its options. There is great danger that in NSW, where renting is booming, competition will develop between the Coalition government and the ALP as to who will kick the investors the hardest, and therefore win the most renter votes.

Leave aside the need to protect renters, there could not be a more dangerous time to kick investors than when prices are falling in key areas.

Investors have accepted very low yields on rental properties because prices are rising. A falling market changes the dynamic.

Last night Australia’s largest owner of apartments for rent, Meriton’s Harry Triguboff, decided it was time to fight back on behalf of all residential property investors, including those in Victoria where he does not operate. He pulls no punches.

Triguboff: “Meriton is the only company which has thousands of apartments for rent. And we manage many more thousands for investors. If the government wants to bring in these new rules, do they apply for existing leases? I am planning to build many more thousands of rental apartments. Can I know how banks will be controlled not to make it hard for investors to get finance?

“Can someone tell me if the government will not discriminate against investors? If I don’t get the answers, I will not renew any lease. I will sell all the rental properties, which I will vacate and I will not build any new ones. I will only build properties for sale and serviced apartments.”

Given the size of Meriton and the fact that rental property represents about half the apartments he is currently building, NSW building volumes will slump and there will be less rental accommodation. Triguboff adds: “People usually follow me in the apartment field, so whatever I say will be magnified.”

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Opposition leader Luke Foley will say: “Harry you are bluffing, you will never do it.”

I might be wrong but I don’t think he is bluffing when it comes to ceasing to build apartments for rent and ending rental leases when they expire.

But if Meriton stops rental construction, we are looking at an unprecedented investor strike led by the largest player. Rents will rise rapidly as construction in Sydney slumps. Those higher rents and lower supply will, over time, boost apartment prices but investors will demand much higher yields than they are currently accepting, given the higher risks that have been introduced into the market.

Remember that the apartment market has already been hammered by banking lending restrictions and higher investor interest rates and the removal of depreciation for used apartments. Fascinatingly, it was government action — the removal of depreciation from used apartments on July 1 — that triggered the big fall.

I set out 12 causes of the slump last week. Triguboff says that if five-year leases are mandatory, then tenants could not have leases terminated if they behaved. “But what happens if the rents drop? Is the tenant going to continue pay the original rent?”

“The people providing rental accommodation are usually small investors. What happens if the small investor has to sell and the rents have gone up? He does not win because he can only charge the original rent.

“In the case of Meriton, when the company finishes huge blocks it leases them quickly, by offering rental deals that are below market rent. But under the new rules Meriton may not be able to raise the rent.

“Let’s say I lease the property for five years and I am allowed to raise the rent once a year. The tenant can’t pay the new rent. Must I wait for five years until I can raise the rent, even though what I ask is the correct new rent?

“It is also dangerous to ask renters to sign a five-year lease because what happens if they get sick or lose their jobs — they are bound to that lease. At present they do not have that problem.”

The great danger politicians face is that they have forgotten history. Decades ago in some states, including NSW, governments introduced rent controls so that no one built for rent. Instead, housing commissions provided accommodation and the government helped in various ways for people to buy homes. If the scramble for renter votes gets out of hand and it becomes uneconomic for investors, then state governments may need to divert money from other areas.


Australia's world record housing boom is 'officially' over, UBS says

The huge rash of apartment-building is having its effect

A global investment bank has called the end of Australia's world record housing boom, saying the golden years are "officially" over after home prices fell in Sydney for the second month in a row.

"There is now a persistent and sharp slowdown unfolding", ending 55 years of unprecedented growth that has seen home values soar by more than 6500 per cent, UBS economists wrote in a note to clients on Thursday.

Home prices in the capital cities have continued to slow on a quarterly basis, weighed down by tighter lending requirements for property investors and banks' out-of-cycle raising of home loan rates.

In Sydney, home prices fell 0.6 per cent over the quarter and were down 0.5 per cent over the month, figures from property data group Corelogic showed on Thursday morning.

Home prices in Darwin and Perth were also down, 4.4 per cent and 0.7 per cent respectively, over the quarter. Melbourne's market conditions remained more resilient, with home prices up 0.5 per cent for the month and reaching growth of almost 2 per cent over the quarter.

Nationally, home prices stayed flat over the month and edged up only 0.4 per cent over the three months to October 31.

UBS had previously been cautious on the market, forecasting Australia's annual home price growth would moderate from solid double digits to 7 per cent in 2017, before prices would even fall by 0.3 per cent in 2018.

But the recent weakness in auction clearance rates and anaemic price growth over the past five months suggested "the cooling may be happening a bit more quickly than even we expected", economists George Tharenou and Carlos Cacho wrote in their note, downgrading their growth forecast for 2017 to just 5 per cent.

The cooling house prices and a slowdown in demand for loans to property investors suggested a "tightening of financial conditions", which will likely weigh on consumer spending and prompt the Reserve Bank to keep interest rates on hold until the second half of next year, they added.

Despite the recent downturn in values, Sydney home prices are up 74 per cent since the latest growth cycle began in early 2012

However, the latest figures show it may now be more lucrative investing on the sharemarket than in property, CommSec's chief economist Craig James suggested in a separate note.

Total returns on shares rose by 15.5 per cent in the year to October while total returns on capital city homes rose by 10.7 per cent, he pointed out.

With a record amount of new property supply such as new apartments and townhouses coming onto the market, and stalling wages and rising energy prices sapping consumers' chances of saving up money for home deposits, property price growth is unlikely to bounce back in the near future, according to Commonwealth Bank's senior economist, John Peters.

"It is hard to see this situation reversing anytime soon with consumers now running down their savings to maintain current living standards and paying bills," he warned.


Australian CO2 emissions to 'far exceed' 2030 Paris pledge

Good news for Australians

National pledges to cut carbon emissions fall well short of what's needed to avoid dangerous climate change, with Australia likely to miss its 2030 commitment by a wide margin, a United Nations body said.

The UN Environment Program's Emissions Gap 2017 report found pledges to cut pollution made at the Paris climate summit two years ago are only about one-third of what's needed to be on a "least-cost pathway" to stopping the worst effects of climate change.

The target is to stop global average temperatures from rising 2 degrees or more above pre-industrial levels. Change on that scale is expected to cause major droughts, food shortages and damaging sea level rise.

The emissions gap to keep with a 1.5-degree goal is 16-19 gigatonnes of carbon-dioxide equivalent, while the 2-degree target would need an extra 11.13.5 gigatonnes of CO₂-e of cuts by 2030 to be attained, the report said.

Sea levels could rise 1.3 metres by 2100 if coal use continues
"There is an urgent need for accelerated short-term action and enhanced longer-term national ambition, if the goals of the Paris Agreement are to remain achievable," the report said.

The positive news is that global emissions have largely flatlined for the past three years, thanks in large part to a plateauing in China. Still, other potent greenhouse gases such as methane are rising, and carbon dioxide emissions could accelerate if global economic growth picks up.

Frank Jotzo, a professor at the Australian National University's Crawford School and a contributor to the report, said tumbling costs of renewable energy and other low-carbon technologies suggest nations could increase their emissions cuts "and it won't be terribly hard".


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

1 comment:

Paul said...

Triguboff and his Meriton operation are definitely not known for quality buildings. He can cry me a river all the way back to the Promised Land.