Thursday, June 27, 2019

'It's the next to go': Apartment block just 150 metres from evacuated Mascot Towers is suffering from 'cracks and sinking foundations' - as experts warn thousands of properties across Australia are unsafe

Careless builders should be held liable and made to pay

An apartment building just 150 metres from the cracking Mascot Towers could be the 'next to go' as Sydney's building defect crisis deepens.

Pictures show the six-storey complex, completed in 2009, had waterproofing issues, sinking foundations and sediment cracks as far back as July 2014 - when it was only five years old.

Real estate agent Edwin Almeida, who took the images, told Daily Mail Australia on Tuesday the problems were still there - and getting worse. 'That's the next one to go,' he said on Tuesday. 'There are a lot of issues.'

In a video from 2009, the real estate agent shows concrete coming apart at 19-21 Church Avenue at the touch of his hand, and points out peeling render, water seeping into the basement car park and concrete cancer.

'We're not talking about something you could put a step ladder on and fix it, we're talking about scaffolding going up five or six levels,' he said in the clip.

At the time, he estimated it would cost owners nearly $1million to repair the damage.

When Mr Almeida visited the property again on Sunday, he remarked: 'It's only getting worse.'

Experts say thousands of homes with similar issues are at risk across the country.

Mascot Towers, a 10-storey high rise just 150 metres away, was evacuated on June 14 after engineers found multiple cracks in the building's car park. Since then, it has emerged the 132-unit building is sinking.

The Mascot Tower evacuation comes just months after residents at the Opal Tower in Olympic Park were forced to flee when the building cracked on Christmas Eve, leaving hundreds with nowhere to go. 

Mr Almeida said the problem has spread 'all over Sydney', and affected everything from apartment towers to free-standing homes.

He claims issues facing homeowners today are a result of the 'deregulation of the construction industry', and the issue 'has been exacerbated by the dilution of the liabilities the developers and builders had in 2014'.

Mr Almeida said height and space restrictions when it came to large-scale development had been loosened in the past few years, and that building was taking place en masse on water tables, which increased the risk of water damage and the prospect of more devastating structural damage.

'The problem isn't just with high rises,' he said. 'It extends out to normal homes. It's a widespread problem, which is even more frightening, because there are more homes being built with imported materials.'

He said the issues were not just structural either. With water damage, comes mould, which can result in illnesses for residents.

'We've got families with little kids living in mould-infested apartments all around the east coast,' he said.

Peter Georgiev, director of Archicentre - which provides design, advice, assessment and inspection services - said building standards began slipping in the 1990s, and had been on a 'downwards slide' ever since.

'Once, building codes were quite prescriptive,' he said. 'If you built in the 70s, the walls were brick, the floor was concrete. If you wanted to change that, too bad.

Mr Georgiev said the issue would have widespread implications, as scores of homes and buildings became uninhabitable.

'It's not going to go away, this issue,' he said.

'This is just the tip of the iceberg. The flow on effect here is going to be the devaluing of real estate across the board, everything from speculative single houses in the outer suburbs, redeveloped properties in middle suburbia... anything that is a volume builder based product, we are finding these are the issues.

'It's not just a few people affected, it's hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions - we need a road map as to how we [are going to] do things in the future.'

The architect, who has been working since the early 1980s, said Australians should 'absolutely' be concerned as to whether their apartment was safe - but said ultimately there was no clear path to resolving the issues.  

Mr Georgiev says the Federal Government needed to take responsibility and force builders and developers to fix their cut corners.

'To know we've got this problem with waterproofing is the first step, but the second is how do you hold builders and developers accountable?' he said.

'At the moment, the government is saying the consumer has to pay - it's total bull dust. 'The builder should be held accountable.

'We want the government to say no, you go and fix that - we'll give you a low interest loan but you'll pay. They've got to come up with something cleverer than throwing consumers to the wolves.'


'From first to last bell': Mobile phones are BANNED in State  schools across Victoria in a bid to clamp down on cyberbullying

Victorian public school students will be banned from using their phones from next year.

Students will have to switch off their phones and store them in lockers until the final bell, Education Minister James Merlino announced.

'This will remove a major distraction from our classrooms, so that teachers can teach, and students can learn in a more focused, positive and supported environment,' he said in a statement.

'Half of all young people have experienced cyberbullying. By banning mobiles we can stop it at the school gate.'

In the case of an emergency, parents or guardians can reach their child by calling the school.

The only exceptions to the ban will be where students use phones to monitor health conditions, or where teachers instruct students to bring their phone for a particular classroom activity.

The ban will start from term one in 2020.

It comes after McKinnon Secondary College banned phones from its grounds and reported students as being more focused during class and communicating more in the school yard.

In February 2018, ahead of the November state election, the Liberals announced a policy of banning students from using phones in classrooms.

At the time the Andrews government said bans were the decision of individual schools. 'I guess policy imitation is the greatest form of flattery,' former Liberal leader Matthew Guy tweeted on Tuesday night.


'I lost my job and my marriage': Refugee, 36, starts a GoFundMe page claiming his life's been 'ruined' since a girl, 19, lied about him sexually harassing her as he helped fix her car

"Always believe the woman" feminists say.  They ignore that there are a lot of lying bitches around.  Thankfully, this one is being prosecuted

A Bosnian refugee falsely accused of sexual harassment has set up a GoFundMe page to help him get his life back on track.

Kenan Basic helped Caitlyn Gray, now 20, fix her car for two hours in Bankstown, west Sydney in November.

Gray, who was 19 at the time, lied to police that he demanded sexual favours and lunged at her breasts and crotch when she refused.

Basic found himself charged and locked up in Silverwater maximum security jail for two weeks.

He lost his job and his wife divorced him and he has now launched a fundraising page. On the page, Mr Basic writes: 'Hi my name is Kenan Basic and l been falsely accused and jailed my life has been ruined after I was wrongly accused of indecent assault.

'I lost my job and my marriage.

'After all this happening to me it's really hard to come back on track when l don't know where to start from.

'So I am rising this profile for me if you guys can help me with anything l would extremely appreciate to all of yous (sic) who help me to come back on track of my life.'   

Gray faced Bankstown Local Court on Tuesday and pleaded guilty to lying about her initial accusations.

She said she did it because he had said something to offend her and she wanted him to go to jail. She submitted a written apology to Mr Basic. 

Gray falsely accused Mr Basic - who had spent more than two hours helping fix her car at a western Sydney petrol station after she had a minor collision - of acting inappropriately towards her.

She wrongly claimed Mr Basic had made unwanted advances towards her and subsequently grabbed her breast and vagina as a way of 'payment' for assisting her with the damaged vehicle.

The court heard Gray, who has no prior criminal history, had regularly been seeing a psychologist in November last year - before making the false accusations against Mr Basic.

Her psychologist's clinical notes, counsellor notes, character references and job history was also handed to the court.

Magistrate Glenn Walsh told Gray to ensure she attended Campbelltown Community Corrections office within seven days so that a full sentencing assessment report could be completed.

Gray will reappear in court for sentencing on August 7.

Mr Basic previously said he was grateful to be free after all charges, but was now hesitant to help strangers.

CCTV captured the interaction between the pair, but Gray told police he followed her after she drove away.

Mr Basic admitted he did follow her, but claimed he did so to ensure her car didn't break down again. - not to harass her as she claimed.

Gray later went to Liverpool police station and gave a statement about the ordeal - which resulted in the arrest of Mr Basic on November 23.

Mr Basic was then charged with multiple offences including one count of incite person over the age of 16 to commit an act of indecency and one count of stalk and intimidate intending to cause fear or physical harm.

Five days later police spoke to Gray again after they failed to find any CCTV evidence to comply with her version of events.

Again, Gray continued to lie and insisted she had been telling the truth. When she spoke to police for a third time on November 29 she repeatedly insisted she had been telling the truth.

Shortly after, Gray came clean and admitted she had fabricated the accusations.

'No-one would ever expect that as a Good Samaritan you stop to assist a broken down motorist that then you would subsequently be charged with these serious offences,' Mr Basic's lawyer said.


City of Sydney climate debate a microcosm of political decline

Chris Kenny

We have shrunk from a lively public square as a clearing house for the issues of the day into darkened silos of hate-filled barbs, cultivated on social media and thrown into a new public debate that doesn't so much seek to win contests over ideas but to shout down, silence and demonise opponents.

A little example of how sad this has become played out this week in the Sydney City Council where a motion was passed declaring a climate emergency in the NSW capital. The Sydney councillors happily took to the Town Hall steps displaying a "climate emergency" banner and waving flags - apparently sharing their delight about drawing attention to our impending doom.

The motion they passed was nonsensical and alarmist. It accused a federal government committed to the Paris climate targets of presiding over a "climate disaster" and warned of heatwaves and rising sea levels creating chaos in the Pacific as it declared an official "climate emergency" in concert with other activist groups and organisations worldwide.

A Liberal Party councillor, Craig Chung, pointed out how ludicrous the motion was and tried to amend it. When his amendments were rejected, he voted for the motion regardless. On Sky News' The Kenny Report yesterday I asked him why.

"The language is absurd, this was the fundamentalist Clover (Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore) at her best, using alarmist language and warning us that the world is going to end," Chung said.

"The reality is that I'm a Liberal councillor in the city of Sydney, the majority of the seats are taken up by the Clover climate fundamentalists and while the language that she uses is completely alarmist and is completely catastrophising what is going on, some of the contents of that motion are things that we really need to address, and if I want to sit at the table, if I want to be there taking part in the policy debate, I've got to get a seat at the table."

This seemed worrying; Chung knew the motion was ill-founded but went along it all the same. It sounded like he was dragooned into it. It seemed inappropriate for him to support a motion he knew was nonsensical just to fit in.

"This Left group, they love to preach the idea of free speech and being inclusive," Chung explained, "but I tell you what the moment you don't get involved in their motions and the moment you cut yourself out, you get called all sorts of names, last night I was called a flat-earther and a coal lugger despite the fact I do think we need to take some action.

"The gallery was full of people, Clover supporters, all of these people who were absolutely jeering me and cheering Clover. I moved an amendment, that was absolutely jeered by the gallery there, an amendment that took out the language of the warnings and catastrophising and moved an amendment that said we need to do this and we need to do it rationally and calmly. But that was voted down unanimously.

"We're not talking just about the Clover Moore people, we are talking about the Labor Left rump that are there as well, these are people who absolutely don't want to hear from anybody else."

Chung should be strong enough to stand up to this sort of political grandstanding and argue and vote for what he believes is right. But however courageous or timid he might be, it can be no excuse for his opponents.

"That's the way the city of Sydney runs, that's the way Clover Moore runs business there, this is a closed shop for Clover Moore. This is about her preaching to her choir, about getting a headline, but actually offering no solutions," Chung said.

So this councillor voted for a motion that condemns the federal government for doing nothing (something Chung knows is false) and spreads alarmist fearmongering (something Chung abhors).

"I know that some people will criticise me for (supporting the motion) but at the same time, if I don't do that I'm never going to get a seat at the table, I'm just going to have slogans thrown at me and abuse thrown at me, I need to be able to stay at that table to maintain a rational debate."

Nobody should give in to bullies, it only encourages them. But I fear this pointless debate in Sydney's Town Hall tells us much about the deterioration of our national political discussion.


 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

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