Friday, October 16, 2020

Houses in good school zones sell in a flash

This is a case of a virtuous circle. Success feeds on success. Schools that already have good students and teachers attract parents who are very concerned about that and have the money to buy in to a place where their children will be well treated.

And because the school is a good one, that will push prices up in its area as so many people want in.

And a school with well-off parents will generally mean that the parents will be of higher IQ -- and high IQ parents tend to have high IQ kids, So that will keep the school results and standards up -- thus making the school and its area ever more attractive

Parents desperate to get their kids into a good public school have taken to sleeping in swags overnight in the hope of landing a coveted spot.

But it has never been cheaper to buy a house inside a sought-after catchment zone thanks to low interest rates, government incentives and flat house prices.

However competition is fierce, with one house in a sought-after catchment zone going under contract in less than 24 hours.

On Tuesday night, about a dozen parents camped outside the gates of Pimlico State High School, one of Townsville’s top performing schools.

The school, like many other top state schools in the city, is the subject of an Enrolment Management Plan (EMP), meaning the number of students accepted from outside of its catchment area is strictly capped.

Students living within the catchment zone are automatically guaranteed a place at the school.

A five bedroom fixer upper at 35 Latchford St was listed on a Thursday and under contract the following day, snapped up by a family with young children.

To put that in perspective, the median days on market in Townsville is 84, according to the latest data from

Listed for $270,000 negotiable, it was sold by Sibby and Lucy Di Bartolo of John Gribbin Realty, with the contract due to settle today.

“There was a lot of interest in it, from first home buyers and families,” Mr Di Bartolo said.

“Buyers are keen to get their kids into that school (Pimlico) but the suburb also offers affordable houses.

“I wish I had 10 more like it because a lot of people missed out.”

A few doors down is 17 Latchford Street, a five bedroom Queenslander on a 971 sqm block.

It is listed with Julie Mahoney of Ray White Julie Mahoney and will go under the hammer on October 26.

One of its key selling points is the fact it is located within the school catchment.

“Being located in a good school catchment can be a huge drawcard for buyers,” Ms Mahoney said.

“And we have had huge interest in this property, mostly from families and young couples planning for the future.”

Calls for Australian troops to focus on Asia region as fighting returns to Afghanistan

The region that saw the bloodiest fighting of Afghanistan’s 20 year war has again descended into chaos prompting calls for the Australian Defence Force to pull out of the embattled region.

The Afghan region Australian troops fought and died for during two decades of combat has descended into chaos with a resurgent Taliban campaign forcing 35,000 civilians to flee their homes and prompting fresh US air strikes.

Just a day after Defence Minister Linda Reynolds confirmed another Australian Defence Force withdrawal phase from the embattled Afghanistan, the Taliban moved back into Helmand Province with co-ordinated attacks.

It is here coalition forces fought some of the bloodiest campaigns of Afghanistan’s 19-year war including Australian troops from the Special Operations Task Group and others largely in support of British operations.

The US administration today vowed despite the violence in Helmand – which yesterday also saw nine ANSF troops killed when two troop helicopters crashed – the fragile peace accord between the Americans and Taliban remained.

Senate powerbroker independent Rex Patrick said Senator Reynolds’ confirmation this week the ADF had now wrapped up its training operation of the various Afghan security forces, now was a time for a full withdrawal and an independent review into the effectiveness of Australia’s involvement in the Middle East more broadly.

“Bringing an end to Australia’s remaining deployments in the Middle East is clearly overdue,” he said.

“After nearly two decades of operations in the Middle East, our special forces especially need time to rebuild and reorientate themselves towards possible future operations in Australia’s immediate strategic region. We are entering a new era of competition between major powers focused on East Asia and the Pacific … Australia may face significant strategic challenges closer to home.”

Australia Post may be forced into early return to daily deliveries

Controversial changes to postal delivery services made during the coronavirus pandemic could be wound back before their planned expiry date amid a string of scandals within Australia Post.

Federal Communications Minister Paul Fletcher has written to business leaders across the nation requesting feedback on the temporary regulatory changes the federal government granted to the organisation earlier this year.

The mail delivery service was given short-term regulatory relief in April to move to every-second-day delivery of mail in metropolitan areas until June 30 next year as part of a broader movement within the postal service to cut costs amid COVID-19.

A spokeswoman from Mr Fletcher's office said a review was under way and would determine whether the relief should continue to June 30 next year, incorporating feedback from business and industry. She said the review would be finalised by the end of this year.

Labor and the Greens failed at an attempt to reverse the regulatory changes in the Senate, however Liberal backbencher Concetta Fierravanti-Wells has expressed concern and will again attempt to force changes when sittings resume.

Mr Fletcher said at the time the new standards would give Australia Post the "flexibility to respond to the increased demand for parcels", but there are reports of major backlogs in parcel delivery and delays with deliveries surrounding Father's Day last month, and the postal service this week warned Australians to allow up to six weeks for deliveries ahead of Christmas.

Australia Post invited its Melbourne-based staff to volunteer their weekends or mid-week to help clear backlogs at its Victorian facilities using their own vehicles to help deliver parcels.

Staff were asked to declare they were able to carry and lift up to 16kg of mail and parcels repeatedly through the day.

Australia Post's profits have soared during the pandemic as it benefit from an eCommerce boom fuelled by the pandemic.

Revenue rose a record 7 per cent in the 2019-20 financial year, up more than $500 million to nearly $7.5 billion.

It has increased scrutiny on managing director Christine Holgate's performance despite her decision to take a pay cut and forgo bonuses for the recent financial year.

Australia Post confirmed it paid almost $120,000 for a reputation management consultant as the organisation attempted to defend the changes to delivery times.

In a written statement to the Senate this week, Australia Post said it had advised Mr Fletcher of its decision to engage PR guru Ross Thornton. The contract equated to about $3000-a-day.

A spokeswoman for Mr Fletcher said all questions regarding the hiring of consultants were a matter for the Australia Post board and "should be directed to Australia Post".

Australia Post said on Monday the company, Domestique, was still engaged but not on an ongoing retainer, and "provided advice on an ad hoc basis".

It has told customers via emails and on its website this week it is doing "everything we can" to keep delivering during the pandemic.

"Ongoing challenges presented by the pandemic mean there are still some delays as our business operates with additional safety measures to protect our people and customers," the company said on its website.

"We're also still experiencing reduced domestic and international flights, while processing unprecedented parcel volumes. The majority of parcels are arriving on time."

China steps up trade war ‘by slashing Australian coal imports’

Australia is urgently trying to confirm reports that China has slashed its coal import quota, with analysts warning that Beijing could be stepping up its trade war with the world’s largest coal exporter.

China has already moved to restrict Australian agricultural exports severely, including beef and barley — moves that were taken after Australia’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, led the push in April for an international investigation into the Chinese origins of the coronavirus.

Australian coal analysts said on Tuesday that almost all major Chinese steel mills had been informed of the clampdown on Australian coal, including coal waiting to offload and sitting in China’s port stockpiles.

Australian coal miners could be forced to sell “distressed” coal cargos at cut-rate prices




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