Sunday, August 06, 2023

Queensland sales of investor-owned property are ballooning as interest rates rise and landlords flee

The interest rate bills that landlords have to pay on their mortgages are shooting up so rents have to go up too in order to make landlording affordable. So what is the government response to that? Forbidding landlords to put up their rents! Only a government would think it was a good idea to chase landlords out of the business during a shortage of rental accomodation

Property investors in one state are 'over it' as they bow out of the market in droves amid rising interest rates and higher land taxes.

Sales of Queensland investor-owned property increased to almost a third of all homes sold in June, according to PropTrack research.

It comes as owners across Australia face skyrocketing property taxes and rental price cap speculation - adding pressure to their high mortgage repayments.

Sales of owner-investor properties in Queensland grew by eight per cent in just one month - up to 29.5 per cent of all house sales, higher than other state.

PropTrack statistics also revealed more than 21 per cent of landlords have been exiting the market after the introduction of land tax legislation in the state.

Jett Jones of Ray White Marsden in Logan told News Corp three clients have called her this week wanting to offload their investment properties saying, 'I quote unquote; "We're over it, interest rates are too high".'

She added that within the last month landlords have been asking about listing their properties - with many of them being long-term investors.

PropTrack senior economist Paul Ryan said statistics showed investors are responding to the current market.

'It's starting to suggest, perhaps, now with interest rates increasing significantly... that financial pressures on investors, or even expected cash flow over the coming period, is pushing them to exit their investments,' Mr Ryan said.

'What's concerning is investor sentiment is very poor. Investors are a big pathway to building homes, and the long-term solution to the rental crisis. We need a really strong investor component in the market to facilitate new supply to come in.'

But he said the amount of new stock on the market could be good opportunities for other wanna-be investors to buy up.

'Because investors and owner-occupiers often compete for the same properties, that could be a positive for buyers over the coming period,' Mr Ryan said.

There are other factors blindsiding landlords like concerns over the rental crisis and land tax hikes.

The Queensland government put in new legislation forbidding landlords to increase rent by more than once a year.

It also brought in new land legislation in June 2022 that taxed landlords based on their entire Australian property portfolio rather than what they owned in Queensland.

But the government abandoned the proposals in September after strong backlash.

MCG Quantity Surveyors managing director Mike Mortlock said the government's actions have been forcing investors to get rid of their stock.

He said the government should focus more on the value of investors who provide housing for renters.


Farmer advised of $100,000 cost for cultural heritage survey

Shane Kelliher knows first-hand the confusion caused by Western Australia’s new cultural heritage laws and says there must be a “better way forward” to preserve Indigenous sites.

Mr Kelliher, 58, has received preliminary written advice organised through his legal firm saying that, under the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act, which took effect on July 1, he could be forced to pay between $30,000 and $100,000 for a cultural heritage assessment.

He told The Australian he wanted to extract high-quality building sand from his 85ha property in North Dandalup about an hour south of Perth. But this plan was thrown into doubt when the site was found to be close to possible historic camping areas for ­Indigenous Australians.

While he supported protecting Aboriginal cultural heritage, Mr Kelliher argued that “it should not be at the cost of the individual landowner”.

“If it incurs cost to the individual landowner, then they should be compensated,” he said. “I’ve got a significant connection to the land myself. It’s been in the family for three generations.”

Federal Nationals leader David Littleproud told The Australian most people already ­respected cultural heritage sites, but warned the WA laws could backfire and “see that respect taken away”.

“And instead of people coming forward in a co-operative and proactive way, we see people on freehold land hiding and destroying things they previously wouldn’t,” Mr Littleproud said.

He argued the destruction by Rio Tinto in May 2020 of the caves at Juukan Gorge containing evidence of human life dating back 46,000 years was an “abhorrent act”, but warned that the WA laws were a case study in government overreach.

The warning comes ahead of a protest at WA parliament next Tuesday, with farmers from across the state planning to ­present a series of demands to the government, including their push for freehold property rights to ­extinguish any cultural heritage claim.

Mr Kelliher said the land where he proposed to develop the sandpit had been in the family since 1935. His plan was to cart the sand to a second property about 15km away where it could be used to provide “house pads” for ­buildings.

He said the second property was about 3km long and 200m wide which had been rezoned for the purpose of being subdivided into blocks of between 1ha and 1.ha. But he said the second property was also found to be close to Indigenous sites of cultural ­significance.

“With all the talk about cultural heritage I had my lawyers just have a look at what was proposed. My legal team made ­inquiries,” he said.

Mr Kelliher organised to ­receive this preliminary advice through Cornerstone Legal and was informed the property containing the sand was home to four potential Aboriginal sites “where there could be suggested artefacts or possibly even bones”.

“They are suggesting there could have been possible camping areas for Aboriginal people at some stage in the past,” he said. “I am confused about what my obligations are. I am confused about what the cost is going to be … It’s all up in the air.

“My legal firm that’s handling the subdivision and the sand ­extracting licence engaged a consultant who specialises in site management plans for these particular types of activities. And his view … is that I would need to complete an ethnographic and ­archaeological survey to put in with the application. And that could cost from $30,000 up to $100,000.

“And then what I’ve been told is that … it is quite possible that I would need a cultural representative to be there with every shovel-load of sand that went out, just in case artefacts or some bones or whatever else are found.”

The new WA laws apply to properties of more than 1100sq m and introduce a three-tiered system imposing obligations on landholders. Cultural assessments can be required for ground excavation of up to a depth of 0.5m (a tier one activity), but ­permits and land management plans are required for ground ­excavation of up a depth of 1m, which covers tier two and three activities.

A spokesman for the West Australian Minister for Aboriginal ­Affairs, Tony Buti, urged Mr Kelliher to contact the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage for help identify where the specific sites containing ­Aboriginal cultural heritage were located.

“If sites can be avoided, then no approval is required,” the spokesman said. “The minister is listening and working with all stakeholders.”

Speaking last week in Port Hedland, WA Premier Roger Cook suggested the government was prepared “to make changes where (Aboriginal heritage laws) need to change” in a sign the legislation could be reworked.

The backlash to the laws from farmers comes as the federal government mulls an options paper for a legislated federal framework for cultural heritage protections. One option includes the creation of another national body which would “appoint and empower local First Nations groups to make decisions about their cultural heritage”.


West Australia government to scrap controversial ‘botched’ Aboriginal cultural heritage laws within days

The controversial Aboriginal cultural heritage laws that prompted an army of outraged farmers to rally in an outback hall last month are set to be scrapped, according to new reports.

Western Australian Premier Roger Cook and the state’s Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Tony Buti are expected to make an announcement on the divisive Aboriginal cultural heritage laws early next week, the ABC reports.

The backflip comes after months of confusion and controversy over the new laws, which took effect on July 1 and imposed harsh penalties for damaging sites of traditional significance.

Opposition was led by farmers groups, including WA Farmers and the Pastoralists and Graziers Association, as well as WA’s opposition Coalition, and federal Nationals leader David Littleproud.

It is understood, the ABC reports, that WA will revert to operating under the former 1972 Aboriginal Heritage Act.

The new laws were introduced after “extensive consultation” and to heighten protection of cultural sites following the destruction of the ancient Juukan Gorge by Rio Tinto in May 2020.

The updated laws required some landholders to undertake detailed and expensive assessments through a new Local Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Service (LACHS) to determine whether a project will cause “harm” to cultural heritage.

Under a complex three-tiered system, any maintenance or demolition that involves removing more than four kilograms of material, disturbing more than 10 square metres of ground or excavating to a depth of more than 50 centimetres may require a permit from the LACHS.

An exemption would apply for all residential properties under 1100 square metres and for maintenance and “like-for-like” activities – such as planting crops, running livestock or replacing a fence.

The landowner would be required to pay the LACHS to assess their application – which requires specific consultants that can charge hundreds of dollars per hour.

Penalties for damaging a cultural heritage site range from $25,000 to $1 million for individuals and $250,000 to $10 million for corporations, as well as jail time.

But despite insisting there were exemptions, WA farmers were quick to criticise the laws, saying the new system was too confusing, too time consuming, too expensive, and possibly open to abuse.

Weeks after the laws came into effect, hundreds of farmers and landowners packed a hall in Katanning, about 277 kilometres southeast of Perth, to voice these concerns at the meeting attended by high-profile politicians and industry representatives including federal Nationals leader David Littleproud.

Mr Littleproud told after the meeting that the “anxiety in the west is palpable” and criticised laws for creating a “point of tension and division [farmers and local Indigenous people] haven’t had before”.

He described the laws as a “government overreach” by the WA leadership, and warned of a potential copycat laws to be introduced at a federal level.

WA Labor MP Darren West was the only representative of his party to attend the Katanning meeting, and conceded to the farmers the government had “botched” the messaging about the laws.

Despite the laws passed in 2021 with support from WA’s Nationals and Liberal parties, the opposition parties say it is a move they have come to regret.

WA Liberal leader Libby Mettam said the state Labor government’s potential backflip on the divisive laws was a “great win for landowners”, calling them “shambolic from the start”.

“We understand the Labor government will backflip on the Aboriginal cultural heritage act laws that they introduced earlier in the year,” Ms Mettam told the ABC.

“We‘ve always committed to scrapping the cultural heritage act and going back to the drawing board.

“They were quite clearly an overreach on private property rights. They went way too far.”


Smell of gas blowing in the wind: Even the luvvies say NSW wind farms don’t add up

How long does it take for a wind farm to become carbon neutral in some of the best wind conditions in Queensland? If you guessed never, you are right.

State modelling purports to show that Mount Emerald, near the World Heritage rainforests of Far North Queensland, gets some of the strongest wind. If that’s the strongest, wind power in the Sunshine State it’s a dud.

The Mount Emerald wind farm has 53 turbines that are meant to be able to generate up to 180.5 megawatts (MW) of power.

Wildlife photographer Steven Nowakowski of Rainforest Reserves Australia crunched the National Energy Market (NEM) data for the Mount Emerald wind farm for 2022 and sent it to state and federal politicians.

It shows that on 63 days, more than two months of the year, the turbines generated no energy at all. On 107 days, they generated 10 MW or less. So, for almost a third of the year at one of the best-located wind farms in Queensland, power was about half of one per cent of the maximum so-called nameplate capacity.

On 36 days the capacity factor (actual power as a percentage of maximum capacity) was a piddling 12 per cent or less. On another 32 days, the capacity factor was 17 per cent or less. That accounts for almost six months of the year.

The maximum achieved at any time was 100 to 110MW, less than 62 per cent of the nameplate capacity, and that was only achieved on a paltry 12 days of the year. The average capacity factor was 27 per cent and the median, the most accurate measure in a skewed data set, was only 18 per cent.

Mount Emerald is meant to generate 63 MW per year (an implied capacity factor of 35 per cent) but for six months each year it generates less than 16 MW, and on average less than 49 MW a year.

This is not surprising. The further south you travel in Australia the better the wind. The best wind is in the south and offshore, coming from the Roaring Forties.

Given these facts, why are 15 onshore wind farms being considered or under construction in Queensland? Perhaps because wind farms receive generous subsidies. How much are the subsidies? There is zero transparency. One whistleblower claims it is as much as $600,000 to $900,000 per year. Who knows?

The six offshore wind zones announced by federal Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen late last year mostly take advantage of southern exposure but they will also be subsidised. They are located on the Gippsland coast, in Victoria’s southeast, the Hunter Valley and Illawarra in New South Wales, Portland in Victoria, Northern Tasmania, and Perth and Bunbury in Western Australia.

‘We know Australia’s the world’s largest island, but we have no offshore wind,’ Bowen said at a press conference in the Port of Newcastle in NSW on July 12.

‘That is craziness, and we’re fixing it,’ he continued, declaring the Hunter Australia’s second offshore wind zone.

The area that the Minister declared an offshore wind zone is intended to generate more than five gigawatts of power.

‘Five gigawatts, for those of you who don’t work in energy, is a lot of gigawatts. That’s a lot of power that will come from offshore wind.’

But is it sensible to declare an offshore wind zone anywhere off the coast of NSW?

By accident or design, on the same day that Bowen announced the Hunter as Australia’s second offshore wind zone, Net Zero Australia (NZAu), a partnership between the University of Melbourne, the University of Queensland, Princeton University, and international management consultancy Nous Group launched its ‘Mobilisation report: How to make net zero happen’.

The NZAu report modelled six scenarios with differing energy mixes, costs, and other constraints using a method developed by Princeton University and Evolved Energy Research for its 2020 Net-Zero America study. The report specifically asks which net- zero options Australia should accelerate.

The critical point is that in no scenario did it make sense to develop offshore wind projects off the coast of NSW.

They write: ‘Offshore wind faces the highest barriers due to the need for large subsidies and long lead times to develop initial projects, establish supply chains, and provide grid access. No NZAu scenarios chose NSW projects because of the high cost of floating platform technologies and moderate winds, an additional risk to pipeline realisation.’

When they say ‘large subsidies’ they mean larger than for onshore wind. Despite these barriers, they note that about half of the announced NEM pipeline is off the coast of NSW.

No one could accuse the authors of the NZAu report of being anything but true believers in renewable energy and yet even for them NSW offshore wind farms made no sense.

And if this is true for offshore wind in NSW, it is all the more true for onshore wind in Queensland, so much farther removed from the unobstructed Roaring Forties.

As for how long it takes for a wind farm to become carbon neutral, the NZAu report also has an answer.

Carbon neutrality is achieved when all the carbon dioxide released to clear the forests and build the roads, turbines, new transmission lines and lithium batteries has been paid off by carbon dioxide-free energy. In addition, it has to cover massive duplication of resources because the actual capacity is so much lower than the deceptive nameplate capacity.

But apart from all that, the NZAu report states that all its scenarios require a new large fleet of gas-fired peaking power plants to back up wind and solar plants, with at least 6 gigawatts added each year between 2035 and 2040, compared with the current pipeline of 3.5 gigawatts, and with carbon capture and storage used to reduce emissions.

In other words, as far as we can see into the future wind will have not just its own carbon footprint and that of all the associated duplication, transmission, and batteries, but that of the gas on which it relies.

So why are we threatening our precious World Heritage Rainforests in Far North Queensland with heavily subsidised, low-level wind farms that have to be backed up by gas?

Perhaps the answer is blowing in the wind. It isn’t apparent anywhere else.


Penny Wong announces major win for Aussie farmers as China lifts punitive tariffs on Australian barley exports

China will lift punitive tariffs on Australian barley exports from Saturday.

The Chinese government imposed the tariffs on barley imports in May 2020, over what it claims were concerns over the dumping of cheap grain.

'The Ministry of Commerce ruled that, in view of the changes in the market situation of barley in China, it is no longer necessary to continue to impose anti-dumping duties and countervailing duties on the imported barley originating in Australia,' the Chinese government said.

Australia said it would suspend a World Trade Organisation dispute against China in exchange for Beijing agreeing to review its tariffs.

The decision comes before the August 11 deadline for Canberra to reinstate the dispute.

Trade Minister Don Farrell, Foreign Minister Penny Wong and Agriculture Minister Murray Watt said in a joint statement the decision would benefit Australian producers and Chinese consumers.

'It affirms the calm and consistent approach that the Albanese government has taken,' the ministers said.

Since May 2020, China's duties on Australian barley have effectively blocked $916 million in exports to the world's biggest beer market.

'The removal of these duties means that Australia will now discontinue legal proceedings at the WTO,' the ministers said.

'This outcome demonstrates the importance of the WTO dispute mechanism in defending the interests of Australia's world-class producers and farmers.'

The Australian government will continue to pursue its wine dispute in the WTO and remained confident of a positive outcome, they said.\




No comments: