Paterson MP-elect makes Williamtown a priority

JUBILATION: The Labor candidate for Paterson Meryl Swanson romped it in on election night and was quick to thank her supporters. The next step includes a move into her Raymond Terrace offices. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers WILLIAMTOWN contamination will be the first priority for Paterson MP-elect Meryl Swanson who’s eager to get on with the job.
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The former radio presenter seized60 per cent of the two party preferred votefor Labor on July 2 and was only days later in Canberra for her first party meeting.

That was before the election count had even confirmed Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had the numbers to form a Coalition government.

“A lot of really experienced shadow ministers including Stephen Conroy [Defence] told me they’re ready to help,” she said of caucus.

“Holding the government to its Williamtown promises is a massive part of my ‘to do’ list.”

The Coalition promised in June that it would spend $55 million to fund a health study, surrounding affected RAAF bases, to look at potential patterns, causes and affects of the fire fighting contaminants PFOS and PFOA. It also pledged to beginan independent review of new safe drinking water standards within 30 days of reelection after a government committee, EnHealth,controversially established levels 78 times higher than what is accepted in the US.

“The clock is ticking on that timeline so they need to get on with it,” Ms Swanson said.

“I’ll be holding them to that.”

The former staffer to Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon said she would also jockey for position on the parliamentary defence committee to “fight and advocate” for affected residents.

It could be a month before Ms Swanson moves into the Raymond Terrace office vacated by Bob Baldwin who retired before the election.

“Raymond Terrace is geographically central and will allow me to service the Bay as it would Maitland and Kurri Kurri,” she said.

In the meantime she’s working from home and putting together a team that “has a good understanding” of the Williamtown issues.

“I also want to get out into the community to meet the various groups starting that process of helping out,” she said.

It’s predicted the Coalition will form a majority government but only narrowly.

“Clearly it wasn’t the result we hopedfor…but it’snot the result Mr Turnbull wanted either,” Ms Swanson said.

This That festival reveals ScHoolboy Q as first headline act

TOP CLASS: Rapper ScHoolboy Q is headed for Newcastle Foreshore’s This That festival in November.GRAMMY award-nominated hip-hop star ScHoolboy Q hasbeenannounced as the first act for the secondThis That festival at Newcastle Foreshore on November 5.
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The 29-year-old, whose real name is Quincy Matthew Hanley, broke onto the global scenewith his US chart-topping third albumOxymoronin 2014.It includedthe hitsCollard Greens, featuring good friend Kendrick Lamar,Man Of The YearandBreak The Bank.

Oxymoronwas later nominated for Best Rap Album at the 2015 Grammy Awards.

In his first Newcastle show the Los Angeles-based rapperwill also perform tracks from hisnewBlank Face LPreleased on Friday.

The rest of the This That line-up will be announced on August 2.

A COMMONS CAUSENEWCASTLE musician Lachlan X. Morris is a firm believer that a good song, is a good song, regardless of genre. That’s why he has curated War On Happiness, a mini-festival at The Commons, in Hamilton,to showcase singer-songwriter talent in Newcastle.

The bill on August 20 features a mix of emergingblues, country,rockand folk talent in James Thomson & The Strange Pilgrims, Taylor King, Jason Lowe, De’May, Bofolk Ballico, Grace Turner, Darby, Michael Mason, Spencer Scott, As Of Sky, Boots Porter,Haestings and Morris’ own backing band the Unholy Communion.

Morris has been blown away by the support for the festival so far and hopes to branch out with more events.

“People who aren’t in the scene in Newcastle are probably afraid to take a chance on an artist they’ve never heard of and spend$10 on seeing them. Itmight be daunting,” Morris said.“I’m trying to make this a really friendly collaboration between the musicians and thepeople who watch.”

SONICSCANCELGARAGE rock pioneers The Sonics have reshuffledtheir upcoming Australian tour, causing Newcastle to lose their show to the University of Sydney’sManning Bar.The band, that is saidto have influenced Nirvana and Bruce Springsteen, were booked to play the Cambridge Hotel on September 30 and then the Manning Bar on October 2. The Sydney venue has subsequently been given the September 30 date to avoid the October long weekend, leaving Newcastle without a Sonics’ performance.

Refunds are available from the point of purchase.

JAILBIRD TEX WALKING THE LINE: Tex Perkins will reprise his role as Johnny Cash for a tour of Australia’s historic prisons, including Maitland Goal on October 13.

JOHNNY Cash’s 1968 At Folsom Prison album remains a landmark in popular music. Raw and brooding, it showed the Man In Black at his very best.

Last year Australian rock legend Tex Perkins took his Cash show inside the walls ofThe Old Parramatta Gaol for anoverwhelmingly successful three-night run. The Cruel Sea and Beasts Of Bourbon frontmanwill take his Far From Folsom show on the road in spring, stopping at Maitland Goal on October13.

Perkins will be joined on stage by the Tennessee Four and Rachel Tidd, who plays June Carter.Tickets are on sale through Ticketmaster.

SUPERCRY SHOW ON THE RISE: Emma Louise will play the Cambridge Hotel on her upcoming Supercry tour. Picture: Jamila Toderas

ANTICIPATION has been building rapidly for the release of Emma Louise’s sophomore album Supercry on Friday after she released the dreamy ambient indie singlesUnderflow,Talk Baby TalkandWest End Kids.

TheCairns-bred singer-songwriter’s star is expected to soar following the album’s release and Newcastle will have the chance to witness her ascension when the 24-year-old performs at theCambridge Hotel onOctober 15.

JAM SPREADPAUL Weller won’t be there, but this could be the closest Novocastrians ever get to seeing The Jam perform in their own backyard.

From The Jam isled bybassist Bruce Foxton, who along with Weller and drummerRick Buckler revolutionised British music in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s asThe Jam. The trio popularised mod culture by wearing suits and produced a string of hits like A Town Called Malice, Going Underground and That’s Entertainment.

Foxton formed From The Jam in 2007 with Buckler, who left the group two years later, performing the work of their original band. The current line-up consists of Foxton,Russell Hastings and ex-Robbie Williams drummer Steve Barnard. From The Jam begin their Australian tour at theCambridge Hotel on September 8.

BAYSIDE CREWUS punk rockers Bayside will play the Cambridge Hotel on November 10.The Queens-based four-piece toured Australia last year at the final Soundwave Festival and have been busy working on their seventhalbum Vacancy, due for release on August 19. Their sixth album Cult (2014) received some of the strongest reviews of their career.Joining Bayside at the Cambridge will be Young Lions and Far AwayStables.

More rate cuts won’t help first home buyers

Low interest rates haven’t helped out first home buyers much. But the apartment boom might. Photo: Penny Stephens
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If the financial markets are right, the Reserve Bank will probably cut interest rates in the next few months, taking the cash rate to a record low.

For people looking to buy their first home, that might sound like great news. Lower interest rates should ease the pain of taking on a first mortgage, right?

Sorry, but I doubt it. If anything, people hoping to buy their first home tend to be more likely to miss out on buying a place when interest rates are slashed, as they have been in the past few years.

That is because for many people, the biggest challenge in getting into the property market is saving up a deposit.

And guess what? Interest rate cuts have dealt a double-whammy blow to people saving up a decent deposit. ” src=”http://www.smh杭州龙凤419m.au/content/dam/images/g/q/3/w/j/a/image.imgtype.articleLeadwide.620×349.png/1468312103240.png” title=”” width=”100%” />

Not only do lower interest rates lower what you earn on your savings, but perhaps more importantly, they also tend to put a rocket under house prices and allow other buyers to take on more debt.

The graphic shows you just how much tougher it has become to save up a 10 per cent deposit for someone with average pay in Sydney and Melbourne over the last few decades.

For our two biggest cities, it now takes more than a year’s salary to stump up a deposit of 10 per cent, Fitch Ratings calculates, compared with about six months pay in the early 1990s.

When the deposit hurdle has increased so sharply, it is hardly surprising that the rough share of first home buyers in the market was just 14.2 per cent in March, its lowest level since 2004.

The difficulties of raising a deposit are not the end of the story, however.

When interest rates are cut, it also gives a windfall to people who already own a home but are paying back their bank, by lowering their repayments.

Fitch also has a measure of the interest payments that people are making on their loans compared to average income, which measures home loan serviceability. It reports that home loan serviceability has fallen to just 7 per cent, its lowest level since 2003.

So, while things have become a lot harder for first home buyers, the mortgages of people who bought several years ago are generally more affordable.

Their repayments have gone down, at the same time as their homes have increased sharply in value. With this boost in their wealth (at least on paper) some have also taken the opportunity to borrow more and upgrade their house to a bigger one, or buy an investment property.

Unlike first home buyers, however, people who already own a home don’t typically have the same difficulty saving up a deposit, because they already have a big housing asset they can sell or borrow against.

Indeed, Fitch reports that all that extra demand from other buyers – investors and upgraders – is a key reason why first home buyers have been squeezed out.

In other words, the big winners from low interest rates have been people who already have a mortgage, often at the expense of first home buyers, who are finding it increasingly hard to get a foot in the door.

However, I’m not saying it’s the fault of RBA governor Glenn Stevens that many young Australians are finding it increasingly hard to afford a house. His main job is to keep inflation in check and manage the economy’s swings, not to determine who can afford a house.

Besides, interest rates are only part of the picture. They affect how much people borrow – and that influences demand for housing – but the other side of the coin is the supply of housing.

And on the supply side, the news is more encouraging for first home buyers.

A swag of economists, analysts and even banks are now publicly predicting there are too many apartments being built in parts of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

UBS economist Scott Haslem reports that the number of multi-storey apartments being built has more than doubled in the past few years, and almost tripled since 2010. The sheer number of high-rise apartments coming onto the market looks especially huge, with a record number being approved.

Many expect that the wave of units coming onto the market will cause apartment prices to drop, or at least remain flat for a while, in parts of Sydney and Melbourne.

Plenty of first home buyers may have no interest in living in a high-rise building, of course. But some analysts reckon the huge supply could affect other parts of the housing market, by pushing down rents, which could flow into softer prices.

So perhaps there is a slightly more promising outlook for first home buyers after all. But it is more likely to come from the apartment-building boom than it is from any future rate cuts.

Four things for foodies in Canberra this week

Sage restaurant’s Taste and Test series is on again during July. Photo: Jil Hogan The traditional beef tartare at Buvette restaurant. Photo: Supplied
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The traditional beef tartare at Buvette restaurant. Photo: Supplied

TASTE AND TEST

Sage restaurant’s Taste and Test series is on again during July. Photo: Jil Hogan

Consider yourself a bit of a food connoisseur? Sage Restaurant wants your help creating its new menu. Its Taste and Test series is back on again, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights until July 28. Dinner is five surprise dishes for $75 and the table is covered in paper so you can leave a score and your thoughts on each dish. The dishes will be changed up and tweaked over the weeks, with the final winning dishes forming the new menu.

Former Sage owners Michael and Peter Harrington have recently taken back control over the restaurant and are trying to push the boundaries even more this time around with a series of creative and interactive dishes.

Taste and Test often fills up, so bookings are recommended on 6249 6050 or at sagerestaurant杭州龙凤419.au. SO FRENCHY 

The Realm Precinct is donning the red, white and blue during July for a series of French wine, food and sport festivities.

French restaurant Buvette will host a truffle dinner on Bastille Day, July 14, with a set menu that includes duck liver parfait on truffle brioche, gruyere and truffle souffle, wagyu beef bourguignon with truffle jus, and truffled creme brulee with vanilla truffle ice cream, with all truffles sourced from The Truffle Farm at Mount Majura. The dinner is $75 per head with bookings on 6163 1818.

Buvette will also feature a truffle menu for the rest of July. And next door, Ostani also has a special French beverage menu and will be screening the action from the Tour de France. And if the cycling inspires you, they are also giving away a Trek road bike valued at more than $3000. WINE MATCHING 

Lerida Estate is holding another wine dinner on July 21 at Pomegranate in Kingston. The four-course dinner will be matched with a series of Lerida Estate wines, and will be the first chance to taste the 2015 Shiraz Viognier, which is yet to be released.

There will also be a mystery wine tasting in the middle of the event, with the person who is able to correctly identify the drop winning a bottle of Lerida Estate’s 2014 “Josephine” Pinot Noir.

The event is $120 per head with bookings on 6295 6640. You can see the full menu at leridaestate杭州龙凤419m.au. MYSTERY DINNER

The ACT Wine Industry Network is holding a dinner on Saturday, July 23 and participants won’t be told where until the day.

Dinner is five courses with six matching wines, with a menu including pappardelle with duck ragu and sliced orange, beef tagliata with arugula mint pesto and vanilla bean pannacotta with chilli and orange sauce.

Dinner is $99.99 per person with bookings on 6231 6997.

Griffith stalwart Aubergine restaurant reopens after renovations

The bar area was completely rebuilt in the renovations. Photo: Graham Tidy. The black quilted feature wall highlights the contemporary feel at Aubergine. Photo: Graham Tidy
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Owner Ben Willis shows off the new look at Aubergine restaurant at Griffith. Photo: Graham Tidy

Owner Ben Willis shows off the new look at Aubergine restaurant at Griffith. Photo: Graham Tidy

Owner Ben Willis shows off the new look at Aubergine restaurant at Griffith. Photo: Graham Tidy

After three weeks closed for renovations, Aubergine has reopened with a fresh, modern look.

It is the biggest makeover the Griffith fine dining restaurant has had since it opened.

“It started off with a need for new carpet – when you do one thing it leads to another,” says owner Ben Willis.

Working with designers Capezio Copeland and a team of contractors, Willis said they have created a look that is “a little bit more formal but still without the tablecloths – sort of modern contemporary formal and just slightly more elegant”.

While the general layout is the same, the existing space has been revamped with a new colour scheme, bar area, lighting, designer curtains and a new giant, black quilted feature wall, which ties it all together.

The major upgrades are invisible to the eye, but focused on creature comforts, including double glazed windows and under-floor heating. And the outside facade, deck and bathrooms also got a freshen up in the process.

Having always operated out of the current space at Griffith shops, Willis initially looked into moving the fine dining venue.

“You to and fro about what you’re going to do, and do you grow. We had various offers to go into bigger places and then you weigh up your options and we did that over a couple of years of thinking about what do you do – do you take the next opportunity where you could build something perfect from the ground up?” he says.

“And we kind of realised we really like what we’ve got here – it’s not perfect in so many ways, but we thought we’d try and deal with the stuff from the back end that isn’t perfect.

“If I had another place you would fix all those and get something bigger and grander and maybe a builder or developer would help you out. But we realised staying small and staying where we are is a better way.”