NSW: Police Begin Crackdown on Sydney CBD Jaywalkers

More than 350 pedestrians and cyclists were fined for jaywalking and breaking basic road rules on Monday in Sydney’s CBD.

The crackdown, which was part of NSW Police’s Operation Pedro, saw 94 pedestrians who were found “jaywalking” or walking across the road illegally slapped with a $75 fine. The fines for cyclists who committed traffic offenses ranged from $112 (for riding on footpaths or not having a working bell) to $448 (for riding “recklessly” or “negligently”). Should they choose to contest the fine in court and fail, they could be charged up to $2,200.

Commander of the Traffic and Highway Patrol Command, Assistant Commissioner Michael Corboy said the crackdown was needed to promote traffic rules and prevent accidents. As of July, six cyclists and 44 pedestrians have died on NSW roads.

“We have been conducting Operation Pedro since 2014 as a way of educating the community about the importance of all road users doing the right thing,” said Corboy.

“I urge all cyclists and pedestrians to do the right thing by not putting themselves and other road users at risk… City traffic is full of many challenges and distractions for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians, so we want to do everything possible to ensure that we reduce road trauma.”

The Monday crackdown was executed by officers from the Traffic and Highway Patrol as well as Surry Hills, Sydney City, Redfern, Leichhardt, Inner West and North Shore Police Area Commands.

National: House Prices Continue to Fall in Sydney, Melbourne and Other Capital Cities

House prices slid in many of Australian state capitals in the end of April.

According to property data agency CoreLogic, Melbourne had the steepest weekly decline with 0.2 per cent, followed by Sydney and Brisbane with 0.1 per cent. So far in 2018, the home prices in all five mainland state capital cities have fallen, ranging from Brisbane’s 0.1 per cent to Sydney’s 2.1 per cent.

Many factors could be attributed to these drops, including the higher-than-usual supply of properties. Currently there are 26,879 homes for sale Sydney and 31,195 in Melbourne, indicating a 28.2 per cent and a 11.4 per cent increase from this time last year respectively. Weak household income growth and a decline in the number of foreign buyers also contributed to this weakness.

The amount of properties listed for sale in Sydney. Source: CoreLogic

NSW: Rose Bay Church Seeks to Redevelop into “Community Space” with Retail and Residential Space

A proposal has been unveiled to turn a 1905 church in Rose Bay into a “community gathering space” with retail spots and 10 apartments.

The plan, presented by the Uniting Head Church to Woollahra Council, sought to redevelop the church building on Old South Head Road and Dover Road into a mixed-use development with retail, residential, church and community space.

Indicative image of the development project. Source: Rose Bay Uniting Church

Andrew Gibbons from Endeavour Property Advisory, the development manager on the project, said, “The church came to me and said, ‘Look, the congregation doesn’t use the church anymore, we would like to maximise the use of it so that we can put the money into other missional use’.

“That’s why we’ve gone down this development path as opposed to selling it to a developer who would take all the profit out it and use it for its own use.”

The proposal included underground parking, ground-floor retail, and three-bedroom units to be sold at $3.5 million each. Should it be accepted, the project will commence construction in July next year.

The DA is on exhibition until mid-May.

National: Optus Pulls Job Ad Calling for ‘Anglo Saxon’ Candidates

Telecommunications giant Optus has called an investigation into an online job ad that called for “Anglo-Saxon” candidates at one of its Sydney stores.

The advert, which asked for casual retail consultant at Neutral Bay, said “candidates who are Anglo Saxon” are “preferred”. It has been removed since.

Vaughan Paul, Vice-President of Human Resources at Optus said the ad was “unacceptable” and not reflective of the company’s values.

“This error [is] a clear breach of our advertising standards and commitment to equal opportunity employment,” said Paul. “Optus proudly supports diversity and employs staff representing more than 70 nationalities.

“We… will be investigating how this occurred with a view to taking disciplinary action against those involved.”

However, the company still receives criticism from customers for the impropriety of the ad.

International: The Queen’s Baton Visits Sydney for 2018 Commonwealth Games

The Queen’s Baton is visiting Sydney today as a part of its Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games journey.

Swimmer Ian Thorpe, cricketer Glenn McGrath and Australian rugby union player Shannon Parry are among the baton’s bearer in the city. The relay will begin at Government House from 3pm to go through the Opera House, CBD, King’s Wharf and the Australian Maritime Museum.

The baton will continue its journey to other NSW cities for the next three days, including Penrith, Wollongong, Kiama and Batemans Bay.

Since leaving the Buckingham Palace in March last year, the baton has travelled through about 70 Commonwealth countries and territories.

The baton will reach its final destination on the Gold Coast on April 4, where the Queen or a representative will read the message within to officially open the Games.

International: Melbourne Named As World’s Most Liveable City for Seventh Year Running

Melbourne has again been named as the world’s most liveable city for the seventh year in a row.

The Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) annual Liveability Index ranks 140 cities around the world based on healthcare, education and infrastructure – for which Melbourne received perfect scores this year – as well as stability, culture and environment. Overall, Melbourne scored 97.5 out of 100 points.

“This world record is an amazing feat that all Melburnians should be extremely proud of today,” City of Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said.

“This accolade is an important selling point for Melbourne internationally: for businesses to invest or move here, for the best and brightest people to make Melbourne their home and for tourists to visit us.”

Vienna in Austria followed in the second spot, while Vancouver in Canada came third. Adelaide established itself as Australia’s second most liveable city at number five, while Perth came seventh. On the other hand, Sydney’s position dropped from the seventh place last year to the eleventh with a score of 94.9.

“Sydney in Australia is another city that has seen a decline in its ranking, reflecting growing concerns over possible terror attacks in the past three years,” the Global Liveability Report 2017 stated.

Damascus in Syria was ranked as the least liveable city, followed by Nigeria’s Lagos and Libya’s Tripoli.

National: Air Pollution Alert Issued for Sydney as Ozone Levels Rise

An air pollution alert has been issued for Sydney residents as ozone levels continue to rise beyond government standards.

New South Wales Health said the ozone excess, which causes “poor” air quality on Tuesday, could affect people with respiratory conditions.

Ozone is a pungent gas resulting from chemical reactions between atmospheric gases and nitrogen oxides from car-vehicle exhausts, which can cause chest pain, coughing and throat irritation when inhaled. Hot weathers could exacerbate ozone pollution levels, a statement by NSW Health said.

Dr Ben Scalley, Director of Environmental Health Branch at NSW Health said parents are advised to keep watch on their children when ozone levels are high.

“Ozone levels are higher outdoors than indoors, so parents should limit the time their children with asthma play outside as they are more susceptible to the effects of ozone pollution,” said Scalley.

Scalley reminded that people should remain alert to the link between high temperatures and ozone pollution.

 

For more information on local air quality forecast and hourly air quality updates, visit the Office of Environment and Heritage website: http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/aqms/index.htm

 

For more information about air pollution and health, visit the NSW Health website: http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/environment/air/Pages/default.aspx​

Finance: Spring Auction Market Opens with Strong Sales in Australia’s Big Cities

Auction market opens the spring season with significant clearance rate in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra and Adelaide.

Sydney market remains strong with its fourth consecutive weekend of a clearance rate above 80 per cent, well above the rate recorded at the same weekend last year of 75.1 per cent.

Melbourne market is also at its strongest since last winter, achieving 77.5 per cent clearance rate on Saturday and making it the sixth consecutive weekends of clearance rates above 75 per cent.

Domain senior economist, Andrew Wilson told AFR Weekend that other cities are experiencing similar trend. “Brisbane saw a clearance rate of 54 per cent when it is usually travelling in the 40s, Canberra hit 82 per cent and Adelaide 74 per cent,” said Wilson.

Observers believe that this market boom is motivated by lower number of listings and cuts in interest rates by the Reserve Bank of Australia last month. Wilson reports that this weekend, Sydney only saw 537 auctions compared to 815 auctions at the same weekend last year while Melbourne had 718 auctions compared to 880 last year.