generic ernst & young, ernst and young, ey, Sydney, Friday 30th october 2015, photo: Ryan StuartAt least $74 million has been spent on marketing, lawyers and consultants for the privatisation of NSW electricity network businesses in what the state opposition has criticised as a “feeding frenzy” for the big end of town.
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Treasury figures confirm that the biggest winner from the transactions was consultancy Ernst and Young, which reaped $24.5 million for providing financial, accounting and tax advice to the government.

Ernst and Young wrote the report used by the then Baird government to bolster its argument for partially privatising the NSW electricity network.

The report concluded that customers have paid lower charges in Victoria and South after privatisation.

Investment bank UBS was also a beneficiary, pocketing $13.9 million for financial advice.

The bank found itself at the centre of a political storm during the 2015 state election campaign over a report on the government’s power privatisation plans headlined “Bad for the budget, good for the state”.

The figures also show law firm Allens earned more than $20 million for legal advice, while public relations and lobbying firm Newgate earned over $900,000.

The costs are related to the government’s 99-year lease of all of high voltage transmission firm Transgrid and 50.1 per cent of distributors Ausgrid and Endeavour Energy for net proceeds of about $17 billion.

Total costs are expected to increase further as NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said finalisation of the transactions are due at the end of this year after which further payments will be disclosed.

Answers to questions on notice at a budget estimates hearing also reveal that in 2015 the then government controlled Ausgrid and Endeavour and state-owned Essential Energy spent $7.2 million taking the n Energy Regulator to court.

They successfully challenged its determination that slashed how much they can charge customers.

Labor energy spokesman Adam Searle said the transactions “created a feeding frenzy for big end of town consultants, bankers and public relations operatives”.

“The $75 million it has spent so far is roughly a third of the rebates it is paying out to households struggling to pay their higher electricity bills,” he said.

Mr Searle described as “a scandal” the cost of the court challenge “to keep electricity prices high”.

But Mr Perrottet said Labor had “no credibility” on the issue.

“It’s well publicised that Labor regrets its failure to sell the poles and wires, along with everything else they failed to deliver,” he said.

Mr Perrottet said the transactions “allowed us to invest $20 billion in infrastructure the state was crying out for, including Sydney Metro, Parramatta Light Rail and Sydney Opera House, but its broader value to the NSW economy is priceless.”

A Treasury spokesman said the decision to take court action “was a matter for the businesses and not the NSW Government”.

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12.10.17-A much needed Rain front moves through Cronulla from the South of Sydney today.Picture John VeageThe chances of a wetter-than-average summer for eastern are increasing, with the Bureau of Meteorology set to declare a La Nina weather pattern is likely to take hold in the Pacific.
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The bureau’s shift from neutral conditions to a “La Nina watch” will be formally stated in Tuesday’s fortnightly update, Rob Webb, the head of the bureau’s national forecast services, told Senate estimates on Monday.

Andrew Watkins, manager of climate prediction services at BOM, told Fairfax Media the declaration of a “watch” indicated at least a 50 per cent chance of a La Nina, although shy of the 70 per cent level that would prompt the declaration of an event as virtually certain.

“We’re not quite up to the 70 per cent yet,” Dr Watkins said.

Even so, the shift towards conditions favouring wetter conditions has become more evident in recent weeks.

During La Nina years, the easterly trade winds across the equatorial Pacific strengthen, shifting rainfall westwards to places such as northern and eastern , and Indonesia.

Lately, unusual cooling of waters off South America – a signal for the La Nina’s formation – had become clearer. That pattern typically shifts ‘s outlook “to the wet side of our cycle”, Mr Webb said.

In the most recent assessment of conditions in the Pacific, the bureau also noted the areas of unusually warm waters east of Papua New Guinea. (See map below).

Dr Watkins said La Ninas are usually evident from autumn or winter, unlike this year: “It’s quite unusual to be so late in the year.”

While La Ninas can bring heavy rain and floods to eastern , the “seasonal outlooks are not as roaring wet as they were in 2010”, Dr Watkins said. The back-to-back La Ninas of 2010-11 and 2011-12 included major flooding in Queensland, NSW and Victoria.

Indeed, Indian Ocean conditions, another driver of ‘s climate, “have, if anything, been unfavourable for rainfall” over , he said.

The bureau’s nod to a likely La Nina follows similar calls by other international agencies, such by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

NOAA earlier this month rated the chances of a La Nina as a 55-65 per cent chance during the southern spring or summer.

Fire authorities are hoping a tilt towards a La Nina will bring extra rain to take the edge off a potentially severe bushfire season.

Mr Webb told Senate estimates, eastern had had “an incredibly dry winter…[with] deep drying of the soils”.

“Any rain that falls will drain away, and as those temperatures heat up, we are concerned [about] a busy fire season over most parts,” he said.

While Sydney just had its best rainfall in about four months, the best chance for follow-up falls will be 3-10 millimetres on Thursday, the bureau said.

The mercury, though, will start to climb, with Sunday and Monday likely to see Sydney reaching 32 degrees, or 10 degrees above the October average.

La Ninas, while bringing above-average rain to northern parts of the country, can also trigger more cyclones in ‘s region. For now, though, the bureau’s forecast is for a typical season.

One other impact of La Nina years, though, tends to be a moderation of global surface temperatures as the Pacific takes up more of the atmospheric heat.

So far this year global temperatures are running at about the second equal-warmest on record for the January-September period – marginally ahead of 2015 and behind only 2016. (See NOAA chart below.)

According to NOAA, this year will almost certainly be the third warmest on record behind only the two previous years, based on data that goes back to the 1880s.

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Sydney is running a “population deficit” with the rest of the country, new census figures show.
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The figures for population movement released on Monday show that although Sydney benefited from an enormous inflow of migrants (399,620) in five years leading up to the census, it lost population to every region of the country.

Sydney sent 27,670 locals to Melbourne, many more than the 19,100 Melbourne residents who moved to Sydney.

It sent 21,480 locals to Brisbane, many more than the 15,570 Brisbane residents who moved to Sydney.

It sent 27,670 to regional Queensland, many more than the 19,100 regional Queenslanders who moved to Sydney, and 10,200 to Perth, many more than the 8660 Perth residents who returned to Sydney.

The exodus was particularly pronounced in regional NSW, which benefited from an outflow of 105,060 Sydneysiders, easily surpassing the flow of 62,470 moving from regional NSW to the city.

The picture painted by the Bureau of Statistics is of a city that has become the primary destination for immigrants who displace locals who move to other parts of and other parts of the state.

The census shows a similar phenomenon in Melbourne, which in the five years leading up to the census gained residents from overseas and every region of but one. That region was rural and regional Victoria, which gained 76,210 ex-Melburnians, easily exceeding the 59,220 who moved to Melbourne.

So great were the outflows from Sydney and Melbourne to the rest of NSW and Victoria that those regions became two of the fastest growing in the nation, gaining a net 17,570 and 28,720 new arrivals from the rest of the country.

The other regions to grow at the expense of the rest of the country were Greater Brisbane (25,440), regional Queensland (14,620), Greater Melbourne (10,670) and Greater Perth (5910).

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The regions to lose locals to the rest of were Greater Sydney (77,590), Adelaide (9470), regional Western (5480) and regional South (3060).

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One in four of the nation’s professionals – including lawyers, doctors, accountants and engineers – now works in Sydney after their numbers in the city swelled by a third during the past decade.
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The latest figures from the 2016 census, which focus on employment, education and internal migration, show a bigger share of Sydneysiders work full-time and hold a bachelors level qualification or higher than the national average. But the city has a smaller share of tradesman and labourers than the rest of the nation.

The new census figures, released on Monday, revealed a nationwide surge in workers who provide personal services. Since the last census in 2011 the number of domestic cleaners has jumped 130 per cent while the tally of fitness instructors was up by 27 per cent and beauty therapists by 25 per cent.

Sydney’s professional ranks have grown by a third in the past decade, the 2016 census shows. Photo: Rob Homer

But Sydney’s workforce is dominated by professionals and managers with four in 10 of the city’s workers in those two broad employment categories.

The number of Sydney-based professionals has climbed by 145,000 during the past decade to almost 600,000. They now make up 26.3 per cent of the city’s workforce, up from 23.8 in 2006. Nationally, the census counted 2.3 million professionals, or 22.2 per cent of workers.

Macquarie University demographer Associate Professor Nick Parr said the growth in professionals has been driven by the expansion of higher education student numbers and the high rate of skilled migration.

The census data, released on Monday, showed women now make up 55.4 per cent of professionals nationally, up from 53.9 per cent in 2011.

“The predominance of females in these occupations reflects the greater numbers of females among university graduates over recent decades,” Dr Parr said.

“The retirement of more male-dominated cohorts, Baby Boomer cohorts out of the professional occupations is also contributing to the rising share of females in these occupations.”

The retirement of more male-dominated Baby Boomer generation managers has also helped lift the share of female managers from 35.4 per cent in 2011 to 37 per cent in 2016.

The share of Sydneysiders with a bachelors degree level qualification or higher has reached 28.3 per cent, more than six percentage points above the national average.

The healthcare and social assistance sector was the biggest employer in both NSW and . It now provides one in eight of the state’s jobs. Nationally, almost 80 per cent of the 1.35 million people employed in the healthcare and social assistance sector are women.

Occupations traditionally dominated by women including health care and education grew strongly between 2011 and 2016 but there were big declines in some traditionally male-dominated industries including manufacturing (-24.3 per cent) and wholesale trade (-23.8 per cent).

In Sydney, the share of technicians and trades workers has edged lower over the past decade to 11.7 per cent and is well below the national average of 13.5 per cent. Sydney also has a smaller proportion of labourers (7.5 per cent) than the national average of 9.5 per cent.

When it comes to commuting, Sydneysiders are much more likely to catch public transport to work than those in other capital cities. Even so, the majority of Sydney employees still brave the traffic and drive to their workplace.

Nationally, the number of child carers rose by almost 30 per cent between 2011 and 2016 and the number of early childhood teachers rose 48 per cent in that period.

Dr Parr said a “substantial increase in the number of births between 2006 and 2011” had contributed to those increases along with rising rates of participation in the labour force by mothers.

The ageing of the population is also having an effect on the way ns work with a 22.2 per cent increase in the number of aged and disabled carers between 2011 and 2016).

The most common individual occupational category for men and women remained “sales assistant”.

The latest figures followed the initial release of 2016 census data in June.

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Republic;Sydney;980807;Photo;Robert Pearce;SMH NEWS;story;Tony Stephens.The Republican movement celebrated it’s seveth birthday with a cake in it’s Park St offices.Pic Shows;Malcolm Turnbull blows out the candles, watched by [left] Wendy Machin and Neville Wran.It’s our Prime Minister’s birthday today. In a spirit of charity, we should wish him many happy returns. We must acknowledge, though, that, at the moment, he’s not in a sweet spot politically. He never will be.
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To thrive in the job, a prime minister must be a canny politician. Yet Malcolm Turnbull, even though he has held the office for more than two years, has only ever exhibited a limited mastery of the art and craft of politics.

Evidence of Turnbull’s fitful strike rate as a political performer can be drawn from past decades as well as more recent events.

Back in 1999, a masterful John Howard easily outfoxed Turnbull’s badly organised republican campaign. In an eerie near-reprise 18 years on, the poorly plotted same-sex marriage postal survey looks like being carried partly because Turnbull is running dead on the issue.

The tricky politics of energy policy undid Turnbull’s first stint as Liberal leader in 2009 and this issue is equally problematic for him eight years on. Highlighting the need for reliable energy was meant to embarrass Bill Shorten but has instead further emboldened Tony Abbott.

Abbott has every right to be cranky with Turnbull. Knifing Abbott in 2015 has led to endless complications. Abbott won a thumping victory in 2013. Three years later, it was Turnbull who called on an interminable double-dissolution election that ended in near defeat for the Coalition and produced an even more interesting Senate.

Turnbull twice tripped himself up when, in the early 1980s, he first sought to become a member of parliament – any parliament, in fact.

In 1981, a vacancy in the federal seat of Wentworth triggered a by-election. The Liberals needed to preselect a candidate. Turnbull ran, buoyed by his connection with media mogul Kerry Packer, for whom Turnbull had worked as a journalist.

Quite a few of the preselectors, though, were offended by Turnbull’s association with Packer, who was then seen as a friend of NSW Labor premier Neville Wran. Turnbull did not have the agility to brush the animus aside. He lost the preselection ballot.

In 1983, Turnbull settled for a tilt at being preselected for the safe Liberal seat of Mosman in the NSW state parliament. He ran his usual, unfocused campaign. His biographer, Paddy Manning, quotes Liberal Party notable Nick Greiner’s comment that Turnbull was “arguably petulant” when dealing with individual party members in Mosman. He lost again.

Turnbull was no good at retail politics but had many splendid qualities nonetheless. There was self-belief and a work ethic. He had married well. He was, to use words applied to him by Paul Keating, utterly fearless and brilliant.

Blessed with these attributes, Turnbull enjoyed worldly success after he switched from party politics in 1983 to focus on law and investment banking. He made heaps of money. He became richer than any one sitting in Federal Parliament.

Federal parliamentarians usually need to retire from electoral politics if they wish to truly beef up their material assets through consultancy or lobbying. With Turnbull, the exact opposite happened. He enriched himself before rather than after parliamentary life.

In the late 1990s, Turnbull began to use his own money in a bid to do good and buy affection along the way. Hence his involvement in the republic push.

In 2000, Turnbull again lacked the numbers when the Liberals held another preselection vote in Wentworth.

Three years later, though, he won a bitter preselection contest in the same seat. He now had the resources to barnstorm his way to victory. In retaliation, many local Liberals voted for his ousted predecessor, Peter King, who ran as an independent.

Turnbull invested more than $600,000 of his own money to become member for Wentworth with a reduced Liberal majority. This was a foretaste of the 2016 federal election campaign, which saw the Prime Minister reportedly donate more than $1.75 million as he sought re-election.

So we have a pattern whereby much money is spent to produce mediocre results. Something is wrong here.

Success outside politics propelled Malcolm Turnbull into The Lodge even though he lacks basic qualities needed to sustain success as a prime minister. He is very rich precisely because he is no good at politics. There is, as a result, a fearful asymmetry at the heart of n government.

On this day of all days, we wish Turnbull a happy and speedy retirement from politics, as well as a very happy birthday.

Stephen Holt is a Canberra writer. [email protected]

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A crackdown on polluting industries in northern China for an unprecedented five months over winter is not a one-off and could hit n iron ore and coal exports.
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The winter pollution shutdown, which began in September and will run until March, is set to continue, China’s environment minister says.

n iron ore and coal exports have been hit by a slowdown in Chinese demand since the crackdown on pollution. Steel mills and cement makers in some provinces have had to cut production by 50 per cent, and the sale and use of coal is banned in other cities.

In previous years, the winter shutdown has only lasted a few weeks.”This is not a one-off, it will continue in the future,” said environment minister Li Ganjie of the new measures.

Chinese cities have a deadline of the end of the year to meet clean air goals set five years ago. Some financial analysts had regarded the government-enforced shutdown as a seasonal impact as the government tries to head off air pollution which worsens in winter.

But Mr Li said: “These special campaigns are not a one-off, instead it is an exploration of long-term mechanisms. They have proven effective so we will continue with these measures.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for China to become an “ecological civilisation” and pursue green growth in his report to a twice a decade meeting of the Chinese communist party.

Mr Li said the progress made in addressing air pollution was not enough and China’s energy mix was “still dominated by coal” and the proportion of heavy industry too high.

Speaking to media at a press conference during the party’s 19th national congress, Mr Li said the environmental campaign may have a short term impact on economic growth “but in the long run, the big picture, the impact is minimal”.

He said his ministry was closely tracking economic data in cities where it sent in environmental inspectors, who are closing hundreds of factories, and it showed environmental protection has had no impact on unemployment levels.

“In my view there is a positive correlation between environmental and economic performance,” he said. He also rejected complaints the government was taking a “one-size fits-all approach” with pollution restrictions, and said they were being tailored to different cities.

Companies that were able to correct their mistakes would be put on probation before being shut down for environmental breaches, he said.

Mr Li didn’t specify which of the suite of measures being imposed on northern cities over winter would continue long term.

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MURDERER: Left; Daniel Petryk, 25, of Windale, was on Monday found guilty of murder over the shooting of Robert Parry at Wickham in March, 2015. Right; police investigate the home invasion shooting in Dickson Street. DANIEL Petryk’s problems started with a poker machine.
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The day before he snuck into the home of small-time cannabis dealer Robert Parry armed with a .22 shortened single-shot firearm,Petryk sat down in the pokie room of the Lambton Park Hoteland began to play.

He didn’t know it, but the decision to have a flutter on that Friday in March, 2015, would set in train a series of events that would lead to Mr Parry’s violent death in the botched home invasion“drug rip” and Petryk facing the prospect of life in jail.

After an often dramaticfive-week trial in Newcastle Supreme Court–during which Petryk’s co-accusedJesse Nikolovski was acquitted of murder and Petryk was forced to change his legal counsel after trying to change his story–the jury took a little over nine hours to find Petryk guilty of murder and armed robbery on Monday.

With no physical evidence tying Petryk to the scene, the prosecution case rested on the shoulders of one witness; a woman who said she was with Petryk and Nikolovski, 24, of Mayfield, during the home invasion.

The witness, who cannot be identified, told the jury she was armed with an axe when she snuck into the home behind Petryk and watched as he pulled the trigger and Mr Parry, a well-known Wickham identity who was deaf in one ear and left his front door unlocked,fell to the ground.

Petryk had maintained he wasn’t there that night.

But the trial heard that the day before the home invasion,hewas having a punt on the poker machines.

TRIAL: Main; Robert Parry (right) with his late father, Alan Parry. Left; Jesse Nikolovski was acquitted of murder, but pleaded guilty to armed robbery over the home invasion at Wickham. Right; Robert Parry’s sisters, Susie and Lynda Parry, after Daniel Petryk was found guilty of murder on Monday.

CCTVfootage played during the trial revealed that Petryk’s gamble at midday on March 6, 2015,was unsuccessful.

And frustrated at losing his cash, he decided to urinateinto a schooner glass and pourthe contents into a couple of the machines.

The licensee confronted him, watched the footage and called the police.

Petryk, on parole and thenundertaking the Drug Court program, knew any offence could land him back in jail.

“I’m f—ed,” Petryk texted a mate at 4.03pm that day.“I’m getting charged so I’ve gotta take off to Queensland.”But first,Petryk would need a firearm.

Petryk, then 23 and living at Windale, had been after a gun for a while and had been hassling this mate to provide one.

And on this night, only hours after the incident with the poker machine, the mate relented, agreeing to leave a.22 shortenedsingle-shot firearm and some ammunition in a bag outside his home.

Petryk swung by to collect it after midnight on March 7.

With him was Nikolovski, then 21, ofMayfield, and a young woman, who would later become the key witness in the murder trial against the two men.

Petryk had a plan to make a quick score before he fled north to avoid his problems.

“He said that he knew a house that his brother used to buy pot from,” the woman told the jury.“That the door would be open and that we would just sneak in and grab the pot.”

Petryk directed Nikolovski, driving a white Holden Commodore, to Wickham, where he parked a block away from Mr Parry’s Dickson Street home.

The trio got out, put on gloves and covered their faces. Petryk grabbed an axe and tried to hand it to Nikolovski, but he wouldn’t take it.

Instead, the woman was armed with the axe, while Petryk had the gun, the woman told the jury.

When asked by Crown prosecutor Lee Carr what the plan was, the woman replied: “Daniel was going to sneak in and if there was no one around he was just going to grab the pot and if there was someone around we were there to just look scary so he could take it”.

She said she was “a metre or two” behind Petryk in the loungeroom of Mr Parry’s home when she saw a man.

“He was holding a can in his hand,” the woman said.

“He went to whack Daniel. “I think I recall him telling us to f— off out of his house.

“Daniel let the gun off.

“[The man] dropped to the ground.”

Petryk’s defence disputed her account and always maintained he wasn’t there that night.

But ultimatelythe woman’s evidence sunk him and wholly exonerated Nikolovski on the murder charge, with the woman telling the court Nikolovski didn’t know the firearm Petryk was carrying was loaded.

That evidence led to Justice Helen Wilson giving the jury a directed verdict of not guilty in relation to the murder charge against Nikolovski.

Then, two days later, in the jury’s absence, Nikolovski pleaded guilty to the armed robbery of Mr Parry and disappeared from the court dock.

After the directed verdict, Petryk spoke with his counsel,Public Defender Mark Austin and his instructing solicitor Mandy Hull, with that discussion leading Mr Austin and Ms Hull to withdraw from the matter.

Mr Austin was too polished a practitioner to air the dirty laundry in court, but Justice Wilson made it clear later that the parting of ways related to Petryk wishing to “change his version of events”.

A week of wasted court time later, and with new legal counsel, the pressure was on Petryk to decide whether he was going to run a defence case or not.

After Petryk claimed he was too sick to follow the evidence on Tuesday last week, Justice Wilson dismissed the jury for the day.

But after the final juror had filed fromthe courtroom, Her Honour made it clear to Petryk how she felt about his delaying tactics.

“I want to make it very clear, that this court’s patience is now at an end,” Justice Wilson said.

“This comes about, it seems to me, from everything that has been said, by him having a change of mind as to what his version of events might be and how he wants that version of events portrayedto the court.

“I do not propose to allow this court to be manipulated or held to hostage by an accused who cannot make up his own mind.”

Petryk returned to court on Wednesday and his new counsel, Public Defender Angus Webb, told Justice Wilson there would be no defence case.

Then, once closing arguments were out of the way, the jury retired at 12.50pm on Thursday to begin deliberating.

They returned on Monday to deliver their verdict, finding beyond reasonable doubt that it was Petryk who pulled the trigger and killed Mr Parry.

The verdictwas a huge relief to Mr Parry’s family, includingtwo of his sisters Susie and Lynda Parry, who sat through much of the trial.

“Robert is dearly missed by us all,” Lynda Parry said in a statement on behalf of the family.

“We particularly miss his smiles and his ever-ready willingness to help us and others in the community.

“There is a hole in our hearts and lives which can never be filled.

“The loss and pain of losing Robert can not be measured.”Petryk will be sentenced on February 2and faces the prospect of life imprisonment.

Nikolovski will be sentenced for the armed robbery on the same date and faces the maximum of 25 years in jail.

But before he is sentenced for his involvement in robbingMr Parry, Nikolovski will appear in CampbelltownDistrict Court to be sentencedfor three armed robberies and a conspiracy to commit armed robbery.

One thing the jury in the murder trial wasn’t told was that in the months after the bungled home invasion at Mr Parry’s house, Nikolovski and a crew of armed thieves got to work holding up Sydney pubs.

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When fashion designer Matthew Eager was ordered to stop his $40,000-a-year business renting out the spare rooms of his three-bedroom apartment in Katoomba on Airbnb, he hired a lawyer to fight the decision.
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One of his neighbours in the seven-unit complex had complained to the local council that their building’s bushfire zoning did not allow commercial lets, and the authorities agreed. But after months of arguing and $2000 in legal fees, the council backed down and he finally won the right to resume.

“But the whole situation is just crazy now,” says Mr Eager, 50. “While I won the right to do it, no one knows if they can or they can’t. Some strata committees say yes, some say no, sometimes they’ve been overruled and sometimes the councils have different rules.

“It’s a complete shit fight. I just wish the government would show some leadership on this issue so people have some certainty about Airbnb and what they can and can’t do.”

It’s a cry that’s now being echoed on both sides of the bitter debate about short-term lettings in apartments, involving companies such as Airbnb and Stayz.

A recent controversial decision by the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal, which ruled on a case in Woollahra that building bylaws prohibiting short-term letting are invalid has only added more confusion, anger and threats of legal action.

“We understand there is even a potential risk now that strata bodies could be sued for lost tourist revenue by short-term letting hosts,” says strata lawyer Stephen Goddard, spokesperson for Our Strata Community, Our Choice.

“This could potentially expose apartment owners for simply trying to exercise their democratic rights, voting not to allow short-term lets in their blocks.

“This situation brings into sharp focus the urgent need for the NSW government to act, give apartment owners the right to decide on short-term letting and clear up all the uncertainty that’s now plaguing the sector. Short-term letting, through platforms like Airbnb, is growing exponentially, but apartment owners are in limbo about their rights and it’s undermining confidence in strata living.” Related: Airbnb making Melbourne hosts thousandsRelated: NSW tribunal overturns Airbnb bylawRelated: Creating an Airbnb-able space

The NSW government has been considering the legalities of short-term letting in apartments for two years now and when, in April, most expected them to come forward with legislation on the issue, it instead started a lengthy consultation process. With many councils also now choosing not to enforce their own planning and zoning regulations or police infractions, the whole area has become a void.

The recent landmark NCAT decision came when Sydney teacher Peta Etsens took action against her apartment building when she was told its bylaws didn’t allow her to rent out her unit on Airbnb during her school holidays.

It ruled that bylaws, even when they’re in line with local council residential-only zoning, are secondary to the strata law principle that they cannot “prohibit or restrict” the operation of a lot, igniting fresh rows about the future of short-term rentals in units.

Airbnb’s -New Zealand head of public policy, Brent Thomas, says urgent change is needed.

“Our host community tells us they are struggling to navigate arcane and confusing rules for home sharing that were often written before the internet even existed,” he says.

“No one should be forced to get a lawyer to simply defend their right to share their own home. Just like when we went from the horse and buggy to the car, we need new rules for new technology. Put simply, we need change now to put an end to the existing regulatory uncertainty.”

Mr Eager who, says there is a real necessity for clear rules. “The current situation is stupid; we need certainty,” he says.

“I make $40,000 a year out of renting out my rooms so it was worth the outlay of $2000 on a lawyer, but people are plucking different rules out of thin air and changing them as the mood takes them. We need the government to make a decision on this, rather than being paralysed into inaction for fear they might upset someone.”

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“Yep, you got me.”
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That’s what former international cricket umpire Darrell Hair told his managers at a bottle shop when they confronted him about stealing money from the till.

In the grip of gambling addiction, Hair was working at D’Aquino’s Liquor in Orange, in central west NSW, nine years after ending his long and colourful career as an umpire.

In what the magistrate called a “monumental fall from grace”, Hair stole $9005.75 between February 25 and April 28 this year.

Darrell Hair, centre, and Billy Doctrove, left, examine the match ball with Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq on the fourth day of the fourth Test against England in 2006.

He was fired from the shop in May when his bosses found CCTV footage of him taking money from the cash register and putting it in his pants pocket.

The 65-year-old, famed for no-balling Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan for throwing in a Boxing Day Test, pleaded guilty to one charge of embezzlement and one charge of stealing in Orange Local Court on Monday morning.

Prosecutors dropped another 43 charges.

A fact sheet tendered to court said Hair would regularly make unauthorised refunds and pocket the cash, or take the money directly from customers.

“[Hair] stated that he had no excuse for his dishonesty and he had let his gambling get too far out of control during the early months of 2017 and failed to react to the signs that it was out of control,” the document said.

He made full admissions when interviewed by police.

“My client has been in the public eye for many years and this is a bit of a fall for him, to find himself before the court in these circumstances,” Hair’s solicitor Andrew Rolfe said.

“This is an aberration in the life of a man who, prior to this, had a lifetime of service to the community and to a sport that he loved.”

Magistrate Michael Allen said Hair’s actions were a breach of trust, but noted Hair had repaid the stolen money, written letters of apology, and was in counselling for depression and addiction.

Mr Allen sentenced Hair to an 18-month good behaviour bond, and did not record a conviction, stressing the law treats everyone the same way, regardless of public standing or privilege.

“There are some in our community, in particular on commercial radio, who speak with loud voices for justice to be stern and unrelenting,” Mr Allen said.

“But that would undermine what it sets out to achieve.”

Mr Allen said gambling ads were everywhere, and gambling addiction was “no less real than an addiction to drugs … or alcohol”.

“It’s a journey he will live with, and no doubt struggle with, on a daily basis for the rest of his life.”

Hair was at the centre of one of cricket’s most notorious moments when he repeatedly no-balled Muralitharan during the Boxing Day Test between and Sri Lanka at the MCG in 1995.

Muralitharan had his action cleared the following May, and then again in 1999, and went on to become one of the most famous bowlers in Test history.

Hair was also one of the umpires who decided to penalise Pakistan for suspected ball tampering on the fourth day of the fourth Test against England in 2006.

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Myer versus Solomon Lew is likely to break out into full-scale war this week following Monday’s release of the notice of Myer’s annual meeting. Not only will Lew vote his 10.8 per cent stake against the appointment of three Myer directors, including the incoming chairman, but it is understood he will vote against the pay package for chief executive Richard Umbers.
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If Lew garners the support of any other significant shareholder, Myer could be facing a “first strike”. A second strike at next year’s annual meeting would result in a spill motion for the entire board.

Lew will certainly muster some support from the retail base but he will need a couple of large shareholders to ensure his preferred outcome. In particular, the second-largest shareholder, Anton Tagliaferro, from Investors Mutual, will be pivotal.

Lew’s campaign against Myer may not even take a year to play out. There is undoubtedly more in his arsenal, which is currently under wraps waiting for the fire-at-will command.

Armed with Monday’s notice of meeting, it won’t take long.

For its part Myer is remaining behind its defensive position. The chairman-elect, Garry Hounsell, stuck to the script in his written comments in the notice of meeting, which supported the company’s stand that Myer’s transformation from the old Myer to “New Myer” was making progress and that it was now “a more efficient and resilient business”.

“I am convinced that the New Myer strategy is the right one,” he said.

Hounsell could have put a pin in the New Myer strategy and called for its review. He didn’t. Referendum on New Myer

Hounsell’s backing of the existing Myer strategy means the shareholder vote at the upcoming annual meeting has been turned into a referendum on New Myer.

But by Myer’s own measurement of its progress – the company has been falling well shy of five-year targets on sales, earnings and sales per square metre, and return on funds invested.

When Umbers meets with shareholders in a week for an update on strategy he is almost sure to reset these targets to a more achievable level even if elements of the strategy remain.

The Lew camp is said to be incensed by comments made in Monday’s media that Myer ruled out any potential equity raising thus limiting the company’s ability to finance the large scale closure of loss-making stores.

Cancelling leases on stores is estimated to cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

Meanwhile, Myer has placed a large target on its forehead by setting out a remuneration report that sets out the structure of Umbers’ incentive payments but not the hurdles.

For example, 50 per cent of his performance rights will be based on return on funds invested but no mention of what this hurdle rate is.

Apparently this will all become clear on the November 1 strategy day.

It will be an all-important opportunity for Umbers to convince investors that New Myer can be successful while at the same time telling shareholders the expectations of its financial success will need to be revised. Rock and a hard place

Umbers is caught between a rock and a hard place. If he reveals any major operational changes it will undermine the efficacy for his original New Myer plans.

But he needs to do something radical enough to convince investors that Myer won’t just continue to flat line in sales. While Umbers has clearly been hampered by the difficult retail environment, it won’t be enough to blame that alone.

It leaves the door open for Lew to seize on either.

“The New Myer strategy is our best response to increased competition,” Mr Umbers said in the annual report.

“It is important that we focus our efforts on the execution of our strategy, but also to evolve it in response to the ever changing retail landscape and competitive environment,” he said.

Further comments from Umbers in the annual report suggest omni-channel will become even more central to strategy.

Myer has already shifted a bit on two elements of its plan. The first its early attempts to minimise discounting. This was recast over the past few months with the opening of dedicated clearance floors within stores.

The other was its push to increase space devoted to concessions (brand operated stores with the department store). This is now being scaled back.

But throwing grenades at Myer won’t be enough. Lew needs to outline his manifesto for the retailer’s future in order to convince them that he has a solution.

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