Govt warned to urgently fix housing crisis

The Turnbull government must urgently reform housing policy to avoid creating a class of lifelong renters, economists warn.


Prospective first-home buyers hoping for some relief once interest rates eventually drift higher will be left wanting, according to Rachel Ong Viforj, professor of economics at Curtin Business School.

The market has failed and strong government intervention is needed to fix the problems that are locking young Australians out of the housing market, she says.

“I do not think that we can afford to keep waiting around for the market to do its job any longer,” Prof Ong Viforj told the National Press Club on Tuesday.

“It’s very clear the market is not doing its job.

“The problem is so big at the moment and so entrenched and so persistent that it is going to require significant reform to make progress.”

Last week’s federal budget proposed a range of measures to help improve housing affordability, including allowing first-home buyers to make voluntary contributions up to $30,000 to superannuation to save for a deposit.

But that will not do anything to ease housing demand and will offer greater benefits to those on higher incomes, Prof Ong Viforj says.

She says the government needs to go further with genuine reform on negative gearing and capital gains tax concessions.

Economist Danielle Wood says government rather than the market has failed.

Governments have not kept with releasing new land, planning laws have stood in the way of boosting supply and investor tax concessions have worked to increase speculative activity.

“Government failure has led to some pretty perverse outcomes in the market,” she said.

Ms Wood said it was “absolutely baffling” the federal government failed to tackle capital gains tax concessions in the federal budget.

The new superannuation saver scheme was mildly helpful.

“If you’re trying to buy a median home in Melbourne or Sydney you’re talking about a deposit of $160,000 to $200,000 – $30,000 isn’t getting you very far,” she said.

Prof Ong Viforj believes the government must build on its mild housing affordability measures with more meaningful reform in the 2018/19 budget.

“The great Australian dream of owning a home is rapidly fading for younger generations,” she said.

“It’s very urgent that we now move very quickly beyond piecemeal approaches to housing affordability.”

British Moors Murderer child killer dies

One of Britain’s most notorious killers, “Moors murderer” Ian Brady, who murdered five children with his lover and accomplice Myra Hindley during a sadistic two-year reign of terror in the 1960s has died.


Brady and Hindley were jailed for life in 1966 for abducting, torturing, sexually abusing and then murdering the children before burying their young victims on the bleak Saddleworth Moor near the northern city of Manchester.

Brady died at Ashworth secure hospital in Liverpool in Monday, where he has been housed since 1985 after being diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, aged 79.

“We can confirm a 79-year-old patient in long-term care at Ashworth High Secure Hospital has died after becoming physically unwell,” a spokesman for the hospital said.

For many of his last years, Brady had been on intermittent hunger strike and staff at Ashworth fed him via a tube through the nose on the grounds he was insane and incapable of deciding to end his own life.

In 2013, a Mental Health Tribunal rejected his request to return to prison, ruling it was necessary in his interests and for the safety of others that he remain at Ashworth.

The sadistic nature of the Moors Murderers’ killings made them among the most despised figures in Britain.

Brady was found guilty of snatching and killing 12-year-old John Kilbride, Edward Evans, 17, Lesley Ann Downey, 10, while Hindley was convicted of murdering Downey and Evans and shielding her lover in the third case.

In the 1980s, the couple admitted abducting and murdering 16-year-old Pauline Reade on her way to a Manchester disco in 1963 and killing Keith Bennett, 12, in 1964.

They were finally caught when Hindley’s brother-in-law tipped off police

During their trial the court heard tape recordings made by the couple of their victims pleading for mercy before they were tortured and killed.

One tape featured the voice of Downey, filled with pain and fear, whimpering: “I want to see my mummy. Please God, help me.”

Although their crimes took place 40 years ago, the revulsion felt by Britons and the hatred directed at them by the tabloid press hardly diminished.

Hindley was Britain’s longest serving female prisoner when she died in 2002 after 36 years in jail.

Successive UK governments had refused to release her despite her claims she had reformed and was driven to commit the murders by the psychopathic Brady. He insisted she was as much to blame.

Hindley had tried to court favour by helping police to find the missing body of Bennett. But despite exhaustive searches, his body has never been found.

When she was cremated, a banner which read “Burn in hell” was left outside the building.

No AFL sledging of Blues’ Murphy: Dockers

Fremantle have vowed not to direct any vicious sledging at Marc Murphy on Sunday as the Carlton AFL skipper deals with the fallout of verbal abuse from St Kilda players.


Murphy was left fuming after St Kilda players allegedly sledged him about his wife during last week’s Blues-Saints match.

Fremantle play Carlton on Sunday at Domain Stadium, and Dockers forward Shane Kersten says his team will steer clear of the issue when they face Murphy.

“Personally, I don’t think it’s on,” Kersten said on Tuesday.

“I’m not one to go out and sledge people. If there’s a little bit of sledging, it’s all in good humour.

“I’m sure we’ll have a briefing this week. But we’re not a team that goes out to try to target players in that way to get under their skin or anything.

“If they’re a good player and if we’re looking to tag them, then that’s what we’ll do.

“We don’t need to go over and above to try to win a game.”

Kersten said the young nature of Fremantle’s squad meant they probably couldn’t afford to get involved in sledging even if they wanted to.

“Obviously being young, we don’t go and say too much because it might come back to bite us in the backside,” Kersten said.

“We just leave it to our actions and try to play some good footy.”

Kersten said troubled midfielder Harley Bennell still had the full backing of the player group despite hitting the headlines yet again for the wrong reasons.

Bennell fronted Fremantle’s hierarchy on Tuesday in relation to his bizarre actions on Saturday while watching a WAFL game.

The 24-year-old twice interrupted the three-quarter time huddle of the match between Peel Thunder and Swan Districts to speak to his cousin Traye Bennell.

The club are yet to comment on whether they’ll hand down a punishment.

“We, as a playing group, are sticking by him,” Kersten said of Bennell, who was ejected from a Virgin Australia flight last month for being drunk.

“He’s one of our brothers.

“We’re not a club to go and hang our brothers out and leave them to dry.

“We’re fully behind him at the moment.

“He’s been in good spirits around the club the last few days.”

The Dockers (5-3) are on the cusp of the top eight after snaring five wins from their past six matches.

Kersten, who was traded to Fremantle from Geelong at the end of last season, struggled in the early rounds.

But he has hit his straps over the past three rounds, booting six goals during that period to cement his place in the forward set-up.

Extra police at NSW schoolgirl attack site

A NSW community where a 12-year-old schoolgirl was dragged into bushland and sexually assaulted is “angry” and worried, with police upping their presence in the area in a bid to make residents feel safe.


Superintendent Danny Sullivan says the man responsible for Monday morning’s horrific Central Coast attack hasn’t been found but locals have come forward with information and leads.

“We’re very pleased with the response so far,” he told AAP on Tuesday.

Additional police on the ground and a mobile command centre are “reassuring the local community that we’re doing our best to make sure the area is safe,” he said.

The girl told police she was grabbed from behind by a knife-wielding stranger while walking alone to school on a commonly-used pathway between Reeves and Carrington Streets at Narara just before 8am.

The man, dressed in camouflage clothing, took the girl to nearby bushland, tied her up and sexually and indecently assaulted her.

The girl escaped to her school where she reported the incident before being treated at Gosford Hospital.

‘I can acknowledge that our community is angry,” Supt Sullivan said.

‘But at this stage it’s about trusting your local police to conduct a professional and thorough investigation.

I certainly wouldn’t be encouraging anybody towards thoughts of vigilante action.”

Supt Sullivan said there was no connection between the attack and a poster recently seen in the area warning of a paedophile.

‘I’m not going to comment on that at all and certainly I’m not exploring that as a link in this matter at the moment,” he said.

The attacker is described as being in his mid-20s, about 175 to 180 centimetres tall, grey-blond haired, blue eyed and with a chubby build.

He was wearing a knitted camouflage shirt and camouflage pants and hat, with a loose covering over his face that exposed his eyes and nose.

As well as the hunting knife, he was carrying a camouflage bag.

Local investigators are working with detectives from the State Crime Command child abuse squad.

Leilua confident he can return to NRL best

Canberra centre Joey Leilua believes he and right-edge partner Jordan Rapana can shake off the targets on their backs and return to the form which has terrorised NRL rivals.


The Raiders slumped to a third-straight loss on Sunday against struggling Newcastle, with the Knights deliberately kicking into touch late in the tackle count to deny ‘Leipana’ the ball.

It was a tactic also employed successfully last month by Manly, as teams looked for ways to shut down the devastating attacking flair of Leilua and Rapana.

“They are targeting us, for sure. You can see it in every game lately,” Leilua said on Tuesday.

“They’re getting out and marking us and tackling us.”

But he can see a positive to the kicking tactic which is starving him of possession.

“If teams are going to do that to us, it gives our forwards a rest – it’s a win-win,” he said.

While the dynamic duo started the season in fine touch, Rapana and Leilua’s numbers have dropped dramatically during the Raiders’ losing streak.

Rapana averaged almost 175 metres a game on the wing during the first seven rounds, a figure which had dipped to 74m in the past three matches.

Leilua racked up 114.4m a game up to round seven but had been averaging 80.3m in the Raiders’ past three losses.

The pair who combined for 13 tries after seven rounds had crossed once between them since, a spectacular effort from Rapana almost a month ago against the Sea Eagles.

While Leilua admits he has been below his best, he’s counting on his instinctive style to fight his way out of the rut.

“I’ve always got confidence,” Leilua said.

“We’ve just got to get in there and get more involved.”

The embarrassing slip-up against the Knights has applied the pressure on Canberra, who sit one game outside the top eight.

They face Parramatta on Saturday night at ANZ Stadium, with the Eels set to be boosted by the arrival of five-eighth Mitchell Moses after his release by the Wests Tigers.

That will go some of the way to offsetting the loss of star playmaker Corey Norman who is set to miss four weeks with a knee injury.

The Raiders will add some firepower of their own, with Satet of Origin forward Josh Papalii returning from suspension.

“He was a big loss on the weekend. Having him back will be a big impact for that left side,” Leilua said.

Papalii’s inclusion at second row pushes Joe Tapine to lock and Luke Bateman to the bench.


Key statistics, rounds eight to 10, compared to first seven matches:

* Tries:

Rapana: 1 (down from 7)

Leilua: 0 (down from 6)

* Average run metres:

Rapana: 74 (down from 174.8)

Leilua: 80.3 (down from 114.4)

* Missed tackles:

Rapana: 8 (compared to 10 in first seven rounds)

Leilua: 11 (8 in opening seven rounds)