Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Seeing red

LIFE ... with Don Gordon-Brown

A Wickham Terrace psychiatrist the Army sent me to once because I didn’t like a lot of my officers declared after the very briefest of sessions that I had a dislike for people in authority.

What a fucking wanker, I thought at the time. Obviously got his degree from a Kellogg's corn flakes packet because he didn't get me to lie on a couch or anything. Clearly he didn't have a bloody clue what he was talking about!
But now I'm not so sure. Julia Gillard has been in the top job barely a month, and fair sauce of the shake bottle, I've just about reached the stage where I'm hoping the Mad Monk sends her into political oblivion come August 21.
For someone who has been singing the Ranga's praises for some years now, who really thought that when it came to having a nose for political nous, she was clearly overqualified, and who offered a silent prayer just about nightly for the proverbial political bus to clean up the dreadful Kevin "I'm from Queensland and I've been no help" Rudd so she could get the chance to strut her stuff in the top job, how has it come to this so quickly?
Was the quack right so many years ago, simply by asking me what the colour of my childhood teddy bear was? That I simply don't like her now she's in charge? Personally, I'd like to think it has much more to do with a very reasonable reaction to her latest piece of political stupidity and/or cowardice than any psychological disorder I may or may not exhibit from time to time.
Nothing turns people off a politician faster than when they hear palpable rubbish spewing from their lips that should have sent absolute alarm bells ringing deep inside their brains before engaging their mouths.
Whatever spin doctor thought up the idea of a citizens assembly of 150 randomly selected Australians on climate change should now be folding how-to-vote cards for the party's candidate in whatever is the Coalition’s safest seat. I hope it's the back of Bourke somewhere and it's very windy and very cold. But that's their punishment. What do we do about a political leader who actually embraced such a hare-brained scheme and thought it had some merit?
She got rightly mauled in last Sunday night's TV debate when she tried to defend it, and Tony Abbott's stinger line "We've got a citizen's assembly and it's called Parliament" will resonate to polling day.
Just like Anna Bligh's current unpopularity is largely based on her proven inability to reject spin doctors' lines when they are truly awful, Gillard has followed suite with an absolute zinger!
Doubt it about Bligh? She was the one who, after the government had copped a hefty late cancellation fee for a departmental soiree that was on the public nose, declared the government had not lost money because they would make it up somewhere else.
Hello, Anna! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding!!!!! Your brain heard nothing whatsoever before the words tumbled out? A loss is a loss is a loss, dear Premier.
Then, when she was forced to abandon that awful North Bank Project in Brisbane’s CBD, she came up with the woeful “but people want us to do something there” line. Hellooooo, Anna? Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding!!!
Heard nothing at all, sweetie?
Yes, people wanted you to do something. Put in a couple of barrel loads of white stones, run a rake over it, tidy up the place a bit, maybe whitewash the columns of the Riverside Expressway. Not build crap a third of the way out into their river! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding!!!!! Nothing, Anna? Nothing at all?
Still, that’s Anna for you, her instincts honed at the chalkface that was the Peter Beattie “Spin Before Substance” School of Politics.
But back to Julia, trying to convince us that a randomly selected panel of 150 average joh and flo bjelkes ... I mean blows ... can be packed in an auditorium, force-fed tidbits from climate change acceptors and somehow regurgitate a policy suitable for Australia to embrace on the greatest moral issue of our time?
Voters throughout this great brown racist land of ours are spot-on to be truly concerned that when this stupid, stupid idea was suggested to her, there was absolute silence in the cranial space deep down below her stylish reddish fringe so suited to a women’s magazine cover spread.
Absolute silence. Not the deafening Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! the rest of us heard straight away when confronted with a policy-delaying pathetic piece of gimmickry gobbledegook instead of real leadership on an issue crucial to all our futures.
We desperately need leaders with brains that can sense ... and reject .... political claptrap the second it's put to them.
Gillard has shown us she doesn't possess that gift... and it’s left her permanently damaged.
Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding!
Nothing, Julia? Nothing at all? Oh, dear.
That makes you a deadset red-hair-brained Dingbat!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Laneway markets are on their way



NEWS

Some of Fortitude Valley’s little-known laneways are about to be thrust into the public gaze, courtesy of a new concept called the Valley Laneway Markets .

The laneway markets in the Valley’s heartland will be an independently run market, with the main objective to support existing traders and attract more people to the Valley Heart, while offering a platform for emerging and individual designers to showcase their work.
The Valley Laneway markets will begin on Sunday August 8, and the people behind the concept say it will become the premier destination for a diverse shopping experience and a fantastic opportunity to pick up something unique.
Stall spaces are filling fast and the markets will launch with around 60 stalls. Every Sunday will host various different entertainment – supporting emerging music, comedy and the performing arts.
The laneway markets will aim to bring back the quintessential Sunday session. The laneway market stalls will be a combination of emerging fashion designers, artists, musicians, accessory designers and cutting edge artisans.
The markets will also have pre-loved oddities – with a section of the laneway dedicated to a unique pre-loved wall.
Anyone interested in becoming a stallholder in the new markets can download an application form online at www.valleylanewaymarkets.com.

Valley to see the light


NEWS


The Valley is about to get a whole lot ‘lighter’. A partnership between Energex and the City Council should result in the Valley being much better lit –- and safer –- at night, according to local councillor David Hinchliffe (Central Ward).


“Already we have upgraded a number of lights around the Valley, but there will be a very noticeable improvement in the months ahead as the general lux or brightness of street lighting is improved,” he said.
“Lighting along with policing are probably the two most important issues affecting safety in the Valley. With the state already announcing more police, the news of increased lighting is to be applauded.”

Mayor rules out bridge funnelling

NEWS

Lord Mayor Campbell Newman’s city administration has ruled out a transit lane on the Story Bridge, accusing the Labor opposition of hypocrisy over the issue.

It claimed Labor Opposition Leader Shayne Sutton had been left red-faced because the ALP would put a transit lane on the Story Bridge if it was in power. Cr Sutton in the 7 July edition of The Independent called on council to rule out traffic funnelling on the bridge into the Clem7 tunnel after an analyst had been quoted in the media suggesting “a transit lane on the Story Bridge might increase tunnel traffic”.
Deputy Mayor and Infrastructure Chairman Graham Quirk said the current LNP council administration had no plans to put a T3 transit or bus lane on the Story Bridge. Cr Quirk said the Lord Mayor had also ruled out funnelling traffic into the Clem7 tunnel in the past and would do it again.
“I cannot make it any clearer – this administration will not be funnelling traffic into the Clem7 tunnel – not now, not ever,” Cr Quirk said. He claimed Councillor Sutton’s statement had backfired on her after it was revealed that Labor’s ‘Transport Plan for Brisbane 2002-2016’ flagged a T3 High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane to be installed on the Story Bridge between 2009 and 2012.
“One the other hand it’s there for all to see that if Labor were in power there’d be a transit lane on the Story Bridge funnelling traffic into the Clem7 tunnel right now. “You have to wonder why Cr Sutton’s more senior Labor colleagues continue to let her embarrass herself and the party in this way.”
Cr Quirk said that an article on this very issue in the City South News in May 2006 reported “Lord Mayor Campbell Newman said he would oppose T3 lanes on the bridge while he was mayor”.
“In contrast, the same article reported that then-Labor local councillor Catherine Birmingham (East Brisbane) supported a T3 or bus lane being installed on the Story Bridge, and that then-Labor Deputy Mayor David Hinchliffe “wouldn’t rule out T3 lanes after the tunnel was built”.
Cr Quirk said this view was shared by over half of the current 10 sitting ALP councillors, who were all a part of the Jim Soorley-led Labor administration that devised the plan to put a T3 traffic lane on the Story Bridge.

Audit exposes safety concerns

NEWS

A safety audit in and around the Valley Entertainment Precinct (VEP) unearthed major concerns with public transport, identified a homeless squat and possibly two rave party venues.

he audit – the second and last for 2010 – was initiated by the Valley Chamber of Commerce’s (VCC) subcommittee, the Valley Community Safety Group, and was organised in association with the BCC and Fortitude Valley Police.
Conducted between 2-5am last Sunday week, more than 60 people from the BCC, Valley Liquor Accord (VLA), Police, VCC, property and businesses owners and community organisations attended. Safety audits have been conducted since 2005 and canvass Fortitude Valley, New Farm, Newstead, Bowen Hills and Teneriffe with many significant results achieved.
The areas inspected during the general safety audit were:
• St Paul’s Terrace (bounded by Baxter St, Water St, Constin/Constance St, incl. Misterton St)
• St Paul’s Terrace (Brunswick St, Alfred St, Constance St incl. Julia St Yeovil St and Ranwell Lane)
• Wickham St (Brunswick St Mall - Ann St, Barlow St, Barlow St Warner/Alden St/Overells Lane)
• Wickham St Constance St- Anne, St East St incl. Green Square Close & Bridge St • Brookes St (Prospect, Light, Wickham St) incl. Hynes and Bridge Sts
• Wickham St (Murri Way, Ann St, Church St including Nardoo St/Bonney Lane) Valley

Metro’s problems were poor signage, a lack of ticket outlets and because Fortitude Valley Railway station is only open 15 minutes of each hour it forced people to queue on Brunswick St.
Warner Street was labelled a ‘shambles’ because of traffic chaos. The street is heavily congested with bus services using the busy thoroughfare as a holding area in lieu of a proper bus terminus and also is home to a taxi rank and a multi story car park. The audit recognised the need for an alternative bus route and hence moving stops out of the street to avoid double parking and traffic chaos.
A homeless squat was discovered within 400m of the Valley Police Station and other issues spotted were inadequate street lighting, raised footpaths, blind spots in car parks and damaged fencing around QR property which allowed easy access for graffiti artists.
Poorly lit off-street places were identified as possible areas that could be utilised by drug users.
Co-chair of the Valley Chamber Property Owners Group Carol Gordon said it was a highly successful audit and the identification of potential drug taking areas was important for people’s safety.
“It was great to see the licensed premises, business and property owners, Brisbane City Council workers and police a like identifying issues first hand and in many cases it’s only the simple things that need repair which can make a real difference,” Ms Gordon said.
“A concern is that many property owners have recently turned off their external lighting in what may be a cost saving measure because of significant increases in electricity charges. We’d like to see those property owners install sensor lighting as an alternative rather than turning off lights.
“Public transport concerns were also noted. Many of these are long term problems and it’s imperative they are addressed.”
The audit is an integral part of a wider number of safety campaigns by the VCC including the Valley’s Safer Venues program, which is in its third year.

New-found FvAME for the Valley


NEWS


Entertainment businesses and art organisations now have a collective voice following the emergence of a Valley Chamber of Commerce sub-committee to oversee Brisbane’s entertainment district.

The Fortitude Valley Arts, Music and Entertainment group (FvAME), chaired by Judith Wright Centre director Ruth Hodgman, has been formed to promote and connect creative industries across several inner Brisbane suburbs.
Ms Hodgman said FvAME’s boundaries included postcodes 4005 and 4006, which reaches from the RNA Showgrounds through to the Brisbane Powerhouse. “There are a lot of quality and important activities and events within these postcodes that need to be promoted,” Ms Hodgman said.
We’ll be representing the interests of companies involved in music, the arts and other creative industries, such as fashion designers, art galleries and electronic game developers.”
FvAME members includes representatives of Q Music, RNA Showgrounds, Palace Cinemas, Qld Museum Building events, Judith Wright Centre, Secret Service, Time Off Magazine, The Pullos Group, City News, Village News, Barsoma, VLA and the Valley Chamber of Commerce among others. FvAME’s executive committee will be finalised in September and Ms Hodgman is urging any stakeholders or people with a vested interest in the arts and music to become members.
Ms Hodgman said FvAME’s goals included a specific calendar-based website to advertise all events in the area, uniting stakeholders and being a conduit through which information flows.
“This will be a centralised committee working in the interests of all stakeholders and will help promote and support festivals, markets and art exhibitions,” Ms Hodgman said.
“The Valley is more than just nightclubs, it’s the hub of creativity in Brisbane and we have to make sure our artists have venues, festivals and markets to perform or exhibit,” Ms Hodgman said.
Q Music executive officer Denise Foley said FvAME will streamline the process to enhance such events as this year’s BIGSOUND and Valley Fiesta and provide a central body to assist artists.
“This is an excellent result for all businesses and artists in Brisbane,” Ms Foley said.

No butts ... change is on the way

NEWS

Residents and businesses in Brisbane overwhelmingly want some form of action taken on smoking in Queen Street Mall, a city council survey has shown.


And Lord Mayor Campbell Newman says council will now have to act on some form of restriction on smoking in the mall.
“However, the issue is not clear cut. The broader population would like a total ban, but mall users and businesses support the introduction of designated smoking areas,” he said.
The research clearly showed doing nothing was no longer an option,” Cr Newman said. “Therefore I’m now throwing it out there for the whole of Brisbane to have their say.”
Council has put two options forward for the community to comment on. These are:
1. Designated smoking zones in Queen Street Mall; or
2. A complete smoking ban in Queen Street Mall,
For more information or to have your say, please visit www.brisbane.qld.gov.au or call 3403 8888.

Valley up for cleanliness award

NEWS


After months of campaigning for a cleaner Foritude Valley, local Councillor David Hinchliffe (Central Ward) says there has been a noticeable improvement in cleanliness “but there is still a long way to go”.

He has nominated the Valley in council’s “Spotless Suburbs” competition in the “most improved” category.
“I know the Valley has a long way to go,” Cr Hinchliffe said, “but I think we’re turning a corner with twice as many bins, less litter being observed and some business owners cleaning up their act.
“The only way we can see a cleaner, greener, prouder Valley is by council working with businesses, residents and Valley visitors.”
Announcements about the Spotless Suburbs competition are due shortly.
In an open letter to businesses, residents, visitors to the Valley, Cr Hinchliffe said: "Over the last four months, I have been pleased to work with The Independent on a campaign to raise
awareness of litter and cleanliness in the Valley. We have a long way to go before we can say we are truly the “greener, cleaner, prouder Valley” in our motto.
"However, I believe we have turned a corner. Thanks to the efforts of all – council staff, the public, businesses and The Independent – we have more bins and
residents are reporting to me that the Valley is looking cleaner.
"There are still too many untidy business frontages. There's still too many bottles left lying around on Saturday and Sunday mornings. There are still too many scrappy posters on walls of buildings and too many tags. But there is a definite change of mood and pride in the Valley emerging.
"The judges of the council’s Spotless Suburbs competition recently visited the Valley after a six-months absence. They observed that the Valley looked cleaner and there was a noticeable improvement.
"This campaign was always about both a carrot and a stick. We wanted to raise consciousness – and if need be shame those who were responsible for letting the Valley down. At the same time, however, we want to give praise where it's due.
"So, let’s see how we go in the months ahead to really make the Valley GREENER, CLEANER AND PROUDER!

Icing on the charity cake



NEWS

The biggest bake-off in the Southern Hemisphere is back – Cupcake Day for the RSPCA. On Monday, August 16, don your chef’s hat and sell your homemade or store-bought cupcakes to your friends, family and colleagues and help raise money for RSPCA Queensland.

It’s up to you what you charge. How about $2 each or three for $5? You can even ask your company to match the funds raised by you. Last year, a record 330,000 cupcakes were sold across Australia and this year the RSPCA want to ice that total and add hundreds and thousands! RSPCA Queensland is looking for budding cupcake cooks who are willing to whip up batches of scrumptious, homemade cupcakes to sell to family, friends and colleagues, with 100 per cent of proceeds going to RSPCA Queensland. So whether you want to be a cupcake cook or simply a cupcake eater, you will be supporting RSPCA Queensland and the thousands of animals the staff and volunteers care for every day. Register now – it’s easy and it’s free.
Go to www.rspcacupcakeday.com.au and then get baking. You can also download all the posters and forms you will need to promote your event – how easy is that!

This chianti is a cracker



WINE .. with David Bray

We haven’t seen a lot of chiantis lately. Forget the raffia-wrapped bottles; it’s a much more serious wine these days. For example, see Savignola Paolina Chianti Classico 2007 (pictured), which comes with a cracker reputation.

One American scribe wrote of the 2000 vintage as follows: “It’s exquisitely perfumed and the flavour impact is enormous. With its signature dustiness and dry cherry and berry flavours, this wine was designed to go with food. The 2000 is gorgeous. If Mozart made Chianti, it’d be Paolina.”
But back to the facts, as supplied by Australian distributor Euro-Concepts.
Savignola Paolina is a small winery in the heart of Chianti Classico. The owner Ludovica Fabbri and her husband took over the winery in 1998. Ludovica inherited it from her father who in turn had inherited it from his great aunt, a very determined little lady who never married and who ran the winery for more than 60 years with the help of one handyman.
Paolina was just 148cm tall but over the years her name became synonymous with that of the winery which had been Savignola since the late 18th century. The name was officially changed to Savignola Paolina.
Ludovica has brought in modern viticultural and winemaking techniques and built a new winery complex.
The wine in question is 85 per cent sangiovese, 15 colorino and malvasia nera.
It is ruby red, yields berry fruit and hints of spice. Medium bodied with a long, strong finish it would be a beaut match with typical tomato-based Italian dishes.
Sangiovese, a semi-classic grape grown in the Tuscany region, is used to make Chianti and other Tuscan red wines.
It is being enthusiastically used by used an increasing number of Australian winemakers. It is planted in several hundred Australian vineyards across the continent, from the Darling Downs to Margaret River.
The name seems to have come from sanguis jovis (Jupiter’s blood) and by Jove with any luck at all I should soon be able to tell you more.

***
To BYO or not to bother. It’s a choice most of us have to make quite often, though these days it seems fewer restaurants are willing to let the customers supply their own bottles of wine and those that do tend to charge a hefty sum for what used to be corkage but is no, um, unscrewing.

The argument is that wine and other drinks contribute significantly to the profit made on your meal (as do dessert and coffee.) Decent quality glasses are not cheap, need to be washed and most of us would use two or three in the course of a meal.
Really serious wine people enjoy taking their treasured bottles to good restaurants. Some proprietors who do not normally accept this will make exceptions, particularly for a regular customer.
And there are few, a dwindling number, of places that happily advertise they accept BYO. They are to be treasured.
All of which leads me to intelligence from the United Kingdom concerning the recent formation of BYO Wine Club.
It’s a business, signing up wine-drinking members and “many of London's best restaurants” to offer customers “the privilege of bringing their own special bottles to accompany their meals for no or reasonable corkage fees’’.
Membership costs 75 pounds a year, some 50 restaurants were in the scheme at last count and there seem to be some interesting conditions applying – some places will charge “a modest corkage charge, typically £10 a bottle”, others none.
And it’s up to each restaurant to say what day of the week the deal will apply, whether it’s lunch or dinner and if there’s a minimum spend. Not quite what we have in mind, is it?

HQ injects new life into Valley



HQ, the state-of-the-art two-tower commercial and retail complex that many see as vital to kickstarting the Fortitude Valley’s day economy has been officially opened.

Pictured at the official opening are Darren Weir, GM Leighton Contractors Qld, Grace Grace MP, Cr Amanda Cooper, BCC, who did the opening honours, and Andrew Borger, state manager Qld Leighton Properties.

A joint venture between Leighton Properties and Leighton Contractors, HQ delivers 44,000 square metres of premium commercial office and retail space, along with restaurants, cafes, wine bars and a public plaza to the area. And the developoers believe HQ "will be the `jewel in the crown for the rejuvenated Fortitude Valley".
Leighton Properties Executive Director and State Manager, Queensland Andrew Borger said the opening of HQ will signal the start of 1=ortitude Valley's makeover into a prime urban-designed green space.
"HQ is about providing a new generation of commercial and retail space to businesses, one that encompasses ecologically sensitive design to benefit the environment and tenants," Mr Borger said.
"HQ has been acknowledged as one of Australia's most sustainable developments, achieving a 6 Star Green Star - Office Design v2 accreditation from the Green Building Council of Australia; making it one of Australia's most sustainable buildings and only one of three projects accredited to this level in Queensland at time of certification.
"Additionally HQ will bring up to 3,000 workers to Fortitude Valley, with the added sustainable benefits of accessible public transport and a dedicated bicycle centre housing over 260 bike parks with full end-of-trip facilities such as showers and lockers.
Chairperson of the Brisbane City Council Neighbourhood Planning and Development Assessment Committee Cr Amanda Cooper in officially opening the project said HQ was in line with Brisbane City Council's future plan and helped cement the Valley's position as a prime business and event hub.
"Fortitude Valley will be transformed with HQ's central plaza providing a new public event space for the local community and businesses, such as the Valley Chamber of Commerce," Cr Cooper said.
"The Council also acknowledges HQ's contribution to green space, with the inclusion of a subtropical boulevard providing the public with open space, trees and street shading."
Darren Weir, General Manager Leighton Contractors Northern Region said since moving more than 300 staff into their new home a month ago, the team was enjoying the sustainability of the building and the liveliness of the neighbourhood.

Vital signs good but confidence down

PROPERTY NEWS

An economic and property snapshot produced by PRDnationwide reveals a robust economy, increased house prices – but a slip in consumer confidence.

Figures published in PRDnationwide’s Quarterly Economic and Property Report shows commodities prices are up 22.6 per cent compared with 12 months ago. And debt-laden families should breathe a sigh of relief with interest rates expected to remain on hold.
PRDnationwide managing director Jim Midgley said the report showed numbers of new dwellings decreased during the March 2010 quarter by 7.7 per cent (39,112 new homes across Australia) but compared to the previous year increased by 39.7 per cent. “Investor financial commitment has now reached $8 billion and has not been this strong since June 2007 when property prices were at their peak,” Mr Midgley said.
“Investor finance now accounts for 36.8 per cent of all financial housing commitme
nts and has not had such a large portion of the market since December 2003.” Report author Aaron Maskrey, PRDnationwide research director, said that on a state-by state basis Victoria continued to record the highest number of dwelling commencements during the March quarter, representing 34 per cent of all dwellings commenced nationally.
“It is anticipated that dwelling investment is set to grow by 7.5 per cent during 2010 to 2011,” Mr Maskrey said.
‘Empty nester’ baby boomers would drive the greatest demand for new homes over the next 25 years. The median house price in Australia climbed on average by 12.1 per cent in May. Melbourne has recorded the biggest increase of 18.2 per cent while Darwin prices rose 16.8 per cent. Perth recorded the smallest increase of 6.1 per cent, where the median price currently sits at $310,050.
“It is anticipated that both Sydney and Perth shall receive stronger house price growth during this year,” Mr Maskrey said.

Brisbane leads housing recovery



RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY


Queensland suburbs close to the CBD are the first to show signs of significant price recovery in the housing sector, new research reveals.

The top 10 suburbs in Queensland which recorded the highest price growth in the 12 months to March have been identified by PRDnationwide research.
PRDnationwide managing director Jim Midgley said eight out of Queensland’s top 10 growth suburbs were located within 17km of the Brisbane CBD. “Topping the list for best price growth was Ascot in Brisbane’s north – registering an astonishing 64.1 per cent increase,” he said.
Report author, PRDnationwide research analyst Josh Brown (pictured below)said St Lucia recorded the second highest price growth of 59.6 per cent, followed by Hawthorne (34.6 per cent).
“The most affordable median price in the top 10 was $335,000 recorded in Mareeba, 30km west of Cairns, despite a 12 month growth of 34 per cent,” Mr Brown said. An overall trend had emerged of strong growth in Brisbane’s prestigious suburbs, with six out of the top ten recording median greater than $750,000.
“Unfortunately this growth represents a recovery in markets which experienced significant softenings during the economic downturn which unfolded during 2008,” he said.
“In general, these growth rates are too strong to be real price growth recorded within such close proximity to the Brisbane CBD under current market conditions. “Instead, they are a reflection of the composition of stock being transacted.
“When you look at the real impact the Global Financial Crisis had on Brisbane’s property market, we saw the top-end markets stall while more affordable price points saw a lot of activity which pushed median prices in these suburbs down.
Currently, activity within the high to premium price points has strengthened on the back of historically low interest rates and strong consumer sentiment and business confidence. The unit market was also investigated by PRDnationwide.
“Of the top 10 suburbs for median price growth in units, four were located within 17.5 kilometres of the Brisbane CBD,” Mr Brown said.
These suburbs were Wooloowin, Woodridge, East Brisbane and Albion which all recorded growth rates between 16.7 per cent and 21.4 per cent. The clear performers over the six months to March 2010 were East Toowoomba, Woody Point and Westcourt. These suburbs all recorded staggering growth rates of 94.5 per cent, 71.2 per cent and 60.4 per cent respectively.
“The most affordable median price was recorded in Woodridge with $231,000 resulting from a strong growth of 18.5 per cent,” Mr Brown said.
“It must be noted that these sharp increases in median price can be influenced by the release of new product onto the market. However given that, with the exception of Woody Point, sales activity has not changed significantly from the corresponding period 12 months earlier, it is likely that these suburbs are reflecting a change in the dominant players in the market.”

Apple’s core promise: smaller is smarter



RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY

Developers of a new CBD apartment block believe they are on a winner by bucking the “bigger is better” marketing trend of the past.


Local developer Aurora Pacific is about to launch New York style project The Apple which it says is “at the frontier of a downsizing movement that’s embraced by environmentalists and that challenges decades of a bigger-is-better trend in Australian homes”.
The boutique 14-storey development will be built on Ann Street with frontage to the new Poppy Lane – one of the new laneways to be constructed in the city heart which will consist of cafes, bars, a florist, fashion and other discoveries. As well as 48 one-bedroom apartments ranging from $339,000-$439,000, The Apple building will include four one-bedroom penthouses, which are being marketed at $545,000.
And four larger podium apartments with large balconies ($459,000). A free scooter, and a place to park it, is on offer to buyers of the apartments.
Aurora Pacific director Simon McGuire is confident the project will be well received by the Brisbane market. “The smaller apartments make sense in places like the CBD, where the cost of land is high and there is an abundance of jobs and commerce,” he said.
“Local and interstate buyers are being drawn to the affordable asking price, as well as strong rental and capital growth possibilities.”
The Apple will feature a luxury rooftop garden for residents to escape to which will include a BBQ area, pergola, coffee machine, bar fridge, kitchenette and seating along with day beds to capture the city views. “Every owner has access to the private roof garden with river and city views for functions, gatherings, relaxation, Riverfire and New Year’s Eve as part of the purchase price,” Mr McGuire said.
Agent Adam Gray of PRDnationwide New Farm said there was a definite market for smaller apartment developments, particularly for Generation Y buyers and cashed up business executives looking for an inner city ‘crash pad’.
“Brisbane in particular needed an inner-city product which was designed efficiently and provided a solution to this affordability crisis,” he said.
“The year 2010 has become less about the square metre and more about the price point,” he said.
“The CBD has high tenant demand for single, double income no kids, young executives and students that need to be able to walk to everything.”
Mr McGuire hopes work will start on the development in the last quarter of 2010, with completion in early 2012. For more information visit www.theapplebrisbane.com.au

Long trip a turnoff for buyers

PROPERTY NEWS


A poll released by PRDnationwide shows 58 per cent of home owners would be willing to drive up to 30 minutes to and from work each day. Only 1 per cent of respondents would be willing to drive for more than one hour in one direction, while 18 per cent would only be willing to spend 10 minutes or less getting to work.


PRDnationwide managing director Jim Midgley said nearly a quarter of respondents (23 per cent) would be happy for it to take 30 to 60 minutes in one direction. PRDnationwide research director Aaron Maskrey said a half-hour drive or ride on public transport at the beginning and end of the day was becoming more acceptable. “That’s five hours a week or 260 hours a year spent getting to and from work,” he said. Almost one in four workers would be willing to travel up to two hours every day doing the daily commute.
“For most of them it is a lifestyle or affordability sacrifice they are will to make to live close to the beach or live in a cheaper suburb on a CBD salary,” he said. “As our capital cities struggle with a growing population, more home buyers will be facing longer trips to work as inner city land becomes overcrowded.”
Mr Maskrey said there are pay-offs for long trips – such as bigger blocks or cheaper housing. “Travel time has a social impact and home hunters should not underestimate the impact of not coming home until well after dark every day,” Mr Maskrey said.
Commuters who used public transport passed the time by working, listening to music, or studying.
“Most of the time it is bearable if they get to go home to their beach shack or country getaway or aren’t drowning in debt from high inner city mortgages.”

New Farm projects take top awards

PROPERTY NEWS


Two New Farm projects were honoured when winners of the Master Builders Brisbane Region Housing and Construction Awards were announced at a recent gala presentation in Brisbane.


The Housing and Construction Awards recognise those at the forefront of building innovation and excellence in the housing and construction industry in Queensland. Master Builders executive director Graham Cuthbert said the awards were a great way for builders to gain public and industry recognition, especially in these strained economic times.
The calibre of entrants in this year’s awards were outstanding and resulted in only the best of the best being chosen.
“The enormous effort that members went through to produce quality projects was evident on the night,” Mr Cuthbert said. Tom Dooley Developments took out the Project of the Year award, as well as the Residential Buildings (High Rise Over 3 Storeys) $15 million to $60 million category for Aquila.
The New Farm project has 12 luxurious apartments, each occupying an entire floor and featuring spectacular river and city views. Inclusions range from fully automated light and audio systems, entertainment systems, ensuited bathrooms, media room, personal lift, pool and gym.
Mr Cuthbert said Master Builders member Rycon Constructions took out the House of the Year honours for its entry at New Farm. The home also won in the Renovation/Remodelling Project over $1.5 million.
Rycon Constructions transformed a single level 1920s Queenslander into a two-storey contemporary, executive home. The existing structure was repaired to its original condition with the finest materials and intricate detail, resulting in a warm, opulent home.

Where am I?



Don’t new buildings have some fancy facades ... sometimes? And if you know where this building is, then you’ll have the chance to win a $60 prize voucher to enjoy some tucker and a drink at the Brunswick Hotel in New Farm.


Email your answer to editor@theindependent.com.au to reach us no later than 5pm on Friday week, 30 July 2010. Or drop us the answer in the post by the same deadline to PO Box 476 Valley Q 4006.
One lucky winner will be off to the Brunnie on us. Bon appetit!



From our last issue, Noel Fox of New Farm correctly identified these charming heritage buildings in Ann Street that house Downes Shoes and Fabrik Hair. Noel is off to the Brunnie for some tucker on us!

Director McCarthy’s Indian stunner



FILMS ... with Tim Milfull


The Waiting City (M)
Director: Claire McCarthy
Stars: Radha Mitchell, Joel Edgerton, Samrat Chakrabarti
Rating: 3.5/5
108-minutes, now screening


Fans of Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire will no doubt enjoy Aussie director Claire McCarthy’s latest feature film, The Waiting City, especially since it offers an impression of another Indian city in the context of a humanitarian story.

Fiona Simmons (Radha Mitchell) is a high-strung corporate lawyer recently landed in Calcutta to pick up her adopted daughter from the Sisters of Charity Mission. Her much more laidback husband, Ben (Joel Edgerton) seems to be tagging along for the ride, eager to taste the exotic local delights and strum his guitar along the way. But there are distressing undercurrents in the Simmons marriage, which are only strengthened by Fiona’s ties to her career and Ben’s apparent apathy. Writer-director McCarthy draws on her own experiences in Calcutta, where she has not only filmed documentaries and music videos, but also worked closely alongside the Sisters of Charity as a volunteer with her sister. An authentic sense of chaos reaches out from the screen, thanks to some impressively organised location shoots on the streets of the city, and according to McCarthy, the stress and exhilaration on the faces of both Mitchell and Edgerton during some of the crowd scenes was quite genuine. There are also moments of well-earned peace here, as Ben and Fiona come closer to meeting their child, and interact with the wider community of Calcutta, especially with their guide Krishna (Samrat Chakrabarti), who isn’t backwards in coming forwards when questioning their motives in taking one of his fellow Indians back to Australia. McCarthy succeeds in fleshing out the conflicting emotions and imperatives binding and tearing at the marriage, along with the complex internal forces propelling Ben and Fiona forward and holding them back. The Waiting City is a carefully considered window into the lives and emotions of these two wandering souls amid the simultaneously frightening and intoxicating backdrop of Calcutta.




Ensemble cast steal show from Welles


Me and Orson Welles (PG)
Director: Richard Linklater
Stars: Zac Efron, Eddie Marsan, Christian McKay
Rating: 3.5/5
114-minutes, now screening from 29 July


Richard Linklater has been a little quiet of late, with only a baseball documentary and the weirdness of A Scanner Darkly appearing on our radar since 2006.

Starring the baby-faced Zac Efron as the slightly too handsome everyman Richard, Me and Orson Welles tells the story of the make-or-break production of Shakespeare’s Caesar at New York’s Mercury Theatre in the 30s as its hapless proprietor John Houseman (Eddie Marsan) dangles helplessly at the mercy of the big man himself, Orson Welles.
Christian McKay – an accomplished musician and singer who studied at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music – successfully brings the larger-than-life performer to the screen, and showcases some of Welles’s legendary exploits, including his regular use of an ambulance to break through New York’s traffic jams.
Linklater based his film on the novel by Robert Kaplow, which in turn was inspired by a photo of Welles sitting on the edge of the stage during the production alongside a young man playing a dodgy lute fashioned from a ukulele; Me and Orson Welles tells the story of the same young man’s spectacularly brief encounter with the great actor. But McKay and Efron are almost outshone by the performances of their fellow ensemble cast members, as their characters zoom in and out of Welles’s orbit.
From Claire Danes’s charming but ambitious Sonja and Ben Chaplin’s deliciously neurotic George Coulouris/Marc Antony to Leo Bill’s archly self-deprecating Norman Lloyd/Cinna the Poet, there are some wonderful performances here. This delightful romp deserves not to be missed.

THE BINGE



A film festival in two fleeting parts


Arab Film Festival
Screening 30-31 July at Dendy Cinemas
Floating Weeds (MA15+)
Films of Luc Besson
All now available from Madman


In a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it visit to Brisbane, the Arab Film Festival will stop in at the Dendy Portside cinemas at the end of July as part of its tour around Australia.


There are only two films screening on the Friday and Saturday nights, but both look fascinating. I saw the first – City of Life – last week, and really enjoyed the multi-layered story of different lives in Dubai, and the second film – Scheherazade, Tell Me a Story – looks quite provocative, with its theme of offering a public voice for women’s issues in contemporary Cairo. For more details, go online to www.arabfilmfestival.com.au

And on the DVD front, Madman continues to outdo itself in promoting the great cinema of the 20th Century. An addition to the already impressive suite of films on offer by Japanese master Yasujiro Ozo, Floating Weeds is a bittersweet, melancholic story of a Kabuki troupe stopping in to a small town, where hidden associations with the locals threaten to bubble to the surface.
From the great eastern masters to the blockbusting western masters, a series of French director, Luc Besson’s films will be released over the next month or so. There are early, little-known titles like the apocalyptic film, The Last Battle, and probably Christopher Lambert’s one great performance in Subway. And I think I may have recently mentioned Jean Reno in The Big Blue.
But there are also the action-packed assassin stories, Leon: The Professional (pictured below) and La Femme Nikita, and the flamboyant sci-fi epic helmed by Bruce Willis, The Fifth Element. Not quite something for everyone, but most should be comfortably satisfied.

Moving forward, with direct action, to a vacuum

POLITICS .... with Mungo MacCallum


Like the prophets who predict that the end is nigh, they had to be right sooner or later. From the moment that Julia Gillard assumed the leadership of the Labor Party (or, as she would like us to believe, had it thrust upon her) one breathless pundit or another has been assuring us that an election could be called “as early as next weekend”.


Last Saturday, Gillard finally took the plunge, but we are still left wondering: what exactly(or even approximately) is the election actually about? The easy answer is that it is, as Gillard sonorously claims, our birthright; she will not really be prime minister until she has been elected to the job by the people.
As well as displaying a woeful ignorance of the Westminster system, this is unsatisfactory because we have no idea what we are actually being asked to vote for. This is the first election in living memory which has been called without either side of politics having produced a single serious policy.
Sure, Tony Abbott has made noises about spending money on mental health and taxing business to pay for parental leave, but apart from that it’s a simple and meaningless slogan: Real Action, Direct Action.
Gillard is even vaguer: a tax rebate for school uniforms, sustainable population, regional centre for asylum seekers, but above all moving forward – again and again and again. It could be worse: her predecessor would probably have called it advancing with directional positivity.
Presumably the next few weeks will see some clarification, but at the moment it appears that we are to be asked to vote not on matters of policy, but on impressions of personality. Labor will tell us that Abbott is dangerous, risky and not to be trusted; the coalition will tell us that Gillard is incompetent, opportunistic and treacherous. Such is the state of political discourse in the Lucky Country.
We got a taste of just how intellectually vacuous the campaign is likely to be when the Prime Minister gave what was billed as a major address on the economy at the National Pres Club last week.
As it turned out it was certainly not major; in the real world it would have struggled to make lance-corporal. After half an hour of reassuring clichés Gillard was ready for questions, and after a few predictably innocuous sallies which she batted aside, the ponderous form of Laurie Oakes lumbered to his feet.
For a wonderful moment we imagined that the doyen might break the mould and say something like: “Okay Ms Gillard, that’s enough of the bullshit. Let’s get down to the nitty gritty. Altogether now …” And the press gallery would rise as one and chant in unison: “Julia! Show us your … vision. Or show us your …. policies. Or at least show us your …” But alas, it was not to be.
Instead we got a story about how the execution of Kevin Rudd was even nastier than it had first appeared, with Gillard apparently breaking an agreement. It is an important footnote to history, and the polls show that the people are understandably concerned about the manner in which the party dumped its Prime Minister, although whether this will actually be a vote changer in five weeks time is highly doubtful. But the grim fact is that this was headline story from the event, because Gillard herself had given the hacks nothing worth writing about.
Politics 101 would suggest that when you are about to call an election, it’s wise to have something to say. It does not augur well. There are two straws left to cling to.
One is climate change. Gillard was widely expected to announce a climate change fix (not policy) before calling the election, in the same way as she announced supposed fixes for the mining tax and asylum seekers, The fact that she didn’t suggests that this time the easy populist approach may have been rejected and perhaps, just perhaps, we will get something a bit more thoughtful and effective when it eventually comes out.
And the other is that in spite of the very careful control Gillard has exhibited since June 24 and before, it is obvious she does have a genuine passion for education. At least this is a good Labor tradition: Kim Beazley always wanted to become the education Pre Minister, and Kevin Rudd made an education revolution the centrepiece of his own campaign.
Gillard has been something of a reformer in the portfolio, and may yet surprise us. Interestingly the only other subject at the Press Club which brought any signs of enthusiasm was when she was asked about the latest spat between Bob Hawke and Paul Keating; she admitted she was enjoying it.
Well, aren’t we all, but it contains its own warning signs. The hard operators in the party are now urging her to forget her promise to find Kevin Rudd a senior ministerial job after the election, predicting that it would produce another bitter and messy feud but this time in the cabinet room; Hawke had the grace to retire after Keating displaced him, and Rudd should be forced to do the same. They also blame Rudd for Oakes’s story, but this is specious.
Both Gillard and Rudd reported on the crucial meeting to their supporters, which means that the story gained wide currency within the party. It is true that Rudd has form on talking to Oakes, but so do any number of politicians, including Gillard. And in public, Rudd has behaved impeccably.
He has pursued is interests and contacts in Washington. But he can hardly be blamed for that – although of course he has been, by the usual suspects. He remains a problem, but he is hardly the most urgent one.
First Gillard has to be elected, and to do that she has to give us reasons to vote for her. An endorsement from Cassandra, the Sydney Morning Herald’s answer to Paul the German psychic octopus, is hardly sufficient.

Ex-PM is not yet out of site

FROM MY CORNER .... with Ann Brunswick


So, Australia goes to the polls on August 21. As usual my prediction made several weeks ago came true. When asked to pick the possible election day I said it would be a Saturday, and once was proven correct. Why nobody has employed me as a senior political adviser is truly a puzzle.

Nevertheless, once the election was called at the weekend your columnist checked out the websites of the various major parties to see how they were handling the news. On the Labor Party’s site there was a search box for checking candidates or their seats.
So, out of curiosity I typed in “Rudd” to see what the party he once led is now saying about him. To be precise, this is what they are saying: “Kevin Michael Rudd was sworn in as the 26th Prime Minister of Australia on December 3 2007, after he led the Australian Labor Party to an election win on November 24.”
It goes on to note Mr Rudd is the Member for Griffith, became party leader in December 2006, and has strong interests in foreign affairs, notably China. It ends after giving some details of Mr Rudd’s wife and children. But nowhere does it speak of his demise as PM last month.
Why that could be so was soon obvious to me when reaching the very bottom of the page where Mr Rudd’s contact details were given as his Griffith electorate office at Morningside, and “Parliament House, Prime Minister, Canberra, ACT 2600” as well as the prime minister’s switchboard phone number.
A search for “Gillard” in the candidates’ list brought up her profile, including the fact she was sworn in as our nation’s 27th prime minister on June 24. Someone needs to update the ALP website, and pretty soon. Surely not even Labor Party rules would allow for two PMs at once.

***
It was an offer too good to resist, so your columnist threw her fascinator into the ring and lodged an application form for one of the 400,000 free Go Cards being given away by Translink with each card holding $10 worth of credit.

My application was posted even though it contained insufficient postage. I had affixed an old 55-cent stamp to the envelope even though postage charges for standard letters had risen to 60 cents by the time I shoved it hard into the slot of a big red box.
Too bad, was my rationalisation, the government can pay the extra five cents. There is sense in shifting commuters to automated ticketing systems such as the Go Card. But what happens when buses and trains no longer sell paper tickets after the end of this year? How will overseas, interstate, or even intrastate tourists in our city get on? Will they be turned away by bus drivers if they don’t have a Go Card? That should do wonders for our reputation among potential visitors. And what happens if your Go Card has insufficient credit to make a trip?
Again, will you be told to get off the bus, train, or ferry, and have to hunt down an outlet or machine to top up your credit? A search of the Translink site turned up no answers to these sorts of questions. Let’s hope someone in the Transport Department has thought of solutions. But then again, what are the odds of that?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

News Briefs

Postcode change on way?

One of the most sought-after postcodes – New Farm’s 4005 post code – could soon be shared with Brisbane's newest suburb of Teneriffe. Councillor David Hinchliffe (Central Ward) said he was pleased that Australia Post was considering the move. “The suburb recently acquired its own suburb status and major signs have been installed identifying suburban boundaries.”
“Currently Teneriffe is lumped in with Newstead, Bowen Hills and Fortitude Valley sharing the 4006 postcode while New Farm has had 4005 to itself.
“Both 4006 and 4005 mail go through the same facility in Albion, so even if people don’t use the new code, mail will still get through. Australia Post will run ads, and also distribute to the affected area.”


Too popular for its own good?



The fish sculpture in the revamped Chinatown Mall might be a great piece of art, but its attraction to children could lead to an injury. Local councillor David Hinchliffe took this recent photo of children clamouring over the sculpture on Chinatown and sent it to Lord Mayor Campbell Newman.
In an accompanying email the councillor wrote:  “I have raised this issue before. Can you please advise what can be done to minimise broken limbs, etc, if any of these children fall?”

Monday, July 12, 2010

Don't spoil the Story for us!

NEWS


We all know the new Clem7 tunnel is struggling for patronage, but is there a chance all motorists will soon pay a price for that one way or another? Brisbane City Council Labor leader Shayne Sutton has called on Lord Mayor Campbell Newman to rule out traffic funnelling to boost the Clem tunnel’s lacklustre performance, after the idea was floated in the media.

A senior Brisbane analyst recently said “a transit lane on the Story Bridge might increase tunnel traffic” and “fiddling with the timing of traffic lights on the above-ground roads, by 15 to 20 seconds, might also help.”
Councillor Sutton said the Lord Mayor in council back in 2005 had supported the idea of a bus lane on the city’s iconic bridge once the north-south bypass tunnel was completed. She called on Cr Newman to rule out taking action that would lead to motorists being ‘funnelled’ into the toll tunnel.
“In planning for the Clem7, Cr Newman publicly talked about funnelling and creating a T3 bus lane on the Story Bridge and along Main Street at Kangaroo Point,” Councillor Sutton said.
“That’s why I am calling on him to rule out any works that will make traffic worse for those who want to use the free roads above the river. “You don’t have to be Einstein to work out that if the Story Bridge becomes more congested it will force extra motorists into the toll tunnel.
“I understand RiverCity Motorways is hurting at the moment, but it’s not fair to punish Brisbane motorists for their botched traffic projections,” she said.
The Independent ran out of time to get the the Lord Mayor’s take on this issue. He has been asked to reply and his comments will be uploaded to the Independent’s website shortly.

Grunge bullet for Brunswick Street West



NEWS

Tacky Brunswick Street West has been singled out for special criticism in an ongoing campaign by local councillor David Hinchliffe (Central Ward) for a cleaner Fortitude Valley.

Cr Hinchliffe, convenor of the Greener, Cleaner, Prouder Valley campaign being run through the pages of The Independent, implored Brunswick Street West property owners in an open letter to “please do the right thing – by the community of the Valley and by yourselves!”.
Cr Hinchliffe wrote: “The Valley has so much potential, but it is often badly let down by the poor state of buildings in private ownership. ”As owners of property in this area, you must realise that for the thousands of people who enter the Valley every day via the Valley train station, this is their introduction to the Valley. ”It’s time to lift your game. We want people to be proud of our Valley. We want a greener, cleaner, prouder future for the area.
“If civic pride isn't a major motivation for you, then at least take account of the improved value of your property asset. A green, cleaner, prouder Valley will also be a more prosperous and profitable Valley.”


Meter spread will ‘hit people hard’

NEWS

A large planned increase in the number of parking meters in the Fortitude valley area will hit some businesses and residents hard, local councillor David Hinchliffe (Central Ward) believes.

“Wherever they go in they cause grief,” he told The Independent.
In a letter to local residents last Friday week, Cr Hinchliffe wrote: “At my briefing by council traffic officers this morning, I was told there will be an increase of metered parking spaces in part of the Valley area (bounded by Wickham Street, Commercial Roadd, Arthur Street and Brunswick Street from 418 car spaces to 707 metered car spaces – an increase of 289 spaces.
“I understand that this increase is not subject to negotiation. The officers have apparently made an assessment on how many additional parking meters can be installed and the Deputy Mayor Cr Graham Quirk, who is responsible for parking, has approved this increase. As well, all the current “Pay and Display” meters and current single meters in that part of the Valley would be replaced by “Pay by Plate” meters which require number plates to be keyed in and do not require display of receipts.
“For residents in this area there will be a total of 140 of the 707 metered car spaces signed to exempt residents with valid Resident Parking Permits from paying,” Cr Hinchliffe said.
The number of metered spaces which would allow residents with permits to be exempted were:
• Arthur St (between James St and Brunswick St) - 24 spaces
• Arthur St (between James St and Commercial Rd) - 21 spaces
• Malt St and Upper Bowen Tce - 13 spaces
• Robertson St - 17 spaces • Doggett St (between James St and Commercial Rd) - 23 spaces
• Wandoo St (10 spaces)
• Chester St (between Doggett St and Ann St) - 8 spaces
• Church St - 6 spaces
• Ella St - 6 spaces • Morse St - 5 spaces
• Proe St - 4 spaces
• Leopold St - 3 spaces

Teneriffe shines on its special day



NEWS

The proud folk of Teneriffe pulled the wool over all our eyes in the nicest possible way last Saturday, when many thousands of visitors came along to the inaugural Teneriffe Festival celebrating the area’s recent elevation as a suburb in its own right.

The wool industry dominated the suburb for a century or so, and sheep in one form or another dominated the day’s fun. Festival organiser Nicole Ogilvie told The Independent: “The Teneriffe Festival was a resounding success with over 25,000 people enjoying the sunshine, the lovely Teneriffe river side setting and the entertainment.
“The Teneriffe Festival Committee is ecstatic with the outcomes, and judging by the glowing feedback from local residents and businesses, the Teneriffe Festival looks like it will become an annual event.
“The Teneriffe Festival committee should be congratulated for all of their hard work and helping to pull off one of the best festivals that Brisbane has seen in some time.
“The vital ingredient was the attachment to locality and our intention to keep the focus on local history and chiefly wool.”
Local councillor David Hinchliffe endorsed those comments: “Teneriffe Festival is well on the way to becoming Brisbane’s best local festival and that’s because we emphasise the local.
“This isn’t like every other commercial festival. Its focus is on history and locality and I think that’s what will continue to make it special.”

Building approvals continue to slide

PROPERTY NEWS

The latest building approvals figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics show a continued decline in construction activity in Queensland, according to Master Builders, Queensland’s peak body for housing and construction.

Master Builders’ Director of Housing Policy, Paul Bidwell said the latest figures suggests the fall in building approvals is gathering pace, rather than moderating, with Queensland faring worse than other states. The seasonally adjusted number of dwelling commencements has fallen by 2.6 per cent for private houses and 1.7 per cent for all dwellings for the month of May, compared to falls of 1.5 per cent and 0.1 per cent in April.
“The fall in building approvals is another disappointing development for the industry as it struggles to recover from the economic crisis. This highlights the fragile state of the Queensland building industry,” said Mr Bidwell.
“The results are not surprising given the sharp fall in finance commitments during the first half of this year; building approvals generally follow finance approvals by about three months.
“On the upside, the fall in finance commitments appears to be moderating, which gives some hope that approvals may start to recover in the latter part of the year. “However, this is very dependent on what happens with interest rates, and ultimately consumer confidence, over the coming months.
“We have grave concerns about what might happen if the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) decides to raise interest rates when it meets next week. Any rise in interest rates will further compound the problems faced by the building industry.
“Master Builders encourages the RBA to keep interest rates on hold this month, especially while the Queensland economy is underperforming compared to much of the rest of Australia.”


GOVT ‘MUST DO MORE’


Family First leader Senator Steve Fielding says Bankwest’s latest report into housing proves that the Federal Government needs to do more to ease our housing affordability crisis.
Senator Fielding said that the report’s findings, which show that it is taking almost a year longer to save for a deposit, mean that people are being forced to flush dead money down the rental drain.
“The latest figures make it clear that housing affordability is a real issue for thousands of Australians and it’s time the government got serious about doing something to ease the pressure of escalating property prices. “Owning your home is the great Australian dream and the government should be doing all that they can to keep that dream alive.
Senator Fielding wants the government to set up an Accessing Super Scheme, like the Canadian Home Buyers’ Plan, which would allow first home buyers to access $15,000 of their superannuation so they can use it for part of a deposit on a house.

Artist chosen for ZZZ’s big facelift

PROPERTY NEWS



After a worldwide search lasting six months, Brisbane radio station 4ZZZ, has finally picked the artist who will unleash their creative juices on the biggest blank canvas they’ll ever have – the front of Zed Towers!


As part of 4ZZZ’s 35th birthday celebrations this year, the station wanted its Fortitude Valley building to reflect everything that Zed is about and the person they believe can achieve that is Beastman, pictured above.
Sydney-based artist Beastman is said to be influenced by the beauty and symbolism behind nature’s repetitive geometric patterns and its eternal struggle against man-made adversities. Beastman’s tightly detailed, symmetrical paintings depict a parallel world of hope and survival inhabited by his scaly-skinned, beastlike yet beautiful and emotive characters. Years of skateboarding has strongly influenced Beastman’s characters, concepts and unique style.
Said to be one of the most distinctive and prolific emerging artists in Australia and founder and editor of the online art publication [weAREtheIMAGEmakers], Beastman has exhibited extensively throughout Australia, as well as London, Berlin and New Zealand. He has curated and organised numerous art exhibitions and events, and has designed skateboards and graphics for various brands including Element, Folklore and Mingo Lamberti.
Beastman was recently profiled on ABC's Rush TV and has been featured in publications such as Empty, Tees, Deadbeat, Oyster, Spitpress, Australian Creative and more. Check out his artwork. www.beastman.com.au
Anyway, enough about the Beastman! The station will probably just be hoping he completes his artwork without the mask.

Where am I?


Nice couple of facades, right? Be even nicer if you know where they are, because you’ll then have the chance to win a $60 prize voucher to enjoy some tucker and a drink at the Brunswick Hotel in New Farm. Email your answer to editor@theindependent.com.au to reach us no later than 5pm on Friday week, 16 July 2010. Or drop us the answer in the post by the same deadline to PO Box 476 Valley Q 4006. One lucky winner will be off to the Brunnie on us. Bon appetit!

***
From our last issue, Josephine Leigh of the Valley correctly identified the facade of the famous Empire Hotel in Brunswick Street. Josephine is off to the Brunnie for some tucker on us!

Mick and the boys bring heat



MUSIC


Who: Mick Hadley & The Atomic Boogie Band
• What: Free Sunday Sessions
• Where: The Tempo Hotel - 388 Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley
• When: Sunday, July 11 & 25 from 2pm
• Cost: Free admission

• Who: Asa & Friends
• What: Asa Broomhall Band and special musical guests
• Where: Stage Door @ The Tempo Hotel (formerly Dooley’s Hotel)
• When: Saturday July 3, 10, 24 & 31 from 8PM
• Admission: $10

Throughout Mick Hadley’s career in music, one thing has stood out, stagecraft. From his early work in The Purple Hearts, the seminal Brisbane band The Coloured Balls through The Last Shout, The Shakers, The Midnight Blues Band and now with The Atomic Boogie Band, Mick is known as a master on stage.

His energy and vibrant stage persona has left many an audience member overwhelmed. Now stepping out of semi-retirement, Hadley (pictured) will be playing a set of special reunion shows in July at The Tempo Hotel in Fortitude Valley.
The Tempo Hotel (formerly known as Dooley’s Hotel) is the place to be on Sundays for their free Sunday sessions and who better to jump start things off than Mick and his Atomic Boogie Band. Then there’s Asa & Friends, when the Asa Broomhall band and their special guests will provide a rare chance to see a musician’s musician play a series of casual shows with some close musical friends.
It’s coming to Stage Door @ The Tempo Hotel (formerly Dooley’s Hotel) in Fortitude Valley over four dates in July. Asa and his band will open each night with their exuberant take on roots, rock and blues and then the night’s guest will play full sets with their own band before the night ends with some surprising collaborative efforts.


Opera the new black?


The press release shouts that “opera & ballet is the new black’. That bit of nonsense doesn’t deserve to score any coverage, but your reporter is, as the editor of this journal noted when he forwarded the message, “an old opera buff”, so here goes.

What’s happening is that the move to make high definition, high quality sound live transmissions of opera, ballet, theatre and (inevitably if not already) classical concerts to cinemas around the world is growing. The houses concerned, several of the world’s best, send recordings to those of us for whom that is not practical (e.g. because of time differential).
We have seen several seasons of pioneering productions from New York’s Metropolitan Opera and very satisfying they have been. More recently several series from European houses have graced local screens. Right now we are in the midst of an interesting mixed series showing at the Palace Barracks.
The Royal Opera (Covent Garden) production of Verdi’s Don Carlo runs July 23, 24, 25 and 28; Royal Ballet Liszt’s Mayerling August 13-18; Royal Ballet Henze’s Ondine; September 3-8; and the Globe Theatre Shakespeare’s Love’s Labours Lost September 17 to 22. The next Met series of 11 operas starts, neatly enough, in mid October and runs roughly monthly until mid May, in cinemas around the world. Here they will be at Centro and Portside, which are also showing a winter season repeating some of the past season’s highlights: Verdi's Aida (July 18 and 22), Offenbach's The Tales of Hoffman, Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier, and Bizet's Carmen.
The new New York dates (we come in usually some days, perhaps even two weeks , later) are: October 9, Wagner’s Das Rheingold conducted by James Levine; October 23, Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov (Valery Gergiev); November 13 Donizetti’s Don Pasquale (James Levine); December 11,Verdi’s Don Carlo (Yannick Nézet-Séguin); January 8, Puccini’s La Fanciulla Del West (Nicola Luisotti); February 26, Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride (Patrick Summers); March 19, Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor (Patrick Summers); April 9, Rossini’s Le Comte Ory (Maurizio Benini); April 23, Strauss’s Capriccio (Andrew Davis); April 30, Verdi’s Il Trovatore (James Levine); May 14, Wagner’s Die Walküre (James Levine).
This is magic stuff. We are very lucky.

David Bray

Dutch treat for Fortitude Valley


PROPERTY NEWS

Fortitude Valley has become the “unofficial sister suburb” of Amsterdam Central in Holland. Yellie Alkema, a councillor with Amsterdam City Council, recently met with local Councillor David Hinchliffe, and signed an impromptu “Sister Suburb” agreement.

While both councillors emphasised the agreement had no legal binding and was ‘in good fun’, they said that there were a lot of similarities with both communities. Yellie, who visited with ex Dutch Senator, Kirk Cooper, said the Valley was “a very relaxed, personable and down to earth sort of place”.
“In that respect, it’s a lot like my Amsterdam.”
She said the centre of Amsterdam which she has represented for 10 years had a lot of students and young people, similar to the Valley.
Her son was in Australia as a backpacker. “Kirk and I were keen to come over to see what the Land Down Under really looked like. We’ve been very impressed. We’ve had a lovely time.”
Cr Hinchliffe said that if the Dutch Government had followed up explorers Dirk Hartog and William Dampier, Australia might have been colonised by the Dutch instead of the English.
“We could have written this friendly ‘Sister Suburb’ agreement in Dutch,” he joked.

Revenge required? Holler for a Marshall



FILMS ... with Tim Milfull

The Horseman (TBA)
Director: Steven Kastrissios
Stars: Peter Marshall, Caroline Marohasy
Rating: 3.5/5
96-minutes, screening from 8 July


The Horseman is a local production helmed by Queensland filmmaker Steven Kastrissios who took on the roles of writer, director, editor, and producer to bring his dream to life.


In a very impressive, stony-faced performance, Peter Marshall plays Christian, a forty-something father who suspects there was more to his teenaged daughter’s death than a simple overdose.
As he digs further into her last days, Christian begins to realise that she had begun to mix with the very worst crowds imaginable, and when the truth about her death emerges, the grieving father’s calm face belies the bloodlust that is boiling inside.
Let’s be honest here, The Horseman is not for the fainthearted; Christian is living the vengeance fantasies of any and all parents who have lost their child to the depredations of others. There’s a cold-hearted determination roiling in Christian—imagine how Bruce Willis’s John McClane would have behaved if his estranged wife had succumbed to Hans Gruber.
But Aussies have game on this genre – remember Max Rockatansky’s fury in the wake of his family’s death? Magnify that to the nth degree, and you can imagine the sadistic satisfaction Christian feels in exacting revenge.
While some of Christian’s targets fall squarely into stereotypical territory, and Caroline Marohasy’s Alice seems relatively comfortable as his hitchhiking waif, Peter Marshall completely owns his role as the angry dad. Kastrissios shows great promise in his first feature film; we can look forward to very good things from this storyteller.



Cold war intrigue at its finest

Farewell (M)
Director: Christian Carion
Stars: Emir Kustarica, Guillaume Canet
Rating: 3.5/5
113-minutes, now screening


Back in 2005, French director Christian Carion directed Joyeux Noel, a poignant account of a Christmas during the First World War, when French, Scottish and German combatants laid down their arms and came together to celebrate Christmas, much to the distress of their commanders.

In Carion’s latest film, L’affair Farewell, a similar rebellion is under way in the 80s, as Sergei Gregoriev (Emir Kustarica) decides that he has had enough of party politics in the USSR, and looks to affect some change. Pierre Froment (Guillaume Canet) is a low level diplomat in the French Embassy in Moscow, and when asked to undertake a routine meeting, doesn’t realise the frightening lengths he will be asked to pursue, as he gradually becomes a reluctant handler for the Russian spy.
To the distress of his wife, and the thinly veiled amusement of Gregoriev, Froment is forced to hit the ground running in the world of international espionage. Carion’s adaptation of the book of the same name is often almost unbelievable—Gregoriev’s character is based upon KGB spy Vladimir Vetrov, who handed over more than 4000 secret documents that contributed to the exposure of almost 200 spies, and eventually to the fall of the USSR.
Veteran actor Kustarica offers a grimly determined, ideologically offended Gregoriev, who never took any payments for his work; while Canet is utterly convincing as the reluctant spy, who eventually becomes an ardent defender of his charge. Farewell is Cold War intrigue at its finest.

Shade issue set to heat up again

FROM MY CORNER ... with Ann Brunswick

Do you remember when the revamped King George Square opened late last year? The new square cost almost $30 million but soon after its completion there were complaints from users about its lack of shade.

Pedestrians avoided crossing the open space in front of our City Hall for fear of the high temperatures, and it seems few were using the new space to sit for a while. Your columnist can validate those complaints, having felt the jump in temperature when leaving the shelter of Adelaide Street shop awnings and entering the square with its light-coloured stone that reflects heat upwards while the sun beats down. So ever since it has been my practice during hotter months to avoid using what is meant to be our city’s prime civic space.
But with the onset of winter the square again became a part of my CBD perambulations. Unfortunately there appears to be no evidence of any attempts to provide extra shade and, with summer’s inevitable approach, no doubt complaints will again be heard loud and clear.
Because of my avoidance of the new square for the best part of the past half-year, another of its in-built problems had not been obvious to me previously. But in the past few weeks it has become clear to me that the northern corner of the Ann Street side of the square is a source of potential injuries to pedestrians. That particular part of the square is made up by a series of shallow terraces with their edges marked by a border of black stone to contrast with the overall grey effect used throughout the rest of the square.
Pedestrians must either step down or up between the different levels, or use a cut-out ramp in the middle of each terrace edge. The trouble is that the black-edged terraces make the drop difficult to see when walking away from Ann Street.
It was sheer luck that I did not fall when first using them, and anyone stopping to observe others would see many pedestrians running the same risk. My difficulties occurred in road daylight. It must be even more risky at night. Surely it is not too much to have the steps and the change in level marked more clearly, or to have railings installed to shepherd users to the central ramps.
***

While on the subject of King George Square, this column has previously questioned the usefulness of the covered “verandah” against the northern wall of the square.

It is a big space and contains a few seats. But there is still no obvious use for it. It all looks rather empty and pointless. All in all, the coming first anniversary of our new King George Square seems hardly worth celebrating.
As taxpayers and ratepayers we have yet again seen one of our elected officials celebrate the opening of a new piece of traffic infrastructure that we will now be asked to pay for, on top of our taxes and rates already used to pay for it.
***

Lord Mayor Campbell Newman this week declared the new bridge across the Brisbane River from the inner-city bypass at Hale Street to West End open for business. And business it is, given it’s a toll bridge and we all have to pay to use it, unless you are on foot or on a bike.

It seems gone are the days when the Brisbane City Council or the state government used our money to build things for us and then let us use them without dipping further into our pockets. Cr Newman has won some plaudits for naming the bridge after one of Brisbane’s best-known musical groups, the Go-Betweens.
Unfortunately the name put up for a public ballot was the “Go Between Bridge”. Well, either we recognise the band by its correct name or we don’t. That means a hyphen as the band itself used and an “s” at the end.
So at your columnist’s instigation the editor of this newspaper has agreed to refer to the new structure only as the Go-Betweens Bridge from now on. If we all do it, maybe Cr Newman might fork out the cost of a new plaque.

Rudderless govt takes on boat people

POLITICS ... with Mungo MacCallum

The Labor Party made Julia Gillard leader because it thought it was in trouble and it needed a trouble-shooter, a fixer. She delivered immediately; the first fix is in and the big miners are off the government’s back.

The small miners aren’t too happy about it, but they were never the problem; it was BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Xstrata, with the backing of the Minerals Council, who were running the advertising campaign. That has now stopped, and Ms Fixit is getting all the credit.
Actually we now know that Kevin Rudd and his old mate Twiggy Forrest (who is also miffed at being left out of the final champagne-cracking) had already done most of the work; Gillard’s role was to make the final capitulation, a lowering of the tax rate from the previously untouchable 40 per cent to a headline 30 per cent, which, when the other concessions are taken in, falls further to 22.5 per cent – just over half the original proposal.
But the result, if you believe the Treasury figures (and Tony Abbott is not the only one who thinks they are a bit too good to be true) is that the big boys will still be paying $10.5 billion in the first two years that they would not have done otherwise. As fixes go, it’s not too bad.
Of course, there are other changes: the government has dropped its offer to pick up 40 per cent of establishment costs, the threshold at which the tax cuts in has been effectively doubled and the only mines affected are those producing coal and iron ore; for all other minerals, including bauxite and aluminium, it’s business as usual. Actually this is not as big a cop-out as it sounds because these commodities have not seen the huge price rises, and consequent windfall gains in profits that have made coal and iron such bonanzas; should the same thing happen to them, there will no doubt be moves to bring them into the new system.
So it isn’t the neat, inclusive policy package that Rudd, Wayne Swan and Ken Henry envisaged. But at this stage of the electoral cycle it doesn’t need to be; what is required is not policy but a fix.
And, as this column among others predicted some weeks ago, it has left the opposition out on a limb.
Tony Abbott, in a rare attack of consistency, is standing his ground: it’s still a great big new tax and he’ll abolish it and the election will be a referendum on tax, he cries. But it won’t; the fix is in and the issue is dead.
Gillard is now turning her attention to the next problem area, asylum seekers; and the outlook is a lot less happy. She has started by talking tough. The anxieties of insecure voters in the crowded western suburbs of Sydney are, she says, very real, and must be addressed: we need a fix.
Well, sure they are very real. But that does not mean they are either sensible or necessary. As has been pointed out countless times, the boat people make up a miniscule proportion of Australia’s net migration and in international terms their numbers are insignificant. The suggestion that they constitute some sort of threat to Australia and our way of life is not legitimate anxiety, but rampant paranoia fuelled by racist bigots and opportunistic politicians.
The way to deal with such worries is simply to give the facts; the truth is that there are no grounds for concern, and the prime minister should be taking the leading role in explaining this. But that’s too difficult and takes too long; it’s a policy, not a fix. So Gillard is instead calling for a full and open debate – well, at least for the next day or so, until she can announce her deeply considered solution.
Say what you really feel, she urges; abandon all thought of political correctness. And while you’re at it, abandon reason, compassion, humanity, decency, and any consideration of Australia’s international obligations and reputation. Let it all hang out. Gillard will then be able to announce measures which go a long way towards meeting the brutality of Tony Abbott’s approach, claiming that the public demands them: the fix she has been flagging all along, and the one the faction bosses who installed her really want.
And then there will be climate change and emissions trading; a short-term fix for this looming disaster might be more difficult, but we can be certain that this is what Gillard and her advisers will be seeking. She has made it clear that there can be no real policy until the public consensus that prevailed less than two years ago is restored, but she has also indicated that she is in no hurry to restore it, and that in any case the new consensus that emerges may not be one for firm or urgent action; and if that is the case, that is the one that will guide future policy.
Gillard is offering not leadership but populism, not vision but adhockery, not policy but fixes: whatever it takes.
She has had her boost in the polls, and that, for the moment, is all that really matters. We can only hope that this is just her pre-election mode and that a victory in her own right will give her the confidence and enthusiasm to set a real agenda for the years ahead.
Kevin Rudd had one, but he couldn’t explain it. Julia Gillard explains things very convincingly, but so far has had nothing much to say.

Look out, SA! This mob’s in the grove


WINE ... with David Bray

"I believe we produce the absolute best red wines in NSW and nothing else comes close and we are right on the heels of the iconic SA regions."

There speaks Brian Mullany, dedicated and very successful grapegrower. His fruit is made into Grove Estate wines, among other well respected labels. The Flanders, Kirkwood and Mullany families established the Grove Estate vineyard in 1989. Vines were originally planted on the property back in 1886. Croatian settlers brought with them bundles of vine cuttings.
Some of the vines survive at Grove Estate today. Plantings since 1989 include cabernet sauvignon, shiraz, merlot, zinfandel, barbera, sangiovese, petit verdot, chardonnay, semillon and nebbiolo and since 1997 Grove Estate has produced a range of premium wines under its own label.
Mr Mullany has written to me a long and interesting epistle. Encouraged by the example of better (no, make that better-known) columnists, I will let you read some of his heartfelt words: “You may like to introduce the winemakers who produce our wines and describe the unique characteristics of the Hilltops Region and the great pride we have here in growing a sustainable crop simply using the rain that falls on the vineyard, the air and the air temperature that blows around the vines and the soil that holds them in place and delivers the minerals and moisture that allows them to live according to the prevailing climate at the time.
“Grove Estate vineyard is around 4km from Young out the Murringo Road. We are around 100km northwest of Murrumbateman. Murrumbateman is the main grape growing area in the Canberra GIC and there are some handy winemakers. Two of them take our grapes, ferment them and hopefully without doing too much more bottle them as unique Hilltops wines.
“We are very fortunate to have Richard Parker at Long Rail Gully making our cabernet sauvignon and other Italian varietals and Tim Kirk at Clonakilla making our shiraz. Tim is very fortunate to receive our shiraz grapes as part of his parcel for the Clonakilla Hilltops shiraz as I am sure he would agree.
“I planted the original plantings on Grove Estate on October 7, 1989. I can remember this day as it was my wedding day _ obviously a very exciting day for me and one on which some things flourished and some things did not. Suffice to say that God had his way of explaining to me what was more important and that I should try again the following spring when I had my mind more on the job of nurturing the soil rather than the body.
“We now have a beautiful vineyard and three wonderful children. all the vines I planted in 1989 are happy and still alive today. We planted additional vineyard in 1992, 94 and 1998 and continue to replant and change some varieties nearly every year. Jay Tulloch turned up in the guise of Southcorp in 1994 to buy our first crop of cabernet and now in the guise of Jay Tulloch still buys some of our cabernet to this day.
“We are not on any major or for that matter minor river system in Young. We are right at the top of the divide between the rain water running towards the Murrumbidgee and the Lachlan Rivers and both of these at their closest points are around 70km from us. Our vines’ water resources are those that fall directly within the area that they can
“Young is very cold in winter, quite warm to hot in summer and has a magnificent autumn and spring. Typically the rainfall is around 620mm per year and this rain falls throughout the year with the driest months been February and March. This is ideal as February and March fall in with our harvesting period which we need to be dry with cool nights.
“Our cropping levels have been very low for the past five to ten years. Our vines have been producing around 4 tonnes per hectare with yields as low as 2 tonnes per hectare some years. To give you an idea of just how low this is a typical Riverland vineyard would aim to produce between 15 and 20 tonne per hectare and even the cool climate vineyards in the Orange area would aim to produce at least 8 tonnes per hectare.
“You will never see large plantings of vineyards in the Hilltops area due to the reasons I have mentioned above. However you will and already can see extraordinary and beautiful wines from this area. I do not know if this area will ever become a tourist attraction like other wine regions and I don’t know if I want that to happen.
“It is very calm here today the cellar door has been shut for a few weeks and I think I like that, the orders come in over the email and a lot of small and large independents have helped us move all the stock we have. “Wines from the Hilltops have been winning many awards, many more awards than a small region like ours probably should win and for lots of different varieties and styles. This makes it difficult for our region to be earmarked for a particular style. I can’t understand why this matters. Can’t we simply be earmarked as a great grape growing region?.”
As well as the words, Brian sent some wines and notes on them:

Grove Estate Sommita nebbiolo 2008. Sommita is Italian for Hilltops which reflects the grape varieties’ origins in the Piedmont region … the 2008 shows lovely floral notes and a mix of dark berry fruit flavours and savoury spice with balanced tannins . (Likely price around $45).
Grove Estate The Italian sangiovese barbera 2008. The dominant savoury flavours of the sangiovese are well balanced with the richer sweeter fruit style of the barbera. ($20).
The Cellar Block shiraz viognier 2007, a medium to full bodied red with the substance to age well. ($38)
Well worth a look, all of them.