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Saturday, February 23, 2008

One Good Real Estate Agent Saves The Life of Another

Canberra real estate agent Cory McPherson has parted with something priceless to save the life of his co-worker Jenny McReynolds. The father-of-two donated a kidney to Mrs McReynolds who was suffering from polycystic kidney disease an inherited condition that can cause renal failure and death.

A mother-of-three, Mrs McReynolds, said "thank you" was thoroughly inadequate to express her gratitude. The real estate agents were professional competitors before they became colleagues at Richard Luton Properties.

Mr McPherson, 35, made the extraordinary offer to Mrs McReynolds at their work Christmas party in 2006. "Richard Luton made an announcement saying 'anyone who doesn't know, Jenny's very sick. "She's got kidney disease and if anyone's o-positive and has a kidney, please see Jenny'," Mr McPherson said.

"I went up to Jenny almost immediately and I said 'look you might not believe me now but I tell you I'm your man'." Mrs McReynolds, 44, was "floored".

"I couldn't believe it. What an amazing thing for him to do. What a gift. It's lifesaving for me," she said. She was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease in her early 20s and her health had started to deteriorate in recent times. She was hooked up to a dialysis machine for four-hour stints, three times a week.

Mr McPherson had a battery of tests to ensure he was physically suitable and psychological fit to donate his kidney. The results revealed that the co-workers were "almost a perfect match", which was extremely rare when the donor and recipient were not blood relatives.

The transplant was successfully performed at RPA the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney on December 4. Mrs McReynolds spent 712 hours in the operating theatre and seven days in hospital before she was sent home. It took 512 hours to remove the kidney from Mr McPherson who was discharged from hospital after four days.

Mrs McReynolds said people suffered immense hardships and pressures as they waited for a transplant. "A lot of people who do get sick lose their homes [and] they lose jobs," she said.
Mr McPherson said the organ donation rates "aren't impressive" in Australia."So many of us are busy in our own lives. We don't kind of look around much to see the people who are not doing so well and often there's things we can do to help," he said.

Australians who want to become organ donors should discuss their wishes with family and register by telephoning 1800777203 or visiting

Simon Turner

The (Lack of) Housing Affordability Conference

The federal opposition has called on federal and state governments to cut land tax and stamp duty to help boost rental stock. Thousands of people across the country are skipping meals to pay rising rents, a housing affordability conference in Sydney heard on Thursday. And housing experts warn the home affordability crisis threatens to destabilise the economy and drive the country into recession.

Opposition frontbencher Greg Hunt said on Friday this week's national housing conference was an ideal opportunity for federal Housing Minister Tanya Plibersek to address land tax and stamp duty, to lessen the burden and help increase the stock of homes available for rent.

"These are killers for people and what they do is decrease the rental stock," Mr Hunt, opposition spokesman for Climate Change, Environment and Urban Water, told the Seven Network.
"A lot of people have said we're not willing to pay the cost of holding a rental property if we're whacked with a huge land tax or we have to deal with stamp duty and today is the day, Tanya, stamp duty, land tax and more land releases - you have a great opportunity."

Ms Plibersek said a lot of people had taken money out of investment property and put it into superannuation when favourable tax treatment was introduced last year under the previous government.

She said the Rudd government had committed to introducing the first home saver account to help people into their first house. "We know that as a proportion of all home buyers, first home buyers have shrunk as a proportion, so we want to help them save through a superannuation-style savings account," Ms Plibersek stated. "We've also got a national rental affordability scheme, 50,000 new rental properties, because there is a terrible shortage all around the country."

Experts told the housing conference on Thursday that Australia faced great social unrest and human suffering as well as chronic labour shortages without affordable housing. Professor Rachel Gatt, an affordable housing policy expert from Tufts University, Massachusetts, said the housing affordability equation was brutally simple. "Either wages have to stay high enough so people can afford to buy housing on the private market or if the private market is not able to meet the housing challenge then you need to have government subsidies," she told reporters.

"If you don't have affordable housing, and if your wages don't keep pace with the cost of housing, you are going to find people doubling up with relatives, turning into homeless people and creating a great deal of social unrest and human suffering than what you have now."

Research presented at the conference show people are going without food as they struggle to pay their rent. Professor Terry Burke of the Australian Housing and Urban Research Unit presented the research, which showed 26 per cent of low-income renters sometimes go without food and 42 per cent of low-income renters cannot afford school excursions, Fairfax reported.
Labor says the Howard government failed to acknowledge the rental crisis, despite knowing more than two years ago that more than one third of renters were suffering from rental stress.

Simon Turner

Australia's Property Scandal: Town Planner Seeking "Approvals"

A sex-and-property scandal involving a female city planner on a "mission for sex" in return for approvals of high-rise buildings is threatening to engulf the beluigered New South Wales State Government.

An undercover sting by anti-corruption investigators uncovered a web of affairs involving 32-year-old town planner Beth Morgan in the steel-and-surfing city of Wollongong, south of Sydney, with three prominent building developers. Morgan, said by one of the three men to be "on a mission for sex", gave approval for millions of dollars worth of unlawful city building developments in return for gifts and affairs, the powerful Independent Commission against Corruption(ICAC) heard.

Morgan gave testimony to the commission about the affairs, admitted to by two developers, while a third denied the pair actually had a sexual relationship. The scandal, however, also threatens several ministers in the state government.

Australians generally believe their country to be largely corruption free and we rank well on the international index prepared by Transparency International.

Amid the public ICAC hearings, state Premier Morris Iemma promised to sack a senior minister if he was found to have improperly given a job to a Wollongong city councillor linked to the scandal. Four other state ministers have also been indirectly linkedby the ICAC to central figures in the furore.

The ICAC hearings have been given front-page treatment,with corruption investigators documenting lurid details of emails and phone messages between Morgan and her alleged lovers, which in turn have run in newspapers nationally. Adding to public shock are photographs of the stylish Morgan and the men she pursued, receiving from them cameras, cash payments, a China holiday and designer handbags, the ICAC heard.

Simon Turner