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Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Kylie Minogue Puts French Island Up For Sale

Pop princess Kylie Minogue is selling her holiday house on French Island in South Australia.

The 221 acre property, including a lavishly renovated four-bedroom home is where she sought refuge after breast cancer surgery in 2005.

The four-bedroom property on French Island, a two-hour boat trip from her Melbourne hometown, is expected to go for $2 million Australian ($1.8 million US dollars). She has has spent close to $1 million on the retreat, including planting 1,000 trees.

French Island has no piped water, electricity or gas. It is served by a ferry that runs services to the mainland.

Some Gloom but NOT all Doom: Australia's Outlook

Home buyers have been squeezed by rising property prices and a string of interest rate hikes, and this is having a knock-on effect to tenants too.

So could the property bubble burst? That is now a real possibility. The 0.25 per cent rate rise of this week will push more Australian families into housing stress, and whilst many will cope many will not. This will force many to sell up, many for whatever they can get.

That trend is already evident in the outer suburbs of many Australian cities, particularly Sydney. So property prices, in some suburbs, might well fall further in the months ahead.

Is it all gloomy though? Another rate rise could attract a flood of hot money into this country.
Australia’s interest rates are already substantially higher than those in America, Japan and many other countries.

So foreign investors are likely to find relatively safe, interest only, investments very attractive indeed. This will, once again, strengthen the $A, which will help to ease inflationary pressures in Australia. But this will be relatively slow.
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None of this, though, will help sustain property prices, particularly in the outer suburbs.

One factor might, however, and that is a strong migration program.

Western Australia and Queensland are still keen to attract more migrants. The two big resource States still need many more people to fill the gaps in their workforces. Those shortfalls are restricting development, in those places. But neither New South Wales or Victoria are likely to benefit much from that.

High house prices are already forcing people out of Sydney, and the current slowdown, in the manufacturing sector is likely to limit job opportunities in Victoria and South Australia.

So while the outlook is gloomy for some, it's not all doom.

Simon Turner simon@marquetteturner.com.au

Asian Expats Vote For The World's Most Liveable Cities

Asian expatriates have ranked Singapore as the best place to live in the world for its safe and clean environment, while Europeans chose Copenhagen, a survey showed on Tuesday.

Asian expats chose Singapore over Hong Kong (15th place) and Shanghai (78th place) and placed Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra as well as two Japanese cities Kobe and Yokohama in their top ten list of favourite locations, said ECA International, a human resource consultancy for multinationals.

Lee Quane, general manager of ECA International, said that Singapore’s solid infrastructure, low crime rate and clean air made it a favourable place to live. ‘While Hong Kong has seen an improvement in some categories, such as personal security, air pollution remains the biggest cause for its lower rankings relative to Singapore,’ he said in a statement. Singapore is competing with Hong Kong as a location for banking and financial services.

For locations in China and India, Shanghai and Chennai (138th place out of a total of 300 locations) came in top for Asian expats, said the annual survey.

European expats ranked Copenhagen as their top choice to live in the world. They placed three Swiss cities - Geneva, Basel and Bern - and three German cities - Dusseldorf, Bonn and Munich - in their top ten.

East European cities such as Bratislava and Bucharest have made improvements in this year’s survey because of advances in security, housing and health, the survey said.

European expats rated Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, as their 20th choice and Romania’s capital of Bucharest in 14th place.

In the Middle East, Manama, the capital of Bahrain, ranked top in the region along with Dubai and Muscat. Baghdad, in last place globally, lost marks for poor security, the survey said.

Top 10 best locations in the world for Asian expats
1. Singapore - Singapore
2. Australia - Sydney
3. Japan - Kobe
4. Australia - Melbourne
5. Denmark - Copenhagen
6. Australia - Canberra
7. Canada - Vancouver
8. Japan - Yokohama
9. New Zealand - Wellington
10. Ireland - Dublin

Source : Business Times - 4 Mar 2008

Sydney: A Tale of Two Cities?

Sydney is home to Australia's sharpest divide between rich and poor.

The harbourside suburb of Milsons Point was rated Australia's most advantaged and Claymore in the south-west the most disadvantaged in a new study by sociologist Scott Baum, based on 2006 Census data. Associate Professor Baum said the study, for Brisbane's Griffith University Urban Research Program, was not just based on real estate prices or household incomes.

It included a number of factors, including participation in the labour market, public housing, whether or not they spoke English well, the number of single parents and the number of elderly people in the suburb who required help on a daily basis.

"It's interesting that Sydney, the most global city and the one that is supposedly pulled along by the global economy, is also the most polarised," Prof Baum said.

"So, in a large sense, you've got this feeling that some suburbs have more in common with places in New York and London than they do with suburbs in their own city. "In Sydney's case, it really is a tale of two cities."

Researchers drew on the Census data to compare and overlay several indicators of disadvantage to come up with a rating, with "band one" being the poorest or most deprived and "band six" the wealthiest or least deprived.

Melbourne was rated the most liveable city, with its worst deprivation in the suburban industrial heartland of Broadmeadows and Sunshine.

East Melbourne and newly-gentrified inner urban areas of Docklands were least disadvantaged.
"While not suffering the extreme polarisation of Sydney, economic spin-offs (in Melbourne) ... don't flow evenly across the metropolitan area," Prof Baum said.

Neither Brisbane nor Perth had a band one area of highest deprivation, but Brisbane's outer suburbs of Inala and Logan Central were rated as band two, along with Perth's Karawara and Crawley.