Tag Archives: prompts

Drop in new homes prompts fears

21 February 2013 Last updated at 18:30 GMT Home under construction It is still a challenging environment for builders The government needs to act now to make sure enough affordable homes are being built, campaign groups have said, after figures showed the number of housing starts in England fell 11% in 2012.

Housing charity Shelter said the government faced a “housing crisis” unless immediate action was taken.

The National Housing Federation also said more needed to be done to meet the huge demand for affordable homes.

A spokesperson for the government said ministers were “far from complacent”.

The Home Builders Federation said it was “still a challenging environment” in which to build homes.

“A lack of mortgage finance is the most important short-term issue and if buyers can’t buy, builders can’t build.

“But we have seen a much more positive start to the new year with an easing in lending and schemes like the government’s NewBuy enabling people to get a 95% mortgage,” the group said.

‘Unlock finances’

Latest figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) showed the number of new builds started in England fell to 98,280 in 2012.

The number of housing starts peaked at 183,000 in the year ending March 2006, but fell sharply in the downturn to a low of 75,000 in the year ending June 2009.

Since then starts have recovered somewhat to about 110,000 per year, but DCLG said recent quarters had seen them slip back again.

However, the most recent quarter, ending in December, saw a 1% rise compared with the previous three months.

David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, said: “Despite the current tough economic environment, the small signs of increased house building are encouraging – but more needs to be done across the whole sector to meet the huge need for more affordable homes.

“We expect housing associations, who are dealing with a radically new investment framework and a huge cut in funding for affordable housing, to continue finding innovative new ways to meet that demand.”

Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, urged the government to use next month’s Budget to unlock the finance to deliver more affordable family homes.

“Unless action is taken now, it’s hard to see our housing crisis improving any time soon,” he said.

A DCLG spokesman said the latest figures showed “steady improvement” compared with the previous quarter.

He said: “The government is far from complacent, which is why, despite the need to tackle the deficit, we’re investing £19.5bn public and private funding in an affordable housing programme set to deliver 170,000 homes, putting £1.3bn into unlocking stalled sites and building the infrastructure we need and making enough formerly used, surplus public sector land available to deliver 33,000 new homes.”

Gas leak north of Bundaberg prompts safety warning

Posted January 30, 2013 08:37:37

Authorities are warning people to stay away from a dangerous leak in an underground natural gas pipeline about 120 kilometres north of Bundaberg.

Mark Jackson from the Bundaberg disaster management group says the underground pipeline is in rural and remote areas and does not pass close to any houses.

Crews have been out since first light trying to the source of the leak, which was noticed last night.

People living in the area have been notified and are being warned to stay clear and contact police immediately if they see it.

The 10cm pipeline is one to two metres underground.

It has been turned off but Mr Jackson says it will take some time it to depressurise.

He says anyone about 100m away may hear a loud roaring sound and could see a mist cloud which smells.

“It’s a fairly big rent in the pipe,” he said.

“It’ll be faily spectacular leak both visually and by sound.

“In its early stages when there’s a lot of pressure it certainly won’t be mistaken for much else.”

Topics: oil-and-gas, accidents—other, bundaberg-4670

Project uncertainty prompts $10m asset write-off

Ambre Energy has written-off more than $10 million in assets as uncertainty continues over the future of a project on Queensland’s Darling Downs.

The State Government has previously said it will not allow the construction of an open cut coals-to-fuels facility at Felton south of Toowoomba.

In its annual report Ambre says it has suspended major work at Felton and has written-off some assets.

The company says it is yet to decide on the project’s future and that it depends on a new regulatory scheme to be announced by the State Government.

Topics: mining-environmental-issues, mining-industry, mining-rural, company-news, felton-4358, qld

Egypt crisis prompts shares dive

25 November 2012 Last updated at 10:51 GMT Protester in Cairo faces dozens of Egyptian police (25 November 2012) Stones were thrown at police on Sunday as clashes resumed near Tahrir Square Shares on Egypt’s stock market plunged almost 10% on Sunday, days after President Mohammed Mursi granted himself sweeping new powers.

Protests against the president’s decision have continued in Cairo, while the Muslim Brotherhood is planning rallies backing him later.

Trading was suspended for 30 minutes as shares slumped in the first session since the president’s announcement.

But the slide continued as soon as share dealing resumed.

Renewed clashes broke out in Cairo on Sunday morning between protesters and security forces in a street leading to Tahrir Square. Trails of tear gas could be seen in the square itself.

Stones were thrown close to the US embassy, but because concrete blocks had been erected in the area the situation was less tense than before, Mena news agency reported.

The barriers had been put up to secure key Egyptian government and parliamentary buildings, Mena added.

Continue reading the main story All investigations into killing of protesters or use of violence against them to be held again; trials of those accused also to be re-heldAll constitutional declarations, laws and decrees made since Mr Mursi assumed power cannot be appealed or cancelledPublic prosecutor to be appointed by president for four-year fixed term and aged at least 40Constituent assembly’s timeline for drafting new constitution extended by two monthsNo judicial authority can dissolve constituent assembly or upper house of parliament (Shura Council)President authorised to take any measures to preserve revolution, national unity or safeguard national securityAccording to President Mursi’s decree, announced on Thursday, no authority can revoke presidential decisions.

There is also a bar on judges dissolving the assembly which is drawing up a new constitution.

Mr Mursi sacked chief prosecutor Abdel Maguid Mahmoud, who was first appointed by ex-president Hosni Mubarak.

Mr Mahmoud’s replacement, Talaat Ibrahim, has been given the job of re-examining all investigations into the deaths of protesters when Mr Mubarak was in power.

Egypt’s judges denounced the decree on Saturday as an “unprecedented attack” on the judiciary, and the Judges’ Club that represents them called for “the suspension of work in all courts and prosecution administrations”.

Twenty-two rights groups signed an open letter which said the president “has dealt a lethal blow to the Egyptian judiciary” and demanded that the decree should be revoked immediately.

Opposition politician Mohamed ElBaradei had earlier complained that the president had “usurped all state powers and appointed himself Egypt’s new pharaoh”.

But the president’s measures have also prompted his supporters to come out on to the streets and there were clashes on Saturday as pro-Mursi demonstrators tried to disrupt an emergency Judges Club meeting.

The Muslim Brotherhood, which backs Mr Mursi’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) party, has called for further demonstrations in support of the decree after sunset.

The Islamist movement has called for a one-million-man march to be held at Abdin Square on Tuesday.

Economic data prompts share market gains

Posted November 05, 2012 18:27:57

The share market clawed back earlier losses after a raft of economic data was released midway through the session.

The All Ordinaries ended a quarter of a per cent higher at 4,494 while the ASX 200 added 14 points to 4,474 after being down as much as 0.4 per cent in early trade.

The Bureau of Statistics today revealed better-than-expected retail sales and international trade figures.

Retail turnover rose half a per cent in September, which is slightly above forecasts.

Other data shows Australia’s trade deficit also came in above expectations, shrinking 22 per cent from August to September to $1.5 billion.

However there are some clouds on the horizon with ANZ monthly job ads report showing 4.6 per cent last month, the seventh straight month of declines.

And the leading private inflation gauge by TD Securities shows consumer prices rose in October to sit in the middle of the Reserve Bank’s target band.

The market ended mostly higher with retail stocks dragging.

Myer dropped 1.5 per cent, while David Jones slumped just over 4 per cent.

The two bright spots were food retailers Woolworths and Wesfarmers which both rose close to half a per cent after the retail sales data revealed the biggest rise in September was in food.

Westpac was the last of the big four to reveal its full-year profit today, reporting a 15 per cent slide to just under $6 billion.

Last week ANZ and the Commonwealth Bank both showed a rise in profits, while NAB’s earnings plunged 22 per cent.

Today bank stocks were mixed; Westpac put on 1.5 per cent while CBA and NAB ended down.

The major miners gained ground, Rio Tinto leading gains up 2.6 per cent.

The Australian dollar rose following the release of today’s swathe of data and about 5pm (AEDT) was buying 103.6 US cents.

On the cross rates it was buying 80.7 euro cents, 64.5 British pence and 83.3 Japanese yen.

West Texas crude was down to just below $US85 a barrel, Tapis was down to $US111 and spot gold was worth $US1,679 an ounce.

Topics: stockmarket, retail, banking, australia

Cubbie sale prompts Indigenous job fears

Updated October 11, 2012 11:11:05

An Aboriginal elder in south-west Queensland says she fears the sale of Cubbie Station to overseas investors because they are unlikely to continue schemes to encourage Indigenous job creation.

Australia’s largest cotton grower at Dirranbandi went into voluntary administration three years ago.

The Federal Government has recently approved the station’s sale to a Chinese-led consortium.

The previous managers had a program supporting Indigenous training and employment, but Aboriginal elder Judy Young doubts that will continue.

“It was training them how to be farmers and things like that,” she said.

“How to help them at work and to better themselves, instead of sitting at home drinking grog all day – that’s what they were doing.

“They know they’re not going to get the work that they were getting before.”

However, St George district cotton grower Ian Todd says locals should have nothing to fear from Cubbie Station being bought by an overseas investor.

Mr Todd says foreign ownership is preferable to the station being run by administrators.

“I would just as soon as see the spoils of what they do go to an investor who cares about commodities with an Australian entity running it,” he said.

“[Rather] than I would see the profits go to bankers who are charging exorbitant interest rates and administrators, who are charging fees that are just taking all of the cream out of the business for them.”

Topics: federal—state-issues, activism-and-lobbying, cotton, indigenous-aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander, company-news, community-development, regional, regional-development, dirranbandi-4486, longreach-4730, toowoomba-4350, st-george-4487

First posted October 11, 2012 09:57:02