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April, 2019

Danny Vukovic brilliance helps Sydney FC earn draw against Brisbane Roar

Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold has paid a heartfelt tribute to goalkeeper Danny Vukovic, who he said had been sleeping on the floor of hospital rooms, then starring in the A-League as he cared for sick son Harley.
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Vukovic was Sydney’s saviour in the 0-0 draw with Brisbane Roar on Friday night just weeks after Harley underwent a liver transplant to treat the life-threatening condition biliary atresia.

​He posted an update on social media the day before the match, updating Harley’s condition and saying they received the ‘ultimate gift’ from an organ donor. He thanked fans and supporters while speaking to Fox Sports after the match.

“It has saved his life. It shows the importance of organ donation. We’ve been given the ultimate gift and we’ll be forever grateful. It’s been an amazing response,” Vukovic said.

But Arnold went on to reveal the depth of commitment Vukovic has had to his family and his club over the most emotional period of his life. Arnold said for almost a month, Vukovic had been sleeping on the floor of hospital rooms and still finding a way to be the best keeper in the competition.

“It’s a wonderful story. And he had to come back to Sydney for the hospital and the doctors and wait for the liver transplant for his son. His son is doing exceptionally well,” Arnold said.

“For probably three or four weeks, he was sleeping on the floor of a hospital room and still performing the way he did. He’s got a wonderful character, he’s a fantastic goalkeeper and a fantastic guy.”

Arnold said Vukovic had travelled to games on his own, often on the day of the game, and had regularly gone above and beyond to ensure he was focused on his work as well as his pressing family matters.

“Family is very important to every player. The fact he can be so close to his parents and his wife’s parents and the help he needs… the club has been extra supportive. A couple of times he’s travelled the day of the game, not even travelled with the team. And then play as well as he does.

“That will be a huge relief for him.”   Happy to let people know my son has had his transplant. Due to privacy reasons, I will not talk about when he had the operation so please don’t ask. Our family has received the ultimate gift from an organ donor, we are eternally grateful!! Harley is doing exceptionally well. Organ donation has saved Harley’s life and saves the lives of many ns each year. I urge everyone that wants to be an organ donor to sign up at donatelife.gov.au and also speak to your family about your wishes in regards to organ donation. Cheers #donatelife #organdonation #biliaryatresia #liverdisease #myliverbabyA photo posted by Danny Vukovic (@vuka1) on Feb 1, 2017 at 1:04pm PST

There were some touching scenes before the game as a number of Roar players, including Matt McKay and Michael Theo, approached Vukovic in the tunnel and wished him well as they were about to walk out onto the field.

“That’s fantastic,” Arnold said. “Over the six, seven years I’ve been coaching the A-League, Brisbane Roar have set the way in culture and standards. They’re a wonderful club with a lot of respect for everyone.”

Arnold was happy enough with taking a point from Brisbane, with both teams having a number of quality chances in a contest that managed to prove highly entertaining despite the result and hot and humid conditions.


Abbott is right to call for Senate reform, he’s just wrong on the details

Former prime minister Tony Abbott’s call for a referendum to change the constitution to reduce the power of the Senate is, at last, an admission from the conservative side that the Constitution is “broke”.
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Hitherto, conservatives have mouthed the platitude, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Abbott says “increasingly resembles Italy”, facing chronic changes of prime minister and an inability to get things done.

“Over time the Senate has ceased being a house of review and become a house of rejection,” Abbott told the Young Liberals Federal Convention in Adelaide this week.

“The result is gridlock, not government, and it has to change. In the end, the government of the day has to be allowed to govern — and not with one hand tied behind its back because its legislation can’t pass.”

He wants a referendum to enable a joint sitting of both houses to pass deadlocked bills without the need for a double-dissolution election.

Abbott’s point is a good one. Remember this cuts both ways. The Coalition blocked more than 20 major pieces of Labor legislation in 1973, including ‘s first universal health-care system, Medibank.

It led to the only joint sitting to pass blocked legislation in ‘s history.

But the double dissolution is a heavy and clumsy weapon to deal with blocked legislation. In 1901, when legislation was leaner and each bit more significant, it was a different matter. But these days, with so much legislation and with a Senate that seems permanently without a majority, it makes government very difficult.

Obviously, the Senate should remain a house of review, but it should not be a huge disrupter. It is easy for minor parties to reject every “nasty” and applaud every “goodie”, but a government has to do both if it is to be fiscally and socially responsible.

Politics has changed so much that the double-dissolution election is far too cumbersome as a means of resolving deadlocks.

I agree with Abbott that we should remove double dissolutions from the Constitution. But his proposal that rejected legislation could go straight to a joint sitting would emasculate the Senate. You may as well not have it.

Abbott obliquely referred to his own fate and said that a prime minister who could not get the government’s program through would not survive.

Under his plan, his 2014 budget full of nasty surprises would have gone straight to a joint sitting and been passed.

In effect, Abbott is saying that, once the people have voted for a government with a majority bigger than the Senate cross bench, that government should get all its legislation through, even if it included stuff not mentioned at election time, such as GP co-payments, reductions in the dole etc etc.

A better, more accountable method would be as follows. If the Senate twice rejects legislation passed by the House and at the next ordinary election the Government is returned, the legislation should not have to return to the Senate, but be passed by the House alone.

In effect, the people’s vote would cancel the Senate’s earlier rejection of the legislation. This is perfectly democratic. After all, the actual legislation would have gone before the people. It would not be some vague promise or vague mandate to do something like “budget repair”. It would guard against undemocratic surprises, such as the 2014 budget, being foisted on voters.

But it would allow a government to eventually get its way without disruptive double dissolutions.

If, however, the Senate retained the power to reject legislation at least until after a supervening election won by the government, it would remain an effective house of review. The government would get the choice of accepting Senate amendments or having to delay the legislation until it was put to an electoral test.

It is dangerous for governments to always get their own way immediately and to have no checks or balances. But it is equally dangerous for governments not to be able to enact their legislative program.

There are other advantages to removing double dissolutions. Without them, it would be easier to have fixed terms with, say, elections on the last Saturday in November every three years. (If you went for four-year terms, senators’ terms would be an overly long eight years.)

Fixed terms would be better for business and everyone involved in politics and administration. People could plan better.

Double dissolutions are bad because they disrupt the election cycle. This is because senators take their seats immediately and their terms are back-dated to the previous 1 July. For practical purposes the House election has to be held at the same time as the next half-Senate election, so its term gets shortened by however long the back dating is.

At the 2 July 2016 double dissolution election, it meant a back-dating of only one day, but if a double dissolution election was held in, say, March, it would mean the next House of Representative’s term would be cut by nine months.

As it is, governments do not like winter elections so the present parliament is likely to be cut by two or three months with a March or April 2019 election.

Abbott said the paralysis in parliament had a direct effect on the prime minister. He said a prime minister who could not get the Government’s agenda through could not expect to survive.

But Abbott’s solution goes too far because under his proposal a government could get a hidden agenda through after an election.

Indeed, Abbott seems to have misunderstood what happened. He did not survive, not because he could not get his hidden agenda through, but precisely because he revealed the hidden agenda after the election.

A woolly mandate such as “budget repair” should not empower a government to get whatever it wants. But if a government takes the detailed rejected legislation to the people, then it should go through without Senate obstruction.

In a way, Paul Keating got the point at the 1993 election. He told the people that, if they elected John Hewson and the detailed Fightback! program, he would allow it through and the people should not expect Labor in the Senate to save them. It worked.



Sydney Harbour Marriott puts finishing touches to a $15 million transformation

Refurbishment of Sydney Harbour Marriott hotel is part of a changing hotel sector in the capital. Photo: supplied “Part of the repositioning of the hotel is the arrival area for the guests, which is now seen as one of the most important for travellers,” said the general manager of the Sydney Harbour Marriott, Jennifer Brown. Photo: Supplied
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The Sydney Harbour Marriott in Circular Quay gets two more restaurants, a fresh lobby and a new reception. Photo: Supplied

The Sydney Harbour Marriott hotel has undertaken a $15 million refurbishment as it prepares for a busy few years as visitation increases at the new International Convention Centre.

The hotel sector is one of the busiest with a number of new developments across the Sydney city area, in what is described as an undersupplied market.

These include the soon-to-open Sydney Sofitel at Darling Harbour, the new Hyatt Regency, formerly the Four Points Sheraton, the Ribbon site and the planned Ritz-Carlton at The Star, also at Pyrmont.

The new ICC will allow a vast increase in the number of conferences and exhibitions, which will lead to a rise in demand for hotel rooms in coming years.

The general manager of the Sydney Harbour Marriott, Jennifer Brown, said with the rise in social media, hotels needed to be ahead of guests with connectivity, up-to-date food and beverage and offer services for travellers of different generations, from Baby Boomers to Millennials.

“Part of the repositioning of the hotel is the arrival area for the guests, which is now seen as one of the most important for travellers,” Ms Brown said.

“We offer a booking app, to make the arrival and departure as seamless as possible, so guests can start enjoying the hotel without standing in a queue and filling out forms.”

Ms Brown said having technology, such as WiFi, phone and other device charging stations and other connectivity, was as important as having a bathroom or bed.

“With the rise of social media, first impressions count more and the experience of the rooms and hotel is a priority,” she said.

“Opened in 1989, Sydney Harbour Marriott has been a long-standing Sydney institution for 28 years. Drawing on both local and international expertise, this transformation will position the hotel as a serious contender in Sydney’s food and drink scene.”

Included in the new development is a 120-seat restaurant called Silvester’s, as well as a laneway venue called Three Bottle Man. Custom’s House Bar will also be relaunched.

Ms Brown said the redevelopment of the nearby Circular Quay with the AMP tower and the Dalian​ Wanda project at the former Gold Fields House will attract a wide range of people to the area, from new residents to corporate travellers and local tourists.

International arrivals to continue to increase with the largest growth originating from China, according to Gus Moors, head of hotels at Colliers International.

“Chinese visitor arrivals have increased exponentially from 100,000 in the year 2000, to over 1 million for the year ending June 2016,” Mr Moors said.

Ms Brown said the hotel had Mandarin-speaking staff to cater for the growth in the inbound Chinese tourists.

She said all hotels must offer bilingual staff to ensure all guests were welcome and felt at ease.

Mr Moors said the new supply of hotel rooms was considered to be an overall positive for cities with strong overall market fundamentals such as Sydney and Melbourne and would “further help to revitalise these cities”.


Mega development sites are the hot ticket for investors

754 Pacific Highway, Chatswood, is on the market with parking for 90 cars and a site area of 2040 sq m, with price expectations of $25 million. Photo: supplied The project, Oro, at 141 Allen Street, in Sydney’s Leichhardt, has been five years in the making, amid an affordability crisis. Photo: supplied
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Development sites are generating significant interest with investors who want to take advantage of the increasing demand for residential and commercial property opportunities.

Some of these are now being sold as mega sites, which allows the developer to offer a range of mixed-use services on one site.

According to Bennett Wulff​, national director and director in charge of Charter Keck Cramer’s Sydney office, a trend of “mega site” sales has emerged, underpinned by buoyant market conditions and supported by factors including state and local government planning initiatives as well as the increasing activity of offshore – particularly Chinese – developers with the appetite and capacity to deliver projects of such scale.

“Large-scale projects in favourable locations continue to sell strongly off the plan. Recent increases in development activity have still not met underlying dwelling requirements,” Mr Wulff said.

“Since 2014, a total of 50 residential development sites transacted throughout the Sydney metropolitan area at price points each exceeding $100 million, equating to a cumulative land price of over $9.4 billion and an average site sale price of about $189 million.”

There are currently two being offered, one at Leichhardt in Sydney’s inner west which is earmarked for residential and another at Chatswood, worth about $25 million for retail, commercial or mixed-use developments, subject to council approval.

After a five-year approval process, the 7149 square metre residential development site at 141 Allen St, Leichhardt, is for sale through Guillaume Volz, Ryan Bennetts and Zhenni Lu of Colliers International on behalf of a private family investment group.

The site received development consent in October last year for a staged development application comprising construction of six residential flat buildings between four and six storeys above basement level comprising 139 units, and associated works, including basement parking for 124 vehicles.

According to Mr Volz​, national director, development sites, residential at Colliers International, while the market and government have responded to Sydney’s undersupply in mass development areas, such as Olympic Park and the Parramatta Road corridor, “core suburbs such as Leichhardt continue to be ignored, despite the inherent attraction and desire from buyers for apartments in these neighbourhoods”.

Mr Bennetts, associate director, development sites, residential at Colliers International, said the development approval is extremely efficient allowing for only a single-level basement, “while also benefiting from the elevated position that provides 3600 views to the Sydney CBD and Harbour”.

Mr Bennetts said the vendor’s representative, Irving Washington, acknowledged that significant value had been added to the property via the development approval process and given the group’s interest elsewhere, the owners have now decided to sell.

On the north shore, the site at 754 Pacific Highway, Chatswood, has a net lettable area of 3825 sq m and parking for 90 cars.

Selling agents Henry Burke, of Colliers International, and Hugh Anderson, of Sutton Anderson, said there had been a rise in demand for freehold sites and they expected this trend to continue well into 2017.

They said the sales campaign was in the wake of strong results for similar freeholds sold in 2016, which included record sales results for 282-284 Victoria Avenue for $46.25 million, being a net yield of 3.9 per cent and a rate per square metre of $8300, 15 Help Street for $43.8 million on a net yield of 5.62 per cent and The Zenith Centre by DEXUS and GPT to Centuria and Blackrock for $279 million.

“754 Pacific Highway is a perfect investment opportunity, with the asset being close to Chatswood transport Interchange, Chatswood’s retail core and has the added bonus of providing multiple value-add opportunities,” Mr Burke said.

According to Hugh Anderson, director Sutton Anderson, “Chatswood is Sydney Metro’s largest and most energetic mixed-use centre with a cohesive mix of commercial, retail, residential and lifestyle developments.

“It has everything: excellent transport, world-class amenity, hotels, restaurants, cafes, a centre for the arts and fantastic parks and lifestyle elements,” Mr Anderson said.


Anglican Church expands footprint

Multiplex has completed the rejuvenation of Darling Harbour, delivering M&L Hospitality’s redevelopment of 161 Sussex Street. Photo: John GollingsIn order to combine its Sydney properties at Telopea and Dundas, the Anglican Church has acquired a Rydalmere industrial site for $8.25 million. The 5000 square metre site  at 32 South Street will be developed as the new church for the Parramatta LGA parish, serving several surrounding western Sydney suburbs.
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To fund the acquisition, CBRE’s capital markets team of Peter Vines, Alex Mirzaian​ and Tom Sheridan was engaged to negotiate the sale of the church’s Dundas and Telopea sites. The Dundas Anglican Church, metres from the station at 79 Kissing Point Road, sold for $7.6 million to an Asian investor/developer, a record result for the area.

“The competitive sales campaign received 45 inquiries and 10 contract requests, underpinned by the site’s significant development upside with potential for 48 apartments at a proposed value of about $160,000 per unit,” Mr Mirzaian said. Hyatt Regency

Multiplex has completed its rejuvenation of Darling Harbour, delivering M&L Hospitality’s redevelopment of 161 Sussex Street. The former Four Points by Sheraton Sydney was rebranded earlier this year to Hyatt Regency Sydney, marking the Hyatt Regency’s return to Sydney.

The redevelopment included refurbishment of the existing hotel; a new 3667 sq m convention centre; and a 25-level tower including 13 new hotel levels and 10 levels of A-grade high-rise commercial office space.

David Ghannoum​, regional managing director at Multiplex, said the project will contribute to the revitalisation of Darling Harbour “as a vibrant tourism hub”.