Melbourne house prices hit record increase with median surpassing $1M as rental market plummets


Melbourne has recorded one of its largest quarterly house price increase, with new data revealing the median has surpassed the $1 million mark.

On Friday, the Real Estate Institute of Victoria released its quarterly March report, which shows metropolitan Melbourne has recorded its highest quarterly increase for houses since December 2009.

The median value of a house in metro Melbourne is now $1,004,500, which is a jump of 8.8 per cent from the previous quarter.

Houses in middle Melbourne are also at a record median of $1,148,500 and in regional Victoria they are at $510,500.

It is the first time regional Victorian houses have surpassed a $500,000 median price.

“Sellers and buyers didn’t waste any time getting active in the market,” REIV President Leah Calnan said in a statement.

“House prices have been boosted by incentives for First Home Buyers, mortgage repayment holidays, and low interest rates.”

“High demand across the state has also been fuelled by an increase in activity following Victoria’s lockdowns which saw thousands of auctions cancelled.”

But while property prices are at an all time high, an inner suburban exodus means Melbourne will soon have the cheapest rental properties of any capital city in the country.

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Masters ratings increase from 2020 but lower than usual




FILE PHOTO: Golf – The Masters – Augusta National Golf Club – Augusta, Georgia, U.S. – April 11, 2021 Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama hits his tee shot on the 18th hole during the final round REUTERS/Mike Segar

April 15, 2021

The return of a springtime Masters tournament brought more television viewers than last November, but ratings were down from previous April events.

The final day of the tournament at Augusta National averaged 9.45 million viewers and a 5.5 household rating, according to Nielsen live-plus-same-day ratings. That was the highest TV audience for a golf tournament since 2019, when Tiger Woods captured his fifth Masters title.

The results proved to be much better than last November, when a late-autumn Masters netted an average final-day audience of 5.59 million viewers and a household rating of 3.4. However, the 2021 ratings were the lowest for a regularly scheduled Masters tourney in the modern Nielsen ratings era.

Hideki Matsuyama held on for a 1-stroke win at the Masters, becoming the first golfer from Japan to win the event.

–Field Level Media




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Scott Morrison announces Howard Springs coronavirus quarantine facility will increase capacity


The Northern Territory’s Howard Springs quarantine facility will soon be responsible for quarantining 15 per cent of all Australians returning on international repatriation flights.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the Northern Territory’s Howard Springs quarantine facility would expand to accept 2,000 returned Australians a fortnight, up from 850.

Speaking after National Cabinet, Mr Morrison said the Commonwealth had entered into an agreement with the NT government to expand the workers’ camp.

“That will be done over the next few months,” he said.

“That is an important addition to the capacity of those quarantine facilities, to receive those return chartered flights that Australia has been putting in place for many, many months.”

After Mr Morrison’s announcement, Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner revealed the management of the facility would undergo a significant change — with the NT Government taking over both the domestic and international quarantine operations.

“The Territory government will assume management facility from the Commonwealth, the Commonwealth will continue to work hand in glove with us,” he said.

Mr Gunner said merging the domestic and international cohorts “is what the Australian government wanted us to move to [and] we are more than happy to take on that responsibility.”

Currently the NT Health department is responsible for domestic arrivals at the facility from interstate, while international arrivals are managed by the federally-funded National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre (NCCTRC).

Mr Gunner would not say how much extra money the Commonwealth was providing to fund the expansion.

Chief Minister Michael Gunner is standing in front of a microphone with a serious expression. Behind him is the Australian flag.
Michael Gunner says the NT Government will work to increase the cap on arrivals at the centre.(

ABC News: Michael Franchi

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Mr Gunner said this decision had been aided by a significant decrease in domestic travellers needing quarantine and that the change would not increase the risk of the virus getting out into the community.

“What we are moving towards is the same model, with many of the same people involved, but a clearer governance structure and clear certainty of who is accountable for what,” he said.

NT Police Commissioner Jamie Chalker said police had long favoured consolidating operations into “a single governance model” and that the removal of federal oversight would not damage operations.

“The infection and control procedures that we have in place are world class and that is held equally in NT Health as it is with the NCCTRC,” he said.

Vista into the sun from a height looking over the fence at the reception and carpark of the village
The former mining workers’ village outside Darwin has been taking 850 arrivals a fortnight.(

ABC News: Michael Franchi

)

“NCCTRC play an incredibly important service to the rest of the country and to international hotspots when they are called upon. We want to make sure that their ability respond is not dulled.”

Mr Gunner said the expansion of the facility would be a “huge logistical job” and that work would begin immediately.

“We have agreed to this expansion because we know Howard Springs can play a larger role for the nation without compromising the safety of Territorians.”

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Play Video. Duration: 2 minutes 25 seconds

Inside the Howard Springs quarantine facility

Mr Gunner said the workforce at the centre would need to increase from over 100 to 500.

“A recruitment drive will start this month, and new staff will start and be mobilised from May,” he said.

More than 4,600 international arrivals have quarantined at the Howard Springs quarantine facility since repatriation flights to the Northern Territory began on October 23.

The former workers’ village housed Australians evacuated from Wuhan and the coronavirus-stricken Diamond Princess cruise ship before it began taking on Australians returning on federal government-organised repatriation flights.

The village was vacated in 2019 and was handed over to the NT government just before the pandemic hit.

There have been 67 positive COVID-19 cases identified at the facility since flights began last year.

There have been no cases of community transmission in the Territory, with all cases related to international or interstate travel.

Mr Gunner also confirmed that the vaccine roll-out in the Northern Territory was on track, with 1,840 frontline health workers inoculated so far and more than 2,200 vaccines delivered in total.

He said the NT government would receive its first doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines next week and would begin administering doses immediately.

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Coronavirus vaccine rollout continues, doctors working to increase doses given per day


Australia needs to vaccinate 200,000 people every day to reach the goal of all adult Australians being able to get their first vaccine dose by the end of October.

As of Monday, 541,761 Australians have received the vaccine, according to Federal Health Minister, Greg Hunt who gave an update on the state of the rollout.

“The latest guidance I have is we remain on track for all the first doses before the end of October,” said Mr Hunt.

Australia has just finished the first week of Phase 1B rollout, the first stage of broad vaccination in the community, which is available to 6 million Australians.

It includes those aged over 70, critical workers like police and people with some underlying medical conditions.

But so far the daily target of 200,000 vaccinations has proved to be a challenge.

In the first week of Phase 1B, a total of 259,000 people were vaccinated.

In an e-mail to Australian GPs last week, reported by the Guardian, the Health Department also acknowledged “teething problems”.

Teething problems have included confusion between some GPs and the Federal Health Department over who was supposed to provide needles to use with the vaccines and frustration around the National Booking Scheme.

Royal College of General Practitioners (RACGP) president Karen Price said early hurdles were inevitable and said the public should have faith that authorities are working tirelessly to ramp up vaccinations.

“Most of us are on the phone all weekend, talking 24/7 about making sure we get this right for the public,” she said.

“It really is a national effort and for that, I am very, very grateful because like everybody else in Australia and pretty much around the world, I want my life back, and I want my kids to have their life back, and I want my community to have their life back.”

Leading health economist Stephen Duckett said now was the time for health officials to reflect on some of the early challenges seen in the vaccine rollout, and to make changes before more Australians became eligible for the jab.

“We set a target of four million, we’ve got 600,000 or so. That is a long way short of the target,” said Dr Duckett of the Grattan Institute.

“What are we going to do differently into the future? My hope is also that we are going to do things very differently in April and May from what we did in March.”

He said the early rollout had encountered logistical challenges.

“GP’s don’t know how many vaccines they’re going to get, they’ve booked patients, then they have to unbook patients.

“There have been problems in the distribution where the number of vaccines that have been allocated to GPs have been too many for small practices and too few for large practices.”

A spokesperson for the Health Minister said everyone who wants a vaccine will have the opportunity by the end of October.

“We have every confidence in our GPs, who in In the last week administered almost 120,000 vaccines, bringing our total number of vaccinated Australians to 541,761,” the spokesperson said.

“Mr Duckett predicted in March 2020 that Australia would run out of ventilators three weeks later. In reality, we had capacity of 7,500 ventilators and approximately 50 people on COVID ventilation at the time of the peak.

“He is entitled to different views but comments such as these utterly and profoundly incorrect predictions […] on ventilation should be taken into account.”

Dr Duckett has previously claimed this criticism takes his comments out of context.

Elizabeth Jackson, an expert in supply chains from Curtin University, said she believed Australia would reach the daily vaccination target soon and learning lessons from this early period would help develop the supply chain.

“I can completely understand the frustration [but] in Australia, we enjoy highly efficient supply chains and we’re just not used to having to go without or wait,” Dr Jackson said.

Health Minister Greg Hunt has said that GPs were the “cornerstone” of the national rollout strategy.

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Capacity at pubs, clubs, restaurants to increase – against health advice


Caps on seated venues will be lifted while density requirements will be significantly eased in a major windback of South Australia’s COVID restrictions – with the Government conceding the move was at odds with SA Health advice.

Premier Steven Marshall and state coordinator Grant Stevens, the SA Police commissioner, revealed a raft of changes they said had been facilitated by the ongoing vaccine rollout and good results from recent major events, including the Adelaide and Fringe festivals, WOMADelaide and Adelaide Oval’s hosting of 40,000 for Round One of the AFL season.

In a major concession to a desperate hospitality industry, the current ‘one person per two square metre rule’ for venues will go to a ‘three-per-four square metres’ requirement from midnight next Tuesday – which Marshall said “equates to roughly 75 per cent” of capacity ahead of the Easter long weekend.

“I know this will be a massive relief for many organisations in SA,” he said.

“They want to see that density level increased so they can create more jobs – that’s what this is all about.”

Caps on indoor seated venues such as churches, cinemas and theatres will be lifted entirely from the same date, although masks must be worn by patrons once the venue reaches over 50 per cent of its seating capacity.

Food and beverages in cinemas and similar venues can still be consumed, but masks must be replaced at other times.

Dancefloor restrictions will also be lifted entirely on all venues of up to 1000 people, although those holding more than 1000 patrons will still be required to submit a bespoke COVID management plan to SA Health for approval.

Caps will remain on gatherings in private venues at 200.

“SA has done extraordinarily well during the festival, Fringe and WOMAD period, people are following instructions to the letter,” Marshall said.

“The rollout of the vaccination program is also going well and this has given the Transition Committee great confidence to ease restrictions.”

However, Stevens conceded that SA Health representatives on the Committee had taken a different view.

“The strictest application of the health advice, looking purely at public health, would probably see retention of the current restrictions arrangements,” he said.

“But there was acknowledgement generally that there are other perspectives in terms of community impact that need to be considered.”

Asked whether that meant SA Health had advised against the changes, he said: “You could probably couch it in those terms, but it’s more constructive to say there was a discussion where all the factors to be considered were put on the table, and my obligation as state coordinator is to make a decision based on all the advice that’s put to me.”

Stevens also said police would scale back their presence at Adelaide Airport in coming days, although masks would still be mandated for all arrivals.

He indicated he hoped to ease restrictions further as the vaccine rollout continued, saying: “We’re not at base level at this point in time.”

Today’s rhetoric was a sharp departure from Marshall’s previous mantra that his Government would always “follow the health advice” in relation to the pandemic.

“I don’t think you could say it was overruled,” Marshall said today.

“Everybody puts on the table what their ideal situation is, it’s a negotiation [and] we’ve got to look at a balanced situation.

“We’ve got to take into account health and that’s always got to be number one – but also economic and social [considerations] because if you get those wrong, quite frankly, you end up with health implications… [chief public health officer] Nicola Spurrier understands that.”

Marshall said that “clinicians want to be as risk averse as possible, and so they should be, but we’ve got take [other] things into account”.

He said, however, that health authorities had an effective “right of veto” and “this has been the same methodology we’ve had in Transition Committee right from day one”.

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League in talks to increase footy crowd numbers ahead of round two


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Games between Carlton and Collingwood have drawn an average crowd of more than 62,000 people since 2015, not counting last season’s encounter which was played at the Gabba due to COVID-19 restrictions.

But if current crowd caps are kept in place for Thursday, the maximum allowed in the ground will be 50,000.

Geelong, too, would be hoping crowd increases would come into effect for this weekend, given they play their first home game of the season at GMHBA Stadium against Brisbane on Friday night.

Home games for the Cats are almost always sold out, with a recently renovated Kardinia Park now able to house 36,000. That would be reduced to just 18,000 unless crowd limits are eased before the weekend.

“Our job is to adhere to the protocols and the plans in place on the basis that we are here to play the long game and when those big games come up in subsequent rounds we can get to those bigger crowds,” Auld said.

Crowds returned to football on the weekend, with more than 250,000 fans attending the opening round after largely being locked out during the early stages of last season. Round one saw an average total TV audience of 4.53 million.

Friday night football TV audiences were up 16 per cent in Melbourne compared to the 2019 season average, while Saturday night’s Essendon v Hawthorn match was up seven per cent compared to an average Saturday night game in 2019.

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Wealthy countries – including the UK – are blocking proposals to help developing nations increase their vaccine manufacturing capabilities, documents leaked to the BBC show



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Police increase patrols following increase in reports of drink-spiking incidents in Bendigo


Bendigo police are investigating 10 reports of drink spiking since the beginning of February.

Police have confirmed with the ABC that all of the reports have been linked to the same venue.

A Victoria Police spokesperson said officers were now increasing patrols and urging people to be vigilant with their drinks while visiting licensed venues.

Katie* suspects her drink was spiked after she was out with friends celebrating a birthday party at the start of March.

When they arrived at a venue, the 21-year old’s night changed drastically after having an alcoholic drink.

“I was watching what I was drinking because I had work the next day,” she said.

Katie said fortunately her friends were looking out for her.

“They found me in the bathroom, vomiting, and they called me a ride,” she said.

“Then they decided I should be going to hospital because no one could get my attention, no one could talk to me, I couldn’t even walk.”

Katie said when testing was conducted at the hospital nothing unfamiliar was identified other than alcohol.

The 21-year-old has praised her friends for their quick actions.

Kylie* had a similar experience to Katie in late February after visiting the same venue with her boyfriend.

“They did a blood and urine test and it came up with nothing.

“So that’s when it was talked about it could have been GHB (gamma hydroxybutyrate) because that doesn’t come up in your system.”

Kylie says the experience has left her feeling on edge.

“Even at the hospital the next day, they tried to give me Panadol because I had a really bad headache,” she said.

“I didn’t want it unless I saw them taking the medicine out from the tray and giving it to me.”

Mobile drug safety worker Paul Morgan from Bendigo Community Health said it was hard to tell what substance may have been used.

“The perpetrator of this drink spiking has not been apprehended, so we can’t actually say with any surety what substance they’re actually using,” he said.

Mr Morgan said there was the possibility the perpetrator could have used a number of substances, but his guess was GHB due to reports from victims.

Mr Morgan added that symptoms could escalate quickly.

“There are some symptoms which GHB produces; nausea, vomiting, incontinence, diarrhoea, headaches, dizziness and tremors, and agitation,” he said.

“Death can be brought on through an overdose of GHB, largely through people vomiting and that chokes their airways, they lose consciousness, and they have seizures.”

Yvette Jaczina, from Bendigo’s Centre for Non-Violence, said drink spiking is a form of violence against the victims.

“Drinking spiking can result in a range of harms, it can include sexual assault, robbery and unprotected sex,” she said.

“The sense that someone is entitled to someone else’s body — it related back to issues of power imbalance and gender inequality, and very disturbing attitudes.”

Mr Morgan urged anyone who was going out for a drink to always watch the bartender carefully and look out for your possessions, as well as your friends.

“The spiking intent is criminal, it’s to exploit people in a vulnerable condition,” he said.

“There are also numerous cases of men and women passing out after these spikings, and finding their mobile phones and wallets are gone.”

*Names have been changed due to privacy reasons.

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Beyond Housing and Uniting Care: end of moratorium will increase homelessness | The Border Mail


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Border support services fear some residents will be plunged into homelessness when the national moratorium on rent rises and evictions ends on April 1. Beyond Housing’s Celia Adams said property prices on the border had increased significantly in the past year, as had demand for rentals. Domain’s latest house price report shows median house prices rose 9.9 per cent in Albury in 2020, 12.1 per cent in Wangaratta, 5.0 per cent in Wodonga, 10.3 per cent in Alpine Shire, 9.8 per cent in Benalla and 5.9 per cent in Indigo Shire. Ms Adams believes as a result when the moratorium ends, rents will increase. Additionally come April 1, residents will owe lump-sum arrears for unpaid rent. “There are so many issues at play, all happening all at once,” Ms Adams said. “We anticipate a significant increase in the number of people needing to access homelessness prevention services… including new people who haven’t needed to access services before.” Uniting Care gambling and financial counselling team leader Kaily Goodsell said April 1 also marks the end to the coronavirus JobSeeker supplement. She said Uniting Care Albury had seen an influx of people fearful of eviction. IN OTHER NEWS: “The number of people needing rental properties exceeds the number rental properties in the region and because of that demand in the market prices will continue to go up,” she said. A recent examination of current rentals showed there was only one property available in the North East that was affordable for a lone person on JobSeeker. “Those on very low income or set income like Centrelink are further being squeezed out rental market,” Ms Adams said. St Vincent de Paul’s Jack de Groot said the moratorium was a ticking time bomb. “When it goes off in a few weeks the fallout will have a lasting impact,” he said. “We are extremely concerned that months of back-dated rent will condemn people into debt that will follow them for years to come.” The wait for social housing remains lengthy and Ms Adams believes some residents will turn to couch-surfing or rough sleeping if they are evicted. Ms Adams said tree-changers had flooded the already small pool of Border rentals and vacancy rates were extremely low. In addition, many Border AirBnB properties were converted to rentals in 2020 due to travel restrictions, but it’s likely these will again be taken out of the rental market. Ms Adams said landlords were entitled to seek the best return on their investment but the government should provide adequate support to keep people out of poverty. “Across the country we’re expecting to see a significant increase in homelessness numbers,” she said. “I feel the federal government is out of touch in terms of what it actually costs to survive.” Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content:

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Prosecutors push to increase murderer and rapist Codey Hermann’s sentence to life



Prosecutors have today appealed the sentence given to the man who murdered exchange student Aiia Maasarwe in 2019, calling for him to be jailed for life.

Codey Herrmann is currently serving 36 years in prison for the rape and murder of Ms Maasarwe in Bundoora.

Prosecutors are arguing this sentence is manifestly inadequate for the crime they say was motivated by the killer’s “primitive male rage”.


Ms Maasarwe was coming home from a night out in January 2019 when she was bashed with a metal pole several times, before being raped and murdered.
Hermann ambushed the 21-year-old on while she was on the phone to her sister.
Prosecutors described the crime as the worst in its category, and that a head sentence of life in prison killer is the only appropriate punishment for the 22-year-old man.
They believe if Hermann is released after serving his
The Director of Public Prosecutions Kerri Judd QC told the Court of Appeal that the sentencing judge gave too much weight to Herrmann’s youth and personality disorder.


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