Israel and Greece sign record defense deal


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JERUSALEM — Israel and Greece have signed their biggest ever defense procurement deal, which Israel said on Sunday would strengthen political and economic ties between the countries.

The agreement includes a $1.65 billion contract for the establishment and operation of a training center for the Hellenic Air Force by Israeli defense contractor Elbit Systems over a 22-year period, Israel’s defense ministry said.

The training center will be modeled on Israel’s own flight academy and will be equipped with 10 M-346 training aircraft produced by Italian company Leonardo, the ministry said.

Elbit will supply kits to upgrade and operate Greece’s T-6 aircraft and also provide training, simulators and logistical support.

“I am certain that (this program) will upgrade the capabilities and strengthen the economies of Israel and Greece and thus the partnership between our two countries will deepen on the defense, economic and political levels,” said Israeli defense minister Benny Gantz.

The announcement follows a meeting in Cyprus on Friday between the UAE, Greek, Cypriot and Israeli foreign ministers, who agreed to deepen cooperation between their countries.

(Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch Editing by David Goodman)

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Patrick Marleau ties Gordie Howe’s NHL record for games played


San Jose forward Patrick Marleau tied Gordie Howe’s NHL record for career games played, appearing in his 1,767th on Saturday as the Sharks faced the Minnesota Wild.

Marleau hopped over the boards for his first shift 40 seconds into the game. He could break Howe’s record Monday night in Las Vegas.

Marleau is in his 23rd NHL season; he made his debut on Oct. 1, 1997, at 18 years and 16 days old. The 41-year-old Marleau has 566 goals, 1,196 points, three All-Star appearances and two Olympic gold medals for Canada in 2010 and 2014.

Howe also played in 419 games in the World Hockey Association that are not included in his career total.

WATCH | 9 facts about Patrick Marleau … in 90 seconds:

With Patrick Marleau set to break Gordie Howe’s all-time games played record, Rob Pizzo looks at 9 things you may not know about his memorable career. 2:08

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Record cattle prices may slow national herd recovery as farmers struggle to restock


The Eastern Young Cattle Indicator (EYCI) has passed the 900 cents a kilogram mark for the first time in history.

“People need to rebuild the herd and they’re scrambling to,” NAB agribusiness economist Phin Ziebell said.

“For producers who are looking to rebuild, you’ve sold low, you’re buying high and if you ask somebody what cattle prices will be in a few years, no-one really knows.”

The EYCI closed yesterday at 901.75 cents, almost 200 cents up on the same time last year.

Rain in drought-affected parts of Queensland and NSW are the main driver, according to Mr Ziebell.

Ray Cranney is a grazier near Goondiwindi in southern Queensland and recent rains have changed the outlook on his farm, which has struggled through years of drought.

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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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Melbourne’s median house price hits record $1 million. Here’s what you can buy for that


The median house price in Melbourne has just has passed the $1 million mark for the first time, according to the latest data from the Real Estate Institute of Victoria (REIV).

REIV’s quarterly report for March showed the median price for a house in metropolitan Melbourne jumped by 8.8 per cent, to $1,004,500.

It was the biggest quarterly increase in the median house price since December 2009.

REIV president Leah Calnan said the level of buyer interest across Victoria was unprecedented, following the lifting of restrictions that saw thousands of auctions cancelled in 2020.

“House prices have been boosted by incentives for first home buyers, mortgage repayment holidays, and low interest rates.”

There was also growth in regional Victoria, where the median house price passed $500,000 for the first time — a growth of 12.3 per cent over the last 12 months.

Cassandra Huett and her partner were among thousands of people who tried and failed to break into Melbourne’s housing market in 2020.

Cassandra and her partner rented a one-bedroom apartment for seven years while saving for a deposit.

They were on the verge of buying an apartment in Hawthorn last year when the pandemic hit.

When they resumed their search for a property, they found prices had escalated beyond their reach.

“I like apartment living, but I don’t want to spend my whole life in an apartment.”

The Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry this week urged the Victorian government to swap stamp duty for land tax to reduce some of the burden on first-time buyers.

Cassandra and her partner have since bought a property in Launceston and are relocating to Tasmania.

“If we had a house here we would look to stay here.”

A million dollar house isn’t what it used to be when the parents of today’s first-time buyers were entering the market, but it’s still noting to be sniffed at.

These houses are all listed for sale at just under $1 million but, as anyone who’s been to an auction in Melbourne will tell you, that doesn’t mean that’s what they’ll end up selling for. 

Bedrooms: 2

Bathrooms: 1

Suburb median price: $1.12 million

Quarterly price change: -11.2%

This house in Kensington, in Melbourne’s inner-west, is fairly typical of what you’d get in the inner suburbs for $1 million. 

With just two bedrooms and one bathroom, it’s not exactly palatial, but its proximity to the city makes it desirable for many buyers.

Kensington was one of the few suburbs where the median price fell in the March quarter, down 11.2 per cent.

Bedrooms: 5

Bathrooms: 2

Suburb median house price: $960,000

Quarterly price change: +12.3%

If space is what you’re looking for, this five bedroom house in Sandhurst, in Melbourne’s outer south-east, sits on a 659 square metre block, with a landscaped garden.

The median property price rose 12.3 per cent in Sandhurst over March, but hasn’t yet tipped into the $1 million range.

Bedrooms: 2

Bathrooms:2

Suburb median price: $1.41 million

Quarterly price change: -3.6%

Richmond was another inner city suburb where the median house price fell in March, but not to the same extent as Kensington.

Unit prices, however, rose by 7.5 per cent in Richmond, which was above the average for metropolitan Melbourne of 4.8 per cent.

The asking price for this two bedroom, two bathroom unit is around $1 million, putting more than $300,000 above the median unit price for the suburb.

Bedrooms: 4

Bathrooms: 2

Suburb median price: $555,000

Quarterly price change: +5.2%

Darley is a suburb of Bacchus Marsh, about 50km north-west of Melbourne’s CBD.

It’s technically in regional Victoria, where the median house price grew by 4.1% in March.

This property boasts four bedrooms, two bathrooms, and some stunning views of the Lerderderg State Park.

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The cost of renting in Brisbane reaches record levels, outstrips Melbourne prices


For the first time in years, it now costs more to rent a home in Brisbane than Melbourne, with mass migration and a near two-decade low vacancy rate shooting median asking prices to record heights.

Amid tales of tenant bidding wars and rejected applicants reduced to tears, the latest Domain Rent Report, released Thursday, revealed the average weekly asking price for a house in the Queensland capital soared by almost 8 per cent to an unprecedented $440 per week over the past 12 months – and by 3.5 per cent over the past quarter alone.

The price hike means the average Brisbane tenant is now paying $10 more a week than their Melbourne counterpart for a house, and $25 more a week for a unit after prices for the latter rose by a slightly more modest 3.9 per cent over the year to a record-breaking $400 per week.

Domain senior research analyst Nicola Powell said the report marked a sharp turnaround for the city, with houses, in particular, marking the steepest annual increase in rent prices since 2008 following three strong consecutive quarters of rent gains.

“Melbourne house rents have been higher than Brisbane’s since about 2016 so what we’ve really seen in Brisbane since mid-2020 is an acceleration in asking rents and this really goes against what was happening in the lead up [to the pandemic],” Dr Powell said.

“They had relatively flatlined since 2013.”

Dr Powell said while Queensland had always been a hot destination for interstate migrants, the pandemic and the possibility of remote working had fuelled the trend with the annual number of Australians moving to the state hitting its highest level since 2006.

“Tenants will find less choice, with the pool of available rentals shrinking by one-third compared to last year, pushing Brisbane’s vacancy rate to a multi-year low,” she said.

“House and unit rents held steady or increased in all regions across Greater Brisbane over the March quarter, apart from unit rents in Ipswich sliding a mere $5 a week. Annually, the biggest jump in asking rent was recorded for houses in Brisbane’s north and Moreton Bay North, the steepest annual increase since 2008, up 6.8 per cent and 6.7 per cent annually.”

While rent prices indeed soared across most parts of the city it was the capital’s family-friendly pockets in the middle and even outer rings that shone brightest, with houses in Bald Hills and Everton Park enjoying the biggest annual price rise after surging 10.6 per cent to $520 per week.

Hot on their heels were Kenmore, Brookfield and Moggill, where median asking prices for houses shot up by 8.2 per cent over the same period to an unprecedented $595 per week – a rental price equal only to houses in the inner-city west region.

It’s a rare rental boom that Aurora Realty Brisbane leasing manager Abi Harrington said was reaching eye-watering levels – with their agency currently managing 100,000 tenants actively seeking a home.

“We’ve gone from houses taking three weeks to rent out, to three days and even down to three hours [in the past quarter],” Ms Harrington said.

“You wouldn’t believe the gifts I have received (from desperate tenants) from gin, to flowers to cheesecake and even a bottle of champagne.

“We used to have the policy that a tenant mustn’t apply before they’ve seen the property but now we say apply first if you like the photos … and if you get approved we’ll arrange a private inspection after [because rentals are being snapped up so quickly].”

As for the soaring rents in Everton Park and Bald Hills, Ms Harrington put the increase down to tenants being simply priced out of Brisbane’s more expensive inner pockets, with houses in quiet suburbs boasting a good school catchment the number one lure.

“I’ve just listed a property in Everton Park … and in less than 24 hours I have five inspections booked in … but sometimes we get up to 15 people in the first few hours,” she said.

“This is the height of it and it’s absolute chaos. On average tenants are offering $20 to $30 dollars over the asking price but some people are surpassing that. People from Sydney and Melbourne are cashed up and headed this way because buying a house is far cheaper here and Queensland is the obvious choice as the office doesn’t exist anymore.”

Ms Harrington said soaring interstate migration was a major contributor to rising rent prices, with some southern home hunters willing to fork out $90 per week more in a move that was causing much anxiety among Brisbane residents.

45_trsitania_rd_chapel_hill_2_bsylxb
Properties for rent in suburbs like Chapel Hill and Kenmore are sparking bidding wars.

“Locals feel like they’re being pushed out … and I see this getting worse. And it’s not fair on locals living here struggling to meet that price range … and we don’t encourage [bidding wars] because we’re trying to manage expectations,” she said.

Ray White Metro West property manager Stephanie Budrodeen said with rental wars now a common occurrence in hot spots such as Chapel Hill and Kenmore, median prices, in reality, had soared beyond eight per cent to as high as 30, creating a scene more akin to an auction, with the charge being led by Melbourne families particularly desperate to bag a house in a top school catchment.

She said the pandemonium was further fuelled by the “nuts” sales market with some tenants pushed out by owners desperate to sell in a booming market, while others were forced to rent purely because there was nothing to buy.

“Two weeks ago, we just had one property [a two-bedroom unit] left on our rental roll … and that’s never happened before. But the downfall to all of this is owners think their properties are worth more than they are and this is going to make problems for the future when prices are no longer inflated,” Ms Budrodeen said.

“Tenants are in panic mode right now … and in my opinion this a ripple effect from the housing market.”

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Sydney News: COVID-19 restrictions on public transport to ease, rental prices hit record high


COVID-19 restrictions will be eased on public transport from next Monday as the government continues to encourage more people to return to the office.

Capacity will jump to 75 per cent in Sydney, all caps will be lifted on regional public transport.and people will no longer have to allocate spare seats between themselves and others.

In December last year, capacity was lifted to 55 per cent on trains, 45 per cent on buses, 51 per cent on ferries and 25 per cent on light rail.

Last month, face masks became no longer mandatory on public transport and are now only recommended.

Sydney’s housing rental prices hit record highs in the March quarter along with most other capital cities.

In Sydney’s Northern Beaches, Sutherland, outer south-west, outer west and Blue Mountains regions, rental prices are still rising along with demand.

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Coronavirus: Canada sets new single-day record with 9,561 COVID-19 infections


TORONTO —
Canada reported 9,561 new COVID-19 infections on Thursday, setting a new record for daily cases since the start of the pandemic.

The previous daily record was set less than a week ago on April 9, when the country logged a total of 9,244 new cases, according to data collected by CTVNews.ca.

The new record marks a grim milestone as hospitalizations increase across the country, and vaccine rollouts stall.

Ontario set its own record for daily infections on Thursday, reporting 4,736 new cases. The province currently has 1,932 people in hospital with COVID-19 and 659 in intensive care — record highs as well.

Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s associate medical officer of health, said during a press briefing that the situation in the province is “dire.”

“At some of the previous press conferences I have referred to the situation as worrisome, and even scary. What is truly scary is that when I used those words before, our rates and our trends were nowhere near where we find ourselves today,” Yaffe said.

The situation is also growing more concerning in Quebec where health officials reported 1,513 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and 15 additional deaths due to the pandemic.

New projections released by the province’s public health institute suggest that hospitals in some regions outside the Montreal area could reach their designated capacity of COVID-19 patients within three weeks if current trends don’t change.

Alberta, which has Canada’s highest seven-day rate of cases, recorded 1,646 new infections on Thursday, including 1,020 variants of concern.

B.C. reached a new record for hospitalizations at 409 and had 1,205 new cases while Manitoba confirmed its first case of the P.1 variant first found in Brazil.

The increasing numbers come a few weeks into what the federal government has billed as the ramp-up phase of Canada’s mass vaccination effort.

However, the rollout is still being plagued by delays in Moderna shipments and lingering uncertainty about when and how many doses of AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson’s shots will land.

The supply concerns have caused some vaccinations sites to pause bookings and even cancel appointments in certain regions.

Despite the delays, the federal government expects to have received more than 44 million COVID-19 vaccine doses by June, enough that every eligible person should be able to receive their first shot by Canada Day.

According to CTVNews.ca’s vaccine tracker, Canada has administered a total of 9,200,859 doses as of Thursday evening, with nearly 22 per cent of the population having received at least one dose.

With files from CTVNews.ca’s Rachel Aiello and The Canadian Press



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Women’s over 80s running relay team set world record at ACT Masters Athletics Club in Canberra


Corry Collins was 55 when she took up running — 29 years on she’s still setting Australian and world athletics records.

The now 84-year-old holds the 400m Australian record for women in her age group, but was recently talked into running an 800m relay by her friends to set a new world record.

“I took a bit of convincing; I was thinking that 800 metres was a bit long,” she said.

“I trained two to three times a week just going on short runs and hoping I was doing enough.”

The training paid off, with Corry, alongside Jo Klemke, 83, Consie Larmour, 85, and Anne Young, 85, clocking 26:03.52 for their W80 4x800m relay.

“It was very thrilling,” Jo said.

The women encourage each other to participate in sport, but say they also love the friendship and support it offers.(

ABC News: Penny Travers

)

The four women already hold the Australian titles for the W80 4x100m and 4x400m and encourage each other in the sport.

Jo started running when she was 68 after Consie introduced her to athletics.

She says she found that she loved the “freedom” running allowed.

“It’s all up to you. You can go as fast and as slow as you want to,” Jo said.

The 83-year-old also enjoys participating in pentathlons and received a javelin for her birthday last year.

“I just love [athletics] and I love to be with the people that I’m doing it with,” Jo said.

Another of the squad, Anne, recently completed her 250th Parkrun event — seven years after turning up to the casual 5-kilometre events.

Club offers fitness and friendship

But it is not just the fitness and thrill of setting records that keeps these women racing around the track.

Being part of the ACT Masters Athletics Club has seen them build new friendships and travel around Australia and the world.

“People are very friendly,” Consie said.

“We’ve made a lot of good friends, not only in our particular age group, but right throughout.

“People have been encouraging and wonderful.”

A women with a pole vault.
Lucy Kobier says she has been addicted to pole vaulting since breaking a 20-year-old record on her first night.(

Supplied

)

That encouragement and support saw 38-year-old Lucy Kobier take up pole vaulting, after not having done athletics since school.

She turned up to a club meet two years ago to find a group of people practicing pole vault and, after being shown some basic techniques, she gave it a go.

“I’ve been addicted ever since.

“I really like the comradery and everyone is really encouraging and supportive. It’s a really nice place to hang out.”

‘Never too late to have a go’

A woman throwing a shot put.
ACT Masters Athletics Club member Suzie Gaynor says many people come to improve their fitness and stay for the comradery.(

ABC News: Penny Travers

)

The ACT Masters Athletics Club caters for anyone over the age of 30 and has about 260 members — some who are still competing into their 90s.

“It’s never too late to come and have a go,” club committee member Suzie Gaynor said.

“So many people join our club and say, ‘I haven’t done this since school’.

“Many people come back in their 40s, 50s and 60s and give it a go for the first time and then stay with it for life.”

The 53-year-old joined the club as a runner to improve her fitness but took up shot put with the support of her fellow club members.

“You’re not there alone, even though it’s a sport that you do alone because you’re not in a team.

“The team is more about the camaraderie and support in seeing you do better with your personal best.”

It is reaching her personal best that has Corry setting her sights on breaking more records at next year’s Australian Masters Athletics National Championships in Brisbane.

“I just enjoy running; it’s the sense of being out in the fresh air and the sense of achievement that is really nice,” she said.

“I wish I’d started earlier!”

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Diver trying to break world record with 24-hour underwater clean-up


A world record attempt is underway with a diver trying to collect as much rubbish as possible from under Sydney Harbour.

Dean Cropp is trying to break the record for a 24-hour underwater clean-up.

“What you see on the surface is sometimes only 25-30 per cent,” Mr Cropp told 9News.

He is trying to break a world record spending 24 hours underwater.
Diver Dean Cropp is collecting rubbish from the bottom of Sydney harbour. (9News)

“A lot of it sinks and it’s down there, out of mind out of sight. And no one’s there to clean it up.”

Mr Cropp, an underwater photographer, is scuba driving for 24-hours straight to retrieve single-use plastic from the ocean floor.

He will be battling not just exhaustion but some underwater creatures.

“I’m not so worried about sharks,” he said

“There’s actually a tiny little organism that I have to watch out for which is super dangerous. It’s called a blue ringed octopus.”

Diver Dean Cropp is collecting rubbish from the bottom of the ocean.
He is trying to break a world record spending 24 hours underwater. (9News)

Once Mr Cropp entered the water at Mrs Macquarie’s Chair he has to stay underwater for 24 hours.

There are 20 air cylinders at hand for him and a paramedic on standby. Visibility is around three metres.

The rubbish being found over the coming hours will be taken out and sorted.

It’s hoped most, if not all of it, will be recycled .

The waste collected is hoping to be recycled by Zero Co, a zero-waste startup.
The waste collected is hoping to be recycled by Zero Co, a zero-waste startup. (9News)

Some of it will be turned into permanent use plastic bottles for zero-waste startup Zero Co – the company behind the dive.

“I think it’s important for us to showcase how much plastic is going into our waterways, is going into our harbours, is going into the ocean but also the solution that we’ve come up with to solve this single use plastic problem,” founder of Zero Co Mike Smith said.

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