Wallabies’ enthusiasm after victory over South Africa needs to be tempered

My first words this morning were to the local barista, asking for the regular, as we wake up to cappuccino rugby and watch a rejigged Wallabies outfit take on Argentina.
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Revenge first comes to mind for the Aussies after the shock defeat at this venue last year. What that game showed us is that you can’t take any opposition for granted, especially one at home that will scrap for everything.

But what revenge can sometimes do is fill you with emotion and cloud your judgement. Today has to be about precision.

It was an interesting time to be a Wallabies fan this week, with the news that there had been mass changes to the team that just won against the No.2 ranked team in the world. You would be right in asking why so many changes to an outfit that just won against South Africa?

Perhaps the easiest way to answer that is to talk about momentum. The Wallabies, for the majority of the match, were not the dominant team, just hanging on in the contest.

If it weren’t for a few individual moments of brilliance for the Wallabies, the Springboks could have easily scored more points.

They outmuscled Australia at the breakdown for most part, the scrum was better in stages and they seemed to make easy yards over the advantage line.

For what it is worth, the Boks performance lacked precision at times, but this win was about grit, determination and belief. Somehow the Wallabies stayed in the contest and created a momentum shift in the second half, and it was solely due to the bench players having a real impact.

The selection chatter before the game was the halves combination of Will Genia and Quade Cooper.

An injury prevented Genia from returning to the field, enabling Nick Phipps to come on with immediate impact.

The passes had real zip behind them, he ran from the base of the ruck on occasion and increased the tempo of the game.

The second major influence was the benching of Quade Cooper. I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that its a big opportunity for the Reds five-eighth to control the game, to control the team.

For those two responsibilities I would only give him a pass mark, nothing more.

Cooper was playing way too far behind the advantage line. The passing and ball movement looked great, but nullified the attack and getting into the opposition’s faces.

The difference Matt Toomua brought to the game was significant, flattening up the attack. He, with Phipps, brought a whole new energy to the Wallabies and that certainly was visible in the last quarter of the game.

This week the selectors have gone for existing combinations at provincial level in the back line, to provide stability and understanding, with X-factor the order off the bench late in the game with Kurtley Beale and Cooper especially.

The key to any victory, however, is defence and the Wallabies had that in spades last Saturday, led by who I thought was their best: Michael Hooper.

Right from the kick-off he was into the opposition, denying them time and space, pulling off hit after hit, not allowing South Africa to generate momentum.

Bob Dwyer used to talk about defence as not simply making a tackle, but getting the ball back from the opposition.

The turning point was Hooper’s hit on Schalk Burger, driving him into his own goal. The ensuing play saw the tackler come up with a try.

This week, however, sees Hooper warming the pine, but I’m sure will play a similar role to that of David Pocock, coming on just after half-time.

Pocock’s selection this week is purely to dominate the breakdown against a massive Argentinian pack.

With a plethora of options to choose from, the coaching staff are able to tailor a game plan specifically for each team and it’s been some time since that has been the case.

The next question is, can you play two openside flankers in the one team in Hooper and Pocock? I don’t think that option is too far away.

Finally, on momentum, I am going to acknowledge the scrum. Talk about game changers in the Brisbane Test – the two scrums at the death of the game, deep in South Africa’s half were the pillars to the Wallabies victory.

Greg Holmes, Stephen Moore and Scott Sio provided a platform that I haven’t seen for some time.

The stable scrum allowed good delivery to attack and the result was a try. So much more of that is going to be needed today.

Just a week ago, courage was the word used to describe victory.

Today, I would love to be using the word “clinical”.

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ALP national conference: Shorten prevails on boat turnbacks but faces gay marriage fight

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen “I believe a binding vote for Labor in favour of marriage equality risks the Liberals re-binding against marriage equality”: Bill Shorten. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
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Opposition Leader Bill Shorten votes to oppose a motion by Labor’s left faction to ban boat turn-backs. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Protesters disrupt the debate on Labor’s asylum seeker policies. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Tanya Plibersek in “witness protection” over boatsProtesters dragged from ALP national conference

Bill Shorten has prevailed in his fight on asylum seeker boat turnbacks but could yet lose a vote on same-sex marriage.

At the ALP national conference on Saturday, the Opposition Leader fended off an attempt by the Left faction to amend the party’s platform to prohibit a future Labor government turning boats back to Indonesia.

The Left sought to insert a line into the platform reading: “Labor rejects turning away boats of people seeking asylum. We believe it undermines the co-operation required to reach sustainable regional processing arrangements”.

The amendment moved by Victorian backbencher Andrew Giles was declared lost after a show of hands.

The vote came after a heated and sometimes emotional debate that was interrupted by protesters who climbed onstage and unfurled a banner reading “No refugee tow backs”. Mr Shorten told delegates he could not take a policy to the next election that could contribute to drownings at sea.

Mr Shorten’s deputy, Tanya Plibersek, had a proxy vote in favour of the Left’s motion but did not appear on the floor in person. Labor Senate Leader Penny Wong did the same. Mr Shorten’s former leadership rival, Anthony Albanese, voted for the motion in person.

Had the amendment succeeded it would have seriously damaged Mr Shorten’s authority and leadership.

But his relief may be short-lived. Sources on both the Left and Right say a vote on same-sex marriage is likely to be much closer and neither side is taking a win for granted.

Ms Plibersek has led the push for a binding vote on same-sex marriage, meaning Labor MPs and senators would be compelled to vote in favour of it in the Parliament or risk expulsion. Currently, Labor MPs are allowed to vote according to their conscience on the issue.

Mr Shorten is urging his colleagues not to support a binding vote.

“I believe a binding vote for Labor in favour of marriage equality risks the Liberals re-binding against marriage equality.  It lets Tony Abbott off the hook,” he told Fairfax Media on Saturday.

“But I understand that not every Labor MP or party member feels the same way. Some, particularly people of faith, take a different view. I respect this. It’s why I support a free vote on marriage equality.

“I know we can achieve marriage equality by the power of our arguments.”

Mr Shorten wants to keep the pressure on Prime Minister Tony Abbott to allow his team a free vote.

Ms Plibersek has been largely silent on the binding vote issue since first flagging it in April. But sources say she will advocate for the amendment on the conference floor on Sunday.

Fairfax Media understands the amendment is likely to keep the conscience vote status quo in place for the current Parliament and only impose a binding vote after the next federal election – if the reform has not yet passed.

“We don’t want to give Abbott any excuse to squib it,” a Left source said.

It’s understood Labor Senate Leader Penny Wong will also back a binding vote. But Mr Albanese will vote against the amendment.

Earlier on Saturday, Mr Shorten unveiled the details of his broader immigration policy, full of sweeteners for those unhappy with his stance on turnbacks.

Mr Shorten pledged to double Australia’s annual humanitarian refugee intake to 27,000 by 2025, abolish Temporary Protection Visas and reinstate the United Nations Refugee Convention in the Migration Act.

He also revealed details of an “historic” $450 million contribution to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, to boost its capacity in south-east Asia and the Pacific. It would be the biggest ever Australian contribution to the UNHCR.

Mr Shorten also promised more independent oversight of Australian-funded immigration facilities in Papua New Guinea and Nauru, to restore access to the Refugee Review Tribunal and appoint an Independent Children’s Advocate.

It’s understood Labor will not adopt the government’s secretive approach to asylum boat arrivals and will instead make a public announcement whenever boats arrive or are turned around.

Labor also won’t return boats to some “source” countries like Sri Lanka and Burma because that would breach Australia’s international non-refoulement obligations. But Labor sources are adamant no one who comes by boat will ever be resettled in Australia under any circumstances.

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Labor national conference: best quotes from the asylum seeker policy debate

Bill Shorten
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“Fleeing persecution is not a crime. And we do not seek to pander to a noisy, tiny minority who will never embrace modern multicultural Australia. But there are important truths we must face. There is a history and a reality that we cannot ignore. The challenge before us is real, the questions we grapple with as elemental as life and death.”

Andrew Giles

“I think we can get to a vision Richard and Bill have carved out without turnbacks.”

Richard Marles

“By and large these people smugglers are now out of business. Some driving taxis in Jakarta. And so we must not be a party to opening this journey again and putting those people smugglers back into business with the inevitable consequence [that] we will see a huge loss of life.”

Murray Watt

“I can tell you regardless of the outcome of this debate I will back out on the streets campaigning proudly for Labor. But having said that, I think we can do a bit better.”

Matt Thistlethwaite

“This is an issue that has divided Labor for too long. It’s time for Labor to establish a policy that promotes Labor values; a policy that our members [as] representatives are proud to campaign on in the wider community.”

Linda Scott

“We put our country’s image as a rich tapestry of multiculturalism at risk when we seek to adopt divisive policies like turning back boats.”

Tony Burke

“The truth is I was Labor’s last immigration minister and you have a right to hear directly from me about what that job involved, the choices that involved and how that lends us to think very carefully when we use words like ‘compassion, [that] we actually know the exact context.”

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Labor national conference: Tanya Plibersek’s gay marriage vote threatens Bill Shorten

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek. Photo: Alex EllinghausenProtesters evicted as debate heats upPlibersek in ‘witness protection’ over boats
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Bill Shorten has made a last-ditch appeal to his colleagues not to adopt a binding vote on same-sex marriage amid renewed speculation he could be defeated on the issue on the floor of the ALP national conference.

It’s believed the party’s Left faction, led by Mr Shorten’s deputy Tanya Plibersek, intends to push ahead with a plan to amend the Labor platform so that MPs would be forced to vote in favour of same-sex marriage in Parliament.

Currently, they can vote according to their conscience but under the proposed change they could face expulsion if they deviated from the party line.

Sources on both the Left and Right say the vote is likely to be extremely close and neither side is taking a win for granted.

Mr Shorten believes adopting a binding vote would be a mistake. He wants to keep the pressure on Prime Minister Tony Abbott to allow his team a free vote and believes Labor adopting a binding vote would undermine that effort.

“I believe a binding vote for Labor in favour of marriage equality risks the Liberals re-binding against marriage equality. It lets Tony Abbott off the hook,” he told Fairfax Media on Saturday.

“But I understand that not every Labor MP or party member feels the same way. Some, particularly people of faith, take a different view. I respect this. It’s why I support a free vote on marriage equality.

“I know we can achieve marriage equality by the power of our arguments.”

Mr Shorten said “marriage equality has been a marathon effort and I believe we’re only a few hundred metres short”.

Ms Plibersek has been largely silent on the binding vote issue since first flagging it in April. But sources say she will advocate for the amendment on the conference floor on Sunday.

Fairfax Media understands the amendment is likely to keep the conscience vote status quo in place for the current Parliament and only impose a binding vote after the next federal election, if the reform has not yet passed.

“We don’t want to give Abbott any excuse to squib it,” a Left source said.

It’s understood Labor Senate Leader Penny Wong is also likely to back a binding vote. But another prominent member of the left, Mr Shorten’s one-time leadership rival Anthony Albanese, will vote against the amendment.

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MPs’ expenses and entitlements: a guide

MINISTERS
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Salary

Prime minister: $507.338

Deputy prime minister: $400,016

Treasurer: $365,868.75

Cabinet minister: $336,599.25

Minister: $307,329

Travel and transport

Unlimited business class domestic flights for official business

Charter flight when commercial fare is more expensive, not available or not feasible

Prime minister has access to Air Force VIP aircraft

Car with driver when in Canberra, interstate or travelling for official purposes

Travel and transport to party conferences

Private-plated vehicle for both work and personal use

Ministers are entitled to use of Air Force VIP aircraft if approved by defence minister

Official overseas travel and with parliamentary delegations

Travel allowance for official business

Varying commercial rates: $271 in Canberra, $435 in Sydney, $435 in Melbourne and $469 in Perth. Allowance is less for non-commercial arrangements. Number of nights capped according to size of electorate, state or position)

Family travel

Unlimited travel for partners for official purposes. Nine business class return trips to Canberra for a partner and three for each child. Three business class trips for partners and children for interstate trips.

Gifts

Politicians must declare gifts worth $300 or more from private or industry sources and $750 if from official government sources. If the politician wishes to retain the gift, they must pay the difference between its value and the allowable limit or surrender it to the government.

SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE AND PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE

Salary

$341,477

Travel and transport

Unlimited business class domestic flights for official business

Car with driver when in Canberra, interstate or travelling for official purposes

Travel and transport to party conferences

Private-plated vehicle for both work and personal use

Official overseas travel and with parliamentary delegations

Charter flights for official business

Travel allowance for official business

Varying commercial rates: $271 in Canberra, $435 in Sydney, $435 in Melbourne and $469 in Perth. Allowance is less for non-commercial arrangements. Number of nights capped according to size of electorate, state or position.

Family travel

Unlimited travel for partners for official purposes. Nine business class return trips to Canberra for a partner and three for each child. Three business class trips for partners and children for interstate trips.

SHADOW MINISTERS

Salary

Opposition leader: $360,990

Deputy opposition leader: $307,329

Shadow minister: $243,912

Travel and transport

Unlimited business class domestic flights for official business

Car with driver when in Canberra, interstate or travelling for official purposes

Travel and transport to party conferences

Private-plated vehicle for both work and personal use

Official overseas travel for the opposition leader

Charter flights for office holders’ official business

Overseas travel with parliamentary delegations is covered by the government

Leader, deputy leader and Senate leader are entitled to use of Air Force VIP aircraft if approved by defence minister

Travel allowance for official business

Varying commercial rates: $271 in Canberra, $435 in Sydney, $435 in Melbourne and $469 in Perth. Allowance is less for non-commercial arrangements. Number of nights capped according to size of electorate, state or position.

Family travel

Unlimited travel for leaders’ partners for official purposes. Nine business class return trips to Canberra for a partner and three for each child. Three business class trips for partners and children for interstate trips.

PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARIES

Salary

$243,912

Travel and transport

Unlimited business class domestic flights for official business

Car with driver when in Canberra, interstate or travelling for official purposes

Travel and transport to party conferences

Private-plated vehicle for both work and personal use

Overseas travel with official visits (approved by prime minister) and parliamentary delegations

Entitled to use of Air Force VIP aircraft, at the discretion of their minister, if approved by defence minister

Travel allowance for official business

Varying commercial rates: $271 in Canberra, $435 in Sydney, $435 in Melbourne and $469 in Perth. Allowance is less for non-commercial arrangements. Number of nights capped according to size of electorate, state or position.

Family travel

Unlimited travel for partners for official purposes. Nine business class return trips to Canberra for a partner and three for each child. Three business class trips for partners and children for interstate trips.

BACKBENCHERS

Salary

$195,130

Travel and transport

Unlimited business class domestic flights for official business

Car with driver when in Canberra, interstate or travelling for official purposes

Travel and transport to party conferences

Overseas travel with parliamentary delegations

Private-plated vehicle for both work and personal use

Charter flights for electorate business for senators and members with electorates larger than 10,000 square kilometres

Travel allowances for official business

Varying commercial rates: $271 in Canberra, $395 in Sydney, $395 in Melbourne and $409 in Perth. Allowance is less for non-commercial arrangements. Number of nights capped according to size of electorate, state or position.

Family travel

Nine business class return trips to Canberra for a partner and three for each child. Three business class trips for partners and children to join minister on interstate trips.

ALL MEMBERS AND SENATORS:

Superannuation

For politicians who entered parliament before the 2004 election:

11.5 per cent of their salary for up to 18 years and 5.75 per cent after that. They also receive a lump sum payments or pension when they retire, based on years of service.

For politicians who entered parliament after the 2004 election:

Government pays 15.4 per cent of their salary into a super fund elected by the MP.

Gifts

Politicians must declare gifts worth $300 or more from private or industry sources and $750 if from official government sources. If the politician wishes to retain the gift, they must pay the difference between its value and the allowable limit or surrender it to the government.

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Tanya Plibersek in ‘witness protection’ over boats at Labor’s national conference

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek during the launch of the national conference on Friday. Photo: Andrew MearesTanya Plibersek’s gay marriage vote threatens ShortenProtesters dragged out as Labor debate heats up
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Labor deputy leader Tanya Plibersek has drawn fire from her own side for being in “witness protection” over the ALP’s decision to adopt the Coalition’s policy of turning back asylum seeker boats.

And fellow frontbencher Anthony Albanese, who has led the Left in fighting the ALP’s adoption of the boat turn-backs policy, declared in a fiery meeting of delegates that “doing nothing” on turn-backs was not an option.

Ms Plibersek and Senator Penny Wong – who are both members of the leadership group – voted by proxy for the Left motion to avoid publicly opposing leader Bill Shorten.

Mr Albanese, who publicly backed a motion to explicitly forbid Labor from performing boat turn-backs in government, told the Left delegates meeting that “unlike other caucus members I won’t just sit there and do nothing”.

“This [boat turn-backs] is a red line we cannot cross,” he said, adding that he would vote for the Left’s motion.

Those comments were understood by multiple sources in the room as criticism of colleagues including Ms Plibersek and Senator Wong.

However, Mr Albanese later told Fairfax Media that he had not been criticising his colleagues and that he had in fact praised others in the meeting who had a different view to him.

Queensland MP Terri Butler stood in for Ms Plibersek and ACT Senator Katy Gallagher stood in for Senator Wong.

Behind the scenes, Ms Plibersek has been under intense pressure from her political allies in the Left to publicly oppose the adoption of boat turn-backs.

But Labor’s foreign affairs spokeswoman, who is seen by some in the party as a future leader and is a rival to Mr Albanese in the Left, has had to balance that pressure with the need to support Mr Shorten.

One Left delegate said Ms Plibersek had “barely spoken” on the issue during meetings and appeared to be in “witness protection”, to the disappointment of many political allies.

Another Left delegate said Ms Plibersek had “put her duties as deputy leader of the Labor Party first” and that she was “much more hardline than Albo [Mr Albanese] on asylum seekers”, though that delegate said that at least some in the Left understood the bind the deputy leader was in.

A third delegate said Ms Plibersek’s absence from public debate over the issue showed she was “not used to serious scrutiny”.

But an ally of Ms Plibersek’s said she had focused her energy, during negotiations over the policy, on doubling the refugee intake and securing additional funding for the UNHCR – both outcomes that were secured.

“She has been genuinely conflicted on turn-backs, as deputy the need for solidarity has been at the top of her mind. That’s why she hasn’t bought in to public debate at all, it wouldn’t have helped the leader,” the ally said.

The Left-aligned Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy union also backed Mr Shorten to defeat the motion to forbid turn-backs, and sections of the United Voice union also backed the Labor leader.

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AFL spectacle ‘more critical than it’s ever been’ due to threat of soccer, says legend Leigh Matthews

Leigh Matthews (right) says the AFL has cause for concern. Photo: Joe Armao Leigh Matthews (right) says the AFL has cause for concern. Photo: Joe Armao
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Leigh Matthews (right) says the AFL has cause for concern. Photo: Joe Armao

Leigh Matthews (right) says the AFL has cause for concern. Photo: Joe Armao

Australian football legend Leigh Matthews has warned the AFL that the league’s “spectacle is more critical” than it has ever been, with football’s “monopoly on Melbourne winter sport” lost.

A crowd of 99,382 attended Friday night’s International Champions Cup soccer game between Real Madrid and Manchester City at the MCG, while just 26,815 turned up to see Hawthorn inflict Carlton’s heaviest ever defeat at Etihad Stadium.

None of the three biggest crowds at the MCG so far this year have been for an AFL game, with Friday night’s soccer, March’s Cricket World Cup final and June’s State of Origin rugby league all drawing more than the 88,395 that watched Collingwood’s ANZAC Day win over Essendon.

With the AFL scoring drought continuing amid massive stoppage numbers, Matthews said on Saturday the league would need to be vigilant.

“We have to accept a little bit that the AFL has no longer got its monopoly on Melbourne winter sport,” Matthews said on 3AW.

While he believed football was still the “biggest show in town”, Matthews said he realised the seriousness of the AFL’s challenge when 50,871 watched May’s A-League semi-final between Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City at Etihad Stadium, only slightly less than went to the same night’s Geelong-Collingwood MCG game.

“[The A-League] was being spoken about almost as much in the general media in the Friday night that particular week.”

“That’s the first time I can ever recall anything other than the the Friday night AFL game being anywhere near potentially the biggest show in town.

“I think last night just emphasised it again that therefore the spectacle is more critical than it’s ever been because there is genuine opposition out there.”

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Developer pays $1.5 million over reserve for rundown Granville house

The house at 33 William Street, Granville, which is zoned R4 for apartments, sold for $2,781,000. Photo: domain上海夜网m.auVIDEO: Woollahra cottage sells at first sight for $1.76 million
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Frenzied bidding between six developers resulted in an unrenovated Granville house selling $1.53 million over reserve at auction on Saturday morning.

The house, which sold for $2,781,000, stands at the front boundary of a 1440-square-metre block at 33 Williams Street adjoining the Granville Diggers Club.

It was sold by an elderly woman – who had lived in the home for more than 60 years – and her grandson.

It was one of 715 homes scheduled to go under the hammer on what was the busiest July auction day on record.

By Saturday evening, Domain Group had collected 553 results and put the clearance rate at 79.7 per cent, the lowest rate recorded this year.

“The market is creaking under record winter listings,” said Domain’s senior economist, Dr Andrew Wilson.

Twenty five developers registered to bid on the Granville property, which is zoned R4 for apartments under Parramatta council’s codes.

Selling agent Tony Eltakchi of LJ Hooker Granville said the owners had, until recently, been unaware their land had been rezoned.

After the hammer fell the pair were close to tears. They said the result had changed their lives. Soon after, they drove off in their car. “They were off to Picton to buy a new house,” said Mr Eltakchi.   */]]>

House prices in Granville have surged by 34.2 per cent in the past year, making it one of the city’s fastest growing suburbs.

Even so, the sale price of 33 William Street was more than three times the suburb’s median of $768,500.

Asked whether he thought the huge disparity between his price guide of “more than $1 million” and the sale price could be construed as underquoting Mr Eltakchi said no-one knows exactly what can be built on the block.

“There’s a very large easement in the backyard so it’s not known what can and can’t be built on the block or the floor-space ratio,” he said. “But someone must have done their homework.”

The bidding opened at $900,000 and when the property was called on the market at $1.25 million by auctioneer Rob Trovato of Auctions Services, the bidding “went into a frenzy”, said Mr Eltakchi.

He had earlier approached the owner of the house next door to see if they wanted to sell but was told not yet.

“He wants to sit and wait in the box seat,” said Mr Eltakchi.

Parramatta City Council is in the middle of an apartment building boom with $8 billion worth of development in the pipeline.

At the start of the year the council announced it intended to double the size of the Parramatta CBD in 10 years and create a rival to the Sydney CBD.

This duplex at 10 Bruce Avenue, Manly, sold for $4.55 million on Saturday. Photo: Craig Bryant

One of the highest sales of the day was a waterfront duplex in Manly. It sold under the hammer for its reserve of $4.55 million.

The buyers are an ex-pat couple living in Manila. The wife flew in on Wednesday to inspect the property; her husband, an IT professional arrived on Friday.

Selling agent, Cherie Humel of Clarke & Humel had three registered bidders. She said the buyers will rent it out for about $2500 a week before returning to Sydney.

A house at 46 Thurlow Street, Redfern, sold for $1.9 million on Saturday – $100,000 over reserve.

In other auctions, a four-bedroom house at 46 Thurlow Street, Redfern, was hot property, going for $1.9 million – $100,000 over its reserve through Ray White Surry Hills.

The couple who bought it were “chuffed”. “We can’t believe we got it under $2 million,” IT manager James Sillence said.

There were 10 registered to bid but the buyer’s agent acting for the couple blew away the opposition with the $1.9 million opening bid.

As an indication of how much stronger the market is this year than last year, the same home was listed for sale at $1.9 million last September and then discounted down to $1.7 million before being withdrawn from sale.

This house at 13 Edna Street, Lilyfield, sold for $1.4 million – $300,000 over reserve. Photo: domain上海夜网m.au

In Lilyfield, fast bidding took the sale price for a two-bedroom semi $300,000 over reserve. A couple from Newtown beat four other parties paying $1.4 million for the Victorian house with city views. It last traded for $840,000 in 2010.

Selling agent, Simon Pilcher of Pilcher Residential said the Lilyfield market has been “on fire” for the past 12 months with the suburb record being broken five times since October.

The buyers of the semi at 13 Edna Street had been searching for seven months and had missed out on multiple homes.

This house 7 Merton Street, Zetland, sold for $1.5 million on Saturday.

At Zetland, the rare offering of a partly renovated Victorian house in a suburb surrounded by new developments had two buyers take its sale price $254,000 over reserve.

The buyer, a grandmother who has been a Zetland resident for 10 years, paid $1,504,000 for the two-bedroom house with a car space at 7 Merton Street.

She plans to rent it before renovating and adding a second storey and moving in.

David Bettini of Martin Property Agents said it was a “cracker result.”

“The big plus there is the location,” said Mr Bettini. “It’s close to the new East Village shopping centre and to Green Square town centre with the library and Aquatic Centre coming soon. The whole area is just fantastic.”

With Stephen Nicholls

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Dexter, Hannibal: Eat your hearts out – meet Graeme Cameron’s new Normal

A serial writer in the making? Graeme Cameron author of Normal. Photo: SuppliedWhen Graeme Cameron finished high school he sat in the back bedroom of his house for the whole summer and wrote the worst crime novel that’s never been read by anyone.
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Now he’s written what could well be one of the best crime novels of the year.

Normal is a book about a man who is just that. He leads a pretty simple life, nice house, tidy garden, he shops at the local supermarket. He’s funny and clever and friendly. The only thing different about him is that he kills people, lots of people, and has a woman locked in the basement of his house until he can decide what to do with her.

It’s a creepy book, chilling even, but you’ll find yourself laughing and rooting for the killer who remains unnamed throughout the book. It feels somewhat inappropriate but Cameron has written a story, and developed characters, that will stay with you well into the night.

“That summer I was sitting there trying to write that terrible book I have since destroyed all evidence of and I had the radio on for some reason,” says Cameron.

“I was listening to an interview with a former FBI profiler who had written his first novel and he was talking about the psychology of serial killers and his experiences in profiling them. I found it really fascinating.

“I thought then that one day I would write about serial killers, it was about the time The Silence of the Lambs movie came out in the early 90s and serial killers were all the fashion but, then, there didn’t seem to be anything new to say about them.

“And years later when I came back to it the fashion had changed. The movie Hostel had just come out [in 2005] and the only way of saying anything new was pushing the boundaries and making the villain more cartoonishly grotesque and evil and making the crime more and more horrific. I wasn’t interested in that either.

“But I had to start writing, so I just sat down and wrote something like that, it was absolutely disturbing, I didn’t want to really read it back, it was pretty uncomfortable but within half a chapter it started to turn into something else.

“Because I couldn’t stomach what I was actually writing, I had to find a way around it, trying to tell that story in a different way and it quickly developed into what it became, something fairly readable that I hadn’t read before.”

Cameron, who comes across as friendly, clever and funny, laughs when he talks about the idea of a first novel being a confession. He swears he isn’t a serial killer (but how to tell, that’s the premise here isn’t it?) He swears that the constant ping on his phone during our interview isn’t a woman in his basement demanding her dinner.

“But there are ways of reading a story aren’t there?” he says.

“If you read between the lines there’s a lot of truth in that character for anyone who’s been in a controlling relationship, or a situation where you’re not literally chaining someone up in the basement, or going out to murder people, but there’s a thread running through it about relationships and how people treat each other.

“When I read it back now, knowing what I know, it does kind of make me think about myself and how I could write that stuff. It’s been a learning process about who I am and who I’ve been, the relationships I’ve been in … and I think that’ll strongly inform whatever I write next.”

Cameron, 40, lives in Norfolk, in the east of England, where the book is set. He recently took a reporter from the local newspaper on a tour of all the murder sites in the book. The reporter has been seen again.

“Writing is the only thing I’ve ever applied myself to,” he says.  “Now I’ve achieved my life’s ambition I really have no idea where to go from here.”

But there is another book due out next year. A serial writer in the making.

Normal, by Graeme Cameron. Harlequin. $29.99.

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Rundown Woollahra cottage sells at first sight for $1.76 million

Auctioneer Jason Pantzer starts the bidding for 20 John Street, Woollahra on Saturday. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer The home sold for $1.76 million – $260,000 above reserve. Photo: domain上海夜网m.au
Shanghai night field

The 1850s home is one of the last unrenovated properties in the area. Photo: domain上海夜网m.au

New owner Easwaren Siva, with his dog Poppy. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer

Residents of Sydney’s affluent eastern suburbs pay for the pleasure of living in blue ribbon postcodes such as Woollahra – but who would have thought walking the dog could cost $1.76 million?

That is what happened at the auction of a two-bedroom 1850s sandstone cottage at 20 John Street on Saturday. It sold for $260,000 over reserve.

Easwaren Siva, who lives nearby, took poodle-cross Poppy out for a morning stroll in the sun; luckily he brought a chequebook with his doggy bags.

“I have missed out on so many properties, I am still in shock, I came prepared but I thought I would be outbid today,” he said.

John Street was one of 715 properties scheduled to go under the hammer on what was the busiest July auction day on record.

By Saturday evening, Domain Group had collected 553 results and put the clearance rate at 79.7 per cent, the lowest rate recorded this year.

“The market is creaking under record winter listings,” said Domain’s senior economist, Dr Andrew Wilson.

Mr Siva hadn’t inspected the property before Saturday so he joined a group of 10 other registered bidders for a brief pre-auction tour with sales agent Daniel Cachia​ of Phillips Pantzer Donnelley.

“This was obviously a very astute buyer, it is rare that happens, but when it does you run with it,” Mr Cachia said.

The cottage needs a fair amount of TLC to be inhabitable – beyond the faded white picket fence is one of the last unrenovated homes in the area.

Mr Cachia said work could run anywhere from $500,000 to $1 million, to bring the home in keeping with its neighbours.

“I think this street is the best drawcard for buyers, being where it is and close to shops and cafes, a walk to Centennial Park, it is a great lifestyle.”

The Woollahra median house price is $2.25 million, according to Domain Group data, with 15.2 per cent growth in the past year – more than double Sydney’s recently acquired million-dollar median house price.

The auction came just days after news of the milestone – and it seemed registered bidders were well and truly spooked, perhaps thinking the market was so hot they stood no chance.

“I guess we will put a number up, but I think we are kidding ourselves today – we are in Woollahra and in this crazy market,” said a woman who wished to remain anonymous, echoing similar murmurs heard throughout the pre-auction inspection.

Auctioneer Jason Pantzer​ accepted an opening bid on the reserve price of $1.5 million, before a two-horse race that lasted a little over five minutes.

The fun ended when Mr Pantzer asked for an extra $1000 on top of $1.76 million: “Nah he can have it” was the underbidder’s dry response.

The fall of the hammer ended Mr Siva’s year-long search for a local investment property – and good, if surprising news for the family.

“I kept telling my wife every weekend that I had bought each place I looked at, as a joke – so now she won’t believe me!” Mr Siva said.

The buyer said he will do some minor renovations before finding new tenants.

He said he eventually plans to add a second storey, though doesn’t intend to live there.

The property had been in the same family for 60 years, though it had been rented for 40.

“They are very happy now, this will fund their retirement and they can cash in and enjoy themselves,” Mr Cachia said.

  Domain Read More …