Ratepayers money “at risk” from Ryde’s green investment policy

A Rescission Motion to scrap the City of Ryde’s green driven policy to withdraw investments of around $200 million of ratepayers money from financial institutions that invest in fossil fuel energy was defeated by seven votes to five at Tuesday night’s council meeting.

The Rescission Motion by the Ryde Liberals – backed by Independent Clr Roy Maggio – called for the policy to be scrapped until the council had received financial assurances that investments would not nosedive as a result of it.

The defeated motion also sparked debate on the reality of climate change with Liberal Clr Chris Moujalli warning Ryde not to vilify fossil fuel energy.

“We do not want to go down the path of South Australia, where they have an alternative energy policy and power cuts,” he said.

“We already have to pay the cost of power bills going up that effects our households and our businesses.

“Our country was built on fossil fuels and must we now look badly on them ?”

The Greens Clr Edwina Clifton strongly disagreed.

“Our top priority must be to adapt to the inevitable reality of climate change and the burning of fossil fuels is what is causing climate change .. to say mining is keeping the economy going is a fallacy.”

For Liberal Trenton Brown the debate was not about ideology but economics.

“Like every one dollar coin you have heads and tails, return and risk and we no little about the risk of this policy,” he said.

“It is not about ideology, we simply want a report.”

Councillor Maggio said the council had no right to adopt the policy with a risk assessment.

“This council has no mandate to invest $200 million in ratepayer’s money without a report to say this policy is beneficial and our staff support it, because our ratepayers pay high rates and deserve better.”

Mayor Laxale said council staff will provide monthly reports and that he is “comfortable” with the system of financial checks and balances in place.

Liberal Clr Jordan Lane said a staff report falls short of a detailed risk assessment into investing in so called “environmentally correct” institutions.

“This Rescission Motion is standing between ratepayer’s money and a possible financial train wreck,” Clr Lane said.

“Are we going to invest $200 million in something that is not secure?”

It would not be the first time the City of Ryde has been stung by investment losses with the council losing around three million dollars during the recent world financial crisis, although staff assured councillors the council is continuing to recover past losses.

Councillor Penny Pedersen assured councillors that the new investment policy “hardly puts Ryde at risk” and that major European institutions and other Sydney councils are leading the way in divesting money into alternative energy safe portfolios.

Education Feature: Marist College Eastwood

Marist College art tribute to great women

ART from 24 of the most talented students at Marist College, Eastwood will tour galleries across NSW next year.

The works include Year 12 student Daniel Ironside’s tribute to famous women in history (pictured) titled ‘Miss Interpretation’ which has been selected for the prestigious Art Express exhibition.

Daniel is also expected to be interviewed by The University of Arts in London with the aim of offering a sculpture admission.

Marist College Art Teacher Danielle Spurr told The Weekly Times that ‘Miss Interpretation’ will be one of many student works exhibited at Hazelhurst Regional Gallery and Arts Centre, the Hawkesbury Regional Gallery and the Glasshouse Port Macquarie.

‘This year the College was exceptionally fortunate to have 24 students who are outstanding artists,’ Ms Spurr said.

‘They chose their own form and did sculpture, drawing, photography and even one kinetic work from a student who is a robot enthusiast.’

Top results all round for Marist Eastwood students

MARIST College Eastwood has again achieved outstanding academic results in 2017.

These began last term when the NAPLAN results were released earlier in the year.

They follow the pattern of recent years with results being well above the state average whilst also showing significant growth.

82.5 per cent of Year 9 students had greater than or equal to expected learning growth in Reading;

The percentage of students at Marist College Eastwood achieving Band 10 in Grammar and Punctuation in 2017 is almost double 2016 and almost triple 2015;

The percentage of students achieving Band 10 in Numeracy is double the State percentage;

Year 9 scored above CEC or State in all aspects of the test;

The percentage of Year 9 students at proficiency is above the state in all aspects of the test, with Reading and Numeracy more than 20 per cent above State;

The percentage of Year 9 students performing below national minimum standards is very low (less than 3 per cent) and lower than the State in all aspects of the test.

The College is proud of what their boys have achieved.

Marist is a comprehensive school; accepting and catering for boys of all abilities.

Nevertheless, with the support of their teachers, and as a result of their own consistent efforts, they have displayed their true potential. They will continue to monitor trend data in NAPLAN to assess the efficacy of their pedagogical practices as part of their continuous improvement approach to learning and teaching at the college.

The 2017 HSC results that were released last week further highlighted the academic success of the college.

They provided affirmation of the great work done by staff in preparing their boys for assessment and examinations.

What is particularly important to note is the consistency in which the College now achieves in the top two bands.

They continue to score well in Bands 5 and 6.

The College achieved 63 Band 6s and 218 Band 5s this year and this reaffirms the College’s position as a high performing comprehensive school .

Overall 89 per cent of subjects were above State average with 77 per cent of students receiving a Band 5 and / or Band 6 in one or more subjects.

Principal Mark Woolfood complimented both teachers and students at the recent Academic Awards night when he said:

“Our academic results cap off a wonderful year for the college.

The achievements from the Class of 2017 continue the trend of strong results at Marist College Eastwood.

I acknowledge the hard work and commitment of our students, excellent and committed teaching, and the support of the boys’ families.

Our focus on placing the right students, in the right courses at the right levels continues to influence our solid results.

Such levels of achievement also testify to Marist College Eastwood’s approach; that every student is encouraged and assisted to be the very best that they can be in a supportive and nurturing community.

Marist College Eastwood Principal Mark Woolford pictured with two of the schoolÕs high achievers – Rhys Jennings who received an ATAR of 99.94 and placed first in the Sydney Archdiocese in English Extension 1 and Jacob Moses who placed first in the Archdiocese in Software Design. Other meritorious achievers were Keita Sugimoto, who placed first in Japanese in Context; James Malloy first in Spanish Beginners and Andrew Cantrill (a Year 11 accelerated student) who scored 100 per cent in 2 Unit Mathematics and also placed first in the Diocese.

 

Education FEATURE PAGES

And the Winner is . . .

Game, set & match: ALEXANDER


JOHN ALEXANDER defied all the odds and was decisively returned as the Liberal Member for Bennelong at last Saturday’s fiercely fought by-election.
Pre-poll pundits had predicted a knife edge contest with Labor’s star candidate former NSW premier Kristina Keneally but the end result was nearly a ten percent margin to Alexander.
Possibly the most relieved person with the result was Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull hoping the win will take pressure off his tenuous hold on the top job with rumblings in the government ranks over his leadership.
An exultant Prime Minister Turnbull is pictured left basking in the glory at Ryde-Eastwood Leagues Club auditorium Saturday night proclaiming John Alexander the winner and Liberal Party hero.

JA Triumphant!

John Alexander was hailed a hero by his supporters, workers and the faithful at Ryde-Eastwood Leagues Club auditorium Saturday night as the results of Saturday’s by-election came in.

The packed auditorium burst into euphoria as John Alexander arrived with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull who declared JA the winner and a Liberal Party hero.

JA recorded under a five per cent swing against him which was considered good as government candidates are usually penalised at by-elections and in the face of the high profile star Labor candidate former NSW premier Kristina Keneally.

PICTURED ABOVE a packed Ryde-Eastwood Leagues Club auditorium erupts in acclamation as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull declares John Alexander the winner.

PICTURED BELOW: John Alexander with partner Debbie and Ryde Liberal Councillor Jordan Lane celebrate. TWT on-the-spot PHOTOS.

RSF Christmas dinner at House of Tong

RYDE Sports Foundation recently held its AGM Christmas Dinner in the House of Tong Chinese Seafood restaurant within North Ryde RSL Community Club. Pictured with House of Tong manager Sunny Chan, Tong Lau and Ann Lin are RSF executive members and partners standing l to r Rob Wilkinson, Jim Towers, Terry Wilson, North Ryde RSL Commuity Club president Barry Herbert, Paul Moujalli, TWT Sports Editor Chris Karas; seated Carolin Wilkinson, Edna Wilde, RSF chairman Jim Hull, secretary Kim Clayton and Mary Wilson. TWT on-the-spot PHOTO.

Hunters Hill Mayor hosts first Xmas Reception

Hunters Hill Mayor Clr Mark Bennett, centre, hosted his first Mayoral Christmas Party in Hunters Hill Town Hall last Thursday night since the September 9 Local Government elections.

He is pictured with, l to r, former mayor Richard Quinn, Hunters Hill General Manager Barry Smith, former councillor Peter Astridge, Mayoress Dr Lydia Bennett, former mayor Clr Ross Williams, Clr Elizabeth Krassoi, Clr Jim Sanderson and Clr Ben Collins.  

TWT on-the-spot PHOTO.

Winning Civic Centre design scrapped

The controversial Beijing Institute design for a new Ryde Civic Centre has been officially thrown on the scrap heap.

The new Ryde councillors dumped the design on Tuesday night, despite it winning the previous (Mayor Pickering led) council’s international design competition and it’s Chinese designers pocketing the prize money.

New Mayor Jerome Laxale said reasons the Chinese design has been scrapped include an unacceptable reliance on 600 to 700 apartments, high rise towers and a blow out in costs.

“The winning entry from the International Design Competition has proved to be unworkable, as predicted at its inception,” Mayor Laxale said.

“The design competition itself has wasted well over $1 million in ratepayers money and our community has rejected 500 to 600 apartments time and time again.”

The Mayor also hit out at a previous council decision to transfer staff from the now abandoned Civic Centre to luxury premises at North Ryde – which was blasted by The Weekly Times editor John F Booth AM in a recent editorial – and which Mayor Laxale confirmed was costing ratepayers a “significant amount” of money.

“We need to end what has been a blight on our community,” Mayor Laxale said.

The Mayor has requested senior council staff to prepare a report on a feasible new Civic Centre which will include council chambers, administrative space, meeting rooms, a performance space and retail space.

“We will need to generate income from this site,” he said.

The Mayor did not rule out retaining and restoring the existing and vacant civic centre building but will await the staff report expected early next year.

He also gave an assurance that Ryde ratepayers and residents living next to the Civic Centre would be fully consulted and their opinions would be respected and valued.

The Civic Centre site has been a huge embarrassment for previous council’s with an initial concept promoted during the term of Mayor Artin Etmekdjian scrapped by his successor, Mayor Ivan Petch only to be followed by the politically plagued but award winning Beijing Institute design championed during the Mayoralty of Clr Bill Pickering.

At last all sides of politics can see a way forward with the council’s Liberal leader, Clr Sarkis Yedelian backing Labor Mayor Jerome Laxale.

“I agree with you on this,” he told the Mayor.

“This has been an on-going disaster but we do not want to sell any public asset to pay for this.

“If we are lucky, it will not cost us anything near the cost of our previous venture.”

Council is expected to talk with local Federal and State MP’s on funding options.

Christmas Church Services

Missionary priest to serve Ryde-Gladesville

The Catholic Parish of Ryde-Gladesville has a new parish priest.

CAPTION: Father Greg Morgan FMVD adds the Three Wise Men to his tiny Nativity scene at his parish office in Ryde. TWT on-the-spot PHOTO

Father Greg Morgan FMVD arrived from Rosebery Parish last week after a colourful career that has seem him work as a missionary priest in ministries as varied as the Hispanic streets of San Francisco and the cloistered corridors of Rome. Although widely travelled he said he is delighted to have found a new home at historic St Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Ryde and Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Gladesville. He also has a strong affinity with Holy Cross Patrician College, being schooled by the Patricians at Fairfield for eight years.

“I really feel at home here, right from the very beginning I can say I love it here,” he said. Father Morgan is from the Catholic Order of Verbum Dei, a worldwide Catholic and evangelistic movement which aims to bring the Word Of God (Verbum Dei) into people’s lives and hearts.

“My spirituality is to explore the readings at Mass, explore the scriptures in everyday life and to build community,” he said.

“My aim is to support the wonderful community we already have here. ”I know that we are living in particularly challenging times, where people work many long hours and that we do lose sight of what is beautiful and we are lacking what is spiritual and joyful.”

Within hours of his arrival, Father Morgan has struck those around him with his sense of joy and love for others and the word will soon get around that he is fluent in Italian and Spanish. Father Morgan also has a Bachelor of Commerce from NSW University and worked as a trainee auditor for Price Waterhouse, but what local people may not know is that he became a priest through an unusual encounter on a train in 1986. ”I had my calling at Villawood Railway Station, when I was 22 years old,” he said. ”I suddenly felt I had been called to talk to a Laotian man, a migrant, a voice inside me urged me to talk to him, but I felt embarrassed to approach a complete stranger.” Father Morgan regretted not listening to his inner voice but as fate would have it, he met the man again, exchanged addresses and learned that his name was Teo Pham and that he lived in a half way house for disabled, traumatised veterans of the Vietnam War. ”For the next six months I’d come by each week to teach them English,” he said.

“From there I met the Verbum Dei missionaries and I just connected, I knew I had been called to be a missionary and my calling absolutely stunned my family.” Ordained in Majorca, Spain in 1995, this joyful priest has served in Colombia, Venezuela, Spain, The Philippines, Ireland, Germany, the United States of America and Italy. ”I went on to become the Administrator General and Vice Superior (male congregation) of the Verbum Dei Fraternity,” he said. ”In saying this, I’m not really such a great organiser, I more of a people person and I’m very much for using the talents we have here and inspiring people. ”That fact that I’ve been a missionary overseas means that I also, especially, welcome being able to serve in this multicultural parish.” A constant presence in Father Morgan’s life is Jesus, whether present on the altar or in the hearts of those who seek love and seek to love others.

“We can love because He first loved us,” he said.

Gladesville has a heart for the poor

Parents and students from Gladesville’s Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic School and parish have donated Christmas gifts for families pushed to financial breaking point.

The gifts include children toys and will be distributed this Christmas through the St Vincent de Paul Society, which is active in the Ryde-Gladesville parish. Our Lady Queen of Peace Family Educator and Saint Vincent de Paul member Anna Alessi said this year is one of the worst on record for struggling families. ”We are seeing mums and dads getting $500 and $600 and even higher power bills, each quarter, and they are struggling to pay them,” Ms Alessi said. ”It is so sad, they can’t afford to go out and buy Christmas presents and some families have even been evicted and are homeless because they can’t pay their bills. ”And it is not just power bills, some people are struggling to meet medical expenses and for others it is rent and day to day living expenses.” This year the St Vincent de Paul Society took the brave step to pay the power bills of needy families and the phrase Ôthe power bill poor’ is now widely used across the welfare sector. Yet despite this emergency power bill payment scheme, there are families who have had their power disconnected for not paying a bill and are homeless. Anna Alessi encounters some of these families through her work with the St Vincent de Paul outreach van and concedes that the van’s clients no longer conform to the stereotype of the city destitute. ”It is no longer just old men, it is families with little children, it really breaks your heart but we do the best we can to help them and even pack lunches so the children can still go to school.” Ms Alessi also meets parents whose self esteem and self confidence has been shattered by their inability to pay the bills. ”Of course these parents are angry, there is so much resentment out there, especially because of the letters of demand they get from these large companies. ”These demands really demoralise people when they know they can’t possibly pay the bill, at first they can even get angry at us but then they understand that we’re not like the large companies, we are here because we have love and compassion for others.” The Weekly Times has stood up for people struggling to pay power bills and has called out the greedy power companies whose bill hikes of 30 to 40 per cent are all the more deplorable because they’re justified with the false rhetoric of climate change. At the same time, this newspaper applauds charitable organisations like St Vincent de Paul and the generous people in our local community who donate to them. ”It is sad that this is happening in our day and age and it shouldn’t be,” Anna Alessi said. ”Here we are in the middle of summer and people are scared to turn on an air conditioner or a fan because they’re afraid of their power bill.” If the way to fight back against corporate greed is through love and compassion, then Anna Alessi and the parishioners of Ryde-Gladesville (and other Christians) who put social justice into action are frontline heroes. ”I love my job, I love being among people, being able to help or just to have a friendly chat, to show that someone cares,” Anna said. ”I know that there are many, many people we still need to help and my Christmas wish for them is to be safe and to know that there are kind hearted people, who love them.” The St Vincent de Paul Society has launched a Christmas Appeal to help families in need and donations can be made through the website: christmasappeal.vinnies.org.au ”For many people, Christmas is a joyful time of year,” the St Vincent de Paul Society said. ”However, the sad reality is that 13.3 per cent of Australians are living in poverty. ”Of these, 731,000 are children who may not get their Christmas wish. ”But your support can make a difference.” Saint Anthony’s Catholic Church in Marsfield – a St Vincent de Paul Society parish – has a Christmas tree where parishioners and visitors can put a Christmas wish on the branches. These wishes will be met by the caring parishioners at St Anthony’s Parish, where possible.

 

CAPTION: Social Justice and compassion in action: Our Lady Queen of Peace (Gladesville) students Alex, Romy, Monet and Robbie join Our Lady Queen of Peace Family Educator and Saint Vincent de Paul member Anna Alessi to distribute gifts to families in need this Christmas. TWT on-the-spot PHOTO

Christmas Church Services FEATURE PAGES

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TWT Cheery Cherry Picking Trippers

Wishing You All a Very Merry Christmas

The Weekly Times annual Cheery Cherry Picking Christmas Trip to Orange last Saturday was greeted by members of Orange City Council at the “Prospect” orchard of Peter Vardenega and family who are direct relations of Ryde’s Granny Smith of the green apple fame.

All trippers returned safely and happily to Ryde aboard the luxury coach loaded with self picked boxes of luscious cherries plus consumed quantities!

Gladesville Christmas Festival

Christmas Pop-Up Shops

Two new Pop-Up Shops have popped up at Gladesville Shopping Village for the  Christmas Season.

They are Vie Vies new Pop-Up shop, right, next the Glades Village Pharmacy and Annabel’s Everything But – One Off Collectables opposite Coles. TWT on-the-spot PHOTOS.

 

They add colour and spice to the new array of traders and shops that have opened in the past few days including Chris Lewis Jewellers and new proprietors at Dory Seafoods and Jumbo Thai foods plus the Houda Family at the impressive new Gladesville Fresh fruit, vegies and deli shop with its weekly super specials.

PICTURED ABOVE: Ahmed and Fida Houda at Gladesville Fresh.

Pros and cons of buying property in super

TOO many people set up a SMSF to buy a property, who shouldn’t really be doing so.

At the same time, there are many it really suits who just haven’t got their head around it yet…that buying in SMSF ticks both the tax minimisation and Asset Protection boxes.

When your capacity to service loans is assessed, for lending outside Super, the bank takes into account at all your commitments and will NOT account for the income you’re forced to put in Super (your ‘SG’ or Superannuation Guarantee).

However, when it comes to SMSF’s the banks can consider only your regular contributions into Super and the rental income the acquired asset will generate.

I helped a dentist buy her surgery building last week and it actually wouldn’t have worked outside super, given her numerous other loans.

Anyway, she’s much better off using the mighty SMSF tax haven great loan too, 4.58% fixed for 3 years with no Establishment Fee. The variance amongst the banks’ rates in this space is crazy.

Us financial advisors can’t give anything other than general advice. Plus I have chosen to specialise only in lending, so I’d get sued harder LOL.

But what I can tell you is why only months ago, I actually purchased our new office building in my SMSF! if you’re interested

The purchase price was $1.52m.

I snapped it up two weeks prior to the auction, just loved it, it used to be the CBA building on the Hume Highway in Strathfield when I was a kid, and more recently a Curves gym.

The cheapest rate was offered by a bank who’d only lend 65% though.

But I didn’t have enough in Super for the rest.

That’s why I had extended the settlement period to July 7, enough time for Tina and myself to each concessionally contribute $35k in each before June 30, and then again on July 2.

The rest came from an investment offset of mine, and was non-concessionally contributed (we got no tax break for that bit).

By the way, at the moment (watch this space though), Bankwest allow you to unlock the equity against your home at the same owner-occupied rate (the increase must be restricted to a dollar amount representing 50% of your home’s value). The other banks charge the higher investment rate for the cash out bit. It’s daylight second if you want to avoid cross-collateralising and want part of your future investment loan at owner-occupied rates.

The interior fit out is underway, being paid by the tenant (my business). The rent iChoice pays my SMSF is of course a tax deduction. However, my SMSF only pays 15% tax on it, rather than something like 45% if we had bought in our personal names. How much that effectively save us is quite a big number. Rent of $90,000 x (45% – 15%) = $27,000 annual saving.

We need to understand that Super’s simply a different tax environment, proudly offered by our Government to encourage us to not rely on the pension. The above shows how powerful it can be. Once I hang my boots up (the loan will be repaid in 15 years) the tax rate in Super changes to 0%. And Capital Gains Tax is better too. But let’s look at the negatives of my decision to buy it in Super:

The equity I build up in the property will be unusable (I can’t leverage against this property) as loans in Super can only be taken to acquire

The building actually has the scope for another level to be built on top, but this is not allowed when the property is geared (to build it I’d need to not only get the $900K in to pay off the loan, but also the cost to build!)

The paperwork! If you have an SMSF you’d know all about it! But I don’t mind being a little inconvenienced if it gives me an extra half a mill, I’ll always switch & move my lending around to get ahead, we all should.

If you’re thinking of setting up an SMSF maybe do it in July (don’t do it in June and pay for a tax return for nothing) and also get the Custodian Trust set up to, as it needs to be established before you exchange. An accountant or Financial Advisor can assist you, please get a good one, not the nearest one. In life you need an accountant, solicitor, financial advisor and credit advisor / mortgage broker who are at the top of their game. Lucky the later comes at no cost!

By the way, name your corporate trustee of your SMSF something cool.

I called mine Khoury Boys Pty Ltd, and also set up khouryboys.com.au in case my little fellas ever open a pizza shop one day.