Archives 2019

Wallabies draw crowd in Paris as Joe Tomane sets sights on tries

Hungry for tries: Wallaby winger Joe Tomane.PARIS: He’s the hard-running, frizzy-haired Wallabies winger who grew up playing alongside Israel Folau and Joseph Tomane hopes his longest injury-free Test run coincides with a try-scoring spike.

Tomane has shelved his World Cup ambitions to focus on holding his starting position three years after he quit the NRL to chase rugby glory.

The clash against France on Sunday morning will be his fifth consecutive Test and a chance to stake his claim for a long-term spot.

Few realise Tomane’s 11-game transformation from the NRL to the Wallabies was faster than his schoolboy mate Folau, who played 14 Super Rugby matches before his first Australian cap.

But while Tomane’s rise has been quick, his three tries in 13 Tests is dwarfed by Folau’s 17 in 26 Wallabies appearances.

“I saw the dread-locked French winger [Teddy Thomas] scored three tries on his debut last weekend … I’ve scored three in my three years with the Wallabies,” Tomane said.

“The main thing with me is continually improving, I’m slowly getting match fit and getting better with my skills, growing confidence as well. I’m glad I’m still here and healthy to bring whatever I can into the squad.”

The Wallabies trained in front of almost 1000 French fans at Stade Jean Moulin in Paris on Wednesday morning (Australian time).

The reception was much more welcoming than they’re expecting at Stade de France on Sunday morning, with Tomane expecting a hostile reaction on the field.

The Wallabies have an unbeaten record since Michael Cheika has taken charge, but their two wins have been narrow against the Barbarians and Wales last weekend.

They’ve put increased focus on their scrum this week in anticipation of a monster battle up front after conceding a penalty try last week.

Cheika says his players have to “learn to love scrums” and the coach even packed down at No. 8 in full-on training sessions to add extra weight to his words.

But while the scrum battle is getting the attention, Tomane’s job is to score tries.

He admits a chance to play at the World Cup was a motivating factor when he Walked away from the Gold Coast Titans at the end of 2011 to pursue his rugby dreams.

But with Henry Speight and Rob Horne pressing for Wallabies honours, Tomane has put World Cup thoughts on the backburner for now.

“The World Cup was always on my radar back then, it’s always something that I’ve wanted to be a part of,” Tomane said.

“But now I’m just taking it one week at a time. If I get the opportunity to play at a World Cup I’ll take it with both hands.

“It’s all healthy competition, we all want to play. They’re [Speight and Horne] keeping me on my toes and that’s helping me improve my game as well.”

He played junior rugby league with Israel Folau and is now forming a back three combination with the cross-code superstar and Adam Ashley-Cooper.

Tomane re-signed with the Brumbies and the ARU earlier this year and says he wants to repay the faith they showed in him by recruiting him from the Queensland Cup rugby league competition.

“My main intentions were to stay in Australia, I feel like I have a lot to give to Australian rugby and the Brumbies,” Tomane said.

“They put in a lot of time and effort to me and I have to repay them for the faith they’ve showed, I feel like I’ve got a lot to achieve and goals as well.

“The Brumbies put in all the hard work and here I am. I was very fortunate to go to the Brumbies, I picked the right club to learn the game at.”

Meanwhile, hooker Josh Mann-Rea is just hopeful of getting game time after being called into the squad as cover for the hooker crisis in Australia.

Mann-Rea’s Test ambitions were almost non-existent just two months ago. But injuries have opened the door for him to impress.

“You don’t know until you get that call but I was hoping I did enough to earn a spot on this tour,” Mann-Rea said.

“All the players who haven’t played on the tour yet are pretty hungry to get a crack and show what we can do. I’m hoping [for a chance] … every time you get the opportunity to play you try to put a show on.”

Roger Federer beats Kei Nishikori at ATP World Tour Finals

London: While the one missing piece of silverware from Roger Federer’s vast trophy room may be less than a fortnight away from deliverance via the Davis Cup final, the Swiss superstar remains in impressive pursuit of a record-extending seventh ATP World Tour Finals title.

On the same day that Federer was named with Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka to spearhead Switzerland’s finals team in its quest for a historic first Davis cup victory against France in Lille next week, the second seed seized solo status as the only undefeated player in Group B after clobbering US Open finalist Kei Nishikori 6-3, 6-2 in 69 minutes at London’s O2 Arena.

As a result, Federer almost certainly qualified for the semi-finals of the season finale for the 12th time in 13 consecutive attempts, having won all four sets and 25 of his 37 games. Day one losers Andy Murray and Milos Raonic were scheduled to meet in the evening session.

Nishikori has achieved plenty this season, but was uncharacteristically untidy against  Federer in the fifth successive straight sets match of the tournament, logging five double faults among 30 unforced errors against his one-time idol.

The Japanese star, who had won two of the pair’s four previous meetings, twice called for the trainer to treat an injured right wrist, and Federer said it was clear the world No.5 had not played at his best.

“For some reason he couldn’t get it done. Maybe I was playing too well (on) defence and offense, mixing up my serve good enough,” said Federer. “But I know that Kei can play better. So for me it was really important to take advantage of the fact that I was feeling really good, and then maybe he was struggling a little bit today.”

Federer may be the oldest man to qualify for the year-end championships since 35-year-old Andre Agassi in 2005, but his light-footed court coverage remains exceptional and his shot-making immaculate. Seventeen net approaches on a “somewhat slow” court met with mixed success, with Federer saying the conditions favoured the best movers, and neutered the bigger servers such as Berdych and Raonic.

“I think it’s very much a game of movement and the baseline game. Whoever’s better from the baseline has the upper hand, then dominates. I think that’s why we’re seeing heavy scorelines, because it’s just hard to serve your way out of trouble. It’s almost not possible time and time again,” said Federer, who is yet to be broken in his two matches. “From that standpoint, I think the best movers are most likely going to come through here.”

Federer also remains in contention for a record-equalling sixth stint as the year-end No.1, and can overtake Novak Djokovic if he sweeps to the title undefeated and wins one live Davis Cup rubber – provided that the Serb loses a round-robin match and then progresses no further than the semi-finals.

Not that top spot is on Federer’s mind, apparently. “It was never the goal to win world number one,” he insists. “My focus is rather to try to win the World Tour Finals here, then play a good (Davis Cup) finals next week. The rankings anyway are going to follow or not. I’m just pleased that I’m winning my matches right about now.”

The Swiss Davis Cup team for the nation’s first decider since 1992 is completed by Marco Chiudinelli and Michael Lammer, while France has nominated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gael Monfils, Julien Benneteau and Richard Gasquet for the claycourt tie from November 21-23.

Students enlist MyMaster website to write essays, assignments

► Newcastle Uni in damage control

Thousands of students have enlisted a Sydney company to write essays and assignments for them as well as sit online tests, paying up to $1000 for the service. Their desire to succeed threatens the credibility and international standing of some of our most prestigious institutions.

A Fairfax Media investigation has uncovered a sophisticated online business, which has produced thousands of university assignments and turned over hundreds of thousands of dollars since it began operating in May 2012.

Yingying Dou, a 30-year-old Chinese-born woman, is the sole director of MyMaster Group Pty Ltd, which is behind the website, written in Chinese and aimed at international students. It claims to be the largest essay-writing service in Sydney, with 100 graduate writers from “prestigious universities in Australia” ready to accept jobs at any one time.

A flyer posted to the back of a toilet door at UTS gives insight to the anxiety among international students Ms Dou has capitalised on.

“Are you racking your brains on your school work? Do you worry about spending $3000 retaking tuition on the failing subject? Leave your worries to MyMaster and make your study easier!” the flyer says in translation.

Fairfax Media has seen 700 receipts for direct deposits to the MyMaster bank account, totalling more than $160,000 this year alone – a conservative estimate of the company’s annual income, as students can also pay by cash or PayPal.

Payments range from $13 to $1050 and during busy assessment periods the website receives up to 20 requests a day.

One request lodged was for a 6000-word research assignment for a human rights law course at the University of NSW, which was worth 70 per cent of the student’s overall grade.

The cheating is widespread throughout the state’s university system, with almost 1000 assignments produced this year for students studying courses as diverse as philosophy, economics, law, engineering, astronomy and marketing.

One student spent more than $1500 on assignments for five different courses at the University of Newcastle’s Business School. Another student from the University of Wollongong paid for at least eight assignments.

The University of Sydney, the state’s premier institution, was among the most widely affected, with cheating spread across multiple faculties. During 2014, students from at least 37 of the university’s courses used the service.

The entrepreneur, Yingying Dou, went to high school at Pittwater House, a private school in Collaroy on Sydney’s northern beaches, and studied accounting at Macquarie University.

When approached by Fairfax Media, Ms Dou, who runs a university tutoring company called Yingcredible, would not comment on the MyMaster website.

“If you’re talking about MyMaster, I have nothing to talk [about],” she said. “No comment for today.”

Records show MyMaster and Yingcredible Tutoring are registered to the same principal place of business in Sussex Street in Chinatown. Ms Dou is also the registrant of themymaster老域名.auwebsite domain.

Within hours of Fairfax Media approaching Ms Dou, the MyMaster website was taken down.

US stocks stall near record highs, brent oil hits 4-year low

“We have come pretty far, pretty fast”: Is the US stockmarket about to run out of steam? “We have come pretty far, pretty fast”: Is the US stockmarket about to run out of steam?

“We have come pretty far, pretty fast”: Is the US stockmarket about to run out of steam?

“We have come pretty far, pretty fast”: Is the US stockmarket about to run out of steam?

US stock prices closed largely unchanged on Tuesday after the Dow and Standard & Poor’s 500 hit record intraday highs for a fifth straight session, while the dollar rose against the yen on the prospect of a delay in a planned sales tax hike in Japan.

Oil prices fell further on the stronger dollar and robust output from US shale fields, with Brent crude dropping to a four-year low below $US82 a barrel.

“We have come pretty far, pretty fast. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the market consolidate a little, in the form of hovering around here or pulling back a little bit,” said David Lebovitz, global market strategist at J.P. Morgan Funds in New York.

The Dow Jones industrial average ended up 1.16 points, or 0.01 per cent, at 17,614.9, the S&P 500 closed up 1.42 points, or 0.07 per cent, at 2,039.68 and the Nasdaq Composite finished up 8.94 points, or 0.19 per cent, at 4,660.56.

European shares were boosted by positive corporate results. The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index closed up 0.3 per cent, as strength in telecoms stocks offset a fall in Italian shares.

Earlier, a 2.1 per cent rise propelled Tokyo’s Nikkei to its highest close since October 2007 on speculation that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe might postpone a sales tax hike planned for next October and call a snap election.

The MSCI world equity index, which tracks shares in 45 nations, edged up 0.2 per cent to 420.88.

The rally in Japanese stocks helped push the dollar to a seven-year high against the yen. The greenback reached 116.11 yen in European trading on the EBS trading system before easing to 115.48, still up 0.5 per cent on the day.

The euro strengthened 0.5 per cent at $US1.2476, extending a rebound from a two-year low of $US1.2358 hit on Friday.

In the bond market, yields on lower-rated Spanish and Italian government bonds fell after European Central Bank Executive Board member Yves Mersch said on Monday that the ECB purchasing government debt was a theoretical possibility to help the struggling euro zone economy.

The US bond market was closed for the Veterans Day holiday.

In the energy market, Brent crude futures in London closed down 67 cents, or 0.8 per cent, at $US81.67 a barrel after hitting a four-year low of $US81.23. US crude settled up 54 cents, or 0.7 per cent, at $US77.94.


Calls for Sydney marine park to protect remaining habitat

The future of the harbour will be one of the items discussed at the World Parks Congress in Sydney this week.Pressure is mounting on the Baird government to declare Sydney Harbour and surrounding coastal regions a marine park in a bid to limit the impact of an increasing population and a warming climate.

The future of the harbour will be one item for the World Parks Congress, a once-in-a-decade event that opens in Sydney on Wednesday and has lured more than 5000 delegates, including 30 environment ministers, from 167 countries.

A flotilla of traditional Pacific islander canoes will paddle up the harbour for the opening, bearing the leaders of Kiribati, Cook Islands and Palau. Some of the canoes will have journeyed 6000 nautical miles (11,100 km) to highlight the threats posed by climate change and overfishing.

While the government has unveiled a new national park protecting wetlands and additions to several other parks, researchers, Labor and green groups are calling for priority to be given to protecting the marine environment in and around Sydney Harbour.

Emma Johnston, inaugural director of the Sydney Harbour Research Program at the Sydney Institute of Marine Science (SIMS), said protection should be granted to the Hawkesbury-Nepean bioregion stretching from the Hunter to Wollongong.

“We very much support the process of zoning a bioregion like Sydney Harbour,” Professor Johnston said. “This is the only bioregion [in the state] that doesn’t have a marine park.”

On Tuesday, Professor Johnston told a workshop linked to the congress that Sydney’s population would swell from 4.6 million to 7 million by 2050, adding demands on waterways.

“We need to protect more of our fragile coasts to accommodate that [rising population],” said Kevin Evans, chief executive of the NSW National Parks Association. “We have been calling on the government to begin the process to declare a marine park within the Sydney region.”

Such a process would need two years to consult with communities and for scientists to determine which areas should be “no take” areas barring recreational fishing, Mr Evans said.

But the government won’t be announcing any marine parks during the congress, a spokesman for Environment Minister Rob Stokes said. Research on the issue is being undertaken by the NSW Marine Estate and SIMS, he said.

In September, Labor announced that if elected at next year’s elections it would create a Sydney Marine Park stretching from Pittwater to Port Hacking, including the harbour, Botany Bay and Parramatta and Lane Cove rivers..

“Sydney Harbour is an icon. We want to protect it for both conservation values and recreational fishing,” Luke Foley, the shadow environment minister, said. The harbour alone has triple the number of fish species recorded as the entire UK coast.

The Greens also back the call: “Sydney has one of the richest marine environments in the world, with over six hundred marine species making Sydney harbour their home,” said Mehreen Faruqi, the party’s spokeswoman for the marine environment.

Mr Stokes will launch the World Harbour Project at the congress on Monday. The program led by SIMS, aims to help ports around the world deal with increasing environmental challenges.

With 80 per cent of Australia’s population located within 50km of the coast and many projects planned to expand ports in the country, it is vital lessons learned from Sydney are applied here and overseas, Professor Johnston said.

“We’ve seen remarkable improvements in water quality and ecosystem integrity [in Sydney Harbour] over the last 20 or so years,” she said.

New threats, though, are emerging as climate change triggers a strengthening of the East Australian Current, bringing warmer waters – and new invasive species – further south. Rising carbon dioxide levels are also changing the chemistry of the sea.

Still, Australia’s challenges pale compared with some other ports taking part in the World Harbour Project, such as China’s Shanghai and Qingdao.

Shanghai has just completed two 50 km-long jetties, while land reclamation around Qingdao has shrunk the area around adjacent Jiaozhou Bay by a third since 1928, limiting the sea’s ability to flush out pollutants and silt.

“It’s not too late … we have to learn how we’ve managed or mismanaged these developments,” Professor Johnston said.

Since most port expansions result in a hard substrate replacing soft sediment or submerged aquatic habitats, designers have to ensure “ecological engineering” at least minimises the impacts.

“How do we recreate natural systems or at least build in ecological functions and not just engineering functions into our port developments?” she said.

Aussie touches highs against yen in hunt for yield

Good night for the Aussie dollar: The local currency also gained against the greenback. Good night for the Aussie dollar: The local currency also gained against the greenback.

Good night for the Aussie dollar: The local currency also gained against the greenback.

Good night for the Aussie dollar: The local currency also gained against the greenback.

The Australian dollar has risen to fresh highs against the yen as Japan looks to delay a planned tax hike at a time when its latest bout of money printing stimulus increases investor appetite for the higher yielding local currency.

The Aussie dollar rose 1.35 per cent against the yen overnight and is buying 100.39 yen. It is the first break above the 100-mark since early April last year, when the Aussie traded as high as 105.06 yen.

The Australian dollar also gained on the greenback, up 0.9 per cent to buy 86.97 US cents. It did briefly rise to 87.02 cents before pulling back.

The US dollar hit a fresh high against the yen to 116.09 – its highest since October 2007 when it rose to 123.16 yen. It was last trading at 115.44 yen. The greenback has gained around 10 per cent against the yen so far this year.

The trigger for the Aussie dollar’s surge against the yen and greenback follows hopes that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe may delay a planned 10 per cent sales tax increase, which is designed to help rein in public debt and support the struggling economy.

The yen, like the US dollar, is typically seen as a safe-haven currency and often struggles when Japan’s local stock market rise as investors sell yen and US dollars to buy riskier assets.

The Nikkei hit a new seven-year high overnight on the news. There have also been reports that Japan’s Prime Minister might call a snap election before the end of this year if he decides to delay the tax increase.

“If it were to happen, that decision would be justifiably negative [for the yen], to the extent that it would further deteriorate an already ugly fiscal picture,” said Bank of New Zealand currency strategist Raiko Shareef. “The yen is the only G10 currency to be weaker against the [US dollar] this morning, having softened 0.5 per cent to 115.4.”

Westpac’s chief currency strategist Robert Rennie and UBS chief economist Scott Haslem predicted last week that the Australian dollar would gain on the yen helped by greater stimulus from the Bank of Japan and potentially from the European Central Bank.

US stocks weakened overnight as investors took note of events offshore and worries about global growth.

Australian shares are expected to dip 5 points or 0.10 per cent when the market resumes trading on Wednesday.

Japanese investors have also been large buyers of Aussie dollars, fueled by the carry trade, meaning higher returns as a result of higher comparative interest rates in Australia – currently at 2.5 per cent – compared to zero in Japan.

Despite trading higher overnight, the Australian dollar has weakened against the US dollar in response to the end of the US Federal Reserve’s asset purchase program in October. The Aussie is 7.5 per cent lower against the greenback from the start of September when it was buying 93.3 US cents.

The yen has also weakened against the US dollar over this period, particularly after the Japanese central bank also announced in late October that it would expand its huge stimulus program. The greenback has surged over 6 per cent since then against the Japanese currency.

NAB looking to settle $38m late fees class action

NAB has been caught up in an industry-wide class action over bank fees that is one of the biggest in Australia’s history. NAB has been caught up in an industry-wide class action over bank fees that is one of the biggest in Australia’s history.

NAB has been caught up in an industry-wide class action over bank fees that is one of the biggest in Australia’s history.

NAB has been caught up in an industry-wide class action over bank fees that is one of the biggest in Australia’s history.

National Australia Bank is moving towards a settlement in a class action over late bank fees which could see the bank pay out compensation costs of up to $38 million.

The entire class action, which encompasses nine financial institutions including all of Australia’s four largest banks, could be worth up to $240 million and is the biggest in the country’s history.

According to Financial Redress, a subsidiary of Bentham IMF which is funding the action, 272,593 accounts have been registered for the class action against nine different banks in Australia.

Maurice Blackburn, solicitors in the case, estimate 30,000 NAB customers have been hit with late lees on credit cards.

In a statement on Wednesday morning NAB confirmed that applicants in the NAB bank fees class action had lodged an application in the Federal Court on Friday, seeking approval to open and close the class.

NAB said this was a first but significant step towards reaching a potential settlement.

“We know that banking customers want to be treated fairly, which is why five years ago NAB made the decision to remove many of the fees and charges that annoy customers the most,” NAB chief executive Andrew Thorburn said.

“NAB was the first and remains the only bank to abolish overwhelmed fees on credit cards. Since 2010, NAB’s credit card late payment fee has been $5 – up to $15 less than our major competitors.”

A spokesman for Maurice Blackburn said it had been negotiating with NAB for some time, but would not elaborate on the settlement process.

“We would encourage all banks involved to follow NAB’s example to negotiate in good faith, to resolve a fair outcome for all banking customers that have unfairly been charged these fees,” the spokesman said.

The class action, which is over types of “dishonour” fees for late payments, is targeting all of the big four banks, with the case against ANZ Bank running as a test case.

Earlier this year, Justice Michelle Gordon in the Federal Court found that ANZ’s late credit card fees were unlawful, but several other types of fee were legal. ANZ and Maucrice Blackburn are both appealing the ruling and a decision is expected over the coming months.

An ANZ Bank spokesman would not comment on the next steps the lender would take in the class action because the matter is before the Full Federal Court.

UPDATE: Man charged over murder of Renee Mitchell

Man charged over murder of Renee Mitchell Picture: Phil Hearne

Picture: Phil Hearne

Picture: Phil Hearne

Picture: Phil Hearne

Picture: Phil Hearne

Picture: Phil Hearne

Picture: Phil Hearne

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12345678910 – A MANhas been charged with murder after the body of 38-year-oldRenee Mitchellwas found in Bangalay Reserve, Windale, on Wednesday.

Following investigations, police from Lake Macquarie Local Area Command stopped a vehicle on Mile Road at Cardiff.The driver was arrested and the vehicle seized for forensic examination.

He was taken to Charlestown police station and charged with murder.The a 66-year-old Windale man was refused bail and will appear in Newcastle Local Court on Thursday.

Renee Mitchell’s body was found on Wednesday morning at the Croudace Road entrance to the Bangalay Reserve.

INITIAL REPORT:AGED care worker Renee Mitchell was cooking for her family when she was allegedly taken from her own kitchen and brutally attacked before her body was left in a park less than a kilometre from the family home.

Her frantic family suspected something was wrong when she suddenly vanished and failed to return for work.

They searched the streets throughout Windale for several hours on Tuesday night and reported her missing to police before a bushwalker stumbled across her body early on Wednesday.

Aged in her 30s, she had been savagely attacked before her body was left uncovered on grass next to a small car park at the Croudace Road entrance to the 12-hectare Bangalay Reserve.

Still wearing the satin boxer shorts and shirt she was wearing while preparing tea, the body was covered in blood.

Within five hours of the discovery, a 66-year-old man known to the Mitchell family was arrested in his car at Cardiff and taken to Charlestown police station where he was expected to be charged on Wednesday night.

Lake Macquarie detectives, along with the Sydney-based homicide squad, were investigating motives for the attack.

Mrs Mitchell is believed to have once helped care for the suspect’s ageing father.

Family friend Dylan Grainger was at the family’s Lachlan Street home on Tuesday night and had followed a relative outside to help fix his motorbike while Mrs Mitchell was cooking. ‘‘Next thing we know we went inside and she was just gone,’’ he said.

‘‘She was lovely. She did anything she could do to help anyone out.

‘‘She was the most loveliest lady I have ever met.

‘‘She worked at a nursing home and she loved it, loved working with old people.

‘‘I don’t understand how anyone could hurt her.’’

It is understood her disappearance prompted the family to report her missing on Tuesday night, with police taking down a description and circulating a photograph.

It was about 6.30am when a walker came across the body, which was less than 40 metres from the busy Croudace Road and only metres from a car park and picnic seats.

Neighbours say the park is frequented by walkers, couples, schoolchildren and cyclists as well as some with more sinister motives.

‘‘We didn’t hear a thing until police knocked on our door about 7am,’’ neighbour Suzan Aslin said.

‘‘There is a real range of people using the place from people having lunch to people on bikes to people keeping fit.’’

A crime scene was established and forensic experts spent most of the day at the site.

Lake Macquarie duty officer Inspector Steve Gallagher said it was too early to speculate whether the alleged attack occurred in the park or whether the body was dumped.

Only a few hundred metres away down Lake Road, police set up a crime scene at the suspect’s unit.

Lake Road resident Adrienne Hawkins said there was never trouble along Lake Road.

‘‘Everyone goes to bed with the chooks, nothing normally happens after 5pm,’’ Mrs Hawkins said.

‘‘It has come as a bit of a shock, no trouble here whatsoever. No fights. Nothing.’’

A third crime scene was also established at the family home.

As police worked to search the crime scenes, police stopped the 66-year-old man in Myall Road at Cardiff.

He was taken to Charlestown police station while his vehicle was seized for forensic examination.

Mrs Mitchell’s husband, Dale, and the rest of the family were being cared for by relatives.

Robin Williams suicide triggered by dementia, hallucinations: report

Robin Williams: a report suggests he was suffering from a form of dementia. Photo: SuppliedRobin Williams was suffering from a form of dementia that his family believes was a “key factor” leading to his suicide earlier this year, according to a report.

Court documents obtained by entertainment websiteTMZ show the comedian, who died on August 11 at the age of 63, was suffering from a form of dementia called Lewy body dementia when he died.

Lewy body dementia causes abnormal deposits of protein in the brain and results in progressive cognitive decline, visual hallucinations, and often depression, the National Institutes of Health in the US says.

It often accompanies Parkinson’s disease, the neurological condition from which the actor had been suffering for about three years before his death.

The Lewy Body Dementia Association website in the US says: “Some people with LBD are extremely sensitive or may react negatively to certain medications used to treat Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s in addition to certain over-the-counter medications.”

TMZ reported that Williams’ wife, Susan Schneider, had told authorities shortly after her husband’s death that he had been complaining about his medication and the way it made him feel.

The website said sources connected to the Williams family believed that Lewy body dementia was the “key factor” that drove him to kill himself.

Williams’ doctors agreed that the disease was a critical factor leading to his suicide, TMZ claimed.

Fairfax Media

Lifeline 13 11 14 MensLine 1300 789 978 Beyondblue 1300 224 636

Australia could be hit by Chinese property bubble

Labourers at a residential construction site in Shanghai this July as fears of a Chinese property bubble grew. Labourers at a residential construction site in Shanghai this July as fears of a Chinese property bubble grew.

Labourers at a residential construction site in Shanghai this July as fears of a Chinese property bubble grew.

Labourers at a residential construction site in Shanghai this July as fears of a Chinese property bubble grew.

Sydney house prices outstrip other cities in September

Australians should worry more about how fast property prices fall in China than risks of investor speculation in Sydney and Melbourne, say bankers and ratings agencies.

Paul Gruenwald, Standard & Poor’s chief economist for the Asia Pacific, said Australia is “smack in the middle of the pack” on property price rises in recent times compared with other Asian countries.

“On balance I get far more queries about China than Australia,” he said. He agreed there is potential for a correction in prices here, but as a risk he said the domestic market didn’t stand out.

“Less so than other countries in Asia, Australia has not imported US-style, ultra-low interest rates,” he said.

However, if there is a sharp price drop in China, Australia would be next in line after Hong Kong to feel the impact if this led to a downturn in the Chinese economy.

“The risk is the intersection of a non-bank credit boom going into housing,” he said. The heat is now coming out of the market there and “prices are falling in 69 of 70 cities across China – everything is softening.”

S&P’s “base case” is that China can “muddle through” with direct intervention from the government, but if not, Australia would be the first to feel the knock-on impact.

“The No.1 exposed economy is Hong Kong, but Australia is right after that. Australia is the most-geared into the China investment story.”

After the financial system inquiry hands down its final report later this month, banks expect the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority to say whether it will introduce targeted, short-term “macro-prudential” measures to make buying property less attractive for investors.

Almost half of all new residential lending in the past 12 months has gone to investors. In Sydney the figure is 60 per cent.

The worry is that rent has not risen with property values and if interest rates rise, the squeeze on returns to investors may lead to a sudden sell off.

But banks argue the risks now are less than in previous cycles of home price rises.

Ken Hanton, director of asset transformation at National Australia Bank, agreed with Mr Gruenwald that China is “one of the [potential] shocks and real risks we face”.

He said Australia had had several cycles of fast rises in house prices in the past decade, with some much stronger than the recent jumps in Sydney and Melbourne, But in each case there was no ensuing plummet.

“Over the last 10 years we had national house price growth capping out and then falling. In 2007 to 2009 it capped out at just under 15 per cent growth,” he said. “Subsequent falls saw growth rates fall to minus 5 per cent. This time around house price growth has slowed and it looks like it has capped out at 11 per cent.”

If Australia is experiencing a housing price bubble now, there must have been several in the past decade, he said.

Other bankers and analysts said the definition of a bubble in prices requires three conditions: high credit growth, reductions in lending standards and expectations of continuing property price rises.

Tally Dewan, a securitisation analyst at Commonwealth Bank, said it is hard to know whether people think prices will keep rising. But the proportion of high loan to valuation ratios had in fact been falling, she said, suggesting lending standards were not reducing.

Lending growth has been relatively low because many borrowers had chosen not to lower their repayments even though interest rates had reduced. This means many are well ahead on their loans.

ANZ Bank senior economist Felicity Emmett said lending growth is now at about 8 per cent per annum. She pointed out it had been about 20 per cent in 2003 and growth in loans to investors 11 years ago was at about 30 per cent