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INSIDE STORY: Disused pipeline stops hundreds from building




UPDATE 7AM: Santos has responded to criticism that they are preventing hundreds of residents from building over a disused oil line but Cr Paul Tully says that response has “more spin than a 78 rpm record”.

Cr Tully has called on the company to relinquish their easements over a disused 300km oil pipeline from Moonie to Brisbane that prevents residents from building physical structures such as garden sheds, garages and pools over the pipeline.

If Santos won’t act unilaterally on the easements, Cr Tully has called on the State Government to legislate to force their hand.

The company has not responded on the record about its plans to relinquish the easements, although the QT has learned a decommissioning plan has been developed by Santos with a timeframe yet to be determined.

It is unclear whether that means they will relinquish the entire easement or just bits and pieces such as pumps.

The QT will seek clarification on this point, which will be of great interest to the hundreds of residents who live above the pipeline which runs through Ipswich from Grandchester to Carole Park and travels through Brisbane’s suburbs to the Port of Brisbane.

Either way, Cr Tully said Santos had so far “failed to address the key issue of relinquishing the easements”.

The QT understands concrete infrastructure such as driveways can be placed over the pipeline, however physical structures such as buildings or pools cannot.

“Work can still be done on the pipeline easement, we just need to review applications to make sure it is done safely, as is the case with any underground infrastructure such as electrical or wastewater,” a Santos spokesperson said in response to Cr Tully’s earlier comments in the QT.

“We would typically be required to review anywhere from 50 to 100 applications per year, and every application we’ve reviewed over the past several years has been approved, sometimes with changes, for developments including subdivisions, service stations and schools.”

Cr Tully has received numerous complaints from residents who are still angry they cannot build over the pipeline and improve their homes.

He said the Santos response did not address the key issue.

“Their response is an insult to hundreds of Ipswich and Brisbane property owners who are prevented from building over the easement,” he said.

“Santos should come clean. Do they have a secret plan to re-use the easement in the future for another oil pipeline from Moonie to Brisbane?

“Their media statements have more spin than a 78 rpm record.”

The QT understands the pipeline is currently full of dry air at zero pressure and poses no safety or environmental risk.


EARLIER: A disused Santos oil pipeline running through hundreds of Ipswich residential properties is preventing people from building pools, garages and sheds in their yards and has been for more than 50 years.

So now Ipswich councillor Paul Tully is calling on Santos to act to extinguish the easements which they hold along the pipeline that runs through Ipswich from Grandchester to Carole Park, and travels through Brisbane’s southern suburbs to the Port of Brisbane.

And if they won’t do it willingly, Cr Tully has called on the State Government to legislate so that they must.

Cr Tully pointed out they were easements Santos could never use again.

He said they now needed to forfeit their claim to the easements for the 300km line so that the registered easements could be removed from property owners’ titles.

Cr Tully has had residents from Bellbird Park, Raceview and Camira complain to him that they had applied to a building certifier for a shed or pool, and because they had an easement their applications were rejected by Santos.

“It was an oil pipeline commissioned via a series of easements from Moonie to Brisbane in 1964,” Cr Tully said.

“They then decommissioned that pipeline after a major oil leak in Brisbane in 2007.

“The government at the time put pressure on Santos to decommission the pipeline and undertake never again to use it for oil.

“But the problem is that a lot of people have the pipeline going through their residential properties and they can’t put pools in and they can’t build garages or garden sheds.

“It is high time that Santos forfeited their claim to these easements because there are a lot of people in Ipswich, and Brisbane as well, who are impacted.”

Cr Tully said it made no sense for Santos to retain rights to the easements.

“It is an abandoned oil line so why should it stay on people’s title? Why should it be an impediment to them improving their properties?

“It is about time Santos stood up to their corporate responsibility.

“It is a pipeline people can’t build adjacent to, and they certainly can’t build over it

“Santos are being unreasonable over this and they should walk away from the easement.

“If Santos is not prepared to act unilaterally then I am calling on the State Government, by legislation, to extinguish the easement along the pipeline route.”

Cr Tully said residents’ patience had worn completely thin.

“Santos decided to close the pipeline after a major spill at Algester in July 2007 of more than 100,000 litres of oil caused 400 homes to be evacuated,” Cr Tully said way back in 2010.

“The easement also affects works over or adjacent to the pipeline and easement such as excavation (hand or machinery), tree planting, moving heavy equipment, building drains, changing land profiles, trenching, boring, blasting and building structures.

“In all these situations, prior written approval is required from Santos.

“In a recent case, a Bellbird Park property owner adjacent to the pipeline was prevented from further developing his land by Santos.”

The QT asked Santos for comment but did not receive one by deadline.


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Experts warn of ‘debt bomb’ as housing downturn worsens



debt bomb
AUSTRALIA is facing a “debt crisis” — and the property market and our entire economy are at risk as a result.

That’s according to the sobering 60 Minutes segment Bricks and Slaughter which aired last night, revealing the country’s property downturn was just the tip of the iceberg.

According to reporter Tom Steinfort, the current slump is actually “more like falling off a cliff”, with a number of real estate and finance experts claiming houses could plummet in value by up to 40 per cent in the next 12 months.

If that happens, it would also cause an economic “catastrophe”.

Mr Steinfort spoke with data scientist Martin North from Digital Finance Analytics, who said Australia was uniquely vulnerable when it came to an economic crash tied to a property downturn.

“At the worst end of the spectrum, if everything turns against us we could see property prices 40-45 per cent down from their peaks, which is a huge deal,” he said.

“There’s $1.7 trillion held by the banks in mortgages for owner-occupies and investors. And that’s about 65 per cent of their total lending.

“That’s higher than any other country in the Western world by a long way.

“There’s probably no country in the world more susceptible to the ramifications of a housing crash than Australia. We are uniquely exposed at the moment.”

Mr North said Australia was now in the same position as the US was back in 2006 and 2007 — a position which triggered an economic collapse.

“As a society, and as a government, and as a regulatory system, we’re all banking on the home price engine that just goes on giving and giving and giving. It’s not going to,” he said.

“We’ve got a debt bomb, we’ve got a debt crisis and at some point it’s going to explode in our face.”

debt bomb

Melbourne homeowner Mohammed Souid told 60 Minutes his family was experiencing mortgage stress. Picture: 60 MinutesSource:Supplied

It’s a sentiment shared by Laing and Simmons real estate agent Peter Younan, who said the median house price in his patch in Granville in Sydney’s west had dropped from $1.2 million to $1 million in just one year — a shocking $200,000 plummet.

He said foreclosures had also risen by 600 per cent in the region.

“The mortgage stress is definitely being felt especially in this area,” he said.

60 Minutes also spoke with several Aussie homeowners who gave harrowing details of the stress they faced trying to pay off their mortgages, including having their power turned off and being “hounded’ by their banks.

What does a million dollars buy in Aussie capital cities?

debt bomb

Market analyst Louis Christopher of SQM Research said the market had been “clearly overvalued”, labelling the downturn as the “correction we had to have” — at least in Sydney and Melbourne.

“On our numbers, Sydney was effectively over 40 per cent overvalued. And Melbourne was overvalued by about the same amount,” he said.

But property investor Bushy Martin said the blame lay squarely at the feet of buyers who “mortgaged themselves up to their eyeballs” in a bid to snap up dream homes before being able to afford them.

debt bomb

Property investor Bushy Martin says homeowners are to blame for the crisis. Picture: 60 MinutesSource:Supplied

However, the segment has also sparked backlash online, with some claiming the situation had been exaggerated.

One Reddit user branded the report as an example of “alarmist journalism and scare tactics”, while another said it was “dramatic and cringe-worthy”.

Others also criticised the segment for making it seem like all homeowners would be affected, when the downturn was actually mainly focused in the NSW and Victorian capitals.

And some said it was unfair to blame the banks for the situation, and that homeowners needed to take responsibility for their own decisions.

That was in response to comments made by one homeowner on the program, who said the bank had “suddenly switched the mortgage to interest and principal”, raising his repayments by 57 per cent.

“The interest only part annoyed me the most. The bank didn’t ‘suddenly change’ your repayment from (interest only) to (Principal and interest) your IO term expired. You a) knew this would happen and b) assumed the bank would renew it when it expired. I hope this speculator gets burnt first,” one Reddit user said.

Related article: Experts warn of ‘debt bomb’ as housing downturn worsens


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Queensland is the next property hotspot, experts say



Queensland is the next property hotspot, experts say

As New South Wales and Victoria continue to experience weakness. Queensland is expected to take the lead, a National Australia Bank (NAB) poll of property professionals revealed.

According to the survey, industry experts project house prices in Queensland to increase by 0.7% next year and 1.3% in two years.

Some areas seen to perform strongly over the next year include Brisbane, Cairns, the Gold Coast, and the Sunshine Coast. Out of the suburbs, Coomera and New Farm are expected to realize robust gains.

Meanwhile, Queensland’s rental market is also poised to enjoy an upward boost, growing by 1.3% next year and 1.9% in two years. This is despite the stricter rules on housing investment.

The respondents of the survey also expect Queensland to retain foreign buyer interest. In fact, the share of foreign sales hit a four-year high of 22.8% over the previous quarter.

The results of the survey go against NAB’s own projection of the market. For instance, the bank expects house prices to remain flat in Brisbane over the next three years. Unit prices, on the other hand, is seen to fall by 4.5% over the next year.

NAB chief economist Alan Oster said Brisbane’s housing market seemed to be going sideways and its unit market still creates concern.

“It hasn’t peaked yet, so that’s good. We’re seeing quite strong economic activity in Queensland, so that always helps,” Oster said, as quoted by The Courier-Mail.


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Gold Coast house values record the biggest growth in Queensland



Gold Coast house values record the biggest growth in Queensland

The Gold Coast has recorded the strongest growth in house prices in Queensland over the past 12 months.

GOLD Coast house prices are leading the way in Queensland, up six per cent in the past 12 months to an average $620,000.

The latest figures by the Real Estate Institute of Queensland show homes on the Glitter Strip are $35,000 more on the same time last year.

Unit prices are up 1.9 per cent to $428,000.

Gold Coast house values record the biggest growth in Queensland
REIQ data reveals houses on the Glitter Strip are worth $35,000 on the same time last year.

REIQ’s Queensland Market Monitor for March said the strong population growth came on the back of infrastructure projects such as the $550 million Gold Coast Health and Knowledge Precinct and M1 upgrades.

“The property market has been one of the big winners from the sporting event as the $1.5 billion infrastructure investment has boosted confidence and demand for housing in the region,” the report stated.

“We expect house prices will show an upward path in 2018. However, this growth will most likely be more moderate.”

A quiet real estate period leading up to, and during, the Commonwealth Games likely contributed to a slight drop (-0.3 per cent) in the March quarterly median sales price, the report reveals.

Gold Coast house values record the biggest growth in Queensland
Andrew Henderson says a growing population and employment opportunities were contributing to a strong property market. Picture: Jerad Williams

REIQ Gold Coast zone chairman Andrew Henderson said he expected interstate migration to continue to benefit the city.

“I expect the market to remain strong,” he said.

“There is a heavy amount of interstate buyers moving here.

“I was at an auction recently where the winning bidder was from Sydney and the underbidder was from Melbourne.”

Mr Henderson said growing employment opportunities were also attracting homebuyers to the city.

Gold Coast house values record the biggest growth in Queensland
The Gold Coast property market is expected to remain strong.

“We have some of the best health facilities in the country and our universities are world recognised.

“Those two things alone complement the tourism industry and the lifestyle aspects that the Coast offers.”

The report found the fastest-selling suburbs on the Coast included Worongary, Merrimac, Highland Park, Mudgeeraba and Carrara.

It also revealed the rental vacancy held tight throughout the first quarter of the year at 1.1 per cent.

Gold Coast house values record the biggest growth in Queensland
Andrew Bell says the Coast had evolved from a tourist town into a vibrant city with an expanding economy. Picture Mike Batterham

Ray White Surfers Paradise Group CEO Andrew Bell said the Games heralded the next chapter for the Coast, as it evolved from a tourist town into a vibrant city with an expanding economy.

“The city’s property market is riding the irreversible momentum that has now come to the Gold Coast in terms of economic diversity and with more employment options we will need more housing options for people,” Mr Bell said.

“We are no longer going to be subject to tourism upsides and downsides as we were in the past because our economy has well and truly diversified beyond just tourism.”


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