Tech billionaire buys Sydney mansion for record price of $75 million

Tech billionaire Scott Farquhar has bought a Sydney waterfront mansion for an Australian record $75 million, a report said Monday, after the owners resisted selling the 1863-built home to developers.

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The co-founder of Australian software giant Atlassian, which floated in the United States in late 2015, snapped up the iconic “Elaine” from John Brehmer Fairfax, whose family formerly owned the Sydney Morning Herald.

The estate, which stretches down to a harbour beach in Sydney’s prestigious Point Piper, had been in the Fairfax family since 1891 when it was bought for 2,100 pounds. It features horse stables, a tennis court and a ballroom.

Tech billionaire Scott Farquhar bought the mansion for an Australian record $75 million.HOWORTH

Fairfax reportedly resisted larger offers from developers to subdivide the land.

“We’re thrilled with the purchase and honoured to take over the Elaine estate in its entirety from the Fairfax family,” Farquhar, 37, told Fairfax Media.

“It would have been a great loss to see this rare property sold to developers and carved up.

Watch: Sydney rental affordability hits new lows 

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“When we heard of the plans, we just couldn’t let this beautiful piece of Australian history be turned into a development site.”

The price tag set a record for residential property in Australia, the Australian Financial Review said.

It topped the previous $70 million in 2015 when mogul James Packer, who runs worldwide gambling empire Crown, sold his Sydney home to Australian-Chinese billionaire businessman Chau Chak Wing.

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Housing focus not just Sydney: Morrison

Low-income renters in Hobart or Townsville are just as important to the government as Sydney home buyers, insists Treasurer Scott Morrison.

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Mr Morrison is putting the finishing touches to his second federal budget which will be delivered on May 9.

One of the features of the budget will be a package of measures to deal with housing affordability, the rental market and public housing.

Speaking to reporters in Canberra on Monday, the treasurer underlined the broad scope of what would be presented in the budget.

“I know that so much of the commentary and the analysis of the issue focuses on house prices in Sydney,” Mr Morrison said.

“I’m just as concerned about someone on low incomes living in Hobart who can’t afford their rent, or in Adelaide or in Perth or Darwin or Townsville.”

Work is under way in consultation with the states on how to better spend the $11 billion set aside for social and affordable housing and leverage more investment in the sector.

It’s also expected the government will point to its “city deals” as an example of how local, state and federal governments can cooperate on land development, transport and services.

Mr Morrison said he also empathised with the frustration of young home buyers facing high prices.

“If you live in Sydney it’s been like that for generations,” he said.

“My grandparents – all they ever knew on my father’s side was renting a house in Sydney – could never buy a house … so it has been a long term issue in Sydney.”

Economist Chris Richardson said the federal government itself could not make housing more affordable.

“They can do sensible things around housing – they really can, and they should – but we shouldn’t let Australians think that governments can solve housing affordability,” he told ABC radio on Monday.

“At $6.5 trillion, that is Australia’s largest market, and it’s a wicked problem to fix.”

An interest rate rise would make an impact, but was a “big lever”.

“If interest rates were to go up one per cent, and at some stage they’ll have done that, compared today to perhaps the end of 2018, that would cut about seven per cent from housing prices.”

The latest CoreLogic home value index for April showed dwelling values increased by 0.1 per cent across the combined capital cities in April, with housing market conditions slowing in both Sydney and Melbourne.

Over the three months to April, Sydney was the most expensive city with a median dwelling price of $860,000, and Hobart was the most affordable at $363,200.

A mother at 11 then back to primary school

Eleven years old, and pregnant.

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That was the horrendous fate of a Papua New Guinean schoolgirl raped by her stepfather and the confronting case Australian Federal Police sergeant Mandy Arnold encountered when she was first posted to Lae, PNG’s second largest city.

An ultrasound revealed that Becky (not her real name) had passed the 20-week mark of the pregnancy, meaning she was ineligible for a termination under PNG law.

Fortunately, Femili PNG stepped in to help – ensuring she had prenatal scans, health care, counselling and safe accommodation with her mother.

The organisation, which receives funding from the Australian aid program and private sector, works with police to help family and sexual violence survivors access services such as safe houses and legal assistance.

Sergeant Arnold said Femili PNG was the glue between the police force, courts, health system and women’s shelters.

“Although we couldn’t take back the crime, as a group everyone made it work,” she said.

Becky went on to give birth to a healthy baby boy who was later adopted. She’s since returned to primary school.

“To see her in her school uniform on the first day back at school, to me that was so special,” Sgt Arnold said.

The perpetrator has since died in prison so she won’t have to go through the gruelling process of giving evidence at a trial.

There are four AFP officers based in Lae providing training and mentoring to PNG police.

One of Sgt Arnold’s offsiders is PNG inspector Hove Genderiso, a 35-year veteran of the force and father of four.

Insp Genderiso believes domestic violence is worse today than when he first started as a cop.

One of the worst cases he investigated was a father’s sexual penetration of his four-year-old daughter.

“It’s worse than animals,” he said.

“A four-year-old cannot give evidence in court. It’s pretty difficult for a case like that to proceed in the courts.”

It can take two or three years for a case to go to trial.

On average per week, Inspector Genderiso and his colleagues arrest five to 10 men accused of domestic violence in Lae.

A lack of resources is a big factor hindering police officers’ ability to respond to call outs, for example in some instances there might not be any petrol in the police car.

Femili PNG is helping to fill such voids and has provided printers and computers to police stations and the public prosecutor’s office.

Sometimes requests for resources from Lae police to the headquarters in the capital Port Moresby are ignored for six months to a year.

Another problem is that some PNG police officers, especially some females, don’t have driver’s licences, but AFP officers assist with transport on occasions.

There are 70 female police officers in Lae out of about 400 and their presence is important for taking statements from vulnerable women and children.

* PNG readers seeking help and counselling for family and sexual violence should phone the 1-TOK KAUNSELIN HELPIM LAIN national hotline (715-08000)

* Reporter Lisa Martin travelled to Lae as a guest of Femili PNG during Rosie Batty’s recent visit.

National domestic violence helpline: 1800 737 732 or 1800RESPECT. In an emergency call triple-zero.

Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 (for young people aged 5 to 25).

Australian readers seeking support and information about depression can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Papalii suspended for one NRL match

Canberra have handed Josh Papalii a one-match NRL ban on top of his suspension from the Anzac Test over a drink-driving conviction.

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The Raiders’ board on Monday decided the forward will be unavailable for Canberra’s round-10 clash with Newcastle in a fortnight after he pleaded guilty to drink-driving in an ACT court last week.

His club suspension comes after he was ruled out of Friday night’s Test against New Zealand in Canberra.

“The board believes Josh has endured a hefty punishment from both the court process and by his omission from the Kangaroos team and believed a further one match suspension was the correct punishment,” Raiders chief executive Don Furner said in a statement.

Papalii played in Canberra’s loss to Canterbury on the weekend, two days after he was fined $1000 and had his licence suspended for eight months over the incident in January.

Monday was the earliest time the Raiders’ board could meet to decide further punishment for the 24-year-old while the NRL moved to dump him from the Kangaroos side before they went into camp.

Australia captain Cameron Smith said Papalii knew he had done the wrong thing and was paying the price.

“That type of behaviour’s just unacceptable in general,” Smith said.

“It’s not what the Kangaroos stand for.

“Now he misses out on a Test match and it’s unfortunate for him because he’s playing some of the best football he’s played in his entire career.”

Papalii’s axing from the Kangaroos continues coach Mal Meninga’s tough approach to disciplinary issues which saw him overlook Cronulla prop Andrew Fifita for last year’s Four Nations because of his support for convicted killer Kieran Loveridge.

Parramatta winger Semi Radradra was also left out of that squad while he faced domestic violence charges.

“As we spoke about, Mal holds a firm line with behaviour issues and anyone that steps out of our beliefs, or are behaviours, you pay the price,” Smith said.

Fifita, who is set to make his international return in Friday’s match, said he felt for Papalii.

“He’s still young in his game and the sky’s the limit for him,” Fifita said.

“He’s just going to have to buy back in and earn the jersey back. It’s a tough road but he’ll get through it.”

ACCC claims Ramsay Health anti-competitive

The consumer watchdog has started Federal Court action against Ramsay Health Care, alleging that the private hospitals operator engaged in anti-competitive conduct at Coffs Harbour.

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The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission alleges that Ramsay threatened to block some surgeons’ access to operating theatres at its Baringa Private Hospital and Coffs Harbour Day Surgery if they proceeded with plans to establish a competing Coffs Harbour day surgery.

“The ACCC alleges that Ramsay sought to preserve its position in day surgery services in the Coffs Harbour region by making threats to reduce or withdraw individual surgeons’ access to operating theatres at Baringa Hospital,” ACCC chairman Rod Sims said in a statement on Monday.

“It is alleged that the surgeons suspended their plans to establish a competing day surgery facility as a result of these threats.”

Ramsay Health said it took its obligations under competition law seriously and had co-operated with an ACCC investigation.

“Ramsay intends to vigorously defend the matter,” the company said on Monday.

“As this matter is now before the court, Ramsay will not be making any further comment on the allegations other than as required to keep the market informed in accordance with its continuous disclosure obligations.”

Mr Sims said the ACCC was taking action against Ramsay because misuse of market power and other anti-competitive practices could cause significant harm to consumers and other businesses.

The ACCC is seeking penalties, declarations, compliance orders and costs.

Shares in Ramsay Health Care were $1.45, or 2.02 per cent, lower at $70.25 at 1500 AEST.