Harvey Norman punished after dividend cut

A record profit has not been enough to save Harvey Norman from a sharemarket savaging after the retailer cut its full-year dividend on Thursday.

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Harvey Norman shares had fallen 7 per cent – or 31?? a share – by midday after it announced a fully franked 26?? a share dividend for the the 2017 financial year, down from 30?? in 2016.

The company said it was reviewing its capital management and weighing up a share buyback and possible investments.

The sell-off came despite Harvey Norman announcing its net profit jumped 29 per cent to $449 million for the year, beating analysts’ expectations.

Sales from company-owned stores in New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Slovenia and Croatia rose 2.1 per cent and earnings jumped 24 per cent to $90 million.

“This is a fantastic effort from our offshore operations,” company chairman Gerry Harvey said in a statement.

“The success of our flagship strategy is clearly evident in these results.”

Australian franchisee sales increased 5.4 per cent to $5.62 billion as housing construction and renovation continued to be “robust”, Mr Harvey said.

This sales growth and higher franchisee fees sent Harvey Norman head office’s earnings from Australian stores up 13 per cent to $304.5 million, the company said.

Morgan Stanley analyst Tom Kierath said there had been a “considerable slowing” in comparable sales at Harvey Norman in the fourth quarter, growing at 2.3 per cent compared to 7.4 per cent in January and February.

Harvey Norman’s share price has slid by almost a quarter over the past year, under the weight of fears Amazon will eat into its sales and profitability when the American online retailer opens in Australia next year.

Citi analysts have suggested competition from Amazon could force Harvey Norman to lower its profit margin by between 1.8 and 2.5 per cent.

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Hunter Catholic school principal discourages teachers from publicly supporting same-sex marriage

Edict: St Pius X principal Robert Emery wrote to teachers he did not mean to alarm anyone by suggesting they not make comments contrary to church teachings. “My only intention is to to keep us all safe.” Picture: Marina NeilTEACHERS at one of the Hunter’s largest Catholic high schools have been issued an edict not to “say or suggest or imply” they support same-sex marriage.

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St Pius X High School Adamstown principal Robert Emery has written two emails to staff warning that while they should vote in the upcoming marriage law postal survey according to their conscience, they shouldn’t “put yourself out there in a way that could be detrimental to your employment or promotional prospects in a Catholic school”.

Mr Emery said while staff didn’t need to delete comments previously made on social media, they should “be careful from this point onwards not to say or write anything online or in class that could be seen as contradicting Catholic Church teaching”.

“That is not a sensible thing to do when you are an employee of the Catholic diocese,” he wrote.

“It is completely permissible to answer student questions about the issue provided you present both sides of the debate in a fair and non-judgemental way.

“You are of course also OK to say that you agree with the church’s view on the issue, if that is what you believe.

“It is NOT OK [sic] to say or suggest or imply that you believe the other side of the debate is the correct one – even if you do!”

A Catholic Schools Office (CSO) spokeswoman said Mr Emery wrote the emails based on hisresponsibility to ensure staff were acting in compliance with the CSO’s code of conduct.

A concerned parent who saw the emails said they were “blown away” by the reference to future opportunities for career advancement.

“The overwhelming feeling I got was that they seemed threatening,” the parent said.

But the CSO refuted this, saying “all decisions on employment, promotion and reward will be made on the basis of merit and will not discriminate on the basis of particular attributes”.

The Catholic Schools Officedeclined to comment on ramifications for teachersfound to publicly support the ‘yes’ vote, except to say they had been “remindednot to bring personal opinion into the debate, but rather address both sides of the same sex marriage debate with their students”.

Principal RobertEmery said teachers hadn’t been discouraged from discussingthe issue.

“The students are really interested in the same sex marriage debate, very much from a social justice perspective and teachers have spoken about both sides of the debate with their students,” he said.

“The discussions have detailed what is currently occurring –that there are people fighting for the right for marriage equalityand conversations also touch on the church’s teachings.”

But a concerned parent said hearing personal opinions only from teachers whodid not support same sex marriage could skew students’ understanding of the issue.

“I can’t believe the email basically said feel free to speak out against it [same sex marriage], but don’t you dare say anything for it,” the parent said.

“What messages are being sent to kids of a vulnerable age?

“Is this the start of the negativity everyone predicted?

“It’s really concerning and upsetting because Bishop Bill Wright hasnot put any formal statement out, the principal has just taken it upon themselves to put this out.”

Bishop Wright said in a statement to theHerald“the diocese respects each individual’sright to their personal opinion on what the law should be on same sex marriage”.

Catholic schools St Ignatius’ College in Sydney and Xavier College in Melbourne have cautiously endorsed same-sex marriage in messages to parents, staff and students.

They referred to Pope Francis’ teachings on love, mercy and non-judgement and encouragedtheir school communitiesto dwell on their own consciences.

The Independent Education Union said it was“extremely concerned that our schools could become fertile ground for damaging speech” during the debate.

It said it wouldexpect schools to be “safe havens” and that“neither staff nor students are put into situations where inappropriate or hostile commentary, or action, is directed at them”.

The Australian Psychological Society (APS) published a tip sheet this week about talkingwith children and young people about marriage equality and related issues.

It includes:

Let your children know it is ok to talk about marriage equality.Listen carefully to children to understand what they really want to know.Explain the meaning of LGBTI+ words.Let children know there is diversity in relationships.Talk to children about what marriage equality means.Offer alternate views of relationships – not everyone wants to get married.Clarify any confusion and misconceptions about the marriage equality vote.The Herald, Newcastle

Greens unveil $60b push to build one million houses by 2050

The Queensland Greens have promised to push for the construction of one million social housing properties by 2050, if they win seats in the upcoming state election.

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The left-leaning party openly admitted the plan seemed “radical” but said the mass construction of government-owned housing would tackle looming social and economic issues facing the property market.

“The private housing market has failed,” Greens candidate for South Brisbane Amy MacMahon said. “20,000 of us are homeless, over 29,000 are on the waiting list for social housing, one in five are struggling to pay the rent or mortgage while an entire generation can’t afford to buy a home.

“Just like healthcare or education, everyone should be guaranteed a home.”

The Greens would push for the establishment of a Queensland Housing Trust, a government organisation that would build 20,000 homes a year, culminating in one million built by 2050.

Census data from 2016 showed there were almost 10 million dwellings Australia-wide – meaning the Greens would build about one-tenth of that in Queensland in more than 40 years.

Under the plan, the Greens claim homelessness and the strain on social housing would be eliminated within the first few years ??? but it won’t come cheap.

“This plan will see an investment of $60 billion over the first 10 years,” Ms McMahon said. Her party plans to fund the project with rental revenue from the houses and increased mining royalties. Related: Beloved Dornoch Terrace house to be knocked downRelated: REIQ slams Queensland Greens’ rental policyRelated: Inside one of Brisbane’s most unique heritage homes

The Greens claim 16,000 jobs would be created each year.

In the first 10 years, half of the houses would be reserved for social housing and the rest would be given to anyone who applied.

“We would never accept the state government turning hundreds of thousands of children away from schools, or people from hospitals, because we hadn’t invested enough in public education or healthcare,” Ms MacMahon said. “This plan may seem radical but in countries like Austria and the Netherlands virtually everyone has access to high quality, well designed social housing.”

Housing minister Mick de Brenni has been contacted for comment, but the state government has implemented a plan to build 3300 low-cost homes within three years and invest $1 billion.

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Spring outlook tilts towards wetter conditions eventually

Prospects are improving for a wetter-than-average spring for coastal NSW but the shift away from the recent dry spell may not occur until later in the season, the Bureau of Meteorology says.

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The forecast comes as Australia closes out what is likely to be the country’s warmest winter on record for maximum temperatures.

In its latest update to its three-monthly outlook, the bureau said a strip of the eastern Australian coast from southern Queensland down to Victoria now had odds favouring better spring rains than usual.

The season, though, is likely to continue the trend of above-average temperatures for both day and night for much of south-eastern Australia and the northern third of the country, the bureau said.

“We’re expecting Sydney’s conditions to stay relatively dry for the first few weeks of September,” Andrew Watkins, manager of climate prediction services at the bureau, said.

“Certainly October is the period when we start to see the odds swing around” to wetter weather, he said.

Sydney’s near-term outlook points to the dry spell continuing, with rain only a 5 per cent chance for each day until next Thursday.

Sunday looks to be the pick of the week for those looking to wave winter goodbye, with 28 degrees forecast for the city and similar warmth in the west.

The absence of cloud cover means nights will remain on the cool side. Those preparing for Saturday morning outdoors can expect the mercury to start from a low of 7 degrees before topping out at 22 degrees on a sunny day.

A cold front moving through late on Sunday will knock daytime temperatures back down below average levels by early next week before they start to climb again by the following weekend,” Tom Gough, a Weatherzone meteorologist, said. Fire season watch

Winter was one of Australia’s driest on record, particularly in northern and eastern NSW.

That prompted the Rural Fire Service last week to bring forward the fire season in nine areas in the state, including Bathurst, Lithgow and the Blue Mountains, to September 1.

The bureau’s outlook for September rainfall alone (see chart below) points to a modest shift towards wetter-than-average conditions for a narrow band around Sydney.

The agency rates its model accuracy for spring rainfall predictions as “moderate”.

The bureau said that with the El Nino conditions in the Pacific neutral, the influence driving a tilt towards a wetter spell for much of the country is warmer-than-usual waters in the central Indian Ocean.

“With the circulation patterns expected, [and] high pressure favoured to the south of Australia, we will see a greater easterly flow across southern Australia,” Mr Gough said. “With these onshore winds in this pattern this would favour increased rainfall on the east coast, and drier in the west.”

This pattern will have a clearer impact for spring as a whole, as shown by the bureau’s rainfall projection chart below: Warm outlook

If fire authorities were hoping for cooler-than-usual conditions during spring to slow down the loss of fuel moisture, the seasonal outlook doesn’t offer much encouragement.

According to the bureau, the odds clearly favour above-average daytime temperatures for south-eastern and northern Australia.

This outlook is particularly true in September, especially for the eastern third of the continent and Tasmania. (See chart below of the chance maximum temperatures will be above average for the month.)

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Could Future Fund manage your retirement savings too?

Future Fund chairman Peter Costello has hinted the sovereign wealth fund could possibly start managing money on behalf of superannuation funds.

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While ruling out managing retirement savings directly, Mr Costello said that if a super fund wanted the Future Fund to manage some of its money, that could be possible.

However, he said that the money would have to be managed separately as the Future Fund is “legally a sovereign fund and, therefore, we cannot mix private monies into it”.

Mr Costello made the comments while announcing the Future Fund produced a 8.7 per cent return for the year to June 30, 2017.

For the past 10 years, which is almost the life of the fund, it is has produced an average annual compound return of 7.9 per cent.

Over the same period, balanced investment options – the options that most workers have their super with – returned less than 6 per cent.

“The Future Fund continues to perform well and has exceeded its benchmark return objective,” Mr Costello said.

“Investment returns have added over $73 billion to the original contributions from government of $60.5 billion,” the former federal treasurer and current chairman of Nine Entertainment, said.

The government recently lowered the fund’s return objective to inflation plus 4 percentage points, a reduction of half-a-point, to reflect low interest rates around the world.

It has also said that it will not withdraw money from the fund for the next 10 years.

Ian Silk, the chief executive of AustralianSuper, said the Future Fund has strong investment performance, but managing money on behalf of a client, like a super fund, is different to managing a sovereign wealth fund.

The Future Fund can invest in the knowledge that there will be no withdrawals from the fund for at least the next decade, he said.

Because of the very long investment time-frame, the Future Fund can afford a bit more risk in its portfolio, which can produce higher returns.

Super funds have to invest in way that provides liquidity to be able to pay members withdrawals.

Mr Costello said that would allow the fund to be able to pay all of the unfunded liabilities of federal public servants. He added that the fund would still likely have assets for the remainder of this century.

“I would be very confident that if there is no drawdown before 2026 the assets of the Future Fund would be sufficient to meet any unfunded liabilities for the century,” he said.

The fund’s chief executive, David Neal, said the fund’s asset allocation had changed little over the year.

The fund has maintained a cash level of about 20 per cent and the fund can quickly take advantage of any investment opportunities that arise, Mr Neal said.

On the outlook, Mr Neal said economies around the world were doing alright, but that “it’s more the structural backdrop that concerns us”.

“The high debt levels that existed during the financial crises have not moderated, and central banks have taken on a lot of that debt,” he said.

“But at some point it [debt] still needs to paid off, and the concern is that many economies are rather hooked on low [interest] rates.”

Mr Neal is concerned that interest rates, when they do rise around the world, could have a dampening effect on asset prices.

He said that asset prices were also reliant on those low rates.

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MudgeCorp in 7th heaven

Steve Mudge, MudgeCorp managing director SEVENTH HEAVEN: MudgeCorp specialises in luxury and bespoke buildings that consistently deliver outstanding, high-quality results

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“A big thank you also goes out to the clients, design teams and dedicated suppliers and subcontractors that worked tirelessly with us. Together, we made each dream a reality.”

While honoured to receive the awards, Mr Mudge admits he has a different focus.

EXCELLENCE: Steve Mudge (MudgeCorp MD), left, and Tobias Drengenberg (MudgeCorp project manager), with Leeanne Farmer (MBA Insurance Services).

“It’s our people, our clients and our commercial relationships that are always at the forefront of what we do,” he said.

“At MudgeCorp we look at excellence as a habit, and not one act.

“We are inspired and motivated by the clients that come to us with an idea, and we use this inspiration from concept to completion with communication, honesty, integrity and shared knowledge. This, to us, is excellence.

Mr Mudge said theyhave the tools (no pun intended), the vision, the values and the expertise.

“We have the team that takes such pride in their work; who stop, reflect on their creations and critique themselves extensively.

“They support one another, and most importantly, they listen. This, to us, is excellence.

Mr Mudge cited a testimonial from a client last month that was really ‘on the mark’ about his company and epitomised why their clients come to MudgeCorp.

“It said, ‘…we have been impressed with the work ethic of Angus, Jake and Matt, and their ability to add suggestions, which has ultimately led to a higher-quality finish’,” Mr Mudge said. “This, to our clients, is excellence.

“Receiving recognition through awards is an honour that we are very proud of, but testimonials like this is recognition like no other. Our clients don’t want us to just build a luxury house, they want us to deliver their dream. They want collaboration, passion and a genuine project team. They want excellence, and that’s where we come in.”

John and Elizabeth Ure recreate wedding photos at Merewether house

Romantic couple recreates wedding photos at Merewether 30 years later True Love: John and Elizabeth Ure recreated their wedding photos at Merewether.

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John and Elizabeth Ure.

John and Elizabeth Ure.

TweetFacebook John and Elizabeth Ure. +9MORE GALLERIES

facebookSHAREtwitterTWEETemailwhatsappWhen John and Elizabeth Ure married 30 years ago, they had wedding photos taken at one of Merewether’s most iconic houses.

Herald reporter Renee Valentine reported last Saturday that this house –at81Patrick Street – was on the market for the first time in its 130-year existence.

The memories came flooding back for John and Elizabeth.

They returned to the house and recreated their wedding shots.

“Looking at the photographs, some keen-eyed observers might detect that our appearances have changed in the intervening 30 years,” John, of Mount Hutton, said.

“However we choose to believe that we have not changed one iota, at least in each other’s eyes.”

The couple were married at Scots Kirk, a church at Hamilton, on November 21, 1987.

“Elizabeth was brought up in Merewether and I’m an Adamstown boy, however we were both living in Sydney when we started courting,” John said.

Topics loves that John said courting.

Austen-maniaSpeaking of romance, an event will be held in Newcastle on Saturdayabout Jane Austen.

Jane Austen.

Austenis the Queen of epic romance novels.

Pride and Prejudice has long been considered the bestselling novel of all time. It’s neverbeen out of print.

Austen-mania has been growing in recent years, coinciding with the 200th anniversary of the author’s death in July.

That’ll continue at Harbourview Function Centre inNewcastle, with a conference titled “Jane Austen on Stage and Screen”.

We asked the Jane AustenSociety’sHunter Chapter to explain what all the fuss was about.

Keira Knightley in the film Pride and Prejudice.

Leanne Garvey: “Jane Austen novels are about the indoor life of women. Everyone can relate to annoying younger sisters, hysterical mothers and vain relatives. Throw in a bit of romance, what more could you want?”

Cerilea Baker: “Austen-mania has grown from a reaction against the coarseness and vulgarity of modern romantic dramas and the frequent dramatisations. Jane Austen presents us with a formal social code, heroines who are engagingly unconventional and who, with spirit and humour, triumph over disadvantage and deceit and find their hero”.

Kerrie Lamrock: “In this day and age, people are still reading books and there is a timeless charm about Jane Austen’s writing.It takes us away from our age of rushed text messages and back to a time when language was elegant and crafted.Her books are a joy to read over and over”.

Leanne Garvey:“Her novels capture what was happening in society during her lifetime and endure because they are so well written”.

Cerilea Baker: “Jane Austen is loved for the humour, irony, the entrancing bad-boy villains, the sparkling strong-minded womenand the plots. In addition you can read the books, hear the CDs, go to the plays and watch the films. There are universal themes of love, the power of money and influence, with insight and drama thrown in”.

Leanne Garvey:“Jane Austen sells. You can walk into a newsagency, a bookstore and even a post office and you will find merchandise that claims some relationship to Jane – socks, stationary, cups with quotes and even Jane Austen toothpaste”.

Austen FashionLeanne is right. Jane Austen is everywhere. Fashion brand Laura Ashley just launched its new spring collection, which was inspired by –you guessed it –Jane Austen.

Laura Ashley clothing inspired by Jane Austen.

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Marcos family vows to return loot to Philippines

Bangkok: By the time Ferdinand Marcos fled a popular uprising on the streets of Manila, he had amassed a fortune estimated at $US13.5billion ($17billion).

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His annual salary during 21 years as president of the Philippines never rose above $US13,500.

Now, 31 years, later Marcos’ heirs have offered to return some of the wealth they claimed never existed.

“They [the Marcos family] told me they’ll open everything and probably return what is uncovered,” incumbent President Rodrigo Duterte told reporters, after being approached by an unnamed Marcos family member.

“They are ready to bring it back???including a few gold bars,” he said.

But Duterte, a political ally of the late president’s son, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos jnr, said the amount offered was not “Fort Knox”, referring to the vault that stores United States gold reserves.

Duterte attempted to justify one of the largest plunderings of state coffers in modern times, claiming that Marcos, who died in Honolulu in 1989, had kept the wealth because he was just protecting it for the economy.

Marcos family members have enjoyed a remarkable political comeback in recent years and are grooming Bongbong to become the next president.

After running for the vice-presidency last year, Bongbong is challenging the vote in court in a fight that could install him in the country’s second-highest office.

When the late Ferdinand Marcos and his family fled the country in 1986, the 1220 pairs of shoes his wife Imelda left behind became a symbol of kleptocracy??? in a nation where many still walked around barefoot in abject poverty.

Over the decades, the shoes, stored in a museum, were damaged by termites, storms and neglect, as staff appointed to a Presidential Commission on Good Government initiated legal action across the world to track down the Marcos fortune.

They recovered $US4.4billion from Swiss bank accounts, shares, real estate, paintings and jewellery, including three of the world’s top jewel collections that included “diamond studded tiaras, necklaces, brooches, earrings, belts and other gems”.

But powerful Philippine politicians are now demanding the return of the remaining billions.

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel, a staunch Duterte ally, said it isn’t enough that the Marcos family only return part of their ill-gotten wealth.

“Everything that was stolen should be returned???it’s not like we will be satisfied just with crumbs,” he said.

Senator Francis Pangilinan said the intentions of the Marcos family should not be taken at face value.

“Aside from returning the ill-gotten wealth the Marcoses should also apologise for atrocities committed during martial law,” he said.

But BongBong denies his parents ever committed any crime. He seems assured of Duterte’s backing in his bid for the presidency at the next elections.

Despite ordering a war on drugs that has left more than 12,000 mostly poor Filipinos dead, Duterte’s popularity remains high among the country’s 100 million citizens.

Duterte stunned his nation in November when he allowed the late president’s body to be buried in the national Heroes’ Cemetery. Critics said Marcos should have been denied such an honour.

The Marcos family has again become one of the Philippines’ most powerful political clans.

Imelda, now 88, has been a congresswoman since 1995. Attempting to justify her extravagant lifestyle, she has often claimed her late husband’s fortune came from a recovered treasure hidden by a Japanese general during World War II.

The oldest Marcos daughter, Imee, is Governor of northern Illocs Norte, the family’s stronghold.

After winning office in a landslide last year Duterte thanked the Marcos family for their financial support during his campaign.

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Singleton’s Rod Davies and Branxton’s Tim Nugent return from 2017 F-Class World Championships with a bevy of medals

Golden haul | PHOTOS Branxton’s Tim Nugent and Singleton’s Rod Davies

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facebookSHAREtwitterTWEETemailwhatsappTHE local area is now home to a couple of internationally-acclaimed marksmen.

Singleton’s Rod Davies and Branxton’s Tim Nugent have returned from the 2017 F-Class World Championships, in Canada, with a bevy of medals.

The titles for long-range rifle shooting using telescopic sights wrapped up at the Connaught Range in Ottawa, attracting more than 600 competitors.

Davies, 47, won four individual golds and a bronze in the F-Open class, scoring 89 bullseyes from 100 shots across 700, 800 and 900-metre ranges.

His total of 489 put him four clear of UK’s Paul Sandie with another Australian, Adam Pohl, a further three in arrears.

He then joined fellow Cessnock Rifle Club member Nugent, who owns a metal fabrication business in Branxton, in the eight-member national team.

The squad successfully defended its F-Open crown, which Australia won at the previous championships in New Mexico in 2013.

On this occasion, Nugent led the scores for the “green and gold” with 443 points from a possible 450.

Davies admitted he was “very, very happy” with the outcome.

“I was quietly confident of doing well before the event – and aiming for a top 10 position,” the WesTrac workshop supervisor at Ravensworth North mine said.

“I thought if things went okay, I might do better.

“But, I probably wasn’t expecting this [result].

“In the end, there was a lot of relief, too.

“It took almost two hours for the final results to come through.

“I knew I was in with a chance, however it was still a bit nerve-wracking.”

After two seasons with an organisation in Cairns, Davies has spent the past seven years with the Cessnock Rifle Club.

And, he’s not about to rest on his laurels either, despite his recent overseas success.

“I’m having a bit of a break,” he admitted.

“Then I’m taking aim at the Victorian and South Australian state championships early in the new year.”

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House of the WeekHamilton South

House of the Week | Hamilton South TweetFacebook House of the week | Hamilton South Family adds their chapter to historic home’s story. Photos by Paul Dear+18Family adds their chapter to historic home’s story. Photos by Paul DearMORE GALLERIES

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facebookSHAREtwitterTWEETemailwhatsappAfter years of relocating, an air force family are now first-time home owners, settling into a Hamilton South home built in the late 1920s. Louise is from Parkes and her husband, Grant, is from the Gold Coast.

Since they have been together they’ve had three children and lived in eight places, including time in Canada and five years previously in Newcastle.

“Newcastle is home for us. My husband did all his training here, I came to visit him. The first week I came I was like ‘this is it’,” Louise says.

After three months of intense renovations, the family moved in during March 2016. They’re hoping they can stay put in Newcastle for at least the next 18 months, if not longer. They bought the home three days before Grant’s deployment.

Their historic house on Smith Street was built for Newcastle Harbour Master Captain Henderson.

“Captain Henderson was here for roughly 40 years; it’s funny because the neighbors have been here all that time, and they used to do his grocery shopping,” she says.

After Captain Henderson, the next owners doubled the size of the house, extending the living area and building a garage and loft.

The house is in a heritage conservation zone, so they had to get approval to make changes to the exterior. While making changes, they wanted to retain the cornices and the solid timber doors and frames.

“You don’t want to strip out all of the beautiful art deco heritage features. It was a lot of effort working between contemporary and art deco,” Louise says.

The couplegot rid of a lot of the furniture they had accumulated since marrying almost 16 years ago, with the exception of a bar they bought when they lived in the Northern Territory and barstools that were inherited from Louise’s grandmother when she passed away 10 years ago.

They rewired the entire house, changed the paint and the floors. They redid the 1950s wardrobes, which were covered in contact paper.

“We’ve had every tradie known to man,” Louise says of the house. “My husband was away for the first half of the year; I was working managing 12 trades. I had them all on this deadline.”

She got as much done as she could while her husband was away so that they could chill out and enjoy their time together when he got back.

The house’s spacious dining, kitchen and family room is the biggest room in the house. It’s painted light blue with windows down an entire side that bring in great light.

Before, the kitchen was beige laminate with sandstone tiles on the floor.

“The kitchen took a month,” Louise says. “It’s a very technical kitchen, particularly as we’ve got quite advanced ovens. It was the surprisingly most complex thing.”

They tore down a wall, so what used to be a formal dining and sitting room is now one swanky lounge room and bar. It’s painted in rich navy blue and featuresstained glass windows and doors. It also has classic ceiling roses. The large space has a very different vibe to the sunny kitchen. Louise calls it the “grown ups’ room,” and she eventually wants to put in a fireplace.

They also have three bedrooms and the study. She said the study and bathroom still needed work. She’s taken particular care of the kids’ bedrooms. She made all the decorations for her three-year-old daughter Lara’s room.

“I’m really picky about what I want, so if I can’t find what I want I make it,” Louise says. “In Lara’s room there’s a cross stitch that I did when I was 10. To make it suit her colour scheme I took the matting out of the frame and painted it.”

Along with being crafty herself, a few shops around town helped her create her vision. The lights in her lounge room are from Papa Sven in Newcastle, and the solid timber furniture came from Wildflower Furniture in Warners Bay. She got her lounges from Plush in Newcastle. Thriving plants are all over her house, many from High Swan Dive.

They changed their home’s exterior as well. They put in an outdoor shower, paved areas, installed an electric gateand rendered the fence. Everything is new except the pool. They dug up about 10 metres of agapanthus and replanted them around the entire outside fence. Their kids now tend to the vegetables in the new garden.

Louise said Grant was incredibly supportive of all her plans.

“I kept waiting for my husband to say ‘no this is a crazy idea’, but he never did, bless his heart,” she says.

Louise said there’s more to be done, but for now she’s happy to take a break and enjoy the fruits of their labour.

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Alan Jones accused of inciting violence against women in Cloud Arch tweet

“Can you believe it?”: Alan Jones took to Twitter on Thursday to attack the Cloud Arch sculpture. Photo: Alex EllinghausenBroadcaster Alan Jones has been accused of inciting violence against women in a tweet attacking City of Sydney’s controversial artwork, the Cloud Arch, and the Lord Mayor Clover Moore.

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Taking to Twitter on Thursday, the 2GB host slammed the City of Sydney’s proposed Cloud Arch sculpture, a 58-metre artwork that will frame the city’s Town Hall.

It’s a project backed by Cr Moore, and has been at the centre of a long-running battle between the city’s councillors. Last week, it was revealed the structure’s revised cost had increased from $3.5 million to $11.3 million.

“$11.3m – can you believe it? You can guess what many people would rather hang 58 metres over George Street…and it’s not a Cloud Arch,” Jones published to his 8000 followers.

People were quick to allege the man, who describes himself online as “Australia’s most influential and respected radio broadcaster”, was once again inciting violence against women.

While others suggested he was referring to a rainbow flag or Canberra’s famous Skywhale, a controversial hot air balloon.

Thursday’s tweet is the latest recorded incident of the self-proclaimed feminist using visceral language when referencing issues championed by some of the country’s female politicians.

Last month during a fiery exchange with NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian he warned that her head “was in a noose” over her government’s mining policy in the Liverpool Plains.

In 2012, after numerous advertisers and sponsors threatened to abandon his radio show, he apologised to former prime minister Julia Gillard after he suggested she should be “shoved” in a “chaff bag” and taken “far out to sea”.

In the same speech, which was secretly recorded at a Sydney University Liberal Club President’s dinner, he suggested Gillard’s recently deceased father had “died of shame”.

Jones has also compared previous NSW premier Mike Baird to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Fairfax Media has approached Clover Moore for comment.

Fairfax Media, publisher of this website, is a majority owner of 2GB.

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Harbour precinct open to the public for the first time in 150 years

Sub Base Platypus looking towards North Sydney. Photo: SuppliedIt is one of Sydney Habour’s hidden gems. A sprawling precinct, dotted with empty warehouses and old factories, overlooking the water on Sydney’s north shore.

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For more than 150 years it has been closed to the public.

But all that is about to change. The Sydney Harbour Federation Trust is opening up the 1.8 hectare site in the hope it will become Sydney’s newest cultural and commercial hub.

Located less than a kilometre from North Sydney’s CBD, the site was once a gasworks factory and later became a submarine base known as HMAS Platypus.

On Thursday, the precinct was publicly unveiled and relaunched as Sub Base Platypus.

Chief executive of the Harbour Trust, Mary Darwell, said parts of the site will be opened to the public from as early as mid 2018, while restoration work is completed.

“Once completed, we will see Sub Base Platypus become a special destination for Sydneysiders and visitors alike, providing a range of facilities and venues for cultural performances, function areas, cafes and restaurants, as well as offices and commercial spaces,” Ms Darwell said.

Chair of the Harbour Trust Kevin McCann, said the “industrial heritage values of the buildings will be retained, [but] the buildings and public spaces will be adapted and made available to cultural, community and commercial organisations.”

The former submarine workshops, for example, will be revitalised to provide a sequence of terraces, streets, squares and gardens.

Businesses and community organisations will be able to lease eight buildings across the precinct, including the former submarine workshops, the former torpedo factory, the old submarine school, and the old gas work offices.

The oldest building on the site is the Retort House, a prefabricated iron building which dates back to 1886 and was originally used for the conversion of coal to gas.

As a gasworks, the facility provided provide gas for street lights, homes and businesses on the North Shore.

However, the site was reclaimed for Australia’s war effort in 1942 by the Commonwealth Government and it was transformed into a torpedo manufacturing and maintenance factory. It also operated as a service facility for the naval vessels of the Pacific Fleet.

At the height of wartime production, the torpedo factory – the largest building on the precinct – employed 200 civilian workers, a quarter of whom were women. The building continued to be used for torpedo manufacturing and repair until the 1990s

The precinct took on a new role again in 1967, when it became the base of the Royal Australian Navy’s Oberon-class submarines and was named HMAS Platypus.