NSW to chase Cross City Tunnel tax bill

In a jam: the Cross City Tunnel is having trouble with its finances. Photo: Michele MossopThe NSW government has confirmed it will appeal a Supreme Court ruling revoking a $60 million stamp duty bill for Sydney’s Cross City Tunnel, making it more likely the tunnel will fall into receivership, the AFR writes on its website.
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Minister for Finance and Services Andrew Constance said the Chief Commissioner of State Revenue will appeal the court’s decision, made in early August.

“The Chief Commissioner of State Revenue has a responsibility to administer taxation law in NSW and collect all tax considered to be payable,” Mr Constance said. “The NSW government strongly believes that every business should pay its taxes.”

The Office of State Revenue has lodged an intention to appeal.

The tunnel’s owners – Royal Bank of Scotland, Leighton Holdings and the UK’s EISER Infrastructure Partners – were hit with the tax bill after acquiring the road out of receivership in 2007 for $695 million.

The Commissioner of State Revenue charged the new owners stamp duty on the transaction.

The tunnel’s owners have been trying to refinance some $79 million in debt due at the end of the month. The refinancing efforts have been hampered by the stamp duty court case.

Now that the government has confirmed its appeal and prolonged the issue, it seems unlikely the Cross City Tunnel will be able to refinance its debt by the September 30 deadline.

The tunnel first fell into receivership in 2006 due to poor traffic flows. Although traffic has since improved, it does not generate enough income to pay the stamp duty bill as well as refinance the tunnel’s debt.

Bankers say the tunnel could avoid paying the stamp duty by going into receivership before the appeal takes place because senior creditors would rank above the tax claim.

Cross City Tunnel said it remained in talks with banks with the aim of refinancing its debt by the end of the month.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

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Neil Craig is happy to move on, Paul Roos says

New Melbourne coach Paul Roos says he does not expect Neil Craig to remain at the club next season.
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Craig, the club’s director of sports performance, took over as caretaker coach after Mark Neeld’s sacking before round 13 this year and spoke to the Demons’ selection panel about the position.

However, now that Roos has won the job, it appears Craig will walk away and its assumed the club will have to pay out the final year of the three-year contract he signed in 2012.

Asked if he planned to keep Craig on in any specific role next year, Roos responded: “I don’t think so”.

“I think the circumstances that Neil found himself in, he was told that – if he didn’t get the job – my understanding is that he would happily move on,” Roos told Fox Footy.

It was reported by Fairfax Media that the Brisbane Lions were planning to interview Craig for the vacant senior job.

The appointment of Roos at Melbourne was officially announced last Friday and the former Sydney premiership coach’s first day on Monday involved list management and reviewing the structure of the football department.

He has agreed to a two-year deal, with an option for a third, and will work in partnership with a senior assistant who will be groomed for the senior position and then take over once Roos’ contract expires.

Roos revealed on Monday night that Melbourne had already sounded out Hawthorn assistant coach Adam Simpson and West Coast assistant Scott Burns, who is also in the running for the Eagles’ job.

“I believe they have spoken to Adam Simpson and I believe they have spoken to Scotty Burns,” Roos said.

“But I will certainly give them a call and suss them out, while being respectful to their clubs as well … but I suspect the first conversation will be with [Melbourne football manager] Josh Mahoney to find out where those two guys sit,” he said.

Roos is very confident a succession plan is the right path for embattled Melbourne to take after finishing 17th this season and winning just six matches in the past two seasons.

“I have lived it and breathed it. I know it works,” Roos said, pointing to his coaching handover to John Longmire at Sydney.

Roos shot down suggestions he was only taking the job for the massive salary Melbourne is believed to be paying him, disclosing that he had rejected previous coaching offers for the same type of money.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

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Honeysuckle sites for sale: map

Graphic Mandy Graham Honeysuckle site for sale. Picture Anita Jones
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Honeysuckle site for sale. Picture Anita Jones

Honeysuckle site for sale. Picture Anita Jones

Honeysuckle site for sale. Picture Anita Jones

Honeysuckle site for sale. Picture Anita Jones

Honeysuckle site for sale. Picture Anita Jones

Honeysuckle site for sale. Picture Anita Jones

Honeysuckle site for sale. Picture Anita Jones

To see the interactive map,click here.

THREE prime city sites with a collective value of more than $10 million are being put to market by the Hunter Development Corporation, sparking local and national interest.

HDC general manager Bob Hawes said the release of 16 and 18 Honeysuckle Drive and the former Empire Hotel at 643-651 Hunter Street in the West End would fuel the momentum of the Newcastle city centre revitalisation program.

The move comes a month after NSW Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian announced two tenders to kickstart the government’s pledge to bring light rail to the city centre.

Mr Hawes said it was too early to say whether the state government’s Newcastle Urban Renewal Strategy (NURS) would boost the value of the HDC sites but said the government’s plans were ‘‘freeing up opportunity’’.

‘‘It is making it more clear to the people out there, investors and developers, as to what is expected and what the vision is for the city,’’ he said.

‘‘For some of them, the concept of dismantling the rail corridor and doing something else is attractive; to me it’s an additional enabling mechanism that is incentivising people to go ahead and do something or get interested again in the city.’’

To read the Herald’s opinion, click here.

The site at 18 Honeysuckle Drive, which is beside NIB’s headquarters, was valued at $4 million when the University of Newcastle was considering it for its inner-city campus in 2009, before it opted for a Hunter Street site.

Commercial sales director Chris Chapman declined tocomment on what the 4129-square-metre site may fetch but she expects offers to trump the 2009 valuation.

The site’s revised potential from commercial to mixed use would attract commercial, hotel and residential proposals.

The second HDC site is next door at 16 Honeysuckle Drive, where the Nathan Tinkler-backed Buildev Group had DA approval for its failed $55 million Honeysuckle Central project, billed as crucial to easing a severe shortage of A-grade city office space.

HDC terminated its agreement with Buildev in December after it failed to stump up the $6 million required to settle on the 8000-square-metre site.

Crucially, Mr Hawes said the corporation would give an undertaking to cover the cost of some and possibly all of the remediation work to resolve mine subsidence issues at 18 Honeysuckle Drive, and was considering doing the same next door.

The third city site is the former Empire Hotel site on the corner of Hunter and Steel streets, which HDC bought more than two years ago for $2.3 million on behalf of the state government.

In July, Newcastle City Council approved a plan to redevelop the 2000-square-metre site as affordable housing, with HDC contributing the land and seeking expressions of interest in construction before transferring ownership to NSW Housing.

A key industry source said the HDC sites would collectively carry a conservative price tag of just over $10 million at current market rates. Mr Hawes said HDC had received unsolicited approaches from local and national parties on all of the sites.

‘‘Melbourne and Sydney are hot markets and there are guys down there who can’t or don’t want to compete because the margins are getting smaller. They are now starting to look at regional markets, and Newcastle is an ideal opportunity in that respect.’’

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Bushfires blaze: M1 lane reopened 

UPDATE 8.30PM. All northbound lanes reopened on the M1 Motorway, near Wyee, and there are currently delays of about 25 minutes for motorists travelling from Gosford to Newcastle
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UPDATE 6PM: Back burning operations are continuing along M1 near Wyee with traffic delays in the area. Drivers are facing queues 4 kilometres long northbound, with delays of 40 minutes. Lane 1 closed, with firetrucks in lane. Reduced visibility due to smoke.Live M1 traffic links here

Mannering Park Road fire is nowunder control, as is the grassfire at Browns Road, Blackhill.

UPDATE: One lane of the M1 has reopened at Wyee, but smoke is heavy and drivers are urged to slow down and take care.

UPDATE: All northbound lanes of the M1 (formerly F3) at Wyee are closed as firefighters carry out a backburn, and aspotfire has broken out on the median strip.

EARLIER REPORT

FIREFIGHTERS are set to close one northbound lane of the M1 (formerly F3) at Wyee to carry out a backburn operation to try tohalt a fire in bush nearby.

One northbound lane will be closed to traffic as firefighters use the breakdown lane to backburn.

Traffic has been slowed as a precaution and because of reduced visibility.

Another fire is burning at Mannering Park, to the rear of Mannering Colliery, but has been contained.

A third fire at Yarramalong is heading south-west to isolated properties and fire crews are attempting to backburn along Yarramalong Road.

Small fires have also been reported on the New England Highway at Liddell and Branxton, in Brown’s Road, Black Hill, at Cessnock, Medowie and Carrington/North Arm Cove.

EARLIER REPORT

FIRE crews in the Hunter are closely monitoring developments in Sydney as well as local conditions, with a bush and grass fires popping up in the region.

Two fires near Cessnock, one at Wollombi and one at a property past Blaxlands Arm Road, in Laguna, have moved from a ‘‘watch and act’’ alert to an ‘‘advice’’ alert.

No properties are believed to be under threat and Rural Fire Service crews are on scene and controlling the blazes.

Firefighters are also working to bring two scrub fires on the Central Coast, at Mannering Park and Wyong, under control.

A house in Sydney’s Blue Mountains has been lost as firefighters battle 40 uncontained blazes which have caused mass evacuations.

NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell said a house had been lost on Hawkesbury Road in Winmalee and there were unconfirmed reports two firefighters injured battling the blaze there.

A bushfire in Londonderry, in Sydney’s west. Photo: Nick Moir

‘‘(There is) one confirmed report of a house lost in Hawkesbury Road, unconfirmed reports of two injured firefighters at the same location,’’ he told parliament on Tuesday.

‘‘This is an ongoing situation.’’

The RFS later confirmed five firefighters suffered smoke inhalation and two received minor burns fighting the Winmalee blaze.

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Chermoula: it’s quick, easy and quite delicious

Chermoula on fish fillet.Chermoula is a herb and spice marinade from Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, and is mainly used for fish. It is quick and easy to make and quite delicious.
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Spread it on a whole fish, fish fillets, prawns, other seafood or chicken and leave to marinate. The seafood or chicken can then be grilled, pan-fried, cooked in a tagine or baked in the oven. Chermoula can also be served as a sauce, dressing or dip. It is wonderful with roasted vegetables such as potato, pumpkin or sweet potato.

Although the ingredients for chermoula vary from place to place, today’s recipe is fairly standard, with coriander, parsley, garlic, cumin, paprika, lemon and olive oil. You can use vinegar instead of lemon juice, or a little of each. Other spices, such as coriander, saffron, turmeric or ras el hanout, can be included, as can fresh chilli, preserved lemon, lemon zest or tomato.

For a cooked version of chermoula, fry eschalot or onion in oil first.

Spring is with us, with all the lovely vegetables it brings, so I am serving my fish with a ragout of broad beans and peas, cooked with spring onions and mint. Try to find beans and peas of a similar size and not too big. Baby new potatoes would work well, too.Chermoula – North African fish marinade

Serves 4-6

Include the tender coriander and parsley stems.

½ bunch coriander, chopped (about ½ cup)

½ bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped (about ½ cup)

3-4 cloves garlic, crushed

sea salt

1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground

1 tsp sweet paprika

pinch of cayenne (optional)

1 juicy lemon (¼ cup juice)

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Chop the herbs and garlic in a food processor, pound with a mortar and pestle or cut finely by hand. Mix in all the remaining ingredients. Taste and adjust as you like.

Store the chermoula in a jar in the fridge with a film of olive oil on top. It is best eaten when freshly made, but will keep for a few days.

Baked blue-eye cod fillets with chermoula

4 white fish fillets such as blue-eye cod or ling

1 quantity chermoula marinade (above)

4 celery stalks

2 tomatoes, peeled and diced or sliced (optional)

1 lemon, to serve

Ask the fishmonger to skin and pin-bone the fish for you, or do it yourself. Spread half the chermoula over both sides of the fish and leave to marinate in the fridge for an hour, if you can, or at least 30 minutes.

To cook the fish in the oven, heat the oven to 180C fan-forced (200C regular). Use the celery as a rack to sit the fish on. Cut each celery stalk into about thirds, and arrange in an oiled shallow ovenproof dish. Place chermoula-covered fish on the celery rack. If using, add the chopped or sliced tomato on top. Spoon on a little extra chermoula or olive oil.

Cover the dish with foil and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, then uncover and bake for another five to 10 minutes, until the fish is cooked through. The time will depend on the thickness of the fish.

Transfer the fish fillets to warmed plates and spoon the pan juices over them. Serve with lemon wedges and the remaining chermoula as a sauce.

Broad bean and pea ragout

Serves 4-6

Fresh broad beans and peas are nicer, but you can use frozen ones instead. You can substitute fresh basil for the mint in the recipe.

1kg broad beans in pods (1 cup shelled and peeled)

500g peas in pods (1 cup shelled)

sea salt

1 small bunch of mint

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or canola oil

4 spring onions (including some of the green part), sliced)

1 clove of garlic

Pod the broad beans and shell the peas. Bring a saucepan of lightly salted water to a rapid boil. Toss in the broad beans and cook for one minute. Remove the beans with a sieve and plunge into ice-cold water. Nick the top of the beans and slip off the skins.

Use the same pan of boiling water to cook the peas. Throw in the peas and a sprig of mint. Cook for one to two minutes depending on size, then drain.

Heat a saute pan with the olive oil, add the spring onions and garlic and stir-fry briefly. Add the broad beans, peas, some shredded mint, a pinch of salt and splash of water. Cover and cook for a few minutes until the beans and peas are tender. Garnish with extra shredded mint and mint sprigs and serve warm or at room temperature.

>>  Diana Lampe is a Canberra writer, [email protected]上海夜生活.au.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

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