Fire shows historic Newcastle post office can’t be ‘left to rot’

Post office sale attracts national interest May 2008: Still empty. Picture: Darren Pateman
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FIRE: The blaze started some time before 9.44pm. Picture: Liz Knott

FIRE: The blaze started some time before 9.44pm. Picture: Liz Knott

FIRE: The blaze started some time before 9.44pm. Picture: Liz Knott

FIRE: The blaze started some time before 9.44pm. Picture: Liz Knott

FIRE: The blaze started some time before 9.44pm. Picture: Liz Knott

FIRE: The blaze started some time before 9.44pm. Picture: Liz Knott

FIRE: The blaze started some time before 9.44pm. Picture: Liz Knott

FIRE: The blaze started some time before 9.44pm. Picture: Liz Knott

FIRE: Some of the damage from the blaze. Picture: Simone De Peak

FIRE: Some of the damage from the blaze. Picture: Simone De Peak

FIRE: Some of the damage from the blaze. Picture: Simone De Peak

FIRE: The blaze started some time before 9.44pm. Picture: Liz Knott

Cyclists stand outside the Hunter Street court house in about 1900. The post office was built on the site by 1903.

May 2008. Picture: Darren Pateman

1902: The post office under construction before its August 1903 opening.

An atrium proposed in one plan for the post office site. Picture: EJE Architecture

An atrium proposed in one plan for the post office site. Picture: EJE Architecture

An artist’s impression of a planned function room once proposed for the site. Picture: EJE Architecture

2009. Picture: Ben Rushton

2009. Picture: Ben Rushton

Picture: Dean Osland

2008: Project director Michael Rodgers with then-owner Sean Ngu. Picture: Ryan Osland

2008: Project director Michael Rodgers with then-owner Sean Ngu. Picture: Ryan Osland

October 2008: Plans to convert the post office into a nightspot have been approved and work is to begin shortly. Picture: Ryan Osland

May 2008. Picture: Darren Pateman

October 2008: Plans to convert the post office into a nightspot have been approved and work is to begin shortly. Picture: Ryan Osland

March 2005: “Newcastle post office finally cleaned up”. Picture: Darren Pateman

1903: The post office opens.

JUNE 2006: Temporary fencing around the site is removed. Picture: Simone De Peak

Former owner Sean Ngu inside the post office in 2008. Picture: Ryan Osland

JUNE 2006: Temporary fencing around the site is removed. Picture: Simone De Peak

JUNE 2006: Temporary fencing around the site is removed. Picture: Simone De Peak

2008. Picture: Darren Pateman

2008: A broken window, potentially allowing access to the site. Picture: Darren Pateman

2005. Picture: Dean Osland

2005: The post office is cleaned up. Picture: Darren Pateman

Michael Rodgers and Sean Ngu in 2008. Picture: Ryan Osland

JUNE 2008: Milton Morris seeks to have the post office moved back into the old building. Picture: Kitty Hill

JUNE 2008: Milton Morris seeks to have the post office moved back into the old building. Picture: Kitty Hill

JUNE 2008: Milton Morris seeks to have the post office moved back into the old building. Picture: Kitty Hill

January 2005. Picture: Simone De Peak

2005. Picture: Kitty Hill

2005. Picture: Kitty Hill

2005. Picture: Kitty Hill

Picture: Dean Osland

January 2004. Picture: Glen McCurtayne

Picture: Stefan Moore.

2004: A glimpse into the post office, believed to be housing squatters. Picture: Glen McCurtayne

2010. Picture: Darren Pateman

2010: Jodi McKay in the old building. Picture: Dean Osland

2009. Picture: Dean Osland

2010. Picture: Darren Pateman

2010: After the graffiti is cleaned off. Picture: Stuart Quinn

2010: After the graffiti is cleaned off. Picture: Stuart Quinn

2009: Sean Ngu. Picture: Darren Pateman

2010: the government tours the site to check its condition. Picture: Darren Pateman

2010. Picture: Darren Pateman

2009: Sean Ngu with Simon Emerzidis (left) and Steve Kremisis (right. They hope to open doors in December 2010. Picture: Simone De Peak

2010: Jodi McKay in the old building. Picture: Dean Osland

2010: With Jodi McKay in the old building. Picture: Dean Osland

2010: Inside the old building. Picture: Dean Osland

2010: Jodi McKay in the old building. Picture: Dean Osland

Sean Ngu.

2010: Owner Sean Ngu with business partners Steve Kremisis and Simon Emerzidis. Picture: Simone De Peak

2010: the government tours the site to check its condition. Picture: Darren Pateman

2010: the government tours the building to check its condition. Picture: Darren Pateman

2010: Inside the old building. Picture: Dean Osland

2010: Jodi McKay in the old building. Picture: Dean Osland

2010: Jodi McKay in the old building. Picture: Dean Osland

2010: Jodi McKay in the old building. Picture: Dean Osland

2010: Gionni Di Gravio calls for the site to become a history and visitor information centre. Picture: Stuart Quinn

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Onceexpressions of interest close next week,Colliers Internationalwillwork through the proposals to determine which are feasible.

“Then we will take it to the [Awabakal] members with some recommendations and see how they feel about it,” the land council’schief executive, Rob Russell, said.

Howevertechnically the post office can not yetbe sold,as one of nineAwabakal properties tied up in court action.

Earlier this year two Sydney companiesplaced a caveat over the building in the Supreme Court, claiming they were owed money by the land council. The case has not been resolved.

“We have to pay fees to the courts to even start to move towards having those caveats removed,” Mr Russell said.

“It’s people from outside,draining money out of the land council. But we are determined to move forward.”

Colliers International executive Michael Chapman said agents had been pleased with the level of interest duringthe expressions of interest process.

“All sorts of things have been proposed, from hospitality to a hotel to commercial uses,” he said.

“It’s really working through how you can unlock the value and reinvent the building to the landmark it once was. That may rule out some uses based on cost.”

On Monday, work beganto clear and secure the verandah of the post office, in what was hailed the “first step in a long journey” to restore the treasured buildingto its former glory.

The parliamentary secretary for the Hunter,Scot MacDonald, welcomed the start of restoration works.

“It is good to see the NSW Government funding to secure and make safe the old postoffice is now being utilised,” he said.

Melbourne Cup 2017: The street parade

20 photos from the 2017 Melbourne Cup street parade Gai Waterhouse waves to the crowd during the as the Melbourne Cup Parade. Photo: AAP Image/James Ross
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Single Gaze strapper Billy Owen, trainer Nick Olive and jockey Kathy O’Hara during the Melbourne Cup Parade travels down Swanston Street in Melbourne on Monday. Photo: AAP Image/Julian Smith

Tom Dabernig, Corey Parish and David Hayes during the Melbourne Cup Parade travels down Swanston Street in Melbourne on Monday. Photo: AAP Image/James Ross

Gai Waterhouse is seen before the Melbourne Cup Parade on Monday. Photo: AAP Image/Julian Smith

Tiberian connections during the Melbourne Cup Parade on Monday. Photo: AAP Image/Julian Smith

Jockey Cory Parish (centre) and trainer David Hayes (right) during the Melbourne Cup Parade on Monday. Photo: AAP Image/Julian Smith

Trainer Darren Weir and jockey Brenton Avdulla during the Melbourne Cup Parade on Monday. Photo: AAP Image/Julian Smith

Anti horse racing protestors at the corner of Swanston Street and Flinders street during the Melbourne Cup Parade in Melbourne on Monday. Photo: AAP Image/James Ross

A Fashions on the Field ambassador during the Melbourne Cup Parade on Monday. Photo: AAP Image/Julian Smith

Kerrin McEvoy is seen with his children as the Melbourne Cup Parade travels down Swanston Street in Melbourne. Photo: AAP Image/Julian Smith

Ben Hayes (left) and Glen Boss (third from left) during the Melbourne up Parade on Monday. Photo: AAP Image/James Ross

Jockey Cory Parish (top centre) and trainer David Hayes( right) during the Melbourne Cup Parade on Monday. Photo: AAP Image/James Ross

James Cummings and his children during the Melbourne Cup Parade on Monday. Photo: AAP Image/James Ross

Glen Boss (right) at the Melbourne Cup Parade. Photos: AAP Image/Julian Smith

Jockey Craig Williams is seen with kids during the Melbourne Cup Parade. Photo: AAP Image/James Ross

Apprentice jockey Beau Mertens who will be riding the Gai Waterhouse-trained Cismontane signs autographs at the Melbourne Cup Parade. Photo: AAP Image/Julian Smith

Let the fun begin. Photo: Jason South

Colour galore during the 2017 street parade. Photo: Jason South

The race that stops a nation bought the city of Melbourne to a standstill with the Emirates Melbourne Cup Parade. Photo: Jason South

The race that stops a nation bought the city of Melbourne to a standstill with the Emirates Melbourne Cup Parade on Monday. Photo: Jason South

TweetFacebookREAD MORE:Melbourne Cup 2017 barrier drawYour guide to all the horses in the 2017 Melbourne CupWhy ironhorse Humidor is turning back Melbourne Cup clock

How Samu Kerevi started to enjoy rugby again

CARDIFF: A conversation with Will Genia last week convinced Samu Kerevi he needed to stop heaping pressure on himself and just enjoy rugby again.
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It seems to have paid dividends, with Kerevi producing arguably his best Wallabies performances of the year in his side’s 63-30 win over Japan.

Kerevi scored two tries of his own and helped set up a handful of others in what was his first start for since his poor showing against the All Blacks in the Bledisloe Cup opener in Sydney.

The 24-year-old was subsequently dropped for the next Test in Dunedin but earned a recall to the bench, a spot he maintained for the next five Tests before getting his chance at No.12 on Saturday in Yokohama.

On face value, Kerevi is a relaxed chap, however, his eagerness to do well was picked up by Genia who offered some sage advice before the weekend’s match.

“He was saying to back myself and enjoy footy,” Kerevi said. “That’s what I’ve missed in the last couple of weeks … I was putting so much pressure on myself. I just had to go out there and enjoy myself. I was happy I was able to do that.”

Kerevi reminded coach Michael Cheika of the attacking prowess he possesses with some barnstorming runs, albeit at Japanese defenders who won’t be as big as the Wales players he could run into this Saturday (Sunday AEDT) in Cardiff.

“It doesn’t matter who is in front of us, I know what my strengths are and that’s what I play to,” Kerevi said. “So if that’s ball carrying, that’s ball carrying.”

Kerevi’s defensive reads have come under criticism this year, particularly after a forgetful Sydney Test.

Against Japan though, Kerevi sized up and showed a willingness to get off his feet and back in the defensive line as soon as possible.

“I’m just happy to get out an 80-minute performance, I haven’t had one for a long time,” Kerevi said. “I felt good out there.

“I’m really proud of the boys’ performance. We played really well in the first half and patches in the second half. There was a lot of learning in that.”

Under normal circumstances, Kerevi would have done more than enough to cement his spot in ‘s next game.

However, Cheika has some decisions to make. Bernard Foley (illness), Will Genia (calf) and Karmichael Hunt (neck) are all expected to be eligible for selection this weekend.

Foley will take back the No.10 jersey from Reece Hodge, who will almost certainly slide back onto the wing.

Cheika has to make up his mind whether to keep Beale at fullback, who wasn’t afraid to jump into first receiver against the Cherry Blossoms, or put Hunt there.

Beale has spoken about the fact he and Hunt, if selected at No.12 and No.15 respectively, would be interchangeable in their positions and share roles rather than defending and attacking where the number on their back says they should.

While Kerevi looks set to be moved back to the bench, he believes competitive rivalry among players is always a positive.

“Whoever it is in the centres, all of us are pushing for a starting spot,” Kerevi said. “That positive competition will only drive us to be better. We all sit down and help each other out on the field and we connect really well off the field.”

Kerevi did not travel with the Wallabies on their end of season tour to Europe last year because of injury and has therefore never played Wales before.

have beaten Wales in their previous 12 matches but there is caution in Wallabies camp given the hosts will be more determined than ever to cause an upset victory.

“They’ve got a big back line and a strong forward pack,” Kerevi said. “All northern hemisphere [sides] have that. They have that physicality they bring in set-piece and in game play.”

Weinstein sex scandal could take a toll on Aussie filmmakers

Mia Wasikowska and Adam Driver on the set of Tracks?? Mia Wasikowska and Adam Driver on the set of Tracks 2_TRB8207.jpg Dev Patel as Arjun in Hotel Mumbai, shot in Adelaide and Mumbai and directed by n Anthony Maras.
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With the Hollywood sex abuse scandal showing little sign of abating, and with none of the allegations yet tested in court, it’s too soon for a comprehensive body count. But whatever the final casualties, there’s a good chance n filmmakers may be among those who inadvertently pay the price.

The Weinstein Company has been a significant backer of n talent in recent years. But the future of the company is in serious doubt, which means our industry may be in danger of losing one of its strongest allies in the world’s biggest movie market.

The Weinstein Company (TWC) has specialised in mid-budget adult-oriented fare, which just happens to be the sort of filmmaking our industry tends to be rather good at (TWC is not snobbish, however; it also has a genre arm, Dimension, which specialises in horror and science-fiction movies, and in recent years has moved into television in a big way).

The company famously bought the distribution rights to Garth Davis’ Lion at script stage in 2015, paying $US12 million for Luke Davies’ dramatisation of Saroo Brierley’s memoir. The film went on to gross $US140 million and to collect six Oscar nominations and two BAFTA wins (for Dev Patel as best supporting actor and for Davies’ adapted screenplay) this year.

In 2010 TWC distributed The King’s Speech, produced by See-Saw Pictures, the boutique production house headed by Emile Sherman in Sydney and Ian Canning in London. In 2014, it distributed The Railway Man, directed by n Jonathan Teplitzky. The previous year it helped take Tracks to the world. In 2012, it picked up The Sapphires.

n directors Justin Kurzel (Macbeth, 2015), John Hillcoat (The Road, 2009), Andrew Dominik (Killing Them Softly, 2012) and Greg McLean (Wolf Creek, 2005) have also been the beneficiaries of Bob and Harvey Weinstein’s considerable expertise in distributing and marketing movies.

And what expertise it is. As the TWC website boasts, “during Harvey and Bob’s tenure at Miramax [the company they founded in 1979 and sold to Disney in 1993] and TWC, they have received 341 Oscar nominations and won 81 Academy Awards”.

For smaller films, the likes of which produces, an awards nomination – even the talk of an awards nomination – is the all-important key to media attention.

Emile Sherman described Harvey Weinstein recently as being “relentless in all his activities and relentless on behalf of movies, campaigning for them”. None of that guarantees ticket sales, of course, but in a crowded marketplace, it’s the kind of help a small-release film desperately needs.

But the future of TWC is under a massive cloud. Bob Weinstein sacked his brother Harvey in the wake of the escalating sex scandals, but that may not be enough to save the company. On October 17, Reuters reported the company was in talks with private equity firm Colony Capital to buy it, or a chunk of its assets.

Just a year earlier, amid rumours the company was facing serious cash-flow problems, Harvey Weinstein told The Hollywood ReporterTWC was worth up to “$800 million in a worst-case scenario”. He claimed the bulk of the value lay in its library of 550 film and television titles.

It’s hard to imagine a scenario worse than this one, and it’s also hard to imagine the value of the brand has been anything but tarnished.

There have been reports that Paddington 2, the family-friendly animated sequel due for release in next month, may be in search of a new US distributor. TWC is slated to release the film in North America in January, but last month producer David Heyman told Deadline his hope was that “The Weinstein Company name is nowhere near Paddington 2”.

Reports on Monday suggested the film might be released by Lionsgate (which has a broader distribution deal with Studio Canal, which has financed the film).

All this uncertainty could be especially bad news for two n films on the TWC slate for next year, Hotel Mumbai and Mary Magdalene.

The former, based on the tales of survivors of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, stars Lion’s Dev Patel and The Social Network’s Armie Hammer and was shot in Adelaide over five weeks last year. The latter stars Rooney Mara (who also starred in Lion) in the title role and Joaquin Phoenix as Jesus. The modern take on the Biblical tale is directed by Garth Davis (Lion), with Ryan Corr as Joseph.

Both are the sort of film that demand smart marketing, a staged release, the courting of exhibitors, media and the public – the sort of exercise at which Harvey Weinstein excelled. But with his reputation beyond repair and his company possibly beyond salvation, these promising n titles may soon need to start looking elsewhere for someone to champion their cause.

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ASX push to 6000 falls flat as Westpac punished

Gloom over Westpac’s disappointing earnings spread to the rest of the banking sector on Monday, pulling the index marginally lower as it retreated from the key 6000 level it came close to breaching last week.
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The S&P/ASX 200 index eased 6 points to 5953, while the All Ordinaries index lost 3 points to 6027. The n market is nearing the psychologically significant 6000 level as other markets hit record highs.

“The ascent in markets around the world this year has been driven by a combination of positive earnings revisions, as well as multiple expansion,” JPMorgan’s n equity strategist Jason Steed said.

While other bourses have hit the “red wall” in terms of historically high price-to-earnings multiples, the n market’s valuation is comparatively less stretched.

“In fact, the ASX 200 is trading in-line with one- and two-year multiple averages,” Mr Steed said. “Overall, we don’t see the ASX 200 as overly stretched; even at our bull case index scenario of 6500, the implied multiple of 17 times would only be slightly above the [MSCI Developed Market sharemarket index] at 16.8 times.”

Gains in the US at the end of last week had set the n market up for a firmer start on Monday but that was before Westpac announced a profit figure that just missed analyst expectations.

The news sent its shares down 2.2 per cent, while CBA and ANZ shares fell 0.5 per cent, and NAB lost 0.7 per cent.

Orica was another earnings-related loser, dropping 9.8 per cent after revealing that higher gas and ammonia prices cost it an extra $59 million in 2017, alongside slightly lower revenues and underlying profits than last year. Analysts also detected the potential for an earnings downgrade following management comments.

The Brent crude benchmark price gained another 0.3 per cent to $US62.26 a barrel on Monday, adding to Friday evening’s strong gains and helping to fuel more gains in energy stocks.

Energy companies provided a bit of a buffer for the index, with Woodside up 1.3 per cent, Origin Energy up 1 per cent and Santos higher by 0.7 per cent.

More expensive fuel is not great news for Qantas, however, which was off 2.4 per cent.

Shares in real estate agent group McGrath crashed 15.6 per cent to 52?? after falling to a new record low of 45?? earlier in the session. A slowdown in off-the-plan apartment sales in Sydney hit the firm and it warned that it won’t meet analyst earnings forecasts for the current financial year.

JB Hi-Fi shares outperformed the broader market, rising 0.4 per cent. The arrival of the iPhone X could have made JB HBi-Fi a tidy $12.6 million in a single day, Morgan Stanley analysts reckon. Stockwatch

Qantas Airways

Qantas shares fell 2.4 per cent on Monday to $6.06, as oil prices continued their climb. Morningstar analysts said recently they were assuming a Brent crude price of $74 per barrel ($US57) for the rest of fiscal 2018 and were expecting Qantas’ full-year fuel cost to be around $3.2 billion, a 5 per cent increase on 2017. “This is marginally higher than the worst-case scenario indicated at the fiscal 2017 result, and likely to weigh on second-half earnings,” they said. “We believe the market is failing to appreciate the risk of rising fuel costs, which remain a major driver of group performance, accounting for around one quarter of the total cost base”. Qantas stock is up an impressive 80 per cent this year.

Zinc

Zinc prices slipped on Monday, as Chinese inventories rose, while copper pulled back after a rally spurred by prospects for surging demand from electric vehicles. A proposal to scrap the $US7500 tax credit in the US for electric vehicles (EVs) helped to dampen investor excitement during the London Metals Exchange industry event in London over the potential for strong demand from the EV growth story for metals such as copper and nickel. Benchmark zinc closed down 1.2 per cent at $US3,219 a tonne after inventories rose in China.

Oil

Oil extended gains from its highest close in more than two years on signs OPEC will agree to extend supply cuts when ministers meet in Vienna at the end of the month. Futures rose as much as 0.9 per cent in New York and are heading for a fourth weekly advance. Iraq, the second-biggest OPEC producer, has backed extending the curbs for a further nine months, Oil Minister Jabbar al-Luaibi said in Baghdad. While ministers from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait said this week longer cuts are needed, a consensus on how long is yet to be decided. Oil has advanced more than 15 per cent since the beginning of September.

Yen

The yen tumbled to the weakest level since March after Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said it’s crucial for inflation to exceed the 2 per cent target. Kuroda said in a speech in Nagoya that there’s still a long way to go before the inflation target is achieved. The yen’s slide coincides with a visit by Trump to Tokyo. The yen’s weakness, which has been a boon for Japanese exporters, has drawn the ire of the US president in the past. The yen has declined about 26 percent versus the dollar since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe came to power in late 2012. Japan’s stock benchmarks rose as the market returned from a long weekend.

ANZ job advertisements

n job advertisements have risen in October, lifting expectation that some upwards movements in long-stagnant wages may soon follow. The latest ANZ survey of job ads shows the number of positions advertised in October was up 1.4 per cent month-on-month, and up 12.5 per cent from a year earlier, with improved business conditions and lower underemployment behind the trend. ANZ head of n economics David Plank said despite a global absence of sustained growth in wages, the bank did expect “some upward pressure” on wages as demand for workers begins to increase.

with wires