Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe. Photo: Louie DouvisThe Reserve Bank has kept its cash rate on hold at a record low of 1.5 per centfor the eleventh consecutive month, providing little indication of when it will allow rates to rise.
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The decision at Tuesday’s board meeting comes ahead of the release of the bank’sQuarterly Statement on Monetary Policyon Friday which is expected to explain more of the board’s thinking.

It came as the n dollar climbed back above US80¢, the second time in two weeks it has broken the threshold to trade at a two-year high.

The statement by Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe saidthe bank’s forecastsfor the n economy was largely unchanged.

“Over the next couple of years, the central forecast is for the economy to grow at an annual rate of around 3 per cent. The transition to lower levels of mining investment following the mining investment boom is almost complete, with some large liquefied natural gasprojects now close to completion. Business conditions have improved and capacity utilisation has increased. The current high level of residential construction is forecast to be maintained for some time, before gradually easing.”

Governor Lowe said one source of uncertainty for the domestic economy was the outlook for consumption. Retail sales had picked up, but slow growth in real wages and high levels of household debt were likely to constrain growth in spending.

Employment growth was picking up, but againstthis, wage growth remained low and was likely to stay low for a while yet.

The higher exchange rate was expected to contribute to subdued price pressures in the economy. It was also weighing on the outlook for output and employment. An appreciating exchange rate would be expected to result in a slower pick-up in economic activity and inflation than currently forecast.

The bank signalled it was notparticularlyworriedabouthousing prices, saying they wererising briskly in some markets, although more slowly.In some other markets, they were declining.

“In the eastern capital cities,a considerable additional supply of apartments is scheduled to come on stream over the next couple of years. Rent increases remain low in most cities and investors in residential property are facing higher interest rates. There has also been some tightening of credit conditions following recent supervisory measures to address the risks associated with high and rising levels of household indebtedness. Growth in housing debt has been outpacing the slow growth in household incomes,” thestatementsaid.

In recent monthsmortgage rates have been edging higher, particularly for investors and interest-only loans.

Tim Lawless, head of research at the property data firmCoreLogicsaid higher mortgage rates against a backdrop of record high household debt were taking some heat out of the housing market without the Reserve Bank needing to act.

“With headline inflation tracking slightly below the 2 to 3 per cent target range, labour markets tightening and the economy continuing to grow, albeit at a pace below trend, the chances of a rate cut appear to have diminished,” he said, adding that rate hikes might be some way off as well.

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THE decision by McDonald Jones Homes to sell a 40 per cent stake to a Japanese contract builder could leadthe Hunter-founded firm to move into manufacturing.
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MJH group managing director Andrew Helmers declined to put a value on the deal that the company, founded by Bill McDonald 30 years ago, had inked with Tokyo-based custom homes builderAsahi Kasei Homes (AKH).

Under the deal, Mr Helmers, Mr McDonald and director Peter Durbin’s individual shareholder stakes of 33 per cent are reduced to 20 per cent each, with AKH taking a 40 per cent holding.

Mr Helmers said the decision would not affect the operations of MJH, which operates on the eastern seaboard, and that the capital injection would allow it to aggressively pursue its growth strategy. MJH is the sixth largest residential homes group in the country and wants to be within the top five firms.

“Growth requires capital and in the past we have always had to make choices on how it is spent and this investment allows us to implement multiple strategies at once,” Mr Helmers said.

Mr Helmers said the company’s priority in the mid-term was land development and movinginto the supply chain of supply houses.

“We are a contract builder but [we are looking into] getting into manufacturing components, frames, kitchens, maybe finance offerings to our customers, potentially new software and business operating systems,” he said.

Growth strategy: McDonald Jones Home managing director Andrew Helmers.

Asahi Kasei Homes manufactures its components and Mr Helmers saidMJH would investigate tapping into its manufacturing skillset to boost its product offering and increase housing affordability for its customers.

He said AKH had approached McDonald Jones to expand its global footprint due to the shrinking new home market in Japan.

Three AKHexecutives have been in the Hunter for the past month and Mr Helmer said it was business as usual:“We remainmajority owned and operated by Hunter-based people.” He said the new homes market was “strong” with good land supply and low interest rates.

Custom made: A sample of a home delivered by McDonald Jones Home, which champions the use of steel frames.

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CHARLES Monks was not distracted or under the influence of drugs or alcohol when he drive on the wrong side of the road, before crashing into another car, killing Muswellbrook’s Nicole Rayner, Newcastle District Court has heard.
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Mr Monks, 23, is accused of dangerous drive occasioning death after his ute collided with Ms Rayner’s caron December 29, 2015, on the New England Highway at Whittingham.

Mr Monks’trial heard on Tuesday that the central issue would be whether the Singleton Heights man suffered a seizure in the moments before his Volkswagen Amarok struck the Holden Barina head on.

The 23-year-old had been returning home from a fishing trip on the Central Coast, the court heard.

He was travelling with three others when he had the collision, with all escaping with minor injuries. Ms Rayner, 29, died at the scene.

There is no dispute that Mr Monks failed to negotiate the “sweeping left hand bend” on the section of the New England Highway at Whittingham.

However, the defence will argue Mr Monks may have suffered a seizure in the lead-up to the collision, brought about by a lesion on the 23-year-old’s brain, and the crash was potentially the result of “involuntary” actions.

Crown prosecutor Michael McColm said the abnormality on Mr Monk’s brain made the seizure a “possibility”.

But Mr McColm noted that there was “no evidence of [Mr Monk] having a seizure before or since” the crash.

The court heard from several witnesses, including Mr Monks’ uncle, who was sitting in the front passenger seat of the car at the time of the collision.

Under cross-examination, Mr Monks’uncle said he noticed no difference in the 23-year-old’s appearance, presentation or demeanour before the crash.

Judge Roy Ellis said there was “no evidence” to suggest the accused was distracted or under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the crash. The court will hear expert testimony as to the likelihood Mr Monks suffered a seizure on Wednesday.

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SOBERING FIGURES: University of Newcastle student Lucinda Iacono and Vice-Chancellor Caroline McMillen at the NeW Space campus on Tuesday, after the release of the Human Rights Commission’s report. Picture: Jonathan CarrollIT’Sthe footageof a passed-out young womanthat’stellingforLucinda Iacono.
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The scene isa University of Newcastle student residenceparty, inavideo called “TEDS GEE UP 2015 Extended Cut”, that brieflyinvolvesthewoman and a young man.

“She’s knocked out,” he says over the music.

But he looks unmoved as she slumps to the floorand, as an afterthought, hetakes the cup from her hand.

“Save your drink.”

“Teds” is Edwards Hall, the oldest residence at the University of Newcastleand home to 383 students. “Gee up” videos areput on YouTubeto generatebuzzfor upcoming parties andMs Iacono, a student and former Women’s Convener at the university, was shownthis one by a Teds fourth-year studentat a bar.

Spliced through the party footage ofthe pool, games roomsand dorms of Teds are male students’ party comments like“I said, who do you reckon’s gonna get their t–s out?”.

At one point, a male student is shown rubbing his genitals in the face of another male who appears to be lying unconscious on his bed.

“Be a lion, don’t be a liOFF,” reads the caption.

Lucinda Iacono, former women’s convener at the University of Newcastle, on assault statistics pic.twitter苏州夜总会招聘/1mt7pS9f2X

— Newcastle Herald (@newcastleherald) August 1, 2017It’s probably the most obvious example of rape culture that Newcastle university has.

Former university women’s convener Lucinda Iacono, on a campus residence party “gee up” video.

The university’s 21 per cent of male student respondents who said they had been sexually harassed is “higher than our community might expect”, Professor McMillen said, but it is unclear whether the figureindicates a prevalence of hazing, other types of male-on-male harassment, or harassmentby females.

From a low statistical base, Newcastle students responding to the Human Rights Commission survey said they had been subject to “repeated or inappropriate advances” by email, social media and online chat rooms at more than twice thenational rate.

That doesn’t include a University of Newcastlesubgroup of students who reported, at three times the national rate, encountering“other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature”.

“It tends to be female students who have that experience,” Professor McMillen said.

“Our approaches to education and prevention have to include the online space.”

Nationally, the surveyfound women were four times more likely to have been sexually assaulted than men in a university residence, withpost-graduate studentsmore likelyto havebeen harassed or assaulted by a universitystaff member.

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IN LIMBO: Nikolai Topor-Stanley tangles with Jake Adelson at Jets training. Topor-Stanley and Dimi Petratos are in doubt for the FFA Cup clash against Adelaide. Picture: Jonathan CarrollSTAR recruits Dimi Petratos and Nikolai Topor-Stanley could be ruled out of the Jets’ FFA Cup battle with Adelaide United due to red tape.
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Both players joined the Jets from international clubs in June. Petratos was signed from Ulsan Hyundai in Korea and Topor-Stanley had been in the United Arab Emirates at Hatta.

The players’ contracts have been lodged with Football Federation but are awaiting receipt of an International Transfer Clearance to complete their registration.

The national association of theplayers’former club is responsible for processing the ITC.Jets management have made several requests to the UAE Football Association and Korea Football Association but are yet to receive the crucial documentation.

They followed the same procedure and had no issues in obtaining an ITC for goalkeeper Glen Moss from the New Zealand Football Association.

If the Jets do not get a response from the UAE FA and Korean FA after 30 days they can request special dispensation from FFA to have the players registered.

As it stands, neither Petratos or Topor-Stanley is eligible to play against Adelaide next Wednesday.

The Jets, althoughconfident of a positive resolution, are frustrated by the delay.

“When you sign a player from a club overseas like Nikolai and Dimi, you have a International Transfer Clearance and it is always a problem getting it done,” coach Ernie Merrick said. “With Glen Moss, from my old club Pheonix, it was done straight away, no problems at all.The other two there is a problem.”

Merrick said Jets football operations manager Joel Griffiths had followed the correct procedure.

“We have adhered to all the protocols, Joel has emailed the clubs and the association andrequested this that and the next thing,” Merrick said.“If the association says‘yesit was a proper transfer, this is the evidence, this is the contract’, there should be no hold up.Joelhas informed the FFA and will follow that up with a conversation with them.Unless that comes through they can’t play.”

Star Jets recruits in doubt for FFA Cup over  red tape | photos TweetFacebook Jets trainingPictures: Jonathan CarrollThe Jets are yet to progress past the round of 32 in the FFA Cup. They lost to Perth Glory in the opening two years and went down to Melbourne Victory last year.

Adelaide isMerrick’s first competitive game in charge of the Jets and the two-time A-League title-winner isdesperate to advance to the next round.

The Jets will finalise preparations with a hit out against Maitland at Cooks Square Park on Wednesday.

Petratos and Topor-Stanley are likely to start.

Chinese trialistZhu Zhengyu will play at least 45 minutes but the wingerwill need to have a greater impact than hedid in the 2-0 loss to the Mariners.

“He is doing OK,” Merrick said.

The Jets have told theNewcastle Heraldthat talks witha South American attacker have stalled due to a health issue in the player’s family.

The clash with the Magpiesis the Jets’third against Northern NSW teams and follows wins over Weston (2-0) and Broadmeadow (5-1).

“I hoping it will be very competitive,” Merrick said.“Every team we have played have lifted.The players want to show that they are good enough to play in the A-League and can beat the boys who are out there.

“I like the competitive nature. It has been tough but fair, no silly tackles or anything like that.We are hoping for the same against Maitland.”

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