Sydney revisits to the past with return to trams
(Translation appears in Arabic section)
Sydney - M. E. Times Int'l: Sydney once had the biggest tram system in the southern hemisphere. Was ripping out Sydney's extensive tram network in the 1960s one of the biggest mistakes the city ever made?
As Sydney dives headfirst into rebuilding its tram systems — with many of the tracks placed on the exact roads where the original fleet travelled — some people say yes.
From the late 1800s up until the 1960s, the streets of Sydney had 2500 trams; the biggest tram system in the southern hemisphere and the second largest of the Commonwealth countries following London.
Simon Tye lives in Sydney, but has spent many years working in Melbourne where he says the tram system made moving around the city quick and easy.
He asked: "Why did Sydney get rid of their trams — was it economics or was there conspiracy? Why are they putting the trams back?"
There are a lot of theories behind the demise of the tram system, some say it was the power of oil and motor companies who lobbied for buses and cars.
Others say there was concern over the high rate of accidents onboard the trams, while some say it was simply changing governments and a general desire in society for progress.
Some say there was a place for them in Sydney's transportation system.
It is a point that has been somewhat proven by the gradual move back to trams in the city.
Dutton confirms migration cut discussion
Canberra: HOME Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has confirmed he held high-level discussions with senior colleagues about cuts to Australia’s migration program.
Mr Dutton proposed cutting Australia’s yearly maximum immigration intake from 190,000 to 170,000.
Mr Turnbull described the report as “false” and “completely untrue”.
“Of course I support the comments of the Prime Minister,” Mr Dutton said.
“We have huge surges, for example, in the number of international students coming through, which is a great thing for our economy. We have surges in the numbers of visitors coming through, which are both reflected in that figure.
“We need to talk more about the figures and the impact, the economic benefit of tourism, of those international visitors.
“So yes of course I look at different options but the government has taken a decision to set the number at 190,000, I think it has been roughly that since about 2012.”
Mr Abbott said a cut would lower the cost of living, reduce pressure on infrastructure and the property market, and reduce crime rates.
Tighter rules on home loans could cool housing market
Sydney: Banks are already applying greater scrutiny to the living expenses declared by customers in loan applications, after the royal commission recently highlighted shortcomings in the industry's underwriting standards.
Amid predictions that banks may cut how much credit they extend to customers in response to the judicial inquiry, major lenders have in recent weeks told mortgage brokers to gather more detail about the living expenses customers provide in their home loan applications.
Some analysts, including those at investment bank UBS, believe the trend could further slow growth in the $1.6 trillion mortgage market, weighing on house prices and consumer spending.
Tom Crowley, National Australia Bank's acting general manager of home lending, said the bank was collecting "granular" details of a customer's expenses.
"We conduct a number of assessments when a customer applies for a loan, including verification of income, granular collection of expenses, and checks with credit bureaus, to ensure customers are able to appropriately repay their loan, both today and in the future," he said.
Managing director of mortgage broker Homeloanexperts.com.au, Otto Dargan, said "They are asking a lot more questions around the customer's living expenses," Mr Dargan said.
Some analysts belive the trend will further put the brakes on housing credit growth, and Mr Dargan said anyone bidding on a property at an auction without pre-approval of their financing was taking an "enormous risk."
"Even people who are very well off, they should not just assume that there's credit available," Mr Dargan said.
PM admits diplomatic tension with China
Canberra: Malcolm Turnbull admits there is tension in Australia's relationship with China but a colleague insists an annual trade expo hasn't been cancelled.
The prime minister was responding to reports the country has been put in a deep chill with China, which is refusing visas to Australian ministers.
Repeatedly asked if that was the case, Mr Turnbull said: "I wouldn't say they've been declined."
But he did admit there had been concerns aired in Chinese media about the federal government's new foreign interference laws.
Three countries excluded by Australia
Canberra: Humanitarian migrants from certain countries will be denied access to Australia through the government’s sponsorship-based resettlement program, according to refugee advocates.
According to The Guardian, which first reported on this, the eight prioritised countries include Afghanistan, Bhutan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iraq, Myanmar and Syria.
But people from Iran, South Sudan and Somalia will not be able to enter Australia under the program.
Tim Fischer gives up gun for democracy
Canberra: When Tim Fischer bought his father's farm he also bought the Enfield 303 rifle that's been in his family for eight decades.
"Dad didn't give much away," the former deputy prime minister joked in Canberra on Thursday, as he handed over the gun for a new exhibition at the Museum of Australian Democracy.
It was one of the first guns registered under the gun reforms he developed with his boss, former prime minister John Howard, after the 1996 Port Arthur Massacre.
Mr Fischer registered the weapon and took out a shooting licence to comply with the new laws, but now the farm has been sold and he no longer has a need for the gun, the donation allows him complete the circle "in a happy way".