Interest rates stay on hold - for now
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Interest rates stay on hold – for now

The new-look RBA Board takes a careful middle road as mortgage holders continue to feel the pinch

Tue, Oct 3, 2023 10:25amGrey Clock 2 min

Interest rates will stay on hold this month following a meeting of the RBA Board today.

In a widely anticipated move, the announcement comes despite an uptick in the rate of inflation in August, which saw a rise from 4.9 percent in July to 5.2 percent.

All four of the big banks predicted the official rate to remain steady at 4.1 percent for the October meeting, although NAB has forecast that a further 0.25 percent increase was still an option, possibly next month. 

The board meeting was the first with Michele Bullock as governor, following the departure of Dr Philip Lowe last month. Dr Lowe was criticised for telling borrowers back in March 2021 that rates were ‘likely to remain at current levels’ until 2024. However, the RBA began raising the cash rate in May 2022 from 0.1 percent to 4.1 percent over a 12-month period in efforts to curb the rate of inflation.

Inflation peaked over the 12 months to December 2022 at 7.8 percent, well above target levels of between 2-3 percent.

CEO of the Real Estate Institute of NSW, Tim McKibbin, said despite the slight increase in inflation, it was important that rates remained on hold this month as the impact of earlier rate rises continues to play out.

“Until last week’s concerning CPI figures, which show the battle against inflation is far from over, it seemed a foregone conclusion that the new-look RBA Board would leave rates unchanged when it meets tomorrow,” he said. 

“REINSW believes it is appropriate for rates to remain steady for at least the short-term.”

CoreLogic Research director Tim Lawless said the rate of rising home values had slowed over the past quarter as cost of living pressures kept a firm grip on household budgets.

He noted that the Board had sought a balance between supply and demand in the economy.

“Clearly inflation remains high on the RBA’s risk radar,” he said. “Higher fuel and energy prices, alongside persistently high services and rental inflation have the potential to trigger another rate hike later this year.

“Logically, the RBA will be waiting to see September quarter inflation data, released the week ahead of the RBA’s November meeting.  With this in mind, the November meeting will be closely watched.”



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Wild cities and concrete corridors: How AI is reimagining the landscape

A new AI-driven account by leading landscape architect Jon Hazelwood pushes the boundaries on the role of ‘complex nature’ in the future of our cities

By Robyn Willis
Wed, Dec 6, 2023 2 min

Drifts of ground cover plants and wildflowers along the steps of the Sydney Opera House, traffic obscured by meadow-like planting and kangaroos pausing on city streets.

This is the way our cities could be, as imagined by landscape architect Jon Hazelwood, principal at multi-disciplinary architectural firm Hassell. He has been exploring the possibilities of rewilding urban spaces using AI for his Instagram account, Naturopolis_ai with visually arresting outcomes.

“It took me a few weeks to get interesting results,” he said. “I really like the ephemeral nature of the images — you will never see it again and none of those plants are real. 

“The AI engine makes an approximation of a grevillea.”

Hazelwood chose some of the most iconic locations in Australia, including the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, as well as international cities such as Paris and London, to demonstrate the impact of untamed green spaces on streetscapes, plazas and public space.

He said he hopes to provoke a conversation about the artificial separation between our cities and the broader environment, exploring ways to break down the barriers and promote biodiversity.

“A lot of the planning (for public spaces) is very limited,” Hazelwood said. “There are 110,000 species of plants in Australia and we probably use about 12 in our (public) planting schemes. 

“Often it’s for practical reasons because they’re tough and drought tolerant — but it’s not the whole story.”

Hazelwood pointed to the work of UK landscape architect Prof Nigel Dunnett, who has championed wild garden design in urban spaces. He has drawn interest in recent years for his work transforming the brutalist apartment block at the Barbican in London into a meadow-like environment with diverse plantings of grasses and perennials.

Hazelwood said it is this kind of ‘complex nature’ that is required for cities to thrive into the future, but it can be hard to convince planners and developers of the benefits.

“We have been doing a lot of work on how we get complex nature because complexity of species drives biodiversity,” he said. 

“But when we try to propose the space the questions are: how are we going to maintain it? Where is the lawn?

“A lot of our work is demonstrating you can get those things and still provide a complex environment.” 

At the moment, Hassell together with the University of Melbourne is trialling options at the Hills Showground Metro Station in Sydney, where the remaining ground level planting has been replaced with more than 100 different species of plants and flowers to encourage diversity without the need for regular maintenance. But more needs to be done, Hazelwood said.

“It needs bottom-up change,” he said. ““There is work being done at government level around nature positive cities, but equally there needs to be changes in the range of plants that nurseries grow, and in the way our city landscapes are maintained and managed.”

And there’s no AI option for that. 


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