Google, Facebook court Aussie whiz kid Ben Pasternak

Ben Pasternak and his top-charting iPhone game, Impossible Rush, outside Reddham House, Woollahra campus. Photo: Dallas Kilponen Big plans: 15-year-old Ben Pasternak explores the Grove shopping centre in Los Angeles before networking in Silicon Valley. Photo: Supplied
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Ben Pasternak and his top-charting iPhone game, Impossible Rush, outside Reddham House, Woollahra campus. Photo: Dallas Kilponen

Ben Pasternak and his top-charting iPhone game, Impossible Rush, outside Reddham House, Woollahra campus. Photo: Dallas Kilponen

Ben Pasternak and his top-charting iPhone game, Impossible Rush, outside Reddham House, Woollahra campus. Photo: Dallas Kilponen

Fifteen-year-old Ben Pasternak shot to fame in October last year after making a chart-topping iPhone game, Impossible Rush, while bored at school.

Now he’s in California, eyeing an internship with Facebook. A lot can happen in three months.

Impossible Rush, which briefly outranked apps such as Google, Gmail and Twitter on Apple’s App Store, has been sold for $US25,000 ($30,400) to French company Akkad.

Ben won’t see any of that money — he’d already offloaded the app to Carlos Xavier Fajardo, the 22-year-old from the US who helped him market it — for a mere $US200.

But Ben is not fazed — he’s always maintained he isn’t in it for the money.

To put this kid’s insouciance into context, Ben has gained plenty of value in other ways from the app’s success, and the media attention that followed.

For starters, he’s had to knock back job offers from local tech companies. At just 15, and about to begin year 10 at Reddam House’s Woollahra campus in Sydney, he’s not legally old enough to drop out of school.

His mum, Anna, wants him to knuckle down and get his Higher School Certificate; and then, preferably, a degree too.

But that hasn’t stopped Ben from capitalising on his summer break.

Facebook’s internship department has invited the young entrepreneur to tour its headquarters. So has a vice-president at Google, after his own teenage son brought Ben’s achievements to his attention.

The teams at viral app Yo, and at Slack — a collaborative communication platform that has become a Silicon Valley darling — have also reached out to the up-and-comer.

And, for the first time, Ben is about to meet Austin Valleskey, the Chicago teenager who helped him build Impossible Rush.

The pair met in a Facebook group for high school hackers. Ben will take Austin with him when he tours Google and Facebook, scheduled for Friday.

“It’s pretty weird to finally meet all these people I speak to pretty much on a daily basis,” Ben told Fairfax Media from the Grove shopping centre in West Hollywood, where he is with his father, Mark, and younger brother, Jake.

Ben has always thought about starting a new venture himself, but says he’d “definitely like to get an internship” out of the trip.

Over the weekend, Ben will take part in Hack Generation Y, a global hackathon for high school students sponsored by Google.

Joining him will be Helena Merk, also 15, and James Harnett, 16 — two Americans he met in the same Facebook group.

Last year, Helena was one of 200 students chosen to attend Apple’s annual World Wide Developers’ Conference, and was featured in Seventeen. James, meanwhile, presented at TEDxTeen 2014 in London to launch the event’s iOS app, and has won a number of prizes at other hackathon events.

It’s clear who’s in charge, though. The plan is to dedicate the 30 hours of coding allocated by the hackathon to bringing Ben’s long-term project, an iPhone app called One, to life.

He’s been working on One for almost a year. Aimed at heavy social media users, it aggregates Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds all into the one place.

It’s designed and ready to go, says Ben — apart from the coding bit that is.

“They [Helena and James] seem to think we can do it [in 30 hours] but I’m sceptical about that because it’s taken so long to work on it over the past year,” he says.

While he’s “impatient” to get the app to launch stage, Ben wants to make sure it’s done properly. Once that happens, things could really get going for the young entrepreneur.

A prototype of One has already attracted interest from a potential investor in New York but Ben’s parents are wary of keeping their son’s youthful enthusiasm in check — particularly when it comes to money.

“The problem with Ben is I never know what’s real or what isn’t, and it turns out to be real — it turns out to be very real,” says mother Anna, speaking from their family home in Sydney’s Vaucluse.

Closing a deal would mean having to set up a company for her son and act as trustee, along with her husband. Ben himself admits it was “really scary” once things developed towards finalising a deal.

So for now, they’ve decided to wait until he has a finished product before they take the next step.

Mrs Pasternak believes it’s “too much for a child” to be focusing on building a business while still finishing high school.

“I don’t want to mislead anyone and, say, take the money and run,” she says.

“We want them to understand he’s 15. He can be very responsive and professional, and then drop off the radar because he’s going to the beach and jumping off rocks.

“It’s very tricky as to how much rope you give them.”

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Fitness instructor Greg Plitt killed while filming on train tracks

A screenshot from a Greg Plitt fitness video showing him working out on train tracks. Photo: YouTubeGreg Plitt, a model, actor and reality TV star, has died after he was hit by a train while apparently filming a fitness video.
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Plitt, 37, whose real name was George, was being videotaped by two men on the tracks on Saturday afternoon when he was hit by a passenger train, according to police in Los Angeles.

Investigators have ruled out suicide, and Plitt had shot workout videos on railroad tracks before.

Police have interviewed witnesses who saw Plitt standing on the track even as the train’s horn was blaring, police told the Associated Press.

It is possible Plitt thought the train was on a parallel track, the police spokesman said.

“It’s like a blind turn,” he said. “When the train came, you might not be able to tell which set the train is on.”

Plitt is best known for appearing on Bravo’s reality TV series Work Out. An episode featuring him on Bravo’s new series Friends to Lovers is a few weeks away.

Plitt “was as nice as he was beautiful,” tweeted Andy Cohen. “We couldn’t take our eyes off Greg Plitt after we cast him on Work Out. … (He) seemed invincible, like Superman,” wrote the Bravo producer.

Sergeant Chris Canales of the Burbank Police Department told USA Today that Plitt died at approximately 4:05 pm local time. “For some reason, he was on the track, and he was struck by the train,” Canales said.

A train passenger told ABC7 that Plitt, who has shot workout videos on train tracks before, had a camcorder in his hand when he was hit. Burbank police told People that a camera was seized as evidence, but it is unclear whether the camera was Plitt’s.


Bravo released this statement: “This is a very sad tragedy. Our thoughts and deepest sympathy are with Greg’s family and friends.”

The actor and West Point graduate has appeared on more than 200 magazine covers, and on NBC’s daytime soap opera Days of Our Lives, according to a website in Plitt’s name.

A motivational video on the website shows Plitt working out on the tracks as a train passes by.

Plitt was born in Baltimore. He served five years in the Army after graduating from West Point, the website said. #tbt Airborne school final jump @ Ft Benning GA in ’98 won honor grad #goodtimes#goodpeople#jointheranks#gregplittpic.twitter上海龙凤419m/57CdHbGWgp — Greg Plitt (@GregPlitt) August 1, 2014

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need2know: Local shares treading water

US interest rate hike is pushing up Australian shares. Photo: Angus Mordant US interest rate hike is pushing up Australian shares. Photo: Angus Mordant
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US interest rate hike is pushing up Australian shares. Photo: Angus Mordant

Local shares are poised for a flat open ahead of Rio Tinto output data, China’s annual GDP data and the IMF’s latest world economic review.

What you need2know:

• SPI futures closed down 5 points in European trade

• AUD at 82.05 US cents, 96.59 Japanese yen, 70.71 Euro cents and 54.30 British pence

• Wall St is closed for a holiday.

• In Europe, Stoxx 50 +0.6%, FTSE +0.5%, CAC +0.4%, DAX +0.7%

• Spot gold down $US6.45 or 0.5% to $US1274.00 an ounce

• Iron ore slips 0.8% to $US68.09 per metric tonne

• Brent oil down $US1.30 or 2.6% to $US48.87 per barrel

What’s on today

ANZ Roy Morgan index, The IMF updates its World Economic Outlook, China fourth-quarter GDP, China fourth-quarter industrial production, US President Barack Obama gives State of the Union address, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang attends Davos World Economic Forum, US: Morgan Stanley, IBM, Netflix quarterly profit.

Stocks to watch

ANZ Banking Group is preparing to kick off a sale process for its vehicle and equipment finance business Esanda, which has $16.2 billion in loans.

Macquarie Group looks likely to post its second-highest profit ever this year, benefiting from the lower dollar.

Deutsche Bank has a “hold” rating on Computershare and a $12.75 target price.

Sharebroker Charlie Aitken is taking a more upbeat view on the major Australian banks, saying the sector’s high dividends makes it a good bet in an environment of record low yields.


The euro advanced the most in more than a month against the dollar amid speculation any additional stimulus measures announced by the ECB at its policy meeting will fall short of analyst forecasts.

ECB President Mario Draghi will announce a 550 billion-euro bond-purchase program this week, according to 93 per cent of respondents in a Bloomberg News survey of economists. That tops the 500 billion euros in models presented to ECB officials this month.

“Market expectations now are stellar,” said Attilio Bertini, head of research at Credito Valtellinese in Sondrio, Italy. There must be “no disappointment.”


Copper slid as oil prices dipped and investors worried about the economic health of top metals consumer China. Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange closed 0.8 per cent lower at $US5672 a tonne, having tumbled last week to its weakest in 5-1/2 years at $US5353.25 a tonne.

On the outlook for oil, Christopher Bellew, senior broker at Jefferies International in London, said: “Rallies above $US50 have proved very short-lived and my expectation is for the price to move in a sideways range until the next move to the downside, which I expect to take the price to $US40 or lower.”

“If the oil prices drop to $US25 a barrel, there will yet again be no threat posed to Iran’s oil industry,” Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said told reporters in Tehran.

United States

US markets were closed for a holiday.


European shares hit a seven-year high on Monday, rising for a third day as Italian banks rallied on the prospect of a corporate governance revamp, and Swiss stocks clawed back some of last week’s losses.

Shares in co-operative Italian banks rose on the back of a draft government decree which would abolish a rule granting one vote to each shareholder regardless of the size of their stake. Popolare Milano, Banca Popolare dell’Emilia Romagna, Banco Popolare and UBI were up between 8 per cent and 14 per cent.

The Swiss benchmark index SMI was up 3.2 per cent having shed 13 per cent last week after the central bank’s shock decision sent the franc soaring, denting the attractiveness of Swiss exports

Analysts at Citi are targeting a 15-20 per cent return on European equities this year based on the assumption that QE would underpin nominal economic growth and earnings, allowing companies to pay dividends.

What happened yesterday

A steep plunge in Chinese shares took its toll on the ASX, but the local share market still managed to eke out its first gain in more than a week, led by a recovery in the energy sector. The S&P/ASX 200 edged 9.9 points, or 0.2pc, higher to 5309.1.

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Billionaire Bruce Gordon set to stand in way of proposed Ten Network sale

Bruce Gordon, who is Ten’s largest shareholder with a 14.9 per cent stake is ‘simply not going to support the bid’, sources say. Photo: Rob Homer Bruce Gordon, who is Ten’s largest shareholder with a 14.9 per cent stake is ‘simply not going to support the bid’, sources say. Photo: Rob Homer
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Bruce Gordon, who is Ten’s largest shareholder with a 14.9 per cent stake is ‘simply not going to support the bid’, sources say. Photo: Rob Homer

Bruce Gordon, who is Ten’s largest shareholder with a 14.9 per cent stake is ‘simply not going to support the bid’, sources say. Photo: Rob Homer

WIN Corporation owner Bruce Gordon is likely to oppose a potential $590 million sale of Ten Network Holdings to US cable giant Discovery Communications in favour of his own alternative debt proposal that gives him more control over the embattled commercial broadcaster, reports the Australian Financial Review.

Mr Gordon, who is Ten’s largest shareholder with a 14.9 per cent stake, is “simply not going to support” a joint 23¢-a-share bid from Discovery and local pay-television monopoly Foxtel, because he believes Ten should remain in Australian hands, sources close to WIN said.

The Bermuda-based billionaire’s opposition to Discovery represents a significant challenge for the Ten board, led by executive chairman Hamish McLennan, which admitted in early November investment bank Citi had been appointed to consider several potential takeover offers from mostly US-based media and investment companies.

It could put Mr Gordon in conflict with News Corporation co-chairman Lachlan Murdoch and Crown Resorts chairman James Packer, who each own 9 per cent of Ten and are believed to favour a conventional offer for their shares.

Read the full story at AFR上海龙凤419m

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Iran stun UAE with late winner in frenetic Asian Cup contest

After a frenetic match that seemed certain to provide the first draw of the Asian Cup, Iran stunned the United Arab Emirates with an injury-time goal, providing a dramatic end to one of the games of the tournament.
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Substitute midfielder Reza Ghoochannejhad would be the hero for his nation, latching onto the end of a fortunate half-volley from defender Abdelaziz Sanquor to break the deadlock in a match that was, for large parts, dominated by the clever UAE passing game.

But his header in the first minute of injury time would send the wonderful Iranian supporters into raptures, while the UAE were left to wonder what went wrong after they controlled substantial chunks of play, including a first half where they completed 320 passes to Iran’s 70.

Iran now avoids a clash with tournament favourites Japan, while the UAE are likely to have to do things the hard way in the first of the knockout matches. Both had already qualified for the quarter-finals by the time the match began.

After a major-tournament record of 20 matches without a draw, it seemed a certainty that this was going to be the night were the teams could not be split after 90 minutes of football.

Instead it was a late rush of play from Iran, followed by a timely incursion into the box from Reza, that left them on top of the world. A crowd of 11,000 sounded like 30,000 as Iran seemed to thank each and every supporter after the match.

If anything, it seemed as if the UAE would be the ones to take something from the night, with only a point required for them to top the group and dodge the talents of Samurai Blue.

Led by attacking midfielder Omar Abdulrahman, a young man surely bound for the leagues of Europe given his obvious quality, the UAE overcame a slowish start to dominate possession in the first half and seemingly be in the box seat to finish on top.

But while Abdulrahman was at his dangerous best, weaving through traffic and releasing teammates in key areas, finishing would provide an ongoing concern. The pace was frantic but for the most part, neither side could force a save of any quality.

Abdulrahman’s boundless energy left the Iranian defenders chasing shadows for much of the evening, although they could equally have been confused by the plague of moths that descended at the end of the first half, fluttering in their thousands around the stadium lights.

For the first time in the tournament, the savage humidity finally relented on a match day, giving the players an extra spring in their step. Without the inconvenience of breathing in soupy lava, the intensity was prolonged well into the second half.

And so it would come to benefit Iran, who climbed back off the canvas in the final 15 minutes to begin to assert themselves. The chances began to arrive slowly, while the UAE, so certain on the ball for much of the night, could do little but clear long and brace themselves again.

Portuguese manager Carlos Quieroz sought fresh blood from his bench and pulled the right string with the injection of Reza with 18 minutes left to play.

His eyes lit up like dinner plates as he found himself deep in the box – and onside – as the floating ball hovered its way over the pack of players and time ticked down.

With UAE keeper Majed Naser stranded off his line, Reza finished with the required precision to bury the header and his opponents.

While the UAE can’t claim to be robbed, Abdulrahman certainly can after being overlooked for man of the match with his virtuoso performance in midfield. Reza would win the award. A winner, yes, but after less than 20 minutes on the park?

Iran’s likely quarter-final opponent is Iraq in Canberra, while the UAE are favoured to travel to ANZ Stadium, where defending champions Japan lie in wait assuming they secure a point against Jordan.

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Ballarat residents fight phone tower

The proposed site of the phone tower at328 Eureka Street, Ballarat East.RESIDENTS in Ballarat East are concerned a proposed Telstra phone tower would tarnish an important historical part of the city and ruin the look of the area.
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The tower was dropped from the last council meeting of 2014 because council could not reach a quorum due to absences and conflicts of interest among the councillors.

The 36-metre tower will shore up reception in the area as smartphone use increases demand on existing towers, but residents were not convinced of the need for the Eureka and Joseph Street site to be used for the project.

One Eureka Street resident, who declined to be named, said councillors should come and see the site so they know just how people will be affected. “We invite them all to come and have a look around, do the walk along Warrenheip Gully trail and see where it will be,” he said.

Cr Peter Innes has inspected the site from both Eureka Street and Warrenheip Gully, and said it was important all sides of the argument were heard.

“We’re aware of (the objections), and I’m sensitive to residents’ concerns,” he said.

“We also need to make sure we take a balanced viewpoint.”

Cr Innes also raised the possibility of again not reaching five eligible councillors needed for the vote.

“The councillors not present last time will need to have a look at their shares as well, to make sure they don’t have more than allowed,” he said.

The incoming South Ward councillor will be announced days after the first council meeting of 2015, which is January 28.

The report on the tower in the December 10 council agenda said the visual amenity impacts of the tower were lessened by the “industrial setting” of the site, but this is dis-

puted by neighbours, who told The Courier the proposed tower site was the only semi-industrial land on the block.

When it was first brought to council, mayor John Philips and Cr Glen Crompton declared a conflict of interest over their Telstra shares.

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Tributes to Shannen Riggien, teen killed in tragic fall

GIFTED: Shannen Riggien wanted to become a music teacher. A SPLIT-SECOND decision has turned to heartbreak after the tragic death of a Kurri Kurri teenager.
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Shannen Riggien, 17, died in John Hunter Hospital on Monday morning after receiving severe head injuries when she fell from the back of a moving vehicle at East Maitland after a teenage movie night.

Family and friends are mourning the loss of the Maitland All Saints College year 12 student, known for her ‘‘huge smile and bubbly personality’’, and remembered by her friends as the ‘‘sunshine of our lives’’.

Her devastated father, James Riggien snr, said that to know his daughter was to love her.

‘‘You could not help but love her because her selflessness and unconditional love radiated from her big brown eyes,’’ he said. ‘‘She was such a soft, gentle soul.’’

On Monday, the Newcastle Herald reported Shannen had been standing on the rear of a vehicle on Friday night after a movie nightwith friends when she fell.

Crash experts will investigate what occurred immediately before the accident, including whether the driver had got behind the wheel before Shannen and another teenage girl decided to jump on the rear of the vehicle. It is understood the car travelled less than 50 metres down Victoria Street before the driver performed a U-turn, where Shannen lost her balance and fell.

It appears her head hit the kerb and she suffered severe head injuries.

She was kept on life support before she succumbed to her injuries about 7.30am on Monday.

Crash investigators have yet to interview the driver, but Mr Riggien said there was ‘‘no animosity’’ from his family.

‘‘We as a family would like to reach out to everyone that was there and extend our love and support to them as well,’’ he said. Shannen was born in South Africa, lived in Ireland and moved with her family to Singleton in 2006, before eventually settling in Kurri Kurri.

‘‘Just before moving to Australia, she watched a National Geographic program on the world’s top-10 deadliest animals,’’ Mr Riggien said.

‘‘I will never forget her face when she looked at me and asked ‘Is this Australia the one you are taking us to? Are you serious? Everything there wants to kill you’.’’

Known as a sporty and musically gifted teenager with a love of religion, she had hoped to spend a gap year in Sweden after finishing year 12 before studying to become a music teacher.

An active member of the Generate Church in Singleton and Crossroads Church in Maitland, she was known among friends as ‘‘mum’’ for always being the one to organise youth getaways and keep her friends ‘‘safe and on track’’.

‘‘This is what makes the circumstances of her accident and resultant death such an unfortunate event,’’ Mr Riggien said. ‘‘The accident happened with most of her friends present and must be devastating to this very close group of beautiful young people.

‘‘It is always a sad thing when a life gets taken so young.

‘‘For us, it’s even worse since she was such a soft, gentle soul.’’

In a joint statement, friends of the teenager expressed their hurt at losing Shannen.

‘‘Shannypoo was every bit of goodness in the world and the sunshine of our lives. She had the most contagious smile and we have infinite love for her and she will be in our hearts forever,’’ they said.

‘‘She once said that we were her greatest discovery, but really she was ours.’’

Gary Morton, the senior pastor of Crossroads Church in Maitland where Shannen attended youth group also paid his respects, saying Shannen was ‘‘a beautiful girl who really lit up the room when she entered’’.

‘‘She was greatly liked and a lovely girl, it’s a tragedy,’’ he said.

Shannen is survived by her five brothers – Dafydd, Duncan, Frank, Alexander and James jnr – her mother, Shirley Wilson, and Mr Riggien snr.

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Travis Head stars as Strikers end Renegades’ season

A stellar, counter-attacking innings from Travis Head secured top spot for Adelaide and condemned Melbourne Renegades to finish out of the Big Bash League finals for a third time in their four years.
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The Renegades’ great start with the ball, again inspired by James Pattinson, was trumped by 21-year-old Head, who got on top of Pattinson and the rest of the bowlers in plundering 71 from 34 balls. His innings was the difference as the Strikers posted a 22-run win, with the home team never threatening the target of 167.

Any hopes the Etihad Stadium crowd of 16,481 had of a Renegades victory were dashed by stodgy batting contributions from all but Ben Stokes (33 off 19 balls) at number four and Tom Beaton (23 not out off 11) at the end.

The Strikers had slumped to 3-25 needing their two youngest batsmen to save them: Head and 20-year-old debutant Kelvin Smith. That came after Pattinson accounted for noted slugger Craig Simmons, who scored off only one of his 13 deliveries, while Tim Ludeman’s decision to back himself over Ahmed’s throw from third man cost him his wicket.

Head started busily but it was not until the 13th over that he exploded. He dispatched Stokes’ first three deliveries over the boundary, the first of them almost emulating Aaron Finch in hitting the roof under-carriage, in an over that produced 23 for Adelaide.

That the Strikers needed only 26 balls for their second 50, when the first had taken 59 balls, was down to Head’s ability to find boundaries all around the ground and Smith’s ability to rotate the strike.

While Head fell chasing his fifth sixth of the night, Smith’s composure and captain Johan Botha’s inventive hitting ensured the visitors posted a competitive score.

The home team lost Alex Doolan and Callum Ferguson in the first four overs. That Matthew Wade survived until his 13th over was of little benefit because he made only 22 off 34.

Stokes repaid some of the debts he incurred with his bowling, by clubbing 33 off 19 balls, though it was about half what the Renegades needed amid disciplined Adelaide bowling.

The Renegades’ task of 57 off the last four overs became even more difficult when Shakib Al Hasan and Ben Rohrer fell in consecutive overs. Their most composed batsman from their preceding match, Beaton, was needed to play an even more dashing innings than he did against Brisbane, but too much was left to him, with the Renegades finishing on 7-144. Team P W L NR T Pts NRR Strikers 8611-131.159 Scorchers 752–100.848 Stars 743–80.337 Sixers 743–8-0.023 Hurricanes 835–6-0.280 Renegades 835–6-0.331 Thunder 7241-5-0.561 Heat 826–4-1.116

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Forecast: $500,000 to put a 2015 baby through Sydney’s private schools

Every chance: Daniella Di Santo with daughters Sienna, 5, and Verona, 3. Photo: Sahlan HayesBy the time a baby born in 2015 graduates from high school, many parents who choose private schools will have spent more than half a million dollars on their child’s education, a new study has found.
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The Australian Scholarships Group’s modelling released on Tuesday forecast the cost of private schooling in Sydney to be $541,275, making it the most expensive city in Australia to educate a child.

The breakdown is $175,109 for primary school and $359,043 for high school.

Even sending a child to a public school could cost up to $71,000 in Sydney, while parents would spend up to $234,887 for their child to attend systemic Catholic schools.

In addition to school fees, the index measures the cost of transport, uniforms, computers, school excursions and sporting trips.

The ASG chief executive, John Velegrinis, said parents need to plan financially for schooling from the moment a baby is born.

“Education is one of life’s major investments – in some instances it’s an even bigger investment than the family home,” he said “By putting a little bit away, parents are more likely to achieve the goals and aspirations they have for their children.”

By the time a child born this year reaches year 12 in 2032, the annual cost of a private education is expected to be as high as $68,624.

This is double the current tuition fees at Sydney’s most expensive schools, with a number now charging more than $30,000 per year.

Sydney Grammar, for example, charges $31,419 for annual senior tuition, while The King’s School asks for $31,581 and Redlands costs $30,750.

The average tuition for senior students at Catholic schools in the Sydney diocese is about $2200.

The executive director of the Association of Independent Schools of NSW, Geoff Newcombe, said the main cost drivers in independent schools were salaries, implementing the curriculum, technology and first class facilities.

“[In high-fee schools] parents would generally expect and receive more individual attention for their child, more curriculum and extra-curricular options, innovative teaching and learning practices, and good quality learning environments,” he said.

Mr Newcombe said some private schools serving lower socio-economic communities charge as little as $2000.

Those planning to send their child to public schools in Sydney can expect to pay $4400 at year 6 in 2026 and $7084 in year 12 at 2032.

Expenses for a primary school child attending school this year include extracurricular ($1763), clothing ($309), travel ($289) and computers ($471).

David Jordan, chairman of the Voluntary Parents Services Co-operative on Sydney’s north shore, said there are many hidden costs of public education.

“The bits and pieces like pens and paper and shoes and backpacks,” he said. “It’s often lots of little things rather than the big excursions and those things.”

Despite the soaring costs, Daniella Di Santo from Concord plans to send both her daughters to private schools from kindergarten to year 12. Her eldest Sienna, 5 will start school this year at Santa Sabina College in Strathfield where the annual fees rise from $11,400 in primary school to $18,825 in year 11 and 12.

“It’s always going to be a worry but we started to think about it a few years ago so we haven’t made a rash decision and we’ve planned it out over the next 15 years or so,” she said. “My husband and I decided that the best we can do for our children is to give them the best education available so they can have every opportunity available.”

With Hannah Paine

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Herald Breakfast – January 20 2015

Morning Shot: Instagrammer @grahamemarj took this shot of a rural vista on Monday. Weather: It looks wet. Showers and possible storms in Maitland (28 degrees) and Scone (31 degrees), with showers in Newcastle (24 degrees).
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Traffic: Metal debris near Sparke Street at Hexham is hindering drivrs on the Pacific Highway. Motorists are urged to exercise caution and reduce speed.

Trains: No delays or trackwork reported. Buses replace trains between Newcastle and Hamilton.

Beachwatch: Finally the beaches are back open but unfortunately we’re infor another gloomy day. It’ll be mainly cloudy with onshore winds and a few more showers. The wind will be east tonorth-east with the swell from the south-east around 1 to 1.5metres. Wave conditions will be sloppy to choppy with thenorthern corners the best options.

Morning Shot: Instagrammer @grahamemarj took this shot of a rural vista on Monday.

Tributes flow for Shannen Riggien after fatal fall:A SPLIT-SECOND decision has turned to heartbreak after the tragic death of a Kurri Kurri teenager.

Sharks out, storms in:THE great white shark may have disappeared but wild weather and big surf have rolled in to keep most of Newcastle’s beaches closed.

BHP buildings to go: THEY’VE been part of Newcastle’s industrial heritage for almost 100 years, but they will soon be bulldozed to allow for the decontamination of the old BHP steelworks site at Mayfield.

No chance of Newcastle losing Asian Cup semi: ASIAN Cup officials have guaranteed Newcastle will keep its semi-final, despite pressure to switch the potential blockbuster between Australia and Japan to ANZ Stadium.

Dog-fighting fears after bulldog stolen: A PAXTON family fears their bulldog was stolen for dog-fighting purposes at the weekend after hearing about a string of thefts of particular breeds, including a pigging dog, in the area.

FFA wants Tinkler to start acting on issues:FOOTBALL Federation Australia’s fears over the Newcastle Jets’ future under the ownership of Nathan Tinkler have been far from allayed despite assurances from the fallen tycoon over the weekend.

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