Julia Gillard to end self-imposed exile at two public forums

Former prime minister Julia Gillard. Photo: Mal FaircloughFederal Election 2013 coverageFederal Election 2013 results
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Julia Gillard is set to end her public silence in an interview with journalist Anne Summers at public forums at the Sydney Opera House and the Melbourne Town Hall in the next few weeks.

The 90-minute interviews will take place at the Opera House on September 30 and the Town Hall on October 1 and include 30 minutes of questions from the audience at each venue.

Dr Summers, who was an adviser to Paul Keating during his prime ministership, has been one of Ms Gillard’s most outspoken defenders – before and after she was replaced by Kevin Rudd after serving three years and three days as prime minister.

‘We treated our first woman prime minister disgracefully while she was in office and, now that she has been driven out, it seems she is going to be denied having her achievements recognised,” Dr Summers wrote after Ms Gillard was removed.

Ms Gillard has not been interviewed since a dignified appearance before the Canberra press gallery the night she was defeated by Mr Rudd in a caucus ballot.

She chose not to deflect any attention from Labor’s campaign for re-election by avoiding any media contact during the campaign period.

”I want to give Ms Gillard the opportunity to share with us what it was really like to be Australia’s first female prime minister, her proudest achievements in office, how she dealt with the harsh treatment by media and fellow politicians, and her feelings on being voted out of the job,” Dr Summers said on Tuesday.

”Ms Gillard served longer as prime minister than Gough Whitlam and she was our most productive leader, passing 590 pieces of legislation, including carbon pricing and DisabilityCare – despite leading a minority government. And she did so while enduring relentless vilification.

”It’s time to hear Julia Gillard speak for herself.”

Dr Summers said she would also ask Ms Gillard about her future plans.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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Former Victorian premier Steve Bracks sacked by Julie Bishop in ‘vindictive’ decision

Former Victorian premier Steve Bracks has been sacked from his appointment as New York consul-general by the incoming Abbott Government. New Foreign Minister Julie Bishop. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
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Federal election 2013 coverageBishop opts for payback politics

Former Victorian premier Steve Bracks has been sacked from his position as Australia’s consul-general in New York – before he officially started in his new role –  in a decision described as ”petty and vindictive” by Labor.

Fairfax Media understands that one of incoming foreign minister Julie Bishop’s first decisions in her new position was to sack Mr Bracks on Monday.

Mr Bracks concluded previous employment in preparation to take up his position, which was to start this month.

Former prime minister Julia Gillard appointed Mr Bracks in May and the decision was immediately met with opposition from the Coalition.

Ms Bishop said in May that the timing of the appointment was ”inappropriate” because of its proximity to the election, and warned that any decisions would be reviewed.

She described Labor as ”arrogant” for appointing Mr Bracks without consulting the Coalition.

Fairfax Media understands there were two main reasons why the incoming Foreign Minister Julie Bishop decided to fire Mr Bracks.

First, it is understood Ms Bishop thought it inappropriate that she was not consulted about Mr Bracks’ appointment given the election was only a few months away. Nor was she impressed that Mr Bracks made no attempt to contact her.

Second, Ms Bishop thought it inappropriate that Mr Bracks was weighing into Labor politics during the federal election campaign, given he was now a diplomat. In July, Mr Bracks backed the one-time candidate Geoff Lake for pre-selection in Hotham.

While Ms Bishop did not oppose political appointments per se, the Coalition felt that people appointed that way should have the ear of the government of the day, which Mr Bracks would not have had with the Abbott government.

Acting foreign minister Tanya Plibersek condemned the decision in a statement saying it was ”petty and vindictive”.

She said in a statement that it was ”telling” that the first act of Tony Abbott in foreign affairs was to fire Mr Bracks.

”It is telling that the first act of an Abbott government is to play party politics in international affairs,” Ms Plibersek said.

”It also reflects a new low in diplomatic practice,” citing the Liberal appointment of former minister Amanda Vanstone as ambassador to Italy, and allowed her to continue her term.

Ms Vanstone was appointed in April 2007, seven months before the election in November 2007.

Ms Plibersek said Mr Bracks was eminently qualified for the position and questioned who would now be sent in his place.

”Is there a current or former Liberal MP on a promise for a diplomatic role?” she asked, adding that the government was not in caretaker mode when the appointment was made.

Mr Bracks said in a statement that he had been informed of Ms Bishop’s decision in a phone call on Monday night from the department secretary.

He said he had started in the role in August and spent the past month consulting business and government leaders.

”I was pleased with the support I received during these consultations, where there was significant recognition of my background as premier of Victoria for eight years and as one of Australia’s leaders in the funds management industry for the last six years,” he said.

Mr Bracks added that he would look for more work in funds management.

Later, Mr Bracks appeared to put on a brave face.

He told Channel Seven: “It’s a new government, they make their decisions. I was happy to serve in that role, I thought I’d do a good job … but I’ll leave it up to them to find someone else for that role.”

Ms Bishop’s office has been contacted for comment.

But incoming Attorney-General George Brandis said Labor had given Mr Bracks the job as ”a gift”.

”Mr Bracks has no obvious credentials for that job,’’ he told Sky News on Tuesday.

Incoming Coalition minister Malcolm Turnbull criticised Labor for making appointments such as Mr Bracks’ ”literally on the eve of the beginning of the caretaker period”.

But outgoing special minister of state Mark Dreyfus said in a statement that the Coalition’s view misunderstood the caretaker conventions, saying claims that the government should have consulted the opposition on Mr Bracks’ appointment are wrong.

”In this election, the House of Representatives was dissolved on 5 August 2013 at 5.30pm – the signal for the start of the caretaker period. Mr Bracks was appointed on 16 May 2013, that is, more than 11 weeks before the start of the caretaker conventions,” the statement said.

”There is no basis for the suggestion that months before an election is called the Opposition should be consulted about appointments.”

Victoria’s Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews said the decision was a partisan, petty and vindictive first act for a new government.

‘‘To axe Steve Bracks from this position simply because he is not a Liberal really does Julie Bishop and Tony Abbott no credit at all – it is petty, it is partisan, and it is not the sort of national leadership that Tony Abbott promised,’’ Mr Andrews said.

‘‘In many respects they have fallen at the first hurdle.’’

Mr Andrews said he would be surprised if Premier Denis Napthine endorsed the decision.

‘‘I would have thought that Denis Napthine would be able to recognise that Steve Bracks had given significant service to our state and was well placed to serve our nation in this important position in New York,’’ he said.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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Allgood’s Mad Monday charge

Mitch Allgood, left, pictured on Monday with Ben Smith, centre, and Luke Kelly.Parramatta Eels player Mitch Allgood has been charged with mid-range drink-driving following his team’s Mad Monday celebrations.
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Fairfax Media obtained a picture of the 24-year-old drinking with teammates Ben Smith and Luke Kelly just hours before he was arrested and charged.

An official statement from the club said Allgood was “incredibly remorseful and understands the danger he not only put himself in but also the general public”.

Police allege that Allgood returned a blood-alcohol reading of 0.131 after he was pulled over by a motorcycle response team at Parramatta about 7.40pm.

After allegedly failing the roadside breath test on Ross Street he was taken back to Parramatta police station where he was formally charged.

His licence has been suspended and he was ordered to appear before Parramatta Local Court on September 23.

It is understood some of the Parramatta players drank beer together on Sunday night after their loss to the Newcastle Knights.

The celebrations continued on Monday, when a number of players gathered to drink in the Parramatta area.

Officials at the club confirmed the Allgood incident in a statement on Tuesday morning.

An internal investigation was under way and the matter had been flagged with NRL integrity unit.

“This is a police matter and will be dealt with accordingly,” the statement said.

“At the completion of an internal investigation, the club will consider the appropriate disciplinary action for this breach of the NRL and Club Codes of Conduct.

The incident came after Parramatta’s’s interim CEO, Matt Phelan, issued a statement about Mad Monday celebrations.

“The NRL season is a long one, so today is a day for the players to unwind and bond in a controlled environment.

“There is nothing wrong with the boys enjoying themselves – but no matter what day of the year it is, the players are expected to abide by the NRL and club’s code of conduct.”

The club said it would not be making any further comment.

with Adrian Proszenko

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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NSW to chase Cross City Tunnel tax bill

In a jam: the Cross City Tunnel is having trouble with its finances. Photo: Michele MossopThe NSW government has confirmed it will appeal a Supreme Court ruling revoking a $60 million stamp duty bill for Sydney’s Cross City Tunnel, making it more likely the tunnel will fall into receivership, the AFR writes on its website.
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Minister for Finance and Services Andrew Constance said the Chief Commissioner of State Revenue will appeal the court’s decision, made in early August.

“The Chief Commissioner of State Revenue has a responsibility to administer taxation law in NSW and collect all tax considered to be payable,” Mr Constance said. “The NSW government strongly believes that every business should pay its taxes.”

The Office of State Revenue has lodged an intention to appeal.

The tunnel’s owners – Royal Bank of Scotland, Leighton Holdings and the UK’s EISER Infrastructure Partners – were hit with the tax bill after acquiring the road out of receivership in 2007 for $695 million.

The Commissioner of State Revenue charged the new owners stamp duty on the transaction.

The tunnel’s owners have been trying to refinance some $79 million in debt due at the end of the month. The refinancing efforts have been hampered by the stamp duty court case.

Now that the government has confirmed its appeal and prolonged the issue, it seems unlikely the Cross City Tunnel will be able to refinance its debt by the September 30 deadline.

The tunnel first fell into receivership in 2006 due to poor traffic flows. Although traffic has since improved, it does not generate enough income to pay the stamp duty bill as well as refinance the tunnel’s debt.

Bankers say the tunnel could avoid paying the stamp duty by going into receivership before the appeal takes place because senior creditors would rank above the tax claim.

Cross City Tunnel said it remained in talks with banks with the aim of refinancing its debt by the end of the month.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

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Neil Craig is happy to move on, Paul Roos says

New Melbourne coach Paul Roos says he does not expect Neil Craig to remain at the club next season.
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Craig, the club’s director of sports performance, took over as caretaker coach after Mark Neeld’s sacking before round 13 this year and spoke to the Demons’ selection panel about the position.

However, now that Roos has won the job, it appears Craig will walk away and its assumed the club will have to pay out the final year of the three-year contract he signed in 2012.

Asked if he planned to keep Craig on in any specific role next year, Roos responded: “I don’t think so”.

“I think the circumstances that Neil found himself in, he was told that – if he didn’t get the job – my understanding is that he would happily move on,” Roos told Fox Footy.

It was reported by Fairfax Media that the Brisbane Lions were planning to interview Craig for the vacant senior job.

The appointment of Roos at Melbourne was officially announced last Friday and the former Sydney premiership coach’s first day on Monday involved list management and reviewing the structure of the football department.

He has agreed to a two-year deal, with an option for a third, and will work in partnership with a senior assistant who will be groomed for the senior position and then take over once Roos’ contract expires.

Roos revealed on Monday night that Melbourne had already sounded out Hawthorn assistant coach Adam Simpson and West Coast assistant Scott Burns, who is also in the running for the Eagles’ job.

“I believe they have spoken to Adam Simpson and I believe they have spoken to Scotty Burns,” Roos said.

“But I will certainly give them a call and suss them out, while being respectful to their clubs as well … but I suspect the first conversation will be with [Melbourne football manager] Josh Mahoney to find out where those two guys sit,” he said.

Roos is very confident a succession plan is the right path for embattled Melbourne to take after finishing 17th this season and winning just six matches in the past two seasons.

“I have lived it and breathed it. I know it works,” Roos said, pointing to his coaching handover to John Longmire at Sydney.

Roos shot down suggestions he was only taking the job for the massive salary Melbourne is believed to be paying him, disclosing that he had rejected previous coaching offers for the same type of money.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

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Honeysuckle sites for sale: map

Graphic Mandy Graham Honeysuckle site for sale. Picture Anita Jones
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Honeysuckle site for sale. Picture Anita Jones

Honeysuckle site for sale. Picture Anita Jones

Honeysuckle site for sale. Picture Anita Jones

Honeysuckle site for sale. Picture Anita Jones

Honeysuckle site for sale. Picture Anita Jones

Honeysuckle site for sale. Picture Anita Jones

Honeysuckle site for sale. Picture Anita Jones

To see the interactive map,click here.

THREE prime city sites with a collective value of more than $10 million are being put to market by the Hunter Development Corporation, sparking local and national interest.

HDC general manager Bob Hawes said the release of 16 and 18 Honeysuckle Drive and the former Empire Hotel at 643-651 Hunter Street in the West End would fuel the momentum of the Newcastle city centre revitalisation program.

The move comes a month after NSW Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian announced two tenders to kickstart the government’s pledge to bring light rail to the city centre.

Mr Hawes said it was too early to say whether the state government’s Newcastle Urban Renewal Strategy (NURS) would boost the value of the HDC sites but said the government’s plans were ‘‘freeing up opportunity’’.

‘‘It is making it more clear to the people out there, investors and developers, as to what is expected and what the vision is for the city,’’ he said.

‘‘For some of them, the concept of dismantling the rail corridor and doing something else is attractive; to me it’s an additional enabling mechanism that is incentivising people to go ahead and do something or get interested again in the city.’’

To read the Herald’s opinion, click here.

The site at 18 Honeysuckle Drive, which is beside NIB’s headquarters, was valued at $4 million when the University of Newcastle was considering it for its inner-city campus in 2009, before it opted for a Hunter Street site.

Commercial sales director Chris Chapman declined tocomment on what the 4129-square-metre site may fetch but she expects offers to trump the 2009 valuation.

The site’s revised potential from commercial to mixed use would attract commercial, hotel and residential proposals.

The second HDC site is next door at 16 Honeysuckle Drive, where the Nathan Tinkler-backed Buildev Group had DA approval for its failed $55 million Honeysuckle Central project, billed as crucial to easing a severe shortage of A-grade city office space.

HDC terminated its agreement with Buildev in December after it failed to stump up the $6 million required to settle on the 8000-square-metre site.

Crucially, Mr Hawes said the corporation would give an undertaking to cover the cost of some and possibly all of the remediation work to resolve mine subsidence issues at 18 Honeysuckle Drive, and was considering doing the same next door.

The third city site is the former Empire Hotel site on the corner of Hunter and Steel streets, which HDC bought more than two years ago for $2.3 million on behalf of the state government.

In July, Newcastle City Council approved a plan to redevelop the 2000-square-metre site as affordable housing, with HDC contributing the land and seeking expressions of interest in construction before transferring ownership to NSW Housing.

A key industry source said the HDC sites would collectively carry a conservative price tag of just over $10 million at current market rates. Mr Hawes said HDC had received unsolicited approaches from local and national parties on all of the sites.

‘‘Melbourne and Sydney are hot markets and there are guys down there who can’t or don’t want to compete because the margins are getting smaller. They are now starting to look at regional markets, and Newcastle is an ideal opportunity in that respect.’’

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Bushfires blaze: M1 lane reopened 

UPDATE 8.30PM. All northbound lanes reopened on the M1 Motorway, near Wyee, and there are currently delays of about 25 minutes for motorists travelling from Gosford to Newcastle
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UPDATE 6PM: Back burning operations are continuing along M1 near Wyee with traffic delays in the area. Drivers are facing queues 4 kilometres long northbound, with delays of 40 minutes. Lane 1 closed, with firetrucks in lane. Reduced visibility due to smoke.Live M1 traffic links here

Mannering Park Road fire is nowunder control, as is the grassfire at Browns Road, Blackhill.

UPDATE: One lane of the M1 has reopened at Wyee, but smoke is heavy and drivers are urged to slow down and take care.

UPDATE: All northbound lanes of the M1 (formerly F3) at Wyee are closed as firefighters carry out a backburn, and aspotfire has broken out on the median strip.

EARLIER REPORT

FIREFIGHTERS are set to close one northbound lane of the M1 (formerly F3) at Wyee to carry out a backburn operation to try tohalt a fire in bush nearby.

One northbound lane will be closed to traffic as firefighters use the breakdown lane to backburn.

Traffic has been slowed as a precaution and because of reduced visibility.

Another fire is burning at Mannering Park, to the rear of Mannering Colliery, but has been contained.

A third fire at Yarramalong is heading south-west to isolated properties and fire crews are attempting to backburn along Yarramalong Road.

Small fires have also been reported on the New England Highway at Liddell and Branxton, in Brown’s Road, Black Hill, at Cessnock, Medowie and Carrington/North Arm Cove.

EARLIER REPORT

FIRE crews in the Hunter are closely monitoring developments in Sydney as well as local conditions, with a bush and grass fires popping up in the region.

Two fires near Cessnock, one at Wollombi and one at a property past Blaxlands Arm Road, in Laguna, have moved from a ‘‘watch and act’’ alert to an ‘‘advice’’ alert.

No properties are believed to be under threat and Rural Fire Service crews are on scene and controlling the blazes.

Firefighters are also working to bring two scrub fires on the Central Coast, at Mannering Park and Wyong, under control.

A house in Sydney’s Blue Mountains has been lost as firefighters battle 40 uncontained blazes which have caused mass evacuations.

NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell said a house had been lost on Hawkesbury Road in Winmalee and there were unconfirmed reports two firefighters injured battling the blaze there.

A bushfire in Londonderry, in Sydney’s west. Photo: Nick Moir

‘‘(There is) one confirmed report of a house lost in Hawkesbury Road, unconfirmed reports of two injured firefighters at the same location,’’ he told parliament on Tuesday.

‘‘This is an ongoing situation.’’

The RFS later confirmed five firefighters suffered smoke inhalation and two received minor burns fighting the Winmalee blaze.

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Chermoula: it’s quick, easy and quite delicious

Chermoula on fish fillet.Chermoula is a herb and spice marinade from Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, and is mainly used for fish. It is quick and easy to make and quite delicious.
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Spread it on a whole fish, fish fillets, prawns, other seafood or chicken and leave to marinate. The seafood or chicken can then be grilled, pan-fried, cooked in a tagine or baked in the oven. Chermoula can also be served as a sauce, dressing or dip. It is wonderful with roasted vegetables such as potato, pumpkin or sweet potato.

Although the ingredients for chermoula vary from place to place, today’s recipe is fairly standard, with coriander, parsley, garlic, cumin, paprika, lemon and olive oil. You can use vinegar instead of lemon juice, or a little of each. Other spices, such as coriander, saffron, turmeric or ras el hanout, can be included, as can fresh chilli, preserved lemon, lemon zest or tomato.

For a cooked version of chermoula, fry eschalot or onion in oil first.

Spring is with us, with all the lovely vegetables it brings, so I am serving my fish with a ragout of broad beans and peas, cooked with spring onions and mint. Try to find beans and peas of a similar size and not too big. Baby new potatoes would work well, too.Chermoula – North African fish marinade

Serves 4-6

Include the tender coriander and parsley stems.

½ bunch coriander, chopped (about ½ cup)

½ bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped (about ½ cup)

3-4 cloves garlic, crushed

sea salt

1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground

1 tsp sweet paprika

pinch of cayenne (optional)

1 juicy lemon (¼ cup juice)

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Chop the herbs and garlic in a food processor, pound with a mortar and pestle or cut finely by hand. Mix in all the remaining ingredients. Taste and adjust as you like.

Store the chermoula in a jar in the fridge with a film of olive oil on top. It is best eaten when freshly made, but will keep for a few days.

Baked blue-eye cod fillets with chermoula

4 white fish fillets such as blue-eye cod or ling

1 quantity chermoula marinade (above)

4 celery stalks

2 tomatoes, peeled and diced or sliced (optional)

1 lemon, to serve

Ask the fishmonger to skin and pin-bone the fish for you, or do it yourself. Spread half the chermoula over both sides of the fish and leave to marinate in the fridge for an hour, if you can, or at least 30 minutes.

To cook the fish in the oven, heat the oven to 180C fan-forced (200C regular). Use the celery as a rack to sit the fish on. Cut each celery stalk into about thirds, and arrange in an oiled shallow ovenproof dish. Place chermoula-covered fish on the celery rack. If using, add the chopped or sliced tomato on top. Spoon on a little extra chermoula or olive oil.

Cover the dish with foil and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, then uncover and bake for another five to 10 minutes, until the fish is cooked through. The time will depend on the thickness of the fish.

Transfer the fish fillets to warmed plates and spoon the pan juices over them. Serve with lemon wedges and the remaining chermoula as a sauce.

Broad bean and pea ragout

Serves 4-6

Fresh broad beans and peas are nicer, but you can use frozen ones instead. You can substitute fresh basil for the mint in the recipe.

1kg broad beans in pods (1 cup shelled and peeled)

500g peas in pods (1 cup shelled)

sea salt

1 small bunch of mint

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or canola oil

4 spring onions (including some of the green part), sliced)

1 clove of garlic

Pod the broad beans and shell the peas. Bring a saucepan of lightly salted water to a rapid boil. Toss in the broad beans and cook for one minute. Remove the beans with a sieve and plunge into ice-cold water. Nick the top of the beans and slip off the skins.

Use the same pan of boiling water to cook the peas. Throw in the peas and a sprig of mint. Cook for one to two minutes depending on size, then drain.

Heat a saute pan with the olive oil, add the spring onions and garlic and stir-fry briefly. Add the broad beans, peas, some shredded mint, a pinch of salt and splash of water. Cover and cook for a few minutes until the beans and peas are tender. Garnish with extra shredded mint and mint sprigs and serve warm or at room temperature.

>>  Diana Lampe is a Canberra writer, [email protected]上海夜生活.au.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

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A chicken and egg dilemma

A fresh egg can get your day off to a great start.Everyone should have chickens. I’ve said it before and, right here I’ll say it again: I’d vote for a politician who promised to make sure all Australian families had a chook in a shed. You have no idea how happy it makes your day to start with a fresh egg.
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As far as farm animals go, chickens are the easiest to maintain. They won’t jump on your car like a goat, or attack you for no reason like a goose, or be totally useless like an alpaca, or destroy your marriage like an unpenned pig.

If you feed them, they basically worship you. Chickens are the perfect minion, they would help you take over the world as long as you gave them all your scraps, fresh water and somewhere dry to sleep.

Just stay away from roosters. It’s interesting that kids always want a rooster around, completing the family circle, no doubt, and creating the sense of order that males clearly bring to the table in all situations. Yes? Are you with me, my brethren? Hello, anyone?

Sure, I know the evidence of having two roosters in the room is pretty grim. Witness the great debates in the past few weeks of the election campaign. All you needed to do was attach a sharpened claw to their Berlutis and let them loose.

So, no, you don’t want roosters. I am feeling as if I need a change, though. I’ve been raising isa browns for 12 years. I’m pretty sure the kids think they are the same half dozen chickens, but due to natural attrition (a fox), old age and a rampant pig, we are on to our 12th generation at least.

So when I was at a wine show in the real country recently, out Forbes way, I came across some information about chicken breeds that caught my interest. I’m a long way from being a chicken fancier, but these things have a habit of creeping up on you. One minute you are content just collecting eggs then – boom – you have hundreds of rare breeds, you are a member of a strange society and you spend your time travelling to poultry shows the world over. Alone, yes, always alone.

Just recently, here in the ACT, we had the Wyandotte Club of Australia 2013 national show. Did you go? This is a majestic breed from the United States, very popular in Australia before the isa browns came with their promise of 300 eggs in the first year.

Isa browns are a cross between two Rhode Island breeds and are very easy to look after, but they tend to lay all their eggs when young, which is why you should never buy an old isa. I’m drawn to the flamboyantly named Transylvanian naked neck. Now these guys, much like our political leaders, have a look that only a mother would love. They seriously appear to have been strangled and have the auspicious desirability as a meat chicken as there are fewer feathers to pluck.

That all said, the variety I have my heart set on is the ”modern game” breed, solely because the chickens look like a road runner, as in the Wile E. Coyote nemesis, only with a chicken head. They look fast, long of leg, as if someone has stuck a chicken on heron legs. Luckily, and this is quite common, there is a society devoted solely to this breed: the Modern Game Promotional Society.

It is a bit elusive, even though its website calendar appears, as you would expect, devoid of any commitments, but I think they should be able to help me in my new campaign to raise a feathered army.

Getting back to where I started, an egg is nature’s perfect food. No one is hurt in its production, other than the hen if it’s her first, but after that, she’s just fine. Eggs are meant to be eaten, albeit by a baby chicken as it grows, but that’s splitting hairs. And they are a complete food. I just love them. Each morning walking back with a shirtful of eggs, I’m thinking of all the potential. All the cakes and tarts, pastries and custards, pancakes and terrines that you can think of rely on an egg or two, and that’s just scratching the surface.

For breakfast, a perfectly poached egg, sourdough toast, good butter (and on this topic, look for Pepe Saya’s cultured butter, the best around; the Spence supermarket has it regularly), a sprinkle of Murray River pink salt, a grind of pepper and I’m in heaven.

You know an egg is fresh if you can hold the yolk in your fingers and it holds almost a perfect globe. Given some heat, this fresh egg becomes a great way to start a meal, a dipping sauce for raw and cooked vegetables or grissini. Some of the greatest restaurants in the world serve eggs as a starter. As tricky as chefs get, nothing proves their worth more than dealing with such simple pleasures.

The way to a perfectly cooked egg, cooked through but soft and oozing, is to cook it very slowly in water at a temperature just above hot tap water. You need to hold the water at 60C for about 45 minutes, which isn’t that hard; it’s not as if you’re cooking a short rib or beef cheek, which can take days.

>> Bryan Martin is a winemaker at Ravensworth and Clonakilla; bryanmartin上海夜生活m.au.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

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Breaking Bad: ‘Fire in the hole, b–ch’

Realising his mistake … Walt goes to his stash site to find it undisturbed. Sick of being under fire … Saul Goodman in a bullet-proof vest warning.
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The end game for Breaking Bad has begun. To’hajiilee is the fourth last episode and the wheels are spinning quickly now.

There is no turning back and ramifications will be felt, almost certainly in a painful manner. The cliffhangers are no longer about whether something will happen, but rather to whom it will happen.

It’s hard to imagine, for example, that the furious gun battle, which begins as this episode ends, can be resolved without loss of life.

A week ago I pointed out that Walt’s call to the dutiful Todd to hire his neo-Nazi Uncle Jack for another hit wasn’t explicitly linked to Jesse. But a few minutes in, after Lydia tries to point out to head cook Todd and his uncle that the meth needs to be a better quality and blue – “blue is our brand,” says the perpetually edgy Lydia – Walt is confirming that his former de facto child has to go: “Just one target, not currently in jail – Jesse Pinkman.”

This was one of the lines Walt had tried not to cross, only to self-justify stepping across. But this is no longer about building a criminal empire as Heisenberg; he’s trying to protect what may be his final months as Walter White and taking care of his immediate family.

Walt is staggering – literally, due to his cancer – to the finish line, and the best he can do now is ask that Jesse’s death be “fast and painless”.

Walt’s reversion also leaves him on the back foot. He hires Uncle Jack, paying with the agreement to cook one more time as a tutorial for Todd, but Jesse is already scheming with Hank and Gomie. Jesse and Hank are a dream team when it comes to plotting Walt’s downfall – the former pinpoints his weaknesses, the latter figures out how to exploit them.

After conning Saul Goodman’s bodyguard Huell with a mobile phone picture of Jesse showing his brains supposedly blown out by Walt’s assassin (they were animal brains), they hatch a plan to find his money. While they don’t have the location, they know he used a van to transport it into the desert.

Even as Walt visits Andrea and Brock, getting her to call Jesse in the hope he’ll blindly dash over, they prepare their own superior scam (Jesse never gets the call because Hank has confiscated his phone).

Jesse’s call to Walt is one of several scenes where long held rage gets satisfied with triumphant deliverance. A faked picture of one of Walt’s seven money barrels convinces him Jesse has found them, and Jesse stokes his panic by announcing that he is going to burn the contents. “Fire in the hole, bitch!” he declares, promising to torch $10,000 every minute.

Walt, driving desperately, tries to avert Jesse, but his powers of persuasion with the younger man are gone and he makes a damning confession; reminding Jesse of the people he had killed to help his young protege. Do Hank and Gomie have that on tape?

When Walt realises he’s been duped, after finding no-one at the stash site and the ground undisturbed, he is furious – even with a coughing fit wracking his body.

He calls Jack when he sights a car, but tells him not to bother once he realises Jesse is there with Hank. His brother-in-law appears to be the final line Walt won’t cross, although he has a habit of manufacturing circumstances where others obliterate the line for him.

That’s the question that underpins this episode. Looking at a close-up on Walt’s face as Hank calls for him to show himself, and it isn’t clear whether there is regret, rage or reluctant acceptance to be seen. Will he go down fighting or give up? And did he make a phone call – to Saul or Skyler – we didn’t see before he came out?

Walt calls Jesse a “coward” after Hank handcuffs him, although there’s no response to the quiet but powerful vindication of Hank finally reading him his rights.

This is what Hank wants most, and he calls Marie to let her know he’s done it; a moment – when combined with him acknowledging his love for her – that signals he is in grave danger. Jack and his heavily armed gang arrive, and the swastika-tattooed killer weighs up an arrested Walt, who is screaming at him not to start something, with the profits to be gained by Walt giving Todd a master-class. He goes for the money, and the automatic rifle fire is torrid.

No-one gets hit. Walt cowers under the crossfire and Jesse looks to slip away. But then again by this point of the show, who hasn’t been badly wounded in one way or another?

ALSO:

– “Don’t drink and drive, but if you do, call me.” Saul, wearing a bulletproof vest, makes Jr’s day at the carwash.

– Jack’s white power army look like serious business, but they’re not great shots. They’ve got the accuracy of your average Imperial Stormtrooper (Badger would back me up on this).

– How unnerving was the vibe between Todd and Lydia when he drew close to her? She gave him much the same look that a breakfast cereal-eating Brock gave Walt when he showed up. We don’t how Walt poisoned Brock, but on some level Brock appears to know that Walt is bad news.

– She Blinded Me With Science: Is Todd’s ring tone, taken from Thomas Dolby’s quirky 1982 new wave hit, an all-purpose ring or one specifically reserved for the greatest meth cook in the world?

Three episodes to go – Is this the end for Hank? His moment of triumph and affirmation from Marie are bad portents. I think that the final episodes won’t end where we anticipate – they’ll get there earlier and then venture beyond, into the fallout and the tragic aftershocks.

What do you think? Has Walt given up? Is Gomie doomed? Is Jesse revitalised or about to descend once more? Who will end up with the barrels of cash?

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

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No bang for buck: White House Down tops sinking box office

Paranoia, starring Gary Oldman, Liam Hemsworth and Harrison Ford, failed to gain traction at the box office.Jobs takes a small byte out of box office earningsFull movies coverage
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The film distributors took out the trash last week, with the films that the North American summer rejected pitched onto a quiet, election weekend, in the hope Australia might mistake one of them for fresh produce.

The result was the worst box office weekend of the year.

White House Down suffered in the US for releasing in the shadow (and stench) of the remarkably similarly plotted (if vastly inferior) flick Olympus Has Fallen, making a weak debut in June.

The extra time granted to the film was of some benefit as it easily dominated the Australian box office on the weekend with a $1.8 million haul, with almost double the takings of the nearest film.

That said, in North America the film opened against the success story that was The Heat, whereas in Australia the competition was, shall we say, less impressive.

Paranoia, starring Australia’s Liam Hemsworth alongside Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman, had an even worse time in North America, laying claim to the unenviable title of being the worst wide release of the year. It opened in 13th position in the middle of last month. Australia clearly got the message as the film stumbled into 10th position on its opening to take a meagre $144,000 for the weekend.

The impact of these flaccid releases was to drag box office revenue for the weekend to $7.6 million for the 93 films – 14 per cent worse than the previous weekend and the lowest for the year.

But films such as Now You See Me (down 30 per cent) and We’re The Millers (down 19 per cent) held their positions with very soft declines in ticket revenue.

One new release that had something to crow about was The Gatekeepers, the documentary about six former heads of Israel’s counter-terrorist security agency. It brought in $26,000, which sounds low, but the film screened in only four cinemas, making for a respectable screen average.

The results weren’t as good for the other high-profile documentary, Salinger, which took $19,000 on a wider release of 22 screens.Australian box office (September 6-8)The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

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Senior Liberal Sophie Mirabella in danger as independent Cathy McGowan holds lead

Liberal candidate Sophie Mirabella: The answer is in the post. Photo: Ben Eyles / Border Mail In front: Cathy McGowan, independent candidate for the seat of Indi. Photo: Michael Clayton-Jones
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Sophie Mirabella, still in danger of losing her seat of Indi. Photo: Mal Fairclough

Federal Election 2013 coverageFederal Election 2013 resultsFederal Politics

The seat of Indi in north-east Victoria is on a knife-edge as postal votes continue to be counted, with prominent Liberal Sophie Mirabella still in danger of losing her seat to independent Cathy McGowan.

However, the gap has narrowed on the latest count.

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Ms Mirabella, who is assured of a cabinet post in the Abbott ministry if she manages to return to Parliament, is now reliant only on a strong postal vote to save her.

With more than 80 per cent of the vote counted, Ms McGowan was leading by just 759 votes at 5pm Tuesday.

Earlier in the afternoon, Ms McGowan was leading by 1049 votes.

This translates to 50.5 per cent of the two-party preferred vote for Ms McGowan, leading Ms Mirabella’s 49.5.

Ms McGowan has won all booths in the larger cities of Wodonga and Wangaratta, swept Beechworth and took the majority of the vote in Benalla. However, Ms Mirabella retained strong support in most smaller towns and rural areas.

The final result now hinges on postal votes.

While these usually favour the incumbent, close observers point out that most of these votes would have been cast before Ms Mirabella and her team, recognising they were in serious trouble as the campaign progressed, mounted a final desperate effort to try to persuade voters not to back an independent.

However, Ms Mirabella would earlier have sent the vast majority of postal vote applications to constituents, each with a plea attached to cast their vote for her.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

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The tower that’s dividing Melbourne

Proposed megatower at 54 Clarke Street, which will be almost 240-metres tall.Its creators have labelled it an ”elegant” urban icon, but a damning Melbourne City Council report has warned a new apartment building almost as tall as the Rialto would oppress and stifle the neighbours.
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The 72-storey Southbank mega-tower was previously approved by the state government before changes to planning controls saw the developer Urban Matrix sent back to the drawing board.

Months later council staff still do not like the plans for 54 Clarke Street, which are currently before the Minister for Planning.

A report to be presented to councillors on Tuesday said the tower, at almost 240 metres high, will cast a shadow on ”a great number” of public spaces and dominate the view of those who live in nearby south-facing Bank Apartments.

”The sense of containment would be substantial and oppressive, particularly for dwellings at the lower levels,” the report found.

But those conclusions have been fiercely rebuffed by the building’s designer BKK Architects. Director Simon Knott said the tower will instead become a landmark for those driving along the West Gate Freeway.

”Because it twists as you move around that bend, the whole building will twist and turn. It’s almost like the building is alive,” he said.

Mr Knott said they had also done computer modelling which showed the south-facing apartments in the neighbouring building would still retain extensive views, including of the Royal Botanic Gardens.

”The building will sit down one side of the view – it’s anything but oppressive,” he said.

Meanwhile across the other side of the Yarra, the Melbourne City Council has also raised significant concerns about another tower hailed by its creators for its innovative design. The 145-metre office and retail tower currently before Minister for Planning is the latest addition to the $1.3 billion Collins Square development in Docklands.

Council have taken exception to the design by the joint-winners of the Flinders Street Station design competition, HASSELL architects, describing the building’s oversized top as having ”an ungainly relationship to the building below”.

Meanwhile, 3D modelling by the City of Melbourne shows the tower will overshadow the south bank of the Yarra during the winter solstice – a finding disputed by developer Walker Corporation.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

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