Battle royal of the Harrys to hit Sydney

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Sydney will become ground zero in the battle of the Harrys this weekend, with Prince Harry and the equally infamous pop royal Harry Styles both flying into the harbour city on Friday.
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Officially, one of them is here to “review the fleet”, though it will be Sydney’s fair maidens who will eagerly be volunteering for their own review when the world’s two hottest Harrys touch down.

So ladies, start your engines.

While Prince Harry, who arrives on a commercial flight from London, is the official guest of the International Fleet Review, he will be in town for only about 48 hours.

Despite such a brief visit, plans are already afoot to make the most of what limited off-duty time the 29-year-old prince is expected have during his stay at the five-star Shangri-La Hotel in The Rocks.

A private party is planned for Saturday night, but he might also take in some of the night spots on Friday night – jet lag and official engagements permitting. There is talk of security teams sweeping several venues in case the prince wants to take in the city’s nocturnal delights.

A similar operation was carried out in 2010 when his older brother, Prince William, came to Sydney when he downed mojitos at Bungalow 8 on Kings Street Wharf.

Meanwhile, a few hundred metres away from Prince Harry’s Sydney digs, Harry Styles and his One Direction band mates are expected to check into the equally swish Park Hyatt Hotel, after arriving in Sydney aboard their private jet, which has been criss-crossing Australasia for the past week leaving a slipstream of screaming teenage girls in their wake.

One Direction’s first Sydney show is scheduled for Saturday night, leaving Friday night free for the boy band to wreak havoc on Sydney’s nightlife.

Styles, who alone is reportedly worth $24 million, has a reputation for partying and is considered one of the band members more popular among their legion of pubescent fans.

The 19-year-old has so far enjoyed his downtime Down Under by hitting the gaming tables at Perth’s Crown Casino in Perth.

But his management has expressed concern about his penchant for casinos, especially since he reportedly blew a six-figure sum on a roulette table.

Undeterred, Styles has a “17 Black” tattoo on his left shoulder, which is apparently a reference to the roulette wheel.

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‘Ridiculous workload’ – Alan Kohler ends ABC’s Inside Business

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The ‘‘ridiculous’’ workload of host Alan Kohler has put paid to ABC TV’s Sunday morning business show, Inside Business, after 12 years on air.
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Kohler, who also works for News Limited, will continue presenting his finance segment during the ABC’s flagship 7pm news bulletin.

He said that writing a column for website Eureka Report in addition to filming Inside Business meant his workload on Fridays was ‘‘ridiculous’’.

He also writes three columns a week for the Business Spectator website, where he is editor-in-chief.

‘‘I’m not lining anything up, no no no,’’ Kohler said. ‘‘This is to have more of a sensible working life.’’

Last year Kohler and his business partners, Robert Gottliebsen and Stephen Bartholomeusz, sold their company Australian Independent Business Media, which publishes Business Spectator and the Eureka Report, to News Limited for a reported $30 million.

Kohler said the ABC decided to stop broadcasting Inside Business after he told the government broadcaster he was stepping down as host.

‘‘I’ve been doing Inside Business for 12 years, it really has been great,’’ he said. ‘‘I’ve really enjoyed it. I designed the program, started it off, had fantastic people working on it.

‘‘I really enjoyed doing the TV interviews, so I’m going to miss that. I’d like to find a way to continue doing interviews, if I can.’’

He said he initially opposed the show’s recent change in format from magazine-style to chat show but as ‘‘time went on I warmed to it’’.

‘‘I think in the end it was actually a good move and I think the show improved.’’

He said the decision to wind up Inside Business had nothing to do with criticism last year that he had a conflict of interest following the sale of Australian Independent Business Media to News Limited.

The end of Inside Business is a win for Nine, which this year started broadcasting Financial Review Sunday using talent from The Australian Financial Review, published by BusinessDay’s owner, Fairfax Media.

However, ABC current affairs head Bruce Belsham said the government broadcaster ‘‘remains committed to strong business coverage’’.

‘‘We will continue to work with Alan on a range of business content,” he said in a statement issued by the ABC.

From next year sports panel show Offsiders, hosted by Barrie Cassidy, will directly follow politics panel show Insiders, also hosted by Cassidy.

Inside Business is to broadcast for the last time on December 1.

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Tell-tale sign? Cemetery setting for Breaking Bad finale screening

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Eerie … A scene from the finale of Breaking Bad, starring Bryan Cranston as Walter White.Breaking Bad crew and cast, including Bryan Cranston (centre left) next to Aaron Paul (in yellow), at the Hollywood Cemetery. Photo: Michael Idato
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Gilligan wanting Walt White to winBreaking Bad spoilers v spoilsports

It seems fitting that the final episode of the dark series Breaking Bad would be screened in Los Angeles at the Hollywood Cemetery; a magnificent, sprawling gothic necropolis whose tombstones record the who’s who (or used to be) of Tinseltown’s A-list.

The show’s creator, producer/writer Vince Gilligan, and its cast, including Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul, gathered on a stage surrounded by diehard fans, friends and the gods and ghosts of Hollywood.

“You have changed history,” Aaron Paul said to the show’s producer Vince Gilligan. “You have changed television. I cannot begin to thank you for giving me a career.”

Paul described his co-star Bryan Cranston as his mentor. “Without him I would not be the actor I am today,” Paul said.

Cranston paid tribute to the show’s crew.

“We were together for 13 or 14 hours a day,” he said. “These are our family members. The crew are the unheralded heroes of our show.”

The gothic backdrop, and those luminous ghosts whose star is diminished but never extinguished, set the stage for what may go down in history as the biggest TV finale since the end of M*A*S*H. On more than 25 hectares of landscaped memorial park are the remains of Cecil B. DeMille, Peter Finch, Fay Wray and Rudolph Valentino. Even Terry, the cairn terrier who played Toto in the Wizard of Oz, is buried here.

The special event was organised by one of the show’s stars, Aaron Paul, with the proceeds going to his wife Lauren Parsekian’s anti-bullying non-profit organisation, The Kind Campaign.

Last episode ever of Breaking Bad. It would not be possible without all of you. Thank you all for the amazing ride. Love you Vince!!!!— Aaron Paul (@aaronpaul_8) September 30, 2013

“@Provennoble100: @betsy_brandt The End Of An Era. :'(”. So true. XO— Betsy Brandt (@betsy_brandt) September 30, 2013

As the sun set on the Hollywood hills behind the cemetery, the total funds raiused had reached US$1.8 million.

When tickets for the event went on sale on September 4 they sold out within minutes. The guests were not the first to see the episode – that honour went to fans on the US east coast, which is three hours ahead – but they did get to see it with the cast and crew.

The final episode, 75 minutes long with commercials, was preceded by a special screening of the pilot episode. After the screening, members of the cast and crew answered questions from guest host, American talk show host Jimmy Kimmel.

Gilligan revealed the producers considered a range of ways to finish the series.

“Our six writers considered just about every possible outcome with this thing. This was the one that felt right,” he said.

Cranston said the cemetery screening was the first time many of the cast and crew had seen the final episode.

“I saw it in a very unfortunate situation, [when] we did the DVD commentary and I was watching and going silent,” Cranston said. “It was a strange way to see it for the first time.”

The event was organised so Gilligan and the cast could take their final bow for a television series which, despite a modest kick off in 2008, had become one of the most critically-acclaimed TV dramas of all time.

Well, this is it. The last episode ever of Breaking Bad. Thank you for sharing this ride with me. Without you we never would have lasted.— Bryan Cranston (@BryanCranston) September 29, 2013

Let’s do this bitch!!! Get ready everyone for some madness.— Aaron Paul (@aaronpaul_8) September 29, 2013

In the short space of five years it has become the benchmark by which other dramas are now measured.

Among the VIP guests at the cemetery screening were actor Ewan McGregor, Netflix boss Ted Sarandos, porn icon Ron Jeremy, and music legend Marilyn Manson.

Vince Gilligan. Creator of Breaking Bad. Thank you. You’ve changed my life http://t.co/pahkIBlMPp— dean norris (@deanjnorris) September 29, 2013

Breaking Bad party in NYC! Me, Michael Slovis, Andy Vogeli, and the rest of the family. #mariegaritaspic.twitter南京夜网/lWvbo1Wytu— Betsy Brandt (@betsy_brandt) September 30, 2013

Michael Idato is reporting from the Hollywood Cemetery in LA.

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Aug 08

Boat carrying 80 suspected asylum seekers arrives at Christmas Island

The latest boat arrival comes as Prime Minister Tony Abbott heads to Indonesia to discuss among other issues, asylum seekers. Photo: Kate Geraghty Immigration Minister Scott Morrison and Operation Sovereign Borders acting commander, Air Marshal Mark Binskin, attend the weekly update in Sydney. Photo: Peter Rae
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More federal politics

Australian authorities has confirmed that three boats carrying asylum seekers have arrived during the past week, with Indians and West Papuans among those on board.

In the second update on Operation Sovereign Borders, acting Commander Mark Binskin said that 18 Indian nationals had arrived in Darwin last Tuesday, seven West Papuans arrived in the Torres Strait on Wednesday and on Thursday, a further 70 passengers and five crew arrived at Christmas Island.

Air Marshal Binskin also noted reports that a further group of about 80 people had arrived at Christmas Island on Monday, but said this boat fell outside the reporting period and would be confirmed next week.

He said that over the past week, 88 people had been transferred to Manus Island and 60 had been sent to Nauru.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison also told the briefing that the West Papuan group had already been returned to Papua New Guinea and the Indian group would be sent back to India.

In Monday’s briefing, Air Marshal Binskin also defended the actions of Australian authorities, when responding to a boat that sank off the coast of Java last Friday, killing an estimated 31 people.

The acting commander said that contrary to some reports, Australian authorities were not aware of the boat for 26 hours prior to it foundering and said extensive work was done to try and locate the vessel.

”Our response was professional and timely,” he told reporters in Sydney.

In an interview with Fairfax Radio shortly after the weekly update, it was put to Mr Morrison that the sinking was “Indonesia’s tragegy” as the boat was in Indonesian territorial waters.

“Well, I think that’s true. I know that’s true,” Mr Morrison responded.

Air Marshal Binskin read out a chronology of Australia’s response to the boat that sank, which showed that the AFP on Christmas Island first got word a boat was in trouble at 7.57am on Friday but were not given its location.

When a location was first established, it was approximately 25 nautical miles off the coast of Indonesia. Later in the afternoon, the boat was reported to be 8 nautical miles off Indonesia.

Australia sent out broadcast to shipping and tasked a Navy plane and a border protection surveillance plane to look for the boat.

At 10.41am when Australia asked Indonesia authorities to take over the rescue coordination, it was knocked back.

An Australian surveillance plane searched the area from about 12.50pm to 5pm, but did not see the boat.

Merchant vessels were also not able to get close to the area because of shallow waters close to the coast.

Air Marhsal Binskin said that contrary to an account from a survivor, Australian authorities did not indicate that assistance would be provided within two hours.

Air Marshall Binskin also reported that Australian authorities had gone to the aid of two other boats on Thursday and Friday and had transferred the passengers and crew back to Indonesia.

The acting commander stressed that both boats were unseaworthy.

A turn-back or tow-back under the Coalition’s Operation Sovereign Borders would differ from a rescue operation in that the asylum vessel would be deemed seaworthy, and the Australian authorities would order it back, or tow it back into or near Indonesia’s waters.

Earlier on Monday, Christmas Island councillor and union leader Gordon Thomson posted on Twitter that about 80 men, women and children had arrived on the island between 11 and 12.30 AEST.

Mr Thomson also told Fairfax Radio that the group arrived on two Navy boats and had numbers pinned to their clothes, which indicated they may have been rescued.

While Air Marshal Binskin would not confirm the exact details of the boat arrival, he told reporters in Sydney that he did not believe it had involved a rescue operation.

Under a new Coalition policy, the government does not announce each boat carrying asylum seeker as it arrives, providing a weekly briefing to reporters instead.

Labor immigration spokesman Tony Burke hit out at Mr Morrison’s weekly briefings on Monday, accusing him of being a ”part-time” minister.

”Its not good enough to simply turn up once a week,” he told reporters in Sydney. ”The Australian people deserve a full-time government.”

News of the latest boat also comes as Prime Minister Tony Abbott travels to Indonesia, his first overseas trip since winning government.

Mr Abbott is going to Indonesia with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, Trade Minister Andrew Robb and a delegation of 20 business leaders.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Aug 08

The media is to blame: Wayne Bennett

I was never leaving: Wayne Bennett. Photo: Darren PatemanKnights coach Wayne Bennett has indicated he will remain in charge of Newcastle’s NRL club for the final two years of his four-year contract.
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Bennett has been linked to the vacancy at the North Queensland Cowboys, or a return to the Brisbane Broncos, but at a media conference on Monday he blamed the media for ongoing speculation about his future and said he was “never leaving the Knights”.

In an article on Monday in News Corporation’s The Daily Telegraph, the Knights’ official newspaper, Bennett was quoted as saying: “I’m staying”.

Asked by a reporter at the media conference on Monday to repeat that statement, Bennett said: “Why do you want to hear it from me for?”

“It started with the media. You just keeping going on about it. You absolutely fascinate me.

“I’ve said what I’ve said today, and I don’t really want to keep going on about it until you raise its head again somewhere in six months time when some other club hasn’t got a coach.”

Bennett said he reaffirmed his commitment to the Knights almost a year ago when the Australian Taxation Office, seeking more than $3 million in unpaid tax, moved to liquidate eight companies linked to Knights owner Nathan Tinkler, including the Knights, the Newcastle Jets A-League club and their parent company, the Hunter Sports Group.

Asked on Monday why he had decided to stay at the Knights, Bennett said: “Well I was never leaving the Knights. It comes back to you [media] people. It starts with you [media] people.

“It’s fascinated me the rubbish that went on about it. Here I am justifying why I’m staying here. I’m here. Do you understand that? … Don’t you ever read your own articles or read what’s said?

“This time last year, about December last year, I came out publicly and said even then, when there were some issues or other things around the club with regards to Nathan, I made the point then. It looks like I’ve got to do it every couple of months here. It’s a funny place.”

Cowboys chief executive Peter Jourdain fuelled speculation about Bennett’s future in News Corporations’s Sunday Telegraph when he was quoted as saying the Townsville-based club would be interested in pursuing Bennett if he was available.

Speaking before the Roosters had eliminated the Knights from the title race with a 40-14 victory at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night, Jourdain said the Cowboys had delayed any announcement on a replacement for coach Neil Henry until after the NRL grand final “because the person or persons in the short-list could well be involved in the grand final”.

“It probably wouldn’t be fair to either team to have it announced before that,” Jourdain said.

“We’re going to have to go through contract negotiations, so if they’re involved in the grand final it’s not going to happen that same week.”

Bennett said he was unaware of Jourdain’s comments.

“I haven’t read what he’s said, or anybody else. I never applied for a job up there, I never went for an interview for a job up there,” Bennett said.

“As I said, it started somewhere else and had nothing to do with me.”

It is understood Manly assistant coach Brad Arthur is the favourite for the Cowboys job as Roosters assistant coach Paul Green, another candidate, has reportedly been told by the Cowboys that he has missed out on the position.

The Newcastle Herald

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Jul 09

Barnett to make good on grand final bet

The West Australian Premier may have jumped on the Dockers bandwagon during the lead up to the grand final but he will visibly support the Hawks on Tuesday when he makes good on a bet.
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Colin Barnett will don a Hawks jumper in the Hay Street Mall after Fremantle’s defeat lost him a bet with Victorian Premier Dennis Napthine.

The deal they made will also see Mr Barnett handing out brochures spruiking Melbourne as a tourism destination.

While Mr Barnett said he was disappointed the West Australian AFL team did not come out with the Premiership on the weekend the Dockers had performed well to get so far in the competition.

He said he is confident the team will do well next year.

“I am from that old-fashioned school that sometimes you’ve gotta lose one to win one,” Mr Barnett said.

He is expected to go through with his side of the bet at midday on Tuesday.

Mr Barnett said he was hopeful that the Dockers planned move to Cockburn could still go ahead despite the club having to reapply for funding to the Coalition government.

“Any new government’s got the right to go back and look at commitments that’ve been made,” he said.

Mr Barnett said he believed the project would still go ahead but may take longer than initially expected.

 Follow WAtoday on Twitter

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Jul 09

This year’s top Christmas toys

Christmas toys are not child’s play: this billion-dollar industry starts gearing towards the gift-giving season from early January. So what will the marketing machines be likely to deliver under the tree this year?
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Editor of industry magazine Toy and Hobby Retailer, Fiona Cameron, says toys are a robust business that can thrive in any economic climate and peaks every year in the lead-up to Christmas.

“People will stop spending on their own hobbies before they stop spending on their kids,” she says.

The industry has two distinct sectors in Australia: large retailers and independent toy stores.

“The big retailers have major toy sales in the middle of the year with a big push on lay-bys for Christmas,” Cameron says.

Thirty per cent of the major retailer toy trade globally is driven by licensing deals, based on television shows and films, computer games and apps – a market driven successfully by huge international marketing machines, Cameron says.

“The independents tend to go for more unusual European toys and more traditional top quality brands.”

Cameron says there are four distinct categories of customer when it comes to toy preference.

“There are some people who will only buy licensed toys for their children because they liked the movie. Then other people say, ‘No, I want eco-friendly, traditional wooden toys’. Then some who will buy a little of each,” she says.

“Then you’ve got the kids themselves who go to school, go to their friends’ places and see other toys. Kids don’t necessarily want what their parents want to get.”

Merchandise manager Jeff Drayton of Australia’s largest independent retailer, Kidstuff, says picking the next trend in toys is an important part of the business.

Part of this process is reviewing toy manufacturers’ marketing schedules – “It is rare that an item with significant dollars on television spend on it won’t perform,” Drayton says – though it is never an exact science.

“A lot of it is gut feel. It’s about building on success from the past. Look for the elements that are popular and combine them and you have a pretty safe bet.”

One product that meets this criteria that Drayton expects will abound this Christmas is the Whipple.

“It’s building on success of the past: girls make their own cupcakes and jewellery accessories and they combine that with the global marketing support.”

Drayton says this year’s Christmas will have references to the past, with Zelfs lined up to be a popular choice – a throwback to the troll dolls of the 80s. Another is Glitzi Globes where children can make their own snow globes.

There are a suite of timeless brands that are always popular at Christmas time, Drayton says, including Lego and the nuts-and-bolts set Meccano.

However there is a shift away from the classic Barbie, with this year’s doll Lottie Doll drawing parents’ dollars.

“The Lottie Dolls are more anatomically correct, it’s about girls feeling good about who they are, and their dolls doing things they do, like going to the park, not going to the disco,” Drayton says.

Deirdre Mcdonough, manager of independent toy store in Melbourne’s south-east, Toy Soldier, says the old school Sylvanian Families, a toy that has been around for almost 30 years, is experiencing an enormous resurgence and will be a popular Christmas gift.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” she says. “They are good quality, quaint all-animal families. It’s just kids playing houses or hospitals.”

Mcdonough’s tip for most popular new toy is the Micro Scooter, which has the option of offering two wheels to stabilise younger children and can be adapted through a suite of accessories as the child becomes more independent.

“They are a phenomenon. It’s giving you a product that can take you from 18 months to probably about five years.”

The other big sellers in Toy Soldier are the perennial favourites from parents who have an interest in education, Mcdonough says.

“For girls, particularly in the craft area of six to 15, Djeco is hugely popular – it’s our best selling craft by a long way. With the boys at Christmas, you’ll find you’ll get a lot of Green Science, with experiments using recyclable products.”

These learning-based products are gaining popularity as people move away from the iPads, Mcdonough says.

“People used to think it was cute for kids to use an iPad, but there is a real swing back towards the traditional,” she says.

TOP FIVE THINGS TO THINK ABOUT WHEN CHOOSING A TOY FOR CHRISTMAS

1.     Are there any educational benefits?

2.     Is the toy age appropriate?

3.     Are there any recommendations or reviews?

4.     Is it designed and made well? Will it last? Could it be passed around the family or down through generations?

5.     Will other siblings, mum and dad or grandparents want to play? Toys are great when the whole family can join in.

Source: www.kidstuff南京夜网.au

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Jul 09

Letter: Sex education

VICTORIAN state school students aged 13 and 14 are being taught to ‘analyse pornography’ in sex education classes.
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It’s part of a program to promote ‘respectful relationships’.

We’re assured that the classes don’t involve showing the students pornography.

Not necessary. These children have phones giving access to x-rated videos 24 hours a day.

So what was that about ‘respectful’ relationships?

Sanity would demand that sex outside marriage be condemned – not a very fashionable thought.

‘Respectful’ at most means not raping the girl but ‘negotiating’ with her what she is ‘comfortable with’.

Would that be when she is sober or when she is drunk at a party?

Arnold Jago,Mildura

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Jul 09

Kitchen spy: Charlotte Wood

Although Charlotte Wood is best known as a novelist, her love of food and cooking led her away from fiction last year with the publication of Love and Hunger: Thoughts on the gift of food. Part memoir, part cookbook, it’s also a compilation of essays about what she describes as “the emotional and symbolic meaning of cooking for people you love”. The Sydneysider also writes about food at her popular blog howtoshuckanoyster南京夜网.
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My toolkit

Otto stovetop espresso maker. Full Circle Suds Up Dish Brush with biodegradable, replaceable parts. I couldn’t live without my Magimix or Green Pan Rotterdam saute pan. It’s non-stick, but doesn’t give off dangerous fumes. Salt pots I bought in the insect market in Shanghai.

Most unforgettable wine

2012 SC Pannell Bianco from McLaren Vale.

I’m drinking

I need at least three strong coffees in the morning before I am fully functional. I’ve started buying ”bar 6” coffee from Caffe Bianchi (available online). I just drink ordinary black tea occasionally, but probably drink more peppermint. Wine? Kalleske Clarry’s GSM (grenache shiraz mourvedre blend). I also love a Ulithorne white, Corsus Vermentinu 2010, made by McLaren Vale winemaker Rose Kentish at her winery in Corsica.

Saturday night tipple

An Americano cocktail (Campari, sweet vermouth and soda with a slice of orange).

Inspiration

I love Maggie Beer, Nigel Slater, Karen Martini, Jamie Oliver and Matthew Evans, because all of them have a similar earthy approach to cooking. It’s simple with lots of good vegetables, nothing tricky and the ethos of just put it all out on a communal plate and let everyone dig in.

Most memorable meal

It was in a village in Spain on the road between Valladolid and Ciudad Real. It was a boiling hot day and we pulled off the road to a small bar in a dusty town. The bar was dark and cool, a few men were sitting around watching futbol on the telly. The bar had a small refrigerated glass cabinet with a few tapas in it – extremely simple. The one I remember most was half a hard-boiled egg topped with a prawn, maybe some kind of mayo on it somewhere. We had a Spanish beer and the waiter pulled the glasses out of the freezer. It was perfect food for the weather. The place was so invitingly cool, with nothing pretentious or fancy about it at all. One of the best food experiences ever, because it was as much about the country, the weather and the people as what we put in our mouths.

Secret vice

Lindt chilli chocolate.

The staples

My pantry Currants because I put them in everything: salads, tagines, casseroles. Murray River salt. Cobram Estate olive oil because it’s local, as well as Lomondo olive oil from Mudgee for dressings and drizzling. Giuseppe Giusti balsamic vinegar because it is delicious and not too acidic. Patrice Newell’s purple garlic and a giant jar of Dijon mustard.

My fridge The only cheese I always have is parmesan. Pepe Saya butter. Burrawong Gaian pasture-raised chooks, skirt steak and beef brisket on the bone, pasture-raised pork cutlets, all meat from Feather and Bone. Pistachios, pine nuts, almonds for snacking, salads and crumbles.

Favourite

A chopping board made for me by my brother-in-law, Simon. I use it about five times a day.

Food discovery

Pomegranate honey, which I use in dressings. It’s great on yoghurt and in almost any recipe requiring honey. Just putting pomegranate seeds into honey turns it a lovely deep pink and thins it a bit. I got the recipe from the Nourish Me blog.

I’m cooking

Last dinner at home Skirt steak I’d had sitting in olive oil and rosemary for about five hours before grilling it. I served it with roast pumpkin and a very yummy Maggie Beer recipe for green beans with red onion and preserved lemons.

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Jul 09

Woolies bites the bullet and dumps vibrators

“Diabolical”: Facing a boycott, Woolworths quickly removed the battery-powered product. Photo: Eamonn DuffWoolworths became the first Australian supermarket chain to sell battery-powered sex toys. But the gamble is over after less than a fortnight.
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Shoppers were able to purchase their weekly groceries and sex aids under one roof after the retailer unveiled a new Vibrating Bullet ”clitoral stimulator” across 900 stores.

While manufacturer Durex hailed the controversial move as a ”game changer for the industry”, the ”fresh food people” have now performed an extraordinary U-turn, clearing thousands of the products off shelves on Friday after learning, via The Sun Herald, that a leading Christian group had called for a nationwide boycott of its stores.

Roslyn Phillips, research officer with Christian advocacy group FamilyVoice Australia, said sex toys belong in sex shops.

”Society is already suffering massive problems with young children being over-sexualised … this move by Woolies just makes the problem worse,” Ms Phillips said.

”I, personally, would not patronise Woolies while this situation exists and I encourage everyone else to boycott them too. I hope parents will let Woolies know how they feel and I hope they tell them they’ll continue to shop elsewhere until these products are removed.”

While rival Coles stocks a small vibrating ring that slips over a condom, Woolworths decided to boldly go where no supermarket has gone before, by selling battery-powered vibrators. Designed to give ”5 hours of quivering pleasure”, the ”discreet and powerful” device costs $24.95 and was positioned within the existing sexual health section that includes condoms and lubricants.

However, the same aisle features many family-oriented products such as toothpastes, shampoos and shower gels.

In many stores the vibrators themselves sat within arm’s reach of popular children’s products.

The Australian Family Association’s national spokeswoman, Terri Kelleher, said for that reason, and others, the sale of vibrators was ”diabolically wrong”.

”Do we really need to be explaining to our children what a vibrator is whilst walking down the supermarket aisle?” Ms Kelleher said.

”It completely undermines that parental prerogative as to when and how you raise these sorts of things with children.”

Fiona Patten, president of the Australian Sex Party, agrees. She said: ”While I have no problem with anyone selling vibrators, I think they should be sold from an age-restricted area.”

But sexologist Nikki Goldstein argued that grocery stores already promote safe sex through the sale of condoms, ”so why shouldn’t they also promote pleasurable sex through sex toys?

”Why is it so offensive?” she asked. ”We are taught to view such products as dirty, naughty, shameful and outside the boundaries of normality, and that’s wrong. A vibrator is no different to a vitamin in that it does something positive for your body.”

Dr Goldstein believes the introduction of small vibrators should be accepted in supermarkets.

”This is a discreet product that is discreetly packaged. I don’t think it will open the floodgates.”

A spokesman for Woolworths confirmed an email was sent to all store managers on Friday afternoon advising them to withdraw the products immediately. By 6pm the vibrators had vanished from many stores.

”Woolworths has taken the decision to not offer the new Durex vibrator,” the spokesman said.

”This is a product that is more appropriate for pharmacies than supermarkets.”

In 2007, Britain’s high street retailer Boots scrapped its Durex sex toy range after public criticism. Last year, Boots launched a second attempt at introducing the same toys but copped a further backlash after an incident involving a mother who found her two sons playing with a vibrator at the checkout.

Durex said in a statement on Saturday: ”Products that assist Australians to have great sex should be made easily available to consumers through a variety of channels.”

What do you think of Woolworths’ decision to stop selling the vibrators? Read what others had to say and join the conversation in our forum. 

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