Month: August 2019

Unions could challenge NSW donation laws

Gladys Berejiklian has flagged new laws around political donations.Unions say they’re ready to take the NSW government to the High Court after Premier Gladys Berejiklian signalled sweeping changes to electoral funding laws.
Nanjing Night Net

Ms Berejiklian on Tuesday announced her government would introduce a suite of changes that would more than halve what third parties can spend within six months of an election.

The laws would cap electoral expenditure by third-party campaigners at $500,000. The existing limit is $1.2 million.

Unions NSW secretary Mark Morey says the planned overhaul is a bid by the coalition to silence its critics.

“It will constrain the ability of working people to get their message out – unlike the corporations who can campaign endlessly,” Mr Morey told AAP, adding his organisation would go to the High Court if necessary.

“If it constrains our right to free political communication … we will definitely challenge them. We will use whatever means necessary to make sure that we have a voice.”

As well as capping third party donations, parties will have to disclose donations of more than $1000 within 14 days in the six-month period before an election.

Maximum fines for breaching donation laws will also be increased from $4400 to $22,000.

Parties will be required to identify expenditure aimed at influencing voting in specific electorates too.

“Our reforms will drive greater integrity, transparency and accountability in our electoral funding regime and help protect our democratic values and freedoms,” Ms Berejiklian said in a statement.

AAP understands the government is expected to introduce the reforms to parliament on Thursday. If passed they would impact the next state election due in March 2019.

The NSW government suffered a defeat in the High Court in 2013 when it last attempted to crack down on third-party donations.

Unions NSW led the constitutional challenge which resulted in the government being ordered to pay costs of around $600,000, according to the union.

Australian Associated Press

Dining ReviewItalian lovers’ ship has come inCielo Italiano

TENDER: Saffron seafood risotto, featuring mussels, calamari and prawns.
Nanjing Night Net

La vita e troppo breve per mangare e bere male – life is too short to eat and drink badly.This is the motto of a relatively recent addition to the Queens Wharf dining scene in the Harbour View Convention Centre. My sentiments exactly.

Cielo Italiano has been open for just a year and brings an authentic Italian vibe to the harbour restaurant precinct.

With a menu that roams over the whole peninsula, as well as Sicily, and is structured in the Italian format – antipasti, primi, pasta, insalata, secondi, contorni, dolci – manager Josh Watt, chef Albert Berisha and their team deliver mainly traditional favourites with a modern twist. The ambience is enhanced by antique Italian-style lamps, red and white checked tablecloths andblack and white photos depicting Italian life of a bygone era.It’s an ideal place to while away a lazy lunch in true Italian style, enjoying the passing parade on theharbour.

COMFORT ZONE: The menu at Cielo Italiano, at Queens Wharf, covers authentic dishes from across Italy. Pictures: Marina Neil

Perennial favourite, pumpkin arancini ooze melted ricotta and funky taleggio cheese; a dollop of pesto on each of the four balls is a perfect pairing ($15.90).A whisper of translucent crisp batter coats a plethora of minute white bait ($13.90); crunchy morsels waiting to be dipped into a piquant chilli lime mayonnaise.The popular pasta ai gamberi, usually made with fresh linguini, today comes with hand-rolled casarecce, tumbled with a generous amount of pan-fried garlic prawns, chilli, spring onions and parsley. Pangrattato (bread crumbs, toasted with oil, lemon and parsley) is sprinkled on top; add lemon to taste ($28.90).

Seafood risotto combines saffron-infused creamy rice with a good dose of mussels, fork-tender calamari and prawns ($29.90). The addition of parmesan is one stumble from the path of authenticity. In Italy, cheese on seafood is a no no. But, hey, we’re in Oz and can be forgiven.

BELLA: Warm sticky caramel and fig pudding with amaretto custard.

Osso buco is another classic, this time with chunky polenta chips instead of saffron risotto ($27.90). The slow-cooked meat falls off the marrow-filled bone. The rich sauce is stickily lip-smacking good, waiting to be soaked up by the creamy polenta.

Secondi depart marginally from tradition in that each dish is complete. There is really no need for contorni (side dishes). Nevertheless we share a bowl of ‘eat your greens’, a good serve of vibrant green asparagus, slightly underdone green beans and broccolini ($8.90). You could also have Roman chips with aioli ($7.50) or rocket and parmesan salad ($9.90).

The servings are generous but you can always find room for dessert can’t you?Cannoli, so loved by Sicilians, are filled with lemon custard rather than the usual sweetened ricotta but are none the worse for that ($11.90). What’s not to love about crisp pastry, tart, creamy custard and a tangy mixed berry sauce?

Tiramisu is another classic that occasionally disappoints with soggy, watery, sponge fingers ($11.90). Not so here. They are well infused with strong coffee and liqueur; the whipped mascarpone is light, creamy and not too sweet.

Kids aren’t forgotten; there are three offerings all $10.90 including ice cream; spaghetti and meatballs, chicken pops and fish fingers (mini snapper fillets, chips and salad). Chicken pops are crisply crumbed fillets with chips and salad and get a thumbs up from my grandkids.

Some time ago I was lamenting the dearth of good Italian restaurants in Newcastle. I am now eating my words.Cielo Italiano is a worthy addition to the Newcastle collection.

Quick BiteWhat:Cielo Italiano; 150 Wharf Rd Newcastle; 4929 2003Chef:Albert BerishaWines: Good selection of Italian varietals from Italy, SA, Vic, Hunter and other NSW regions; NZ and France; 11 by the glassHours:Wednesday/Thursday/Friday 11.30-9pm; Saturday 8.30am-9pm; Sunday, 8.30am-4pmVegetarian:3 salads, 6 antipasti, 1 pastaBottom line:Antipasti, secondi and dolci for 2, about $110 without drinks.Do try: Pasta ai gamberiWheelchair accessibility: Excellent

Coles restricts access to baby formula

Coles is storing its baby formula behind service counters to stop customers buying in bulk.Baby formula will join razors and cigarettes behind the counter at some NSW supermarkets to ensure Australian parents have enough to feed their infants.
Nanjing Night Net

The move follows reports some formula brands worth between $25 and $35 for a one-kilogram tin are being bought in bulk and on-sold in China for a profit of up to $100 per item.

Over recent years Aussie mums have turned to social media to express frustration over not being able to get the brands their babies like or need due to dietary issues.

There’s been a spate of formula scares in China in recent years leading Chinese parents to source safer overseas products.

Coles says tins of baby formula will now be kept on shelves behind service desks or tagged with “electronic article surveillance” lids in some stores, a spokeswoman for the supermarket chain told AAP in a statement on Tuesday.

“Coles is committed to ensuring that our customers with a genuine need for infant formula have access to this product,” she said.

Woolworths won’t be following Coles stating: “Baby formula remains available on the shelf for customers in Woolworths stores.”

“We’re continuing to work with our suppliers to increase the supply of these essential family items,” a spokesman told AAP.

Both Coles and Woolworths have a two-tin limit for customers.

Lactation experts have supported Coles’ move.

“When breastfeeding isn’t adequate then our mothers here need access to formula especially in emergencies,” Sydney lactation consultant Anne Scollon told AAP.

The change is also supported by Lynne-McKensey Hall who specialises in helping mothers naturally breastfeed their babies. She says there are times when infants need to be bottle fed formula.

“I appreciate mothers do need to use formula at times and I am thrilled to see that supply is being controlled,” Ms Hall told AAP.

Australian Associated Press

Darks Coffee Roasters: always one step ahead of the crowd

Darks Coffee Roasters: always one step ahead of the crowd TweetFacebook In this short time their coffee has found its way into some of the noisiest grinders in the city. Barista Miss in Lambton and Darkhorse Espresso in Wickham have both established themselves as bustling coffee spots on the strength of blends created by Darks.
Nanjing Night Net

When a talented barista I know opened her first café early last year, it was these guys that she turned to. Hillsand Aldercould have delivered her a few boxes of beans and a couple of free aprons, but they’re just not those kind of blokes. On her first day of business she ran a Darks blend through a brand new La Marzocco machine that the boys had thought to organise for her.

It is this sort of commitment to the bean, and the customer that enjoys it, that turned my quick visit to their roastery last week into an intensive three-hour coffee cupping session and a vague plan to fly to Sumatra.

Inside a bespoke laboratory, adorned with every imaginable piece of brewing equipment, and research books,was a table lined with roasted samples from Ethiopia, Honduras, Indonesia and Panama.

After a brief revision of the coffee taster’s flavour wheel – a sacred diagram around which all afficionados plot the characteristics of their origins – we all tested the intricate components of their freshly roasted samples.

With the enthusiasm of young students coupled with the knowledge of eccentric coffee boffins, Hillsand Aldercircled the table between each slurp, sipping water and loudly praising the farming practices in Honduras.

If this all sounds ritualistic and slightly strange, it is probably because it is. Cupping has traditionally been the practice of clean-palletted industry connoisseurs with commercial and professional motivations for grading one bean over another.

In other words, Hills and Alder.

But what was once the province of the roastery back rooms in the big cities is now being expertly done by two unshaven mates in a Mayfield warehouse.

Makes me think we must have come a long way since Milano’s.

Vic premier faces firefighters questions

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews was grilled by a budget estimates hearing over union dealings.Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews continues to deny claims of secret deals with the state’s powerful United Firefighters Union or that he’s sought legal advice on claims to the contrary.
Nanjing Night Net

Mr Andrews was grilled on the controversial and ongoing firefighters’ pay deal during a budget estimates hearing on Tuesday.

Union secretary Peter Marshall has previously said a deal was struck at the last election and threatened to reveal details.

“Why would he be saying there are more promises?” Public Accounts and Estimates committee member and Nationals MP Danny O’Brien asked.

“I’m asking specifically about those promises that were secret, that Mr Marshall says you have made, not the publicly on the record ones.”

Mr Andrews said the only promises made were to provide more firefighters, equipment and resources.

“The only commitments that have been made by our government are those which are on the public record,” the premier said.

Mr Andrews also denied Mr Marshall was in possession of a secret recording of him or that he had sought legal advice against the union official’s claims.

The Andrews Labor government’s first term has been dogged by the heated fight to get new pay deals for both the Country Fire Authority and Metropolitan Fire Brigade, which has seen a minister resign, a board sacked and other officials leave.

Mr Marshall’s renewed pressure on Mr Andrews came as a new chief officer from the UK was appointed to the MFB.

Australian Associated Press