‘Possible criminal offence’ in union raids

Leanne Close refused to say if government ministers including Michaelia Cash had assisted police.The Australian Federal Police believes a criminal offence may have been committed in relation to leaks about raids on union premises linked to Jobs Minister Michaelia Cash’s office.

The AFP has referred evidence to the commonwealth prosecutor after investigating raids on Australian Workers’ Union headquarters in Sydney and Melbourne last October.

“We do believe an offence may have been committed,” AFP deputy commissioner Leanne Close told a Senate hearing on Friday.

The AFP is investigating the leak of information which led to media being tipped off and arriving before police raiding the offices.

Ms Close said dozens of people had been interviewed during the investigation, but refused to say if government ministers including Senator Cash had assisted police.

AFP officers raided the union offices last year as part of an investigation by the Registered Organisations Commission.

One of Senator Cash’s media advisers quit after admitting to informing media about the raids.

Under questioning from Labor senator Murray Watt, Ms Close said it could jeopardise the investigation if she confirmed or denied if ministers had been interviewed.

She also declined to detail what crimes may have been committed and how many people could be implicated.

Liberal senator and committee chair Ian Macdonald said the AFP’s refusal to rule out investigating Senator Cash proved nothing.

The minister has also claimed public interest immunity in answering questions over whether she has been investigated.

Labor’s workplace relations spokesman Brendan O’Connor believes that explanation doesn’t stack up.

“It is in the public interest to know if the AFP is investigating the role of the minister and her office in the leak and Senator Cash should come clean,” Mr O’Connor said in a statement.

Earlier in the week, a spokeswoman for Senator Cash said there was no suggestion she was the subject of any investigation or referral of information to the prosecutor.

Senator Cash has repeatedly made clear she had nothing to do with alleged unauthorised disclosure of information.

Australian Associated Press

Sam Poolman’s GWS Giants playing for the Super Netball minor premiership

MOTIVATED: Newcastle’s Sam Poolman, left, in action during the Super Netball this season. She is determined to put out a strong performance this weekend to help GWS Giants secure the minor premiership and a home semi-final. Picture: AAP ImagesSam Poolman has not forgotten how hard it was to make last year’s Super Netball grand final from third spot, nor the pain of then being well-beaten in the decider.

Those memories will drivethe Newcastle defender and herGWS Giants teammates as this weekend, with destiny in their own hands, they host West Coast Fever in a game which will determine the minor premiership.

Fever sit in first place with 70 points and the Giants are one point behind as they prepare to do battle at the International Convention Centre on Saturday night.

For the Giants it is simple –a win and they not only securethe minor premiership but also a home semi-final and the scenario of going straight through to another decider with a win in the first weekend of finals.

But a loss and they could end up fourth, depending on other results.

Five teams, including Sunshine Coast Lightning (63 points), Queensland Firebirds (62) and Melbourne Vixens(57), are still in the mix for a top-four finish.

“We could go from hosting our semi-final to playing off in third versus fourth to try to get into the grand final the long way,” Poolman said.

“There’s a lot to play for, which is why you play sport and it’s exciting.”

Bonus points have been introduced this season, which means teams get four points for a win, two points for a draw and one bonus point for every quarter won.

The Giants picked up a crucial eight points in their 66-56 win over the Collingwood Magpies last weekend to secure a finals berth.

It came after a 14-goal loss to the Firebirds in round 11 then a two-goal win over the Vixens in round 12.

“For the last three games Julie has been adamant with what we’re playing for,” Poolman said.

“We went into Vixens and that game was crucial because that week she was saying,‘If you don’t win this game you’re not going to make fourth’.

“We were top two but we could’ve lost that game and been outof finals.

“Thengoing into the [Magpies] game they worked out we needed 11 points from two games, so that not only creates pressure to win games but you have to get points.

“Because we got the eight points last week it’s put us in a good position, so we don’t have to worry about bonus points now.We just need to win the game, which is a nice position to be in.”

The last time the two sides met, in round six on June 2, Fever won 63-61 and Poolman expected another tight tussle but hoped a vocal NSW crowd could get them across the line.

“We weren’t happy with a loss against them last time,” the Giants defender said.

“Now we’re in a position where we want to play for a home final.We want to host and that adds a little bit more to wanting to win and to want to finish in that place.

“You want to play in front of your fans.You want your family there. You want that advantage and everything that goes with it and that’s definitely what we’re playing for. I think it will be a ripper game.”

The Giants’ match against Fever starts at 7pm.

Enjoying Beer and Mangan over a winter’s lunch

Luke Mangan and Maggie Beer … a great partnership in the kitchen. I’m old enough to remember the days when the Sydney and Melbourne Hiltons first opened in their current guise and ran a clever series of black-and-white half-page ads that tongue-in-cheek mocked the other — and particularly the cultural status of the other’s city of origin.

I don’t know so much about Melbourne but in Sydney the arrival of this quite brash, yet eminently classy newcomer served to totally change the landscape of the city’s accommodation scene.

Sydney suddenly had digs that could comfortably be rated alongside New York’s, London’s and Paris’s best. You could almost hear the Peter Stuyvesant cigarette commercial playing in the background.

But that was more than 40 years ago, and these days the Hilton is very much an established part of the Sydney landscape. Staying at the Hilton is just what the well-heeled do, isn’t it?

The Sydney Hilton … very much an established part of the Sydney landscape. Image: Artur Feraro.

So it’s quite right that the Sydney Hilton’s kitchens should be in the hands of Luke Mangan, one of the country’s best-known chefs, and that its showpiece should be his Glass Brasserie, complete with a splendid view of the historic Queens Victoria Building, even if that view doesn’t stretch down to the city’s fabled harbour itself.

Quite frankly, Mangan is a culinary genius who has proved his worth in the kitchens of places such as Salt, Luke’s Kitchen and Chicken Confidential, and a bevy of cookbooks.

It somehow seems appropriate that Luke has teamed this winter with the Barossa Valley’s Maggie Beer, undoubtedly the country’s best-known cook — she won’t call herself a chef because that implies a level of formal training that she’s never had — to produce a special lunch-time menu in Glass Brasserie.

Maggie Beer’s seville-marmalade-glazed pork belly with verjuice, potato purée and cavolo nero.

The duo are serving up a collaborative winter menuthat features a series of delicious seasonal dishes packed full of fresh, quality produce from around New South Wales and Maggie’s home state, South Australia.

Maggie’s signature dishes including her mustard-pear-stuffed chicken breast with crushed parsnip and jus, made with pears from her orchard in the Barossa, seville-marmalade-glazed pork belly with verjuice, potato purée and cavolo nero, and her cumin-roasted sweet potato and black barley with tahini and Persian feta.

Those with a sweet-tooth can upgrade their experience to include Maggie’s signature verjuice custard with bergamot-braised raisin clusters, from the dessert menu.

Maggie Beer’s verjuice custard with bergamot-braised raisin clusters.

On a recent visit, I tried Maggie’s dishes of pork belly and vanilla custard, plus a small serving of Luke’s mushroom fettuccine, all washed down with a bottle of his signature Yarra Valley pinot noir.

The simple verdict. All delicious thanks, in a gorgeous venue and with an impeccable standard of service.

And if you’re thinking of baulking at the $29 lunch charge, then think of where you are and about who’s been responsible, ultimately, for preparing the food.

You’re having lunch in one of central Sydney’s few hatted restaurants, and your meal has been designed by two of the country’s leading culinary advocates.

The Glass Bar … Luke Mangan’s pride at the Sydney Hilton.

The menu is on offer available Monday to Friday from 12-2pm until August 31. Visit www.hiltonsydney南京夜網.au

Commonwealth Bank to give farmers break

The Commonwealth Bank has bowed to federal pressure and will allow farmers to offset money put away in good times against mortgages.

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud welcomed the move on Friday after earlier challenging the bank to offer the measure to help drought-stricken farmers.

Commonwealth Bank will offer a credit adjustment for customers with eligible farm management deposits and business loans.

“I commend CBA on its strength of character,” Mr Littleproud said.

“Yesterday I gave them an uppercut but today they deserve a bouquet. They showed courage and leadership.”

The bank’s executive general manager of regional and agribusiness banking, Grant Cairns, believes the move will give farmers additional peace of mind.

“Our priority is helping farmers who are doing it tough because of the drought,” he said in a statement.

The mechanism allows primary producers to remove money from their taxable income during good years to use during tough times.

Rural Bank, NAB and CBA now offer farmers the ability to have farm management deposits used as offsets against their loans but ANZ and Westpac don’t.

“I hope ANZ and Westpac have announcements coming on this issue,” Mr Littleproud said.

Earlier in the week, the Commonwealth Bank donated $2 million to drought relief.

That includes $1.75 million to the Australian Red Cross’s national fundraising appeal while $250,000 will support charity Rural Aid’s Buy a Bale program.

The bank made nearly $10 billion profit last year.

Mr Littleproud said the message on farm management deposits was sent loud and clear to the banks at a recent drought meeting in Canberra.

But Labor’s agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon accused the government of inaction on drought since coming to power in 2013.

“I’m tiring of Turnbull government ministers blaming everyone else for the situation we now find ourselves, having done next to nothing over the course of the last five years,” he told AAP.

He has unveiled a drought mitigation policy which uses agricultural research and development corporations to help farmers build defences against climate change.

If Labor wins the election, it would pursue a Commonwealth-state drought relief agreement.

“This is not something that’s going to help a farmer tomorrow or next week or even next month,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.

“But if we’d done this work over the last five years, people would be coping much better with drought.”

Australian Associated Press

Why everyone is talking about Netflix’s Insatiable

PROBLEMATIC: Riley-Rose Harper says while the new Netflix series Insatiable is fictional, the thought processes are real. Netflix is about to release a new TV show called Insatiable.

Before you get excited over a new binge-worthy show, you should know more than 200,000 people have signed an online petition calling for it to be cancelled. That’s a lot of disgruntled internet users, am I right?

The show is a satire, a teenage comedy reminiscent of shows such as Degrassi High or even movies like Mean Girls.

So why are 200,000 people hating on it, describing the show as “fat-shaming”,and even going as far as to say it could induce eating disorders?

Let me explain.The plot revolves around the main character, Patty – or “Fatty Patty” –who’s played by former Disney star Debbie Ryan wearing an unconvincing fat suit.

Fatty Pattygets taunted by your stereotypical bullies and generally portrayed as your stereotypical loser.

So, after she spends a summer with her jaw wired shut due to an injury, she drops a heap of weight, returns to high school with a bangin’ bod and evidently also discovers make-up and hoop earrings. As you do.

Her new found “hotness”prompts her to seek revenge on the people that bullied her and avenge her former “fat”self.

I was never seriously bullied in high school but I definitely know what it’s like to want to change the way you look.

I remember viewing the six-week summer holidays as a prime opportunity to go on a diet and come back to school in January looking completely different.

And yep, this fantasy also involved me walking slow-mo down the corridor of my high school with everyone looking on amazed at me.

Now that I’m a bit older I know that’s ridiculous.

But sometimes, that’s the way the minds of 14-year-old kids work, and the desire to be “liked”or “popular” makes us a bit cray-cray (kids still say cray-cray, yeah?)

Sure, I get this new Netflix show is designed to make us laugh.

But the truth is, Fatty Pattybeing bullied and made fun of because of her size is, unfortunately, a common occurrence in most schools.

The theme of the show echoes problematic thinking that even adults struggle with – that everything miraculously changes when you get thin. Your life will be better and you’ll inherit a sassy little attitude to go with it.

The show is fictional … these thought processes are real.

Who cares about ratings or streams.This series could be damaging, and that’s the premise of the online petition to cancel it.

The fact is, it’s teenagers who are going to watch this show on Netflix and further confirm in their impressionable minds that if you don’t want to be aloser,you can’t look like Fatty Patty.

The online petition itself states: “For so long, the narrative has told women and young impressionable girls that in order to be popular, have friends, to be desirable for the male gaze, and to some extent be a worthy human … that we must be thin.”

This petition is attracting fiercely passionate support, withmothers of those with eating disorders and even dieticians all pleading for the show to be cancelled.

Netflix’s vice president of original programming, Cindy Holland, defended the series saying: “Ultimately, the message of the show is that what is most important is that you feel comfortable in your own self. Fat-shaming itself, that criticism, is embedded in the DNA of the show.”

I totally agree – we should be encouraging people to feel comfortable in their own self.

However, is this plotline really highlighting that?

I signed the petition because this plotline was also around when I was growing up and it gave me a warped sense of popularity.

I signed it because Hollywood needs to stop using ridiculous and unconvincing fat suits. And I signed it because of the kids who might watch Insatiable and question their own sense of self, body shape or popularity.

And if one more signature can potentially move to avoid that, I’ll put my name down.

Insatiablepremieres on Netflix this Friday.

Riley-Rose Harper is a presenter on the Hit Radio Network.