THERE seems to be a battle of the cooking shows on at the moment between My Kitchen Rules and MasterChef: The Professionals.
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And fans are loyal and devoted – are you a My Kitchen Rules foodie or a MasterChef: The Professionals diehard?

Team Manu or Team Marco?

I have to admit that I’m a MasterChef kind of gal. I wouldn’t have a clue about what goes on in MKR, something about teams and cooking and the other teams judging?

But I’m not sure how Pete and Manu fit into it.

I really should watch it one of these days.

What’s appealing to me about this incarnation of MasterChef is the addition of Marco Pierre White and the fact the format is about a bunch of professionals putting themselves on the plate.

Having trained chefs battle it out adds a slightly gladiatorial atmosphere to the show. This isn’t just wannabes making a mess – these are people with their careers and reputations on the line. There’s something ruthless, yet devastating, about it.

Which hatted restaurants are going to hire a reject from the early elimination rounds?

Or who wants to eat at a restaurant where the chef thinks putting banana in aioli is a good idea? I’d also be avoiding a chef so arrogant they question the credentials of Marco Pierre White.

Speaking of whom, this man has a reputation to be feared.

He once cut open an employee’s uniform when they dared to complain about the temperature in the kitchen. His kitchen tales are the stuff of legends.

And yet we are presented with a man who is firm, fair, fabulous, and a complete softy when it comes to consoling blubbering messes. Team Marco forever.

[email protected]南京夜网.au

DINING IN: Masterchef’s Matt Preston and Marco Pierre White.

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REVIVAL: Peppers Guest House general manager Brian Rooney with executive chef John Edwards, who have overseen the rebirth of the Chez Pok restaurant.THE name Chez Pok was synonymous with Hunter Valley dining for decades before disappearing in 2010.
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But this year the institution returns at Peppers Guest House, Pokolbin, with a new executive chef and French-inspired menu.

Chez Pok is said to have been the first hotel restaurant to open in the Hunter Valley three decades ago. The eatery was renamed Restaurant Sanctuary in 2010 but has now returned to the much-loved moniker.

Roughly translated, Chez Pok means ‘‘among the Pokolbin people’’.

‘‘There is still great affection for the Chez Pok name in the valley – people haven’t forgotten the standard the restaurant set that so many have since embraced,’’ Peppers Guest House general manager Brian Rooney said.

‘‘Chez Pok really helped put the region on the dining map for Sydneysiders as well, and my new chef and I agreed it was time to revive the name that held so many great memories for guests of Peppers Guest House.’’

Under the eye of executive chef John Edwards, the food will return to the French-fusion style served by Chez Pok in the past.

‘‘The new menu has a focus on using as much local produce as possible while reintroducing French flavours,’’ Mr Edwards said.

‘‘It is a more streamlined menu in terms of its complexity than previous offerings, but one with lots of variety, which is why we are offering both main dishes and the share-plate option so that guests can avoid getting food envy when they order!’’

To celebrate its return, Chez Pok is offering all diners a complimentary glass of wine from its list of award-winning Hunter Valley wines to enjoy with every two-course meal, valid until April30. To book, call 49938999.

For those looking for a Hunter Valley getaway, the Gourmet Food Trail package from $399 per night includes breakfast for two, a three-course dinner for two at Chez Pok plus a food hamper. It is valid until March31, Sunday to Friday, subject to availability. Visit peppers南京夜网.au/guest-house.

Burgers for charity

GRILL AID: Getting behind Boardies Day.

LOSE the suit and tie and don your boardies on Friday to raise funds for the Surf Life Saving Foundation. Or better still, tuck into a burger at Grill’d, The Junction, where staff have thrown their support behind Dixon Park Surf Life Saving Club.

Staff will also ditch their kitchen gear and get into boardies on Friday for Boardies Day. Visit boardiesday南京夜网.au for more.

You can also do your bit for charity HeartKids this month by buying marked items from Donut King, Brumby’s Bakery, Michel’s Patisserie and Crust Gourmet Pizza Bar. The businesses are rallying in a bid to raise $200,000 for HeartKids, with 50¢ from every HeartKids product sold in NSW this month donated to the charity.

Verandah with a view

THIS Friday night the Keith Tulloch Tasting Lounge will be transformed into the After Hours Vintage Bar, a place to relax on the Pokolbin property’s verandah overlooking the shiraz vines and Brokenback Ranges with a glass of wine and share plate from Muse Kitchen.

The bar will be open from 5.30pm to 7.30pm. Visitors will be able to purchase a glass of Keith Tulloch wine and share plates from Muse Kitchen.

Bookings recommended for the verandah on 49987500. Follow the drinks and tasting plate with dinner at Muse Dining, bookings on 49986777.


WHETHER it’s an intimate dinner or catching up with friends or family, The Junction’s Del Peco is versatile.
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For the late risers still after bacon and eggs or pancakes or something from Del Peco’s extensive breakfast menu, there is all-day breakfast until 5pm.

Or drop in at lunch for a selection of wraps, sandwiches, salads, open burgers or perhaps tapas if you’re in the mood to share.

The dinner menu offers breads, entrees, pasta, risotto and main meals. Below is a selection from the Del Peco menu.

Breakfast: Classic buttermilk pancakes with honeycomb butter and maple syrup $15; corn and dill cake stack with lemon roquette, Spanish onion, roasted tomatoes, avocado, sour cream, and chilli tomato relish (vegetarian) $14; breakfast burrito with bacon, roasted red peppers, Boston beans, scrambled eggs, smashed hash browns, chipolatas, chorizo, topped with chilli tomato relish, sour cream and melted cheese $18.

Lunch: Grilled chicken and fresh tomato, avocado, bacon, cos lettuce, Egmont cheese, sweet chilli and sour cream wrap $14; open burger of grilled beef with mesculin, fresh tomato, fried egg, melted cheese, caramelised onion and barbecue sauce $16. Wraps and burgers come with beer-battered chips or a fresh house salad.

Tapas: Inferno prawns cooked in a Thai chilli jam $12; crispy cubed pork belly topped with a sweet apple glaze $12; salt and pepper squid served with a dill aioli dipping sauce $12.

Dinner mains: Crispy skin duck breast with orange glaze, poached pears, rocket and hazelnut salad (gluten free) $28; 350g beef rib eye on a bed of mash with grilled asparagus spears and port wine jus (gluten free) $32.

DEL PECO

Address: 7/50 Glebe Road, The Junction

Open: Monday and Tuesday, 7am to 3pm; Wednesday to Saturday, 7am til late; Sunday, 7am to 3pm

Phone: 49253436

Website: facebook南京夜网/pages/Del-Peco-at-The-Junction/164659240219208

Owned by: Peter Micevski

Head chef: Phillip Pearce


Greens leader Senator Christine Milne says Labor has ended the alliance with the Greens. Photo: ALEX ELLINGHAUSENGreens leader Senator Christine Milne has announced the end of the formal alliance between Labor and the Greens, but pledged to continue to vote against no confidence motions and for supply bills in order for the parliament to continue until the September 14 election day.
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Directly challenging Labor’s election pitch that it stands for ”fairness”, Senator Milne accused the Gillard government of ”walking away from its agreement with the Greens and into the arms of the big miners”.

”Labor’s priorities lie with powerful mining interests not with the people and the Greens,” she told the National Press Club, saying it was Labor – by its actions – who had effectively ended the alliance with her party.

Senator Milne said the Greens were proud of the clean energy package implementing the carbon price, the start of a national Denticare scheme and the introduction of a Parliamentary Budget Office, and attacked Labor for allowing mining in the Tasmanian Tarkine wilderness, for reducing payments to single mothers and for subsidising ”big miners” and fossil fuel exports.

She promised to ”deliver confidence and supply until the Parliament rises for the election”.

”By choosing the big miners the Labor government is no longer honouring our agreement to work together to promote transparent and accountable government, the public interest or to address climate change,” she said.

”We will not walk away from the undertaking we gave not only to the Prime Minister but to the people of Australia. And that was to deliver confidence and supply until the Parliament rises for the election.

”We will see this parliament through to its full term.”

She said ”the Greens will not add to the instability that Labor creates every day for itself”.

Responding to the speech, a spokeswoman for Prime Minister Julia Gillard said: ”This is a matter for Christine Milne and the Greens. We will always be the party that puts jobs and growth first.”

Ms Gillard and her deputy Wayne Swan signed the agreement with the Greens on September 1, 2010, after the election on August 21 did not result in either major party achieving a parliamentary majority. Along with her agreements with three independents, the agreement allowed Labor to form government.

The immediate response from Labor strategists to Senator Milne’s speech was that the Greens’ message that the environment should be put before jobs could be helpful for Labor in its re-election about creating jobs.

Senator Milne insisted Labor would not have introduced a carbon price if it had been elected in its own right.

”We have a carbon price in Australia because of the Greens. If it had been Labor on its own or the Liberals on its own we would not have a carbon price,” she said.

Industry Minister Greg Combet said Senator Milne was engaged in political ”product differentiation”.

And Australian Workers’ Union national secretary Paul Howes accused Senator Milne of trying to score ”cheap headlines” in retaliation over the federal government’s decision to reject World Heritage Listing for the Tarkine wilderness in Tasmania.

”This is just a political ploy by Christine Milne because she’s upset that she lost the campaign in north-west Tasmania. Well, boo hoo. At the end of the day the federal Labor government has done the right thing for jobs,” he said.

”Frankly for Christine Milne to say that Julia Gillard hasn’t delivered for the environment after she introduced a carbon price demonstrates how out of touch with reality Christine Milne is.”

Mr Howes also questioned the practical impact of the Greens’ decision, saying the minor party had been opposing a range of Labor initiatives for some time and would still support the government on supply and confidence votes.

He said Senator Milne was ”a leader who’s struggling” with a collapse in support after predecessor Bob Brown’s retirement.

”Frankly if Christine Milne wants to rip up an agreement, excellent,” Mr Howes said.

”I’m not surprised. These are people that can not handle doing things pragmatically, these are people that cannot handing doing things sensibly,” he said.

Mr Howes said Labor and the Greens did not share common objectives. Labor stood for protecting the environment but this must be done ”pragmatically and smartly” and would not ”sacrifice jobs at the altar of Green ideology”.


WHEN it comes to pizza, it’s hard to find someone more passionate than Mark Burrell. He’s even travelling more than 12,000 kilometres to Las Vegas to feed his appetite for discovering the most unusual and newest trends in pizza.
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Burrell opened Adam’s Ribs & Pizza, on Glebe Road, Adamstown, last year and has since gained a loyal crowd of pizza lovers who tuck into his fresh, handmade range. Originally from Newcastle, Burrell spent time working in a pizza franchise in Queensland where his love for pizza and getting creative with toppings grew.

He returned to Newcastle and soon found the Adamstown site for his venture, which is called Adam’s Ribs & Pizza, partly in a nod to the suburb, partly in a nod to Adam’s rib being given to Eve and also inspired by an episode of the TV series Mash, which featured a rib joint named Adam’s.

But it was important to Burrell to make his pizza place stand out from the others in town. He wanted to produce healthy pizzas, low on oil, made with fresh ingredients.

‘‘I wanted to create a pizzeria that was totally different from other pizza places. I make all of my bases from scratch and use all fresh ingredients – I won’t compromise,’’ he said.

‘‘I have a really different menu from most of the other pizza joints in town, with more than 20 pizzas. I make the rib sauces from scratch and even spent 12 months developing them. I hope to be able to bottle and sell them soon.’’

Adam’s menu also includes a range of cheesy calzone breads, pastas, baby-back ribs and buffalo wings. There is also a monthly pizza special – this month it’s buffalo chicken with bacon and ranch dressing – in addition to the range of traditional, seafood and deluxe pizzas.

Burrell’s pick of the bunch is The L.R.B, which combines lychee with roma tomato, blue cheese and mozzarella before being topped off with capers and baby spinach.

‘‘I used to dream of having my own pizza shop. In the franchise I struggled because I had to stick solidly to what was on the menu. I used to go into the kitchen and come up with inventions like The L.R.B but couldn’t sell them to people,’’ he explained.

Burrell is planning on taking The L.R.B to the World Pizza Expo next year to take on the best pizzas in the world. He’s also heading to the 2012 Las Vegas convention next month to learn more about pizzas and ribs, rather than throwing his hat – or pizza – into the ring for the competitive elements of the expo.

In its 29th year, the event is said to be the largest and longest-running trade show serving the pizza industry, offering thousands of pizzeria owners inspiration for new products and services as well as seminars, panel discussions and live cooking and baking demonstrations.

When it comes to washing down the pizza, Adam’s Ribs & Pizza also does nothing by the book. There is Mexican Coke in traditional thick glass bottles (but get in quick because it sells like wildfire: ‘‘I had two cases and it sold out in two days’’), a number of varieties of Dr Pepper, A&W Root Beer and even bottles of Snapple. He’s also become a distributor for Jones Soda Co, an American soda range made from pure cane sugar. Choose from flavours such as Cream Soda, Orange & Cream, Grape and Twisted Lime.

‘‘Many of these drinks were never sold in Newcastle before I imported them,’’ Burrell said. ‘‘We have the best range of US soft drinks in Newcastle … it’s my little indulgence.’’

Adam’s also stocks Crows Nest Soft Drinks and famous and much-loved Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, though he’s also on the hunt for locally-produced gelato or ice-cream.

One of Burrell’s other indulgences is music. Music posters adorn the walls of the pizzeria featuring acts as diverse as TOOL and Prince. This month there is also a huge KISS letterbox under the counter, part of a competition to win two tickets to the KISS and Motley Crue show at Sydney’s Allphones Arena on March 9 (spend $50 before March 1 to go in the draw).

Adam’s Ribs & Pizza is at 548a Glebe Road, Adamstown. Visit ilovepizza南京夜网.au or call 4950 9099.

MAD ABOUT PIZZA: Mark Burrell loves what he does. Picture: Simone De Peak


Cut-price alcohol education … links from the “Out Tonight? Party Right” website offer teens poor advice.Children have been directed to websites containing adult relationship advice, instructions on taking peptides and other inappropriate content through a new government site that is supposed to raise awareness about alcohol misuse.
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The Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing said on Monday it would review the Out Tonight? Party Right site, and remove links to some external websites after Fairfax Media asked questions about their content.

Health experts said the site was at best incompetent, and at worst could put young people at risk of harm by directing them to unchecked overseas websites that give advice that is not based on evidence.

Mike Daube, the director of the McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth, said the site “gives stunning incompetence a bad name”.

“It is beyond bizarre that their ‘educational’ activities offer links to promotions for online dating and peptides,” he said.

One of the links on the Out Tonight site is for alcohol-related aggression. It takes you to about南京夜网, and a page by a writer who goes by the name of “Buddy T”, a recovering alcoholic who writes regularly on alcohol issues.

Another, on the emotional impacts of drinking, takes you to the Lance Armstrong-associated “Livestrong” website.

This website also contains information on using and buying “peptides” (protein-producing substances, used by bodybuilders and athletes) and on other performance-enhancing protein powders.

Out Tonight was launched last week by the Minister for Hospitality, George Souris, and was supported by police and council groups, along with the Australian Hotels Association, Clubs NSW and the Liquor Stores Association of NSW.

Professor Daube said every day in NSW, an average of three children get so drunk they require an ambulance, and “working parties with the alcohol industries and disastrously bad websites are not the answer”.

“The NSW government should scrap this atrocious material … and establish a proper, independent, well-funded education program,” he said.

The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education chief executive, Michael Thorn, said if the government removed the inappropriate links “it won’t have much of a website left”.

He said the NSW government was shifting the responsibility for alcohol education onto foreign governments and the liquor industry, after recently abolishing the Department of Education’s drug and alcohol policy development unit.

“It is not acceptable that the government sees fit to ignore the advice and input of independent research organisations, and allows this educational resource to be developed by the alcohol industry – an industry with an undeniable and obvious conflict of interest,” he said.

He said the website also linked to British alcohol websites that provided emergency contact details for the UK only.

NSW Labor education spokeswoman, Carmel Tebbutt, said the inappropriate links on the website could end up doing more harm than good.

“Unfortunately, this is what happens when governments try to cut corners,” she said.

“The O’Farrell Government’s abolition of the … highly regarded Drug and Alcohol Prevention Unit is a very retrograde step.”

A spokesman for the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing said the office would now monitor websites linked from the site, and remove the links highlighted by Fairfax Media.

“While the government does not control these external websites or their advertising, we will actively monitor them to ensure that any accessible content is appropriate for senior high school students and, if content is deemed inappropriate, then links will be removed,” he said.

A spokesman for the NSW Department of Education & Communities said it still had drug and alcohol experts within the department, and comprehensive drug and alcohol education was available to all students through the Personal Development, Health and Physical Education syllabus.

He said the website had been developed with the NSW Curriculum and Learning Innovation Centre, but the website and its management had been handed to the office of liquor, gaming and racing in January.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly said the offending links were still active. The active links were not visible to new visitors to the website.

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


Selling pianos is a dream gig for Mark O’Connor.Flying to Portsea in a helicopter to tune trucking magnate Lindsay Fox’s piano is all in a day’s work for Mark O’Connor.
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As is having customers part with $250,0000 for a grand piano, despite not being able to play a note. Then there was a time a potential customer arrived with a rubbish bag stuffed with $50,000 in notes, asking for a cash discount on a very expensive Steinway.

“It took us half an hour to count that,” says O’Connor, the managing director of the Exclusive Piano Group, of which Fox is the major shareholder.

The business, which has one store in Essendon, Melbourne, and another opening soon in Adelaide, started in 2008, with all of Fox’s profits going back into music and the arts.

With a floor full of pricey handmade instruments, it’s a business that needs some serious financial backing. In its fifth year, it has just started turning a profit.

“That’s the benefit of having a partner like Lindsay Fox,” says O’Connor. He’s just an amazing guy and I’ve got nothing but respect for him. I’ve known him for 20 years.”

The pair met when O’Connor was general manager of music store group Allans. In August, Australian Music Group Holdings, owner of the 30-store Allans Billy Hyde chain, was placed in voluntary administration.

“Originally [Fox] was a customer of mine and we just seemed to get on well. He wanted his grandkids to learn the piano,” says O’Connor.

Their long association eventually culminated in the Exclusive Piano Group, which sells mainly high-end pianos – with a focus on Steinways – to professional musicians, symphony orchestras, beginners and those who just appreciate the value of a handmade instrument that can be a year in the making.

“We estimate that about 60 per cent of our customers that buy a Steinway can’t play,” says O’Connor.

Lindsay Fox also belongs in that category.

“He absolutely loves music, he’s got an amazing memory and can start singing songs I’ve never even heard of,” says O’Connor. “He loves music, but he can’t play.”

The piano group is the only Steinway & Sons agent in Victoria, South Australia and the ACT.

Steinway is considered one of the best pianos in the world, with artists who favour it including Billy Joel and Harry Connick jnr. Designed and handcrafted in Germany, each piano can take up to a year to make.

“With a Steinway, the whole philosophy of their pianos revolves around making the most of the sound vibrations in the piano,” says O’Connor.

Recently the group has sold pianos to the Melbourne, Adelaide and Tasmanian symphony orchestras and Melbourne’s revamped Arts Centre.

“You can’t reopen a centre like the Arts Centre and have old pianos,” says O’Connor. “Generally a venue like that would like to have a piano that is less than five years old at any time.”

A customer recently snapped up a piano that had been played by Tony Bennett, Burt Bacharach, Herbie Hancock, Regina Spektor and jazz legend Chick Corea.

While Steinway pianos date back to 1853, they have not escaped the touch of the techies. In his store, O’Connor sells an iPad-operated system called the PianoDisc.

By selecting a song on the iPad, a customer can bring a virtual concert to life in their own lounge room. Like a very modern-day version of the pianola, the keys play of their own accord, while the artist’s voice booms out as if they were in the room. The system certainly impresses the punters, says O’Connor.

It’s all a dream gig for O’Connor, who started his career as an organ demonstrator at Brashs in Melbourne’s Northland shopping centre as a 15-year-old.

However, despite Fox’s backing, and access to his company’s infrastructure, such as lawyers, HR and payroll, the Exclusive Piano Group is a business much like any other.

“He doesn’t give me a dollar for free. The business has to pay its own way,” says O’Connor. “We’re not making millions of dollars, it’s not that kind of business’

The plan is to eventually have a store in each state.

“I believe there’s an opportunity for us to have a real influence in the Australian market.”

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


Is your money tied up?Picture this: a new client asks you to complete a job at short notice. You do the work, the client is happy, your invoice is sent, and a month later the bill remains unpaid. So you send a reminder email that goes unanswered, and follow up with a phone call that is not returned.
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You don’t want to push the matter too hard and damage a new relationship. As a small venture, you don’t have a lot of power or resources to take on late-paying big companies.

But you have bills to pay and can’t afford a client to threaten your company’s cash flow, or its survival. Eventually, the bill is paid three months later, and after several stressful time-wasting follow-ups. Or not at all.

Sound familiar? Welcome to the world of many small ventures, where getting paid sometimes feels like a lottery, and where getting paid on time is a luxury. A world where honest, hard-working business owners can go bust because a client treats them like a bank for several months.

Yes, there are plenty of stories about how small ventures can improve their cashflow management through smarter debt-collection procedures. To be sure, many of them are hopeless at chasing up overdue invoices, and in turn allow themselves to be treated like an ATM.

A bigger problem is when emerging companies are brainwashed to pay bills as late as possible – well beyond agreed terms – to improve their working capital.

For small ventures, paying bills late and making life torture for suppliers by stretching out payment is usually dumb business. It has a marginal effect on cash flow and damages supplier relationships and the firm’s brand.

I’d argue that firms that pay bills early – or even on time – create a huge competitive advantage through building stronger relationships with their suppliers. People want to work for the business and do a great job, because they appreciate early, reliable payment. They can spend more time on the work, rather than hassling clients to be paid.

It takes  52 days on average for businesses to be paid in, according to the latest trade payments data from credit-reporting agency Dun & Bradstreet. That’s down from a peak of 57.4 days during the GFC in 2009, but firms are still waiting more than three weeks longer than standard payment terms. Firms in New Zealand only wait an average 40 days to be paid.

D&B says 62 per cent of accounts in Australian are settled late and that about seven in 10 firms are concerned about their cash flow in coming months.

My guess is many small ventures wait considerably longer than 52 days to be paid. Their invoice terms – payment required within 14 or say 28 days – is little more than window dressing.

Rather than advise small companies how to be paid faster, the five tips below are for companies that take forever to pay their bills, or sometimes cannot pay them. Hopefully, the advice can help more late payers (some for reasons beyond their control) to better manage the process.

1. Be clear on payment terms: When commissioning work, ensure the supplier understands your payment terms and billing problems. Part of the problem is poor communication upfront: the supplier expects to be paid within 30 days, you only pay after 45 days, for example.

2. Ensure staff handle bills appropriately: Nothing frustrates suppliers more than staff in a big company sitting on a bill or refusing to forward it because it has low priority. If your staff commission and handle supplier invoices, ensure they know what is expected on receipt.

3. Be upfront: I had a late-paying client who refused to take my calls or answer emails about unpaid bills. It exacerbated the situation. Explain to suppliers if you are having trouble paying a bill and reasons why. Ask them to treat the information in confidence. That has to be better than letting suppliers think your firm is yet another that does not pay its bills and rips people off.

4. Be specific: Telling a supplier “I’ll pay you as soon as I can” is not good enough. Give a timetable, as best you can. Perhaps it involves part-payment of a bill over several months, as well as interest on the outstanding debt until repayment. Aim to pay as least some of the bill straight away if you can.

5. Do not confuse work and personal life: Never tell a supplier you cannot pay a bill because of a personal situation: an unexpected tax bill, personal financial problems, or a bad investment. It’s unprofessional and, in my experience, just inflames the situation. Blurring work and personal life only makes your firm look more inept in the eyes of suppliers who just want to get paid.

What’s your view?Does your business struggle to get paid on time by clients?How many of your clients often require at least one reminder before they pay?What is your worst experience of being paid late (no names, please).Is it getting harder to be paid on time?Do the benefits of paying suppliers early outweigh the costs?

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


A lawyer’s body has warned of a funding risk to the national disability insurance scheme.Australia’s Goods and Services Tax could be broadened or a Medicare-style levy considered to pay for the National Disability Insurance Scheme, a top lawyers’ body believes.
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The Australian Lawyers Alliance says Labor’s proposed $8 billion-plus NDIS is a necessary social reform but risks becoming financially unsustainable over the longer term unless it is both well-designed and given dedicated funding.

It also wants to see rigorous external pricing oversight, perhaps using the corporate and consumer watchdog, the ACCC, to guard against private insurers offloading risk to the public sector.

The group, which is not claiming specific economic expertise, argues the funding base of the proposed scheme must be realistically confronted because it is impossible to guarantee individual legal rights if those same rights later become hostage to limited funding.

ALA President Tony Kerin will give evidence on Tuesday to a Senate inquiry into the NDIS in Adelaide where he will argue the design and funding arrangements need to be fully worked out to ensure the integrity of the NDIS for generations to come.

He told Fairfax Media the New Zealand experience showed the scheme would be vulnerable to a constant tinkering and narrowing of entry criteria unless its future operating costs could be accurately forecast and funded.

The ALA also believes the way the scheme is being legislated is problematic.

In a letter to Prime Minister Julia Gillard before the Senate inquiry, Mr Kerin said the ALA opposed establishing it through ”shell” legislation, which left major design features to be set out in rules.

”The Bill grants power for ‘NDIS  Rules’ to be created, at any time, without any extensive parliamentary scrutiny of such rules,” Mr Kerin writes in the letter obtained by Fairfax Media.

”Insufficient clarity about what support people will receive, and what ‘reasonable and necessary support’ truly means, is another concern.

”We believe that this is liable to change in the future, under the NDIS Rules, unless people are protected by clearly defined legislation.

”It appears the individuals’ current legal rights may be suspended, or revoked, under the bill’s present wording – with potential catastrophic impact for people.”

The government has so far ruled out using a special levy to meet the scheme’s costs, but the ALA says merely funding its operation from consolidated revenue means it will always be buffeted by competing priorities and subject to contraction.

The government has not yet quantified how much the system will cost into the future but has allocated $1 billion for five introductory sites to begin operating from July 1.

It is consulting with interested groups as it works through initial design issues and will use the Senate inquiry to help inform its final design.

GST revenue, which is raised by the Commonwealth but provided directly to the states under the terms of its inception, is expected to collect about $54 billion next financial year.

However, discussion of either increasing its 10 per cent rate or broadening its incomplete scope to include fresh food for example, has been a political no-go zone since its inception in 2000.

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


As a young indigenous man sat in the dock of a north coast police station speaking to his mother, a police officer allegedly taunted him, making obscene gestures behind the woman’s back, the Police Integrity Commission has heard.
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The commission is investigating allegations that Corey Barker, 24, was assaulted at Ballina police station on January 14, 2011, after an altercation with police, and that officers then falsely accused the young man of assaulting them, giving sworn testimony to this effect in court.

Giving evidence during the second day of the commission on Tuesday, Mr Barker said that after being placed in the station’s perspex-walled dock in a distressed state, officers stood behind his mother and sought to aggravate him further.

“I remember an officer standing behind doing the gesture, pretending to squeeze her arse,” Mr Barker said.

“They were trying to aggravate me. I said ‘Mum! Look what they’re doing behind your back … It just kept going. I kept my cool for a bit, then I just lost it – started punching the glass.

“I was treated like a piece of garbage … of course I was going to be upset.”

CCTV footage of the alleged incident, played during Tuesday’s hearing, did not show police taunting the young man. But the footage did show him seeming to react angrily to something happening off screen, and his mother turning around to look behind her.

Mr Barker repeatedly jumps to his feet and bangs the Perspex screen with his fist, while his mother appears to be attempting to calm him down.

Earlier in the hearing, Mr Barker described the circumstances of the altercation outside Tamar shopping centre that led to his initial arrest.

The 24-year-old said he and his friend, Byron Nolan, had started running towards what he thought was a domestic incident after hearing a young woman in distress, to discover that two of his friends were in a physical altercation with a number of men.

“I’ve yelled out, ‘Hey! Oi,’ but just nothing – I don’t know if they even heard what I said,” Mr Barker said.

“I got my phone out [to film them] … next minute I’m tumbling, head over heels onto the ground.”

He said that officers placed a knee in his back and an elbow into the back of his neck, as he struggled to get up.

“I just kept hearing the words ‘stop resisting, stop resisting’…”

On Monday, the commission heard allegations that a female friend of Mr Barker was slammed into a gutter during a violent arrest.

The hearing continues.

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