Extra security sent to Manus Island detention centre following days of rioting

Federal politics: full coverage
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Minister Scott Morrison has bolstered the number of security guards on Manus Island detention centre by more than a third , following days of violence that left one asylum seeker dead and scores of others severely injured.

On Wednesday afternoon Mr Morrison announced he would be sending the commander of Operation Sovereign Borders, Lieutenant General Angus Campbell, and a team of private security guards to the Papua New Guinea island.

‘‘After what has been a very difficult 48 hours, the centre is now operational”, Mr Morrison said.

General Campbell will arrive in Manus Island on Thursday to assess the ‘‘stability’’ of the centre, Mr Morrison said.

“He is highly experienced skilled in dealing with issues like this,” Mr Morrison said.

General Campbell is expected to assess ‘‘personal and protective’’ security measures at the centre, before reporting back to the minister.

On Wednesday afternoon, 51 Wilson Security staff were also being sent to Manus Island. On Tuesday Mr Morrison said there were 100 security staff on ‘‘standby’’ if tensions rose for a third night. They will join 130 security forces who were sent there a few weeks ago, Mr Morrison said.

There has been heavy criticism of Australia’s failure to protect  asylum seekers since mass violence started on Sunday night, leaving one asylum seeker dead, 12 critical and 77 injured.Clive Palmer from the Palmer United Party has called for Mr Morrison’s resignation, saying the Immigration Minister had ‘‘blood on his hands’’.

‘‘We know for sure people are in danger, people have been killed. It’s a breach of an international convention not to provide proper security. They have been detained against their will and they are being subjected to attacks,’’ Mr Palmer said.

‘‘You can’t say a policy is succeeding when people are dying,’’ he told Fairfax Media.

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young repeated her calls for an independent inquiry to be established, including a review of Mr Morrison’s behaviour.

“The minister’s conduct needs to be a part of any such investigation, the results of which will determine the viability of his continuation in the role,” she said.

But the Coalition and Labor have maintained their support of the offshore detention centre in the face of condemnation from refugee advocates, who have called for the immediate closure of a centre that they argue is so dangerous it now mirrors the conditions of countries people were initially fleeing from.

David Manne, the executive director of the Refugee and Immigration Centre said asylum seekers who had fled killings, torture and arbitrary detention were now facing the same reality on Manus Island.

‘‘These types of conditions, they break people, and crush them,’’ he said.

Labor spokesman on immigration, Richard Marles, has also called for an inquiry.

‘‘We need to make sure the Abbott government is on top of this meltdown at Manus Island. ‘‘What about better oversight of what’s going on there? Clearly there is no control over what’s happening.

‘‘The Abbott government has questions to answer.’’

Amnesty International refugee coordinator Graham Thom said his organisation saw the violence as a ‘‘clear breach’’ of Australia’s United Nations’ obligations to the safety of asylum seekers.

‘‘The reality is we are the ones who are transferring them there, and we have ultimate control over these people,’’ he said.

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Veuve and tears

The local ladies most likely to emulate the behaviour of their US counterparts.Production company Matchbox Pictures (The Slap, Formal Wars) auditioned two Australian cities, in addition to the casting of six Australian society belles who would bring glamour and catfighting to match that of the original American reality-soap franchise, The Real Housewives of … (insert iconic American locations such as New York, Beverly Hills, LA and Miami).
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The winning Australian city may seem an unlikely choice, given her competitor’s international profile as a playground of the rich and famous.

The pressure is now on Melbourne, and her filthy rich, well-preserved fabulous nobodies, to succeed where other US reality transplants such as Celebrity Survivor and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy have failed.

”It was a bold and brave move to do it in Melbourne,” says executive producer Kylie Washington. ”We wanted to give it a classy and layered approach. Melbourne’s the espresso martini whereas Sydney’s the champagne cocktail.”

Cultural commentator and staunch Melburnian Bernard Salt is surprised at the choice of city. He says there is a cultural equivalent to Melbourne in Sydney, but suggests that geographical demographics played a part.

”Sydney’s (wealthy community) is scattered and tribal,” Salt says. ”The Vauclusians don’t like the Point Piperans, the Point Piperans don’t like the Woollahrians. Toorakians are united by their geography, by the river, by Toorak Road. You get a sort of colony down by Brighton, but Toorak is unique, geographically, within Australia.”

Salt predicts Australians will devour this local representation of opulence just as we have dramas and reality shows from suburbia. He says the concept meets both the desire to relate and the desire to marvel at the unattainable.

With a meandering storyline without the endgames or personal journeys towards self-improvement on which most reality shows hinge, Housewives is pure voyeurism.

”People like to watch it to envy, to judge,” Salt says. ”We’re endlessly fascinated with the lives of celebrities and the fabulously rich. It’s about dreaming, ‘How would I handle that wealth? Would I do it this way?’.”

The six identities who will bare their First World problems over Veuve and lobster were approached by Matchbox. It took seven months to cast the show. In property developer Janet Roach; barrister Gina Liano; caterer Chyka Keebaugh; plastic surgeon’s wife Andrea Moss; rock star’s wife Jackie Gillies; and architect’s wife Lydia Schiavello, Kylie Washington found an explosive mix of personalities guaranteed to create fireworks, as well as business-savvy women eager for exposure.

”They were upfront about (their business interests), but we don’t mind, that’s what the Housewives are all about, upselling businesses. We always said to them, it’s not an advertorial for anything, this is a part of your life and it’s fascinating,” says Washington.

In order to sell cosmetic procedures and cocktails, as do two of the Melbourne Housewives, they know they must indulge in histrionics and attack each other at every turn.

According to media professor Catherine Lumby, the spectacle is outdated and offensive. ”It’s a very camp idea,” says Lumby. ”It’s over the top and it announces itself as not very serious. On the other hand, to use the term ‘housewives’ is trading on some really old ideas about women and how they behave and what their identities are. It’s not clever. It’s a banal, copied, dated idea … The women are clearly being asked to perform.”

Washington insists that the talent is as volatile off screen, with nuclear arguments continuing over the phone well into the nights after filming.

Throwing hissy fits has an obvious advantage other than selling facelifts. As reality television blogger Emma Ashton points out, the stars of American franchises are replaced if they step out of the ring. Ashton sees The Real Housewives of Melbourne as soap for a younger generation.

”This is aspirational, it’s conspicuous consumption, it’s drama, it’s pretty clothes and flashy jewellery, which you can see on Dallas and Dynasty and The Bold and the Beautiful, but we think we’re seeing real life,” says Ashton. ”Foxtel has played hardline with these people. They’ve said to them, you’re going to have to give us your families. I’m surprised and pleased that we’re seeing husbands and sons involved in the storylines. We’re seeing what we think is their private lives.”

The time is also right, she says, for the concept to work both for local socialites and their audience.

”If you tried this in Melbourne or Sydney 10-15 years ago, it would have been a complete no-no,” Ashton says. ”It would have been a cultural cringe, but now the cult of celebrity has changed. Who we see in the A-list pages in the social pages each week are not the old money. It’s the new money, the reality TV stars, the soapie stars. That’s the new normal.”

The Real Housewives of Melbourne, Arena, Sunday, 8.30pm. 

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Fat Tony actor says Tony Mokbel will ‘probably think most of it’s bullshit’

Actor Robert Mammone had to shave part of his head to get Tony Mokbel’s look right for Fat Tony & Co. The old gang is back … Les Hill as Jason Moran and Vince Colosimo as Alphonse Gangitano.
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Cross Keys Reserve is an ordinary footy oval in the northern suburbs of Melbourne, a forgettable expanse of car park and playing fields but for its dubious claim to fame as the site of a chilling double-murder 11 years ago.

It was here in 2003 that underworld figures Jason Moran and Pasquale Barbaro were shot dead in broad daylight. There were children in the back of the van where the two men were executed, while other children kicked footballs on a Saturday morning.

The chilling scene was vividly captured in the original Underbelly, and once again a crew is here for the filming of the latest chapter in the Screentime-Nine true-crime saga.

Ominously, a pair of policemen who could easily be mistaken for actors are in the process of apprehending a man right next to the tents where catering and production crews are installed.

For various reasons, Fat Tony & Co isn’t branded ”Underbelly”, though its roots are unmistakably in the original 2008 drama.

Key events of Melbourne’s so-called gangland wars that were central to Underbelly are revisited here, while many Underbelly actors reprise what amount to career-defining roles: Vince Colosimo as Alphonse Gangitano, Gyton Grantley as Carl Williams, Les Hill as Jason Moran, Madeleine West as Danielle McGuire and Simon Westaway as Mick Gatto.

The eponymous character of Fat Tony & Co is convicted drug trafficker Tony Mokbel, who was largely excised from Underbelly on account of pending criminal trials at the time of its broadcast.

Even after a major re-edit, the character played by Robert Mammone was identified only as ”Larry” in the original.

With equal measures of humour and caution, Mammone recalls that ”changes had to be made once a certain gentleman who was wanted by the police was apprehended”.

Mokbel was famously arrested wearing a punchline-worthy wig in Greece in 2007 after ”disappearing” from Melbourne while on trial the year before.

Implicated in several murders, he was finally sentenced in 2012 to 30 years in prison for his involvement in drug trafficking.

The wig makes a brief appearance in later episodes of Fat Tony & Co, but what surprised Mammone during his months-long stay in Melbourne for the shoot was how much people knew about ”that guy with the wig”.

”When I ventured out … everyone had a story, either an encounter with Mokbel himself or one of his brothers or someone related to them, from a horse trainer that trained horses that he apparently didn’t own but really did, to cafe guys and sports people. He was quite a character in this city. Up in Sydney, where I live, there’s also no shortage of conversation about him”.

Born in Kuwait to Lebanese parents who emigrated to Australia in the mid-1970s, the young Tony Mokbel was a milk bar owner and pizza chef before turning to the manufacture and importation of drugs.

Many parts of Mokbel’s colourful story remain open to conjecture, and Mammone goes to great lengths to emphasise Fat Tony & Co is a fictional story based around certain known events.

”I looked for footage of him walking, talking, all those characteristics that give me a clue of the character and it was hard to find anything, in fact I couldn’t. I realised then that in line with what Screentime and Channel Nine wanted, that it’s a drama. I decided to take a few little cues from there and re-create my own (character) because it’s not a documentary and, while I’m portraying a real person, I think it best we take dramatic licence and create an entity that may or may not be exact. As far as this show is concerned I don’t think it needs to be exact”.

For Mammone, the death of Mokbel’s father when Tony was 15 was a key to the strong work ethic that was thrust upon him. ”He was certainly determined to be successful and to be wealthy and (trafficking was) the best way he knew how to do that. He was uneducated, so what the hell, if he didn’t do it someone else would. And he was smart enough to actually generate and turn over the sort of dollars that big, big, big business generates, not just guys who deal pills in nightclubs, which was way beneath him.

”When I spoke to some police officers some years ago they were begrudgingly admiring of what he got up to and the level he operated at and were in no doubt that had he chosen to go down a legal path business-wise he’d have been successful. His drive, his work ethic, there’s no way he could fail.”

Despite amassing considerable wealth, Mammone’s Mokbel doesn’t rest on his laurels. ”It was always onwards and upwards. I have a line (in the show), ‘I’m a shark, always moving’, and it’s true, for me anyway.”

Apart from news footage of Mokbel entering and leaving court, Mammone was unable to find any significant films or recordings that Mokbel left behind.The only time he’s heard Mokbel’s voice was a recorded phone call that Mokbel made to an Australian journalist from a Greek prison.

”Even that conversation I heard five years ago, there was a lot of thought in it. It wasn’t just babbling. Every sentence had a motive.”

The task of ”creating” Mokbel’s receding hairline fell upon hair and make-up supervisor Helen Magelaki. Mammone’s head was partially shaved so that the hand-stitched wig could be fitted. The sides of Mammone’s scalp were shaved daily and make-up applied to cover the white area on his forehead, a process that took two people 90 minutes every day.

Knowing that the real Tony Mokbel will be watching his portrayal of him will weigh on him.

”I’d really hope that he watches it and enjoys it. He’ll probably think most of it’s bullshit because it is a drama, but I do hope he appreciates the effort everyone has put in.”

Fat Tony & Co premieres on Sunday at 8.40pm on Nine.

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Dine-in delights: the world’s best hotel restaurants

Sense of place: Las Balsas in Patagonia. Tapas Molecular Bar, Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo. Photo: Chris Chen
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When the food matters as much as the rooms, check our list of hot hotels, writes Ute Junker.

More than a century ago, Cesar Ritz and Auguste Escoffier made it clear: a great hotel needs a great restaurant.

Over the years, however, the definition of hotel dining has expanded. For every formal dining room, there’s now a breezy meal on the terrace, or even a snack of crispy fried insects.

So what makes a hotel restaurant great?

More than just sublime food, it should offer a sense of place, plus an X-factor that sets it apart.

Here is a selection of places where dinner is a destination.

NOMAD HOTEL

New York

Cool and class collide at this hip eatery, which has been virtually booked out since it opened last year. Each of the restaurant’s separate spaces has its own vibe, from the buzzy Atrium to the cosily opulent Parlour and the romantic Fireplace.

The menu has the finesse you’d expect of chef Daniel Humm and restaurateur Will Guidara, the team behind the revered Eleven Madison Park restaurant.

There’s enough foie gras and truffles to suit the expense-account diner, while more inventive vegetable-based dishes showcase Humm’s modern approach.

For a perfect night out, grab a seat in the Parlour (mood lighting that still lets you read the menu – respect!) and start with a salad of fresh, sweet young brussel sprouts done three ways – steamed, shredded and fried leaves -with accents of hazelnuts, apple and lemon.

That should leave enough room for the show-stopper roast chicken for two, done with foie gras, black truffle and brioche: worth every cent of the $79 price tag.

See thenomadhotel爱上海同城论坛m.

MANDARIN-ORIENTAL HOTEL

London

Few things are what they seem at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, the celebrity chef’s outlet in London’s Mandarin-Oriental Hotel.

Those light fittings? They are actually jelly moulds. That mandarin?It’s made of foie gras.

This a wonderland of a restaurant, with an inventive menu and superb service.

From the warm welcome when you arrive, to the meal’s grand finale, ice-cream made at your table, the experience is seamless.

More than any other hotel group, Mandarin-Oriental has perfected the art of destination dining. With Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, they have trumped themselves.

See mandarinoriental爱上海同城论坛m/london.

WHARE KEA LODGE

Wanaka, New Zealand

It’s a rare hotel where you feel comfortable popping into the kitchen in the morning to ask for a coffee, but then, staying at Whare Kea Lodge feels more like staying with super-wealthy friends.

Which is what you are doing, sort of: the six-bedroom lodge was once the Myer family holiday home and has retained that laidback vibe. Meals are served at a communal table and feature whatever chef James Stapley feels like serving up. That could include delicious Bluff oysters, a salad of West Coast crayfish and homegrown heirloom tomatoes, wild Fiordland venison, or the bite-size beignets. Best of all, Stapley likes to please: following our raptures over the beignets served for dessert, he whips us up another batch the next morning.

See wharekealodge爱上海同城论坛m.

LA MAMOUNIA

Marrakech

Some chefs think they know everything. Rachid Agouray is not one of them. When he was asked to add a contemporary twist to the classic Moroccan dishes for which La Mamounia’s Le Marocain restaurant was famous, he turned to the experts: local women. It’s the women who keep Morocco’s culinary traditions and his team of specially recruited females has created some of Morocco’s most interesting cuisine.

Whether it’s a phyllo cigar stuffed with chicken or a reinvented pastilla, the traditional pigeon replaced with lobster and salmon, the dishes are a delight.

Throw in a torch-lit terrace, carved cedar screens, tinkling fountains and the scent of jasmine – and it’s an Arabian night.

See mamounia爱上海同城论坛m.

ANANTARA XISHUANGBANNA

Yunnan, China

You don’t have to eat the bamboo worms if you don’t want to, but you’ll be missing out if you don’t.

Bamboo worms don’t feature on most Chinese menus but Xishuangbanna is a very particular pocket of China. It’s the Chinese equivalent of the wild west, closer to Thailand than to cities such as Shanghai and Bangkok, and known for its vast rainforests, wild elephants and majestic centuries-old tea trees.

Top marks to the hotel for showcasing the cuisine of the local Dai tribespeople, full of fresh herbs and indigenous specialties such as ganba (air-dried beef), river snails, river weed, and rice dishes cooked in bamboo.

And the bamboo worms? The local equivalent of crisps, flash fried and perfect for munching on as you pull on a beer. Ganbei!

See xishuangbanna.anantara爱上海同城论坛m.

LE ROYAL MONCEAU RAFFLES

Paris

Here are some reasons why we love La Cuisine, one of two Michelin-starred restaurants in this Parisian pleasure palace.

There’s the decor: a funky updating of the traditional grand restaurant that is not in the slightest stuffy. There’s the attentive service, in which no detail is neglected: order steak, and you will be invited to choose from a selection of nine knives, each with its own history.

There’s the menu, which offers both traditional and innovative approaches. Atlantic cod, for instance, comes as both a traditional confit option, or an Asian-influenced version with braised black rice, honey, ginger and lemon.

Just be sure not to peak too early: once the cheese sommelier has had his way, you’ll still need room for the made-to-order Pierre Herme millefeuilles combinations such as fig and foie gras.

See www.leroyalmonceau爱上海同城论坛m.

HOTEL TRAUBE TONBACH

Black Forest, Germany

How did a small spa village in the Black Forest, home to just 8000 people, come to score eight Michelin stars?

Largely through the rivalry between the town’s two largest hotels, Hotel Traube Tonbach and Hotel Bareiss.

Both hotels invested heavily in their restaurants and both can boast three-Michelin-star restaurants but only the Traube Tonbach has chef Harald Wohlfahrt. Wohlfahrt is culinary royalty. Not only has he held three stars for more than 20 years, he also trained most of Germany’s other three-star chefs himself.

All that and he still finds ways to weave new flavours and textures into his dishes, such as a delicate char served with kataifi and a salad of carrot, coriander, ras al hanut and caraway seeds.

With food this good, it’s hard to restrain yourself – but you can always burn it off afterwards with a walk in the Black Forest.

See traube-tonbach.de.

LAS BALSAS, VILLA LA ANGOSTURA

Patagonia, Argentina

If you appreciate the perfection of an exquisitely decorated petit four, or a single scallop perched carefully on a porcelain spoon, you’re going to love Las Balsas, a small but perfectly formed hotel with an equally enchanting restaurant.

The setting alone is enough to conjure superlatives – a shoreside location on Lake Nahuel Huapi, the prettiest mountain-fringed lake in northern Patagonia – but Lucas Dabrowski’s way with local ingredients is just as impressive.

A crab strudel with squid ink and apple is wonderfully light, with a perfect blend of flavours; but Dabrowski’s real genius lies in reinventing favourites such as roast chicken, here served with sun-dried tomato, black olives, toasted almonds and potato and cheese fondue.

Throw in an impressive wine cellar showcasing Argentina’s extraordinary wines, and you have a real little gem.

See relaischateaux爱上海同城论坛m/lasbalsas.

MANDARIN-ORIENTAL HOTEL

Tokyo

Sometimes, dinner at the hotel restaurant is the easy option.

When you’re too tired and hungry to go elsewhere, you end up sitting in a corner table, reading your book or your iPad while you eat. At Tokyo’s Mandarin-Oriental hotel, they have an antidote for this kind of meal: the Tapas Molecular Bar.

Two chefs, two nightly sittings, eight diners, 16 courses, plenty of molecular flimflammery, including dragon imitations using liquid nitrogen: it’s a night out that turns strangers into participants in a culinary adventure.

The food is exquisite, each themed plate showcasing a different set of ingredients.

The pretty Underwater Forest, for instance, highlights delicately briny flavours such as Okinawa seaweed, kombu seaweed broth and sea urchin.

See mandarinoriental爱上海同城论坛m/Tokyo.

FIVE MORE TO TRY

BRITAIN

The UK has no end of country houses with fine food, but few do it as well as Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons.

BRAZIL

The Fasano family understand food – and branding. Before they opened the Hotel Fasano in Sao Paulo, they ran the city’s biggest restaurant empire. Naturally their hotel restaurant – again called Fasano – is one of the best in town.

SPAIN

Basque chef Martin Berasategui has brought his creative cuisine to Barcelona’s Condes de Barcelona hotel, highlighting quality ingredients such as smoked eel and woodpigeon.

FRANCE

Some might call this cheating – Michel Bras’ eponymous triple Michelin star restaurant came first, the attached rooms followed. But we love the place so much we’re including it anyway.

US

There’s plenty of southern comfort on offer at Tennessee’s Blackberry Farm but the real reason people flock here is dinner in the atmospheric barn.

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Chinese developer snaps up Tabcorp building in latest Sydney asset sale

A new round of assets sales is set to hit the Sydney market worth well over $200 million in coming months.
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It is expected the main buyers will continue to be overseas-based investors, some of whom are keen to get a foot hold into the market and convert the offices into residential.

The Ausgrid Tower at 570 George Street, opposite Sydney Town Hall and St Andrew’s Cathedral, is said to be close to being sold.

It is is being divested by the NSW Government with a mooted price tag of about $200 million.

Real estate agents speculated that chinese investors, Greenland, was an interested party.

Stockland has also confirmed it has non-core assets on the market including its share of the Piccadilly Centre in Pitt Street and has done a deal with Investa Commercial Property Fund to sell the office component of 135 King Street. Stockland will retain the retail component.

The latest sale was by AMP Capital, which has exchanged contracts on the Tabcorp headquarters at 495 Harris Street Ultimo with a Chinese developer for $63 million.

The office property has 10,000 square metres of net lettable area over four floors, with basement parking and two ground floor retail suites.

The current site zoning is mixed use and provides for a variety of uses including commercial and residential premises.

AMP Capital Wholesale Office Fund Manager Nick McGrath said he was pleased with the sale of the asset, which delivered upon the fund’s strategy to divest smaller, non-core assets.

In other deals Mirvac is looking to sell 50 per cent of its 275 Kent Street, Westpac headquarters, worth about $410 million and a further $500 million of ”non-aligned” assets to help fund its office and retail projects and recent acquisitions.

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