Nasty, but funny, was how onlookers described the unprecedented attack by the state Environment Minister, Frank Sartor, in state parliament yesterday on The Daily Telegraph's state political editor, Andrew Clennell. Earlier the Tele had published Clennell's story, which asserted that ''plans for a four-storey building overlooking Frank Sartor's home were dumped in favour of open space after Mr Sartor - the then planning minister - changed the law''. Sartor disparaged the article and its author in no uncertain terms. After showing pictures from his home illustrating that views had not blocked, as suggested, he compared Clennell unfavourably to the political journalist Simon Benson, with whom Clennell, formerly the Herald's top state political writer, had once been arch rivals. Sartor accused Clennell of trying and failing to ''emulate'' Benson, who he, Sartor, had once had over for a barbecue, and who would have known better than Clennell ever would the layout of his house.
NOKIA SEES THE LIGHT
Another reader has contacted the Diary with a horror story about posing for the US photographer David LaChappelle for a Nokia promotion at Circular Quay last Wednesday. Jonathan Welsh said that late Wednesday night his friend Kira ''had to make a dash to the emergency department of the Sydney Eye Hospital in extreme pain and unable to open her eyes''. Welsh said Kira had contacted Nokia but ''contrary to their statement about 'working with … the individuals who have reported an issue' '' they had heard nothing from them. ''She has lost three days' work and pay from last week, is concerned about any long-term effects to eyes and skin and has requested information about the light that caused the damage, more than reasonable in my estimation.'' We called Nokia who reiterated its understanding that the effects were in ''a majority of cases'' temporary, and that it had established ''an email address and phone number for affected people to contact us''. As for what caused the problem, it quoted LaChapelle, who did not seem to know: ''This news is very surprising and distressing to us all. This is the standard lighting used by most photographers and in all movies. We amended the lighting for the Melbourne studio to avoid any chance of replication and are in the midst of fully investigating this situation to ensure it never happens again." Nokia added that it would try to get in touch with all the people with burnt eyes that day. Yesterday Welsh confirmed Nokia had finally called Kira at 6pm on Monday, just after it had emailed its statement to the Diary.
What flies like a swift in the inner-city of Sydney can sometimes drop like a dead turkey in the outer suburbs. At the local government conference in Albury yesterday, Leichhardt Council asked delegates to condemn the federal government's refugee policies, a move derided by a Wollondilly councillor, Benn Banasik, who argued that refugees were not one of the ''three R's of local government'': rubbish, rates and roads. Malikeh Michaels from Auburn Council, demurred. She had seen the devastating effects of detention centres on recently arrived refugees and so supported Leichhardt. But the motion was lost, as was another, from the City of Sydney, endorsing the Declaration of Montreal, which recognises the human rights of gay, lesbian and transgender people. Banasik also criticised this, claiming discrimination did not exist at his council.
STARS ALIGN FOR SODS
The consulting of astrologers is an everyday part of Buddhist and Sinhalese culture in Sri Lanka. The Herald was reminded of this when it received from the Sri Lankan high commission its invitation to the ceremonial laying of a foundation stone for the new chancery building at a building site in Yarralumla. The invitation cordially invited ''All well-wishers to join in the happy occasion'', which will take place tomorrow ''at the auspicious time of 6.44am''. When we asked the high commission why it had selected that specific time, the reply was: ''It is astrologically a very good time to commence construction activities.'' No other explanation was forthcoming, but we understand that a favoured astrologer would have nominated a good time in Sri Lanka's time zone, which was then converted to Canberra's time zone. We also understand that the sod was turned for the chancery five years ago, but the timing was inauspicious, and the project postponed. So you can see why the high commissioner, Senaka Walgampaya, would want to get it right on the nut this time around.
A BIG DAY FOR COQ AND BULL
The celebrity chef Curtis Stone was left with egg on his face at the consumer advocacy group Choice's Shonky Awards yesterday. Coles's ''Feed Your Family for Under $10'' meal promotion fronted by Stone was awarded a Shonky for claiming households can cook a meal for four using Coles ingredients costing less than $10. The catch is that ''pantry items'' aren't included. The awards recognise the ''shonkiest and meanest'' rip-offs and scams in Australia. If you included the uncosted pantry items in Stone's $7.76 coq-au-vin, such as a bottle of wine, the meal would cost more than $30, said Choice's spokesman, Christopher Zinn. ''Curtis's arithmetic is wonky but it's Coles who are really responsible for the shonky behaviour,'' he said. Stone is the first television personality to feature in an ad campaign awarded a Shonky but he is not the first celebrity to put their face to a dodgy product. A Coles spokesman, Jim Cooper, defended the promotion, saying they had been ''completely upfront about how we have created and costed the recipes''. Other winners of the less than desirable gongs included LG, the Commonwealth Bank, Nurofen, the Power Balance power band, and a selection of olive oil brands, as well as Medalist's recreational rope, which made the dangerous claim that it was suitable for ''outdoor recreational use''.
STAY IN TOUCH...
...WITH THE WORLD'S MULLETS
IT'S not quite a Lonely Planet guide, but a Scot who travelled the world seeking its mullets (not the gilled kind) has written a book. Up The Creek Without a Mullet by Simon Varwell details some of his travels to 14 places short of sides, long of back, at least in name. Perhaps inevitably, his quest led him to Australia in 2005. ''Mullet Creek at Wondabyne, along the Hawkesbury River west of Sydney, was a beautiful spot,'' he said. The educational consultant said the project started as a ''bored at work'' moment when he discovered there was a village in Albania called Mullet. ''I was already a bit of a keen mullet spotter, so did a search online and found a handful of other places around the world containing the word in their name,'' he said. ''The idea, like the haircut, grew from there.'' There is no known correlation between the haircut and a place name - surely of great relief to the people of Perm, in Russia, and, doubtless, their neighbours. ''As many of the mullets I've been to, especially in Australia, have been dried up creeks quite off the beaten track, finding any people at all, let alone mullet-wearers, has been tough,'' he said. And he's not keen to sport one either. ''I like to compare mullet-spotting to criminology or wildlife documentary making - an interest in a subject doesn't in any way mean you want to become the subject,'' he said.
SNOW WHITE, Super Mario and a bare-bellied Superwoman sought to trick, treat or convince people to take them seriously outside State Parliament yesterday. Part of the newly formed Halloween Institute of Australia, they were there to lobby the Premier, Kristina Keneally, to make Halloween, which this year falls on Sunday, a public holiday. ''It will be bigger than Christmas,'' confidently predicted the institute's chairman, Sanjay Gidwani, who, it so happens, owns a discount party supply store. ''We believe Halloween is growing exponentially. It is the biggest growing season in Australia,'' he said, adding that a poll had found ''an overwhelming 854'' of 1000 people (visiting a certain Halloween costume and party supply website) thought the public holiday was a good idea. So. There. "Well, in the face of it, it's a scary idea,'' Keneally told the Herald. "There are those in the community that see the need to celebrate Halloween, but I don't see a need to make it a public holiday." Gidwani insists it was not a marketing stunt. ''The time has come for Australian leaders to take Halloween seriously,'' he said. At least one has. An Ashfield councillor, Nick Adams, is the institute's media contact - although the consultant was at pains to note it was just a client.
...WITH BAWDY TV
THE Nine Network has been pulled up for confusing sex with violence on its lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender-oriented television series Dante's Cove. An episode of the supernatural soap opera carried an AV (Adult Violence) classification when broadcast on the digital channel Go! despite several steamy scenes depicting oral sex and frontal nudity. The Australian Communications and Media Authority determined the scenes had not been suitable for commercial television. ''These incorrect classifications are of concern to ACMA as they are particularly obvious examples of breaches under the code for sex and nudity scenes,'' said the chairman, Chris Chapman. The network promised to ensure two classifiers were on hand to watch out when things got particularly hot and heavy.
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