Tony Abbott woos young and old with three new promises

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, campaigning in Queensland, is offering loans of up to $20,000 to apprentices. Photo: Alex EllinghausenA Coalition government would provide $200 million to efforts to find a cure for dementia, Tony Abbott announced in officially launching his campaign on Sunday.
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More than 320,000 Australians are afflicted by dementia, including one in four Australians over the age of 85.

Mr Abbott said 900,000 Australians were at risk of developing dementia in 30 years time.

”The best people to find treatments and cures for this insidious disease are our world-beating medical researchers,” he said.

The money will be used to support new researchers, to ensure dementia care is informed by research, and to invest in dementia research infrastructure.

Alzheimer’s Australia president Ita Buttrose, who had called for a $200 million commitment, said the funding would give Australians hope that future generations might escape the disease.

In another pitch to older voters, Mr Abbott promised that the Coalition would index eligibility thresholds for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card, so that more self-funded retirees would have access to cheaper medicines.

National Seniors Australia welcomed the health card changes, but said income thresholds should also be raised so that even more seniors were eligible.

Mr Abbott also promised a scheme to provide HECS-style interest-free loans of up to $20,000 over four years to apprentices in areas of skill shortage such as plumbers, electricians and diesel mechanics.

As with existing loans available to university students, apprentices would not have to start repaying their loan until they were earning an income over a certain threshold.

Those who complete their training would receive a 20-per cent discount on their loans.

Currently about half of apprentices in traditional trades do not complete their training.

The announcement was welcomed by training groups,  but Labor said it already provided apprentices with a payment of $5500 over the course of their trade to help with the cost of tools.

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Tagine time: Rich stews with Moroccan flavour

Duck, olive and date tagine. Tagine of king prawn, chickpeas, almonds and cherry tomatoes.
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Neil Perry’s flavoursome duck, olive and date tagine. Photo: William Meppem

DUCK, OLIVE AND DATE TAGINE

6 duck legs

1 cup chermoula (see recipe below)

1 red onion, sliced into 6 wedges

2 carrots, cut into 4cm long pieces

1 medium yam, peeled and cut into 4cm-long pieces

30 green beans

12 whole almonds, skin removed

sea salt

extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp honey

juice of 1 lemon

8 fresh dates, pitted

1 small handful large green olives, pitted

rind of 1/4 preserved lemon, finely sliced

2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves

2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley

Serves 4

Put duck legs on a chopping board and cut in half so you have thighs and drumsticks.

Combine duck pieces with chermoula, onion, carrot, yam, beans, almonds and a little sea salt in a bowl. Leave to marinate for about for about 1 hour.

In a tagine or a large saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, heat a little extra virgin olive oil.

Add duck, vegetables and any marinade to pan and settle the pieces down reasonably flat. Half cover with water, add honey and lemon juice and cover with lid. Reduce heat to a very gentle simmer.

After about 30 minutes, remove lid and turn the ingredients over carefully. Add dates and olives, cover the pan again and cook for a further 30 minutes; by this stage everything should be tender.

Remove the tagine or pan from the heat, and serve tagine from tagine or pan you cooked it in, spoon onto a large platter or divide among plates with 3 duck pieces per person. Just before serving, sprinkle with chopped lemon rind and fresh herbs.

TAGINE OF KING PRAWN, CHICKPEAS, ALMONDS AND CHERRY TOMATOES

1 cup chermoula (see recipe below)

juice of 1 lemon

2 tbsp quality honey

8 eschallots, peeled

1 tsp sea salt

1kg green king prawns, peeled and deveined

10 cherry tomatoes, cut in half

1/2 tin chickpeas, rinsed

1/4 cup blanched almonds

rind of 1 preserved lemon, finely sliced

Serves 4

Put a tagine or large saucepan on the stove. Add a litre of water, chermoula, lemon juice, honey, eschallots and sea salt. Bring to boil, reduce to gentle simmer and cook for about 30 to 40 minutes, covered.

Remove lid and add prawns, cherry tomatoes, chickpeas, almonds and preserved lemon rind and stir through. Gently simmer for a minute or two, until prawns are cooked.

Remove tagine from heat. Divide among 4 bowls or serve from tagine or pan in the middle of the table.

CHERMOULA

1 red onion, roughly chopped

4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

90g coriander (including stalks), washed and roughly chopped

150g flat-leaf parsley (including stalks), washed and roughly chopped

1 heaped tsp sea salt

1 tbsp ground cumin

1 tbsp ground coriander

11/2 tbsp ground chilli

1 tbsp ground turmeric

2 tsp sweet paprika

11/2 tbsp ras el hanout

185ml extra virgin olive oil

juice of 1 lemon

Put ingredients in a food processor, except oil and lemon juice. Process for one minute, and then slowly pour in oil until a thick paste forms. If making ahead of time, refrigerate chermoula until ready to use.

HOT TIPS

• These tagines (named after the earthenware pot in which they are traditionally cooked)are just a guide for you to start playing with Moroccan flavours. They’re perfect served with steamed couscous.

• Chermoula is a bit of an all-purpose paste and you can add or leave out spices as you wish.

• Add any sweet or sour combo you like, and any seafood or meat to either.

• I love sweet vegies such as pumpkin, yam, long cooked carrots and parsnips in tagines, and I often also add brussels sprouts and half heads of radicchio.

SOMETHING TO DRINK

ArneisArneis, a variety of grape from north-west Italy, matches the prawns nicely. The delicate herbal element of arneis enhances the herbs in the chermoula. The YarraLoch 2011 Arneis ($24) is racy and citric, and drinking it will be like a squeeze of fresh lemon over the tagine.

Photography by William Meppem. Styling by Hannah Meppem. Food preparation by Kirsten Jenkins.

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Live Blog: MTV VMA Awards – Australian rapper Iggy Azalea up for gong

Provocative Sydney-born rapper Iggy Azalea is among the nominees for Monday’s MTV Video Music Awards, a ceremony that has produced some of the most bizarre moments in the history of televised awards.
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In 2007, Britney Spears’ performance of Gimme More led many to think she was intoxicated; in 2008, host Russell Brand called then-president George Bush “a retarded cowboy”; and in 2009, Kanye West was booed after grabbing the microphone from Taylor Swift during her acceptance speech.

Over the years, several musicians, some from the same band (Poison, in 1991), have come to blows during the awards. Madonna has grabbed the headlines several times for her antics, including kissing Spears in 2003.

Bizarre and revealing outfits have long been a feature of the awards. In 2010, Lady Gaga famously wore a dress made of raw meat; in 1999, Lil’ Kim’s dress deliberately exposed her right breast (with covered nipple); and in 2000, Spears wore a flesh-coloured outfit, leading many to think she was naked.

The hot tip for today’s ceremony, according to the New York Post, is that Justin Timberlake will reunite his former boy band ‘N Sync for a medley of hits. ‘N Sync broke up in 2002.

Australian Iggy Azalea, 23, a model for Levis who raps explicit songs in a southern US accent, is in contention in the Artist to Watch category, for her song Work. Her nomination is acknowledgement of her rapid rise to the forefront of an ultra-competitive sub-genre of aggressive hip hop popular in the US which is populated by brash female MCs (or “femcees”). Her contemporaries include Nicky Minaj, Azealia Banks and Princess Superstar.

Azalea is up against 17-year old tween idol Austin Mahone, electonica duo Twenty One Pilots, the enormously talented Canadian singer/producer The Weeknd and house music producer Zedd.

Azalea was born Amethyst Amelia Kelly and grew up in Mullumbimby, in northern NSW. She moved to the US at 16 and self-financed her early releases, one of which, Pu$$y, got her widely noticed. Last year she became the first non-American female rapper to be included on XXL magazine’s influential annual Top 10 Freshmen cover feature. Previous freshmen have included Kendrick Lamar, Macklemore and Lupe Fiasco.

Azalea, who has just released her debut album, The New Classic, has a rapidly growing fanbase of “Azaleans” in the US and UK, where she has played several summer festivals including Glastonbury – although cancelled appearances at the Leeds and Reading music festivals to be in New York for the VMAs.

The major award at the VMAs is Video of the Year, which has no clear favourite in 2013. Among the nominees are Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s Thrift Shop, Justin Timberlake’s Mirrors and Taylor Swift’s I Knew You Were Trouble.

Timberlake and Thicke are expected to fight out the Best Male Video, and either Swift or Rihanna should win the Best Female category, with Pink and Miley Cyrus also in contention. One Direction is favoured to beat Cyrus to the Best Song of the Summer award.

There are also awards for Best Rock Video, Best Collaboration and Best Video with a Social Message. That award sees Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s chart-topping same-sex marriage anthem, Same Love, up against a song Beyonce wrote for World Humanitarian Day, I Was Here, and performed at the United Nations, as well as songs by Kelly Clarkson, Snoop Lion and Miguel.

The VMAs are decided by public votes on the MTV website.

The MTV Video Music Awards pre-show begins at 10am AEST and the awards ceremony starts at 11am. Giles Hardie will be live blogging from 11am and live coverage will also be on MTV.

Provocative Sydney-born rapper Iggy Azalea is among the nominees for Monday’s MTV Video Music Awards, a ceremony that has produced some of the most bizarre moments in the history of televised awards.

In 2007, Britney Spears’ performance of Gimme More led many to think she was intoxicated; in 2008, host Russell Brand called then-president George Bush “a retarded cowboy”; and in 2009, Kanye West was booed after grabbing the microphone from Taylor Swift during her acceptance speech.

Over the years, several musicians, some from the same band (Poison, in 1991), have come to blows during the awards. Madonna has grabbed the headlines several times for her antics, including kissing Spears in 2003.

Bizarre and revealing outfits have long been a feature of the awards. In 2010, Lady Gaga famously wore a dress made of raw meat; in 1999, Lil’ Kim’s dress deliberately exposed her right breast (with covered nipple); and in 2000, Spears wore a flesh-coloured outfit, leading many to think she was naked.

The hot tip for today’s ceremony, according to the New York Post, is that Justin Timberlake will reunite his former boy band ‘N Sync for a medley of hits. ‘N Sync broke up in 2002.

Australian Iggy Azalea, 23, a model for Levis who raps explicit songs in a southern US accent, is in contention in the Artist to Watch category, for her song Work. Her nomination is acknowledgement of her rapid rise to the forefront of an ultra-competitive sub-genre of aggressive hip hop popular in the US which is populated by brash female MCs (or “femcees”). Her contemporaries include Nicky Minaj, Azealia Banks and Princess Superstar.

Azalea is up against 17-year old tween idol Austin Mahone, electonica duo Twenty One Pilots, the enormously talented Canadian singer/producer The Weeknd and house music producer Zedd.

Azalea was born Amethyst Amelia Kelly and grew up in Mullumbimby, in northern NSW. She moved to the US at 16 and self-financed her early releases, one of which, Pu$$y, got her widely noticed. Last year she became the first non-American female rapper to be included on XXL magazine’s influential annual Top 10 Freshmen cover feature. Previous freshmen have included Kendrick Lamar, Macklemore and Lupe Fiasco.

Azalea, who has just released her debut album, The New Classic, has a rapidly growing fanbase of “Azaleans” in the US and UK, where she has played several summer festivals including Glastonbury – although cancelled appearances at the Leeds and Reading music festivals to be in New York for the VMAs.

The major award at the VMAs is Video of the Year, which has no clear favourite in 2013. Among the nominees are Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s Thrift Shop, Justin Timberlake’s Mirrors and Taylor Swift’s I Knew You Were Trouble.

Timberlake and Thicke are expected to fight out the Best Male Video, and either Swift or Rihanna should win the Best Female category, with Pink and Miley Cyrus also in contention. One Direction is favoured to beat Cyrus to the Best Song of the Summer award.

There are also awards for Best Rock Video, Best Collaboration and Best Video with a Social Message. That award sees Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s chart-topping same-sex marriage anthem, Same Love, up against a song Beyonce wrote for World Humanitarian Day, I Was Here, and performed at the United Nations, as well as songs by Kelly Clarkson, Snoop Lion and Miguel.

The VMAs are decided by public votes on the MTV website.

The MTV Video Music Awards pre-show begins at 10am AEST and the awards ceremony starts at 11am. Giles Hardie will be live blogging from 11am and live coverage will also be on MTV.

We are red-dy (like the carpet) for the MTV Video Music Awards to start and will bring you all the action from 11am.

Until then, why not become the office pedant and have some fun correcting people who are calling these the VMA Awards? You could suggest it’s like having an ATM machine or a PIN number.

NOTE: Today’s blog will feature no more grammar or syntax commentary

Five minutes to go, so now is a good time to have a gaze over the list of nominees and make your call on who will win.

MTV remind us that they’re all about cross-promotion with a trailer for Divergence as its final event of the red carpet.

And we’re off, with Katy Perry doing an ad for cleaning your teeth – at least that’s how it seems as her head pokes through a big block of white like a ye olde dentistry ad.

“It’s shooooow tiiiiiime” croons the head of white.

To resounding boos!

We pull out and she’s basically wearing a white Flying Nun outfit except with a big white square for a head.

A team of black-clad dancers remove Katy’s white outfit (keep it down in the back, it’s all G rated) and dress her in a blue shimmery number and blonde bob wig.

She’s then de-dressed again, reduced to a black unitard and skull cap, which is then Gaga’d up to a yellow wig and red, black and yellow face paint.

Then de-dressed, and well and truly undressed to a silver bikini and big dirty blonde wig.

The track is Applause and we can tell by the random letters A-P-P-L-A-U-S-E dangling behind her.

Singer and dancers then give a proper Broadway style bow, in a line across the front of the stage receiving the rapturous applause of the audience.

Post intro video we are asked to welcome the stars of the new film “One Direction: The Movie … One Direction!”

Really … that’s more than a little shameless a plug even for MTV.

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Low supply spurs market

27 Kinkora Road, Hawthorn, was sold after auction for an undisclosed amount above $4 million.Melbourne’s property market surged at the weekend, overtaking Sydney for the first time this year, as low stock levels and interest rates spurred buyers to action.
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Sydney posted an auction clearance rate of 79 per cent from 310 results, according to data from Australian Property Monitors (owned by Fairfax Media), slightly below the 80-plus per cent figures recorded in the past seven weeks.

Melbourne turned in its best performance since the last boom of 2010 with an 82 per cent clearance rate from 573 results, according to the Real Estate Institute of Victoria. Of the 106 properties that were passed in, 60 did so on a vendor bid.

However, there were no results for 108 auctions, about 18 per cent, which could reduce the overall clearance rate. The clearance rates for the last two weekends – 74 per cent – came down a point or two from the original weekend reports.

Nonetheless, the result is wildly improved on last year, when the same weekend yielded 57 per cent.

Agents and buyer advocates have reported multiple bidders at most auctions, with scarcity of stock and low interest rates cited as driving factors in their success.

Three bidders competed strongly for the Sheridan Close penthouse at 77-78/487 St Kilda Road owned by the late Queenie Cantwell, who died last year.

Williams Batters director Philippe Batters said Mrs Cantwell and her late husband Hillaire, a former Melbourne City councillor, were former owners of the Stork Hotel and bought the apartment in 1973.

”The auction was long and slow; it started at $1.1 million and when I went inside at $1.2 million nothing much was happening. When I came back three people started and we were off and running,” Mr Batters said.

The property, owned by company share, fetched $1.56 million, well over its $1.3 million reserve.

Despite the strength in the market, Mr Batters hosed down any suggestion that Melbourne was at the start of a boom.

”People have to be very confident in the business or their employment but this market needs some repair to the economy before we see that,” he said.

”We have an under-supplied market which is performing well. The investment market is very strong in the inner ring about five kilometres from the CBD but beyond that they tail off and you’re in a normal market.”

Nine young couples – first home buyers – vied for a freestanding two-bedroom brick art deco-style house at 43 Kellett Street in Northcote, on a 481-square-metre lot.

It was on the market at $730,000, and Hodges agent Simon Radolnik (operating well outside his Caulfield territory) sold it under the hammer at $837,000.

First home buyers were knocked out early at an auction in Heathmont in the outer east, where ”mum and dad investors”, who had only just seen the property, beat three other bidders.

Barry Plant Heathmont agent Louise Carrigg said the reserve on 17 Frances Street was $500,000 and the buyers paid $532,000.

The three-bedroom house is on an 881-square-metre corner block and attracted a few developers but they withdrew early, she said.

There was only one bidder for the top sale of the day in Melbourne and 27 Kinkora Road, Hawthorn, was sold after auction through Marshall White for an undisclosed sum above $4 million.

In Sydney, the biggest deals happened before auction date. A terrace at 22 Windsor Street, Paddington, was sold before auction through McGrath for $2.3 million and a house at 5 Badham Avenue in Mosman was purchased for $2 million ahead of the auction.

But one of the highest sales, done under the hammer, was in the south at 3 Como Street, Blakehurst, which fetched $70,000 above its reserve to sell for $1.8 million.

Professionals Montgomery Real Estate agent Mark Somboli said the large property on 1170 square metres of land fell just short of the size Kogarah Council would allow to subdivide. ”It had a 29-metre frontage. If it had been 30 metres, it would have neatly subdivided into two blocks. This knocked out about 100 buyers,” he said.

The southern suburbs around Carlton and Kogarah were starting to attract buyers from the northern beaches, the eastern suburbs and the inner west, and prices were starting to reflect the increased competition, he said.

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Get creative with crepes

Frank Camorra crepe recipes. Crepes with pecans and dulce de leche.
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Crepes with pecans and dulce de leche. Photo: Marina Oliphant

Crepes are a favourite dessert in our house. My children get a thrill from swirling the mixture in the pan, watching it cook and then, the really fun bit, flipping it. They also love to invent new fillings.

The art of making a successful crepe is to pour the mixture into a hot pan and swirl it around quickly to make a full circle in the base of the pan. If you don’t swirl the mixture quickly enough, the crepe cooks before it makes a full circle. Once you have made the crepes they will last for a few days covered in the fridge.

Dulce de leche (see first recipe) is made by placing a tin of condensed milk in simmering water for three hours. This slowly cooks the condensed milk, creating a tin of rich caramel. For a lighter-style crepe, you can try squeezing fresh lemon juice over the top and sprinkling with sugar.CREPES WITH PECANS AND DULCE DE LECHE

1/3 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

4 tbsp unsalted butter

3/4 cup whole milk

3 large eggs

1 cup plain flour

 1/4 tsp salt

2 tbsp sugar plus extra for sprinkling

3 tbsp dulce de leche paste or Nutella

180ml thickened cream

Preheat oven to 180C. Toast pecans in a baking pan in oven for 8 to 10 minutes. Melt 3 tbsp butter in a crepe pan or 20cm non-stick skillet. Blend milk, eggs, flour, salt and sugar until smooth.

Pour in melted butter, leaving a film of butter in skillet, and blend well. Heat skillet until hot but not smoking. Half fill a 1/4 cup measure with batter and, holding skillet off heat, pour in batter, immediately swirling and tilting skillet to create a thin even layer. (If batter sets before skillet is coated, reduce heat slightly – the next crepe will be better.)

Return skillet to heat and cook until crepe is golden around edges and dry in centre, about 45 seconds. Flip crepe carefully and cook until golden; about 15 seconds. Sprinkle crepe with sugar. Repeat with remaining batter, re-buttering skillet if needed.

Heat dulce de leche and cream in a small saucepan over moderate heat, stirring until smooth. Reduce heat and simmer until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Fold crepes and arrange in baking dish. Sprinkle lightly with sugar, then warm in oven for about five minutes. Serve with sauce and pecans.

Makes 12 crepes

PASSIONFRUIT CREPES

Pastry cream:

2 cups milk

1 vanilla bean, split

4 eggs yolks

1/4 cup sugar

2 tbsp cornflour

In a medium saucepan, combine milk, vanilla bean and seeds and bring to the boil.

Meanwhile, mix yolks, sugar and cornflour in a bowl. Pour hot milk over egg yolk mixture in a thin stream, whisking constantly, until smooth. Pour mixture into a saucepan and place over high heat. Stir constantly with a whisk and bring to the boil.

Cook for a few minutes until thickened and smooth. Pour pastry cream into a bowl, place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface and refrigerate until cold.

Passionfruit sauce:

6 tbsp sugar

1/4 cup water

6 fresh passionfruit, halved

1 tbsp butter

In a small pot, cook sugar and water until light amber in colour. Scoop out fresh passionfruit pulp and seeds and stir into the sugar syrup. Whisk in the butter just before serving. Keep warm.

To serve Make plain crepes, from first recipe. Place 2 tbsps of pastry cream onto each crepe then fold into a roll and lie in a buttered baking dish. Warm in an 180C oven for 10 minutes. Serve with passionfruit sauce.

Serves 6-8

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