Wentworth’s Sharma and Spender unite in bid to save beloved kebab spot

Woollahra Council refused to officially allow Indian Home Diner to trade into the late night. Source: Facebook

Candidates in the high profile election race of Wentworth have come together in a rare bipartisan push to save a beloved local eatery’s late-night trading in the electorate after council threatened to fine the business for its operating hours.

Paddington establishment Indian Home Diner has long been serving up hot naan packed with potato, cheese and Indian curry in the early hours of the morning, a particular favourite for the inebriated seeking a feed to chase away the impending hangover (or at least dampen it a bit).

Owner Robert Chowdury applied last month to have his trading hours officially extended — insinuating Chowdury had been serving late-night customers in breach of the development application conditions for several years.

But Woollahra Council refused his application, saying it was not in the public interest and would have an “adverse impact upon the acoustic and visual privacy of neighbouring lands” — seemingly missing the point that he had been trading late for years with no issue.

The council even went so far as to warn Chowdury that he would be fined if he continued to serve up his kebabs past his approved trading hours.

Independent challenger Allegra Spender, who is campaigning in the blue ribbon seat on a platform of climate action, made her intentions clear in a social media comment.

“Business was hit hard enough during COVID and even though I haven’t been to The Unicorn for a while even I know Indian Home Diner is a national treasure. Let’s save it,” she wrote.

Similarly, incumbent Liberal MP Dave Sharma, who holds the seat on a slim margin, posted “This is a tragedy. I will fight to restore IHD hours!” with a poll on his Facebook page showing 93% support from his constituents.

The comments were left on the Instagram of Bondi Lines, which offers revellers an inside scoop on where the lines are and what the nightlife is like at various late night spots.

Bondi Lines has launched a petition to save the Indian takeout spot, saying “although most famous for its #5 garlic cheese naan kebab with aloo chop, it is more than just a restaurant, it is a community”.

Indeed the community is rallying behind the spot — as of 11:00am, the petition had 1,300 signatures and counting. It demanded the trading be extended to 3am “at the earliest” and also suggested signees donate to a GoFundMe campaign.

“A donation of $12.50 is just like buying a #5 after The Unicorn,” one comment reads, an apparent reference to a popular hotel nearby.

Wentworth is shaping up to be one of the mostly bitterly fought seats in the country. Sharma, arguably the Liberal government’s most pro-climate action MP, is one of a long line of Liberals in the affluent beachy suburbs of Sydney, right back to 1901 (apart from independent Kerryn Phelps wrestling the seat for seven months after Malcolm Turnbull resigned).

Spender, however, is backed by Simon Holmes à Court’s Climate 200 group, a movement running off donations to get more climate-focused independents into high places in parliament to shift the dial on environmental policy.

Wentworth is actually one of the smallest electorates in the country — just 38 square kilometres wide — and residents have the country’s highest average net wealth, at $1.06m, according to a 2020 Roy Morgan poll.

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