Drug dog for GS police

ON THE heels of a recommendation that police dogs and horses be afforded protection under Western Australia’s Animal Welfare Act, the Superintendent of Police for the Great Southern says a police dog is a distinct possibility for the region.

“We’ve been pushing for a while, and they are reviewing trying to get a police dog in our district,” Superintendent Dom Wood told The Weekender.

“We think we will get one, but when, I don’t know.”

He said drug detection dogs sometimes saw action in his district, as recently as last week in a rural area.

“It would be difficult to justify a general purpose dog for tracking and all that, because we just don’t have the level of burglaries and crime that they have in the metro area,” he said.

“But certainly there is talk of an agreement that we can get a drug detection dog down here at this point.”

Mr Wood said that, most likely, one of the existing patrol officer positions in the region would be converted to a dog handler position.

“All we would have to do is find a position, for example we could have an officer down here who puts their hand up and says ‘I’d like to become a dog handler’, and he or she could do the [handler’s] course,” he said.

“And, if the time is right, the next dog that is available would come down here.”

Mr Wood said police horses also helped patrol the region from time to time.

“Over the summer period, we had a little bit of an increase in crime in the Albany town centre, so we did actually bring the horses down [from Perth] and we coincided that with the 150-year anniversary of the police station, so they came down for that,” he said.

The Weekender has learned that WA Police Union President George Tilbury wants a Parliamentary committee to recommend that the existing Animal Welfare Act be amended to prohibit the “assault” of a police animal.

In a letter dated April 18, Mr Tilbury tells the Legislative Council’s Standing Committee on Legislation that the police force has about 40 dogs and 20 horses.

“Police animals provide alternatives to using lethal force and it has been said by officers from those units that a dog is worth six officers and a horse is the equivalent of 10,” he writes.

“The WA Police Union is advised that police horses are worth approximately $150,000 after their initial purpose and associated training.

“The monetary worth of a general duties puppy can also be as much as $15,000.”

Mr Tilbury advises that about four police dogs are injured on average each year.

“Police animals are often deployed in dangerous situations for the purpose of law enforcement,” he notes.

“The Act should be amended to reflect the gravity of assaulting one.”

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Nothing succeeds like succession

ARRANGING a successful handover of the family farm to the next generation will be the subject of a workshop to be held in Ongerup on June 8.

Ellie Stone, whose family grows wheat, canola, barley, lupins, and merino and cross-bred sheep at Boxwood Hill, says succession planning regularly comes up in conversation in regional areas.

“Many family farming businesses have completely different structures to one another, but a lot of the issues remain the same – what’s going to happen in the future, when will it be my turn to take on the farm, how do I keep Dad happy, how do we keep the lines of communication open?,” she says.

“I think that marrying into a farm business, it can be quite hard coming into a family that has its own way of communication, and finding your place in the farming business.”

Ms Stone, who is president of the Ongerup branch of Women in Farming Enterprise – better known by its acronym, ‘WIFE’ – says there is no one-size-fits-all solution to farm succession.

“But I think the core values of how to communicate better and how to approach things, and how important planning for the future is, always stay the same across the board,” she says.

“We’ve got four sons, aged four, eight, and the twins are five, and they’re already mad-keen farmers.

“So, for my family, we’re looking for the future of how we can set ourselves up for our sons’ opportunities to work on the farm if they wish to, or in other avenues if they choose.”

WIFE will run a workshop on farm succession at Ongerup Sporting Complex from 9am to 2.30pm on June 8.

All comers, including blokes, are welcome to attend.

Farmer-cum-accountant Ben Thompson, from Ironbridge Group, and Michael Pyne from HPH Solutions, will talk on the day.

“I suspect a lot of the younger generations who potentially married in to farming families will participate on the day,” Mr Thompson says.

“A lot of the farmers who started farming in the ‘60s and ‘70s are now starting to get to the point of retiring and there is a big difference between that generation of farmers and these ones.

“The younger generations want to know what’s happening and how things are going to be structured, whereas you only have to step back a generation and it was pretty much: ‘You do what you’re told and you don’t ask questions, and we’ll tell you when it’s time to be told’.”

He says that especially when a farming enterprise is carrying a lot of debt, securing a comfortable life for retiring farmers and security for their families while ensuring the future viability of the farm is a challenge.

He says a particular concern for women is securing a future for their off-farm children.

“A lot of them are used to a huge proportion of assets ending up with a son coming home to the farm, and the off-farm children being left with not much,” he explains.

“I think a lot of women want to ensure there is a balance, that it’s not all about the farm and the pressure that comes with that.

“It can’t always be equitable – otherwise, in many cases, you’d have to sell the farm – but I think it can be fair.”

WIFE members can attend the workshop for $15, and non-WIFE members for $25.

RSVPs to ongerup@wife.org.au by June 1.

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Devil is in the detail for roundabout servo

TORTUOUS negotiations – including on a safe entry point and a $9000 piece of public art – continue over a fuel station planned for near the Chester Pass roundabout, despite a building permit having been issued for the contentious project.

City of Albany chief planner Paul Camins told The Weekender a building application was approved for the Albany Highway site in April.

He said the permit was valid for two years, and if the proponent, Peter D. Webb & Associates town planners, wished to extend it a standard application process would apply.

In August, the State Administrative Tribunal overturned the City’s February 2017 refusal of a development application for the project.

In her conditions of approval, Tribunal member Rosetta Petrucci ordered that access points and stormwater management to the highway be designed to the specification of Main Roads Western Australia.

Main Roads Great Southern regional manager Andrew Duffield said such a requirement was standard, and in “99.99 per cent of the cases never an issue”.

“This one’s been topical from Day 1,” he said.

“We have just been wanting to work with [the proponent] over safe access to the site and it’s taken quite some time to get them to the table.

“It’s very clear there’s a whole range of other things they need to get approval and endorsement of.”

Mr Duffield said stormwater was one.

“If they’re looking to tap into our network, then we need to know about it and we need to give approval of it,” he said.

He explained that drawings submitted with the development application were site layout plans only that “did not give any particular engineering detail”.

He said that for projects abutting a main road it was perfectly normal for discussions to ensue on technical details such as the type of paving, and a traffic management plan for the construction phase.

“It’s not as simple as: ‘SAT has given us approval, we can do whatever we want’,” he said.

Mr Duffield said he sat down with the proponent on May 7 to help improve the project’s on-site traffic circulation, which would lead to fewer cars backing up out onto the highway.

The planned exit on to Albany Highway is about five car lengths from the entrance to the roundabout, the worst intersection in regional WA in terms of frequency and cost of crashes.

“I hope [the proponent] come[s] back to us fairly quickly with their modifications, and if things are looking okay we’ll tick it off, and away they’ll go,” Mr Duffield said.

He said Main Roads was dealing with Peter D. Webb & Associates on “a number of other” projects in Perth.

“We’re very happy to see development, but there are some sites that are more challenging than others,” he said.

“Whilst [a fuel station] might be allowed under that zoning, so were a number of other options which had a lower traffic generation [and] traffic impact capacity.

“For example, a showroom would have been within those zonings and we would have been much happier with a showroom than a high traffic generating site.”

Mr Duffield said road safety was his paramount concern.

Ms Petrucci also ordered the developer to either erect a piece of public art worth 0.5 per cent of the $1.8 million project cost, or contribute 0.3 per cent of the project cost if additional landscape and building treatments were proposed to the satisfaction of the City.

Mr Camins said Peter D. Webb & Associates was yet to advise if art, or the extra landscaping and building work, would be chosen.

The company’s Managing Director, Nik Hidding, said his “client” had instructed him not to comment to the media.

The owner of the site is Victorian-based Procon Developments, which has arranged for at least two Coles Express and one BP servo to be built in WA.

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Royal nod for teacher

GOODE Beach resident Charles Pierce was so nervous before meeting the Queen earlier this month, he was suited up and ready to leave for Buckingham Palace five hours early.

His visit to the palace was no ordinary tourist trip – he flew halfway across the world to receive a medal from Queen Elizabeth II and be granted the title of ‘MBE’ at The Queen’s Birthday 2017 Honours List ceremony on May 4.

Mr Pierce was recognised for four decades of education services to Vanuatu, the country he called home for more than half his life.

The 77-year-old Englishman said after travelling throughout Asia in his younger days, he discovered the Baha’i faith, and it was through this faith he began his journey of teaching abroad.

He now calls Albany home and has done so for the past five years, in-between trips to Vanuatu.

“I’m a teacher by trade, and I heard through my Baha’i faith that people were needed in the Pacific, to help develop and grow the Baha’i people in the community,” he said.

“So I lived and worked for a year in Vanuatu, married my wife in Australia a year later in 1968, then in 1971 went back to Vanuatu and stayed there for 42 years.”

Mr Pierce said his work in Vanuatu focused on promoting unity and education within the Baha’i faith, building greater community cohesion and empowering people.

“One of the two questions the Queen asked me was what kind of education I was involved in,” Mr Pierce said.

“I told her I was principal of a secondary and tertiary school, was involved in training teachers, taught a Baha’i moral education program, and was involved in developing, producing and delivering a course in climate change.

“She thought it was wonderful.”

The other question the Queen asked Mr Pierce during the MBE ceremony was whether he lived in Vanuatu.

“I told her that I did, and that I remembered her visiting years ago, and that she wore a yellow dress,” Mr Pierce said.

“I think she was quite moved when I said that, she was smiling.”

Despite speaking with relative ease during his few moments with the Queen, Mr Pierce was a bundle of nerves in the hours leading up to his royal encounter.

He said he took an hour to carefully put on his suit, a piece of attire he hadn’t donned in 50 years.

“I was terrified,” he laughed.

“The night before the ceremony, I didn’t get to bed until after midnight and I was up at 4am.

“I just could not sleep.

“We had to be there at 9.45am but I was ready by 5am!”

After keeping it a secret from his family for two months, and finally receiving his medallion, Mr Pierce said the reality of being awarded MBE finally sunk in.

“It wasn’t real until I got the medal,” he said.

“I feel very privileged and honoured.

“But it’s not about the medal, it’s about what you have done to receive it.”


Photo: British Ceremonial Arts

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Top cop moves on

GREAT Southern Police Superintendent Dom Wood will return to Perth where he is set to become the state’s top traffic cop.

“I’ve done my tenure, so I’m off in July, August,” he told The Weekender.

He said that, come July, he will have been in Albany for three years.

“It’s gone very quickly,” he said.

“I love the region, I love the people.”

Mr Wood said Superintendent Ian Clarke, who currently works in the police professional standards unit in Perth, would fill his shoes.

“He’s a really nice fella, a good bloke,” he said.

“He’s got a good background, in traffic for a while as a superintendent, and done some crime work, and worked country as well.

“He was an OIC up in Kununurra, and also in Dunsborough, and has some detective background as well.”

After a handover to Mr Clarke in July, Mr Wood will become Superintendent, State Traffic.

“You can, if all the stars line up, try to push [your tenure] out to maybe four [years], which I was kind of thinking, maybe [until] Christmas, but they said ‘no’, they want me to take over and do the State traffic role up at Midland,” he said.

Immediately before coming to Albany from Perth, Superintendent Wood was the police force’s Manager, Media and Communications.

“We’ve got a couple of older kids back up in Perth, and we always knew I was never going to retire down here,” he said.

“I’m too young to retire, so I always knew this was about a three-year tenure.

“I’ll still get the chance to come back down here with a booze bus, maybe.”

He said he’d miss Albany’s bush walks and coffee shops.

“My wife and I were out on the boat on the weekend, the Vancouver Street Festival became a bit hot, and I said: ‘C’mon, let’s get the boat out’,” he said.

“We went out with a couple of friends of ours, and we were followed by dolphins in the harbour.

“So, I’ll miss the town, and the community is a very good community, a very friendly community.”

In other policing news, Mr Wood said a drug detection police dog was on the cards for the Great Southern (Drug dog for GS police, p.5 of today’s Weekender).

Mr Wood said one priority he would pass on to Mr Clarke would be to “keep pushing” for a canine to join the ranks of the local constabulary.

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Lawyer invokes Flintstone defence

A WOMAN who confronted her elderly neighbour who on a habitual basis would scream “yabba-dabba doo!” while drinking from the break of day has pleaded guilty to one count of common assault.

On May 3, police prosecutor Mike Russell told Albany Magistrate Raelene Johnston that on the morning of November 24, the 67-year-old man was walking with the assistance of a frame when his neighbour Donna Marie Baxter remonstrated with him “about his shouting in the morning”.

Sergeant Russell said Baxter, 58, grabbed the man around the throat with her hands.

She later admitted confronting, but not assaulting, the man near their three-unit public housing complex at Orana.

Defence lawyer Richard Hickson said Baxter admitted to yelling and “getting right up in his face”.

He said the man regularly drank and took phone calls from 5am, while yelling out his “favourite saying”, the Fred Flintstone-esque “yabba-dabba doo!”.

“His behaviour has significantly improved since the incident,” Mr Hickson said.

“The units are now harmonious and everyone’s getting on well and his behaviour, yelling and shouting in the morning, has stopped.”

Mr Hickson explained that Baxter had yelled “yabba-dabba doo!” in the man’s ear and asked him “How do you like it?”.

Magistrate Johnston acknowledged Baxter, who suffered insomnia, would have felt “frustrated” and been suffering from not sleeping.

But she said the defendant acted in an “inappropriate” manner that would have been “very concerning” to the man who was “in a frail state”.

Baxter was ordered to undertake 30 hours of community work.

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Goon guzzler stabbed

AN ALBANY woman confronted by another who admitted she was “completely and utterly paralytic” after consuming “four litres of goon” has pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful wounding.

On May 3, police prosecutor Mike Russell told Albany Magistrates Court that Elicitor May Roberts, then 49, was intoxicated when between 8.35am and 9.48am on November 14 another woman approached her in her Orana home.

Sergeant Russell said Roberts slashed the visitor in the left forearm and upper arm with a 30cm carving knife, before cutting the woman’s forehead, leaving a two-centimetre-long gash.

The visitor fell to the ground, Roberts left her house with the knife, and police later found her walking along South Coast Highway.

Defence lawyer Richard Hickson said the stabbed visitor later admitted she had “consumed four litres of goon” and was “completely and utterly paralytic”.

He said the woman had been “completely obnoxious” and Roberts “felt threatened by her”.

Magistrate Raelene Johnston told Roberts she was “very lucky that something more serious did not happen”, as picking up the knife created “potential for greater injury or death”.

Roberts told Magistrate Johnston she was no longer drinking.

“Good,” the Magistrate said.

“Continue on that path.”

Roberts was ordered to report to community corrections staff for the next 12 months and not to reoffend during that time lest she breach the order.

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Double date with magistrate

A KOJONUP worker has had his car seized and received a second date with a Katanning magistrate after allegedly driving to Kojonup police station on Tuesday to check an initial court date after he was charged with drink driving and served with a disqualification notice.

New officer in charge at Kojonup cop shop Rik Lok told The Weekender that, like him, the man was new to town but working in Kojonup.

Sgt Lok said the man allegedly parked across the road from the police station behind some buildings.

Asked how the man was nabbed, Sgt Lok said “our public is very helpful”.

He advised anyone else thinking of driving while disqualified to think again.

“It gets expensive, because you lose your car,” he said.

“It gets seized, so he’s lost his car for a period of time.

“It’s gonna cost him money and all those flow-on things for a moment of stupidity.”

On Monday, Sgt Lok took over from Sgt Phil Cartledge, who is the new officer in charge of Rottnest Island.

Sgt Lok has come across from Augusta.

“I’ve looked for the ocean around Kojonup but I can’t find it,” he quipped.

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Vandals drive Lockyer up the pole

SOME drongo has vandalised a sign erected by an octogenarian to commemorate the recently heritage listed spot where his long-gone relative Major Edmund Lockyer raised a flag to claim Frederickstown, later known as Albany, as part of the British Empire.

Colin Lockyer, 81, is three generations removed from his well-known relative, who has a well-known Albany suburb and a well-known Albany avenue named after him.

“I got a call on Sunday morning from the householders of the home here to tell me the plaque that I’d put up has been pulled out, thrown on on the footpath and smashed,” Mr Lockyer said at Parade Street on Monday.

“I came ‘round and saw them and ended up having a lovely cup of coffee with them.

“They are very friendly, and very nice people.”

The framed commemorative information the vandals had so brazenly smashed had only been in place for four months.

The Weekender recently revealed that the site where the flag was raised has now been added to the City of Albany’s heritage list (Heritage list swells by 48, April 12).

“I think that the people of Albany really need to know that this relative of mine, three generations before me, gave the whole western part of Australia to King George IV,” Mr Lockyer said.

“He proclaimed Frederickstown for King and Crown.

“And we’re so proud of that.”

Mr Lockyer said that until his sign went up, a green lectern erected some time before by the city was “in a very poor state”.

“Those two screws, we had to put in because this had fallen off,” he said.

He said the hole where Major Lockyer raised a flagpole still existed, beneath a yellow cap on the road beside the lectern.

“This is a very valuable tourist site and people come here and find something that can’t explain what went on,” he said.

“I’ve done, in layman’s terms, the best I can do to make it a bit more understanding, then we find out that some vandals have come along and ripped this out and smashed it.

“It’s just a bit devastating.”

But heritage buffs never say die.

“I’ll go down to Red Dot and get another A3 frame and cut out another picture, and put it back into place, and screw it up and try to replace this flag that’s gone,” Mr Lockyer said.

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City clears muddy waters

A REPORT commissioned by the City of Albany on whether local Noongar people support water skiing on Lake Mullocullup east of Albany reveals the “root of discord” between some Noongars and the City over the matter is their lack of a say early in the decision-making process.

In his 27-page report, anthropologist Myles Mitchell advises that “feelings of humiliation and anger” resulted, leading to “a less constructive conversation”.

“Whatever the final decision, some Noongar community members who are passionate about this place feel that they had to agitate for their position to be heard, rather than being engaged in a constructive dialogue from an early stage,” Dr Mitchell reported.

“It should be noted that not all Noongar community members shared these concerns.

“Nonetheless, consideration for improved processes in future is provided here.”

The report notes that at a recent meeting with Noongar people at the lake, chief City engineer Matthew Thomson conceded the City did not do well on its initial consultation.

Asked by The Weekender how his organisation intended to right things, City CEO Andrew Sharpe said Dr Mitchell’s report had “given us valuable feedback”, and would help the council decide whether to recommend that the Department of Transport approve water skiing at the lake.

“We respect the cultural significance of Lake Mullocullup to the local Noongar people and, learning from our experiences, are striving to not only improve our consultation with them regarding the lake, but also to employ better practice into the future,” Mr Sharpe said.

“The independent consultant’s report is part of a more rigorous process council has resolved to undertake to consult the Noongar community about the recreational use of Lake Mullocullup.

“We are now waiting on the outcome of an assessment by the Department of Land and Heritage in relation to the registration of Aboriginal sites at the lake before preparing a further report for council.”

Carol Pettersen, a former Albany city councillor whose Noongar mother was born beside the lake in 1917, told The Weekender she had lodged papers with the State to have the lake listed as an Aboriginal heritage site.

Mrs Pettersen anticipates the listing process will take about three months.


Photo: Carol Pettersen has lodged papers to have the lake listed as an Aboriginal heritage site.

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