Residential mix for hotel

LUXURY residential apartments will probably be needed to make a 12-floor hotel proposed by the State Government viable at Middleton Beach, Minister for Lands Rita Saffioti has conceded.

“There’s a mixed-use option in particular to get the business case up,” she told The Weekender last week at Albany’s best-known beach.

“The reality of financing hotels is that in many cases you need a residential component.

“Sometimes you actually need that combination to make the finances stack up.”

She said Landcorp would seek expressions of interest from hotel operators to get one to run a hotel overlooking the beach.

“What we’ve seen in the past is some difficulties getting developers in, Australia-wide, so what we’re doing on advice from CBRE hotel group is actually go out to hotel operators and see if we can get interest in an operator to come down and be the preferred operator, who will then work with the developer to get the project up,” she explained.

“So this is a new way with the aim of getting the attraction and actually securing the operator first, and then getting financing and a development up.”

Ms Saffioti said an announcement on results of the expression of interest process would be likely about May this year.

“The advice is, there may be some interest by some big [hotel company] names, but we’re very keen to test the market and see what we can do,” she stressed.

She said Landcorp would not specify a star-rating for the mooted hotel.

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Alert card safety measure

ALBANY people living with autism will be among the first to trial a new level of support and security provided by a simple identification card.

The Autism Alert Card initiative was instigated by Great Southern Police District Superintendent Dominic Wood in collaboration with local disability services, and is designed to aid emergency responders to identify people on the autism spectrum, in order to adapt their approach to people with autism in an emergency situation.

Supt Wood said when people with autism are in a stressful situation, their behaviour, which can include eye contact avoidance and anxious behaviour, may suggest to emergency responders that the person is potentially threatening.

The alert card will prompt responders to the person’s condition and allow them to tailor their approach.

As a parent to a child with autism, Supt Wood said he was extremely proud to officially launch the initiative, which is the first of its kind for WA Police.

He said the card was “two-fold” in its purpose, providing security for the alert card holder, as well as giving crucial aid to first responders in a situation which includes a person with autism.

Twenty-one-year-old Darrian Graham is on the autism spectrum and said the alert card was a great idea, as he says not everyone understands autism.

However, for Darrian’s mother Di, it’s about the reassurance the alert card can provide her when her son goes out on his own.

“Darrian’s a young adult now, so he wants to go out more on his own and with his friends,” she said.

“This card can offer me reassurance that he can be out in the community and people will put his safety first.

“It’s empowering for both the child and parents, because there’s such a gap of understanding in the community about autism.”

To obtain an autism alert card, you can contact the Autism Support Network of Albany on 0408 914 324 or visit the Great Southern Police District office on Stirling Terrace.

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Hole in the shark net

MIDDLETON BEACH bathers may not be as safe as they think over the next month as a one-metre gap opens up in the Ellen Cove shark barrier.

City of Albany Executive Director Infrastructure and Environment Matthew Thomson said the shark barrier would be lowered by about a metre to allow a barge to move in and out of Ellen Cove while work was carried out on the Ellen Cove jetty.

“The sign at Middleton Beach warns swimmers that the enclosure net is open from February 19 to March 23 to facilitate the jetty works,” Mr Thomson asserted.

Inspection of the sign confirms that’s not strictly the case.

Under the heading “Swimming Enclosure Information”, the sign warns that no water activities will be allowed within 10m of the jetty while it is closed for re- pairs.

While there is a small ‘NET OPENING’ annotation on a diagram that illustrates the exclusion zone around the jetty, nowhere does the sign explain there will be a month-long, one-metre gap in the shark barrier.

At the beach on Tuesday, The Weekender collared Albany postal workers Andrew Walsh and Fred Norzel after their weekly swim inside the shark barrier.

Before their swim, neither of the men had noticed the sign.

Nor did they know of the impending hole in the shark net.

“I think I’ll continue on swimming,” Mr Norzel said when advised of the gap.

“We used to swim before when there was no net, so it doesn’t really matter now.”

Mr Walsh said he intended to keep joining Mr Norzel on the pair’s weekly swim.

“You do feel safer with the net, I must admit,” he said.

Both men said advice to the public on the planned net opening could be better.

They agreed the net raised public expectations of safety within the enclosure that may not necessarily be delivered between February 19 and March 23.

Mr Thomson said the jetty was being reconstructed because the timbers had reached the end of their useable life.

“Replacement will be like-for-like, and existing piles will remain in place to support the new structure,” he explained.

“During the work period, there will be no access to the jetty and a 10m exclusion zone will apply around the jetty.

“Swimmers are permitted to use the remaining area of the enclosure but should be aware the net is open.”

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Investors lick wounds as coin boss does time

AS HE stepped into the dock of the District Court on Monday, the bankrupt former director of Albany’s Rare Coin Company, knowing he would go to jail, turned and mouthed ‘I love you’ to his wife and one-time business partner, Barbara.

Robert Colin Jackman, 63, had earlier pleaded guilty to 36 counts of stealing a combined $1,856,020 from rare currency investors between September 2011 and July 2013 when he placed his company into voluntary administration.

Five of Jackman’s victims listened in the public gallery as prosecutor Katie Kemm said the company had grown from an annual turnover of $615,000 in 1997 to $44.3 million in 2010 when the impact of the global financial crisis hit.

Defence lawyer Bruno Illari said Jackman became overwhelmed by investors “clambering” to call in a coin buyback guarantee the defendant had offered.

“This became a bit of a flood,” Mr Illari told Justice Julie Wager.

“To try to dig his way out of these problems, Mr Jackman tried, unwisely as it turned out, to expand the business rather than contract it.”

Jackman bought a Sydney coin company Mr Illari said had “turned out to be a real lemon”.

He considered entering the Chinese market where Mr Illari said a business partner had “ripped him off”.

Coins sold for one client were often used to pay other clients who were demanding their money back.

Mr Illari said the company had grown “exponentially over a period of time with no review of the business model”.

The company, which had 40 employees at one stage, only had one bank account from which all receipts and expenses, including staff wages, were paid.

Ms Kemm said Jackman had ordered staff to lie to investors, telling them that valuable currency he’d been keeping for them had not been sold when in fact they already had.

In a 168-minute interview with police, Jackman later explained he had become inundated with stock “and clients who were pushy”.

Ms Kemm said the amounts stolen from “ma and pa investors” ranged from $6000 from Pauline Hanlon, to $380,000 from Stephen Hallister, who had stored a rare holey dollar with Jackman.

Jackman’s victims included 93-year-old Molly Sweet, who is now 100.

Ms Sweet lost $45,270, $50,310 and $76,590 from three pieces of rare currency Jackman sold but did not pay her for.

She has a disabled son who Ms Kemm said was “no longer able to be sensitively cared for in the way anticipated”.

In her victim impact statement, Brenda Barrett, 67, who lost $98,500, said she had worked at a fish processing factory all her life, and now could not enjoy her retirement.

Mr Hallister, a FIFO worker, was “extremely angry” after losing $452,000.

Another victim, Leanne Marshall, said she felt betrayed after Jackman’s staff “lied straight to her face”.

Ms Kemm argued there was “an informal and trusting relationship between the offender and his clients”, and the breach of that trust was an aggravating factor in Jackman’s offending.

She told Justice Wager the charges on which Jackman was being tried only dealt with the complaints of 21 victims.

Receivers for Jackman’s company had identified a total of 136 investors who allegedly had not been paid.

Justice Wager ordered Jackman to pay restitution for each piece of stolen currency.

But defence barrister Bruno Illari warned the chances of Jackman ever repaying the monies were slim.

He said Jackman had no prior criminal record, which was “unusual in a case of this kind”.

Mr Illari said Jackman was once named Albany entrepreneur of the year, and neither he nor his wife – who together owned a $6000 and a $4000 car and had $6000 in savings – benefitted personally from the thefts.

“They didn’t have a lavish lifestyle,” he said.

“It was all done to keep this company afloat.

“By 2013, the wolf was well and truly at the door.”

Ms Kemm argued Jackman “might have been a first offender at the start but not at the end of the offending”.

“Clearly, social status was of some importance to him,” she submitted.

She argued that imposing a significant term of imprisonment was the only option open to Justice Wager.

“There is evidence of remorse,” she conceded.

“The real difficulty is the sheer loss at a community level and at a personal level for each of the complainants.”

In summing up, Mr Illari said Jackman accepted there would “most likely be an immediate term of imprisonment”.

Jackman, who has Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, will spend at least 25 months in jail after being sentenced to a maximum four years and two months imprisonment.

Each of the 36 charges carried a maximum seven years penalty.

As Jackman was escorted from the dock into custody, Barbara Jackman got up from her seat and walked toward him to say goodbye from a distance separated by security guards.

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Cop shop celebrates 150th

A WHO’S WHO of the state police force, and their political master, will attend on March 3 when the Plantagenet Historical Society celebrates the 150th anniversary of Mount Barker’s first cop shop.

Commissioner Chris Dawson, Police Minister Michelle Roberts, Great Southern District Superintendent Dom Wood, one-time corrective services minister Terry Redman, the president of the retired police officers’ association, three police union delegates, a police piper and several mounted police have said they’ll be there.

Plantagenet Historical Society archivist Camille Inifer warned that a VIP or two might find themselves embroiled in some punitive shenanigans on the day.

“We’ll have a policeman in uniform from the Plantagenet Players, the drama group, and he might be arresting a few dignitaries if they don’t behave themselves,” she winked.

“We’re gonna have a bit of fun with them.”

The 150th anniversary is also the fiftieth anniversary of when the historical society stepped in, in 1968, to stop Plantagenet shire demolishing the police station.

“It was set for demolition because it was so derelict,” Ms Inifer said.

“One of the policemen, in his wisdom, had let the chooks roost in there for a number of decades, so you can imagine the state of the floor.

“But being history buffs, the society thought they had to save it.”

Ms Inifer said up to 1500 people were likely to descend on the Police Station Museum on March 3, given the Labour Day long weekend timing and the 30th Porongurup Wine Festival kicking off the next day.

Between opening in 1868 and closing in 1908, the state heritage listed building filled a vital public role – as a focus of law and order, and a telegraph office and stopping place for mail coaches travelling from Perth to Albany.

Chair of the committee pulling the anniversary celebrations together John Sales said the commissioner would deliver a speech and unveil a commemorative plaque.

The station was built by convicts who still play a big role in the building’s upkeep, with inmates from the Pardelup minimum security prison doing gardening and odd jobs around the place.

“They’re coming in for a few days before the commemorations and they’re going to do a bit of painting and gardening for us to really showcase the complex,” Mr Sales, a retired police sergeant, said.

Admission is free, and no convicts will be participating on the day.

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ASHS chalks up 100 years

THIS year marks 100 years since Albany Senior High School (ASHS) first opened its doors and welcomed students from across the Great Southern.

The centenary celebration will be commemorated throughout the year with various archive projects, an open day, activities and a ball.

The first tick off the centenary celebration list was a special assembly yesterday to officially unveil the new centenary mural, located across from the canteen.

Students listened to a variety of guest speakers reflect on their memories of ASHS, including ex-student and City of Albany Deputy Mayor Greg Stocks, ex-student and former WA Premier Alan Carpenter, ex-principal Jo Lynch and ex-principal Arthur Richards.

Mr Carpenter attended the school in the early 1970s and despite admitting he “wasn’t a model student”, said he valued his experiences with ASHS.

“I owe so much to the education and ethos I gained from this school,” he said.

“We’ve had people like Tim Winton, Kim Scott and Dianne Jackson come from here, so it goes to show that no matter where you’re from, or your background, you can achieve anything with an education in WA.”

Mr Stocks has maintained his link to ASHS after attending and teaching at the school by holding the role as chair of the school board, and has seen both his children graduate through ASHS.

“Attending ASHS was the foundation of their success,” he said of his children.

“We all talk about our time at ASHS 20, 30 and 50 years later, so treasure your time here.”

If you would like to find out more about the ASHS centenary celebrations or would like to join the alumni, visit alumni.

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Mental health service boost

MENTAL health care in Albany will receive a facelift this year following the announcement on Tuesday that a new community mental health service would be set up in the former Albany Community Hospice building.

The proposed six-bed facility will be the first regional step up/step down service and will provide short-term residential support and individualised care for people discharged from hospital for a mental health issue, or where admission to hospital can be averted by intervening earlier.

Step up/step down services are also planned for Broome, Bunbury, Karratha and Kalgoorlie.

Mental Health minister Roger Cook made the announcement during a visit to Albany on Tuesday and said a tender of between $400,000 and $500,000 would be up for grabs for a local contractor to upgrade the former Albany Community Hospice site, situated behind the new Albany Health Campus, to the necessary standard.

“There are great deficiencies in WA for sub-acute mental health care,” he said.

“So I am very proud to announce this process.

“Keeping people out of hospital and in their community is often the best way to support their recovery from mental health issues.

“We recognise the benefit this type of service will bring to the continuum of community-based support to the Great Southern, and we are making it a reality for the people of the region.”

Local member for Albany Peter Watson reinforced the need for local mental health services close to home for patients, and said the new step up/step down service would be a “great bonus” for Albany.

“Mental health is the elephant in the room, and that elephant is starting to make more noise,” he said.

“We’ve got to have innovative ways of mental health care, and we’ve got to have something close to home.

“It’s terrible when people have to go to Perth for health care; this new service will give them a better chance of a quicker recovery.”

The Albany step up/step down service will be appointed to an experienced non-government organisation by the Mental Health Commission, and this organisation will work in collaboration with the WA Country Health Service.

The new mental health service centre is expected to open in mid-2018.

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Crackdown on codeine manageable

THE difficulty of going ‘cold turkey’ following today’s removal of off-the-shelf codeine-based medications can be managed, according to an Albany pharmacist.

Terry White Chemmart Chester Pass pharmacist Brad Smithson said he sees around two dozen people each day coming in-store to purchase codeine medication, mainly for pain relief, and said addictions to codeine often started from customers’ continual use of the opioid drug after it had served its purpose.

“It can be a good option in the short-term, for migraines for example,” Mr Smithson said.

“However, some people might just not know there are other options for pain relief.

“I’m quite excited about these changes, because it opens up conversations with people to talk about treatment, and gives the opportunity to treat them with something better.”

Mr Smithson acknowledged the difficulty people may now face with the codeine access restriction, but said there is help for those who need it.

“It is going to be difficult for people to go ‘cold turkey’,” he said.

“But we can help people taper their codeine use, such as by gradually replacing it with paracetamol.

“We have some excellent GPs in town and there are many options available for pain relief, so there should be a positive outcome for everyone.”

As of today, consumers will no longer be able to purchase medications containing codeine, unless they have a prescription from a doctor.

Popular medications affected include Nurofen Plus, Panadeine, Codral and Mersyndol, commonly used for pain, cold and flu relief.

The limitations on codeine access follow a study by the Faculty of Pain Medicine, which found a significant mis-use of codeine has led to almost half a million Australians incorrectly using the painkiller.

Australian Chief Medical Officer Professor Brendan Murphy said there is compelling evidence of harm caused by overuse and abuse of over-the-counter, codeine-containing medicines.

“There are numerous studies showing that codeine is not the miracle pain relief drug people think it is,” he said.

“In fact, according to research by the Faculty of Pain Medicine, paracetamol and anti-inflammatory medications, alone or in combination, are adequate over-the-counter preparations for most types of acute pain occurring in a community setting.

“For more complex acute or chronic pain, medical input is warranted, and so it is essential that a person sees a GP.”

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Richards on 100-year roll

YOU don’t have to listen very hard to hear the Richards name reverberate around the corridors of Albany Senior High School.

Between the four generations of the Richards family that were represented at yesterday’s centenary assembly, it seems everyone knows someone that was principalled, taught, or was just a mate of a Richards.

Arthur Richards, pictured centre left, was the principal of ASHS from 1968 to 1979, and was a well-respected member and contributor to the education system.

Re-commanding his principal’s address voice and doing away with the microphone, Mr Richards reflected on his time at ASHS at Wednesday’s commemorative assembly.

“I wish I had a time machine, so I could go back to 1968,” he said.

“Because from that time and for the next 11 or 12 years, I enjoyed that time more than any other time in my life.”

His son, Will Richards, pictured centre right, was both a student and a teacher at ASHS, standing at the front of the chalk board from 1983 to 2013.

Arthur’s great-grandkids Grace and Hunter, pictured wearing the infamous Milo tin blazers, are current students of ASHS.

Their father, and Will’s son, Paul, also attended ASHS in the late 1980s and was a school prefect.

The eldest Richards is now 95 years old, and the youngest is going into year 11.

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Ring road funding request moves forward

A RING ROAD that would take pressure off the state’s worst roundabout and improve truck transit to the Port of Albany could be built in three years if the ducks line up on a final funding submission to be lodged with the federal government next month.

This week, Main Roads Great Southern regional manager Andrew Duffield told The Weekender that Stage 1 of a funding request for the $172 million project had been submitted to Infrastructure Australia in October.

He said Stage 2, providing a focused rationale for the planned route, would be submitted next month for consideration under a national partnership agreement between the Commonwealth and Western Australia on road and rail projects.

“I guess we’re hoping that toward the middle of this year we’d have an indication as to whether the submission is successful or not,” Mr Duffield said.

“We’ve had support, anecdotally, from key players.”

The State has committed $35 million to the ring road project, about 20 per cent of the overall estimated cost.

Mr Duffield said the ring road would take pressure off the Albany Highway/Chester Pass Road roundabout, which carries 50,000 vehicles a day, including about 1000 heavy vehicles.

In terms of crash numbers, the roundabout is regional WA’s worst intersection, and the state’s worst roundabout, with 213 prangs causing $5,185,641 damage in the five years to the end of 2016.

“The project’s not about the roundabout per se,” he said.

“It’s about providing safe and efficient access for the long-term to the Port of Albany.”

Stage 1 of the road – Menang Drive, which connects Chester Pass Road to Albany Highway – was completed in 2007 at a cost of $15.9 million, but Stages 2 and 3 have since stalled for lack of funding.

Most of the ring road route would be 90km per hour, dropping down in speed as trucks and cars approach Frenchman Bay Road and continue along the foreshore to the port.

Mr Duffield said that, depending on cashflow from Canberra, the road would be built over a two-year period if funding can be secured.

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