Compensation push for GM-contaminated farmers

CAL Greens MP Diane Evers is calling on the State Government to compensate farmers when genetically modified (GM) canola contamination causes them to lose their organic certification.

She recently tabled a petition in the WA Legislative Council with nearly 1,000 people calling for laws to compensate those farmers.

“The Greens call on the Government to consider creating a farmer protection fund that would compensate landholders suffering economic loss, extra costs or harm from GM canola contamination of their land,” she said.

“GM canola crops, and those tainted with GM, fetch a lower price per tonne on world markets.”

Albany grain broker Chad Jefferis said GM canola was currently trading at about $30 per tonne less than non-GM canola on the world market, but the difference had been as high at $70.

“The EU has a GM canola ban,” he said.

“Domestically there isn’t a big difference.”

Mr Jefferis said GM canola made up about 15 per cent of the total canola crop in the Albany-Esperance zone he serviced through Grainbrokers Australia.

Ms Evers said WA farmers who wanted to retain their clean, green farming reputation and the premium price it demanded deserved government support.

“It’s clear from cases such as that of Kojonup farmer Steve Marsh that the rights of non-GM farmers, who outnumber farmers growing GM, are not sufficiently protected now,” she said. “The current State Government position on GM crop farming does not provide certainty to organic or GM-free farmers, whose livelihoods continue to be threatened by the spread of GM canola.

Ms Evers said she had an open mind about how such a fund would be financed and run. “I believe South Australia has put up a suggestion that there would be a dollar per kilo levy on the price of GM seed so that’s one option that could be considered.”

The petition had 967 signatures.

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Many of us set for treat as Sum of Us gets new life

FRESH from the success of their season of the murder-mystery A Home For Stray Cats, Spectrum Theatre is getting a bit serious with final rehearsals and preparations underway for David Steven’s acclaimed play The Sum Of Us.

The play explores the relationship between widower Harry and his gay son Jeff, as they both tackle the task of finding the right partner.

The play was brought to the big screen in the 1992 film adaptation, starring Russell Crowe and Jack Thompson.

Spectrum Theatre director Daniel Turner said while he took a few liberties modernising the set, the themes and issues that were addressed were as relevant as ever, and the script barely needed tweaking, despite the play being nearly 30 years old.

He said the production also offered enormous challenges for the relatively small cast, with several lengthy monologues.

“It is a real challenge for these guys, but they are totally up to it, and it’s very exciting to see it take shape,” he said.

“With a small cast, there is a real chemistry that develops that you don’t always get with bigger shows.

Morgan Levingston plays the lead role of Jeff Mitchell, while Thomas Bloffwitch makes his debut for Spectrum and plays Greg, Jeff’s new boyfriend.

Gavin Crane plays Jeff’s accepting father Harry, and Gillian Evans will tackle the role of Harry’s new girlfriend, Joyce.

Turner, who is directing his third show with Spectrum, said he had enjoyed watching the cast and characters develop during the long after-hours rehearsals.

“It’s been really exciting to see Morgan and Thomas gel,” he said.

“Gavin and Gillian also help bring a tightness to the cast. This is shaping up to be a great performance.”

Turner said audiences can expect to be challenged, but also entertained.

“We try to mix things up throughout the year with our plays, with a bit of comedy, a bit of suspense and a bit of drama,” he said.

“This is definitely a more serious play, with strong themes that are very topical at the moment, but it’s also very rewarding.”

The Sum of Us runs on July 14, 15, 21, 22, 29 and 29 at 7.30pm, with matinees on July 16 and 23.

Tickets are available from Paperbark Merchants on York Street.

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Jordan kicks a goal for Great Southern

ALBANY’s Jordan Clark was the only player from the Great Southern to play for WA in the state 17s football fixture against South Australia at Arena Joondalup last weekend.

He scored one goal for WA, with 14 possessions and eight tackles to his credit, moving from the midfield to the forward line in the last quarter.

Jordan said he was proud to wear the state jumper again.

“It’s such a great opportunity that so many kids miss out on,” he said.

“Having the chance to represent your state is a proud achievement that I don’t take for granted. “My performance from my perspective was solid and well rounded.”

In a tight match, SA ran out winners 13.7 (85) to WA 10.10 (76).

The game was Jordan’s fourth for WA, following three games for the WA State 16s in 2016.

He was the competition’s only player from the Great Southern this year in the 16s, 17s and 18s age groups.

Now a year 11 boarder at Guildford Grammar, Jordan is also a cricket international.

He represented Australia in the under 16s against Pakistan in Dubai, where he collected five wickets, including a hat trick.

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Little dancers prance into Albany’s library

A GROUP of young aspiring dancers had the rare chance to meet real-life ballet performers at a workshop in Albany last week.

The West Australian Ballet presented a story-time workshop for 3-6 year olds at the Albany Public Library on Thursday, June 22.

Children enjoyed listening to a reading of the famous ballet The Nutcracker and later danced to the Nutcracker music, where they were introduced to different ballet positions and steps that are used in the dance.

The 45-minute educational session was coordinated by WA Ballet teaching artists Robert Mills and Kelly Astbury.

During the workshop, Mr Mills and Ms Astbury presented the eager children and their parents with an ornate 15-year-old tutu that was used by the company for an older production of Cinderella.

WA Ballet Education and Access Manager Deborah Robertson said the education program allowed children to experience the different elements of ballet.

“There are a lot of assumptions that ballet is light, fluffy and only for girls,” Ms Robertson said.

“However, ballet is very tricky!

“We aim to break down the different aspects of ballet to children and show them the possibilities of a career in the arts.”

Ms Robertson explained that the education program targeted both boys and girls, to give them the opportunity to explore the different options available to them for their future endeavours.

“We tend to capture boys with the challenge of doing something tricky, as ballet is very technical and demanding and children love a challenge,” Ms Robertson said.

Specialised workshops with local dance schools and school visits acted as an introduction to ballet before the stunning performance of Don Quixote at the Albany Entertainment Centre on the weekend.

The Great Southern ballet program tour included visits to Denmark Senior High School, Yakamia Primary School, Mount Lockyer Primary School and Golden Hill Steiner School.

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Hospital wise on water

ALBANY Regional Hospital (ARH) was recognised as a Waterwise Champion at the recent inaugural Waterwise Business Recognition event held in Perth.

The hospital has been a long-time participant in the program and continues to demonstrate a commitment to finding new ways to save water.

ARH facilities manager Andy Smyth said the hospital achieved gold status in both 2016 and 2017, saving more than 35 per cent of their regular water use each year.

“This is a wonderful result for the hospital and shows our commitment to water efficiency,” he said.

Mr Smyth said the hospital had worked hard to reduce their water use, including reprogramming the reticulation to allow for rainy days and cooler weather.

“You simply don’t need to use as much water when it’s cooler, and our gardens are still healthy and are looking good,” he said.

“We also installed flow restrictors throughout the facility. It is just a matter of tweaking the settings – two minutes less here, 25 per cent less flow there – to get the best possible result.”

WA Country Health Service Great Southern Regional Director David Naughton said it was fantastic to see Mr Smyth and the facilities management team recognised for the work they did to maximise water efficiency.

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$17m wastewater upgrade

WORK on $17.6 million worth of upgrades to the Albany wastewater treatment plant is expected to begin later this month.

The Timewell Road project will ensure the treatment plant is able to accommodate future growth in the Great Southern and likely to be completed by mid-2018.

The McGowan Labor Government’s multi-million dollar upgrades will ensure the wastewater treatment plant continues to provide a reliable service to residents and businesses by increasing the plant’s capacity.

Most of the work will be confined to the wastewater treatment plant site. Water and wastewater services in the area will not be disrupted during the work.

Minister for Water Dave Kelly also confirmed that the treated wastewater would continue to be reused by the Water Corporation during and after the upgrade to irrigate a nearby tree farm, which he said was an environmentally friendly way to manage the disposal of Albany’s wastewater.

The Albany Wastewater Treatment Plant is an important sustainable wastewater management initiative, as 100 per cent of the treated wastewater from the plant is reused to irrigate a nearby tree farm.

The 400-hectare tree farm is made up of blue gums, which are harvested by the Water Corporation every four years and sold as woodchips.

The tree farm helped the Corporation to achieve a greenhouse gas abatement of 110,000 tonnes in 2003, a major reason behind the Water Corporation winning that year’s Australian Greenhouse Challenge Gold Award.

“The contract for the project was awarded to Guidera O’Connor, with up to 12 of its employees to take part in the upgrade.

“The expertise of local subcontractors from Albany, Capel and Bunbury will also be used as part of the project,” Mr Kelly said.

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Mokare exhibit award

THE recent landmark exhibition of Aboriginal artefacts in Albany received national recognition at the Museums and Galleries National Awards last week.

The Western Australian Museum was awarded for the Yurlmun: Mokare Mia Boodja exhibition in the Indigenous Project or Keeping Place level 2 category.

Co-curated by the Albany Heritage Reference Group Aboriginal Corporation, the Yurlmun exhibition saw the return of objects collected from the Albany area in the early 1800s by settlers.

These included objects collected by local surgeon Dr Alexander Collie, who became close friends with significant Menang man Mokare.

The objects, including stone axes, spears, spear throwers and knives were loaned by the British Museum and displayed at the WA Museum Great Southern and were viewed by nearly 23,000 visitors.

WA Museum CEO Alec Coles said the exhibition showcased the significant shared history of Albany’s Menang people and early European settlers through the historic objects on display.

“Yurlmun is an astounding project that forged new ground in relationships between collecting institutions and source communities,” he said.

“The loan of a whole collection of British Museum objects back to Country and to their place of origin, is unprecedented. It has never happened before in Australia.”

Mr Coles said he was grateful to the British Museum as well as colleagues from the National Museum of Australia and the Menang people.

“It represents a significant step in reconnecting museum collections with people and place, and in reconnecting communities with their cultural heritage,” he said.

“The story of friendship and the sharing of gifts between friends is also something that everyone can relate to.”

Mr Coles said the exhibition introduced the Emerging Curators program where young Aboriginal men and women could participate in the program by working alongside lead curators and specialist WA Museum curators.

“The Emerging Curator program has been so successful we are expanding it to other Aboriginal communities across the State,” he said.

“Albany’s Shona Coyne and Lindsay Dean provided great insight into the exhibitions through the Emerging Curator program.”

Minister for Culture and the Arts David Templeman said the awards recognised the Museum’s commitment to co-curating content with communities to share their stories.

“The Museum does a fantastic job working with communities and bringing shared stories to the people. These rewards are well deserved,” he said.

Judges referred to the Yurlmun exhibition as an excellent project leading the way in how museums and communities can work together.

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