New brand of blues

DAN HOWLS’ gig at The Albany Blues Club on Saturday night comes with a warning.

“I don’t just rip through the pentatonic scale,” he declared, when describing his approach to blues guitar.

Howls said he much preferred to take the foundations of the blues and add a little something.

“I love the blues, but I take it as the basis for what we play,” he said.

“We’re a bit different than your regular 12-bar blues bland. We want to do something modern with it – think Jack White, Gary Clark Jnr…those sorts of guys.”

The gig at Six Degrees’ backroom will be Howls’ first in Albany, and he said his repertoire and style was well-suited to playing in rooms of varying sizes.

Regular tours of Europe have taught him to ac- commodate crowds of anywhere between 20 and 2000 blues music fans, and he’s just as happy in either scenario.

“I just try to be genuine. Unless you are a typical obnoxious rock star and can pull it off – which I can’t – then you’ve just got to be yourself,” he said.

“I don’t mind talking to the crowd, or a bit of heckling.”

Howls will be joined on stage by four other band mates, including bassist Ben Power, who is based in Denmark, but travels to-and-fro the big smoke to keep his valuable place in the band.

Power will save some fuel for the band’s first of three gigs when they play a set at the Denmark Arts Markets on Saturday. The Blues Club gig follows, then the band finish the quick trip south from their Fremantle heartland with a private gig on Sunday.

South Coast favourite Myles Mitchell will warm the crowd on Saturday night with the support slot. Tickets are $10 at the door, which opens at 8pm.

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Home among the hempcrete

DENMARK’S hempcrete housing village is now complete, bar a bit of landscaping, and you can be the last of 12 homebuyers to secure a dwelling in the $6 million grassroots project.

Project manager Paul Llewellyn, a former GreensWA MLC for South West, says the village arose from an extensive scoping exercise.

“We wanted land that was within 500m of town, which was solar reflective – this is about 90 per cent solar reflective – with a stream, Millar’s Creek is right there, and we’re about 150m from Mrs Jones (Cafe) and the arts precinct,” he says.

“We used the model of collaborative or Co-Housing, which was developed in the real Denmark.

“It is a model for delivering friendly neighbourhoods, and the design of the neighbourhood gives rise to the community.”

The DecoHousing Denmark project has four four-bedroom family homes, eight two-bedroom homes, a den for teenagers, and a common house complete with kitchen and games/movie room.

Social worker Pam Rumble, the project’s community development practitioner, says the home-grown company behind the project received no favours from Denmark Shire.

“We had to widen Wattle Way, cede the land either side of the creek, and give a three-metre-wide pedestrian strip,” she says.

In addition, the company had to cede 27 per cent of its 6500sqm block to the Shire.

“History shows that if you do anything outside the box, a commune, a Green Title, the banks don’t like it, the shires don’t like it, so we decided to set up a company, get organised and do it by the book,” Ms Rumble explains.

“We were very fortunate; we had a couple of town planners, facilitators, environmental scientists, an accountant, people in business, so we had a very good team.”

Mr Llewellyn says the block was parcelled in strict accordance with Western Australia’s Strata Act.

“We wanted to use the Act to its maximum potential, to use the rules and liveable neighbourhood frameworks to give expression to this vision to have a well-organised, friendly neighbourhood,” he says.

“It’s hard to do because you have to get around so many tick-a-box rules.

“The structures are built out of industrial hemp … a high-performance, environmentally sound material.”

Mr Llewellyn says the project is the largest hempcrete one in Australia, and probably the Southern Hemisphere.

With landscaping not yet complete, the project is already exporting power to the grid.

“There’s no heating or cooling,” he says.

“We may put a fire in the common house.

“We have an amazing power system; we’ve collectivised the energy and communalised the water supply.”

The development’s youngest resident is seven months old, and the eldest an octogenarian.

Albany-based H+H Architects managed the project contract.

“They stuck with us in being responsive to what we needed, but not too responsive, because it was like herding cats,” Mr Llewellyn says.

“We had eight or nine households involved in the preliminary design, and some people came and went.

“It’s affordable, high quality housing, not just affordable housing.”

For Ms Rumble, the project is all about “the sharing, the connection”.

“Everyone’s kitchen window looks out into the commons,” she says.

“That’s the Co-housing design, so that you can be at your sink and see something happening out there and if you would like to join in, or are feeling lonely or whatever, you go out there and chat and share with what’s happening.”

And for anyone “having a bad hair day”, Mr Llewellyn says each house has a private courtyard, and a second entrance that does not open to the undulating common area.

More than 20 people now call the project home. If you’re interested in snapping up the last house – a two-floor, two bathroom, four-bedroom one – call Ms Rumble on 0428 482 015.

Photo: Pam Rumble and Paul Llewellyn tend to their emerging garden. Image: Chris Thomson

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Trucks in firing line

A PRIME mover run by Plantagenet-based Southern Haulage was one of two trucks hit by what its owner calls ‘a bullet’ and what police call ‘a projectile’ along Albany Highway at McKail on Saturday.

Albany Detective Senior Constable Aaron Reichstein said it was not yet known what type of projectile hit the northbound semi and a southbound white Hino truck in separate incidents between noon and 1pm.

But Director of Southern Haulage Chris Pavlovich, who is also Plantagenet Shire President, reasoned the projectile came from a gun.

“We got shot by a bullet,” Mr Pavlovich said on Monday.

“The dent would be nearly 10mm at the door.

“It was a gun shot for sure.”

Mr Pavlovich said truck driver Danny Redlich was heading north on Albany Highway after dropping a load of wheat at the port when he heard a loud noise and thought he’d hit a big bird.

“It was a hell of a whack,” Mr Pavlovich said.

“The driver didn’t know what had happened.”

On Monday, after delivering another load of wheat to port, Mr Redlich showed The Weekender the dent on the passenger’s side door of Southern Haulage 1. The dent was about a centimetre wide, as described by Mr Pavlovich.

The projectile did not pierce the cabin.

“It seems as though someone got a .22 or something and is having a pot-shot at vehicles going past,” Mr Pavlovich said.

“We run 70-odd trucks, and have done for 55 years, and have never seen anything like this.

“It shouldn’t happen anywhere in Australia.”

Mr Pavlovich said the semi was hit while heading north between Rocky Crossing Road and Reddale Road, at lunchtime, about 12.30pm.

Det Snr Const Reichstein said both Mr Redlich and the Hino driver reported “a loud ‘bang’ similar to a rock hitting the vehicle, except a lot louder”.

“There’s nothing to indicate that this is an ongoing thing,” he said.

“It [appears to be] isolated at this point in time.

“Both these drivers are professional truck drivers but still it’s something they don’t expect to have happen to them and it was of course concerning to them.”

Det Snr Const Reichstein said anyone who had something similar happen to them recently, or with relevant dashcam footage, should call police.

“Any time an object hits a moving vehicle, it’s obviously of concern to us,” he said.

“It can have catastrophic outcomes for not only occupants of the vehicles but also other road users who are passing by.”

Det Snr Const Reichstein said neither projectile penetrated the trucks’ cabs, but the southbound Hino was hit on its driver’s side door.

Photo: Danny Redlich with the dent on his passenger’s side door. Image: Chris Thomson

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Major highway upgrade

A ONCE-in-a-generation fix to a 1.2km stretch of Albany Highway notorious for pumpkin-sized potholes will be complete by April, says Mayor of Albany Dennis Wellington.

“What we want to do, very similar to Middleton Road, is do it up in such a way that it’s a good surface,” Mr Wellington said of the looming roadworks on both sides of the highway between Barker Road and Macedon Street.

“We’re trying to do that on the major arteries.

“I think Sanford Road is next year, because that’s in a pretty bad state as well at the moment.”

Mr Wellington said the City of Albany spent about $3 million-a-year maintaining roads, and the highway upgrade would cost about $1.6 million – or $800,000 for each side of the city’s main thoroughfare.

“Albany Highway from the roundabout through here is a local road and it’s in a bad way,” he said.

“It gets a lot of traffic, so it needs to be upgraded, and that’s our major project for this year.

“Certainly it will be the same standard as Middleton Road, because with the traffic it gets it’s got to be done properly and you try to do it for a 40 to a 50-year period.”

During the October 2017 local government elections, amid a particularly stormy spring, Albany’s humble but vexatious assortment of potholes became an election issue.

Mr Wellington said Albany’s wet winters meant it was necessary to conduct roadworks in the warmer months.

“It will get done when a lot of people are around, so some of the other roads will get used, obviously,” he acknowledged.

“We’ll keep one side of it open and do the other.”

Pavement repairs and patching have already been completed in preparation for the works. The existing surface will now be removed using a large profiling machine before a bitumen seal is placed.

This will be followed by two layers of asphalt. Also on the cards are new sections of kerbing, drainage pits and grates.

Works will start on the outside southbound lane in early January, with closures likely from January 7 to 18.

From there, the outside northbound lane will see closures between January 21 and 31.

The City will confirm further closures by January 15, with work extending through to late March.

Various side roads will be closed on and off during construction.

For more information, hit

Photo: Dennis Wellington near where the roadworks will commence. Photo: Chris Thomson

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Evers wins probe into election promise costing

A PROBE into forming an agency to independently cost promises at State election time will occur at the initiative of Albany’s only Upper House Parliamentarian Diane Evers.

In the Legislative Council recently, GreensWA Finance and Treasury spokesperson Ms Evers called for an inquiry into founding a WA parliamentary budget office.

“We can change the system,” she told her Legislative Council colleagues on November 7.

“[A political candidate] could come up with an idea for a new project … two or three days, three weeks or three months before the election, but without working out the cost ramifications of the project and what it will achieve.

“They put it out there and hope people will vote for them and then worry about the problems afterwards.”

Ms Evers said that was why Parliamentarians “go on about back-flipping and who has been the latest to back-flip”.

“A Parliamentary budget office gives not only the government but also the opposition and minor parties, and even potentially candidates, access to the facilities to work out the cost of promises,” she said.

A Federal Parliamentary Budget Office was formed in 2012, after New South Wales introduced one in 2010. Victoria and South Australia also have such an agency.

Caught on the hop when Ms Evers moved that an inquiry be formed, Labor Leader of the House Sue Ellery took her time confirming her party’s position.

“And–I–should–be– able–to–give–you–an– answer–any–minute– now–about–what–the– Government’s–position– will–be,” she annunciated slowly, peering around the House and fingering her mobile phone.

After an interjection provided a delay, Ms Ellery finally confirmed: “So–we–will support the amendment”.

Following suit, Liberal Peter Collier, the Nationals’ Jacqui Boydell, Liberal Democrat Aaron Stonehouse and One Nation MLC for South West Colin Tincknell said their parties would all support the probe.

“I commend Hon Diane Evers for putting for- ward the amendment,” Mr Tincknell said.

“This is exactly what One Nation has been looking for and what we have been talking about.”

Ms Evers’ motion was put, and passed easily.

The inquiry, by the Standing Committee on Estimates and Finan- cial Operations, will be chaired by Liberal Tjorn Sibma, with Labor’s Alanna Clohesy deputising. Ms Evers, Mr Tincknell and Mr Stonehouse are the other members of the committee, slated to report in 12 months’ time.

“If the recommendation comes back supporting the office, it’s very possible we’ll get it in place before the next election,” Ms Evers told The Weekender.

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Coffee shop canned

ALBANY’S chamber of commerce has won a Goliath vs David battle against a coffee van operator who had earned the right to run a tiny kiosk on York Street only to be blocked from doing so after a backflip by three City councillors.

At a council meeting on Tuesday night, Deputy Mayor Greg Stocks, his Frederickstown Ward colleague Rebecca Stephens, Kalgan Ward councillors Emma Doughty and Bill Hollingworth, Vancouver Ward Cr Tracy Sleeman and Yakamia Ward Cr Robert Sutton won a 6-5 vote to sink the kiosk.

That was after Crs Stephens, Hollingworth and Sleeman at a committee meeting on November 12 were among 8 councillors to endorse the City-initiated project. At the committee meeting, Anthony Moir, an apology from Tuesday night’s council meeting, was the only councillor to vote against the kiosk.

Barista Chris Saurin had earlier been named as preferred operator, subject to public consultation.

As revealed here, Mr Saurin’s kiosk was to be called ‘Booked’ , reflecting its location beside the

City library and the new Albany visitor centre. It would have opened out to Alison Hartman Gardens (‘Coffee shop booked in’, 30 August).

Earlier on Tuesday night, in a week when the Chamber’s chair resigned (see page 3), Michael Clark, the fourth man to hold the group’s CEO position in less than a year, stepped to a podium in the Council chambers.

Mr Clark said the planned $9000-a-year lease of a 14.25sqm space, coupled with cash the City planned to spend on works, would amount to a $20,000 subsidy to a business directly competing with eight existing retailers.

He urged the Council to vote down the kiosk “for the sake of all existing coffee retailers” on York Street.

During public consultation, only one submission was lodged – by the Chamber. As previously revealed, the submission had asked why the Council would “orchestrate” a coffee shop at the visitor centre “in direct competition to already struggling businesses in York Street” (‘Coffee shop quiz’ , 15 November).

On Tuesday night, David House of the York Street Cafe and owner of Poppies Jacqui Daniel joined Mr Clark in opposing Booked.

In the gallery, Mr Saurin sat silently.

Yesterday he told The Weekender he would seek advice on whether he could appeal the Council decision in the powerful State Administrative Tribunal.

“If any of [the objectors] had bothered to go to the [City-initiated] open viewings [of the kiosk space], they’d have seen it’s the size of a portaloo in there,” he said.

“There’s enough room for a coffee machine and a fridge.”

Mr Saurin has run a coffee van at the Albany Boatshed Markets for the past decade. He was named preferred operator of the kiosk after being the only applicant to express interest in a request-for-proposals process advertised by the City.

“I’ve been operating a lot longer than some of these cafes that are complaining about me,” he said.

“These cafes, they’re all feeling threatened by me; I don’t know why.

“They just need to have a look at their business model to figure out why they’re suffering.”

Mr Saurin said he had spent “lots” of time filling out council forms, and his son had quit a job in preparation to manage Booked.

“It was supposed to be operating in mid-October,” he said.

“And now all this has happened.”

Mr Saurin said he was once a Chamber member, but would “definitely not” join again.

“They’re off my Christmas card list,” he said.

On Tuesday night, Cr Paul Terry declared an interest and did not take part in debate.

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Exports clean sweep

THE recent release of a review into Australia’s live animal exports will help stabilise the sector, says Nationals WA agriculture spokesman Colin de Grussa who with Roe MLA Peter Rundle has visited Canberra to get in the ear of federal regulators.

Recently, Mr Rundle and Mr de Grussa met Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud in the nation’s capital to discuss concerns they say were held by WA farmers.

Mr de Grussa said recommendations of the Moss Review, released on October 30, were a stark reminder that the live exports sector needed to act consistently to ensure it had a sustainable future.

“Given that 85 per cent of the live sheep trade is in Western Australia, The Nationals WA are calling for the [Federal Agriculture] Department to expand its presence here in the State,” he said.

The review found the department rarely used its significant powers and failed to address issues with regulations, leading to continued “incidents”.

The review, by former bureaucrat Philip Moss, attributed some issues to the federal government’s deregulation agenda. This included disbanding the department’s animal welfare branch.

In Parliament on November 1, State Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan welcomed the Commonwealth’s decision to accept all report recommendations.

“As I have said to the farming community, a minister who sweeps animal welfare issues under the carpet is no friend of agriculture,” she said.

“The findings vindicate the State Government’s decision in February this year to use Western Australian animal welfare laws to bring rogue live export operators to account, given the inactivity of the federal regulator.”

Mr Moss recommended an independent inspector-general of live exports, and that a welfare branch be reinstated within the federal department.

Image: Ms MacTiernan in Albany recently. Photo: Chris Thomson

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More women wanted

AGRICULTURE Minister Alannah MacTiernan has vigorously defended her rejection of six recommended appointments to farm funding committees on the grounds that every suggestion from an all-male selection panel was for a man.

In the Legislative Council on October 31, Agricultural Region MLC Rick Mazza noted Ms MacTiernan had vetoed the recommendations after expressions of interest had been called on March 8.

He asked how many men and women had applied for the three committees that oversee State funding for the cattle; sheep and goats; and grains, seed and hay sectors of Western Australia’s farming industry.

Ms MacTiernan said she was getting lots of correspondence on the matter from the Pastoralists and Graziers Association of WA.

On September 11 in the Upper House, she had told Mr Mazza that every recommendation – by an all-male appointments committee – for new members to the three funding bodies had been for a man.

Ms MacTiernan explained that of 21 current committee members, 19 were men.

On October 31, she urged the Legislative Council to consider “that in this day and age” such male dominance was “not feasible”.

“It is simply not acceptable and, quite frankly, I think it is an insult to the women in the agricultural sector in this state to suggest that there are simply not sufficient women of merit in order to get a better ratio than 20 to one,” she argued.

She said a second round of applications had drawn 15 from men, 13 of whom had previously thrown their Akubras into the ring.

Five applications were received from men who in the first round had been recommended for appointment. The sixth man recommended for appointment at the time has now been reappointed to the grains, seeds and hay committee until December 31 to ensure a quorum.

Ms MacTiernan said nine women had now lodged applications, with two deemed unsuitable.

She said she’d received advice on second-round applicants from an appointments committee, and results would be available once approved by Cabinet.

On September 11, she told Mr Mazza the appointments committee had needed modernising because it comprised only men.

“We have restructured and there are now two women on the appointments committee,” she added at the time.

“One is from the Rural [, Regional, Remote] Women’s Network [of Western Australia].

“It is really important that we make sure that we take advantage of the entire gene pool that is available to us when making these appointments.”

PHOTO: Alannah MacTiernan in Albany recently. Photo: Chris Thomson

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Carnegie connection

ALANNAH MACTIERNAN’S involvement with Carnegie before it was selected to erect a $65 million wave energy plant at Albany has again come under Parliamentary scrutiny.

Construction of the plant was to have started last week, but has been indefinitely delayed after Carnegie renegotiated its first funding milestone with the State when changes to federal tax incentives made the project less viable.

High profile CEO Mike Ottaviano resigned on September 28, the day the renegotiation was announced.

In early October, the Government agreed to cough up $2.625 million, half of Carnegie’s first milestone payment.

Payment of the outstanding half is now contingent on Carnegie, by the end of 2018, demonstrating it has capacity to complete the project.


Last week, in response to a parliamentary question by Member for Warren-Blackwood Terry Redman, Premier Mark McGowan tabled the agenda of a 19-attendee meeting held in Albany on June 9, 2017.

At the meeting were Regional Development Minister Ms MacTiernan, her media advisor Mark Scott and then policy advisor Julie-Ann Gray, Albany MLA Peter Watson and Great Southern Development Commission CEO Bruce Manning. Also there were Dr Ottaviano, representatives of two other wave energy companies, and a phalanx of other bureaucrats, political advisors and University of Western Australia staff.

Earlier, on May 22 last year, at Ms MacTiernan’s invitation, she and her then advisors Ms Gray, Matt Keogh and Cole Thurley met solely with Dr Ottaviano and two of his Carnegie colleagues.

Ahead of that meeting, Ms Gray reminded Ms MacTiernan of Labor’s election promise to “work with UWA, Carnegie Clean Energy and other stakeholders to develop a Wave Energy Centre of Excellence in Albany”.

Asked last week by Opposition Legislative Council leader Peter Collier why she met Carnegie before the project was awarded to the firm, Ms MacTiernan said the company had worked on a business case under the previous Barnett government.

“It was clearly the most advanced wave energy technology company in WA,” she said in Parliament.

Mr Collier then asked why Ms MacTiernan had worked with “UWA, Carnegie Clean Energy and other stakeholders to develop” the wave centre “prior to undertaking an appropriate tender process”.


Ms MacTiernan said “engaging with relevant industry stakeholders and undertaking market sounding” during the tender development stage was “generally accepted as best practice procurement”.

In October, heated debate over the wave plant dominated the first day of debate after Parliament resumed following the Spring school holidays (‘Govt swamped on Carnegie payment’, 11 October).

In January last year, above a photograph of Mr McGowan and Mr Watson, Labor’s plan for Albany said the party would help establish a wave farm.

“Carnegie Energy is now trialling the world’s first renewable micro grid power station using wave energy as one of its sources,” the plan, signed by Mr McGowan, said.

“If the trial is successful, the micro grid model could be used in Albany, powering thousands of households with renewable energy.”


In June last year, Ms MacTiernan told Parliament that “immediately after” her appointment as minister she divested a minority stake she had held in Carnegie’s third-biggest shareholder.

An industry participation plan updated by Carnegie on October 4 as a requirement of the $2.625 million half-milestone payment reveals that 55 on-site jobs were expected at the peak of the project’s construction phase. The Weekender asked Carnegie whether these jobs were all planned for Albany as suggested by ‘on-site’, but did not receive a reply.

The plan estimates the plant’s capital cost to be $65 million, and says Carnegie will work with the Great Southern Development Commission to link up with Albany-based suppliers.

PHOTO: The Director of UWA’s Oceans Institute Erika Techera, Mr Ottaviano, Ms MacTiernan and Mr Watson at Sandpatch last October for the wave farm’s announcement. IMAGE: Chris Thomson

CORRECTION: This article initially reported that “Ms MacTiernan, a political advisor, and two Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development staff met solely with three Carnegie staffers on October 2, four days before the company’s success was announced at a [2017] press conference at Sandpatch, overlooking the site of the proposed plant.” The reported date was incorrect. The meeting occurred on October 2, 2018, not October 2, 2017 as originally reported.

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‘DBCA is not a dirty word’

SHENANIGANS surrounding the ever-changing name of the State environment department continued in Parliament last week when Environment Minister Stephen Dawson was moved to uphold the honour of the DBCA acronym.

Weekender readers may recall the running battle between Mr Dawson and Liberal MLC for South West Steve Thomas, which culminated in Dr Thomas during a Budget Estimates hearing requesting that the agency’s name revert from the current Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions “to either ‘DPaW’ or something with a useable acronym” (‘SW MLC calls BS over DBCA acronym’, 12 July).

On Thursday, the tussle continued under the unlikely cover of a Legislative Council debate on changes to the Strata Titles Act.

During the hitherto sombre proceedings, Mr Dawson explained that under the new Act the name of a strata title scheme may not include a swear word.

Alternatively, explained Dr Thomas – whose electoral region takes in the Great Southern municipalities of Albany, Denmark, Plantagenet and Jerramungup – a scheme name might include, for example, the words: ‘biodiversity, conservation and attractions’!”

“Those are not swearwords!” Mr Dawson retorted with a grin.

“I might put that to a division [vote]!,” Dr Thomas, who was chairing the Upper House at the time, warned wryly.

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