Sounds like many of my favourite things


THE Opening Night of The Sound of Music was received with rapturous applause last Friday, as Albany again showcased its formidable talent in one of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s most popular musicals.

Ever since it hit the screens in 1965, The Sound of Music has won the hearts of millions, with generations of fans still charmed by its unashamedly sentimental and whimsical story and timeless music.

And once again, under the directorship of Anne Davidson, the Albany Light Opera and Theatre Co (ALOTCO) has demonstrated it can take on any challenge and produce a sell-out season of eleven performances before the first curtain goes up.

It didn’t matter that most of us knew the story and the songs back to front and word for word.

We just wanted to sit back for a night of nostalgia and smile indulgently as Maria did her best to become a nun, before she won the hearts of the seven von Trapp children, and their father, through lots of singing, dancing and fun.

We silently sang along to all our favourite songs, and soon adjusted to the variations in the stage production, compared with the film, and barely noticed a few changes in some of the songs and events.

The costumes and scenery were superb, and the three-hour show never missed a beat or a do-re-me.

Each role was well cast, with the whistle-blowing captain Georg von Trapp played to perfection by James Turner.

Newcomer to ALOTCO Mollie Hare was delightful as Maria, with a strong voice and a natural acting ability that beautifully captured the essence of her demanding role.

The cheery nuns in the abbey were all blessed with glorious voices and were led by the versatile Carmen Fasolo as Mother Abess.

Carmen’s powerful rendition of Climb Every Mountain was one of the highlights of the opening night’s performance.

As expected, the von Trapp children stole the show.

Bonnie Staude (Liesl) looked as though she had just stepped out of the film and onto the stage, and amazed the audience with her amazing voice; Hudson Bell, (Friedrich), Bella Fasolo (Louisa), Kye Stewart (Kurt) and Josie Staude (Brigitta) slipped confidently into their roles, while Rosie Talbot, who performed at opening night, will take turns with Jessica Turner playing Marta.

The part of Gretl, the youngest member of the family, is being shared by Madison Bradford and Asha Lewis, both of whom have produced heart-melting performances.

Tom Croucher, who stepped in at the last minute when Todd McGregor became ill, excelled as the self-serving, witty Max Detweiler, while Azi le Page made an impressive ALOTCO debut as Baroness Elsa Schraeder.

Last but certainly not least, a round of applause must go to musical director, Hayley Burns and the orchestra for another excellent performance.

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Licence for letting


ALBANY residents who let property out on a short-stay basis using internet services such as Airbnb will have to be licensed with the City from July 1.

At last month’s meeting council voted to start enforcing its licensing conditions for tourist accommodation at that date with a two-month amnesty period to allow operators to apply for a licence and meet conditions.

Mayor Dennis Wellington said the licence was issued for the operator’s own protection in the case of an insurance claim.

“When you invite someone into your home on a commercial basis and you don’t have all the bases covered, like fire extinguishers, or fire alarms, you’re culpably liable,” he said.

“We’ve got to make sure it’s safe for the visitors and safe for the people who operate them.”

The two-month amnesty will give operators time to have properties inspected and meet requirements.

About 100 properties are already licensed in the city.  In proposing a motion to enforce licensing conditions Cr Paul Terry said at any one time about 100 unauthorised operators were advertising tourist accommodation online.

The motion passed 8–1 with Cr Carolyn Dowling voting against it.

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Shire flood rules change


AN exemption allowing local shires to use their own resources to repair vital infrastructure from flood damage, yet still claim for reimbursement under the WA Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (WANDRRA),  has been met with mixed reactions.

Prior to the exemption, councils have been forced to use contractors if they planned to seek reimbursement under the arrangement.

The Shire of Ravensthorpe suffered extensive damage following the floods in January and February this year, with parts of the shire still under water.

Shire of Ravensthorpe CEO Ian Fitzgerald welcomed the move, but said there were still challenges ahead.

“It’s definitely a step in the right direction,” he said.

“We’re still assessing our damage.

“We’ve got more than 2,100 jobs we’ve identified and each one needs to be photographed, recorded and costed out to meet engineering standards.

“It needs to be in a certain format to fit in with the WANDRRA process, and we’ve got to do that 2,100 times.”

Mr Fitzgerald said while the exemption gave the shire the option of using their own staff and plant and equipment, the cost of overheads associated with the work would still fall on the shire, under the current update to the arrangement.

“One of the good things to come out of the exemption is the funding arrangement,” he said.

“It’s 40 per cent up front.

“Previously the shire would need to spend the money and wait for it to be checked off before we’d see any reimbursement.

“This gives us a good starting point and puts less strain on our cash flow.”

Mr Fitzgerald said the shire would be looking at utilising a combination of its own staff and contractors to complete the work.

Shire of Gnowangerup CEO Shelley Pike said the floods at the start of the year were the worst in living memory and the repair bill had more than doubled from initial estimates of $5 million to $11 million.

Ms Pike said the exemption would work for smaller shires that had suffered minimal damage, but were not a complete solution for the Shire of Gnowangerup.

“We’ve had nearly $11 million worth of damage and there’s absolutely no way we can manage that in-house,” she said.

“Timing is also an issue. You’ve got 24 months to get the work done.

“You can’t carry out this work when it’s wet, so we’re not looking at starting until September and we’re looking at three years of work to get the repairs done.”

Ms Pike said the temporary exemption would help if shires could claim what she referred to as ‘opening-up’ costs in the short-term response to the floods.

“It’s things like clearing roads so they are trafficable straight after the floods,” she said.

Ms Pike said the shire had to increase its overdraft to cope with increased costs while it waited for reimbursement.

Member for O’Connor Rick Wilson said the restriction on the use of local government resources for repairs had been the most pressing issue in the electorate following the floods and acknowledged the frustration of local shires.

“It’s been a frustrating wait due to many unfortunate circumstances – a state election, a government in caretaker mode, changes at departmental levels, and lengthy negotiations between senior bureaucrats,” he said.

“We’ve seen reports from shires here in O’Connor that recovery work is costing far more than it should through the use of contractors, who are obviously in high demand due to the extensive damage across the Wheatbelt and Great Southern.”

State Emergency Services Minister Fran Logan also acknowledged the frustration felt by those affected by the floods.

“While this has taken some time to work through with the Commonwealth Government, I’m hopeful this new process will provide choice for our local governments in how they repair roads and other essential public assets, as well as being more cost effective for taxpayers,” she said.

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Budget will hit students


THIS week’s federal budget has delivered a fresh list of fiscal winners and losers for the Great Southern.

One of the broadest measures was the increase in the Medicare Levy by 0.5 per cent to help fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

There was no silver bullet for flailing small business owners either, with the only bone being the continuation of the instant tax write-off for capital expenditure up to $20,000.

The federal government is also clamping down on drug and alcohol affected welfare recipients, with plans to run drug tests.

Measures that have been received positively include the proposed increase in school funding, the one-off power bill rebate for aged pensioners and lift the freeze on the Medicare rebate freeze, which will give doctors more incentive to bulk bill.

Ahead of Tuesday’s budget, the government attempted to soften the reaction to some of its less popular measures by making several announcements prior to Treasurer Scott Morrison’s budget speech and the media lockdown. It was revealed last week that university students will pay more for their degrees and will start paying them back sooner in an overhaul of tertiary education funding.

In the government’s bid to even out funding allocations, some course fees are set to rise to a maximum of $3,600 for a four-year degree, while Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) repayments will kick in when a student’s income reaches $42,000, down from the current threshold of $55,000.

In announcing the reform package this week, Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham highlighted the need to sustain funding for the tertiary education sector, with student loans totally $52 billion.

The measures in the reform package are set to save taxpayers $2.8 billion over the forward estimates period.

For University of WA student Oniesha Vernon, the issue is more about the $8 a week she will need to repay under the reduced repayment threshold, rather than the pile of debt the government is sitting on.

Miss Vernon is enrolled in a psychology double major at UWA’s Albany Centre and has completed the first year of her degree.

But she has deferred her studies to gain a bit of real-world experience after entering university straight from high school.

She said the measures would deter some students from studying at university, although she intended to pick her studies up again despite the increased cost.

“Going to university is already considered to be the expensive option,” she said.

“I know people who have decided to go to TAFE instead, because of the cost.

“This will definitely put more people off as they finish school and decide what they want to do.”

Under the reduced repayment threshold, students will be required to pay back one per cent of their income when they earn $42,000, which equates to $8 a week.

Miss Vernon said it didn’t sound like a lot of money, but it would put some graduates under more pressure in a tough job market.

“I decided to go to university and study psychology to get the best job I can,” she said.

“Eight dollars doesn’t sound like much. Students and graduates are struggling now, let alone the increase in costs of completing a degree.

“I feel sorry for country students who are studying in Perth and supporting themselves

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Small business owners meet the officials

THE federal Minister for Small Business Hon Michael McCormack MP, Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise ombudsman Kate Carnell AO, deputy chairperson of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Dr Michael Schaper and Les de Wind from the Australian Tax Office visited Albany on Tuesday.

The visit, an initiative of Albany Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), featured a business roundtable event offering a unique opportunity for small local businesses to interact directly with government representatives.

The team spoke about the Australian Government’s plan for small business, fair competition, obligations and making it easier to do business.

The evnt was co-hosted by the ACCI, Master Builders Association and SBCGS.

Photo: (From left Les de Wind, Kate Carnell AO,Dr Michael Schaper and Minister Michael McCormack MP answer some fairly hard questions from local business owners.

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Kangas take Pies


IN a hard-fought game, North Albany showed why they’re the reigning premiers, booting five unanswered last quarter goals to claim a 38-point victory over Denmark-Walpole.

Before the first bounce both teams lined up in the centre of Collingwood Park to pay their respects to Denmark-Walpole life member Phil Middleton who passed away earlier in the week.

As the game got under way and both sides applied immense pressure they both struggled to gain the advantage over the other, but Denmark-Walpole kicked the first six pointer of the game.

This would start a fairly quick succession of goals at either end as the first quarter ended.

Trailing by just one goal at the start of the second quarter the Magpies withstood some early pressure to kick the first two goals and take a narrow lead.

North Albany had plenty of the ball and chances but inaccuracy would see them trail by four points as the half-time siren sounded.

As they had done all day Denmark-Walpole kept the pressure on the home side in the third quarter despite being out-scored, 3.2 to 2.1.

This pressure would see the side go into the third quarter break just three points down.

The main message at the last change from coach Craig Drew was just two words “work rate”.

The players would respond, kicking eight goals, seven to just two behinds to register their first win of the season, 13.16 (94) – 8.8 (56).

Last year’s grand final Best on Ground Jack Mcphee showed he hadn’t lost any form over the off-season by allowing key Magpie Shayne Zanetti to have minimal effect on the game.

Goalscorers Luke Chambers and Nicholas Barrow along with Matthew Orzel were the other top performers for the Kangas.

Jak Phillips was the Best on Ground for the visitors along with Tyler Stone who kicked three goals.

Former Railways’ player Paris Ropiha kicked two to also be in the Magpies best.

In Saturday’s game at Sounness Park, Mt Barker showed they mean business this season with a 172 point win over Albany, 30.24 (204) – 5.2 (32).

Kym Monteath was the leading goal-kicker with 11 goals and Daniel Parker booted nine.

Royals played their first home game at Centennial Stadium against Railways on Sunday. The Lions had a big 10-goal second-half and came away with a 45-point win, 14.13 (97) – 8.4 (52). Royals’ player Taylor Powell kicked three majors.

Round three will see the two undefeated sides – Royals and Mt Barker – face off at Centennial Stadium and Denmark-Walpole will host Railways on Saturday.

On Sunda the Albany vs North Albany derby at Centennial Stadium will be played.

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Vintage voilà


VANCOUVER Street will come alive on Saturday with the buzz of its annual street festival.

Live music, vintage fashion, street performances, gourmet food and plenty of tweed will be on show for this year’s event.

The Vintage Tweed Ride is one of the highlights of the day and includes the Perth chapter of the WA Historical Cycle Club.

It will feature one of the biggest collections of penny farthings and vintage bikes ever assembled in the Great Southern.

Tweed rides, or runs, are a global phenomenon which began in London in 2009.

They feature vintage bicycles and a dazzling display of vintage clothing, with tweed being the preferred option.

Both vintage and non-vintage cycles are welcome to join the ride that departs the University of WA on Stirling Terrace at 12.20pm.

Vintage cycle enthusiast Murray Gomm is a member of the Great Southern chapter of the WA Historical Cycle Club and said there was always a bit of excitement in the air when it was time to “tweed up” for the ride.

He said the club was fortunate to have received a collection of penny farthings that were made by the late Garry Clark, which would be ridden in the event.

The ride makes its way to the Vancouver Street Festival where prizes for best dressed riders will be presented.

The best time to catch the ride is on take-off at the UWA at 12.20pm and on dismount at the festival around 12.30pm.

Riders can register at the start line from 11.50am.

Other highlights of the festival include performances from musicians with Odette Mercy and her Soul Atomics headlining the program with a set of funk and soul originals.

Straight from Fairbridge Festival, the band is renowned for its great horn and rhythm sound and the huge sound of their lead vocalist.

The entertainment program also includes the rollicking songs of The Albany Shantymen, the dance beats of David Rastrick’s Electro Swing Thing and the moving sounds of Soulin Wild.

Double bass and piano accordion duo Flamacue will be playing and The Second Hand lead a line-up of roaming street artists.

New to this year’s event is the Manga Milkbar, a creative space for young people with free Wi-Fi, aerial displays, Japanese-inspired craft and space to draw.

Cosplayers are especially welcomed, with the design of the milkbar inspired by vintage anime.

The Vancouver Street Festival will also see the opening of the Story of Wool exhibition which celebrates Albany’s connection to wool production.

In another festival first, a 230m knitted scarf will be wrapped around the front of the Vancouver Arts Centre.

Children are well catered for with activities including clay sheep painting, fleece throwing and a vintage dress-up photobooth.

Festival parking will be available in Foundation Park, Parade Street, and events kick off at 11am.

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Waste plant worries


PLANTAGENET farmer Clive Drage feels the shire ignored his objections when it approved a massive liquid-waste treatment facility near his Forest Hill property last week.

Great Southern Liquid Waste has planning approval to construct a facility to process up to 10,000 tonnes of sewage and other liquid waste annually at a Pile Road property it purchased for the purpose.

It intends to collect and process waste at the site from 15 shires and the City of Albany and can also accept material from more distant locations.

Mr Drage said he knew the land because his family had farmed it for more than 100 years and his farm and the proposed waste facility were part of his grandfather’s original lease.

He was particularly concerned about liquid waste polluting groundwater and  spreading.

“The proposed area where they’re installing ponds is in the high part of the landscape but two thirds of the property is extremely wet,” he said.

“It’s probably waterlogged five to six months of the year.”

He said the Wilson Inlet catchment was within 850m of the proposed facility, which is also likely to attract vermin.

He said prevailing winds would bring odours to his property and reduce land values and the adjacent nature reserve would be degraded.

The Shire of Plantagenet wrote to seven adjoining and nearby landowners and various authorities and placed notices in local newspapers.

It received seven submissions back from the local property owners and the Wilson Inlet Catchment Committee.

Only one supported the proposal.

Great Southern Liquid Waste representative Claire Pragnell told council she was disappointed none of them had spoken to the company before making submissions.

“We have written to each of them advising we are happy to discuss any concerns that anyone may have,” she said.

“Many of the concerns and reasons for opposition could have been allayed if we’d been made aware of them sooner – assumptions appear to have been made and conclusions drawn without the full facts.”

In a lengthy speech she then outlined the company’s efforts to address the various concerns.

More on page 3.

She said a groundwater monitoring program was being drawn up and they were conducting further hydrogeological testing.

“The results of these tests will determine groundwater table levels at pond site to ensure a minimum two-metre separation distance is maintained,” she said.

“I’d like to point out that the ponds themselves are of sufficient size to accept up to 10 million litres annually – that does not in any way mean that we will accept this much waste.

“We never collected more than 50 per cent of this total annually.”

She said the company had designed a stormwater system to cope with this and supplied an additional two dams to ensure the system could cope with “one-in-100-year” rainfall events.

“What we are planning to construct is a lot more sophisticated and poses a much lower risk than other facilities of a  similar nature that are currently already in operation,” she said.

“The system is completely enclosed and many contingencies are in place that will prevent any leakage from the system and therefore any risk to the surrounding environment is very small.”

Another neighbour, Philip Drage, objected to Great Southern Liquid Waste using a right of way over his own property which connected the proposed facility with Pile Road.

Via his lawyer from Seymour Legal he said both his property and Great Southern Liquid Waste’s were originally sold as lifestyle blocks and the right of way was for “private use”.

“It was not contemplated that it would be used for regular heavy traffic carrying liquid waste,” his submission reads.

“As such it is outside the permitted usage for the ROW (right of way).

“In this regard our client reserves his rights.”

Ms Pragnell said vehicle movements would be fewer than those of a normal farm.

She said the only health and safety risk that could arise was the event of an “unlawful entry by unauthorised persons” who would be prosecuted.

When The Weekender contacted Seymour Legal, Mr Drage’s lawyer Damon Seymour was unable to take the call.

“He hasn’t got instructions from his client and will call you if he does,” the secretary said.

Council voted unanimously to grant planning approval subject to six conditions.

These included the company constructing and maintaining a suitable access road, complying with requirements from the Departments of Health and Environmental Regulation and meeting other conditions to satisfy the shire engineer.

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Concerns over gravel pit


A KALGAN resident who will soon be living 300m from a gravel pit said he was worried it would make life unbearable for his seven-year-old son who is suffering from leukaemia.

“I’ve got a very sick child in hospital every two weeks and essentially our home is our only refuge for him,” Dr Nigel Baker said.

“He is just unable to bear the excessive sound this pit will impose on him.”

AD Contractors Pty Ltd intends to mine gravel at 45720 South Coast Highway, which backs onto Dr Baker’s residence in Churchlane Road.

Councillors visited the site and met residents earlier last month. Resident Paul Salmon said Churchlane Road was not just a group of houses along a street but a thriving community.

“The sentiment I’ve perceived is that a rural community such as ours is not an appropriate place to have a highly invasive, landscape destroying, noisy, dusty extractive process,” he said.

Mayor Dennis Wellington said council was “empathetic” to the community’s concerns.

“The application for extraction of gravel on site 45720 met all the planning requirements and buffers,” he said.

“However it was still a hard decision for council to make but under the Planning and Development Act, council is required to assess each application purely on planning grounds.”

He said the lot had been a quarry for many years and was clearly identified in the Kalgan Rural Village Structure Plan which also detailed the buffer zones for the area.

“Council’s endorsement has simply extended the extractive industry licence on this lot subject to a number of strict planning conditions to protect the amenity of the nearby village,” he said.

Cr Bill Hollingworth opposed the motion.

“The only way to mitigate the noise from the site is to use earth bunds so as to take the noise in a different direction,” he said.

“It’s not possible in this case to get them high enough.”

He said the real problem was the law  allowing such developments so close to houses.

“In this case, the 300m required by law is nowhere near enough,” he said. “We’re going to continually come against this problem and an interface between rural residential and rural zoning where it’s a permitted use in rural zoning.”

“We can talk about putting these conditions in there; administering them is going to be an absolute nightmare.”

Council approved the new pit when it met last week with councillors Terry, Stocks, Dowling, Shanhun, Goode and the Mayor voting for the proposal and Crs Moir, Smith and Hollingworth voting against.

This will not be the first gravel pit at 45720 South Coast Highway.

An old gravel pit on another part of the block has been mined out and is being rehabilitated.

At last week’s meeting Council also approved a new sand pit at Lot 102 Mindijup Road, Palmdale, voting 9-0 in favour of the motion.

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Green Skills farewells state manager

GREEN Skills has farewelled state manager Diane Evers and paid tribute to her dedication and hard work.

Ms Evers is leaving her role to pursue a career in politics as the Greens (WA) MLC elect for the South West region.

Green Skills has offices in Perth, Albany and Denmark and has been a leader in environmental and sustainability action, delivering community-based environmental and socially beneficial projects for almost 28 years.

Ms Evers has worked for the organisation since 2009 and for the past four years has held her Albany-based managerial position.

During this time she has nurtured networks across the region and metropolitan areas and encouraged strategic programs to promote sustainability and encourage innovation.

Since joining Green Skills Ms Evers managed the Albany arm of Ecojobs, an environmental personnel service, and secured contracts and tenders from government, community and business, providing many hours of work for regional people.

This included ensuring that skills and funds were directed to hands-on landcare restoration and rehabilitation work, with other grant-funded initiatives supporting community-based interactive environmental programs and opportunities.

Laura Bird has taken on the role of acting state manager  and will carry on where Ms Evers left off.

– Geoff Vivian

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