Burn-off caution urged

AS INVESTIGATIONS continue into last month’s maelstrom of Redmond and Napier fires, the City of Albany has lifted one of two restricted burning periods but is still urging people to exercise caution when burning off.

Manager for Ranger and Emergency Services Tony Ward said the investigations are ongoing and are being coordinated by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services, and that the City is working with DFES and the community.

He said the restricted burning period for the south-west sector of the city expired at midnight on June 15 and will not be extended due to the cold, wet conditions experienced over the past week.

But the restricted burning period within the north-east sector will remain under review.

“Residents in this sector [south-west] will be able to burn from Saturday without needing a permit,” he said.

“It is important though that people exercise common sense when lighting fires to ensure it is safe and they monitor their fires to ensure they do not pose a risk to anyone else or other property, and are extinguished if conditions become challenging.”

Updates to the restricted burning periods can be found on the City’s website at albany.wa.gov.au/council/council/public-notices.

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Koji units approved

KOJONUP’S Felicity and Paul Webb received the nod from council on Tuesday night to build eight motel-style units in the town site after altering their initial proposal.

The proponents first applied for development approval to build worker’s accommodation at No. 4 Kojonup-Katanning Road at the May 15 council meeting.

The proposal was unanimously knocked back by council after submissions from St Bernard’s Church, St Bernard’s Catholic Primary School, a nearby landowner and the owners of Kojonup Caravan Park suggested the development would create unwanted noise, parking issues and that the proposal did not promote the growth of Kojonup.

The new application put before council this week proposed eight motel-style units for holiday accommodation and an office at No. 70 Albany Highway.

The proponents’ application letter and proposal stated three transportable units would each contain three self-contained motel rooms, equipped with an ensuite bathroom, queen-sized bed and tea and coffee making facilities.

“We believe that our proposal is in line with the Shire’s 10-year plan and complements, rather than competes with, existing accommodation facilities by attracting even more short-term visitors to our town, who in turn, contribute to Kojonup’s local economy,” the letter stated.

“The accommodation is not aimed at the budget traveller but more to short-term visitors, such as executives, consultants, auditors, government inspectors and the like.”

Shire councillors unanimously voted in favour of the new site and application on Tuesday.

Shire President Ronnie Fleay said the new proposed site was already zoned commercial and therefore deemed appropriate by council.

“Council has a very positive attitude towards projects supporting tourism,” she said.

“There is an issue of shortage of accommodation for when events are happening in the region, so hopefully this will add a bit more diversity for our accommodation.

“It’s a chicken and egg scenario.

“We are trying to bring more people here but there is nowhere for them to stay.”

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Beyond the Lyons’ den

ALBANY dentist and landscape photographer Mike Lyons sorted through 5000 images from his recent Iceland trip to find his select few for his upcoming exhibition.

Lyons joined landscape and bird photographers for two workshops and explorations throughout Iceland in February and March and documented his favourite views through his Nikon lens.

He battled chilly winter conditions to find the “landscapes within landscapes” he was searching for.

“One time, we had an hour and a half walk across a glacier,” he said.

“But it was so worth it; I love photography and I love Iceland.

“I’d been there before in autumn, but I wanted to go back for winter because I really wanted to get into those ice caves, which you can only get to in winter.”

Lyons’ work has captured the Northern Lights, ice caves, wildlife and snowy landscapes, and each piece has a certificate to recognise its individuality and limited-edition status.

These works will be on display at Vancouver Arts Centre from June 29 until July 7.

“I printed them all myself, because I’m a dentist and therefore a control freak,” Lyons laughed.

“How are the colours? Do they look real? Because I’m actually colour blind.

“Some of them are six or seven photos blended, but I don’t like to do too much in post-editing.”

Many of Lyons’ photos were taken in hidden locations and of sections of landscape he said other photographers on his trip ignored.

“There was this beautiful waterfall and the light was hitting it, and so everyone was taking photos of that,” he said.

“But I looked down and I saw these sticks, and the guide said he’d move the sticks for me, but I said, no, I want the sticks! They are exquisite!”

His ice cave photos were also taken in places others dared not venture.

“The guide just said to me, go as far in as you can, and so I did,” Lyons said of his ice cave adventures.

“I was the only one who got those photos.”

Lyons has his sights set on Norway, Chile, Iceland, parts of America, Tasmania and the Pilbara next; some for a second visit, others for a new adventure.

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Anzac leader lauded

HELPING to create the National Anzac Centre and develop an Anzac Day “on steroids” for the commemoration’s centenary are two reasons RSLWA State President and ex-Albany RSL President Peter Aspinall is now a Member in the General Division of the Order of Australia.

Mr Aspinall has been recognised for significant service to veterans and their families, especially through commemorative events in Western Australia.

His CV includes being President of the Albany Aero Club, Chair of the Albany Centenary of Anzac Alliance, President of the Albany Central Probus Club, and President of the Albany RSL sub-branch.

Mr Aspinall, 76, said he did not consider the award an individual one, as it resulted from the “efforts from a lot of people”.

Along with Albany’s Geoff Hand and Laurie Fraser, Mr Aspinall was instrumental in developing and negotiating the National Anzac Centre.

The trio’s efforts resulted in the re-enactment of the convoy that left Albany for the Middle East on November 1, 1914.

For many soldiers, Albany was the last Australian soil they stepped upon.

“Geoff recognised that November 1, 1914 was something no one else could lay claim to,” Mr Aspinall said, regarding discussions for Albany’s Anzac centenary celebrations.

Their dream came true on November 1, 2014 when thousands of people flocked to King George Sound to witness the re-enactment.

“When we were trying to work out what we were going to do, we thought: ‘It’s just another Anzac Day, but on steroids’,” Mr Aspinall laughed.

“We got six naval ships for the re-enactment.”

On the same day, the National Anzac Centre was opened and Mr Aspinall agreed it was “an extraordinarily overwhelming experience”.

“When you’re so close to a project, you get very precious about it, but it’s been an amazing success,” he added.

Despite these achievements, Mr Aspinall said the most rewarding part of his work in veterans’ affairs was being able to help other people.

“The most satisfying element is meeting and exceeding expectations of current veteran generations looking for support,” he said.

Mr Aspinall will receive his award in early September at Perth’s Government House.

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Ironbar wallops GM compensation

OUTSPOKEN former Federal MP Wilson Tuckey has condemned a Parliamentary inquiry into compensating farmers for economic loss from contamination of crops by genetically modified organisms.

In a written submission, the former MP for O’ Connor asks inquiry Chair, East Metropolitan MLC Matthew Swinbourn, to note his objection “to the underlying intention” of the probe.

Mr Tuckey, nationally known by the nickname ‘Ironbar’ , argues the inquiry – by State Parliament – seems to want to “override the outcome of a court case which ad- dressed the legal issues relating to this matter”.

Last year, Mr Swinbourn said a failed Supreme Court bid by Kojonup farmer Steve Marsh for compensation after alleged GM contamination of his non-GM canola farm was “in the background” but not the main motivation for the inquiry (‘GM compo probe begins’, December 14, 2017).

Mr Tuckey argues any compensation should not be based on breaches of standards developed by non-government organisations.

“Put simply, therefore, your committee must first decide the precedent and the standard which might be breached to warrant compensation and in this respect will you recommend the development of an International Standard for Cropping, or some form of Rafferty’s rules?” the 82-year-old poses.

“If it is your intention to move in the direction of protecting human health, might I point out that past rhetoric that made the case for banning the consumption of such genetically manipulated crops as labelling them ‘Frankenstein Food’ have been largely disproven by the extensive adoption of so-called genetic engineering of the human body and its reproductive processes in the pursuit of disease cures and the prevention of embryo abnormalities.

“Considering therefore that there is still no standards association body upon which to define an offence requiring compensation, and this issue thus relates to a matter of commerce, the question arises just how far would your inquiry’s recommendations extend and/or what precedents will be then established in unrelated areas.”

In the Howard Government, Mr Tuckey was Forestry and Conservation, then Regional Services Minister.

For 30 years – from 1980 until voted out in 2010 – he was the first and only MP for O’ Connor, a gigantic division encompassing much of the south and east of Western Australia, including the Great Southern.

“Does any modern day technological initiative that gives one business an advantage over a competitor warrant compensation to the loser?” his submission asks.

“Above all, and considering the size of most contemporary grain growing properties, surely the duty of care not to plant vulnerable crops adjoining a neighbour’s fence line resides with the farmer who chooses to grow such species, not the farmer who is just minding his own affairs and planting a legal crop.”

Mr Tuckey enquires if, hypothetically, a GM crop of high value were to be contaminated by a non-GM crop of lower value, the grower of the GM crop should be compensated.

On the flipside, Anne Jones – whose Gledhow Organics produces vegetables on a 4.5ha Albany property – tells the inquiry that any GM contamination above 1 per cent must be listed on the label of food products.

“For certified organic producers the impact is immediate and devastating; loss of certification and no choice to sell their produce as a conventional product at a greatly reduced price, significantly impacting on farm income and profit,” Ms Jones’ submission states.

“This submission proposes that any mechanism for the compensation for contamination of GMOs must proceed with the acceptance that the responsibility for the negative impacts of GMOs fall squarely to those producers and businesses that wish to benefit from them.

“Those businesses that grow and handle GMOs are the only ones capable of having control of them and, as such, must be accountable for their impacts.”

The inquiry is expected to report in early 2019.

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Sharing safety message

A FISHING safety forum designed for people with limited English will be held at South Regional TAFE’s Albany and Mt Barker campuses next week.

Students of the English as a Second Language (ESL) class, originally from Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Libya and Afghanistan, are working together with the Albany Coastal Rock Fishing Safety Committee to provide a free information session on safe fishing at the college.

The session will be in easy-to-understand English, with images and practical examples to help get the safe fishing messages across.

The free one-hour session will be held in George’s Function Centre at the college’s Albany campus on June 12 from 5.30pm and a second session will be held at the Mt Barker campus on June 19 from 5.30pm.

Representatives from the Departments of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, Recfishwest and the City of Albany will be in attendance.

Community Education Officer from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development Kylie Outhwaite said the purpose of these forums is to educate people on all elements of fishing safety.

“This is an important opportunity to engage with the migrant community,” she said.

“Our main aim is to encourage people to be safe and fish from the beach, and educate fishers about some of the factors that make rock fishing so dangerous.”

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Roo keepers clear hurdle

GNOWANGERUP’S newsagency has cleared a major hurdle in its bid to again display orphaned kangaroo joeys, but the State biodiversity department, aware of public concerns, says the business must now lodge a licence application to do so.

At a meeting of Gnowangerup council on May 23, all councillors except Deputy Shire President Fiona Gaze voted to allow newsagents Phil Vardy and Megan Smith to keep the joeys in their newsagency-cum-cafe.

Shire CEO Shelley Pike said the approval was subject to all relevant government legislation and licences being complied with.

“It is disappointing this has taken so long to reach a resolution,” she said.

“It’s up to [Mr Vardy] to ensure he gets the appropriate documentation in place.”

Mr Vardy said he was “absolutely rapped” the approval had come through.

“I’m just not happy that it took them five months before they let it happen,” he said.

Since the shire in November banned the newsagency from keeping joeys, the three it was caring for have been staying on a farm run by Great Southern Care Wildlife animal shelter in the Shire of Plantagenet.

“Two of the ‘roos are almost ready for soft release anyway,” Mr Vardy said.

Before being banned from keeping joeys, the newsagency had kept three at a time since August last year after Ms Smith signed up to be a wildlife carer.

“They are not locked up in the shop,” Mr Vardy explained.

“They have a quarter-acre backyard to run around in.”

He said the joeys were free to go out into the yard any time they wanted and could only be viewed, not touched, by observers who visit the shop.

A spokesperson for the State Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions said officers were aware of concerns from the public about the display of orphaned kangaroos at the newsagency.

“The owners of this newsagency will need to apply to the department for a licence ‘to keep fauna for educational or public purposes’ with a written plan detailing the educational program being proposed and their plan for the rehabilitation and release of the kangaroos,” the spokesperson said.

“The department is awaiting an application.”

Mr Vardy said he would lodge an application soon, and anticipated he would again have joeys back in the shop in a fortnight.

To raise awareness of kangaroos and raise money for Great Southern Care Wildlife, Mr Vardy and Ms Smith are hosting a screening of the American film ‘Kangaroo’ at the Mt Barker CRC building at 5pm on July 15.

Tickets to the MA-only screening are $10 and can be booked through Mr Vardy on 0455 202 468, or Ms Smith on 0400 752 143.

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Fowl play foiled

THE big yellow chicken on Albany Highway in Mount Barker has been laid low by louts, but fixed, in a turn of events that is yet to be resolved.

Plantagenet Shire CEO Rob Stewart said the fine feathered fixture, which usually roosts beside the northbound lane of the Great Southern’s main road, was found on the ground on Sunday night, May 27.

“Somebody came along and quite literally undid the nuts at its base, and I still can’t work out how they did it because the structure is very heavy and solid,” he said.

“But somehow or other they levered the thing over the bolt part of it and they tipped it over.

“They didn’t vandalise it, or do anything else.”

Mr Stewart said it would have cost the shire between $800 and $900 to re-raise the chunky chicken if its owner, Mt Barker Free Range Chicken, had not come to the rescue.

“It wasn’t as if it was blown over in the wind or anything like that, because everything was done neatly,” he said.

“You’d need four blokes because it’s four shafts to get it on, and you’d need a front-end loader to lift it up, and some chains and all that sort of stuff.”

“So we didn’t want to do it.”

Mr Stewart said that when he rang Mt Barker Free Range Chicken the company was not aware its roadside mascot had headed the way of the dodo.

“They said to leave it with them, and I’ve just been advised that it’s all up and back the way it was,” he said.

“They acted pretty quickly.

“They’ve always been good corporate citizens.”

The big chook has graced the highway for the past six years, after the company received planning and building approval to erect it.

Mr Stewart said when he went to inspect the chicken, he could not budge the bird, which is made of metal.

“It’s a very sturdy chook,” he said.

“It’s a shame that people do have to do these things and put people to expense.”

Mt Barker Police have asked anyone who knows why the chicken almost crossed to the other side to call them on 9851 1122.

Mt Barker Free Range Chicken was contacted for comment.

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Pool fit for an Olympian

THE 50m pool named after a local swimmer – who was the first Western Australian to win Olympic gold in any sport – is fit for an Olympian once more now $18,050 has been spent to fix a major leak.

Kojonup’s Kevin O’Halloran Memorial Pool – named after the local farmer who in 1976 died when a shotgun he was carrying discharged as he was climbing through a fence on his family property – had a major leak in its floor that needed remediation.

Shire regulatory services manager Mort Wignall said the leak was fixed recently at a cost of $18,050, after the pool closed for the season in March.

“We’ve got our ducks up in a row pretty well with what we want to do with that pool,” he told The Weekender.

“We’re ready to go to the next step, which will depend on what funding we can access to do a refurb and that’s going to come with a price tag of perhaps $2 million.

“We could stage it by doing the 50m pool first, which would be around $1 million and then we could do the second stage, which would be the toddlers’ pool and a plant room upgrade that would come to roughly another million.”

He said an expression of interest for funding to refurbish the 1960s-built pool had been lodged with the Federal Government, and if that application is successful, top-up funding will be needed from the State.

Mr Wignall said an upgrade of the pool would include an extra half lane with graded access for people with a disability.

“We would also provide a wet-deck, like more modern pools have, by cutting the raised section above the pool concourse and getting rid of it and forming up the remaining pool so that it’s a flush entry from the surrounds of the pool into the water body,” he said.

“It’s that raised area of concrete that is exposed to the elements and seems to succumb to concrete cancer, so that’s the part you get rid of.”

O’Halloran won gold at the 1956 Olympics in the 4x200m freestyle, after leading off in an Olympic record time of 2 min, 6.8 seconds, leaving Soviet and United States opponents in his immediate wake.

His legendary co-swimmers Murray Rose, John Devitt and Jon Henricks each increased the lead, ensuring the foursome won in world record time.

For the past four years, admission to the six-lane pool has been surprisingly cheap, at two bucks, whether you be an adult or ankle-biter. Spectators and kids under 3 get in free.

“We purposefully dropped the entry fee, and the first year we did that we increased patronage by 48 per cent,” Mr Wignall said.

The pool opens again in early November.

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$20k facelift for station

THE State heritage listed Kojonup railway station building will soon get a lick of paint to bring it back to its former glory.

Shire regulatory services manager Mort Wignall said the yellowish, timber building would be repainted in different colours – manor red, cream and white.

“We’ve engaged a contract painter who’s starting work very shortly to give the structure a bit of a facelift,” he said.

“The job is around 20-odd thousand dollars, so it’s a major sort of a paint job.

“It will preserve the fabric of those walls for years to come.”

The new colour combo is in line with the colour scheme used from the 1940s to 1980s when the station was most in use.

Mr Wignall said the colours had been endorsed by the State Heritage Council.

“The railway is still active in terms of the Kojonup tourist railway that operates the train that used to be at Perth Zoo that goes out through some of the reserves and outlying areas of the previous rail line here,” he said.

“That station is important because it’s been retained and occupied and used by the Kojonup Tourist Railway.

“So, it’s got a purpose for being there and it’s better than these buildings being locked up and unattended because they tend to deteriorate more.”

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