Coffee shop quiz

ALBANY’S chamber of commerce has asked the city’s council why it would “orchestrate” a coffee shop in its new visitor centre “in direct competition to already struggling businesses in York Street”.

In a passionately* worded submission on City of Albany plans to let a 14.25sqm space at the visitor centre to barista Chris Saurin, the Chamber also asks why new floor space has been created when there are “lots of empty shops on York Street”.

“If concerns are being raised to the City of Albany about visitors complaining about lack of choice/options for coffee/food, why hasn’t that been taken up with existing businesses to address the problem?” the Chamber continues.

Months ago, The Weekender revealed the City would create a space beside the library overlooking Alison Hartman Gardens, and that Mr Saurin had been tentatively selected to fill it with a coffee spot he intended to call ‘Booked’ (‘Coffee booked in’, 30 August).

Then, on October 19, the City hosted a meeting of concerned York Street traders at which the Chamber was present.

Now, City official Tanya Catherall has recommended the Council approve a $9000-a-year lease to Mr Saurin.

Ms Catherall’s recommendation was considered by a City committee on Monday night ahead of referral to a future meeting of the council for a final decision.

Mr Saurin has indicated Booked will generally trade seven days a week and public holidays.

In response to the Chamber’s submission, Ms Catherall notes the coffee shop will occupy only “a modest space”.

“There is currently no other retail offering on the west side of York Street between Grey Street and Serpentine Road, other than the City’s existing civic facilities,” she argues.

“The City is not concerned about lack of choice or options.

“But we see an opportunity to provide a service from our visitor centre.”

Ms Catherall asserts the City has previously asked businesses to operate at the Town Square, including during events.

“The response from businesses has been inconsistent and the City allows coffee vans and other pop ups to meet demand,” she added.

“The vacant commercial space was advertised extending the commercial opportunity to all existing and new local businesses…”

Counter to the Chamber’s advice that York Street is struggling, The Weekender has recently revealed the openings there of Blush Retail Gallery, Monk & Hound Barber Shop, Little Italy restaurant, and the relocation to palatial digs at Albany House of Mark Blyth Fine Jewellery.

* NOTE: this word was originally ‘colourfully’, and was meant to describe a submission that was ‘full of variety or interest’ as per the first definition by the Merriam-Webster online dictionary rather than the dictionary’s second definition: ‘of speech : RUDE, OFFENSIVE‘. The Weekender at no time wished to indicate that the Chamber’s submission included offensive or swear words.

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Players lighten the mood

COMEDY and war aren’t often two things you’d put together.

But Plantagenet Players managed to do it delicately and with style in their latest production 1918 The War is Over.

From cooking shows in the trenches and marriage proposals with an elderly nymphomaniac, to operations with a kooky doctor armed with a mallet for anesthesia, the Players embraced the costume and attitudes reminiscent of the wartime era and breathed hysterical slapstick life into it.

A few serious moments were fed into the script to reflect on those who lost their lives and souls in the war, but the mood was brought back up with dimwitted chefs and drunken mothers.

It was a perfect way to lightly reflect on the past amidst other more sombre Armistice centenary events held across the Great Southern.

The Weekender’s Andy Dolphin showcased the broad spectrum of his acting skills by portraying a surgeon, chef, snobby father and larrikin farmer, triggering fits of laughter in every scene he graced.

Pat Topping surprised the audience with her cheeky lines and animated facial expressions – her mature age making them even funnier.

Co-producer Helen Jeffery smoothly and hilariously transitioned from a thickly moustached sergeant to a singing nurse and later, a half-cut mother.

To top it off, the tale of a boy eaten by a lion – read by Siobhan Gallagher – was woven in between scenes and made eyes water from giggling.

1918 The War is Over will play for two more nights – this Friday and Saturday, and tickets were still available at time of going to print from Mt Barker’s Scrap Shak.

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Cancer cost counted

A BUNKER to house new radiotherapy equipment in Albany will cost nothing like the $14 million floated by State Health Minister Roger Cook, says Federal Member for O’Connor Rick Wilson.

“I believe that is what it cost to instal two machines into the Bunbury Health Campus,” Mr Wilson said.

“The information I’ve received from Genesis Health Care is $3 million to build the bunker at [the public] Albany Health Campus, or $6 million to $7 million as a stand-alone build at the [forthcoming, private Great Southern] Health Precinct.

“Genesis is an Australia-wide company with extensive experience in installing and operating these machines and that gives me confidence that the numbers they’ve provided me with are sound numbers.”

Mr Wilson said the Bunbury machine had been supplied by GenesisCare.

In State Parliament last week, Mr Cook said the WA Country Health Service was a “long way away from” advertising a tender for a radiotherapy machine in Albany (‘Cancer cash raincheck’, 8 November).

He put a $6.6 million Federal grant for the machine, revealed by The Weekender (‘Cancer funding coup’ , 13 September), down to Liberal pork-barrelling before the upcoming Federal election.

He said the “lion’s share” of expense would be a bunker to house the equipment.

Mr Wilson agreed cost of the bunker was an issue, but timeliness of care another.

“Who knows which of us might be requiring that machine in six months’ time, or seven-and-a-half months’ time?” he posed.

“The funding that the Commonwealth Government has made available is from July 1, 2019.

“That’s when we want to see the machine operating, and by co-locating at the Albany Health Campus I’ve been told that timeframe is possible.”

“I assume Genesis is waiting for the State Government to give them an indication of support before they come to the State with a formal proposal,” he said.

“I guess the fact there had not been a formal proposal is partly because Mr Cook has not engaged at all with Genesis.

“He hasn’t met with them, but I’ve written requesting that he meet with them and Genesis has been seeking a meeting, and that’s why they approached me originally back in late June because they hadn’t been able to secure a meeting with the Minister.”

Mr Wilson said one reason GenesisCare was keen to instal a radiotherapy unit in Albany was because the company was treating patients from Albany and the Great Southern in Bunbury and Perth.

“Effectively, Genesis is saying they’re providing a service in Bunbury, the State Government is paying Patient Assisted Travel Scheme [money] for people to travel and stay there, with these treatments taking up to seven weeks,” he said.

“Genesis says they can provide that treatment in Albany, and put a lot less stress on patients and their families, and it doesn’t cost the State Government any more.”

The $6.6 million grant is to be paid in 10 annual amounts of $660,000 to cover the capital cost of the machine.

Neither Mr Cook nor General Manager of GenesisCare WA Michael Davis responded to questions by deadline.

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Kings of the road

THE Swing Kings will be going their separate ways this November after three sell-out performances and a debut EP, but not before hitting the stage for one more weekend to bid goodbye to the Great Southern.

The Weekender had the chance to stop by during one of their rehearsals for a chat about their rapid rise to local fame and their plans for the future.

The band, which consists of Evan Ayres on guitar and lead vocals, Oliver Tetlow on bass, Mollie Hare and Bonnie Staude on backing vocals, Bryce Taylor on trumpet, Anna Leach on saxophone, Hunter Ewen on trombone and Jeremy Staude on drums, said the experience had been very rewarding.

“It’s been terrific,” Ayres said.

“It’s been such a great opportunity.”

The group has a wide range of talents and interests, which is evident when talking about their plans for after the final show.

Front man Ayres plans to pursue music, hoping to score a place at the WA Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) next year.

The same goes for backing singers Mollie Hare and Bonnie Staude, who are both hoping to study musical theatre at the Academy.

Oliver Tetlow is going to university to study engineering, Anna Leach to study social work, Hunter Ewen plans to go into pathology, Bryce Taylor’s going to university in Canberra, and Jeremy Staude said he’d like to go on holiday to Japan.

When asked how being in the band had impacted their lives, the band agreed that it had made life a whole lot busier, but more exciting too.

“It’s a bit tricky to balance our workload with all of us still in school – well, except for Mollie – but I think Evan’s got his priorities straight: music first,” Bonnie Staude said, much to the amusement of Ayres.

“But yeah, it’s definitely worth it.”

The band were quick to respond when asked about the highlights of their brief Swing Kings career.

“It’s probably the adrenaline of performing,” Bonnie Staude said.

“It’s cool to be in a band that’s so high calibre; it’s really good music that you don’t always find.”

Ayres said that having five sell-out shows – including the two upcoming farewell performances – had been one of his major highlights.

“One sold out in two hours, which was pretty amazing,” he said.

Tetlow said his high light came after their first performance.

“There was a lady who came up and said that I was her hero,” he said, sparking a collective “awww” from the rest of the band.

Taylor explained how supportive their fans had been.

“It’s the response we get after the shows; we have people coming through with CDs asking for autographs or just saying how much they enjoyed the show,” he said.

“I like playing fast songs,” Jeremy Staude said plainly, causing an eruption of laughter from his fellow band members, who joked that they’d often catch him nodding off during the slower numbers.

Though the band is splitting up for now, they are all hopeful there will be a Swing Kings reunion in the future.

“It would be sad if there wasn’t,” Bonnie Staude said.

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A stitch in time

KATANNING’S newest art exhibition looks deep into the past at how the humble domestic sewing machine changed the lives of women at home.

Curator of Machines and Makers Jude van der Merwe said it was when she discovered her neighbour’s collection of 260 old domestic sewing machines that she learned about the impact the device had on women during the world wars.

She said her neighbour had been an apprentice sewing machine repairer during World War II and had maintained his passion for them ever since.

“That was the starting point, really,” Ms van der Merwe said of the exhibition.

“I didn’t realise that the domestic sewing machine had changed the lives of women so much…they could make a living, and make clothes for their family.”

Machines and Makers features the work of 12 artists, responding in their respective mediums to the notion that sewing machines changed the lives of women.

It is part of Art on the Move, a Perth-based organisation dedicated to touring contemporary visual art exhibitions across the country.

Ongerup-bred Susie Vickery is featured in Machines and Makers and has created embroidered smaller-scale sewing machines for the exhibition, which Ms van der Merwe described as “absolutely beautiful”.

Other artists have submitted works such as paintings of sewing machines, and even animations – Perth artist Tee Ken Ng has created an animation of mice, which is projected behind a real sewing machine, and the mice are hanging up washing and repairing machines.

Ms van der Merwe was impressed with the range of artwork created.

“It’s an extraordinary medium. It’s very flexible,” she said of textiles.

“I think we are all close to textiles, because we wear it, we touch it and we feel it, and so many people can express their love for it in many different ways.”

Machines and Makers is at the Katanning Public Art Gallery until November 24.

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Misleading ads prompt penalties

HEARING aid retailers Oticon Australia and Sonic Innovations have been ordered to pay penalties totalling $2.5 million for misleading pensioners about devices sold by two clinic chains that operate across the Great Southern.

Oticon and Sonic Innovations admitted its newspaper advertisements contained three false and misleading representations about hearing aids available to pensioners under the Federal hearing services program.

ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said many pensioners targeted by the ads were vulnerable due to their age and hearing loss.

“The misleading representations by Sonic and Oticon created a false sense of urgency for these consumers to book a hearing test and led them into a sales process based on incorrect information,” she said.

“This conduct is unacceptable particularly because it targeted vulnerable pensioners.”

The Federal Court imposed penalties of $2.5 million, and ordered that the companies offer refunds to customers and publish a corrective notice in a nationally circulated newspaper.

“The decision from the Federal Court sends a strong message to the hearing aid industry about the importance of ensuring all representations to consumers are accurate and not misleading,” Ms Court said.

The companies misled consumers by claiming that to obtain a free hearing aid, pensioners had to book a test at an AudioClinic or HearingLife clinic before the deadline in the ad.

In fact, there was no time limit.

There are AudioClinics at Lockyer Avenue in Albany, and on Mount Shadforth Road in Denmark.

HearingLife has a clinic at Katanning Hospital.

Neither chain of clinics was on trial and there was no ruling against them.

Oticon and Sonic Innovations also misled consumers by claiming the free hearing aids included wireless technology that could be connected to televisions and mobile phones.

The wireless technology was in fact an accessory sold separately at extra cost.

A claim that users of the advertised hearing aid would no longer miss conversations – when in fact that depends on a person’s circumstances and the nature of their hearing impairment – also landed Oticon and Sonic Innovations in hot water.

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Picnic table panic abated

AN ALBANY city official has assured Middleton Beach goers the landmark green picnic tables near Ellen Cove will remain in situ when the foreshore receives a multi-million dollar facelift, despite a render of the new look not including them.

A landscape plan containing new artist’s impressions of the foreshore was due to be considered by a City of Albany committee last night before a final decision by the full council at a later date.

The plan shows a render of the foreshore that displays tiered grassed terraces where picnic benches currently reside.

The render does not include the green timber picnic tables that have been at the beach for years.

But a City spokesperson told The Weekender the tables would not be removed.

“A summary of the design approach on page three of the … plan clarifies the retention of the Norfolk Pine trees, established grassed areas, grassed terraces and Ellen Cove Jetty to maintain the foreshore’s existing usage and character … and additional grassed terraces to create an amphitheatre overlooking the beach environment,” he said.

“Further, the diagram on page five of the plan reinforces this, clearly showing the existing terraces and existing trees and the area that will feature new terraces.

“This diagram is a more accurate representation of the proposed layout of the existing and new terraced areas.”

The spokesperson also said woodcarver Darrel Radcliffe’s new tree carving, unveiled last month in the picnic table area, would not be affected by the redevelopment.

The spokesperson said the current renders were only concept plans.

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Police to scope firearms

IN THE wake of Narrogin Police seizing more than 70 unsecured firearms and ammunition from a Narrogin gun collector’s property, Great Southern District police inspector Danny Vincent announced on Tuesday a new operation targeting complacent firearm owners.

Operation Bluesun began on Monday and will continue for six weeks, and will involve police officers conducting security inspections and physical audits of selected firearm owner’s properties.

Inspector Vincent said the focus of the proactive operation is community safety and educating firearm owners.

“Unfortunately, what we’re finding is firearm owners who are not aware of their responsibilities,” he said.

“One of our biggest concerns is firearms falling into the wrong hands.

“So a big part of this operation is preventing firearm thefts.”

Inspector Vincent said firearm owners can find out how to comply with firearm storage legislation by visiting or by contacting their local police station.

Operation Bluesun will be assessed at the end of the initial six-week period to decide whether it will continue.

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Health centre land deal

A NEW health centre in Bremer Bay is one step closer to fruition following Jerramungup shire council’s decision to reserve a block of land for the development at no cost to WA Country Health Service (WACHS).

The Council’s unanimous decision to offer the use of the 5000sqm Garnett Road block paves the way for a business case to be presented to the State Government to secure funding.

In council documents presented to the Council’s October 17 meeting, WACHS regional director David Naughton said that having the land donated in-kind was crucial to the development of the new health centre.

“Securing such suitable land at no cost to WACHS is a key part of the project,” he wrote.

Shire CEO Martin Cuthbert said the allocation of the block would allow WACHS to finish their business case to get the ball rolling for a new centre to be built.

The centre is slated to replace the seaside town’s 30-year-old nursing post.

“The existing post is definitely past its use by date and not really suitable to be used anymore,” Mr Cuthbert said.

“There are issues with privacy and the nurse has to play the radio loudly to drown out confidential conversations.”

Mr Cuthbert said developing a new health centre in Bremer Bay was something the locals needed and wanted.

“We’re attempting to expand and develop our health and aged care facilities to keep people in Bremer Bay,” he said.

“There’s a large portion of the town’s population that are retirees and with the existing infrastructure, a lot leave to places like Albany so they can have better access to health professionals.

“We want to keep people around long-term and look after our ageing and youth populations.”

Mr Cuthbert said locating the health centre in Bremer Bay’s developing town centre was part of the bigger picture.

“We want to grow Bremer Bay and with this town centre we’re hoping we can convince people to buy and build in the town,” he said.

“We have the skate park there already, we’ll have a new library, a shire office for our development service staff, the new health centre and six more units for the aged care facility.

“It’s exciting times. The Council has been planning and preparing this for a long time and to see it come to fruition is nice to see.”

A WACHS spokesperson said a business case for the health centre was being developed for consideration in the 2019/20 budget.

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Students remember

SCHOOL students from across the Great Southern are congregating in Albany’s city centre this morning for a combined schools commemoration to mark 100 years since the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I.

The service is one of many being held in Albany over the next four days in the lead-up to Remembrance Day.

It also winds up school involvement with Anzac Albany celebrations, which began in 2014 and 2015 to commemorate 100 years since the commencement of WWI and the Gallipoli landing.

Flinders Park Primary year six students Merrick Watts, Maggie Staude and Savannah Coleman-Combes are three of more than 100 from their school attending the service and said they all felt honoured and proud to be part of it.

“It feels good to be part of Armistice because all of these people fought for us, which is pretty important,” Merrick said.

“This is my first ever service so I’m really excited and really grateful that the soldiers fought for us,” Savannah added.

“It’s a great privilege,” Maggie said.

Principal Richard Bushell said the event gives students the opportunity to reflect on how peace is key in the Australian way of life.

“It’s important to help the younger generations understand the narrative,” he said.

“And for them to realise people gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.”

The Armistice school event, which will include 26 schools from the Great Southern, will begin with a parade on York Street at 10am before the students assemble in the Anzac Peace Park for the 10.30am service.

During the service, 100 students will uncover the stories behind the names on the war memorial, and hold the names and photos of each soldier in a cross formation.

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