Meth trial date finally set

AN ALBANY man charged with 15 counts of offering to sell or supply methylamphetamine while employed to help coordinate a state-funded meth-busting program will have his case heard at a trial in October.

Former Ice Breakers facilitator Craig Raymond Golding will return to the Albany Magistrates Court on October 3 almost a full year and several adjournments after he was alleged to have offered to sell the drug.

He fronted Magistrate Raelene Johnston in the court last Thursday and pleaded guilty to possessing cannabis, methylamphetamine and a glass pipe and plastic bong on which traces of prohibited drugs were found.

He then pleaded not guilty to the 15 charges of offering to sell or supply methylamphetamine and to a charge of failing to obey a data access order.

Mr Golding is alleged to have offered to sell or supply the drugs between August 23 and October 12, a few months prior to police executing a search warrant at his Spencer Park property on December 6.

Prosecuting Sergeant Peter Yuswak requested that “in the interest of justice” the matter be heard in the District Court.

He described the case as “quite complex” and argued that since Mr Golding was acting in a “senior role” at the Ice Breakers program when the offences were allegedly committed, the “penalty range” afforded to a higher jurisdiction would be more suitable.

Mr Golding’s lawyer David Manera, who addressed court via telephone link from Perth, opposed Sgt Yuswak’s motion.

“It seems a fairly straightforward prosecution case,” he said.

“It appears the entire prosecution’s case rests on downloads from [Mr Golding’s] mobile phone, purely on the SMS messages.

“This is a matter for Mr Golding to explain [the messages] and for the court to interpret what they mean.”

Magistrate Johnston agreed with Mr Manera and denied the prosecution’s application.

She said the maximum penalty the Albany Magistrate Court could apply

for each of the 15 offences was four years imprisonment and a $5500 fine.

“There are adequate sentencing options available should Mr Golding be convicted. It’s difficult to see circumstance where he is likely to receive more than four years for any of these matters,” she said.

According to Sgt Yaswuk, 12 of the 15 offences relate to a total 12.27 grams of methylamphetamine while the remaining three relate to an unspecified quantity of meth valued at $650.

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‘Appetite’ for pub

THE future of the state heritage-listed Imperial Hotel Broomehill which closed down three months ago could be determined at a community meeting next week.

Broomehill grain and sheep farmer Scott Thompson wants to gauge his community’s “appetite” for a pub at the August 14 meeting and hopes people will attend to voice their opinions.

The town, which recorded a population of 251 people in the 2016 Census, has now lost both its only roadhouse and only pub, and its post office is up for sale.

“Recent community consultation highlighted that there is a want for a service like the roadhouse,” Mr Thompson said.

“The pub closed down in May due to just bad management and I know we’ve been busy seeding, but it’s time to flesh it out and at least get an idea of what the community wants.”

Mr Thompson wondered if Broomehill could follow in the footsteps of Nyabing, a wheat and sheep town 78km up the road that had its pub reopened in March after the community purchased it.

A similar turn of events occurred in Ongerup in 2014 when residents purchased the town’s general store to allow grocery shopping to be completed in Ongerup instead of in Katanning, Gnowangerup or Albany.

Mr Thompson is trying to organise members of the Nyabing community who were instrumental in their pub’s reopening to discuss their strategy at the meeting.

“This won’t be the last meeting about this,” he said.

“My gut feeling is everyone will say yes, we want a pub, so the next thing will be well, if you want it, you’ve got to do something about it.”

The August 14 meeting will commence at 6pm at the Broomehill Recreational Complex.

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Jail rehab standstill

A LEADING drug rehabilitation clinic that supports drug-addicted prisoners in Albany Regional Prison and elsewhere was barred from resuming work on Monday despite a month-long ban being lifted early last week.

Minister for Corrective Services Fran Logan said on July 30 that drug counsellors from The Whitehaven Clinic would be allowed to restart operations in the eight state prisons from which they had been denied access.

The ban on self-funded programs in WA prisons was originally instated by the Department of Justice in April and also affected Whitehaven services in prisons in Hakea, Casuarina, Karnet, Bandyup, Acacia, Wooroloo and Bunbury.

Whitehaven Program Director Tabitha Corser said she was disappointed Whitehaven staff were still being kept from doing their work in Albany.

“The Whitehaven Clinic has offered drug counselling to prisoners at Albany Regional Prison and Pardelup Prison Farm [west of Mount Barker] for the past year,” she said.

“In that time, we have supported eight inmates at both jails with our customised, intensive programs and face-to-face counselling through Skype. Three prisoners in Albany were affected [by the April ban] and cut off from their programs overnight.”

Ms Corser said that on Monday the clinic was notified three prisoners at the prison would not be allowed access to Skype counselling sessions.

She said staff at Albany prison gave only 40 minutes warning that a counselling session scheduled for 9am had been cancelled “despite [Whitehaven] having been re-granted access for the past two weeks”.

Ms Corser added that all appointments for Albany prisoners scheduled for the coming nine weeks had also been cancelled and that Whitehaven counsellors were instructed to “resubmit security clearance paperwork”.

On Tuesday, following an email enquiry from Whitehaven, Department of Justice Deputy Commissioner Cherly Clay promised to investigate the issue but said in the email that “these visits are at the management of the local site”.

“There has been no adequate explanation as to why the resubmission of security clearance paperwork is necessary or why access to Albany prisoners has been denied at the last minute, again leaving our clients in limbo,” Ms Corser said.

Prior to the developments on Monday, Ms Corser had told the Weekender that country towns such as Albany were not immune to the state’s ice epidemic, adding that the fastest growth of meth use in the country is in regional WA.

She said the number of government-funded rehabilitation programs in the state’s prisons was “extremely limited” with some addicts having to wait several months for treatment.

Corrective Services Minister Fran Logan said in a statement last week that while Whitehaven would be allowed to continue to run its programs, there were “standards and frameworks to be considered which also apply to not-for-profit organisations that deliver similar programs”.

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Burning question tackled

A NEW research project examining the effect prescribed burning has on the flammability of the tingle forests between Denmark and Walpole was launched at the Denmark Environment Centre last weekend.

Fire behaviour specialist and research fellow at the University of Wollongong Philip Zylstra was in town on Sunday to share his research with the community and to kick-start the project alongside local ecologists Melissa Howe and Nathan McQuoid.

Mr Zylstra has been working in fire management since 2002 and has long challenged the notion prescribed burning, which targets the build up of “fuel loads” such as dead leaves on forest floors, reduces flammability.

His studies have instead found that landscapes become more flammable after burning “largely due to regrowth that the fire causes”.

“The fire germinates plants or it damages forest canopies … but then as the forest ages those shrubs thin out and the landscape becomes much less flammable,” he explained.

“Mature forests, from what we’ve seen in the areas we’ve examined so far, are much less flammable.”

According to Mr Zylstra, the Red Tingle Forest Flammability and Vegetation Research Project would initially run for around six months and “get some hard numbers” about the effect of prescribed burning on the region’s tingle forests.

“There’s a lot of prescribed burning happening through southwest Australia and in areas like the Walpole wilderness there are a lot of fire sensitive plants,” he said.

“There’s also largely anecdotal evidence talking about the loss of old growth tingle tree due to burns.

“Potentially burning is actually increasing the flammability there if the pattern is the same as has been measured in other forests.”

Mr Zylstra cited recent studies that suggest frequent burning has adverse effects both on biodiversity and on human health.

He said that a week of prescribed burning in the eastern states in May 2016 resulted in more estimated deaths from smoke inhalation than has occurred from all wildfires in Sydney’s history.

As part of the research project, Ms Howe and Mr McQuoid will work to survey the forest at different ages, using a set technique to measure the dominant plant species and the size and spacing between those plants.

Mr Zylstra will then apply the peer-reviewed fire behaviour model he developed to the information the pair provides him.

“We’ll publish a journal paper for it outlining what’s happening, whether it’s becoming more flammable as it ages or if it’s a more complex picture,” he said.

“The fire authorities will be able to make much more informed planning decisions around it [and will be able to work out] whether it should be burned or if fire should be excluded or if certain areas should be focused on.”

My Zylstra spoke at the Prescribed Burning Conference 2019 in Perth a few days prior to his visit to Denmark.

Among other topics, his lecture referenced the difficulties of changing pre-existing ideas about prescribed burning.

“The idea we need to reduce fuel loads comes from a leaflet from the 1960s which has no scientific basis to it and there’s been a lot of research since then that has shown a far better understanding of things,” he said.

“It’s very hard to change a culture when you have it well established. There are people who have worked their lives build- ing certain systems and thinking a certain way and it feels disempowering to those people to tell them there’s a better way.

“A huge industry builds around it. The longer it takes, the harder it is to change from old ways.”

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Reducing meth best served by treatment

A MANAGER of a leading drug treatment agency has suggested the funds spent on a recently launched police meth-busting van for the Great Southern could have been better used on treatment and prevention.

Palmerston Great Southern’s Ben Headlam said while he was not opposed to police working to reduce the supply of meth coming into Albany and other towns, enforcement strategies would not work in isolation.

The hi-tech vehicle took to the roads last week and comes equipped with an X-ray machine valued at almost $80,000 and TruNarc onsite drug testing capabilities that can identify substances almost instantaneously.

It joins a fleet of two other police vans currently operating in the Kimberley and Goldfields.

“The most effective way to reduce the amount of meth that’s on our streets is not necessarily all about enforcement, it’s about treatment and preventing people from becoming hooked on meth,” Mr Headlam said.

“As much as 80 per cent of people who are dealing methamphetamine are doing so to support their own addiction.

“You treat a dealer and you remove a dealer … supply reduction must be balanced with demand reduction as well.”

According to Mr Headlam, while data indicates the number of meth users around the country is decreasing, people who are using have been using for a longer period and are using more and higher purity forms of the drug.

He described the mission to stem the flow of meth in the region as a “constant game of cat and mouse” and said he did not expect the van to make much of an impact.

“They likely will have some early successes but if history tells us anything, the market hates a vacuum and people will adapt and find ways around it,” he said.

“We’re not talking about massive multi-million dollar hauls coming in one load, we’re talking about numbers of users bringing in supply for a small number of people and taking it in turns in a group to do those runs.

“The van can only be in one place at one time … it’s quite likely those main arterial routes will change.”

Great Southern Superintendent Ian Clarke described the vehicle as a means of a making a “significant difference” halting the flow of meth on Great Southern highways and byways.

“In regional Australia, we tend to do the best with what we’ve got and this provides us a great additional capability around emergency management and response, but also education too,” he said.

“It will roll out to events across the region to help us in that discussion in the community around things like drugs.”

Mr Clarke added that while the van increased police drug enforcement abilities, support from the community was still important.

He said police relied on members of the public to report suspicious activity and pass on information that might help hinder the ability of criminals to move drugs across the region.

“Ultimately it’s going to take all of us to have a decent impact on the meth trade,” he said.

The meth van was manufactured in Western Australia using funds dedicated to combating meth.
Figures from the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission’s seventh National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program report released in June suggest WA continues to have the highest average rates of regional methylamphetamine consumption in Australia.

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Harsh reality of retail

ALBANY Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO Benita Cattalini believes the recent buzz over shops closing on York Street could be rectified by owner-operators and leaseholders being more competitive with their products.

The subject of businesses shutting up shop on York Street has been a hot topic during the past few City of Albany council meetings.

One owner operator contesting an application for a coffee shop in May stated the approval of the shop would cause them to let go of t heir employees due to the competition, while another stated the shop would “create an unfair playing field”.

City CEO Andrew Sharpe said rates for owners on York Street were based on gross rental valuations (GRV) provided to the City by the Valuer General that were reviewed every three years and that the City was not responsible for businesses overheads.

“The last revaluation period reflected a decrease in commercial valuations of 3.62 per cent,” he said.

Ms Cattalini said the biggest issue facing retailers on York Street was the impact of online sales.

“Businesses have to make the choice to stay open,” she said.

“Most businesses on York Street can be open seven days a week.

“Albany is not a small town. Shop owners need to be extra sensitive to what customers want and need.”

The Weekender compared current commercial lease listings with the City of Bunbury to the City of Albany who had populations of 31,919 and 33,145 respectively from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Census results from 2016.

Current listings for Albany shops on York Street would have renters pay on average $25,154.88, while Bunbury businesses on Victoria Street, the equivalent retail hub, would pay on average $30,875.

Mr Sharpe said the retail industry was experiencing hardship globally and had been impacting regional areas.

Recent statistics released by the ABS state that over the 2017-18 period, Albany experienced an overall growth of 64 new registered businesses.

According to the ABS, the wholesale trade industry had five new businesses open, retail trade had eight businesses shut, rental, hiring and real estate services had grown by 23, health care and social assistance had grown by 11, and arts and recreation had grown by 11.

Bunbury Geographe Chamber of Commerce and Industry President David Kerr said retail conditions in Bunbury were stressful for some.

“There are a lot of variables to how successful a business can operate,” he said.

“One of our issues has been the cost of rent being high.

“For quite a while property owners have been quite reticent to change their rent and support their tenants. We’ve had more owners open to negotiate now but it has been a fairly long and
challenging time.”

Ms Cattalini said Albany’s issue was that businesses were not embracing change and taking the leap to engage with their customers online or utilising their ability to operate seven days a week.

“People in general have less disposable income to spend, which is a significant issue,” she said.

“There’s an opportunity for people to make an absolute killing by staying open during an activation activity like the Christmas Pageant.

“But it’s really important for people to try it and show what they can offer.”

Ms Cattalini said times were hard for some businesses but it was not the case for every business on York Street.

“Some people are providing an excellent experience for their customers in their store and online,” she said.

“We’re offering free training for businesses to learn how to engage with their customers online and on Facebook.

“We don’t tell our members how to operate their business, we suggest that they open seven days and go online.

“Businesses can’t ring and demand we do something because their shop is closing. It’s their choice to be competitive.”

Mr Kerr said the reality of retail was that shops needed to compete with online spaces, so retailers needed to provide vibrancy for their customer’s shopping experience.

“The reality is that retail is a live game, no two days are the same,” he said.

“Opening hours are definitely part of the equation to success.

“Even if you stay closed on a Sunday, the rates and rent still tick along, but on the other hand penalty rates can make it very hard.

“People need to make a judgement call on whether to take that risk.”

Ms Cattalini said introducing deregulated trading would have winners and losers but was not something Albany would need to decide on right now.

“The bigger focus needs to be going online,” she said.

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Half marathon a trial run

RUNNING enthusiasts will have yet another reason to don their sneakers later this year when the inaugural Denmark Half Marathon kicks off at Lights Beach.

The September 22 event is being put together by the Denmark Running Club with support from the Shire of Denmark and will offer 21.2km, 10km and 2km distance trails for all ages and abilities.

Denmark Running Club President Rebecca Gleeson said while the official route of the marathon is yet to be confirmed, it will take participants through parts of the Munda Biddi and Wilderness Ocean Walk (WOW) trails.

“The WOW trail is a very hilly, twisty course and runners will benefit from the challenge of tackling it in such a spectacular location,” she said.

“We’re hoping participants from far and wide can come and enjoy these beautiful trails … it’s an opportunity for runners in the region to try some-thing a little bit different.”

Ms Gleeson said the event would complement rather than compete with the well-established Elleker Half Marathon, which celebrated its 24th year running in June.

She said the idea to organise an event out of Denmark was informed by a recent survey of the Denmark Running Club’s members.

“We just decided, based on that survey, that we’d organise one big event that our members could aspire to,” Ms Gleeson said.

“This is very much the trial run, pardon the pun. I think there’s such an appetite for different runnning events these days.”

The Denmark Half Marathon will take place more than a month after the Perth Half Marathon and a few weeks before the Perth Running Festival on October 6.

According to Ms Gleeson, the best way to prepare is to just “start running”.

“We run training four times a week and anyone is welcome to join. It’s a very non-competitive, really friendly and supportive club,” she said of the Denmark Running Club.

“It’s a matter of just incrementally building on your distance so that by the time the race comes you’re ready for it.”

Anyone interested in joining the group or signing up for the half marathon can visit www.denmarkrunningclub.org.au or the run’s Eventbrite page.

Ms Gleeson said people with questions can contact her on 0412 802 608.

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Petition past 500

A PETITION to save Denmark’s beloved John Clark Memorial Bandstand from demolition was tabled at last week’s council meeting.

The document was signed by a total of 513 people and called on councillors to “revoke” decisions made at a June 18 council meeting to pull down the structure and forgo public consultation (‘Bandstand to fall’, June 20).

Earlier this year the Shire conducted an independent assessment of the bandstand following a routine inspection and deemed the building structurally unsafe.

Former chairperson of the Denmark Historical Society Beverley McGuinness, who collated the petition’s signatures over a period of three weeks, said many community members felt very strongly about the issue.

“A lot of staff and even some of the councillors have not been here for very long and I just don’t feel that they appreciate heritage the way other people do,” she said.

“We’ve got so very few buildings of heritage value left and you don’t want our town to be just like everybody else’s town, it makes it unique.

“It’s also supposed to be part of council’s policy that they do consult with the community on issues and they chose not to this time.”

It was outgoing Deputy Shire President Peter Caron who moved an amended recommendation precluding the issue from going to the public for comment.

“It’s with deep regret that I make this recommendation,” he said at last month’s meeting.

“The bandstand is in a terrible state and it would cost more than $100,000 which we can’t afford … it would be wasteful to look at options that are not feasible.

“I have consulted with the Denmark Historical Society to salvage parts of the bandstand to be preserved.”

Ms McGuinness said she had been approached by a number of builders since council’s decision who told her while the building “does need some work”, it did not necessarily have to be demolished.

Addressing Cr Caron at last week’s council meeting, Ms McGuinness advised alternative options to demolishment could include refurbishment and external funding.

“I think [the Shire] just took the word of the engineer that they engaged to look at it,” she told the Weekender.

“I would love to see the community have some input and council take on board what people are saying … I don’t know what they’ll do about it at this point.”

Shire President Ceinwen Gearon was contacted for comment.

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Self-checkout thefts

TWO women sentenced for stealing groceries from Woolworths in the Albany Magistrates Court over the last two weeks committed the offences by going through self-service checkouts.

One of the women pleaded guilty to stealing $120 worth of groceries from the shop at the Dog Rock Shopping Centre on April 10 and told police she “forgot to scan” the items in question.

Prosecuting Sergeant Peter Yaswuk told the court at the July 11 hearing that the woman “systematically scanned” only half of the items in her trolley, with the act being caught on security
cameras.

The woman’s defence counsel Graeme Payne said his client had been struggling with grief, self-esteem and mental health issues at the time of the offending and supplied Magistrate Richard Bayly a list of positive references.

The second woman fronted Magistrate Martin Flynn in Albany Magistrates Court last Thursday.

The 39-year-old was found to have stolen a total of $50 worth of groceries from Woolworths on two separate occasions in October last year.

Prosecuting Sergeant Alan Dean said “while the accused scanned a majority of the shopping items” in her cart at the self-service checkout, she did not scan everything.

The act was also captured on store security cameras.

Duty counsel Wendy Stewart told the court her client “was having financial difficulties” at the time of the offence.

She added her client had just been divorced from her partner, was raising a five-year-old son unsupported, was on Centrelink and suffered from stress and anxiety.

Magistrate Flynn told the woman he accepted that she was in “financially desperate straits” and that her “judgement was impaired” when she stole the items.

Both women were handed suspended fines and granted spent convictions.

A Woolworths spokesperson told the Weekender they did not have figures about how often thefts via self-service checkouts occur or how much the company loses to self-service theft each
year.

“From time to time, we see customers scan the wrong items, so we’ve turned on weigh scales to help shoppers validate the items are going through,” the spokesperson said.

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Thousands support Racewars 2020

IN JUST over a week a Facebook post announcing Racewars 2020 was a go has garnered more than 2500 people pledging support for the event to run.

Last week the Racewars Facebook page posted the 2020 event would be back and better than ever, with organisers citing “unfinished business to attend to”.

Event organiser Jon Murray said the easiest thing would have been to walk away after the fatal crash that occurred on day two of this year’s event.

“That would have been detrimental to grassroots motorsport and to the local community which benefits from the event,” he said.

“On a personal level it’s no secret I had intended to make RW19 my last event.

“We believe in what we’re doing so we keep doing it.”

Mr Murray said Racewars 2019 could be remembered for the death of Albany raised Brody Ford, but said he felt it was an inaccurate representation of the weekend as a whole.

“We were on target to smash our weekend attendance record, we broke more national records than I can remember, we put on a damn good show and it ran really well,” he said.

“The fact we were able to gather ourselves up on Monday morning and successfully deliver the inaugural Racewars Sprint after all that happened and under intense scrutiny shows we were on the right track in 2019.”

During a City of Albany council meeting on May 28, Council voted to request Racewars to submit a business case for the 2020 event.

Mr Murray said a case had been submitted to the City and that the proposal was in line with statements made earlier in the year that the event needed commercial and government sources of funding to go ahead into the future.

“The City is naturally being very prudent and wants us to have secured commercial support before they also secure the event so a lot of things are poised ready to roll once we chew through the last of the due process and due diligence,” he said.

Mr Murray said he had discussed with the City to start promoting next year’s event despite approval for Racewars 2020 still pending.

“It was agreed that it was in everyone’s benefit for it to proceed and bring back some confidence around both Racewars and the City’s commitment to doing all it can to ensure Racewars continues in Albany,” he said.

“We’ve also made it clear we’re not taking a cent from anyone until pens are on paper.”

Mr Murray said the crash this year was nothing short of an absolute tragedy, something that no one could have foreseen and “almost impossible to prevent”.

Mr Murray said it could take years for the Coroner’s case into Mr Brody’s death to be finalised.

“We will of course learn from 2019, of course we never want to see anyone at any motorsport event get injured or worse and of course we will do all we can so our competitors can go racing and go home afterwards,” he said.

“To suggest we do nothing but sit around and wait is to my mind counterproductive to what we stand for.”

City Acting Chief Executive Officer Susan Kay said they would be conducting additional due diligence checks and would seek an independent review into Racewars 2019.

“Racewars is fully aware that a decision to support the event from the City’s perspective will not occur until all required information is available,” she said.

“Albany has a long history of supporting motorsport events and we want to continue to encourage and grow safe and responsible motorsport events in the region, however City officers must ensure Council has all the facts about Racewars to ensure it can make a considered decision.”

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