Naomi’s vision inspires

ALBANY’S Naomi Lake lives by the motto ‘anything is possible’.

Determined to not let her Down Syndrome prevent her from living life, Ms Lake has strived to give everything her best shot and has the results to prove her success.

She’ll be at this year’s Albany Ability Festival on December 5 to showcase her work.

The 28-year-old published her own book in 2014 and toured it more than 4000km across the state last year.

The book, Harmony the Forgetful Hen and the Lost Eggs, was inspired by a few cluckas she spotted one morning, and it allowed her to pursue her writing dream.

“Ever since high school, I’ve wanted to be an author,” she said.

“When I saw the chickens, I could see the characters and that’s where I saw Harmony.”

Ms Lake said she was excited to see her story in a tangible format once it was published, and in celebration, she created a real life Harmony and her baby chicks.

She sewed them from scratch and made a couple of Harmony replicas too, which she’ll sell at the Albany Ability Festival along with copies of her book and Christmas stockings and aprons she’s made.

“Perfect for presents,” Ms Lake smiled.

Festival coordinator Denise Kay said more than 10 other market stallholders will join Ms Lake in the Albany Town Square for the event and encouraged everyone to come down and have a look.

“The ethos is about bringing the whole community together and showing peoples’ abilities,” she said.

“Everyone can do anything.”

Ms Kay said other market stalls would include sculptures, crafts, handmade cards, paintings and jewellery.

Live entertainment will be provided by Emily O’Brien and Connor Menezies from Albany Light Opera and Theatre Company’s Let’s Shine production, the Spencer Park Education Support Centre choir, Terry McKintosh and Highland Hustle among many other acts between 10am and 2pm.

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Wave power pain looms

ALBANY will “wear the pain” if Carnegie does not deliver a wave energy plant for the city, NationalsWA Leader Mia Davies told Parliament this week after the struggling company said it would not meet a revised milestone for State funding.

On Tuesday, heated debate over the plant dominated proceedings in the Legislative Assembly for the second time in recent sittings.

Earlier that day, the ABC aired audio of Carnegie CEO Jonathan Fievez saying the firm would not meet a renegotiated State-set deadline to prove it could finance the wave farm.

“We certainly won’t have $26 mil- lion in a bank account within three weeks,” he said.

“Carnegie’s always been a company that’s raised money to continue to do the work it does.

“It’s reshaped projects as required.”

In Parliament, Ms Davies did not share Mr Fievez’ confidence.

“What an absolute debacle!” she said.

“The government is doggedly defending a sinking ship; there can be no other way to describe Carnegie Clean Energy.

“Despite every new revelation that Carnegie is under a cloud and is un- able to meet its commitments, come hell or high water this government, this Premier and this Minister for Regional Development…is so entangled in this business that the Government cannot back out.”

Ms Davies said the Government would eventually back out, and when it did Albany’s goal to become a 100 per cent renewable energy city would be “left in tatters”.

She said the “community of Albany will wear the pain”.

Opposition Leader Mike Nahan shared Ms Davies’ concerns.

“Look at its balance sheet – [Carnegie] does not have the money!” he said.

“Where is Carnegie going to get $25.6 million for the project?”

He recounted that in July, Carnegie renegotiated its first contract milestone with the State, receiving a half-payment of $2.625 million and a promise of the other $2.625 million – if, by the end of the year, it demonstrated it could finance the plant.

“The negotiation took place and … Carnegie got the money on 28 August,” Dr Nahan said.

“The next day the final audit reports came out and they said that this business is on the way to insolvency.”

Dr Nahan said Carnegie got the $2.625 million after the audit had been completed.

“Did the Premier and Minister for Energy ask to look at the books before they handed over the $2.6 million?” he posed.

“If they had, they would have seen an audit report saying this firm, on its standing, is going under.”

In Carnegie’s financial report for the year ended June 30, an independent auditor concludes there is “material uncertainty that may cast significant doubt about [Carnegie]’s ability to continue as a going concern”.

The auditor highlighted that Carnegie incurred a net loss after tax of $63,349,694 and net cash outflows of $7,193,984 for the year and had $8,436,530 cash at the bank.

In an announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange on October 31, Carnegie nominated receipt of the State’s $2.625 million as a “highlight”.

On Tuesday, the company took a $2 million loan from a firm controlled by Carnegie director and former AFL chairman Mike Fitzpatrick.

The loan will cost Carnegie eight per cent a year until February 28, after which it skyrockets to 18 per cent.

Responding to a motion by Ms Davies that the contract with Carnegie be cancelled and Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan be removed from her portfolio, Premier Mark McGowan said she was “doing a very good job and is a hardworking and diligent minister in her responsibilities”.

“As the Minister for Regional Development said on a couple of occasions, … the Federal Government has changed the research and development tax arrangements to limit and cap them at $4 million, which obviously affects Carnegie’s business model because it is a research and development company,” Mr McGowan added.

Ms Davies’ motion was lost, along party lines, 15 votes to 36.

A subsequent motion by Warren-Blackwood MLA Terry Redman – that an inquiry into the awarding and amendment of the wave energy project be initiated – was lost along party lines 15-35.

Mr Fievez declined to speak to The Weekender.

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Waffle goes but praise flows

NOVEMBER 8 was eventful for Albany MLA Peter Watson who as Speaker of the Legislative Assembly turfed Opposition Leader Mike Nahan out and was later showered with praise by Premier Mark McGowan.

Mr Watson called Dr Nahan to order four times before finally turfing him from Parliament, after counselling him on asking long questions.

Later, Deputy Opposition Leader Liza Harvey asked Mr McGowan why, according to her, he planned to privatise the Albany wind farm, “thereby sidelining local Albany workers and businesses who were employed to maintain it”.

Mr McGowan theorised that Mrs Harvey had fallen into a trap.

“I think the Leader of the Opposition deliberately got himself thrown out and gave a false question to the member for Scarborough to make her look stupid,” he continued.

“It was a cunning plan on his behalf to set the member up in that way.

“I have no idea what the member is talking about —”

Interjecting, Mrs Harvey accused Mr McGowan of demeaning the position of Premier “with this nonsense”.

Mr McGowan said he had “no idea” what she was referring to.

“But I will say this: Albany is one of my favourite towns,” he segued.

“It has been well represented now for the last 17 years by one of the finest members for Albany I have ever seen!”

Several members interjected, and again Mr Watson stepped in.

“Members, I want to hear this!” he quipped.

Mr McGowan resumed, saying the Speaker had been “a terrific member for Albany”.

“He won the seat unexpectedly and has held it in every election since,” he recounted.

“It is now a city that I think is one of the pre-eminent places in regional Australia for people to live, have a great lifestyle with great community facilities, and good employment prospects.”

After Mr McGowan said most of that came down to Mr Watson’s hard work, Mrs Harvey launched a supplementary question.

“Given the Premier’s answer applauding the actions of the member for Albany, can the Premier advise whether the member for Albany has contacted him with respect to these businesses and workers who no longer have work at Albany wind farm; and, has the member for Albany approached the Premier’s office to get $6.6 million of funding for the GenesisCare cancer centre?,” she posed.

“You said he was a great member.

“[The Premier] didn’t answer anything about the wind farm.”

Mr Watson told Mrs Harvey that her question had been asked.

“Even though I am hurt by it, I want to hear [the answer],” he said.

Mr McGowan said that Minister for Energy Ben Wyatt was sitting to his right.

“If the member has any of these claims, he could have been asked,” the Premier chided.

“I have the Minister for Health sitting to my right if the member is asking about some health-related issue that I am unaware of.

“I am proud of all the work we have done in Albany, and I am proud of the work the Member for Albany has done.”

Image: Mr Watson does some housework back in Albany. Photo: Anthony Probert

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Centre shot fired

ALBANY, Denmark and Plantagenet have jointly lodged a proposal to host the State’s bushfire centre of excellence but the Government will not reveal who else is in the running.

Asked this week if the consortium of councils from the Lower Great Southern did throw its hat in the ring, as The Weekender revealed they had planned to (‘Joint bid for centre’, 18 October), a City of Albany spokesman said “yes”.

Asked in Parliament on November 6 to release names of metropolitan and regional municipalities that had lodged a proposal, Labor MLC Stephen Dawson on behalf of Emergency Services Minister Fran Logan said he could not.

Liberal MLC for South West Steve Thomas had told Parliament that, as the process was not a formal tender one, commercial-in-confidence provisions did not apply.

But through Mr Dawson, Mr Logan said the process had been conduct according to a State procurement guide that required details of proposals to be kept under wraps.

Unless the State makes an announcement in the meantime, the public will only learn which metropolitan and regional municipalities were in the running after a decision has been made on the winner.

Dr Thomas further asked whether the State was seeking concurrent Federal funding for the centre.

The metropolitan Perth Shire of Serpentine-Jarrahdale has proposed that $5 million of Federal money go toward a $23 million centre within its boundaries.

“Our Shire is ideally situated to support this facility,” a Serpentine-Jarrahdale glossy says.

“Only 40 minutes from the Perth CBD and well-connected to regional centres across WA via transport infrastructure, we are also passionate about local emergency response.

“Our Shire has a range of existing relationships with key stakeholders such as the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, local environmental groups, tertiary institutions and primary producers.”

The City of Albany spokesman said Federal funding had not been a part of the Great Southern submission.

“We have not yet received any feedback regarding the submission,” he said.

Dr Thomas, who is Shadow Minister for Emergency Services, has been consulting widely on the centre with municipalities in the Great Southern and Southwest.

Based on these consultations he recently said he anticipated proposals from the Lower Great Southern group of three, Pinjarra and Waroona or a combination of both, Collie, Bunbury possibly in partnership with Dardanup or Collie, Busselton and Manjimup.

He has been urging the Government not to base the centre – which aims to train volunteer fire fighters – in metropolitan Perth.

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Exports clean sweep

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Albany expert on panel

ALBANY-based palliative care specialist Kirsten Auret says she will approach the topic of voluntary assisted dying with intellectual and emotional openness following her appointment to the expert panel that will draft legislation to be put to State Parliament.

On Monday, Health Minister Roger Cook said a bill to legalise voluntary assisted dying would be presented to Parliament in 2019 with members of Parliament offered a conscience vote.

Dr Auret has 20 years’ experience in the field, is the deputy director for the Rural Clinical School of Western Australia and an Associate Professor with the University of Western Australia.

“I was quite vocal during the Joint Select Committee hearings earlier this year,” she told The Weekender.

“I spoke at a hearing in Perth about my medical students and assessing competency with medically unwell patients and also spoke at the hearing in Albany.

“I guess that’s why the Minister for Health gave me a call and asked if I would sit on the panel.

“I felt that it was important for the community for the Bill to be tabled, so I joined.”

Dr Auret said a wide range of perspectives would be heard during the panel meetings, with the group consisting of a mixture of health and law professionals.

“There are law, health, palliative, geriatric and intensive care experts that will get some balanced opinions for the wider community,” she said.

“Going into this panel, I need to listen to the views of the community so we can draft good legislation that is in the best interests of everyone.

“It’s an extremely divisive topic. We need to look at previous legislation, for example Victoria’s Bill, and we also need to look at making the legislation fit WA’s culture.

Dr Auret said the panel needed to consider if assisted dying was the best way to relieve suffering for people who wanted to relieve their suffering.

“We need to act with kindness and compassion as doctors, and the Bill needs to honour that,” she said.

Dr Auret said she hoped other recommendations in the My Life, My Choice report concerning palliative care would be addressed in the future.

“There is a concern articulated that the further you get from Albany or from the city, it is more and more difficult to access palliative care,” she said.

“Albany is very, very blessed to have the hospice and the palliative care nurses. The further away you are though is an issue.

“If the legislation goes through, I hope that the other recommendations that were made are also taken up.

“Palliative care is a less controversial good to discuss.”

The first panel meeting is set for early December.

Joining Dr Auret on the panel are Dr Penny Flett, Dr Scott Blackwell, Dr Roger Hunt, Dr Elissa Campbell, Dr Simon Towler, Kate George, Fiona Seaward, Noreen Fynn, Samantha Jenkinson and former Governor of WA Malcolm McCusker as chair.

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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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More women wanted

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Carnegie connection

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

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

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

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

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

REDMAN AND COLLIER QUESTIONS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘BEST PRACTICE PROCUREMENT’

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

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

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

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

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

DIVESTED STAKE

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

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

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

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

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

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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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