Redundancy call at Advertiser

THE Seven West Media conglomerate that owns the Albany Advertiser, Great Southern Herald and The Extra newspapers has called for redundancies at those mastheads weeks after the newspapers appointed a new reporter and advertised for another.

Recently, The Advertiser recruited a reporter from the independent Examiner newspaper in Perth’s eastern suburbs to fill the shoes of a journalist who had departed for Perth.

At the same time, the Great Southern Herald advertised to fill the role of its Katanning-based journalist who also moved back to Perth recently to take a job in the public relations industry.

Yesterday, the new CEO of Seven West Media Maryna Fewster told one of her business journalists that this week’s call for redundancies at the company’s 19 regional newspapers aimed to reduce duplication, and ensure a strong focus on editorial content.

The redundancies do not affect The Great Southern Weekender, which is the only locally owned newspaper to be delivered in Albany and around the Great Southern.

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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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Prem breathes again

YORK STREET pedestrians could have been forgiven for thinking the burned out shell of the Premier Hotel was trading once more when National Party movers and shakers held a meet-and-greet there on Friday.

With a rebuild progressing at the hotel after an arson attack gutted the State heritage-listed building in 2016, the Nationals held a sausage sizzle in the al fresco area at the corner of Grey Street.

Nationals leader Mia Davies said there was no particular significance in her party’s choice of venue but she was happy to play a small part in the re-emergence of an important Albany landmark.

“We’ve had nearly the whole of our Parliamentary State team and two of our Federal candidates in Albany for an afternoon yesterday, a sundowner yesterday afternoon meeting community and non-government organisations and volunteers, and then we spread out today across the city meeting various people who fall within our portfolios,” she told The Weekender.

“It’s been a great two days.

“The name of the game is for us to be here listening and also to introduce the whole team and state very clearly that we as the Nationals have a very clear view towards [the] 2021 [State election] and regional West Australians can still count on us to take up the fight on their behalf.”

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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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Sandalwood jobs ‘secured’

CREDITORS have accepted a plan receivers say will save all 221 jobs at floundering company Quintis that owns Albany’s Mt Romance sandalwood factory, and provide a better return for unsecured creditors than available under a liquidation scenario.

McGrathNicol partners Jason Preston, Shaun Fraser and Robert Brauer – who in January were appointed receivers of Quintis – say that on Monday the company’s creditors voted for an arrangement that “represents another important step in seeing the business emerge as a private company”.

The three receivers said Quintis would emerge in “a very strong financial position and well placed to continue its strategy as the world’s leading marketer, producer and seller of sandalwood timber, oil and products”.

Last week, the men said the arrangement would mean Quintis’ 221 workers – which includes staff at Mt Romance – would retain their jobs (‘Creditors to vote on Sandalwood jobs plan’, 7 June).

The men now say the vote is an endorsement of their strategy to recapitalise Quintis and its subsidiary companies with between $125 million and $175 million new cash.

They say the cash will be injected into the business to fund long-term operations, and the arrangement is the “best path forward for all creditors, including employees and growers”.

The men aim to complete the recapitalisation by late August.

Last week, they said the arrangement would see workers who were made redundant in the early stages of the receivership have their entitlements paid in full.

In March, a McGrathNicol spokeswoman told The Weekender none of the redundancies would be from the Albany factory (‘Sandalwood jobs axe misses Mt Romance’, March 1).

An additional $20 million had been made available for ongoing operations while the receivership concludes.

The 60,000sqm Mt Romance plant on Albany’s northern outskirts is the world’s largest distiller of sandalwood oil.

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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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Frenchies’ last resort

DEVELOPERS have been granted twice as long as usual to build a tourist resort at Frenchman Bay, which has been on the drawing board in one shape or another since 2009.

As revealed last week (‘Frenchies resort approval primed’, June 7), the $10 million project came to a State-convened assessment panel on Monday with a recommendation of approval from City of Albany staff.

In an hour-long meeting, the panel – comprising three State-appointed planners, Albany Mayor Dennis Wellington and his councillor colleague Bill Hollingworth – unanimously approved the 24-villa resort and 76-seat cafe.

But not before David Congdon of Harley Dykstra planners, acting on behalf of land–owner MTK Ventures, sought an extension of the allowable completion timeframe from two to four years.

Mr Congdon said the extra time was needed to monitor groundwater before construction commenced, and to comply with management plans mandated for the elevated beachfront site that commands majestic views over King George Sound.

He said the caravan park, which closed in 2006, had been “an important meeting place” for the Albany community and the resort would “reintroduce this offering” in a contemporary way.

If built as approved, the resort will be the end of a protracted process that in 2009 saw Dykstra Planning unsuccessfully apply for 100 units at the site on behalf of an entity called Frenchman Bay 5 Star Resort Unit Trust.

More recently, MTK Ventures withdrew an application for 30 units, including 10 unrestricted-stay ones, after 28 objections were lodged.

Mr Congdon said the approvals process for the current project had been “a lengthy journey”.

Cr Hollingworth agreed.

“It certainly has taken a bit of time to come together,” he said.

Mr Wellington said planning conditions for the resort were “extensive and very well worked out by all parties”.

“I think it will be a very, very good development,” he added.

At the meeting, Frenchman Bay Association President Catherine Macdonald said the residents’ lobby group supported the resort “in general”, provided all conditions were complied with “in full”.

Last year, her predecessor Tony Kinlay (‘Goode plan, wrong place’, October 19) and Traditional Custodian Lynette Knapp (‘A mighty Wagyl breathes here’, November 23) said a resort at the defunct van park would be better, environmentally and culturally, than one planned for a greenfield site at nearby Goode Beach.

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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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