All eyes on skate park

THE Shire of Denmark installed a live camera at the Denmark Skate Park last week, providing the opportunity for users to view conditions at the park in real time.

In recent years live streaming public venues via web cams has become common practice for many local governments across the country.

Shire director of corporate and community services Cary Green said the live stream enables users to view the skate park conditions at any time.

“It’s a popular practice,” he said.

“Surf cameras located at various beaches around the state including our Ocean Beach are great for surfers and tourists.”

Mr Green said the cameras will provide comfort for parents and an opportunity for park users to assess the conditions from home or anywhere they can access the internet.

“We acknowledge that the service may raise some concerns,” he said.

“We’ll be guided by community opinion on the issue.

“We’ll welcome any and all feedback on the project.”

To celebrate the new service the Shire will hold an art competition for a design to be used as a backdrop frame to the live cam window on the shire website.

The competition is open to Denmark youth aged 10 to 17 years old with the winner receiving a $100 voucher to Big Drop Surf Shop.

Entries can be submitted from June 25 until July 27.

For more information on the competition or have a look at the Denmark Skate Park live stream head to www.denmark.wa.go.au/ residents/denmark-skate-park.

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MPs square off over GM compo inquiry

WHETHER farmers of non-genetically modified crops should be compensated for contamination by growers of GM plants is a bone of contention between two politicians whose electoral regions together span the entire Great Southern.

In her submission to a Parliamentary inquiry into ways of compensating farmers for loss caused by GM material, Greens WA MLC for South West Diane Evers recommends that a compensation fund, cashed up by GM seed merchants, be established.

Ms Evers argues it is “imperative that appropriate protection is provided for GM-free growers as soon as possible, so that they can confidently exercise their democratic right to farm as they see fit”.

She asserts that more than 28 countries in the European Union – including Germany and France – have bans on growing GM crops, and many also ban GM imports.

“In South Australia, of course, the Greens secured legislation to extend the moratorium on growing genetically modified crops until September 2025,” she submits.

“However, in the absence of a ban, a package of measures – with a farmer protection fund as a centrepiece – should be developed to ensure that Western Australia can reliably supply GM-free produce to global markets, and has a reputation for being able to do so.”

Ms Evers cites a WA Government report she says acknowledges is it not possible to eliminate the risk of GM contamination.

“The court case involving Kojonup farmers Steve Marsh and Michael Baxter, in which it was decided that [Mr Baxter] growing a genetically modified crop was not liable for economic loss suffered by his neighbour’s loss of organic certification when GM seeds escaped and established on [Mr Marsh’s] farm, demonstrates the need for dispute resolution to avoid expensive legal cases, and for a mechanism that helps to avoid dispute in the first place,” she opines.

Ms Evers recommends that consideration be given to introducing an alternative dispute resolution service for farming communities where GM crops are grown.

But Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party (WA) MLC for Agricultural Region Rick Mazza argues that current Commonwealth and State laws are adequate to resolve significant disputes.

“There should be no need to add to it and further complicate regulatory matters for Western Australian farmers,” his submission states.

He notes the Marsh v Baxter case provides the “only reliable factual evidence on economic loss suffered by farmers in Western Australia caused by contamination from GM material”.

“From a legal point of view, Mr Baxter’s lawful use of his own land did not constitute a wrongful interference with Mr Marsh’s use or enjoyment of his land,” he declares.

“Further, Mr Marsh was deemed to have put his land to an abnormally sensitive use and he could not unilaterally enlarge his own rights and impose limitations on his neighbours to a greater extent than would otherwise be the case.”

In another submission, University of Western Australia Professor of Agriculture Kadambot Siddique says there has been “no visible impact from the introduction of GM canola in Western Australia”.

“Growing both types of crops is possible on the same farm, because the two types of canola seed, GM and non-GM, are marketed separately in national and international markets,” he submits.

“Therefore, it is unclear what the parliamentary committee will investigate.”

Professor Siddique advises there is no evidence of loss to non-GM growers in WA.

“In fact, the opposite occurs – non-GM growers are favoured by higher prices for non-GM product that meets the EU standards …,” he states.

“The use of GM technology has been, and will continue to be, very valuable to help feed the world and improve the economy of Western Australia.

“GM canola growers and non-GM canola growers have learned to live together, and will continue to do so as new GM products are approved through the federal regulatory system.”

The inquiry is expected to report in early 2019.

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Busy Harvest calendar

A BIT of every type of cinema is on the agenda next month for Film Harvest Great Southern.

The June calendar will wind up next week with Aurore on June 27, an arthouse comedy about a recently separated 50-year-old who rekindles the spark between herself and the love of her teenage life.

Lost in Paris will play on July 4 and tells the story of a small-town librarian who goes on a wild goose chase to find her aunt, who has mysteriously vanished after writing her niece a letter of distress.

Edie screens on July 11, and this drama stars an elderly lady who escapes her colourless English life for a climbing adventure up Mount Suilven in Scotland.

Brothers’ Nest is on July 18 and has been labelled a ‘dark comedy’.

The film follows two brothers intent on killing their new stepdad, who is about to inherit everything their sick mum has in a new will.

To wrap up July, Two is a Family will play on July 25.

It tells the story of a man whose A-lister life is turned upside down when his infant daughter is given to him by an ex-lover.

After failed attempts to return the baby to his ex, Samuel decides to raise his little girl.

His relationship with his daughter is tested eight years later when the girl’s mother unexpectedly shows up.

All films commence at 6.15pm on their respective Wednesday nights at Orana Cinemas.

Tickets can be purchased online at oranacinemas.com.au or at the box office, and cost $16 for adults, and $13 for seniors and children.

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Power of imagination

A HEARTWARMING tale of a tiny man with a love for writing will play at the Albany Entertainment Centre next week and director Luke Kerridge said audiences can expect a journey of the imagination, the heart and the full emotional spectrum.

Bambert’s Book of Lost Stories follows Bambert, a teeny man portrayed by a puppet, whose only companions are the characters he creates in his stories.

He decides to send his stories out into the world on little balloons, in the hope they will find a home.

He asks the finders of the balloons to return the stories with a stamp, to show where they have landed, but when no stories return, Bambert’s hope fades.

Kerridge said the great gift of the Barking Gecko Theatre show is seeing the world through Bambert’s eyes.

“People who are a little bit different sometimes have the benefit of seeing things other people can’t,” he said.

“In Bambert’s case, I think he has some great insights to offer us about the beauty of moving slowly, the value of inner reflection and the power of imagination over reality.

“Bambert’s stories take you across the globe… some of them are bright and fun, some of them dark and melancholy, but they are all full of hope.

“Audience members have often described the show as an emotional workout!”

Bambert’s Book of Lost Stories was adapted for the stage by Kerridge and Dan Giovannoni from the original story by Reinhardt Jung, and features puppetry combined with real life actors.

Kerridge said he initially found the puppetry element quite challenging.

“I remember our early rehearsals felt so technical; it was constant problem-solving as the team tried to develop the style and perfect the physical score,” he said.

“However, over time this also became the most enjoyable part.

“To watch Bambert come to life in the hands of Tim Watts (our lead puppeteer) was really thrilling.

“I still marvel at how effortless it all seems now, but that really wasn’t the case in the beginning.”

For artistic director Matt Edgerton, Bambert’s Book of Lost Stories was his first show with the theatre company.

“When Luke brought this story to me, I was incredibly excited by his vision for the show,” he said.

“I was the dramaturg on the show, which meant that I worked really closely with Luke and his co-writer Dan Giovannoni as they crafted the script.”

Edgerton said he was very proud of the result.

“It felt like it was a story whose central theme was the transformative power of imagination and art – the idea that even if you’re small, you can accomplish amazing things,” he said.

“These themes still feel absolutely right for Barking Gecko Theatre and what we’re all about.”

Tickets for the June 30 show at the AEC are still available and can be purchased through the box office or online via Ticketek.

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Ongerup OAMs return

HUSBAND-and-wife Order of Australia Medal recipients Barry and Jan Savage have moved back to Albany after more than 40 years living, working and volunteering in the small Great Southern town of Ongerup.

Since the Ongerup and wider Gnowangerup community threw the couple a farewell in March, the couple has been tidying up personal affairs in anticipation of their big move to Bayonet Head.

“We’re in Albany full-time now,” Mr Savage told The Weekender this week.

Last year he received an Order of Australia Medal in recognition of his prolific volunteer work as an ambulance officer, firefighter, and board member of Yongergnow Malleefowl Centre – among a string of other community roles.

Mrs Savage, who for 12 years served as Gnowangerup Shire President, received her OAM in 2005 for services to the shire and community.

In 1975 the couple moved from Albany to Ongerup to run the local tyre shop.

In Ongerup they raised a family and took on the school bus run.

Their recent return to the South Coast does not mean an end to their active community involvement.

“I think it’s important,” Mr Savage said.

“I’m doing a couple of [ambulance] shifts with St John’s, and I joined the local over-55 bike group and go riding every Wednesday.

“Jan’s joined the local book club and is still involved with Justice of the Peace work.”

On top of that, Mr and Mrs Savage are still active with the malleefowl centre, which ensures regular visits back to Ongerup.

“We’re going up this week for a Yongergnow meeting,” Mr Savage said.

Last week, the Yongergnow-Ongerup Community Resource Centre asked locals not to ride motorbikes or drive on tracks near the malleefowls’ enclosure, as a chick had died recently after possibly being frightened by a passing vehicle.

“What happened to it, whether it got spooked and ran into the fence, we’re not sure,” Mr Savage said.

“They’re becoming a little bit of a problem.

“The breeding success rate was a little bit too good.”

This year, Yongergnow malleefowls Maggie and Drei bred like billyo, producing no less than 19 chicks (‘Malleefowl love nest’ , March 30).

“We’re having a bit of trouble giving them all away,” Mr Savage said.

“We’ve got to get EPA approval for where we can put them.”

Asked if having too many chicks to find homes for was in some ways a nice problem to have, Mr Savage said: “It certainly is unique”.

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Bethel goes K-12

A NEW building addition to its campus and an expansion in the schooling program will make Bethel Christian School the fourth school in Albany to cater for students from kindergarten to year 12.

Principal Mim Butler guided The Weekender through an exclusive tour of the school’s new Early Learning Centre on Tuesday and said the $6.7 million, 18-month project is set to wrap up in early July.

Ms Butler said the new centre will have the capacity to hold 200 students and provide the school with the space to retain year 10 students through to year 11 and 12, after a need to expand the school’s K-10 status was identified.

The new Early Learning Centre will house kindergarten, pre-primary, and years one and two students.

The current Bethel campus will cater for years three to 12 students.

Next year will see the first group of year 11s continue their education at Bethel, and 2020 will be the first year the school has a year 12 graduating class.

“We’ve been landlocked for 37 years,” Ms Butler said, when asked why the school had not previously expanded.

“People would ask us why we don’t go to year 12, and I would say, ‘well, where are we going to put them?’”

Ms Butler said a survey was conducted in 2014 and it identified a need for the school to include year 11 and 12 in its program.

However, the issue of campus space still remained as the main barrier to the school’s expansion.

A silver lining appeared in 2016 when an acre-sized property across the road from the school hit the market.

The previous property owners’ daughter alerted the school to the sale and provided Ms Butler the opportunity she needed to increase the campus’s capacity.

The Weekender’s tour through the Early Learning Centre revealed its brand-new plush coloured carpets, colour-tinted windows, interactive whiteboards, whiteboard desks, a three-storey cubby house, slides and climbing walls.

Ms Butler said she is more than happy with the final product.

“I’m very excited,” she said.

“It’s been full-on but I’m happy.

“We’ve just got the carpark and stairs to go now.”

Ms Butler said the school will hold an official opening and celebratory event in October during the first week of term four to unveil the Early Learning Centre.

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Burn-off caution urged

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A stadium by any other name

CENTENNIAL STADIUM will no longer be known by that name if moves to sell the naming rights to Albany’s main football venue for at least $50,000 a year succeed.

In The Weekender, the City of Albany has sought proposals by 2pm on June 28 to buy the stadium’s naming rights.

The City says the sale is “a significant opportunity for a suitable organisation to grow their brand and marketing reach throughout Albany and the wider Great Southern region”.

The City asserts the arrangement would suit “an iconic national or Western Australian brand”, an outfit already established in the Great

Southern and wishing to grow its market share, one new to the region, one wishing to demonstrate its commitment to regional Australia, or one wishing to reinforce a “bricks and mortar brand position”.

A minimum $50,000-a-year deal over three years, with a right to renew for three years, is also on the cards.

President of the Albany Ratepayers and Residents Association Elizabeth Barton said rebranding the stadium with a corporate name disrespected the area’s rich sporting history.

She said the name ‘Albany Oval’ would be preferable to any corporate moniker.

“What?! $50,000-a-year?” she said when told of the minimum price sought.

“You’ve got to be kidding.

“This is Albany, not Perth.”

Asked if the venue could be re-badged ‘Albany Stadium’ to promote Albany to tourists and investors, City Executive Director Corporate Services Michael Cole said the City had “made a substantial investment into the construction of the stadium and welcomes opportunities for public-private partnerships that will contribute to the ongoing sustainability of the facility and increase return on investment for ratepayers”.

Mr Cole said the deal was only for the stadium building, which would remain part of the Centennial Park Sporting Precinct.

Asked if the City’s Buy Local policy would apply to the arrangement, Mr Cole said the City would “look favourably” at a bid from a local group.

“In the absence of any suitable local or regional organisations wishing to take on the sponsorship, organisations that are from outside of the region will still be considered,” he added.

A glossy nine-page brochure explains that large signs featuring the successful tenderer’s brand will be erected on the stadium building.

Other benefits include the name of the brand on event tickets and advertising signs around the oval and scoreboard.

The successful tenderer will be offered free use of meeting rooms up to five times a year, the main hall twice a year, and the oval.

Further inducements include tickets to City of Albany events at the oval, two free adult memberships for the Albany Leisure and Aquatic Centre, and 10 free passes to the National Anzac Centre.

Asked whether the option of retaining the words ‘Centennial Stadium’ in a sponsored name had been considered, Mr Cole said, “The words used in the venue name will be based on the ability to deliver the appropriate level of brand recognition in line with the investment being made by the sponsor, subject to required selection criteria and sponsorship policy guidelines”.

He said the City “currently” had no plans to sell the naming rights of other venues.

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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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