Coffee shop quiz

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Players lighten the mood

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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Hill climb sell-out

THE chance to drive a bit faster than the speed limit up Albany’s Marine Drive has proven too tempting for motoring enthusiasts, with tickets for the Racewars Sprint selling out in less than 24 hours.

Event director Jonathan Murray said the 3km Middleton Beach Hill Climb had exceeded all expectations for ticket sales.

“The level of interest has been nothing short of astounding,” he said.

“It looks like it will become an iconic headline event in its own right.”

Tickets are still available for the standard competitor entries for the 1/4 mile and 1/2 roll racing sessions at Albany Airport over the March long weekend.

Murray said the future of Racewars would be centered around more non-competitive car culture events.

“Runway racing will continue to underpin the event with strong support for ancillary events like the hill climb,” he said.

“To keep growing we need to increase off-track activities, especially those that make use of the region’s world-class natural advantages and tourism infrastructure.

“Over the run until the December holidays, we’ll be announcing new noncompetitive and social aspects of the event people can participate in as we look to grow the event.”

Murray said Albany’s status as a motorsport town was further cemented following the City of Albany’s approval to purchase land for the Great Southern Motorplex last month.

“Albany has been at the heart of WA’s motorsport history since the 1930s,” he said.

“With new developments like the Great Southern Motorplex now on the horizon, Albany is ideally positioned to further entrench its position at the heart of our community.

“Ultimately motorsport, while not to everyone’s taste, is to everyone’s benefit both socially and economically.

“It’s great to see Albany capitalise on the opportunities this sector presents.”

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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.


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”.


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.”


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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Kings of the road

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

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

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

“It’s been terrific,” Ayres said.

“It’s been such a great opportunity.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“But yeah, it’s definitely worth it.”

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

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

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

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

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

Tetlow said his high light came after their first performance.

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

Taylor explained how supportive their fans had been.

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

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

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

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

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YouTuber steps in for Kanye

AUSSIE YouTube star and self-proclaimed loose unit Alex Williamson is heading to Albany next week for a show “so wrong, it’s wrong”.

Williamson first hit YouTube in 2003 with the likes of his seven-part Sweet AFL Dream Team series, The Summer of Ben Cousins, and later his most renowned series, Loosest Aussie Bloke Ever.

Along the way, he’s roped in MC Eso from Aussie hip hop trio Bliss n Eso, and fellow Aussie comedians Troy Kinne, Superwog and Frenchy, to perform skits about standard Aussie banter, sex, drugs, booty calls, Pokemon and his beloved C-word.

From there, Williamson’s career spun into an international one, leaving behind his high school teaching career to entertain on stages across Australia and the UK, and wrangling interviews with actors Sacha Baron Cohen, Jennifer Aniston, Harrison Ford, Robin Williams, Ryan Reynolds and Tom Felton.

Williamson spoke to The Weekender while enjoying the sunshine back home in regional South Australia between his Renmark and Ipswich performances of his So Wrong, It’s Wrong tour.

“I was a quiet little kid,” he said, reflecting on his childhood.

“People always ask was I funny in school and I say, ‘nah, I was a f***in’ quiet loser’.

“But I was always talking to people, I never shunned anyone out.”

Williamson said he chose to embrace the Aussie bogan stereotype in his videos because there was “no point” denying it.

“It was hiding deep within,” Williamson laughed.

“Now I’ve realised I’m a bogan, I’m living life to the fullest.”

He said despite being Aussie through and through, he’s had people question his lineage due to his “Aussie-isms” and ocker accent.

“I was overseas and someone came up to me and thought I was doing well, because they thought English was my second language,” Williamson chuckled.

“But when I’m overseas I want to Aussie it up a bit…I flick the Aussie knob to 110 per cent.

“And in the UK, they love it!

“They’ve just got this fascination… but I did feel like I should’ve been in the bogan enclosure at London Zoo.”

His speech has confused a few Americans on his travels too.

“I was at a house party in the US talking to this girl,” Williamson began.

“And at the end of the conversation, I said, ‘ah, fair-o!’ and she looked at me and said, ‘whaaat? Like an Egyptian Pharoah?’”

Williamson is keen to get around regional Australia where everyone “speaks his language”.

“You know us country folk, we can read Harry Potter out loud in five minutes,” he said.

“And I can include all my Aussie-isms that I had to abandon in the UK.

“I had a joke for a UK show and the punch line was Shannon Noll, and when I realised he’s not the next Taylor Swift, I had to change it to some sh** celebrity they would know.”

When informed by The Weekender that Albany is inhabited by a predominately older demographic, Williamson said they might be “a bit stunned and shocked” by his show, but still encouraged all people to come along.

“I had a couple of 90-year-olds come to a show once because they thought they were seeing John Williamson,” he said.

“They left after 10 minutes and complained to the doorman that the only word they understood was the F-word.

“But, they said, ‘well at least he’s getting young people to the theatre’.”

Williamson said he loves regional shows and bringing something to rural towns, as he couldn’t imagine people like Kanye West would make the hike.

So, he’s “stepping in” for Kanye and performing at the Albany Entertainment Centre on November 17.

Tickets can be purchased at the AEC Box Office or online at

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