Stephens new Labor candidate

CITY of Albany Councillor Rebecca Stephens will join the fight for the Seat of Albany at the 2021 election as the candidate for WA Labor.

The Tuesday announcement was made just eight days after current Albany Labor MP Peter Watson revealed he would retire from his position at the next election.

Ms Stephens is the Regional Manager for the Great Southern-Esperance region for Worklink, has volunteered with various school and community boards and has been a member of the Albany Surf Life Saving Club for more than 20 years.

She paid tribute to outgoing Member Mr Watson.

“Albany is a better place because of what Watto has achieved,” Ms Stephens said.

“I look forward to representing my community and campaigning for the re-election of the McGowan Labor Government.”

Premier Mark McGowan described Ms Stephens as an “outstanding candidate” who was ready to “take the baton” from Mr Watson.

“I’m proud to have Rebecca on my team, so we can continue to deliver on our plan for Albany, to create new local jobs, build the infrastructure Albany needs and upgrade important health and education services,” he said.

Mr Watson said he was excited Ms Stephens had been chosen as the WA Labor candidate for Albany as she “shares the same values as I do to put Albany first”.

Albany City Motors Financial Director Scott Leary is expected to join Ms Stephens in the race for the Seat of Albany as the sole nominee for pre-selection for the WA Liberal Party.

Other political parties are yet to announce their candidates.

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Heroic war animals remembered

ANIMALS who have assisted with war efforts throughout history will be remembered at an event this weekend at Albany’s National Anzac Centre.

National War Animals Memorial Day commemorations will commence at 11am on February 23 and include a display by the 10th Light Horse Albany Troop.

Troop President Maxine Brown said this year was the first time the event had ever been held in Albany.

“It recognises all animals who have served in all wars, not just the wars within the past 100 years,” she said.

“Animals, particularly horses, were used to transport troops and gear, but animals were also used as mascots.

“And then you’ve got the explosive detective dogs that are used in Afghanistan, and a lot of dogs become very good companions to soldiers with PTSD.

“Animals are just so important.”

Premier Mark McGowan will travel to Albany to attend the Sunday event and said the opportunity to commemorate mateship and the role of loyal animals was very special.

“Animals including horses, dogs and even pigeons have been loyal mates for our troops in times of need and it is fitting we recognise their role as part of the National War Animals Memorial Day,” he said.

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Car show a rare vintage

A FAMILY passion passed down through the generations is the backbone of an annual event that showcases all things vintage cars, tractors and machinery.

This Saturday’s fifth annual Cars & Coffee is a chance for Great Southern motoring enthusiasts to display and sell their treasured collectables.

The event is the brainchild of the Walmsley family, who have been running the swapmeet since it started in 2014.

The late George Walmsley was a passionate collector of vintage machinery.

According to grandson Charles Walmsley, he owned one of the biggest Massey-Ferguson tractor collections in Australia, and passed his love for vintage pieces down the family tree.

“When my grandfather passed, it was all handed down to my father Gordon and he wanted to showcase it,” Charles said.

“He wanted to open a museum but this was the next best thing.

“We also wanted to showcase what we have and what everyone else in the community has in their collections.”

A gold coin donation gets you entry, with all proceeds going towards running the event and supporting not-for-profit group Albany Community Hospice.

There will be food vans and coffee vans onsite, or you’re welcome to bring your own snacks and refreshments.

People with interesting wares to sell are also encouraged to setup small stalls.

“The beauty of our event, unlike a lot of car shows, is people can come and go whenever they want – you don’t have to stay,” Charles said.

“We are doing it the week before Racewars as a bit of a warm up. There will be a lot of Racewars cars here.”

Charles said Cars & Coffee was a great networking opportunity for classic car enthusiasts, offering up the chance to buy a gem piece you’ve always dreamed of.

The event will be held from 10am to 3pm this Saturday at 278 Robinson Road, Albany.

For more information about the event, contact Charles Walmsley on 0439 097 515.

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Financial fight for CWA flats

IN A last-ditch effort to save Albany Seaside Flats from divestment after the budget accommodation site failed to secure funding for crucial renovations three times, its volunteer committee must raise $50,000 in the next three months for the site to be considered for funding once more.

The site, located on Flinders Parade in Middleton Beach, currently has four operational one, two and three-bedroom units.

The Country Women’s Association (CWA) of WA site was originally designed to offer affordable accommodation to regional and remote families, but now offers inexpensive accommodation to anyone.

Three older units on the site, built in 1938, were closed in 2013 after 75 years of use due to their poor condition.

Secretary Anne Radys, Finance Officer Anne Barton, Committee Member Peg Vickers and Caretaker Laura Ferrell said the Albany Seaside Flats committee had discussed taking financial and administrative control of the accommodation site for many years with the CWA of WA State Committee – so they could work on upgrading the old facilities – but it was to no avail.

Only recently, the group said, was the committee awarded the control it needed.

Now, CWA of WA has given the committee a May deadline to fundraise a minimum of $50,000 before the decision to fully fund the renovation can be put to a state vote for the fourth time.

“They are part of Albany’s social history,” Ms Vickers said of Albany Seaside Flats.

“We didn’t have much back then but staying here was something I still remember, and it was absolutely wonderful.

“Losing them now would be like giving up the crown jewels.”

The three 1938-built units in question are heritage-listed and cannot be demolished.

The other option is to fund extensive and expensive renovations.

This includes installing firewalls, asbestos removal, replacing the ceilings, updating the kitchens and replacing the floor coverings.

CWA of WA State President Elaine Johnson explained that the issue of financing these renovations had been put forward to the CWA State Conference several times, but had failed to secure support and funding each time.

“A motion was carried at State Conference in 2014 to approve renovations of units A, B and C for up to $120,000 but no funding source was identified,” she said.

“Branches were consulted by postal vote in 2016 in an attempt to seek funds to support the required renovations or return the property to the State, and the response to the vote was mixed; it did not lead to a decision to fund the renovations, and further investigation into projected costs was authorised by the Board and approved as a motion at the 2017 State Conference.

“The renovations were proposed to the membership at the State Conference as a Statewide fundraiser, but this motion was lost.”

Ms Johnson said various other proposals had been considered by the Board, but they were deemed unsuitable.

This was because the financial model was “not sufficiently proven to justify the re-allocation of assets, nor do the units provide a sufficient community benefit to risk undermining the Association’s asset base and independence”.

“It is noted that the property is a Crown Grant in Trust, which means the Association cannot realise any funds invested into infrastructure, as if it wishes to divest the property it will need to return it to the State, subject to the approval of the Minister for Lands.”

Ms Barton is starting a crowd funding account which the public can donate to if they wish to support the cause.

The Albany Seaside Flats committee will also host a fashion show in April to assist the effort.

While the Weekender was speaking with the group about this issue, Ms Ferrell turned away bookings from potential clients as she had no room for them to stay.

She said the accommodation site was frequently booked out during the year and that it lost money by not being able to offer more accommodation, as the three 1938-built units sat empty.

“How can we make money if we can’t fix and use these units?” Ms Ferrell questioned.

President Ms Johnson said a minimum of $280,000 was required to lift the three 1938-built units to a “holiday lettable standard”.

She said she understood the community sentiment and history associated with the property and hoped the Albany community could help to save the units.

“CWA of WA cannot do this alone as the costs are high and returns low when you are dealing with budget family accommodation,” Ms Johnson said.

“As the units continue to deteriorate there is some urgency.”

A crowd funding link will soon be launched on the Albany Seaside Flats Facebook page to give community members the opportunity to financially support the cause.

Alternatively, people can call Ms Barton on 0412 937 641 to make a donation or donate direct to the account here: BSB 633 000, Acc 172 407 363.

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Waifs aid Fire Fund

ALBANY success story The Waifs contributed to raising more than half a million dollars for fire services and wildlife protection at a concert in Fremantle late last month.

It was announced last week that the two Fire Aid Benefit Concerts featuring John Butler, The Waifs, San Cisco, Stella Donnelly and Carla Geneve raised more than $650,000 to support the east coast in the wake of the devastating bushfires.

Band Manager Phil Stevens said the concert concept originated from himself and the bands as a direct reaction to the horrendous images and stories that emerged from the fire crisis.

“It was a very emotional time for Dave and Josh from The Waifs because their homes in Moruya and Cobargo had to be evacuated,” he said.

“You can imagine the stress they were going through.

“However, they knew that playing these concerts was the most effective way for them to make a difference.”

The concerts were announced within 72 hours of the idea being proposed.

Fremantle Arts Centre Director Jim Cathcart said the sold-out shows were an uplifting experience.

“These acclaimed musicians all have a strong association with Fremantle, and it was great to see the WA public coming together out of a passionate concern for the people, animals and bushland affected by these devastating fires,” he said.

All proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to a number of causes including local New South Wales and Victorian fire services, the Wildlife Victoria Fund, and local communities such as Cobargo and Moruya where David and Josh from The Waifs live.

As well as giving their time to perform, the musicians also donated merchandise on the night along with Fire Fund t-shirts and tea towels.

Other money raised will go to the Freo Fire Fund, which will direct the money raised to a number of different organisations involved in the bushfire relief effort including Australian Red Cross, Foodbank and the Australian Wildlife Conservancy.

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Soapbox shortage threatens season

ALBANY Soapbox Club has offered to buy back soapbox racers from their owners as a shortage of the motorless vehicles threatens to dampen the start of the racing season.

Club President Larry Puls said the group, set to convene for its first meet of the year this Sunday, was “struggling” with the amount of soapboxes available for its members.

“In 2012, when we celebrated our 50th anniversary, there were 54 soapboxes at the championships and 28 of those were from Albany,” he said.

“Now we have nine of those left and 13 soapboxes all up. They’re something the Club really needs to have on display to show and teach newcomers about the sport.”

Soapboxes are typically made from aluminium or fibreglass and use gravity to propel down the racetrack, reaching speeds of between 80km/h and 100km/h.

The Australian National Soapbox Championships are held on Mount Clarence in Albany each year, with this year’s rendition taking place on April 11.

“Part of the reason we’re starting up registrations a little bit earlier than usual is the soapbox shortage,” Mr Puls said.

“Drivers need to have done three races before they can qualify to race in the championships.”

Mr Puls urged anyone with a soapbox “lying around in the shed or backyard” to consider selling it to the Club.

He also called on those aged six to 17 and curious about soapbox racing to sign up at the February 16 meet.

“It’s a different sport, it’s a fun sport,” Mr Puls said.

“It’s a sport where you don’t have to be athletic or know how to kick a ball, you just put your bum in a box and let gravity do the rest.”

Mr Puls can be contacted on 0439 395 860 or via email at albanysoapboxclub@gmail.com

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Campaign promotes early detection

A TELEVISION commercial featuring GPs from regional WA is among a number of Cancer Council WA public health campaigns driving home the ‘Find Cancer Early’ message.

Cancer Council WA Great Southern Regional Education Officer Bruce Beamish said while new data showed the Find Cancer Early messages were starting to show some impact, there was still a long way to go in improving early detection of cancer.

“The campaign is prompting people to take action, and our recent evaluation data reveals that more than a third of regional viewers took action as a result of seeing or hearing the Find Cancer Early advertisements,” he said

“Encouragingly, we’ve seen a 61 per cent increase from 2018 in people taking action within 12 weeks of seeing the campaign, but we’d still like to see people taking earlier action rather than waiting up to 12 weeks.”

Prostate, breast, skin, bowel and lung comprise almost 60 per cent of all cancer diagnoses.

Albany-based GP Dr Keerthana Muthurangan said she is never too busy to discuss important issues.

“No question is silly, weird or odd, especially if it is about possible cancer symptoms,” she said.

“It’s normal to be scared when you want to know if you could have cancer.

“We are here to provide you non-judgmental counselling and management.”

Mr Beamish said the aim of the Rural Doctors Bathroom campaign and other Find Cancer Early campaign materials was to increase awareness of the symptoms of the five most common cancers and motivate people to seek medical advice early on in WA.

The advertising campaign began on Sunday and will run for 13 weeks across the state.

For more information on Find Cancer Early, visit findcancerearly.com.au

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Unique masterpiece makes movie history

LEGENDARY South Korean director Bong Joon-Ho made history on Monday when his hit flick Parasite became the first foreign language film to ever win the Oscar for Best Picture.

Bong’s extraordinary achievement at the 92nd Academy Awards capped off a throng of accolades the film has received this award season and is elevated further when considering the behemoths he was up against.

Scorsese’s three-and-a-half hour gangster opus The Irishman, Tarantino’s ever-subversive Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood and Noah Baumbach’s incredibly realised Marriage Story fell short of Bong’s latest due to one inarguable truth: we knew what to expect.

That is not so much a critique of any of these films, all of which were some of the best put out by their respective auteurs in years, but a resounding endorsement of Bong’s latest.

Parasite is unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

Described in some circles as a dark comedy, others as a mystery/ thriller, and elsewhere yet as something akin to a capitalistic horror, the 2019 film is difficult to present cleanly.

Its eclecticism makes it frustrating to talk about, in large part because to ruin even one of the numerous twists and surprise tonal shifts that riddle its runtime could be regarded as a moviegoer’s cardinal sin.

Suffice to say, the film succeeds in merging these aforementioned genres in a way that ensures you never quite know where you’re going.

The simple premise is this; a family, clinging to the lowest rung of the socio-economic ladder in South Korea’s capital of Seoul, find themselves in the employ of their far wealthier counterparts by way of luck.

An unexpected discovery, and the word ‘unexpected’ cannot be stated enough, soon threatens their shot at financial stability.

That’s it. That’s all I can say.

Parasite is buoyed by some incredible performances by Kang-ho Song, an acting titan in South Korea comparable in prestige to Al Pacino, Woo-sik Choi and So-dam Park.

The visuals are sharp, the score suits perfectly, and the script and dialogue, which shifts between Korean and occasionally English, is witty, realistic and memorable.

While the subtitle averse might find the idea of a foreign language film daunting, Parasite does not feel inaccessible in the slightest.

Bong has a proven history of merging the world of Western cinema with its Asian equivalent, having directed cross cultural crowd pleasers like 2013’s Snowpiercer and Okja four years later.

Much like these films, Parasite explores themes relevant and familiar to audiences across the globe, and is likely to strike a chord with almost everyone because of it.

It serves as a biting dissection of class struggle and income inequality, as well as a morally-challenging exploration of the lengths we will go to in order to make a life for our loved ones.

It’s funny. It’s clever. It’s brutal and unnerving and immensely satisfying, and hands-down the right choice for Best Picture this year.

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Black dog ride to red centre

MORE than 100 Great Southern motorbike riders will join upward of 6000 others across the country to raise awareness for depression and suicide prevention next month.

The Black Dog Ride 1 Dayer will take place on Sunday, March 15 and see Great Southerners depart from Denmark’s Koorabup Park and ride through Mt Barker, Porongurup, along the Kalgan River, through to Marine Drive at Middleton Beach, along York Street, Albany Highway and back out along Lower Denmark Road.

1 Dayers will take place across the country on the same day along various routes.

Denmark Coordinator Rob Woods said the Black Dog Ride brought many people together to reduce the stigma around mental health.

He said a second larger ride would see motorbike groups from across Australia ride together in August.

“We start in Busselton and ride to Hyden, Norseman, along the Nullarbor to Ceduna, we all meet in Port Augusta then ride together to Coober Pedy and then to Alice Springs,” Mr Woods said.

“It’s about starting conversations about depression and suicide prevention and getting people talking about it.”

Bev Seeney, who has had her own experiences with depression and suicide, has participated in the ride with husband Roger for the past eight years.

She said the Black Dog Ride often brought back the same people every year, creating a second family of support for her.

“I feel very supported by Roger and everyone,” Ms Seeney said.

“It’s a lot of fun, there’s plenty of camaraderie in the group and they really are like an extended family.”

“I’ve seen the knock-on effects of suicide and depression,” Mr Seeney added.

“This is a way of helping, getting people talk- ing, and reminding peo- ple that it is an illness – not a stigma.”

Those interested in participating in the Denmark Black Dog Ride can sign up at blackdogride.org.au

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Love conquers all

AN EVENING at square dancing in Victoria was where the love story of Albany retirees Allan and Doris Brown began nearly 70 years ago.

The couple has seen more of history than most people, born at the end of World War I and during the golden decade of the “roaring” 1920s.

After 18 months together, they decided to marry in Rochester, Victoria in 1954.

Doris, now 102 years old, and 96-year-old Allan reflected fondly and cheekily on their 66 years of marriage with the Weekender.

“We were going to be married in the Presbyterian church, but the minister had a heart attack the night before,” Mr Brown said.

“So we ended up getting married in the Methodist church.

“I remember it was a wet day, very wet – they threw confetti on our car, it was a Dodge car, and it was so wet that the confetti stained the car!

“When we sold it years later, it had coloured stripes on it.”

After 14 years of marriage, the Browns decided to move their young family to Albany to live and started farming.

Now, with their children in their 60s and with not quite enough energy to maintain a working farm, Mr and Mrs Brown call Clarence Estate in Spencer Park home.

They don’t have any plans for Valentine’s Day this year – in fact, when asked whether they would celebrate it, Mrs Brown’s eyeroll was quite amusing – as they have never really made a big deal out of the event.

They are more than happy to spend tomorrow like any other day – Mr Brown tending to the gardens and looking after the birds, and Mrs Brown relaxing in her favourite armchair.

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