Port back in local hands

By Chris Thomson | posted on August 9, 2018

WESTERN Australia’s original port city has wrested significant control of its waterfront back, with a locally engaged general manager taking the helm for the first time since that position was canned in January last year.

The Weekender can reveal that 10-year veteran at the Port of Esperance Dale Lindkvist was on July 30 appointed interim general manager at the Port of Albany while recruitment is undertaken for the reinstated position.

Southern Ports interim CEO Alan Byers said the position was part of his organisation’s response to the Southern Ports Post-Amalgamation Review.

That review, completed in January, noted that the October 2014 amalgamation of the ports of Albany, Bunbury and Esperance under the Southern Ports banner had seen a “significant loss of connection” with Albany people.

“There is one [Bunbury-based] general manager for Albany and Bunbury ports, which in Albany contributes to the sense that there are no ‘local’ executives,” the review observed.

“A number of long-standing local initiatives in Albany, including publishing advertorials in the local paper and a regular radio segment with the CEO were discontinued.”

For six months from July 2016, when the incumbent port manager retired, to January 2017, the then-chief executive of Southern Ports acted in the Albany general manager position.

Since January 2017, there has been no general manager.

The appointment of Mr Lindkvist, who recently moved to Albany, is in line with a review recommendation that Southern Ports consider reinstating locally-based general managers at each port.

“Southern Ports operations in Albany, Bunbury and Esperance will [now] have a separate, locally-based general manager, all of whom will have a seat on the executive leadership team and will be empowered to make decisions to suit each individual port,” Mr Byers said.

“The creation of a General Manager – Albany role is an important strategic move to drive Southern Ports into the future.

“We are prepared to take the time required to find the right candidate and will not rush the appointment.”

On Monday, Mr Lindkvist gave The Weekender a tour of the port in his Ford Ranger, and said he was working to meet all Albany staff and would strive to reach out to the community.

“I think it’s of foremost importance that we get that transparency from the activities that we’re currently undertaking at the port, and rolling that through to the community,” he added.

In stark contrast to the might of his 4WD, Mr Lindkvist said he looked forward to his wife and two pups, Cavoodle Molly and Moodle Toby, moving from Esperance to Albany soon.

Also new to the port’s leadership team is Julie-Ann Gray who has lived in Albany since 2002 and was appointed to the Board of Directors on July 1.

Aside from the appointment of Ms Gray and Mr Lindkvist, Mr Byers said lots of work had been done to “rebuild” the “connection” with the people of Albany.

As examples, he nominated biannual meetings of the Board in Albany, recommencing a quarterly local newsletter, and helping to deliver the sea dragon mural on the CBH silos.

Southern Ports also recently donated old port timbers for a playground at Bremer Bay, and upgraded the area around Mass Rocks to support the upcoming 150th anniversary celebrations of Western Australia’s first Catholic mass there.

From 1826, Albany was the State’s only deep-water port until Fremantle’s inner harbour was built in 1897.