Archive | WA News

Windy harbour tractor parade

Easter ex-tractor-ganza


It’s Easter Sunday afternoon, and the inaugural Windy Harbour tractor parade starts rolling out along the streets of the remote Southwest holiday spot.

Most of the tractors stick to the modest 15kph speed limit as they wind into Windy on the settlement’s new S-shaped bitumen entry road.

Together, the 27 rumbling tractors might be exceeding Shire of Manjimup noise regulations by a dB(A) or two.

But nobody’s counting.

Windy is an old-school holiday resort, loved by locals of the Warren District, many of whom have long used onetime farm tractors to tow their fishing boats to the beach.

The settlement is surrounded by D’Entrecasteaux National Park, and there’s no place like it in the world.

Most people stay in rustic huts built from scratch, and from a range of improvised materials, by their forebears, lots of whom had worked at timber mills in the district.

Local lore has it that when old man Bunning drove through Windy some decades ago, he wryly observed that most of the jarrah weatherboards sheltering the huts from Southern Ocean gales more than likely belonged to him.

With old man Bunning and any statute of limitations having long since passed, several of the jarrah-clad huts will eat tractor dust today.

But as the tractors round Windy’s barbecue area, and enter Mitchell Way, none of the holiday-makers who cheer the parade from the front decks or steps of their huts seems to mind.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And around the corner, in a line down to the boat ramp, a Praetorian Guard of tray-backs stoically waits for the procession to arrive.

As the tractors round the bend and chug into the boat ramp car park, the question on everybody’s lips is: “Which one’s your favourite?”.

Rather randomly, the prize for best tractor goes to Robert Trevorrow’s 1960 Ford-Ferguson, a machine he picked up from the Pemberton Mill in the mid-1980s.

“It cost $300 to buy, $60 to do up, $360 for engine parts and $130 to $140 for a water pump, radiator and gaskets,” Mr Trevorrow tells

“It would probably cost $4000 to $5000 to buy one now in this condition.”

Mr Trevorrow, an electrician by trade, has been holidaying at Windy since 1979.

He is a life member of the Windy Harbour Volunteer Marine Rescue that put today’s Easter ex-tractor-ganza together.

In announcing Mr Trevorrow as winner, Windy Harbour Volunteer Marine Rescue Commander Nigel Kelly says the two judges, who he declines to name, think the Ford-Fergy is “cute”.

Mr Kelly enigmatically adds that the Windy Harbour tractor parade is a “first time ever, and a one-off, maybe”.

Mr Trevorrow wins a pizza for his troubles.

Posted in Breaking news, WA News0 Comments

$1200 penalty for taking a cray and a trout.

Ningaloo spear gun conviction


A 23-year-old man from the Kwinana suburb of Wellard has pleaded guilty of fishing offences in the Ningaloo Marine Park.

On Tuesday, the Exmouth Magistrates Court heard that Cameron Bates had illegally used a spear gun to take an out of season ornate rock lobster and also a coronation trout, which is a prohibited catch, within Ningaloo Marine Park waters.

The three offences Bates was charged with occurred on August 4, 2014.

The magistrate handed down a fine of $700 for the offences, plus further mandatory penalties of $510 and court costs of $169.10.

Department of Fisheries spokesman Matthew Kuhn said fishers needed to be aware of fishing rules, wherever they planned to fish in Western Australia.

“Marine protected areas such as the Ningaloo Marine Park are high value and have additional rules in place in order to protect vulnerable species and coral reef systems,” Mr Kuhn said.

“For example, within the Ningaloo Marine Park, you cannot spearfish for wrasse (Family Labridae) and cods/grouper (Family Serranidae).

“Fishers have a responsibility to make themselves aware of area specific rules prior to fishing.”

Photo: Angelo DeSantis, Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons attribution 2.0 licence.

Posted in WA News0 Comments

Woman escapes in red, long-legged PJs.

Pharmacy hit by pyjama pants bandit


An Albany pharmacy was allegedly robbed by a woman in red, long-legged pyjama pants yesterday.

Police spokeswoman Susan Usher said that about 9:20am, a woman allegedly armed with a metal weapon entered a pharmacy located on Bayonet Head Road.

Ms Usher said the woman went to the shelving area behind the front counter, allegedly removing medication from the shop display.

She allegedly threatened staff with the weapon before running from the store with various medication.

She was last seen near the Oyster Harbour Store and Bayonet Head Road Shopping Centre.

The woman is described as being in her twenties, with an olive complexion and a slim build.

She was wearing red long legged pyjama pants and a grey hooded jumper.

Police want anyone with relevant information to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Posted in WA News0 Comments

Some sexually active people could be in for a rude shock.

Pregnancy test not the best


A urine pregnancy test sold nationally has been found to be defective, meaning some sexually active people could be in for a rude shock.

Batch number 20151106 of Mums The One One Step hCG urine pregnancy test has failed to detect Human chorionic gonadotropin, a hormone produced by embryos after implantation, at concentrations of 10 mIU/mL, 25 mIU/mL and 50 mIU/mL levels.

This creates the risk of false negative results, which means a pregnant woman may not seek pre-natal healthcare advice and support as early as possible, and may continue with behaviour that could affect foetal development, such as smoking and consuming alcohol.

The test kit was sold nationally by Mums The One, trading as

Mums The One recommends that if you have any of its bodgy pregnancy tests you contact for a refund.

The company also advises that if you recently used one of its pregnancy tests, and are unsure if it came from the affected batch, to check with the place of purchase.

If you suspect that you may have used a defective pregnancy test kit, the company suggests that you retest with a different product.

And finally, and face-palmingly obviously, the company recommends that if you have any questions or concerns about the faulty kits you speak to your health professional.

Photo: Peter van der Sluijs, Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons attribution-share alike 3.0 Unported licence.

Posted in WA News0 Comments

Council contract goes awry.

Paraburdoo dump costs man $8000


A 56-year-old Tom Price man contracted by the Shire of Ashburton has been found guilty of illegally dumping up to 700 used tyres in Paraburdoo.

Tom Price Magistrates Court heard that during April 2013 the Shire of Ashburton contracted Heyden McKenzie’s business, Campdog Contracting and Earth Moving, to remove used tyres from refuse sites in Tom Price, Paraburdoo and Onslow.

McKenzie, who pleaded guilty, was paid by the shire to correctly dispose of the tyres to a licenced facility in Meekatharra.

However, McKenzie subcontracted another company and instructed it to dump the tyres on mine site land in Paraburdoo.

The dumped tyres were later removed by the shire.

The court ordered McKenzie to pay $8831 to the Shire of Ashburton to cover tyre removal costs.

Maximum penalties for illegal dumping are $62,500 for individuals and $125,000 for corporations.

Posted in WA News0 Comments

Gun-toting bushy gets cocky.

Bogan shoots endangered cockatoo


An endangered Baudin’s (black) cockatoo found injured in Bridgetown had been shot using a shotgun, according to the Department of Parks and Wildlife.

The pictured cockatoo was handed in to the department with pellet wounds, and received treatment at Manjimup Veterinary Clinic before being transferred to Perth Zoo.

The big, black bird is now recovering at the Kaarakin Black Cockatoo Conservation Centre.

Parks and Wildlife officer Brad Barton, the Chair of the Forest Black Cockatoo recovery team, said the department was investigating the shooting and seeking information from the public.

“It is disturbing when specially protected native animals are illegally shot,” Mr Barton said.

Baudin’s cockatoo is one of three species of black cockatoo in Western Australia’s Southwest. All three species are threatened and are protected under the state’s Wildlife Conservation Act and the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

There are penalties of up to $10,000 for shooting black cockatoos under the Wildlife Conservation Act, and up to $250,000 for an individual and $500,000 for a corporation under Commonwealth legislation.

Mr Barton said Baudin’s cockatoos fly around the Southwest as part of their seasonal migratory patterns and are often seen at this time of year in Manjimup, Donnybrook and Bridgetown foraging for food.

“Parks and Wildlife recognises that black cockatoos can cause damage to trees and is able to provide advice to assist in managing the impacts of these birds,” he said.

To report an injured cockatoo or provide information about illegal shootings, contact the Wildcare Helpline on 9474 9055 or the Parks and Wildlife Manjimup office on 9771 7988.

Posted in WA News0 Comments

He wanted to attend an offshore wedding. But Child Support had other ideas.

$117K child debt keeps dad at home


A father who owes more than $117,000 in child maintenance was yesterday blocked from attending his brother’s wedding in India.

In Brisbane yesterday, Administrative Appeals Tribunal senior member Bernard McCabe rejected Frank Botel’s plea to overturn a Child Support Registrar decision of January 22 not to let him go while the massive debt hangs over his head.

The Registrar referred to several matters which, if true, might indicate Mr Botel was an unacceptable flight-risk.

Mr Botel insisted he was not a flight-risk, and still called Australia home. While acknowledging he has a French passport, he said most of his family live in Australia and he would not leave them behind.

In a written decision, Mr McCabe said he was not satisfied Mr Botel was unlikely to return to Australia within a reasonable timeframe.

“He appears to retain a strong connection with family members, most obviously his elderly mother, who almost all reside in Australia,” Mr McCabe noted.

“The applicant has a significant child support liability, and he was unable to explain how that liability would be discharged given his limited means.

“While his means are limited, it is unclear whether the whole amount of that liability would be completely irrecoverable.

Mr McCabe added that Mr Botel continues to make periodic payments, and he has indicated he has the capacity to make a lump-sum payment, albeit not for the full amount of the debt, out of funds provided by family members.

Mr Botel offered $15,000 to be paid by his mother as security that he would return.

But the Registrar said a payment in that amount was not appropriate security.

“I agree with the Registrar,” Mr McCabe concluded.

“Mr Botel’s child support liability currently exceeds $117,000.

“He says he is taking steps to challenge that assessment, although that process has taken longer than he hoped because of limited resources and mental health issues.

“Unless and until he successfully challenges the assessment, it must be accepted he continues to owe a significant amount, and that amount is growing.

Posted in WA News1 Comment

Tragic end to Friday afternoon drive.

Toodyay crash teen dies


A 19-year-old man whose Holden Commodore crashed into a power pole at Toodyay on Friday afternoon has died.

Police spokeswoman Ros Weatherall said the crash occurred about 3.25pm on Friday when the young man was driving a Holden Commodore sedan south along Bindi-Bindi Today Road.

Ms Weatherall said the Commodore left the road on a bend, before hitting a power pole.

The impact caused the car to roll and catch on fire.

Three people were in the car at the time.

The young man and his 16-year-old passenger were flown by helicopter to Perth for medical treatment.

The other passenger – a 17-year-old boy – was treated locally.

The driver received serious burns.

Posted in WA News0 Comments

Student takes her case to Fair Work Ombudsman.

‘I was paid less because I wasn’t an Aussie’


An international student who was allegedly underpaid thousands of dollars claims she was told she would be paid less because “you are not an Aussie”.

The 27-year-old from Nepal also alleges that her employer threatened to cancel her visa if she complained about her low wages to the Fair Work Ombudsman.

The student was allegedly paid a flat rate as low as $12 an hour to work at the Health Express take-away food outlet at DFO South Wharf in Melbourne.

In a record of interview with the Fair Work Ombudsman, the student alleged that Health Express owner Jeffrey Herscu made it clear she would be paid less because she was an overseas worker.

“When I came for the interview, he said that I will give you the job, but as you are not an Aussie, I will be paying you a lesser amount,” she alleged to Fair Work inspectors who investigated her request for help.

“It was really embarrassing for me.

“I had Australian friends who were doing the same kind of work, but were getting paid over $20 an hour.”

The Fair Work Ombudsman discovered the casual worker was allegedly short-changed more than $23,500 between September, 2013 and March, 2015.

She was entitled to be paid up to $23.15 an hour for normal work, up to $27.78 on Saturdays, up to $32.41 on Sundays and up to $50.93 on public holidays.

The student returned to Nepal for several weeks to care for her sick father, only to find she had allegedly been removed from the Health Express roster on her return.

The woman was one of two international students who complained to the Fair Work Ombudsman that Health Express was underpaying them.

A second male student, 31, from India, was allegedly paid a flat rate of between $16.47 and $18.52 an hour between June, 2010 and March, 2015, resulting in an alleged underpayment of more than $27,300.

Both students were entitled to a uniform allowance of $1.25 a shift which they never received and the male worker allegedly did not get his correct annual leave entitlements at the end of his employment.

Mr Herscu, the sole director of Rapid City Pty Ltd, which runs Health Express, has agreed to apologise and back-pay the $50,000 owed to his two former workers.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James says Mr Herscu and his company have been asked to sign an enforceable undertaking aimed at encouraging behavioural change.

This includes placing a public notice in the Melbourne media apologising for the conduct and making a $5000 donation to the Western Community Legal Centre to promote workplace rights to vulnerable employees.

Posted in WA News0 Comments

Road Safety Commission's 2015 crash book opened today.

‘Deadly three’ a factor in most fatal crashes


The Road Safety Commission today opened its crash book for 2015, revealing that speed, alcohol and fatigue were a factor in the vast majority of fatal crashes.

The crash book revealed that 161 people died on Western Australian roads last year, 74 in the metropolitan area and 87 on regional roads.

Speed was a factor in 62 fatal crashes. alcohol in 39, and fatigue in 16.

No fewer than 31 of 199 motor vehicle occupants or drivers killed were not wearing seat belts.

Motorcyclists accounted for 22 fatalities, while 15 pedestrians, four cyclists and one person on a mobility scooter were also killed.

Road Safety Minister Liza Harvey said it was “heartbreaking” that most of the fatal crashes were avoidable.

“Despite the equal lowest number of fatalities in 2015, many families are suffering due to road trauma, Ms Harvey said.

“The per capita rate of fatalities has been steadily decreasing since 2008, but … we can never be complacent when it comes to road safety.”

Posted in WA News0 Comments

Festive season was kind to head severer, and fatal fire starter.

Hotel murderers get Christmas Eve parole


EXCLUSIVE: The festive season was kind to one man who wilfully committed murder at a Perth hotel, and another who set fire to accommodation at a Toodyay hotel killing a fellow guest, with both men granted parole on Christmas Eve.

The first of two men to be granted parole on Christmas eve, Kurt Seel, was in 1995 convicted of life imprisonment for wilful murder after severing with a knife the major muscles that held a man’s head to his body.


In November 1994, Seel attended the Kings Hotel in Hay Street, Perth, to meet his co-offender and his soon-to-be victim to discuss a business proposition. Seel and his co-offender decided the deal would not go ahead and left the hotel.

Seel returned to collect his co-offender’s sunglasses and decided to kill the victim.

A written decision published by the Prisoners Review Board says that Seel stabbed the man in the chest, piercing his breastbone and completely severing his aorta.

The man fled, and Seel pursued him. Seel used the knife to slice across the victim’s throat, severing the trachea and jugular vein.

Seel also severed the major muscles that held the man’s head onto his body.

The man fell to the ground and died very quickly.

Senior psychologist Sarah Ballantyne advised the Board that Seel presented a low risk of future violence. She recommended no further clinical interventions for him.

Seel’s last prison charge was 17 years ago, for insubordination.

Before his release on December 30, he was employed in the education area of Bunbury Regional Prison, helping a manager with filing, book keeping and prisoner liaison. The manager described him as regularly handling highly confidential information and having earned the trust of staff and prisoners.

While in prison, Seel completed Bachelor of Arts (psychology-criminology) and Master of Social Science (criminology) degrees.

Now he is a free man, he proposes to work, although no employment had been arranged as of Christmas Eve.

He plans to initially live with his parents, with whom he has been in regular contact since imprisoned.

Having regard to “his serious previous criminal history, the brutal nature of the wilful murder offence and the absence of the capacity for him to undergo a re-socialisation programme” the Board viewed a parole term of five years appropriate.


Also walking free from prison on December 30 was Douglas Birks, who in May 2005 was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum non parole period of eight years.

In November 2003, after the bar at Toodyay’s Victoria Hotel closed, Birks, who had been drinking there, started a fire that destroyed the accommodation units, where he had been staying, and killed one person.

A written decision by the Prisoners Review Board says Birks’ community corrections officer considered that Birks now accepted responsibility for starting the fire and appeared “very remorseful”.

Birks, who at the time of the murder was a water truck driver completing road works, has secured full time work as a tow truck driver.

The decision to release him on a three-year term of parole was also granted on Christmas Eve.

Posted in WA News0 Comments

He may look cute, but ...

‘Do not approach Margs elephant seal’


Sightseers heading down to spot a large southern elephant seal resting at Redgate Beach near Margaret River are being urged to maintain a safe distance to protect the animal’s welfare.

Department of Parks and Wildlife officer Clare Forward said to make sure the seal remained comfortable and safe it was important that visitors stayed at least 30-metres away and ensured children were supervised.

“The animal might look cute and harmless but it is a wild animal and as such, it may be dangerous if approached or provoked,” Ms Forward said.

“To maintain the safety of both visitors and the seal, dogs must be kept away and people are advised not to get between the seal and the water.”

Ms Forward said the southern elephant seal was currently moulting and it was not unusual for the species to stop on mainland Australia as part of this process to drop their hair and skin from January through to April.

“The moulting animals may stay ashore for up to four weeks, during which time they do not require assistance from people, when they are ready they will return to the water,” Ms Forward said.

The southern elephant seal is the largest seal in the animal kingdom and gets its name from its huge size.

Adult male southern elephant seals have gigantic schnozes which they use to make extraordinarily loud roaring noises, especially during mating season.

Ms Forward said Parks and Wildlife staff would continue to monitor the seal.

Posted in WA News0 Comments

Privacy complaint of former WAtoday reporter unfounded, says tribunal.

Tech journo loses Telstra metadata stoush


The former technology editor for Fairfax’s,, and websites has lost a privacy stoush with Telstra over access to his metadata. can reveal that last week Telstra won an appeal against Sydney-based Ben Grubb who recently packed in his job with Fairfax after five years there. Grubb plans to go into business with fellow technology journo Asher Moses who has also parted company with Fairfax.

In May, the Federal Privacy Commissioner directed Telstra to give Grubb all metadata regarding his Telstra mobile phone.

In a ruling that Grubb had branded “a landmark decision”, the Privacy Commissioner had originally ruled the metdata was personal information as defined by the Federal Privacy Act.

The Privacy Commissioner had decided that in refusing to give Grubb access to the metadata Telstra was in breach of National Privacy Principle 6.1, and Telstra was directed to give the metadata to Grubb.

But Telstra challenged that direction at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal of Australia. And on Friday, tribunal Deputy President Stephanie Forgie set the decision aside.


Deputy President Forgie decided Telstra’s mobile network data was not information about an individual, namely Grubb, and so was not personal information.

She concluded Telstra was not in breach of the national privacy principle when it refused to give Grubb access to the metadata.

Grubb had originally asked for data on which cell tower he was connected to at any given time, the mobile phone number of texts he’d received and the time they were received, the time his data sessions started and finished, URLs of websites he visited, the duration of telephone calls, and details of who he called and who called him.

Before the tribunal, Grubb argued that if Telstra could associate metadata with a specific account then it was personal information about that account holder.


At the heart of his submission was the proposition that if a person were to trawl through the data held by Telstra, that person would be able to identify Grubb from it.

To illustrate his submission, Grubb referred to data released by AOL as anonymised search query logs conducted by a large number of its users. AOL had released the information for research purposes but made it publicly available. Among those to whom it was available was the New York Times. The newspaper used the information released by AOL on particular users to follow their searches and, using the information from those searches, to identify them.

Grubb asked why, if Telstra could give law enforcers access to metadata such as URLs, IP addresses and cell tower information, the company could not give the same metadata to him.

Deputy President Forgie said the answer was that Grubb’s entitlements and those of law enforcement agencies were the subject of different legislative regimes.

Telstra argued that the process of identifying an individual from mobile network data involves complicated and tedious searches of the sort that could not lead to a finding that the identity of the individual could reasonably be ascertained.

Photo: ‘Redlands597198’, Wikimedia Commons

Posted in WA News0 Comments

Members of the public try to help, to no avail.

Fatal road train crash


A 37-year-old man of Newman was killed in a crash with a road train yesterday afternoon.

Police spokeswoman Ros Weatherill said the fatal crash occurred on Great Northern Highway, at Yandeyarra, about 150km south of South Hedland.

Ms Weatherill said that about 2.45pm the man was the front seat passenger in a Nissan Navara utility being driven by a 64-year-old man of Newman.

The ute was involved in a collision with a road train that was travelling in the same direction.

The passenger was thrown from the vehicle, and despite help by members of the public he died at the scene.

The driver received serious injuries and was taken to South Hedland hospital for medical treatment.

The 35-year-old male driver of the road train was not injured during the crash.

Posted in WA News0 Comments

Independent Perth news