TOODYAY will get a new face on council this month as the result of an election to replace former Cr Bill Manning who resigned in April to live in Tasmania.
Three newcomers have nominated for the vacancy, which will be decided by a postal ballot of all Toodyay voters starting on Thursday July 2.
The poll will close at 6pm on Friday July 31 and the winner is expected to be announced by the WA Electoral Commission in Toodyay later that evening.
The three new candidates all claim to be unaligned to Toodyay’s current eight councillors who have been split 4:4 on key decisions, including the shire presidency.Read more
Ongoing divisions also blocked an initial bid last month to secure an absolute majority of five votes to allow new Shire CEO Suzie Haslehurst to start her new job on June 22 instead of having to wait until mid-August.
The shire has lacked a full-time CEO since February, including during the recent virus lockdown, staff cuts and an emergency budget based on no increase in rates or fees and no extra charges for late payments.
Cr Brian Rayner (left), who nobody voted for in 2017, declined a Herald request to explain – with three other councillors unusually absent – why he didn’t want the new CEO to start earlier, saying it was “confidential”.
The three candidates seeking to fill former shire president Bill Manning’s seat say they all want change.
All three have professional qualifications and business skills – one is a former university business lecturer and shop owner, two have local farming experience, one is a former WA regional city administrator, and another provides financial advice to miners.
The winner is expected to break an impasse between four new councillors elected by all Toodyay voters last October and three longer-serving members who were re-elected two years earlier under a now abolished ward system that excluded most Toodyay voters.
The shire is also awaiting the outcome of a long-running WA Government inquiry into its operations and affairs over seven years.
A WA Local Government Department spokesperson said State officials would soon ask people named in the inquiry to respond to the findings before WA Local Government Minister David Templeman tables a final report in State Parliament.
Candidate April Ashley (right) posted on Facebook before last year’s elections: “I hope that sanity prevails and that the moment the new councillors take their seats, there will be no more CEO or President ‘issues’ and that the residents of 2J will be able to relax knowing that their rates will be fairly evaluated and spent wisely. Vote well folks.”
Ms Ashley – who has worked as a university business lecturer and operated small businesses, including a coffee shop and educational company – says she has no personal agenda, supports open and accountable government and that a vote for her in this month’s election will be a vote for transparency and integrity.
She said she had lectured in accounting, finance and management for 30 years at nearly all WA universities, private colleges and TAFEs and is a “positive thinker who believes in working together to achieve positive outcomes”.
“I have no personal agenda and if elected I will be your representative and your mouthpiece,” she said.
Rival candidate and Hoddys Well farmer Keith Boase (left) says “it has been disappointing to see continuing frictions within the council which is operating in a manner that causes harm to the local government and residents of the area”.
“I believe strong governance with the best interests of the residents of our shire can be achieved only by electing experienced people who will commit to providing sound decision-making without fear or favour,” Mr Boase said.
“I understand the commitment and workload involved to offer a new, independent voice to the council chamber that will bring vision and stability to restore balance in Toodyay.”
Mr Boase is a former Shire of Quairading landcare coordinator, former Agriculture Department Kalgoorlie acting district manager, former City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder environmental coordinator and manager of sustainability and waste services (including WA’s largest sewerage system outside Perth), and is currently Parks and Gardens Coordinator at the City of Swan.
The third candidate, Toodyay Central Volunteer Bushfire Brigade Captain Mick McKeown (right), says Toodyay is at a crossroads ‒ “this election provides our community with a chance to decide whether to continue with the divisions of the past or to change things for the better in the future”.
“We have significant challenges ahead and our council badly needs people who can analyse and understand complex laws, regulations and policies,” he said.
“I am not (and will not be) aligned with any group on the council and this will allow me to liaise closely with all my fellow councillors to achieve the best outcomes for the community of Toodyay.”
Mr McKeown – who is a leading member of Toodyay’s Friends of the Catholic Precinct – holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Geology, a Masters Degree in Engineering Science and an Agricultural Management Diploma, is a Perth Royal Show award-winning local olive oil producer and is a financial analyst for Australian and overseas mining companies.
His nomination was publicly endorsed by Crs Therese Chitty and Paula Greenway who ‘liked’ it last month on the popular Let’s Talk Toodyay page on Facebook which has more than 4400 members.
Toodyay voters should start receiving candidates’ statements, ballot papers and voting instructions in reply-paid envelopes at their postal addresses early this month.
Anyone who misses out can call the WA Electoral Commission on 13 63 06.
The Toodyay Progress Association will host a free ‘Meet the Candidates’ public forum at the Toodyay Community Centre in Stirling Terrace (next to Alma Beard Medical Centre) at 7pm on Monday July 20.
By Michael Sinclair-Jones
LOCAL property owners will not have to pay higher rates next month as the Toodyay Shire Council makes emergency cuts to its 2020-21 budget and braces for a series of major changes in coming months.
The shire has axed four staff positions – including Manager of Community Development – to save a total of $600,000 a year from next month.
It coincides with the expected arrival of new Shire CEO Suzie Haslehurst a day before a scheduled June 23 ordinary council meeting, news that the result of a long-running WA Government inquiry into the shire is a step closer to being tabled in State Parliament and another shire election due next month.Read more
New Shire President Rosemary Madacsi called the election (shire notice Herald Page 13) last month to fill a vacancy on the nine-member council to replace former shire president Bill Manning who resigned in April to move to Tasmania.
Shire rates in the dollar will stay at last year’s levels, and any increases in State land valuations will not be added to rates bills.
Shire fees and charges – including for rubbish collection – will not increase, overdue rates will not be charged interest and property owners will not pay extra for paying their rates in quarterly instalments.
Owners who pay in full by the due date will get a three per cent discount instead of going into a draw for sponsored prizes.
Acting Shire CEO Chileya Luangala confirmed last month that the new budget would include all measures adopted at a Covid-19 special council meeting in April.
She said councillors had met eight times since December to discuss shire finances and a further budget meeting was planned before a 4pm agenda briefing scheduled for Tuesday June 16.
Savings of about $600,000 had been made by last month by making four staff positions redundant.
Savings included employee direct and on-costs, vehicle-related costs, fringe benefits tax and “associated reductions in services”.
Meanwhile, the WA Local Government Department says State lawyers have finished examining a report by three Perth investigators into shire operations and affairs over the past seven years.
The State Solicitor’s Office returned the report to the department after deciding whether to extract any evidence that could be used for a prosecution before the report is sent to the shire for comment and then tabled in State Parliament by WA Local Government Minister David Templeman.
The inquiry covers present and former shire councillors and staff, including former shire CEO Stan Scott whose 12-month ‘interim’ contract was cut short in April after the council rejected his bid last year to keep his job for another three to four years.
New Shire CEO Suzie Haslehurst has signed a four-year contract and is due to start later this month.
An eight-day nomination period for next month’s council election to fill a vacancy created by former president Bill Manning s resignation in April will open on Wednesday June 17 and close at 4pm on Wednesday June 24.
The WA Electoral Commission will conduct a postal ballot of all Toodyay voters with a bulk mail out of candidates’ statements and voting forms starting Thursday July 2.
The electoral roll closes on Thursday June 25.
Property owners who live outside the shire should check if they are still on the electoral roll under voting rules which require their details to be updated every 12 months.
Heavy earthmoving equipment uproots a 100-year-old tree at Toodyay’s heritage-listed Catholic Precinct which has been subdivided and rezoned for commercial development. Parishioners fear historic former convent and school buildings will be next to go.
By Mick McKeown, Friends of the Toodyay Catholic Precinct
THE TOODYAY Catholic Precinct is one of three historic precincts in the town of Toodyay. The other two are the Gaol Group and the Stirling Terrace Main Street Precinct.
These three places are described in shire policy as having “special qualities which are highly valued by the community and it is important to retain and enhance these qualities as the town develops through time”.
The subdivision works in the Toodyay Catholic Precinct have just commenced with the clearing of several majestic old trees at the rear of the area.Read more
A heavy excavator uproots a giant tree (above) which was part of Toodyay’s historic Catholic Precinct near the town entry.
The trees have been cleared to allow for a new road to access some of the new blocks being created as part of the subdivision.
The Archdiocese of Perth submitted an application for the subdivision to the WA Planning Commission (WAPC) on 13 September 2017 and final approval was granted on 15 June 2018.
Sometime between these two dates, the subdivision application was sent to the Shire of Toodyay for a report into how the application took into account the provisions of Toodyay’s local planning scheme.
A report was provided by the Shire of Toodyay and sent to the WAPC.
Unfortunately, the report was made by staff of the shire under what is known as “delegated authority” which meant that the people of Toodyay, including the councillors, did not know that a subdivision had been proposed and there was no opportunity for public comment.
The practical results of that subdivision approval are now being seen and felt in Toodyay.
On 5 December 2018, the Catholic Precinct was placed in the State Register of Heritage Places as an important historical landmark with a striking architectural presence on the main street of Toodyay.
This register provides the highest level of heritage protection available.
Now the future of the precinct is further at risk because the shire has received a development application (public notice Page 8, June Herald) for the demolition of one of the buildings in the precinct.
This would mean that the destruction that has begun with the felling of the trees may continue with the destruction of one of the buildings.
John Clarke (left) and Mick McKeown in the Garden of Peace with the covered brick walkway behind – both heritage areas face demolition.
The building in the firing line is the covered walkway (see above) from the rear of the church to the convent .
The walkway is a 20-metre-long brick passageway that links the convent to the church next to the Garden of Peace, which also faces demolition.
When the church was opened in 1963, the Beverley Times newspaper reported that a chapel inside the Church was “connected to the Convent by a covered way” and was for the exclusive use of the Sisters of Mercy.
The walkway provided safe and secure access by the Sisters to their chapel at all times and in all weathers.
The State Heritage listing states that in 1963, the walkway was considered innovative and unique.
Nearly 60 years have passed since the walkway was built and the passage of time has not decreased its rarity or uniqueness, rather its importance has been enhanced by its long association with the work of the Sisters of Mercy in Toodyay.
The Archdiocese of Perth has lodged an application to demolish this walkway.
Now is the time for the people of Toodyay to stand up for the future of the historic buildings of which we are so proud.
The demolition of the walkaway and adjacent Garden of Peace should be opposed, so please do this by responding to the advertisement regarding the demolition on this page.
Widespread community opposition will reinfornce the importance that we in Toodyay attach to our history.
The Toodyay Shire Council voted last month in favour of Cr Paula Greenway’s motion that the shire staff must notify council regularly of any changes that affect the Catholic group of buildings.
A widespread community response in this case will also send a signal that this good beginning must be followed by increasing the protection of the precinct by removing the delegated authority and guaranteeing that the elected Council of Toodyay is the appropriate body to determine its future.
By Michael Sinclair-Jones
WHEATBELT health officials and Toodyay police are cautioning people not to become complacent about observing social distancing rules and to keep washing their hands regularly as the State Government moves to ease Covid-19 restrictions in WA.
Permitted gatherings will increase from 20 to 100 people from Saturday June 6 but the illness can still be spread by people without symptoms who may be unaware they are infected.
Federal health officials said people need “to stay home if they have any cold or flu symptoms – no matter how mild – and get tested for Covid-19”.Read more
This would help prevent a “second wave” of infections after earlier restrictions had enabled Australia to “very successfully flatten the curve” of new Covid-19 cases, particularly in WA.
Toodyay residents are also being urged to seek clinical help for virus-related anxiety or distress after a 20 per cent increase in referrals to psychological support services.
Local cafes and shops showed a big increase in trade from Perth visitors in the last two weekends of May when the State government ended its Wheatbelt lockdown and eased social distancing rules.
However, many visitors appeared to be ignoring social distancing rules on crowded pavements and in the Charcoal Lane car park.
The virus has killed 370,000 people worldwide and more than 100 in Australia.
WA’s interstate and overseas borders stayed shut at the start of this month but travel to Perth and elsewhere in WA was allowed to resume from the third week of May.
Official figures show that about 10 per cent of Australia’s 7000 known infections were spread locally from unknown sources.
Infected people remain contagious for up to 14 days unless the virus takes hold and develops into a cough or fever.
State health officials say people still need to “keep 1.5m away from others where possible and maintain good personal hygiene” after restrictions ease from June 6.
The Wheatbelt Health Network says Covid-19 can be spread unknowingly by people without symptoms to others who then become contagious without symptoms and can again unknowingly pass to virus onto others who become ill.
“That’s why it’s important to maintain social distancing of 1.5 metres and continue to wash hands regularly – it’s a silent risk,” a Wheatbelt Health spokesman said.
“That’s also why it’s important for everyone with a smartphone to download the government’s COVIDsafe app so the virus can be traced through potential contacts and people at risk tested and, if necessary, isolated to prevent further spread.
“Six million people have done it so far.
“Healthy people with strong personal immune systems will defeat the virus after two weeks unless it develops into a cough or a fever,” the spokesperson said.
“Anyone who feels unwell should stay home and self-isolate to stop any potential spread and call a doctor for advice.”
The spokesperson said one good outcome from social distancing restrictions was a “phenomenal” drop in the number of people seeking medical treatment for common colds and influenza.
“A lot more people this year also had flu vaccinations, which helped to reduce the number of reported cases at clinics and hospitals,” the spokesperson said.
However, the virus has caused a 20 per cent increase in the number of Toodyay people seeking clinical help to deal with emotional distress, including anxiety about financial concerns and personal relationships.
Local clinical psychologist Richard Taylor said people experiencing anxiety or distress could call Toodyay’s Alma Beard Medical Centre for a doctor’s referral to his bulk-billing practice to get tele-help support at home via a smartphone, tablet or computer, or visit his clinic.
“This makes it much easier for people living in rural areas to get help, he said.
“A lot of my work is now done this way.”
See Police Beat
A RECORDING error at last month’s Toodyay Shire Council meeting resulted in the reversal of a 4-3 decision to turn a muddy track (left) in West Toodyay into a gravel road.
Viewers who left before the end of the 4½-hour live-streamed meeting missed seeing the decision reversed after Cr Ben Bell challenged it on a point of order.
He said an absolute majority vote of at least five members of the normally nine-member council was needed for the motion to pass because it called for the shire to spend extra money not included in 2019-20 shire budget.Read more
Shire President Rosemary Madacsi earlier declared a proximity interest and left the chamber because she owns a property adjoining an impassable 110m section of North Street that is currently closed to traffic.
Shire Deputy President Beth Ruthven chaired the debate among the remaining seven councillors (one seat vacant) which resulted in what was initially recorded as a 4-3 decision to open and upgrade the road.
However, the motion was later declared lost because the decision to spend unbudgeted money lacked an absolute majority.
Cr Bell said the council was trying to cut costs and did not need to spend an extra $95,000 on a road that was already closed.
Cr Susan Pearce, whose motion to re-open North Street was seconded by Cr Brian Rayner, said successive councils had debated the issue for 20 years and a decision was needed.
Cr Ruthven later served a notice of motion for this month’s council meeting at 4pm on Tuesday June 23 that North Street’s temporary closed status between Fitzgerald Terrace and Collett Way be removed and that $95,000 be considered in the shire’s 2020-21 budget to surface it with gravel.
Historic vote as 5-4 majority elects new shire president & deputy, and appoints new female CEO
New Toodyay Shire President Rosemary Madacsi is sworn in by Cr Brian Rayner JP, with former president Bill Manning watching (rear right) and Crs Paula Greenway (back to camera), Ben Bell and Therese Chitty.
By Michael Sinclair-Jones
TOODYAY has its first female shire president and will get its first woman CEO after two historic 5-4 votes by a new majority of councillors elected last October.
The council also voted 6-3 to elect a new female deputy president in a clean sweep for women in the shire’s top leadership roles.
Veteran Cr Rosemary Madacsi – who was elected deputy president last year after winning a postal ballot of all Toodyay voters – is the new shire president.Read more
She replaces former Cr Bill Manning, who resigned last month to move to Tasmania.
Audit Committee Chair Beth Ruthven (shown left being sworn in by Cr Brian Rayner JP) was elected new shire deputy president.
Cr Therese Chitty ran unsuccessfully for shire president in her third failed attempt in four years after saying publicly last February that she wouldn’t run again.
Cr Paula Greenway lost her second bid since 2017 to be elected deputy.
It is understood Crs Manning, Ruthven, Madacsi, Susan Pearce and Phil Hart voted for Cr Madacsi, and Crs Brian Rayner, Ben Bell, Chitty and Greenway voted for Cr Chitty.
Councillors voted 5-4 similarly to appoint Shire of York Corporate and Community Services Executive Manager Suzie Haslehurst (below) to be Toodyay’s new shire CEO.
It is understood Ms Haslehurst was one of four shortlisted candidates interviewed by councillors last month after the job attracted more than 20 applicants.
The result was a win for five new councillors who were elected last year for the first time by all Toodyay voters, and a defeat for a veteran minority (excluding Cr Bell) who were elected in 2017 under now-abolished rules that barred most Toodyay voters from having a say in their elections.
Nobody voted for Cr Rayner because he was the only candidate to nominate in the now-abolished North Ward.
Ms Haslehurst replaces former Shire CEO Stan Scott, whose contract was terminated last month after he failed to convince councillors last year to let him keep his job for another three to four years.
Mr Scott’s last day is Tuesday May 12 but he has been on extended sick leave for three months and is not expected to return to work.
The shire is currently awaiting the outcome of a year-long State Government inquiry into its operations and affairs, and “reasonable suspicion” that the council may have breached local government law.
The new shire CEO will be expected to manage a response to any recommendations arising from the inquiry, the result of which has yet to be released by WA Local Government Minister David Templeman.
His department sent a draft to the State Solicitor’s Office last December to decide if any part should be withheld as evidence for prosecution before the findings are made public.
IT IS understood the inquiry was reopened last February to examine a new $1.1 million shire contract awarded last year without calling for public tenders.
In answer to a public question in March, former shire president Manning said it was not advertised because the previous council had voted 8-0 last August for Mr Scott to “source a suitable contractor” under a State Government ‘common use agreement’.
It is understood the fresh investigation has delayed the release of a final inquiry report.
The council has appointed Shire Corporate Services Manager Chileya Luangala as Acting CEO to manage the Covid-19 emergency and budget review until Ms Haslehurst starts work in June or sooner.
Ms Haslehurst has worked for four years at the Shire of York, including earlier this year and previously as acting CEO.
She was previously Acting Director of Community and Economic Development and Manager of Community Development for four years at the Shire of Broome.
Ms Haslehurst also has a background in arts administration, chaired Country Arts WA for a total of eight years, was CEO of Magabala Books Aboriginal Corporation for 11 years, chaired the Performing Arts Touring Alliance for two years, was national president of Regional Arts Australia for two years and Buzz Dance Theatre general manager for four years.
She holds a University of South Australia graduate diploma in management and studied at Mt Eliza Business School.
It is understood Ms Haslehurst has signed a four-year contract with an initial six-month trial and has started making plans to move to Toodyay.
By Heather Brennan
ON ANZAC Day we honoured those “who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations” and “the contribution and suffering of all those who have served.
“Lest we forget”.
This year’s Anzac Day could only be described as one of the most-moving commemorations we have participated in.
Anzac Day should never go unmarked, therefore our sub-branch sought a safe and fitting way to undertake our commemoration.
This gave rise to an early morning service undertaken by Toodyay RSL President Peter Brennan,who laid the first wreath (left), flags were raised at an eerily vacant and solemn Anzac Memorial Park, the ode was recited and the Last Post and Rouse played.
From the photos, phone calls and messages we have received, even with the disappointment felt over the cancellation of services due to the Covid-19 no gatherings rule, most (including Toodyay Fire and rescue volunteers (right) and regular Anzac Parade leader Warren Hall (below) were able to commemorate this day in unique yet safe ways while adhering to the restrictions.
The sub-branch is very impressed and grateful with the way our members and the wider community embraced the driveway vigil and altered commemorations.
We look forward to the day we can meet again and share the camaraderie that would normally accompany this day.
Until then, take care and stay safe.
Our sub-branch would like to sincerely thank the Toodyay Country Women’s Association ladies for their generous and timely donation of freshly baked Anzac biscuits.
Due to Covid-19 social-distancing regulations, the wood raffle on Friday and Saturday May 15 and 16 outside the IGA has been cancelled as has the RSLWA Congress in June.
By Ieva Tomsons and Michael Sinclair-Jones
TOODYAY townsite and most of the shire has been blanket pegged for nickel after “spectacular” results from test drilling on a Julimar cattle farm (marked with red dot on map, left) 30km west of the town.
Chalice Gold Mines shares skyrocketed 700 per cent last month amid claims that Julimar could become a major new nickel province of significant strategic importance for Australia.
The Julimar find includes high-grade nickel, cobalt and copper which Chalice said were “very important” in batteries for Tesla and other electric cars, and palladium which is used to manufacture hydrogen fuel cells and control vehicle pollution – all highly valuable metals on world markets.
The map shows that Chalice currently holds 180sq/km of active exploration tenements (marked green) in the western part of the shire from Keating Road to Dewars Pool and has pegged a further 2300sq/km (blue) covering most of the rest of the shire from Hoddys Well to Wattening, and Nunile to Lower Chittering and the border of Morangup.
The company is chaired by mining entrepreneur Tim Goyder, brother of AFL Chair and former Wesfarmers, Qantas and Woodside chair Richard Goyder who owns Glendearg Farm on the Bindi-Bindi-Toodyay Road.
Initial results from about a dozen Chalice test holes drilled 500m south of Julimar Road to a depth of 250m on an 800-acre Keating Road cattle farm were described this month by Chalice Managing Director Alex Dorsch as “a once in 10 years discovery”.
“If this turns out to be what we think it is, it will be a pretty substantial find of strategic interest for Western Australia,” Mr Dorsch said in an exclusive interview with The Herald.
“It looks like it could be a sizeable deposit of hundreds of millions of tonnes.”
Lower Chittering residents say they are concerned about increased traffic on Julimar Road if mining proceeds.
The Avon and Hills Mining Awareness Group (AHMAG) says it also has concerns about the Julimar project and is keeping a close watch on developments.
Mr Dorsch said his company had pegged most of the shire as a precaution to prevent rival companies pegging nearby for the same minerals.
Mining Monthly and Stockhead magazines quoted Mr Dorsch recently as decribing the results of exploration drilling at the Julimar site (pictured above) as “spectacular”.
He said main ore body was thought to lie in the shire’s west and extend into Julimar State Forest, where Chalice conducted preliminary electromagnetic aerial surveys before seeking permits to start test drilling.
The expanded exploration area being sought includes part of the Avon Valley National Park and several conservation reserves which would require special State permission for further drilling.
Mr Dorsch said Julimar was unique because it was near an existing heavy freight rail link to a nearby port and close enough to Perth for miners to sleep at home in their own beds and commute to work instead of having to work Fly In-Fly Out at a remote minesite.
It was valuable also because Australia was a more stable country than Africa’s Democratic Republic of Congo, where most of the world’s cobalt is currently mined.
Further drilling would determine whether the Julimar ore body suited underground or open cut mining.
Chalice currently has $25 million to fund further exploration.
Mr Dorsch said it would take 4-8 months to gain State Government approval to drill in Julimar State Forest, and two or three years to know whether the ore deposit was commercially viable to mine.