TOODYAY has declared war on feral pigs.
The local shire is using a specialist contractor and cameras to stop increasing numbers of the voracious predators breeding in Julimar, West Toodyay and elsewhere.
Feral pigs pose a serious traffic hazard on local roads – three were hit by a passing truck on Toodyay Road in Morangup last month, and another was hit by a car on the Bindi Bindi Road in Bejoording last October.
They can destroy hectares of crops in a single night, contaminate harvests and are a declared pest throughout WA.Read more
Feral pigs kill new-born lambs, spread foot and mouth disease and damage fragile natural ecosystems such as local waterways protected by WA Aboriginal heritage law.
The highly destructive animals foul water holes and displace wildlife by competing for food and habitat.
The shire has installed movement sensor cameras to detect feral pigs in known local habitats and plans this month to start using traps to cull numbers.
Most feral pigs grow to about half a metre tall and move in groups of about a dozen but are highly elusive and seldom seen.
Some people regard feral pigs as sport for hunters armed with guns and crossbows and have reportedly released captured animals into new areas deliberately to breed and proliferate for hunting.
Local farmers report gates left open and fences cut by trespassers hunting feral pigs with four-wheel-drive vehicles and dogs.
The introduced species is regarded as one of the world’s most destructive pests with an estimated 24 million in Australia.
Feral pigs are distant relatives of domestic animals that early European colonists lost or released into the wild and have interbred with more recently escaped or released animals.
They vary considerably in size, shape and colour but tend to be black, relatively hairy, strong in their forequarters with a shorter back and have a longer snout than domestic pigs.
Like their farmed counterparts, feral pigs are highly intelligent animals, wily and are good at hiding – they are not easily seen but numbers are increasing, with local sightings only five kilometres from the Toodyay townsite.
Feral pigs can leave distinctive evidence of their presence.
The tracks can be mistaken for those left by sheep, goats or even cattle but soft ground can reveal the impression of dew claws at the back of a feral pig’s foot.
Mud wallows provide another clue but feeding activity offers the clearest evidence.
Feral pigs are omnivores that eat plants and meat.
They have a keen sense of smell and will dig up anything from small patches of earth to large areas up to 20cm deep in search of subterranean food such as bulbs, roots, earthworms, frogs and reptiles.
Small mammals are also on the menu, along with crops, livestock and carrion.
Agriculture WA says the cause of lamb losses can be shown in the following way:
“Pig predation on lambs may not be obvious as the carcass is often consumed completely; however, several features are reported to be characteristic.
“The lamb is caught after a short chase and killed by a bite to the thorax. The lamb is then held down by the pig’s forefeet and feeding begins with the intestines and viscera.
“The flesh and bones of the spine, ribcage and upper parts are then eaten, with the skin of the legs turned inside out to the stifle (knee) joint. The head is then eaten and finally all or part of the skin and remains of the legs are consumed.
“On a partly eaten carcass, the pattern of feeding and lack of bite marks and canine punctures should distinguish the kill from that made by a fox or a dog.”
The shire urges feral pigs sightings to be reported by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling Reserves Officer Greg Warburton 0448 284 260.
A Nunile grower finishes off this year’s cropping program. Photo: Andrew Thornton.
LOCAL farmers hoping for good opening rains had their prayers answered last month when very good falls of rain were received in all areas in our shire.
Isolated falls of more than 90mm were recorded, and heavy rain caused some sowing delays due to boggy paddocks, though the rain was most welcome.
The rain has given a massive boost to pasture growth as earlier autumn rains that germinated pastures were struggling.
AN ELECTION to replace former Toodyay Shire Cr Paula Greenway (left) who resigned at the end of April will be postponed until three other council seats fall vacant in October.
Last month’s council meeting also deferred discussing whether to cut the number of Toodyay councillors from nine to seven.
Cr Greenway’s surprise resignation citing “personal priorities, beliefs and morals” six months before her four-year term was due to expire in October leaves Toodyay’s remaining eight councillors with the task of finalising this month’s likely horror budget.
Shire President Rosemary Madacsi will hold a second casting vote to break 4-4 ties.
However, this won’t count for finance decisions such as budgets where State law requires the support of an absolute majority of at least five elected representatives in the normally nine-member council chamber.Read more
Holding an extraordinary election to fill the vacancy would have cost the cash-strapped shire an extra $22,000 and wiped out more than half of this year’s March-revised $40,000 projected budget surplus.
In addition, a newly elected councillor would have sat for only three council meetings before the remainder of their four-year term expired in October.
The WA Electoral Commission wrote last month that it would approve a May council decision to defer an election until October.
It will be the first time all Toodyay voters decide who fills the seat after the 2017 vote was restricted to only those living in the now-abolished former West Ward – which includes Morangup – when former Cr Greenway was re-elected with 214 votes.
Crs Brian Rayner and Therese Chitty, whose four-year terms also expire in October, are the only other two remaining councillors who have never faced all Toodyay voters.
Nobody voted for Cr Rayner in 2017 when he was the only candidate to stand in the now-abolished North Ward, and Cr Chitty was elected in the former East Ward with with only 284 votes.
A total of 2575 Toodyay electors were enrolled to vote in 2017, and 3425 in 2019.
Cr Ben Bell topped the shire’s historic first postal ballot of all Toodyay electors in 2019 with a record 1126 votes when ward restrictions were abolished.
A council forum in April discussed whether more money could be saved by cutting the number of Toodyay councillors from nine to seven, as in neighbouring Goomalling, Chittering and York.
The Local Government Advisory Board said last month that it was too late this year to elect a smaller council in October.
The board said it needed to be formally notified of an absolute majority vote of at least five supporting Toodyay councillors by January 31 in a local government election year.
The board would then take a further six to nine months to review and publish its decision in the WA Government Gazette.
This needed to be done by June 30 in an election year to enable the WA Election Commission (WAEC) to modify the poll.
“The good news is that if your Shire decides to commence a representation review (via council resolution) soon, then you will be well ahead of the game for the 2023 LG elections!” the board wrote.
Cutting the council’s size was omitted from last month’s decision to leave former Cr Greenway’s seat empty until October.
Councillors voted 7-0 (Cr Bell absent on council-approved leave) to seek WAEC approval to defer an extraordinary election until the state-wide October poll.
Toodyay really turned it on this month with a return to its much-loved annual Moondyne mayhem that began with a march through town, the capture of notorious local bushranger Moondyne Joe by colonial coppers, two stage trials in Stirling Terrace, a bevy of fine feathered floozies teasing the audience and a host of street stalls and entertainment that captivated visitors and costumed locals on a perfect autumn day. Local traders reported steady sales throughout the action-packed event. Photos: John Martens.
Former Australian Army Cpl Warren Hall (white gauntlets) leads last month’s Anzac Day Parade in a return to traditional observance after last year’s lockdown.
Flags lowered for The Last Post during the Dawn Service at Toodyay’s Anzac Memorial Park.
Toodyay Shire Cr Brian Rayner and wife Jeanette Young at the RSL’s Gunfire Breakfast in the shire’s historic Wicklow Shearing Shed in Clinton Street.
Toodyay RSL Gunfire Breakfast after the Dawn Service.
Toodyay Anzac Parade marches towards Harper Road underpass
Marching up Anzac Parade towards Clinton Street memorial.
Some of the many wreaths laid at Toodyay’s Anzac Memorial Park.
Service veterans and their families stand for a minute’s silence.
Toodyay RSL President Peter Brennan lays a wreath at Anzac Memorial Park
Toodyay Community Singers perform Australia’s National Anthem.
Toodyay RSL members share Anzac Day drinks toast over lunch at the Freemasons Hotel.
By Michael Sinclair-Jones
A FORMER City of Perth commissioner has been selected by the Toodyay Shire Council to conduct a formal governance review of the Shire of Toodyay.
The independent review was recommended by a year-long State Government inquiry into the operations and affairs of the scandal-plagued former Toodyay council and its disgraced former CEO.
The new council last month selected Perth specialist management consultants Hammond Woodhouse Advisory to conduct the review.
Principal Consultant Andrew Hammond (left) is a former CEO for the shires of Nannup and Wyndham East Kimberley, and the cities of Albany and Rockingham.
His company’s website describes Mr Hammond as the “principal systems architect and author of the integrated community strategic plans for the Cities of Albany, Rockingham and Perth”.
He was appointed by the State Government in 2018 as a commissioner “to restore good governance to the suspended City of Perth”.
He “led the City until the election of the new Lord Mayor in October 2020”.Read more
A report on a WA Government inquiry into Toodyay Shire Council and its administration listed 25 adverse findings against former shire CEO Stan Scott and the previous council.
It said the former council failed to properly manage the former CEO’s behaviour and actions over the seven-year period investigated.
Those held responsible include two current serving councillors whose four-year terms expire in October.
They are former Toodyay shire president Brian Rayner (right) and former shire deputy president Therese Chitty (far right).
Adverse findings against the former council and the former CEO were tabled in State Parliament last October.
Mr Hammond’s independent review is scheduled to be finalised on September 30.
A final report and recommendations are due to be submitted to the State Government according to a timetable agreed by the WA Local Government Department.
Director General Duncan Ord last month granted a request by the debt-laden current council that the State – not Toodyay ratepayers – cover the review cost.
Management consultant Hammond Woodhouse Advisory was selected behind closed doors at last month’s council meeting.
The contract price was kept confidential.
The shire had earlier estimated the cost at between $20,000-$50,000, which would have wiped out most or all of this year’s $40,000 shire budget surplus.
In a letter dated April 13 tabled at last month’s council meeting, Mr Ord wrote to Shire CEO Suzie Haslehurst noting the “positive and proactive manner that the shire has responded to the recommendations of the authorised inquiry report”.
He asked the shire to “complete the current request for a quotation” and said his department would pay for the review “in accordance with the Shire of Toodyay Scope for Work of Governance Review previously provided by the department”.
Mr Ord said his department would also need to agree to who conducted the review.
Shire CEO Suzie Haslehurst said the department had provided a template for the governance review terms of reference to use as the basis for its scope.
It was emailed to councillors for feedback before quotes were sought.
Former Toodyay Progress Association chair Larry Graham (pictured left telling a 2019 WA Parliamentary Select Committee hearing that five local councils, including the Shire of Toodyay, should be axed and merged into a single new Avon Regional Authority) told last month’s council meeting that the invitation to seek quotes “should not have been made”.
He said the review terms of reference had not been authorised by the Director General of the Local Government Department, as recommended in the inquiry report.
It was not enough that it be approved by the department, he said.
“The administration of neither the shire nor the department know what the council or the Director General may or may not approve,” Mr Graham said.
“It’s not dancing on the head of a pin.
“You are not allowed to be ambushed and you have been.”
By Michael Sinclair-Jones
THE FORMER Toodyay Shire Council used the wrong business case three years ago to justify burdening ratepayers with the biggest loan in shire history to pay for the town’s new $15 million sport and recreation centre.
The council voted 6-3 in December 2017 to borrow $2.7 million (later increased to $4.5 million) for the new facility but based its decision on a business case for a different project that was scrapped after only a fortnight because former CEO Stan Scott (pictured left with former shire president Brian Rayner) botched the figures.
The $2.7 million loan was in addition to a 2013 council decision to borrow $1 million to buy the rocky 13ha site on the eastern edge of town from Perth property developer Ironbridge Holdings.
Many Toodyay residents wanted only a long-sought public swimming pool, which shire costings showed would have required an easily manageable $60,000 loan.
Total loan debt for the newly completed project now stands at $5.24 million.Read more
It jeopardises the shire’s 2018 long-term financial plan which requires 10 years of annual rate increases of 2.5 per cent.
The recreation centre debt also hamstrings this year’s shire budget after the council froze Toodyay’s 2020-21 rates in response to WA Premier Mark McGowan’s call on local government to ease financial stress on the community due to Covid-19 job losses.
Cr Susan Pearce told last month’s council meeting that she was concerned that shire debt might affect long-term financial support for the annual Toodyay Agricultural Show.
The lack of a fresh business case for the council’s hastily revised $12.1 million plan (now $15 million) in December 2017 was revealed in answer to a public question by former Toodyay Progress Association chair Larry Graham at last month’s council meeting.
Shire CEO Suzie Haslehurst said a business case for an “original concept’ was presented to the former council in November 2017 but there were “some amendments to those concepts”.
$9m pipe dream
Shire records show the former CEO originally recommended that the council approve a whopping $8 million loan on top of the $1 million it had already borrowed.
The plan included a new oval for football and cricket which he said would “cater for events such as the Toodyay Agricultural Show plus festivals, trade shows and community celebrations”, a rectangular playing field for hockey, soccer and rugby, netball basketball and tennis courts, and a new function centre for corporate events.
The $23.1 million scheme was approved 6-2, including former acting president Therese Chitty and recently retired Cr Paula Greenway in favour, and Cr Ben Bell and former councillor Sally Craddock against.
Former shire president Brian Rayner was absent on council-approved leave.
The December 2017 Herald reported that an $8 million loan would cost $10 million in interest, quadruple shire debt, cost ratepayers $900,000 a year for the next 20 years and require annual rate rises of 17 per cent.
The former CEO later denied that the shire planned to sell the historic showground to pay off the huge debt, though his business case said the first stage would “cater for events such as the Toodyay Agricultural Show”.
The massive costings blunder forced former shire president Rayner to call a special council meeting two weeks later to rescind the flawed November 28 decision.
The special meeting was presented with a new plan that had to be rushed through the council to meet a December 19 Federal funding deadline.
The former CEO used the same business case and cost-benefit analysis from the previous flawed decision to justify his new plan at the December 12 council meeting.
It was carried 6-3, including former president Rayner, former deputy president Chitty and former Cr Greenway in favour, and Cr Bell and former councillors Craddock and Di Granger against.
No public record of that meeting was posted on the shire website.
The omission was questioned by The Herald at the start of this month.
Ms Haslehurst said she would check the shire’s 2017 online public records.
Shire President Rosemary Madacsi – who was re-elected to the council last October after a four-year absence – said in answer to public questions last month that what occurred in 2017 was “well before our time”.
“To be quite frank, it is done and dusted – that business was already in place,” she said.
“We are dealing with the impact now and moving forward now.”
The council is now considering how to manage next year’s budget with a wafer-thin surplus of only $40,000 due at the end of this financial year and the first full year of increased monthly debt repayments starting on July 1.
Cash-strapped shire seeks to avoid extra $23,000 cost by leaving council seat vacant until October.
By Michael Siunclair-Jones
THE Toodyay Shire Council will decide this month if it should hold an early election following the surprise April 1 resignation of veteran Cr Paula Greenway (left).
Cr Greenway said she was too busy to speak to The Herald on Easter Saturday but issued a brief email statement the next day saying she had resigned because she was “choosing to put my own personal priorities, beliefs and morals first”.
“I am not available for a conversation this weekend as I have priority family time.”
Cr Greenway’s resignation was not publicly announced or widely known until she responded to a phone call from The Herald over the Easter weekend.
Her four-year term is not due to expire until October.Read more
Cr Greenway served more than eight years on the council after being elected with 68 votes in the shire’s now-abolished West Ward in 2013 and won re-election in 2017 with 214 votes in an ‘in-person’ ballot restricted only to former West Ward electors.
Shire CEO Suzie Haslehurst will prepare a report to the council about options for the already cash-strapped shire to avoid the additional $23,000 cost of a postal ballot of all Toodyay voters in a one-seat by-election.
This would leave Cr Greenway’s seat vacant until October’s state-wide local government elections when the four-year terms of four Toodyay councillors expire.
Cr Greenway’s resignation takes effect from April 30, and her last council meeting will be on Tuesday April 27.
Her departure will leave the Shire of Toodyay with an eight-member council, with President Rosemary Madacsi holding a second ‘casting’ vote to break any deadlocked decisions.
The last time this occurred was two years ago, also on April 1, when former Cr Craig Brook resigned after a council meeting for which he flew back from his new job in Melbourne.
At that meeting, former Cr Brook seconded a motion that was passed 5-4 not to re-employ former shire CEO Stan Scott when his contract expired in July 2019.
Cr Greenway was one of Mr Scott’s most ardent supporters in council and reportedly angrily berated Cr Brook as he left the chamber after his final meeting.
The shire’s Code of Conduct requires elected members to “treat others with respect and fairness” and not “make any allegations that are derogatory or improper”.
“We will always act in the best interests of the Shire and refrain from any type of communication, in our public or professional duties, which may cause any reasonable person unwarranted offence or embarrassment.”
Cr Greenway later told The Herald she could not recall the incident.
She then took part in a surprise council backflip a month after Cr Brook’s departure to re-employ Mr Scott in a secret 6-2 vote behind closed doors.
This was despite a State Government inquiry that later made 14 adverse findings against Mr Scott for financial mismanagement, conflict of interest, unethical conduct and other failures under local government law, many of which were reported in The Toodyay Herald but largely ignored by the former council.
Cr Greenway voted unsuccessfully against employing Ms Haslehurst as Mr Scott’s replacement in May last year.
She also lost her second bid in two years to be elected shire deputy president after unsuccessfully opposing the election of Cr Rosemary Madacsi as shire president.
It was a full day of sport, fun and relaxation (pictured above) for scores of Toodyay District High School students, parents friends as the shire’s new 25m public swimming pool hosted last month’s inaugural Faction Swimming Carnival. The program included competitive water events, novelty games and even a faction ‘dance-off’ contest for extra points. The Faction Swim Carnival ended with student, staff and parent 4 x 25m freestyle race. The contest was neck-and-neck for most of the race with parent and student teams leading first and second respectively into the last leg of the relay before the staff team powered ahead in the final stretch to “take the chocolates”.