News in brief

By Geoff Adams

Farm invaders charged in Queensland

A further six people have been charged under Queensland's tough new trespassing laws aimed at deterring so-called farm invasions by animal rights activists.

Police visited several addresses across the south-east of the state on August 3 and 4 as part of an investigation into farm invaders at a Pittsworth piggery and Warwick egg facility last year.

The four women and two men, aged between 22 and 30, are accused of offences related to unlawfully entering the properties and stealing several piglets and chickens in November 2019 and over a six-month period from December 2018, respectively.

If convicted, they could face up to one year in jail or fines up to $60,000 under harsher penalties introduced by the Queensland Government in February.

A total of 11 people have so far been charged over the incidents and investigations are ongoing, police said.

Harvest labour coming from Vanuatu

Farm workers from Vanuatu will be brought to Australia to help pick mangoes despite an ongoing travel ban on overseas arrivals.

Up to 170 people will come to the Northern Territory to head off a looming labour shortage ahead of the upcoming harvest.

More workers could join them if the trial is successful.

All people coming to the country will face two weeks in quarantine, while the NT chief health officer will have final approval on recruitment starting.

Vanuatu has no confirmed coronavirus infections, while there are just three active cases in the NT.

The Northern Territory Farmers Association forecasts a shortage of between 800 and 1000 workers this month.

Producers can only employ people under the Seasonal Worker Program and Pacific Labour Scheme provided there are no local workers to fill the roles.

Push to raise dam wall higher

A request to raise NSW's Warragamba Dam wall higher than originally proposed has been accepted by the Federal Government, sparking fears a larger area of the Blue Mountains National Park will be at risk.

WaterNSW wrote to the Federal Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment in June asking for approval to vary the proposal to raise the dam wall 17 m instead of the 14 m originally proposed and admitted publicly.

The department's Environment Approvals and Wildlife Trade Branch accepted the variation on July 29.

The project's environmental impact statement is due to be released for public comment in 2020 and will then be subject to Federal Government approval.

In its request, WaterNSW notes modelling has shown the dam crest would need to be raised by 17 m by 2090 as a result of increased flood risk due to climate change.

WaterNSW insists the three-metre increase will not change upstream and downstream temporary inundation levels, durations and impacts.

But Australian National University water expert Jamie Pittock said the extra 3 m would flood a larger part of the heritage-listed Blue Mountains.