Fruit business defrauded $1.3 million

A man has been arrested and charged over an alleged $1.3 million fraud against a fruit grower in Trentham Cliffs, outside Mildura.

A rural crime prevention team started the investigation after receiving information that the fruit business, near the NSW-Victorian border, had been defrauded over the sale of fruit from local orchards for more than six years.

On December 1, a 58-year-old man was arrested at a Wentworth home and charged with 60 counts of dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception. He will appear in court on January 1.

Wine directors appointed

Six non-executive directors have been appointed to Wine Australia.

The six directors join chair Dr Michele Allan, who was appointed in July 2020.

The two new directors are:

  • John Lloyd, NSW. Mr Lloyd was the former chief executive officer of Horticulture Innovation Australia for nine years.
  • Justin Brown, ACT. Mr Brown has vast experience with trade and market access issues, protecting and promoting market access opportunities for Australian industry on a day-to-day basis.

The four reappointed directors are:

  • Catherine Cooper, South Australia. Corporate/commercial lawyer, with broad ranging food and agribusiness experience.
  • Frances-Anne Keeler, NSW. Principal of fa Consulting and Australian Tourism Data Warehouse chair.
  • Catherine Oates, Western Australia. Owner/operator of Oates Ends and Cath Oates Wine Consulting.
  • Mitchell Taylor, NSW. Taylors Wines managing director and winemaker.

Wine and wine grape production is a major agricultural industry in Australia, employing more than 160,000 full and part-time employees across 65 wine growing regions and contributing more than $45 billion to the economy in 2019-20.

Australia is the sixth largest wine producing country, with 60 per cent of this wine exported and the other 40 per cent sold domestically.

Fuel management program released

Forest Fire Management Victoria and Country Fire Authority have released the latest Joint Fuel Management Program, providing details of bushfire prevention activities across Victoria.

FFMVic chief fire officer Chris Hardman said each year the agencies reviewed their fuel management activities on public and private land, and then consulted with communities across the state before releasing a new Joint Fuel Management Program.

“It sets out where planned burning, mowing, slashing, clearing works and creating and maintaining fire breaks will take place to reduce bushfire risk over the next three years and is updated annually," Mr Hardman said.

Victorians can provide input and feedback on the program at any time by talking to a fire management officer at their local DELWP or Parks Victoria office, by phoning the DELWP Customer Service Centre on 136 186, or by speaking to a vegetation management officer at their CFA district office.

To view the latest Joint Fuel Management Program, go to:

Environmental ties strengthened

Landcare NSW and Local Government NSW have joined forces to to improve environmental and community outcomes across the state.

Landcare NSW chair Stephanie Cameron said the partnership was a natural fit for Landcare NSW, whose mission was to support grassroots Landcarers to care for land, environment and communities.

“We already work together in many parts of the state through on-ground projects that focus on environmental protection, sustainable food production, and community engagement and wellbeing,” she said.

“Landcare NSW has existing relationships with a number of Local Government NSW member councils who host regional and local Landcare co-ordinators.

“This partnership is a step in the right direction to expanding that connection further.”

LGNSW president Linda Scott said the partnership would allow both organisations to achieve strong environmental and social outcomes.

“This partnership will allow us to explore future opportunities where we can align and collaborate.”

Farmers get their say on land use

With agriculture, urban development, renewable energy infrastructure and other land use interests competing for space in regional areas, NSW Farmers is urging landholders to have their say on State Significant Agricultural Land mapping.

NSW Farmers’ Xavier Martin said it was an important process that would help protect farmers from conflicting land uses into the future.

“The understanding of high value agricultural land must be multi-faceted, taking into consideration soil quality, yield, adaptability, proximity to export hubs and regional importance,” Mr Martin said.

“If the government is to identify and protect agricultural land on a tiered basis, then they need to understand what makes land strategically important — and farmers will be the repository of that knowledge.”

Consultation on the first State Significant Agricultural Land mapping is open until late January at: