Showing posts with label Supreme Court. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Supreme Court. Show all posts

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Murray-Darling Basin irrigator has cotton farm asset frozen under Criminal Proceeds Confiscation Act - required to pay back $15.7 million


People living along the major rivers on the NSW Far North Coast, particularly those on the Clarence River, will remember that it was irrigators in southern Queensland as well as other areas within the Murray-Darling Basin who made repeated calls to dam and divert one of more of these coastal rivers to fill heir greedy maws with additional water.

The Courier Mail, 25 January 2019, p.27:

Authorities have gone to court to force an award-winning Queensland cotton farmer to pay $16 million to the state’s Public Trustee after a “covert source” told them the accused water fraudster had sold his farm for more than $100 million.

John Douglas Norman, 43, a former Australian Cotton Farmer Of The Year, from Toobeah in southern Queensland, has been charged with defrauding the Murray-Darling Basin water program of $20 million.

The charges are before the Brisbane Magistrates Court.

Last week the State Government was granted an urgent court order, forcing Norman to pay $15.7 million to the state’s Public Trustee, after the police received a tip that his company had sold its Queensland cotton and grain farms to a global corporate giant.

Norman must pay the $15.7 million once his deal with the $43 billion Canadian giant Manulife Financial Corporation settles, a Supreme Court judge has ruled. The order was made under the Criminal Proceeds Confiscation Act.

The mega-deal was due to settle last week, court documents state. Until the $15.7 million is paid, Norman’s share of the giant farms, west of Goondiwindi, will remain frozen by the Supreme Court.

The remaining share of the business is owned by his mother Aileen Joan Norman. She has not been charged with any crimes and has not had her assets frozen.

The farms, spread over 18,000ha, are mostly irrigated and run along or close to the NSW-Queensland border, the court heard. They are in “a core crop production region” and with “significant water entitlements”.

The farms and a $2 million riverfront Southport mansion, owned by Norman’s wife Virginia, were raided and searched by police during the probe, court documents state.

BACKGROUND

The Land, 30 August 2018:

Meanwhile in Queensland, a major alleged fraud in the cotton industry was uncovered by police, with two executives from Queensland's cotton group Norman Farming charged over an an alleged $20 million fraud involving federal funds earmarked for Murray-Darling water savings.

Norman Farming CEO John Norman, 43, and his chief financial officer Steve Evans, 53, were granted bail after appearing in Brisbane Magistrates Court over the alleged fraud.

Police allege the director of the company submitted fraudulent claims, including falsified invoices related to six water-efficiency projects on a property near Goondiwindi, called Healthy Headwater projects.

Police allege the fraud occurred over seven years.

In NSW, the Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) has issued a number of charges in the north and south-west of NSW for various alleged water offences.
The NRAR is the new independent water regulator in NSW. It started operations on April 30, after an outcry over alleged water deals in northern NSW exposed by the ABC's Four Corners program….

NRAR said it was pursuing the following cases:

● A Moree company has been charged with water theft offences. It is alleged the company, involved in irrigation, took water from a river while metering equipment was not working, an offence against section 91I(2) of the Water Management Act 2000. It is further alleged they constructed and used a channel to convey water without approval.
● A Carinda man has been charged with using a channel to convey water without approval, an offence against s91B of the Water Management Act 2000.
● Two men have been charged with water theft offences on properties in Walgett and Mallowa.
● A 35-year-old man from Carinda in Northern NSW alleged he provided false and misleading information to water investigators.
● Two men have been charged after they allegedly carried out controlled activities on the Murray River near Corowa.

ABC News, 13 February 2018:

The Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) is powerless to prevent upstream farmers harvesting overland floodwaters desperately needed to flow through the river system for the benefit of all users, the authority's head has admitted.

It comes as details emerge of massive earthworks built to enable upstream farmers to carry out "floodplain harvesting"…..

Last week, MDBA head Phillip Glyde travelled to Mr Lamey's farm to see first hand what was happening.

"I've learnt a lot," Mr Glyde told 7.30.

"For people like the Lameys, it's very hard to negotiate through and find what's the best way to make sure the problems they're experiencing don't occur."

Although he admitted floodplain harvesting was a serious issue, he acknowledged there was nothing the authority could do in relation to the approval and regulation of irrigation earthworks.

"There's overlapping responsibilities: local, state, different departments," he said.
"Then you've got the Commonwealth, then you've got the Murray Darling Basin Plan."
On Wednesday, the Senate decides whether to pass a proposed reduction in the amount of water Queensland irrigators give back to the ailing Murray Darling River system.

"We don't want the irrigators to be keeping even more water, we want the banks pulled down in Queensland," Mr Lamey said.

"We want the river to run like it should."

Saturday, 15 September 2018

Tweets of the Week



* Between 28 October 2014 and 20 August 2015, 2GB Radio and Alan Jones published 30 broadcasts. Twenty-seven of these broadcasts conveyed 76 defamatory imputations of and concerning the Wagner brothers according to the Court*



Friday, 16 June 2017

Human Services Minister Alan Tudge says the public is "fed up". You bet we are!



Judges and magistrates have lashed out at "grossly improper and unfair" conduct by several Turnbull government MPs, who accused Victorian courts of being too soft on terror offenders.

Federal Liberal MP Alan Tudge has taken a public swipe at Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews over the State's soft terror laws and the Premier has answered his critic.

The three ministers' criticisms of the courts have appalled the professional association of judges, which said the comments could be misconstrued as an attempt to interfere in a case before the courts.

Judicial Conference of Australia president Robert Beech-Jones said the "co-ordinated and direct attack" on the independence of the courts risked undermining public confidence in the judiciary.

"The statements attributed to the ministers are deeply troubling. They represent a threat to the rule of law. They should never have been made." Justice Beech-Jones said.

Victorian Attorney-General Martin Pakula also hit back at the federal frontbenchers, warning they have come "dangerously close" to contempt of court.

Following national agreement to toughen parole and bail laws to prevent violent extremists being released from prison, Health Minister Greg Hunt and Human Services Minister Alan Tudge claimed Victorian judges were failing the public.

Triggered by recent courtroom comments from Victorian Supreme Court Chief Justice Marilyn Warren and Justice Mark Weinberg, Mr Hunt said their apparent support for lighter sentences was "deeply concerning". Mr Tudge said the public was "fed up".

So Human Services Minister and Liberal MP for Aston Alan Tudge thinks the public is "fed up".

You bet we are!

However, I suspect that it is not the judiciary which has caused this reaction so much as it is the antics of Alan Tudge and his Coalition cronies.

This constant ideological assault on the nation’s legal, political and social institutions and, the continuing erosion of the citizen’s civil and human rights, has moved well beyond the pale.

This latest attack on the judiciary has provoked a response from the Supreme Court of Victoria that Mr. Tudge in his overweening sense political superiority probably did not even consider.

The Age, 14 June 2017:

Three senior Turnbull government ministers will be hauled before the Supreme Court of Victoria to explain why they should not be charged with contempt after accusing the judiciary of advocating softer sentences for terrorists.

In an explosive development, the Supreme Court has ordered Health Minister Greg Hunt, Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar and Human Services Minister Alan Tudge to appear on Friday "to make any submissions as to why they should not be referred for prosecution for contempt" .

A letter from Judicial Registrar Ian Irving obtained by Fairfax Media says comments by the three ministers published in the The Australian accusing the judiciary of going soft on terrorists would appear to bring the court into disrepute.

"The attributed statements were published whilst the judgements of the Court of Appeal were reserved," the letter says.

"The attributed statements appear to intend to bring the Court into disrepute, to assert the judges have and will apply an ideologically based predisposition in deciding the case or cases and that the judges will not apply the law."

The extraordinary order follows comments published in The Australian in which the senior ministers blasted the Victorian judiciary for handing down lighter sentences for terrorists as part of "ideological experiments".

The judicial registrar has also written to The Australian's editor and the journalist Simon Benson asking them or their legal representatives to attend the court, alongside legal representatives for News Limited.