Guilty plea for water theft
A NSW cotton farmer has pleaded guilty to three water theft charges.
Anthony Barlow from Mungindi pleaded guilty to two counts related to taking water when metering equipment was not working and a third of failing to comply with direction under part one (Directions to landholder and other persons) of chapter seven (Enforcement) of the Water Management Act (2000).
A three-day sentencing hearing has been set down for February 6–8 next year.
Cotton Australia acting chief executive Michael Murray said the matter pertained to “the conduct of one irrigator”.
“It must be acknowledged that there are 12,000 irrigators in NSW,” Mr Murray said. “The overwhelming majority of irrigators believe water theft is not acceptable.
“The Australian cotton industry has zero tolerance of illegal behaviour of any sort by growers, and therefore condemns the actions that led to these charges and welcomes the resolution in the courts.”
Mr Murray said since the allegations were raised “there has been significant reform in the water industry”.
“Cotton Australia is very supportive of this regulatory reform. “We believe any such reform must be both effective and cost-effective.”
❝ The majority of irrigators believe water theft is not acceptable.
— Michael Murray