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Grazier reports threat to police

Friday, 1st March, 2019

Tolarno Station’s Robert McBride. PICTURE: Michael Murphy Tolarno Station’s Robert McBride. PICTURE: Michael Murphy

By Myles Burt

Tolarno Station’s Robert McBride claims a Cotton Australia employee threatened him after a Darling River forum in Sydney.

Mr McBride, who is among the leaders of the campaign to save the river, said the threat was uttered before witnesses and he had reported it to police.

He had gone to Sydney to attend the ‘Future of the Murray-Darling’ public forum hosted by the University of NSW’s Global Water Institute last weekend.

Community representatives, experts, stakeholders and politicians presented their ideas and knowledge of the water problems in the river system.

NSW Shadow Water Minister Chris Minns was among the politicians who gave an address but the Liberal-National government declined the invitation.

Mr McBride said after the forum he was approached by a Cotton Australia representative who handed him his business card.

He said the man told him to “stop everything” or the cotton industry would unite and destroy his Tolarno Station.

“The person berated me and then a second time in front of two other witnesses,” Mr McBride said.

“When you’ve got an industry threatening private family businesses that’s not a good situation to be in.

“That’s why we took it a step further, and the other two individuals are happy to provide statements to police, accordingly, of what they heard.”

Mr McBride said it was not the first time he’d been threatened for his advocacy of the river but that it was “different” when it came from cotton industry representative.

“I do get threats all the time, that’s just unfortunately part and parcel of sticking your head up on the issue of the Darling River system,” he said.

“If somebody that’s from the Northern Basin, say an irresponsible irrigator, had a go at me, well you roll with the punches.

“But when people are paid by an industry and trained by an industry, then that was quite shocking to me that they’d have the audacity to threaten my livelihood and my business.

“We just hope the police investigate, take the other statements and proceed with this because a person from an industry should not be in position to threaten my livelihood.”

Mr McBride said he found the threat surprising as he wasn’t a speaker on the day and felt the public forum was very balanced and had given everyone a fair go.

“I would’ve thought no industries were victimised at all, and that’s why I found it quite startling.”

Mr McBride said he had written about the incident on Facebook.

“We put it out on Facebook so that they (Cotton Australia) would see that. It’s reached 120,000 people already.

“A lot of cotton growers have seen it and agreed that making threats is not acceptable at all, so they’re not all like that.

“We would’ve hoped that Cotton Australia would’ve dealt with it accordingly.

“If threats are made against people, then people should be forced to resign from organisations.

“We left it for Cotton Australia to make a decision and nothing was done and so therefore we had no option.

“People like us should not be victimised because we’re just trying to act with integrity.

“It’s in their hands now (NSW Police).”

The BDT contacted Cotton Australia for response, but it declined to comment.

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