NRAR works with illicit tobacco taskforce on latest prosecution

Media release | 18 October 2021

The Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) has commenced a prosecution against a company and an individual based in the Southern Tablelands for alleged breaches of the Water Management Act 2000 (WM Act).

The regulator received a tip off from the Commonwealth’s Illicit Tobacco Taskforce (ITTF) and worked collaboratively with them on the investigation.

The ITTF combines the operational, investigative and intelligence capabilities of the Australian Border Force, Australian Taxation Office, Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, AUSTRAC and Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.

Kirsty Ruddock, NRAR’s Director Water Enforcement Taskforce, said it was helpful to receive the tip off and the regulator is exploring collaborations and utilising technologies more readily to ensure compliance with the NSW water laws.

“We’re sharpening our regulatory toolkit and exploring new ways to hold alleged wrongdoers to account,” Ms Ruddock said.

“When someone takes water they are not legally entitled to, they are harming the natural environment, other water users and the public’s trust in the enforcement of our water laws. We will take strong action against those who willfully and substantially break the rules.”

Commander Greg Linsdell who oversees the ITTF, said the growing of tobacco in Australia often involves the illegal sourcing of water.

“Sourcing water illegally completely undermines legitimate farmers and Government sustainability measures, especially in times of drought,” Commander Linsdell said.

“The illicit tobacco trade is run by serious organised crime groups and impacts our communities in many ways including foreign worker exploitation, the illegal sourcing of water and electricity, and depriving the community of much needed funds for economic growth.

Purchasing illicit tobacco products supports these groups and damages lawful businesses and we would ask the Australian community to consider this when making their decision to purchase.”

NRAR has brought the following charges against a company operating in the Upper Lachlan Shire local government area related to illegal water take:

  • one offence for taking water without holding a water access licence. This is a section 60A offence under the WM Act that allegedly took place between 13 and 21 November 2019
  • two offences under section 91B of the WM Act for using a pump and a dam without a water supply work approval

Additionally, the regulator has brought two charges against an individual also based in the Southern Tablelands:

  • one offence under section 91B of the WM Act for using a dam without a water supply work approval
  • one offence under section 340A(1) of the WM Act for failing to comply with a notice issued under section 338A of the WM Act.

Each offence carries a penalty of $22,000 and the matters are listed in the Bathurst Local Court on 20 October 2021.

For more information about NRAR’s other prosecutions visit nrar.nsw.gov.au/prosecutions.

To make a confidential report on suspected water misuse, visit NRAR’s website nrar.nsw.gov.au/suspicious-activities.

The Commonwealth’s Illicit Tobacco Taskforce (ITTF) removes illicit tobacco plants from Southern Tablelands property.

The Commonwealth’s Illicit Tobacco Taskforce (ITTF) removes illicit tobacco plants from Southern Tablelands property.