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Tobacco Industry package in jeopardy

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Growers ‘in fear of thugs’

CRIMINAL thugs were trying to force tobacco growers to vote against the industry buy-out, member for Indi Sophie Mirabella said last night.

In a call for calm in the lead-up to the vote on the British American Tobacco offer, Mrs Mirabella urged growers to stand up against the intimidation and report incidents to the police.

“We must take a stand against criminal thugs who are intimidating legitimate tobacco growers,” she said.

“It would be inappropriate of me to divulge the individual incidents of this nature, however, those within the industry know that it is occurring.

“This criminal behaviour is designed to make growers live in fear and vote against the package.

“Some tobacco growers are offering other growers cash inducements to vote against any exit package.”

Mrs Mirabella yesterday discussed concerns with the Minister for Revenue and Assistant Treasurer, Peter Dutton.

She has organised for the Tobacco Co-operative of Victoria to meet Mr Dutton next week in Canberra.

She is meeting the Prime Minister’s office again tomorrow.

“I have also been asked to facilitate a police presence at the meeting in Myrtleford on October 26 and I have put this request through,” Mrs Mirabella said.

“This is clearly a difficult time for the Myrtleford growers and their families.

“The last thing they need is for the criminal element — the very people who have brought the industry into this current situation — to be intimidating and threatening growers on the eve of this important vote.

“I also have a message for the tax office that it needs to beef up its surveillance measures and its existing probity checking regime for growers.

“The industry should not have to counter this disgraceful aggression from corrupt and failed growers who are undermining the security and safety of local, legitimate growers.

“If we let these people intimidate the legitimate growers, then it’s very likely that the offer will not be taken up by a majority of growers.” … original article here

MP worried tobacco growers forced to oppose exit package

The federal Member for Indi fears Myrtleford tobacco growers are being intimidated to vote against a $10 million exit package for the region.

British American Tobacco has offered the package in exchange for cancelling its crop buying contract early.

The move would mean farmers would stop growing tobacco this year.

Sophie Mirabella says the growers in the illegal chop chop trade are intimidating other farmers because they want to keep growing their crops.

“My concern is that growers are being prevented from making a commercial decision based on the law and are being forced to vote against this,” she said.

“I am concerned about this because some people have come to me some anonymously and said this is happening, others have heard about it.”

The Tobacco Cooperative of Victoria says 75 per cent of growers need to support the exit package at a meeting on October 19.

John Maraca from the cooperative says some growers have asked for security at the meeting.

“At this stage I cannot confirm or deny, but I have had discussions with our local police here in Wangaratta, I have had some people concerned believing that there should be some police presence there,” he said. … original article here


Written by Greg Naylor

11 October 2006 at 9:17 pm

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