IT READS like the plotline of a Hollywood blockbuster – backroom deals, blundering politicians and family livelihoods threatened.
But the story is real and the drama is playing out right here in Griffith.
The plight of the local citrus industry has moved a determined 81-year-old to release a book taking aim at the federal government and one of the world’s largest beverage companies.
Brian Mills, whose grandparents Luigi and Fiorina Bonomi were the first Italians in Griffith, claims he has uncovered a corporate and government deal to undermine local citrus growers.
In his book, Whodunnit - The Last Nail In The Coffin Of The Citrus Family Farm, Mr Mills blames juice giant Lion Nathan for “coercing” the federal government into overturning a ban on Brazilian juice concentrate, which contains the controversial chemical carbendazim.
Australia imports 32,000 tonnes of frozen orange juice concentrate annually – two-thirds of which comes from Brazil.
The citrus industry has long blamed this tide of imports on the woes suffered by local farmers.
Mr Mills will release his book tomorrow at Griffith Library and, if successful, plans to make a movie from it.
“We’re pulling out citrus trees and yet we’re importing this huge amount of concentrate from Brazil,” Mr Mills said.
“Carbendazim was banned in Australia last year but the ban only lasted five minutes.
“Since it was overturned, rural farm debt has risen $1 billion and I can’t understand why the government would allow this.
“Has Lion Nathan, which owns more than 80 per cent of juice manufacturing in Australia, been in the government’s ear to have them overturn this ban? I believe they have.”
In his book, Mr Mills claims a $100,000 donation to the federal government by Lion Nathan “coerced” it to scuttle the carbendazim ban.
He has been circulating a petition in recent months to put a fresh ban on the chemical and attracted more than 4000 signatures.
He even fronted a citrus senate inquiry in Griffith on July 3, demanding to know why the government was allowing the citrus industry to die.
“They’re a bunch of drongos if they’re prepared to accept this,” he said.
“I’m determined to pursue this issue.
“I’d be letting my grandparents down if I let Griffith collapse.”
Tomorrow’s book launch will take place at Griffith Library from 3pm.