Griffith's winery bosses are not known for speaking out on politics – least of all political assassinations.
Darren De Bortoli blows all that out of the water.
“My way of playing politics is with a straight bat. Just tell the bloody truth,” he says.
In a lengthy interview with The Area News, he didn't once want to talk up the recent awards or achievements of De Bortoli Wines.
Rather, he unloaded on the “flawed” Murray Darling Basin Plan (MDBP), National Party “footsies”, and shared an explosive theory on the murder of Griffith businessman Don Mackay.
And in an office crammed with hundreds of academic papers, science journals, books and newspaper clippings, he was always quick to back up whatever he said with multiple citations.
His two-hour taboo takedown started with a sledgehammer on the biggest sacred cow of all.
Who killed Don Mackay?
Recent media articles have once again focused on the role alleged Griffith mafia figures played in the 40-year-old unsolved murder of Don Mackay.
Mr De Bortoli, however, says something you won’t read in the the papers – that the CIA were involved in the assassination, and in particular a rogue contractor by the name of Edwin P Wilson.
While this may sound far-fetched, links between Griffith drug traders and American intelligence operatives have been reported in local and international media .
A recent book by writer and journalist Dr John Jiggens alleges Nugan Hand bank, founded by Griffith-born Frank Nugan and American ex-Green Beret Michael Hand, was used for money laundering by both Griffith mafia figures and the CIA, who were also said to be caught up in drug trafficking.
“Edwin P Wilson was a CIA contractor involved with naval task force 157 which was behind Nugan Hand bank,” Mr De Bortoli said.
As Don Mackay was determined to shut down illegal drug operations in the MIA, he was a threat to Nugan Hand and the CIA as “the man who knew too much”, according to Jiggens and De Bortoli.
“It’s one of the great untold stories but nobody wants to talk about it… I’ve spoken to politicians about this and they all know,” Mr De Bortoli said.
A just released book on Don Mackay, The Griffith Wars, details the dubious dealings and alleged CIA links of Nugan Hand Bank, but does not name the CIA as being involved in the Mackay assassination.
“Flawed” Murray Darling Basin Plan
Mr De Bortoli also challenges conventional wisdom on the MDBP, arguing the science that underpins the plan is flawed.
“They did the science to fit in with their arguments. If you do the arguments to fit in with the science, you would end up with something completely different,” he said.
“South Australia blames upstream irrigators for their own stuff ups… the assumption that the irrigation destroyed the [South Australia’s] Coroong was incorrect, no one disputes that, the flows from the Coorong came from the opposite direction ”.
Mr De Bortoli said much of South Australia’s south east wetlands have been destroyed not by the MDB system, but by drains which flush the wetlands straight into the sea, which kills the sea grass.
He runs a Facebook page, Murray Darling Basin Myths, on which he regularly posts research supporting his arguments.
Support for Helen Dalton
Mr De Bortoli was vocal in his support for Helen Dalton during the recent Murray by-election because “she understood the science behind the MDBP”.
Mr De Bortoli said the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers candidate offered a different direction to what he sees as failed water policies from both major parties.
“The Nationals are politically compromised… they don’t know whether they are Arthur or Martha”.
Mr De Bortoli is concerned South Australia Liberals are calling the shots.
“The [Nationals] base has been stuffed over because they’re playing footsies with the Liberal Party”.