How to become a Nuffield Scholar: fun facts

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There is a lot more information that we are working on in this matter – so watch this space.

Do you know any of the people discussed in this blog? Do you want to share your experiences? See the below tip-off form / contact form, or use the instant chat tools in the bottom corner.

For more information – chat with us live using our instant chat tools (bottom corners), book an appointment, or call now on 1300-327123 (till late).

Employer masterclass: lessons from Biteriot?

Fiona Hall, Biteriot, Caernarvon Cherry

Why are some Biteriot employees paid $70 per day, and other Biteriot workers working 27.5 hours day, 192 hours per week? What is the right level of employee remuneration / incentive in a pandemic, what can other farmers learn from Nuffield Scholar, Fiona Hall and master motivator Claudio Brown?

Whine or wine?

Renowned winetaster, Fiona Hall of Biteriot recently complained about the local workforce in Orange, NSW saying:

the inability of overseas backpackers … had led to staff shortages … they employed university and high school students …

“We had some good locals, but we [also] had some locals who did one day on, one day off [lacking] consistency,” ….

Mrs Hall said the government’s COVID-relief payments had not helped with the staff shortages.

“It wasn’t an incentive for people to go out and pick cherries,” she said.

https://www.westernmagazine.com.au/story/7077807/challenging-cherry-season-ends-after-export-staff-and-rain-issues/?cs=1549

What is really going on at Biteriot?

The writer wonders, given chief fruit picker Fiona Hall is involved in the phoenixing of 4 Bonny Glen companies in liquidation with DW Advisory – does Fiona feel her companies have paid sufficient tax to warrant the Government providing some kind of fruit growers exemption from the Covid relief package?

The writer also wonders what has changed?

At one stage, Biteriot had no trouble getting unemployed local teenagers to work picking fruit. A case in point is the worker known as Claudio Brown.

Claudio's payslip - Biteriot
Claudio’s payslip – Biteriot

Once upon a time Biteriot employed Claudio who, whilst still a minor, worked a total of 27.5hrs a day.

The writer observes that Claudio Brown paid no tax (perhaps the kind of incentive Fiona has in mind?)

Fiona wants to employ motivated staff like Claudio Brown???

The writer wonders why Fiona, an alleged Nuffield Scholar, doesn’t re-employ Claudio as a mentor to help “some locals” (as Fiona refers to them) lacking motivation…. Claudio works 27.5 hours per day.

Does Biteriot expect too much of locals?

Perhaps Mrs Hall, before criticising Orange locals, apart from employing Claudio Brown as a mentor, should she also perhaps consider a report from the employees perspective in today’s ABC (online)?

Extracted from a story on ABC – source: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-01-14/when-backpackers-went-home-these-australians-tried-farm-work/13047062

The ABC article discusses potential motivational topics for Claudio Brown to coach SOME locals on:

What fruitpickers say (ABC):

ABC reported:

Nineteen-year-old Matthew Rolston bought a bus ticket … had the full backpacker experience — even staying in a hostel.

His first ever fruit-picking job was “actually rather enjoyable” at first.

“I kind of went through half a bottle of water, realised there was nowhere to fill it up and had to ration half a bottle of water for the rest of the day,” he said. …

Hostels cost more than wages earned

Things on the farm ended “rather sourly” for Mr Rolston when his wages for six 10-hour working days came through — three weeks after he first started.

A man sitting on the ground.

Luka said he made $280 in six days picking fruit.(Supplied)

“And then, when we did end up getting paid, we didn’t get the full amount,” he said.

“I was supposed to earn around $550, I ended up getting $450.

“There was no way that we’d be making over a $1,000.”

His friend Luka Wighton, who also worked on the farm, said he had gone along hoping for “a bit of an adventure” — but ended up feeling “a little bit taken advantage of”.

“It was exhausting work … I mean, I’d be fine with it, if it was more pay, but we were kind of at a loss,” he said.

His $280 wage — paid on piece-rate agreement — meant he paid more for his accommodation at the hostel than he earned, as did Mr Rolston.

“I didn’t expect to make much money, but I thought I’d go back with a little bit of a profit,” Mr Wighton said.

Chloe said she gets paid hourly and that her rate was about $14.

Jodie* was hesitant to share her tale of rejection under her real name … At times she said felt employers “danced around” the wage topic, tried to make the job sound “as unappealing as possible” or made “unreasonable” requests.

She said she was starting to think some farmers might prefer migrant workers to Australians because they would be less likely to complain about small wages.

“I feel like they don’t have the same sort of legal requirements around wages,” she said.

“I know a lot of them live on site and [employers] charge them accommodation and all that sort of stuff.”

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-01-14/when-backpackers-went-home-these-australians-tried-farm-work/13047062

What Biteriot employees are paid (SBS):

The writer observes Fiona Hall’s worker told SBS he was paid about $70 per day!

Not bad!

Biteriot - backpacker pay rates
Biteriot – backpacker pay rates – $70 per day …. …. see video @15m, 10seconds

Source: https://www.sbs.com.au/ondemand/video/1745497667922/dateline-pandemic-farming-apples-and-oranges?action=play …. see video @15m, 10seconds

This is sharply different to the wage of under 18 year old local fruitpicker known as Claudio Brown – earning sometime $4800 per week (tax free) working 27.5 hours a day.

Despite the writer having an MBA, the writer would need to draw upon the expertise of Nuffield Scholar Fiona Hall to know which is the appropriate level of pay and incentive and what government incentives (or dis-incentives) should apply?

Claudio's payslip - Biteriot
Claudio’s payslip – Biteriot

What other Biteriot employees have to say?

The writer is unsure whether the below staff are working 27.5 hours per day or on a more conventional $70 per day pay rate? The writer notes however the following independent review on Biteriot via google:

Source: https://bit.ly/3sveACg

Want to know more? Like to enrol in a Claudio Brown motivational course? Like to get better productivity from your picking team?

Would you like to tell us confidentially about your experiences? Are you interested to join the Caernarvon / Biteriot Employee Wage Theft class action?

Do you know Claudio Brown?

Do you know if this is the voice of Claudio Brown?

is this the voice of Claudio Brown? #whoisclaudiobrown

Do you have information on government incentives Biteriot should get to subsidise its workforce?

For more information – chat with us live using our instant chat tools (bottom corners), book an appointment or call now on 1300-327123 (till late).

To contact us with any confidential tip-offs, files or information – please use the instant chat tools or form below:

Meet the Biteriot / Caernarvon team: Bruce Johnston

Biteriot's accountant - Bruce Johnston (pre conviction)

Meet valued team member of Biteriot & Caernarvon Cherry – Bruce Johnston.

Bruce was once described this way:

Bruce Alan Johnston was a senior accountant for Newcrest Mining Limited, involved in the development of the Cadia East Mine.

Between 1 July 2010 and 27 August 2013, Mr Johnston prepared 156 invoices in the name of Bramph Consultancy Services. But no such entity existed, and the funds were placed into bank accounts controlled by Johnston.

The invoices were purported to be for consultancy services in relation to the Cadia Mine project. The total amount of money Johnston transferred into his accounts was $1,257,847. He gradually gambled the funds away.

Johnston used online betting agencies, and a phone app to place his bets. At the height of his gambling spree, Johnston was placing up to 100 bets a day on several sports.

The fraud was discovered when someone noticed that no GST was being charged on the invoices. Newcrest senior management spoke with Johnston about the matter on 21 November 2013.

The father-of-two confessed to the crime, and was arrested and charged on 25 July 2014.

https://nswcourts.com.au/articles/gambling-addiction-does-not-lead-to-a-reduced-sentence/

To read more about Bruce’s career – please follow this link: click here.

Bruce, who partially succeeded Pamela Hall in accounts, was a trusted member of the Biteriot and Caernarvon team – handling accounts and dealing with grower payments and receipts and worked alongside fellow convicted fraudster Paula Neill, plus Fiona Hall & others.

It is unknown if Bruce met and knows the identity of the mysterious Claudio Brown?

Would you like to tell us confidentially about your experiences?

For more information – chat with us live using our instant chat tools (bottom corners), book an appointment or call now on 1300-327123 (till late).

To contact us with any confidential tip-offs, files or information – please use the instant chat tools or form below:

Pamela Hall – Paymistress & bookkeeper

Pamela Hall

Meet the team at Bonny Glen (in liquidation), Caernarvon Cherry & Biteriot, Hall family matriarchPamela Hall, wife of Fred Hall, mother of Bernard Hall.

Pamela Hall, wife of Fred Hall, formerly of the Bonny Glen orchard, Orange now reside at the Astill Court facility, UPA, 68 Nile Street, Orange.

Pamela oversaw bookkeeping and compliance in the Hall empire for an extended period and, it is believed, her and Fred continue to retain a multi-million dollar personal financial interest in multiple companies and properties who’d in the Hall Orange Group. It is understood that Pamela might have met Claudio Brown?

Pamela Hall and Fred Hall continue to be partners and financial backers of Bonny Glen (in liquidation), Caernarvon Cherry & Biteriot.

Would you like to tell us confidentially about your experiences?

For more information – chat with us live using our instant chat tools (bottom corners), book an appointment or call now on 1300-327123 (till late).

To contact us with any confidential tip-offs, files or information – please use the instant chat tools or form below:

Meet the Biteriot / Caernarvon team: Paula Neill

Paula Neill - thief & paymistress

Meet valued team member of Biteriot & Caernarvon CherryPaula Neill.

Paula was once described this way:

A WOMAN who embezzled more than $40,000 from the Bathurst Information and Neighbourhood Centre has been convicted of stealing property as a clerk sentenced to a nine month Intensive Correctional Order after appearing in Bathurst Local Court last week.

To read more about Paula’s career – please follow this link: click here.

Paula, who succeeded Pamela Hall as paymistress, was a trusted member of the Biteriot and Caernarvon team – handling payrolls, accounts and dealing with grower payments and receipts and worked alongside Bruce Johnston, Fiona Hall & others.

It is understood that Paula may have met and know the identity of the mysterious Claudio Brown and written his weekly cheques (Claudio doesn’t have a bank account – see profile)?

Paula’s career at Bathurst Information and Neighbourhood Centre was cut short in mirky circumstances as discussed in the above article – click here. Bathurst Information and Neighbourhood Centre describes itself as follows:

The Neighbourhood Centre is a not for profit charitable organisation that supports the Bathurst community and beyond.
Since 1976, we enable people to come together to strengthen, participate, develop and celebrate our community.

Through our staff and strong and valuable volunteer base we provide programs, activities, and support groups, and access to information, facilities and meeting spaces through Bathurst and Oberon Neighbourhood Centres.

Would you like to tell us confidentially about your experiences?

For more information – chat with us live using our instant chat tools (bottom corners), book an appointment or call now on 1300-327123 (till late).

To contact us with any confidential tip-offs, files or information – please use the instant chat tools or form below:

Who is Claudio Brown? Caernarvon Cherry payroll fun facts #3

Claudio is definitely a phenomenon – in fact anyone that is able to work 192hours a week – i.e. 27 hours a day is an intriguing individual – made all the more remarkable by the fact that Claudio Brown, according to his employer Caernarvon Cherry Pty Ltd isn’t yet an adult (he’s under 18).

Don’t believe me – check out his payslip below or employment profile.

Who is Claudio Brown?
Who is Claudio Brown?

Despite being a permanent employee (according to Caernarvon Cherry Pty Ltd), little else is known about this phenomenon – Claudio Brown. For instance, Claudio Brown apparently doesn’t have an address, phone number, tax file number, superfund or bank account (all payments understood to be via cheques payable as “cash”). Claudio Brown typically works 80+ hours a week apparently (untaxed).

Claudio Brown – earning great money (untaxed) for a minor.

Would you like to tell us confidentially about your experiences – did you work with Claudio Brown?

For more information – chat with us live using our instant chat tools (bottom corners), book an appointment or call now on 1300-327123 (till late).

To contact us with any confidential tip-offs, files or information – please use the instant chat tools or form below:

Caernarvon Cherry: Meet the team & fun facts

Meet the team - Caernarvon Cherry & Biteriot
Meet the team – Caernarvon Cherry & Biteriot

Guess which of the above has a criminal record (answer – its more than 1 person)?

Would you like to tell us confidentially about your experiences?

For more information – chat with us live using our instant chat tools (bottom corners), book an appointment or call now on 1300-327123 (till late).

To contact us with any confidential tip-offs, files or information – please use the instant chat tools or form below:

Caernarvon Cherry: payroll fun facts

Between 1 June 2013 and 30 June 2014, Caernarvon Cherry Pty (recently morphed into Biteriot Operations Pty Ltd) employed allegedly 914 said “employees”.

Of those said employees:

1. 107 had no address.

2. 35 had no bank accounts, multiple other persons also shared bank accounts.

3. 11 of the persons with no address also had no bank accounts.

4. 24 had no date/s of birth.

5. 530 had no superannuation membership number.

6. 143 had no tax file number, yet 63 received a tax free threshold of circa $20,000.

7. Between 9 December 2013 and 5 January 2014, the accused purported to supply services to the victim company, Homeward Bound Holdings Pty Ltd (in liquidation) said to total approximately $92,000.

Would you like to tell us confidentially about your experiences?

For more information – chat with us live using our instant chat tools (bottom corners), book an appointment or call now on 1300-327123 (till late).

To contact us with any confidential tip-offs, files or information – please use the instant chat tools or form below:

Dear Fred re: Caernarvon Cherry’s gigantic payroll fraud

centrelink

9/1/2021

Below is an extract of a letter written several years ago (perhaps around 2017) by Andrew Gartrell to the Hall family patriach, Fred Hall and no doubt his wife Pam Hall, parents of Bernard Hall of Caernarvon Cherry and Biteriot fame which goes into a series of dubious transactions or activities conducted by Bernard & Fiona Hall and through their company at the time Caernarvon Cherry.

Would you like to tell us confidentially about your experiences with the Hall family, Caernarvon Cherry Pty Ltd or Biteriot Operations Pty Ltd?

For more information – chat with us live using our instant chat tools (bottom corners), book an appointment or call now on 1300-327123 (till late).

Dear Fred and family,

Firstly I must thankyou Fred for the wonderful times I had in my teens with polocrosse teams that you facilitated and arranged for us. I remember most fondly practise days at Towac Park, carnivals across the length and breadth of the state and your various mentoring and simple wisdoms that you provided us all at that time. I really believe you had a great influence on my early life and my sister and I were very lucky to have become involved with your family at that time. 

Curiously through my 20’s / 30’s and early 40’s I saw little of the family except for Bernard and Tim on occasion through our involvement in the fruit industry and neighbours at Melrose. As neighbours Tim and I never really ‘clicked’ and I always felt he had some point or other to win with me. I still enjoyed catching up with David every now and then and the more things change the more they stay the same and I still regard David as a close friend. 

Around 5 years I ago I became progressively more involved with Bernard and Fiona and their fruit packing business at Caernarvon. Initially I regarded both Bernard and Fiona as close friends and confidents. I enjoyed visiting them and slowly slowly without realising I got drawn into their web of deception. Curiously David warned me one time 3 or 4 years ago “Garbs be careful these 2 (Fiona and Bernard) are just after your ideas and really don’t give a shit about you’’ – I laughed off David’s words but of course in time I was to understand how he was spot on with his judgement.

Today I am living in the Philippines operating a modest fruit brokerage business near Clark in the Philippines. We trade US, South African, Egyptian, and Moroccan, Australian fresh produce (apples, citrus, stonefruits etc) across around 10 Asian countries principally Indonesia, China and Hong Kong.  I have travelled around the world numerous times in this role (the African continent 4 times in the past 12 months for instance). I live in a modest house with a nice young girlfriend and my past life in Australia does at times seem a long time ago but the actions of Bernard and Fiona and perhaps a small degree Tim have cost me well more than a million dollars in unpaid debts, unhonoured contracts, stolen IP and lost assets built upon 30 years of hard work and sacrifice from my side. The core dishonesty of the Bonnyglenn and Caernarvon companies that drove the fraudulent payroll system / Centrelink scams that these companies relied upon to source cheap labour has further unwittingly (perhaps) seen my autistic son Richard given a life sentence of imprisonment in a padded cell house with chipboard windows without a view.

All nonsense you may well say Fred but please read on and see the other side of your golden haired boy Bernard and what along with his crafty alcoholic wife Fiona have done to me ….

  1. In December 2013 I harvested what I believed to be the cherry crop of a lifetime. In a year when cherries were in short supply with solid pricing and I had a big crop exceeding 300,000 kg. There was no rain and the fruit was clean and averaged 26mm with more 28mm than 24mm. It was Caernarvon‘s biggest attempt at large scale cherry packing and it was their also their first foray into large scale ‘trust account’ type cherry marketing. Fiona pitched her packing charges at the higher end of the scale to account for the possible unknown. 

The crop sold for around $1,700,000. Even the pickers were paid around $350,000 which was deducted from the $1,700, 000 gross sales. Andrew ultimately got paid about $150,000 for the crop net of the Caernarvon charges which was probably a bit less than I spent growing that crop. Caernarvon = $1.2m , Pickers = $350 K , Farmer = $150 K

Put simply Caernarvon ended up with over $1,200,000 of my $1,700,000 gross sales in 2013 to cover their packing and marketing inputs. Only later was I able to piece together the gross fraud associated with the packing of my cherry crop in 2013 and I learned that large amounts of fruit had been directed in bulk or plain packaging to a north coast retailer (amongst others) who was operating a chain of roadside fruit outlets and buying truckloads of cherries from the shed. He paid cash and his truck was loaded after midnight. Contained on the Caernarvon pack out summaries the fruit was cleverly recorded as ‘waste’.

It’s also worth noting that the following year in 2014 Caernarvon dramatically reduced their packaging charges however no refund was ever offered to me. 

So from the cherry crop of a lifetime I received less than half of what the pickers received? At the time in January 2014 my life was in a state of flux with the failure of my marriage and Caernarvon was offering many future goodies to me which included a lucrative export services agreement and lease of my farm. I was still blissfully unaware of how the Caernarvon pack outs had been manipulated, nor the extent of cash sales or the simple fact that I had been grossly overcharged in the first packing season as the proverbial guinea pig.

Fiona and Bernard were however waving a lucrative export services agreement and viable lease of my farm under my nose so I somehow shrugged off the disastrous 2013 result and moved on believing that Caernarvon and I were still on the same team. 

  1. I spent 15 years of my life putting together an alliance of cherry growers with 25 new orchard plantings and over 120,000 trees in districts such as Mudgee, Wellington, Cudal etc. it was a holistic package with agronomic support, fruit packing and export sales. I travelled extensively to Asia and put together a panel of quality buyers and further developed a unique cherry juice product for our endless nemesis being cracked rain affected cherries. It was all done on the smell a proverbial rag and my fledgling enterprises went from one small cash flow crisis to the next but the fundamental vision of an alliance of cherry growers packing under one brand to the export market was very sound. Alongside this Bernard and Fiona were strong in the pocket, had a large shed and were keen to pack fruit for a living. Bernard and Fiona had however few cherry grower clients, no access to the export market or knowledge on processing cherries into juice. It seemed obvious to bring the two entities together and so we did. The financial reward for my bringing the farms, export markets and processing knowledge to the table for Caernarvon is contained is attached to this letter entitled in a contract entitled ‘services agreement’

As you can see in the contract Fiona signed off on a 5 year plus package valued at $7500 per month, plus bonuses and travel costs. The contract was valued at perhaps $600,000 over the coming years for which I would provide export sales and was a return for all of my goodwill (cherry growers, export buyers and cherry juice formula). In turn this gave Bernard and Fiona the confidence of supply to go out and buy the large GP cherry grader – so at face value it was a win win for everyone. 

Of course what I was never to know that Fiona had no real intention of honouring our agreement and simply paid me for the first 4 or 5 months until she had all my growers and buyers lists, knowledge of the export market and cherry juice formula.

One day she casually called me around the back of the cottage at Carnarvon as she poured me a wine and said ‘that things are really tough for Bernard and I financially at the moment and I need a payment holiday for a few months’. More fool me because it seems after 2 years of no payments the payment ‘holiday’ has become an ‘extended vacation’ and Fiona and Bernard have simply stolen all of my years’ work without ever paying for it as agreed. I am out of pocket for over $500,000 on this one alone. They had no ideas or IP of their own they just stole my vision and two decades of work without paying for it. They had no plan other than to steal just mine. 

Even when I saw the vast extensions to the Caernarvon homestead and Fiona boasts of $10,000 rugs for the lounge room I really still believed (at first) that they would remember me sometime soon and pay my agreed debt. 

  1. Along with entering the aforementioned ‘services agreement’ with Caernarvon it made sense to also lease Caernarvon my cherry orchard at Nashdale as I was going to set up an office in Asia and concentrate on export sales. My marriage to Angela was at an end and I was keen to move on so a change from farming would work well. A 3 year lease was negotiated at $2500 per month plus a $0.20 per box royalty for each box picked. The orchard was picking between 200 to 300 tonnes of cherries each year so it was quite realistic to expect that I should receive a net income of around $60,000 pa from my orchard (say $5000 per month plus) from the fixed and royalty portion of the harvest combined. 

What I of course did not know that Bernard, Fiona and Tim were very keen to buy my orchard having purchased my old shed the year before. My orchard lay in between Melrose and my former shed and with a vast water supply it would be an ideal addition. They were also well aware that I had a high debt load and if the put enough pressure upon me I would collapse financially affording them the opportunity to buy my farm for a song. 

From the outset the lease to Caernarvon became a nightmare with rent not being paid on time and endless dishonesty in relation to the supposed yields. The orchard had always picked around 200 tonnes of cherries per year but instead of 600 possible tons over the 3 year lease period I believe Fiona reported some 100 tons in total over the 3 years. In October 2015 we were forced to take Caernarvon to the NCAT tribunal just to get our basic rent paid up to date. 

I had mortgage payments on my house and farm of around $8000 per month but went into our agreements with Caernarvon holding a $7500 per month services agreement and a $6000 odd per month orchard lease but with defaults on both my services agreement and orchard lease I was quickly under a huge amount of pressure with my bankers and my bankers dialled up the pressure for me to sell. 

Caernarvon perhaps not surprisingly offered the estate agents a sum of about half what my farm was worth and deliberately let the grass grow a metre deep, no pruning or weed spraying and sabotaged every possible sale of my farm. The estate agent advised me that Tim was even known to pull down the various for sale signs along the road at nights.

Bernard, Fiona and to a lesser degree Tim had created the perfect storm for me. They were not honouring our $13,500 per month agreements / leases / contracts and were sabotaging the sale of my orchard so they could secure a bargain for themselves. 

  1. Just two little stories from earlier in the chronology. In January 2014 when I sold Tim and Bernard my packing shed there had been a problem with the electricity meter at the time of settlement and it was agreed between Tim and I to leave the account in my name until it was sorted. Bonnyglenn filled the rooms to the doors with new season apples and the electricity meters ran night and day under my name cooling their fruit. By August there was over $24,000 owing on my name and all of a sudden Tim really didn’t see that he should have to pay the account ‘because the Woodward Road Coop electricity rate was much lower’ – hard to know what that had to do with things but ultimately I had to write a legal demand to Bonnyglenn for the debt and in the interests of long term goodwill (remember this was very early in our relationship) accept around $8000 less from Tim than I owed to Origin Energy. Bernard said ‘I don’t want to get involved that’s Tim project up there’ so I ‘took it for the team’ and chipped in $8000 for reasons not well understood by me to coolstore Bonnyglenn apples that year. (I trust they sold well for you)
  1. The second more sinister story was the last conversation I had with Bernard in about June 2015. I had left a $30,000 cherry hydro cooling machine at my former shed for the use of Caernarvon and it simply disappeared in late 2014. I rang Bernard regularly about what might have happened to the machine and I think he enjoyed sending me on lots of crazy wild goose chases as to its possible whereabouts over the ensuing months.

I had a buyer for the machine at around $25,000 and was still making bank payments on this uninsured machine that had simply vanished whilst left in Bernard’s and Tims care. In our last conversation Bernard advised ‘I think Pinko (the refrigeration company) has your cooler – lot of bad blood between you guys and I think they took it”. At the time I even thanked Bernard for the lead and planned a clandestine reconnaissance of the Pinkertons property. 

I was taken aback to receive a phone call the very next morning from a Mudgee cherry grower who advised ‘I just got a phone call from Bernard Hall, he has your old hydro cooler in his shed on Canobolas Road , I looked at it a few months ago and I want to buy it. He is asking $10,000 cash’. I rang Bernard immediately and asked for an explanation and he hung up on me being the last conversation we ever had. 

  1. So here I was with my former friends Bernard and Fiona stealing my equipment and dishonouring our service agreements and in possession of my farm whilst defaulting / cheating on my lease. Instead of $13,500 per month in income they promised I found myself chasing Caernarvon even for the fixed $2500 portion of the lease every month. My bank payments fell into arrears and my farm and family home were lost. The farm was valued at around $1,200,000 and was sold for $850,000 (Bernard offered $350,000) and our lovely home valued at $1,100,000 (see attached) was sold for $850,000. After legals, other creditors and penalty rates etc Angela got around $___ from the wash up and I got zero. So I now have no farm, no house and no reward for my years of developing the cherry business. (also less than $___ in super) 

But I guess I still have my kids??

  1. My ex-wife suffered a complete nervous breakdown during this period and attempted suicide with the ambulance called to the house on two occasions. Angela could not live with the pain of losing her house and became grossly depressed. On two occasions she threatened also to take the life of our autistic son Richard also. Family and Community Services took the threats most seriously and placed Richard into an emergency foster care arrangement. 

Bernard and Fiona saw the opportunity to cleverly exploit the situation and provided Angela with a full time job at the packing sheds they operated. With no communication between Angela and I they cleverly convinced her that their defaults on our $13,500 per month agreements were not the cause of the problem or the loss of her house but ‘that your ex-husband Andrew was a bad person’ and ‘look at all the problems he has caused’ etc. Given I had left the marriage and was living in the Philippines with a new partner Angela naturally took little convincing that I was indeed the villain. ….

  1. Here is a reminder Fred of how the payroll / Centrelink ‘scam’ operated by both Bonnyglenn and Caernarvon Company’s works. 

A. As a cost saving measure the Bonnyglenn and Caernarvon companies target pensioners, unemployed and others on various commonwealth benefits to make up a significant proportion of their apple and cherry orchard / packing shed labour force. This gives the companies a financial advantage over their competitors by securing a ready stand by workforce for the packing sheds and the ability to pay below hourly rates on occasion. 

B. New employees are requested by the proprietors to complete numerous tax file declarations with different names, tax file details and address. It was also required that new employees complete one tax file declaration providing their correct name, tax file number and address. 

C. Caernarvon and Bonnyglenn proprietors would then hold the tax file declaration forms back for a period of around 4 weeks and then lodge both the fraudulent and correct tax file declarations on behalf of their employees. 

D. The ATO would take a further 2 months plus to process the submitted tax file declarations and then write back to the proprietors merely advising them to deduct a higher marginal income tax deduction from those declarations that failed the data matching process. At around this time those now exposed ‘phantom’ employees would be asked by the proprietors to submit new bogus tax file declarations and the ‘game’ appears to go on forever. At or about that time the now exposed ‘phantom’ employees disappears and his / her role on the fruit packing line is taken up by another ‘phantom’ employee 

E. By submitting a correct tax file declaration and applying perhaps a day or two per month of salary against this bonafide person an aura of credibility descends into the process and gives a degree of protection to all parties if a snap audit took place or Centrelink notices that the ‘phantom’ was not at home on a particular day. The occasional day here and there of bonafide employment also covers everyone in the event of a mishap or workplace accident

F. In the chaos of fruit harvests employing hundreds of persons blended into a significant itinerant workforce including foreign back packers and various other fraudsters and characters having 50 or 60 ‘phantoms’ each year is quite achievable and will not apparently overly attract attention. Ultimately the ‘phantoms’ still remit a small amount of tax and escape attention in their brief 3 month or so horticultural employment stint. This special payroll / Centrelink scam model would not work so readily in more structured or office / industrial workplaces but out in the fruit orchards it’s just fine and dandy 

G. Your various employees’ details both real and ‘phantom’ are entered into the MYOB log and subsequently each paid by cash cheque and not direct deposit. The name of the real or alternatively ‘phantom’ employee is entered on the cheque butt but the cheque is made payable to cash. This all works swimmingly with the only real moment of truth coming when the Westpac bank ask for ID and endorse same on the back of the cheque before cashing. The Westpac tellers of course have no idea what name has been written on the cheque butt back at your office so the scam continues on without a hitch. Unless someone (like the ATO or Centrelink) audited all the reverse side of the Westpac cash cheque) and then the game would be up for everyone. Ooops 

Fred I have little doubt that the payroll / Centrelink scam operated by Bernard and Fiona associated companies would likely be the largest Centrelink scam ever known. Goodness knows what the fall out for the family would be if the truth was ever tabled. We have many colourful personalities like Claudio Cianfrano, Dee, Inga, Pacita, Jan and Tony etc enjoying your very real assistance and involvement to obtain both a wage and a Centrelink / commonwealth payment. With let’s say 10 – 15 of your ‘phantom personalities’, each defraud with your companies assistance $15,000 plus per year from the Commonwealth, over even the last 5 years would see Australian society out of pocket for perhaps $500,000 to $1,000,000. Of course your companies have all gained a commercial advantage by having access to a cheap and secure workforce so everyone involved are winners. 

Fred do you recall the cold winters night in around 2013 when I went to your house to discuss with you Bernard and Tim the matter of a DA for a road I was building along your boundary? Do you remember how the discussion changed to include operation of the packing shed and family matriarch Pam warning Bernard that their creative employment scam was a recipe for a disaster. Pam is pure and honest with the highest degree of integrity always – but not the next generation whose real god is just money. 

  1. However in writing today my real concern was to better explain firstly how Bernard, Fiona schemes had destroyed me financially rather than discuss how these family companies defrauded the Commonwealth and for you to better consider how these matters have affected my children now and into the future. 

So we come to the matter of the ongoing care and custody of my autistic son Richard. Currently he is in the care of FACS and a few weeks ago a formal hearing was conducted by phone to determine his future and guardianship.

Angela was well prepared for the hearing because she had legal aid including a barrister and lawyer present. (This was all because as a pensioner she only apparently earned less than $1500 per year working for Bernard, Fiona and Tims companies for 3 to 4 days per week and up to 70 hours per week in the cherry season = hourly rate of about $0.50). She filed her material on time and presented logical well prepared affidavits and evidence as to why Richard should become a ‘ward of the state’ and be confined in a secure home with padded walls and chipboard windows ‘for his own good’ 

My position in the custody hearing was that Richard should come to the Philippines and live with me. I struggled attending the proceeding unrepresented and by phone from the Philippines. I could not afford the likely $15,000 plus for legal representation in these matters and I think I looked like a bungling disorganised fool on most occasions.

The wash up of the hearing was that Richard’s custody was given to the state rather than have him live with me in my house. He now lives in a padded cell house with chipboard windows in Remano Drive. The kitchen is in wire cage and the TV inside a glass box. He has no sunlight or children his own age in the house just 2 full time carers who pump him full of sedatives and grind his imagination and aspirations into dust.

Consider how different Richards life may have been if Bernard and Fiona had honoured our agreements and Angela could have kept her house and avoided her nervous breakdown or not had free access to the best solicitors Centrelink can buy. 

  1. The final story in this sad saga should be the poisoning of the cherry crop going back to January 2016. I came back to Australia in December 2015 to attempt to better monitor the harvest (and my subsequent royalty payments). It was impossible to get timely auditable information from Fiona but what I could see was that Caernarvon was getting further and further behind with the harvest. Claudio Cianfrano was the orchard manager (a bankrupt using Caernarvon‘s payroll scam to defeat his trustee and creditors and gain a 2nd Centrelink salary) and he had little idea how to manage an orchard of that magnitude. I took a week away over new year and came back in early January to find a staggering 3000 odd cherry trees unpicked with ripe large cherries most of which were either not damaged or with small inconsequential nose splits. I immediately saw the obvious u pick opportunity and notified Caernarvon by email that we intended to re-enter the property to mitigate our losses. Claudio Cianfrano even went and got my ladders and remarked ‘no idea why Bernard didn’t pick this fruit – I think it all got too much for him’. I arranged 15 tourist coaches and spent $6000 advertising on Sydney radio. I think I had 500 plus people attending the next day and with dry weather ahead it was finally a chance to get something back from the last 3 years of financial malaise and I was feeling encouraged when I left the property at 8.30pm on the Friday evening. 

I arrived at the orchard at 4.30am on Saturday morning with picking buckets and supplies waiting for the Sydney hordes to arrive at my u pick weekend. I think I nearly died to see a large waring sign erected through the night at the entrance to the orchard warning that the fruit was ‘not fit for human consumption’. I could smell the acrid odour of insecticide in the air and noticed wheel tracks in the dewy grass on every 4th or 5th row. In these rows the trees were still dripping wet and in the other rows the trees were dry. A tractor and spray cart sat at the spray fill with a warm crank case and a new container of an off label insecticide on the work bench.

I gained the sickening realisation that someone had between 8.30pm Friday and 4.30am Saturday had sprayed occasional rows of the orchard with an insecticide as a ‘spoiler’ for my u pick salvage operation. My fears were confirmed when at 7.00am Saturday I received an email on my phone from Caernarvon‘s lawyer advising that the orchard had been sprayed overnight as part of a ‘routine best horticultural’ practise. (Funny time for a lawyer to write?)

That day was confusing with endless persons turned away and disappointment at every turn. My girlfriend consumed a lot of cherries that day trying to convince me that much of the fruit might not be sprayed. Later in the day she felt sick and vomited so I took her to the Orange Base Hospital. 

If we needed any further proof as to the lack of character of Bernard and Fiona they both ignored our texts from the hospital enquiring as to what insecticide had been sprayed on the trees that fateful evening to assist Catherine. Some weeks later Catherine was to have a miscarriage. The EPA subsequently confirmed the trees were sprayed with Carbryl. 

So let’s consider where things have ended up shall we Fred

For reasons not clear to me Bernard and Fiona (and to a small degree Tim) have cheated me out of many hundreds of thousands. Further neither Bernard nor Fiona are overly bright so they have simply stolen my ideas and put the ‘BITERIOT’ badge on them. In withholding my monies and cheating on agreements they have caused me to lose my assets that I spent my life working for. They were quality and unique properties that I lost with their assistance and were part of my DNA and heritage. (6th generation farmer) 

Bernard, Fiona have for years operated a payroll / Centrelink ‘scam’ in cooperation and conjunction with their employees that would likely have seen the citizens of Australia defrauded by an amount of money easily exceeding $500,000. 

A combination of their cheating and dishonesty has caused Angela’s nervous breakdown and with the further assistance of their companies payroll scam allowed her to access legal aid in the matter of my autistic sons custody. Through a fairly easy to follow chain of events that your family engineered Richard is now imprisoned for the rest of his life in a group home with padded walls and chipboard windows. 

I have to seek written permission to see my son now and he will never do the fun stuff (like polocrosse) that I enjoyed. Bernard and Fiona children however will grow up on a farm, ride ponies and enjoy the better things that their parent’s ill gained affluence has given them. When those kids are in their 20’s at Uni Richard will still be locked up in a padded cell. 

So Fred it’s over to you. I have asked my old pal David to deliver this email to you in person and ask him to read it with you. Since we were kids you always painted David as the black sheep and villain of the family but David’s heart is much purer than you know. I have also asked him to send it to all the other Hall siblings (Shauna, Josie and Fi) whom I wish the very best and thank them for all those wonderful things in our teens we shared back then. You Fred are the wise old man and my past mentor so what should I do know? Forgive and forget? Or throw these 3 enterprising crooks under the proverbial bus and end this Biteriot nonsense forever? 

 Over to you

Andrew Gartrell 

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Biteriot’s busted business model: export cherry sales down 75%

Pandemic Farming: Apples And Oranges
Fiona Hall, Biteriot, Caernarvon Cherry – pays staff $70 per day and then complains that she can’t find workers?

Alleged Nuffield Scholar, Fiona Hall of Caernarvon / Biteriot has admitted that her export sales to the number 1 market in the world China, were down 75%.

Recently, Fiona gave an interview whereby she said:

“We only did a quarter of what we did [last year],” she said.

The entire article, published in the Central Western Daily can be viewed – click here.

A number of aspects of the article warrant fact checking:

  • Alleged fact:  Mainland Australia is well placed to supply cherries to China 

False – As per the following industry press articles, Southern Hemisphere cherry producer (Chile – with its ideal desert climate, low or no rainfall, low cost of production and favourable market access – they are not in a trade war with China) produces over 300,000 tonnes of fresh cherries per annum whilst mainland Australia produces around 15,000 tonnes in the same growing season.  Chile ship, as the industry press articles attached report, cherries by sea that by 12 December 2020 had already landed in China >1000 x 40’ sea containers. In contrast, Orange NSW loaded zero sea shipments this year, nor last year nor indeed ever.  Orange has not loaded even 1 sea shipment in the past 5 years. 

Recent industry press articles (confirming that Chile raised sales by 38% whilst Fiona and Biteriot export sales fell by 75% include:

  1. 30/12/2020 – Amidst Record Chilean Cherry Season, China Arrivals to Peak in Jan. | Produce Report
  2. 16/12/2020 – First Sea Shipment of Chilean Cherries Arrives in China | Produce Report
  3. 1/12/2020 – Chilean Cherry Shipment Prices Settling After Record Highs | Produce Report
  4. 2/11/2020 – Season’s First Batch of Chilean Cherries Arrives in Shanghai | Produce Report
  5. 9/9/2020 – Air Freight Cost for Australian Cherries Doubles, Even With Subsidies | Produce Report
  6. 9/3/2020 – China’s Fruit Import:Export Statistics for First Half of 2020 Released | Produce Report
  7. 6/1/2021 – Challenging Orange cherry season ends after export, staff and rain issues | Central Western Daily |
  • Alleged fact:  Orange NSW/Cabonne is a good place to grow cherries 

False – the rainfall is way too high to reliably grow (quality or competitive) cherries on the tablelands of NSW.  Alternatively the high desert production areas of Chile, with irrigation water supplied by extensive snow melt rivers receive around 6 inches of rain p/a, with no damaging rains during the growing season.  The elevated areas of the Canobolas growing area west of Orange NSW in Cabonne receives almost 7x more rain than Chile making cherry growing west of Orange NSW a high risk proposition, with profits likely perhaps once every 3 or 4 years? 

  • Alleged fact:  Obtaining labour to harvest cherries is difficult 

True – it is not viable to harvest cherries in Australia if Australian cherry pickers earn $25 per hour when Chilean producers pay under $9 per hour for harvest labour.

NB: We do not admit that Biteriot pays its staff $25 per hour. On the contrary, we are promoted a wage theft class action for underpaid Biteriot / Caernarvon & Bonny Glen workers. In a recent interview Fiona Hall admitted fruit pickers were only paid about $70 per dayclick link here and skip to 15 mins & 15 seconds

Fiona Hall, Biteriot, Caernarvon Cherry

It is not believed that Growers benefitted from the cut priced $70 per day wage rates, accordingly we are promoting a growers class action for ripped off growers / suppliers to Caernarvon Cherry & Biteriot.

We do not submit that ALL cherry farms are unviable, just the business model being employed by Topfruit China Australia and BiteriotTopfruit China Australia is owned by unknown foreign investors fronted by Guohao Chen (sometimes known as Vincent Guohao Chen) the heir to a toilet bowl empire in Guangzhou China.

We note that other growers (Thornbrook Orchard) in the CWD article report having had a “good season” under the you-pick model not favoured absentee Chinese neighbours.

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