11 September 2017

Judicial review still required to get to the bottom of water theft in NSW

Nature Conservation Council and Inland Rivers Network have renewed calls for a federal judicial review of allegations of theft and corruption in the Murray Darling Basin following the release of the interim report into water management and compliance in NSW.

The Independent investigation into NSW water management and compliance led by Ken Matthews found “water-related compliance and enforcement arrangements in NSW have been ineffectual and require significant and urgent improvement”.

Nature Conservation Council CEO Kate Smolski said: “This is a damning indictment of the mismanagement of arguably the state’s most important environmental asset for several years.

“We support the findings and recommendations of the Matthews report, especially separating the regulatory and compliance functions of water management.

“To restore public confidence, however, the Premier Gladys Berejiklian must go further and take water from the primary industries portfolio and return it to the Environment Minister where it belongs.

“Given the years of mismanagement by successive primary industries ministers, responsibility for overseeing these reforms would be best handled by the Environment Minister.

“While the interim report provides a roadmap for improving regulatory arrangements, we still need a federal judicial review into the allegations of theft and corruption in the Basin.”

Inland Rivers Network spokesperson Bev Smiles said: “We congratulate Mr Matthews on the recommendations from his Inquiry, which confirm the community concerns about management of irrigation water in NSW.

“We expect updates and reports from the government on the implementation of the recommendations.

“It is critical the Berejiklian Government protects environmental water by tightening water resource plans being developed under the Basin Plan to ensure the irrigation industry cannot continue to extract water purchased for river and wetland health.

“The river belongs to everyone, not just big irrigators, and water-sharing plans must ensure the environment and other users get their fair share, including floodplain graziers, downstream communities and Aboriginal communities.”

 

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Rivers and wetlands

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