South Australia Takes New South Wales Govt To Task Over Murray-Darling Plan

South Australia Takes New South Wales Govt To Task Over Murray-Darling Plan

South Australia Minister for Water and the River Murray Ian Hunter

New South Wales Government Running For Cover On Royal Commission

Victor P Taffa

Announcement by the New South Wales Government that it will not cooperate with a Royal Commission into water theft and corruption allegations raises serious doubts about their commitment and ability to deliver the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

“It took just 24 hours for the New South Wales Government to duck for cover from a Royal Commission looking into allegations of water theft and possible corruption.” Minister for Water and the River Murray Ian Hunter said.

Prime Minister Turnbull released a report on the weekend which levelled serious criticisms at the New South Wales Government’s “notable lack of transparency” in relation to water compliance and monitoring activities.

Report found that the New South Wales Government had a “low level of compliance resourcing noting that they have very small numbers of compliance staff.”

 

“It’s now clear we cannot trust the New South Wales Government to implement the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and the Commonwealth Government must act immediately to withhold any payments to New South Wales under the Basin Plan agreement.” Minister Hunter said.

Yet after South Australia announced a Royal Commission on Sunday, New South Wales Minister for Water Niall Blair said his government would not take part.

Background

There have been serious allegations of water theft and corruption related to the Murray-Darling Basin Plan since the Four Corners programme aired in July 2017. A series of limited scope reviews have been established that do not have the ability to look into all of the allegations.

Recent New South Wales Ombudsman’s recent report was scathing about the culture inside the Department of Water and found a complete lack of water compliance and monitoring activity under the National Party-held Water portfolio.

New South Wales Ombudsman was forced to release this scathing fourth report himself after the State Government buried 3 previous reports related to allegations of water theft and corruption.