MEDIA RELEASE: Interim report on water theft in the Murray-Darling Basin confirms judicial inquiry needed

Today’s interim report in to allegations of water theft in NSW confirms that a judicial inquiry is needed.

The key findings of the independent report by Ken Matthews AO found that:

  • Aspects of water related compliance and enforcement arrangements in NSW have been ineffectual for some time and require significant and urgent improvement;
  • Individual cases of alleged non-compliance have remained unresolved;
  • Some public servants involved in water administration have not been effective in their duties;
  • This is undermining the public’s confidence in the administration of water management in NSW.

These findings confirm that further investigation is needed to get to the bottom of the allegations of theft and corruption in the Murray-Darling Basin.

Only a judicial review through the COAG process can get to the bottom of the allegations of water theft and corruption in NSW. Todays’ findings demonstrate we need a formal public process to restore confidence in compliance arrangements in the Murray Darling Basin.

Surely Niall Blair and Barnaby Joyce can now see that this is a much bigger issue than they initially thought. Labor calls on them to support the call for a national judicial inquiry under the COAG process.

A judicial inquiry can:

  • compel witnesses to appear
  • allow evidence to be taken under oath
  • allow documents to be compelled and
  • protect whistle-blowers. 

We need a process which can thoroughly and properly investigate these allegations for all communities.


Tony Burke