Incompetence and cronyism still mar water management in NSW

Almost three years after the ABC’s 4 Corners exposed chronic mismanagement of inland rivers in NSW it appears little has changed, according to conservation groups.

“Irrigators still call the shots and water administrators still have not figured out how to measure how much water is in the system or how much is being syphoned off,” said Nature Conservation Council Chief Executive Chris Gambian. 


“First this week, specialist auditors found serious shortcoming in 58 water management plans ranging caused by lack of resources, blame-shifting between agencies, and a lack of monitoring on how much water remained in the rivers and what was being used. [1]

“Today we learn the irrigation industry is invited to provide riding instructions to Water Minister Melinda Pavey. [2]

“Who is running water management in NSW? Irrigators or the government?”

Inland Rivers Network spokesperson Bev Smiles said: “Three years after the water theft scandal became public, water management by the Nationals in the NSW Government is still a shambles.

“There have been no meetings with Water Ministers and conservation movement since the Coalition came to power in 2011, despite repeated requests.

“Meanwhile, the Minister dines with representatives of the irrigation industry and asks them how they want to handle flows from the first decent rainfall for over two years.

“The only way to ensure water is managed for the benefit of all stakeholders is to take the portfolio off the Nationals, who are too closely tied to the irrigation lobby.”


[1] 'Damning, disappointing': Debacle in state's water sharing plans, SMH, 18-2-20

[2] 'How would you like to handle it?': the minister, the irrigators and a flood, SMH, 20-2-20