Murray-Darling Basin probe postponed

Posted 7 September 2017

ReportThe highly anticipated report into alleged water theft in NSW’s Murray-Darling Basin has been delayed, following the granting of a week-long extension to ensure all findings are legally sound. 

Former head of the National Water Commission Ken Matthews was appointed by the NSW Government to conduct the investigation following allegations that Barwon-Darling irrigators tampered with meters to mask water extraction volumes.

The allegations were raised in the ABC's Four Corners, and included claims that senior official Gavin Hanlon helped irrigators undermine the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

Matthews and his team have since met with almost 40 people and received more than 3000 documents.

However, Matthews said the investigation team needed extra time to review the final report to ensure none of the findings could interfere with further investigations in future or prejudice legal processes.

"These final checks will allow for the interim report to be released publicly," Matthews said in a statement.

The report is now expected early this month.

Department of Industry Secretary Simon Smith said that although the delay would cause concern due to the high level of public interest the allegations have garnered, the extra time was granted in the public’s interest.

"We believe it is a better outcome for the public if the extra time allows for maximum possible disclosure of the findings of the investigation," Smith told SMH.

The allegations have also been forwarded to the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption. 
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Water theft allegations spur calls for Murray-Darling Basin Plan investigation
Update: water theft allegations prompt Murray-Darling Basin review