NSW water bureaucrat resigns following Murray-Darling corruption allegations

Posted 20 September 2017

Empty office
NSW water bureaucrat and eWater Director Gavin Hanlon has resigned following allegations he undermined the Murray-Darling Basin Plan (MDBP) by offering confidential information to irrigation lobbyists. 

The allegations were presented by the ABC’s Four Corners program in late July, which aired recordings of Hanlon offering lobbyists access to classified documents during teleconferences on at least four occasions. 

Recordings also revealed the NSW government had considered the possibility of opting out of the MDBP, which governs water use in NSW, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and the ACT. 

The program revealed Hanlon had resisted calls from investigators to approve an operation targeting water siphoning following the discovery that billions of litres of water had been pumped illegally

Hanlon was the most senior water official in NSW and served as Deputy Director General of the NSW Department of Primary Industries during planning for the state’s involvement in the $13 billion MDBP river system replenishment.  

The NSW Government ordered an overview to be conducted by former head of the National Water Commission Ken Matthews, who found the state’s water enforcement measures to be “ineffectual and requir[ing] significant and urgent improvement”.

A spokesperson for the NSW Department of Industry told SMH Online that the findings from Matthews’ report are being addressed.  

"The department will continue to respond to the issues outlined in Ken Matthews' interim report into water administration and compliance," the spokesperson said. 

"No further comment will be given on individual cases or on matters which may yet be considered by other investigations."
 
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