Government shuts down debate on water theft scandal

Wednesday, September 13, 2017 | Jeremy Buckingham

NSW Greens water spokesman Jeremy Buckingham today criticised the Berejiklian Government for voting against a Matter of Public Importance debate on the growing water theft scandal, after the Matthews Inquiry released a scathing interim report that raises more questions than it answers.

The Greens moved to have a Matter of Public Importance debate on the Matthews Inquiry interim report, but the government used their numbers in the Upper House to defeat the motion 20 - 16.

“It’s increasingly obvious that Water Minister Niall Blair is engaged in a cover up of this water scandal.  His government has failed to initiate an independent judicial inquiry, they have blocked parliamentary motions calling for documents to be presented, and now they’ve voted down the parliament debating the issue as a ‘Matter of Public Importance’,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham. 

“The people of NSW have lost confidence in the ability of the National Party to administer the water portfolio for the public good, rather than in favour of their irrigator mates and political donors.

“The Matthews Inquiry interim report raises more questions than it answers.

“Why did the Secretary of the Department prevent Mr Matthews from reporting on the conduct of other DPI Water Staff?  And what other ‘separate process’ is the Secretary and minister considering to investigate these other staff?

“Who is investigating former minister Kevin Humphries?  Is it ICAC?  Is it Mr Matthews?  Is anyone? 

“Why did the Commonwealth pull its funding for compliance staff at DPI Water?

“What role did the restructure of water by this government have in undermining compliance and enforcement?

“Why have two audits into NSW Water compliance by the NSW Ombudsman in 2009 and 2014 been kept secret, despite attempts by the parliament and under Freedom of Information to have the audits released?”

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Contact: Max Phillips – 9230 2202 or 0419 444 916