Nsw, Water managment

Murray-Darling inquiry: former water chief ‘moved on’ over crackdown plan

19 July 2018

Anne Davies, The Guardian
19 July 2018

The former head of water policy in New South Wales says he was “moved on” from his job after clashing with the water minister, Kevin Humphries, over plans to increase compliance levels among irrigators.

In a submission lodged with South Australia’s royal commission into the Murray-Darling river system, David Harriss, a former head of the NSW Office of Water, said there were long-standing “cultural issues in the north, in relation to licensing and compliance” among irrigators.

In 2013, a NSW ombudsman’s report, which had not been made public, recommended compliance and enforcement be improved.

However, in April 2014, when Humphries became the junior minister with responsibility for water under primary industries minister Katrina Hodgkinson, Harriss says “we were told that compliance was not a priority”.

Harrriss said he told the minister he intended to continue implementing the ombudsman’s recommendations. He says he was “moved on” in May 2014.

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