Matthews report into NSW water thefts recommends action on 'ineffectual' system

THE interim findings of a report into the alleged theft of water from NSW has been welcomed by the state’s peak farming group.

NSW Farmers president Derek Schoen said the report, commissioned following allegations aired in a recent Four Corners episode, would help improve transparency around water use.

“The overwhelming majority of farmers and irrigators do the right thing, however, the serious allegations first brought to the public’s attention in the ABC Four Corners episode “Pumping” must be properly investigated and (Ken) Matthews’ interim report has been a good start,” he said.

“In his report, Mr Matthews continually highlights the importance of public confidence in compliance and enforcement systems, and we cannot agree more.

“The association has zero tolerance for illegal water take. It’s theft from all other water users, basin communities, taxpayers and the natural resource base, and it’s unacceptable.”

Mr Matthews’ report concluded that water-related compliance and enforcement arrangements in NSW have been “ineffectual and require significant and urgent improvement,” he said.

“A ‘systemic fix’ is required to address what are legacy issues.”