Han­lon fac­ing mis­con­duct al­le­ga­tions

Shepparton News - Country News - - NEWS - By Rod­ney Woods

The for­mer man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Goul­burn-Mur­ray Wa­ter and NSW top wa­ter bu­reau­crat Gavin Han­lon has been stood down amid al­le­ga­tions of mis­con­duct.

Mr Han­lon, who held the man­ag­ing di­rec­tor job at Goul­burn-Mur­ray Wa­ter from 2011 to 2014, was stood down last week af­ter he was al­legedly recorded by ABC’s Four Cor­ners help­ing peo­ple un­der­mine the Mur­ray-Dar­ling Basin Plan.

A re­port by for­mer Na­tional Wa­ter Com­mis­sion head Ken Matthews found Mr Han­lon ap­peared to have breached gov­ern­ment guide­lines by shar­ing con­fi­den­tial gov­ern­ment information with ir­ri­ga­tors.

Along with Mr Matthews’ probe, the al­le­ga­tions of wa­ter theft had been re­ferred to the state’s In­de­pen­dent Com­mis­sion Against Cor­rup­tion.

Fol­low­ing the fall­out from the ABC pro­gram, State Mem­ber for Shep­par­ton Suzanna Sheed re­peated her call for a fullscale in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tion into al­le­ga­tions of wa­ter theft in the north­ern basin.

Ms Sheed and Vic­to­rian Wa­ter Min­is­ter Lisa Neville have both raised the need for an in­de­pen­dent in­quiry with the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment.

‘‘The in­tegrity of gov­er­nance and gov­ern­ment agen­cies associated with the Mur­ray Dar­ling Basin Plan has been se­ri­ously ques­tioned and I have per­son­ally writ­ten to the Prime Min­is­ter, urg­ing him to help re­store the con­fi­dence of our south­ern basin com­mu­ni­ties by com­mit­ting to a proper in­quiry,’’ Ms Sheed said.

She said it was im­por­tant to get to the bot­tom of the al­le­ga­tions as com­mu­ni­ties in the south­ern basin were al­ready be­ing hit hard by the plan.

The Na­tional Ir­ri­ga­tors Coun­cil has broadly en­dorsed Mr Matthews’ re­port prin­ci­ples around com­pli­ance and greater trans­parency.

‘‘At the time al­le­ga­tions on com­pli­ance in the north­ern basin were raised, I made it very clear that it was crit­i­cal that ev­ery­one have con­fi­dence that wa­ter was go­ing where it was in­tended,’’ NIC chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Steve Whan said.

‘‘Com­pli­ance is as im­por­tant for wa­ter users as it is for the gen­eral com­mu­nity.’’

To date, there are five sep­a­rate in­quiries or re­views that have been pro­posed, launched, or widened to ad­dress is­sues raised in the Four Cor­ners pro­gram.

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