G-MW chair re­signs

Shepparton News - Country News - - FRONT PAGE - By Ge­off Adams

Goul­burn-Mur­ray Wa­ter deputy chair Pat McNa­mara said he was not aware of any fric­tion at gov­er­nance level that might have led to the sud­den de­par­ture of the chair, Jo An­der­son.

Mr McNa­mara said the board was not dis­tracted and would con­tinue to fo­cus on the big chal­lenges fac­ing the wa­ter author­ity.

Mr McNa­mara, a for­mer Vic­to­rian deputy premier, has agreed to take on the role of act­ing chair­man, but said he did not want the job long-term.

He is happy to con­tinue as board mem­ber and deputy. He has been on the board for three years.

While Mr McNa­mara would not be drawn on com­ment­ing on Ms An­der­son’s de­par­ture, he pointed to the ma­jor is­sues fac­ing G-MW, in­clud­ing de­clin­ing wa­ter delivery to the Goul­burn Mur­ray ir­ri­ga­tion Dis­trict.

‘‘In 1982 the old State Rivers was de­liv­er­ing about three mil­lion me­gal­itres; last year that was about 1.3 mil­lion.’’

Mr McNa­mara said the in­fra­struc­ture foot­print needed to be re­duced fur­ther, re­flect­ing the de­clin­ing wa­ter delivery.

He is con­cerned the re­duced wa­ter delivery was in­creas­ing costs on the wa­ter author­ity.

‘‘We need to look at how we can run our sys­tem more ef­fi­ciently and re­duce our costs.

‘‘We will be fo­cus­ing on how we can re­duce costs to ir­ri­ga­tors. One of our re­spon­si­bil­i­ties is to help farm­ers make a dol­lar or save a dol­lar.’’

In Fe­bru­ary, Vic­to­rian Wa­ter Min­is­ter Lisa Neville es­tab­lished a strate­gic ad­vi­sory body chaired by Mike Walsh, who for­merly chaired the Con­nec­tions project.

Mr Walsh and a small panel have been ad­vis­ing the board and re­port­ing to the min­is­ter.

Coun­try News un­der­stands there has been some fric­tion within the gov­er­nance re­la­tion­ships lead­ing to Ms An­der­son’s de­ci­sion to leave with­out any pub­lic ex­pla­na­tion.

She has de­clined an in­ter­view with Coun­try News.

On Mon­day, July 30, a short state­ment from G-MW ad­vised Ms An­der­son was step­ping down from her role, ‘‘ef­fec­tive im­me­di­ately’’.

Two years ago the wa­ter author­ity’s then manag­ing di­rec­tor, John Calleja, also re­signed sud­denly and with­out ex­pla­na­tion.

Ms An­der­son, who has an ex­ten­sive back­ground in wa­ter author­ity gov­er­nance, has been thanked for her work by manag­ing di­rec­tor Pat Len­non.

‘‘Jo has a great pas­sion for G-MW and its staff and I thank her for her time at G-MW,’’ Mr Len­non said.

‘‘Jo came into the busi­ness about two years ago, dur­ing which time G-MW has recog­nised the need to face the chal­lenges ahead of us in de­liv­er­ing af­ford­able pric­ing for cus­tomers whilst en­sur­ing G-MW re­mains a sus­tain­able busi­ness.

‘‘We wish Jo all the best for the fu­ture and thank her for her time work­ing with us.’’

Ms Neville ac­cepted Ms An­der­son’s res­ig­na­tion and thanked her for her con­tri­bu­tion dur­ing the past two years.

‘‘My fo­cus con­tin­ues to be on the fu­ture of Goul­burn-Mur­ray Wa­ter, its cus­tomers, the com­mu­nity and en­sur­ing we have a pros­per­ous Goul­burn Mur­ray Ir­ri­ga­tion Dis­trict,’’ she said.

‘‘I’d also like to re­as­sure cus­tomers and land­hold­ers that this will have no im­pact to the work cur­rently go­ing on in the dis­trict, such as delivery of Con­nec­tions or the trans­for­ma­tion work.’’

Ms Neville did not re­spond to ques­tions about any fric­tion at the gov­er­nance level and whether this was linked to the sud­den de­par­ture of Mr Calleja two years ago.

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