Premier resists water pressure

Gladys Berejiklian and Gavin Hanlon.

Gladys Berejiklian and Gavin Hanlon.

The NSW premier has resisted calls to strip the National Party of the water portfolio and backed existing safeguards against conflicts of interest after an interim report into allegations of water theft in the Murray-Darling Basin.

The report follows an ABC Four Corners program in July that revealed allegations the state’s top water bureaucrat Gavin Hanlon – who has now been stood down – helped rort the water system.

The report, released on Monday, found an urgent fix is needed in NSW to repair an “ineffectual” water-compliance and enforcement system with little transparency.

NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley says the report reveals a “deliberate industrial scale theft of water”, to which a “blind eye was turned” by the National Party.

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