In response to the final Matthews inquiry report on river compliance problems in NSW, Australian Conservation Foundation Director of Campaigns, Dr Paul Sinclair, said:

“We are alarmed by the findings of Ken Matthews’ final report that some players are trying to ‘water down’ key reforms that would protect our rivers and the communities that rely on them.

“Months of revelations about mismanagement, compliance failures and allegations of water theft in the Murray-Darling Basin have shown that some powerful irrigator interests have been able to profit at the expense of the community and the environment. It would be irresponsible for the NSW Government to allow this state of affairs to continue after all that we have learnt.

“The numerous investigations that have been launched in response to these revelations came about through the hard work of community members, environment groups and the media. The state and federal authorities who are supposed to restore our rivers were nowhere to be found.

“State and federal governments must move swiftly to demonstrate that they are implementing all elements of the Basin Plan to ensure the rivers that are the lifeblood of our communities and our environment is restored. There should be no delay in implementing the recommendations of the Matthews inquiry. And Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull should take the lead of South Australia and announce a full, independent judicial inquiry into the compliance problems in the Murray-Darling Basin.”

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Journalists with enquiries may contact Tom Arup on 0402 482 910 or Josh Meadows on 0439 342 992. For all other enquiries please call 1800 223 669 or email action@acf.org.au.