Findings of corrupt conduct
The ICAC makes no findings of corrupt conduct.
Recommendations for prosecutions
The Commission must seek the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) on whether any prosecution should be commenced. The DPP determines whether any criminal charges can be laid, and conducts all prosecutions. The Commission provides information on this website in relation to the status of prosecution recommendations and outcomes as advised by the DPP. The progress of matters is generally within the hands of the DPP. Accordingly, the Commission does not directly notify persons affected of advice received from the DPP or the progress of their matters generally.
The ICAC is not of the opinion that the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions should be obtained with respect to the prosecution of any individual.
Recommendations for disciplinary action
Questions of disciplinary action do not arise in this matter.
Recommendations for corruption prevention
The Commission makes 15 corruption prevention recommendations to help address the corruption risks identified during its investigation and to promote the integrity and good repute of public administration in relation to water management:
That the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) publicly records:
- its water strategy, objectives and priorities for the use and management of NSW’s water resources in a manner consistent with the mandatory duty in s 9 of the Water Management Act 2000 (WMA)
- the need to ensure the water management principles in s 5, and in particular those that relate to sharing, as set out in s 5(3) of the WMA, are all given effect.
Section 9 of the WMA should also inform relevant key departmental records, including agency policies, guidelines and role descriptions, concerning the management of NSW water resources.
That the DPIE develops and publishes a protocol and procedures for amending WSPs that reflect the principles for water sharing in s 5(3) of the WMA and give priority to those principles in the order in which they are set out in that subsection in accordance with the mandatory duty imposed by s 9 of the WMA. The protocol should also have regard to audits conducted by the Natural Resources Commission.
That the DPIE implements all changes it has proposed to the Barwon-Darling Water Sharing Plan rules to ensure its consistency with the WMA, specifically:
- implementing individual daily extraction limits (IDELs) and total daily extraction limits (TDELs) (including trade limits on IDELs)
- raising A-class cease-to-pump thresholds based on up-to-date environmental water requirements to better protect low-flow water from extraction
- removing imminent flow provisions to prevent extraction of low-flow water even when higher flows are anticipated
- introducing resumption of flow rules to protect the first flow of water after a dry (low or cease-to-flow) period from extraction
- establishing management provisions to protect upstream environmental water releases from being extracted when they reach the Barwon-Darling.
That the DPIE establishes a dedicated and adequately funded water sharing plan (WSP) implementation team to ensure all of the state’s WSP rules are implemented effectively.
That the DPIE publishes a list of all WSP rules that have not yet been implemented and develops and publishes timelines for implementing these rules.
That the DPIE prioritises and seeks to bring forward audits of any WSP that have not, to date, been audited under s 44 of the WMA.
That the NSW Government recommences funding of scientific audits that periodically monitor the environmental health of its rivers and river flows to provide independent assurance of the effectiveness of its water management policies.
That the DPIE publishes all stakeholder and community engagement plans concerning water management when they are complete.
That the DPIE tasks an appropriately qualified and experienced independent reviewer to conduct, on a recurrent basis, reviews of the steps taken to implement its “Water stakeholder and community engagement policy” and the policy’s effectiveness. The independent reviewer should have the function of making such recommendations as they think necessary to ensure that all water stakeholders have their interests heard in a fair, balanced and transparent way.
That the DPIE develops a model procedure concerning the conduct of meetings with external stakeholders in respect of water management issues that includes requirements to:
- make records of these meetings
- publish meeting details including attendees, organisations represented and meeting agendas, on the water area of the DPIE’s website at least monthly.
That the DPIE formalises communication, information-sharing and consultation protocols with officers performing the functions of the Environment, Energy and Science Group (formerly the Office of Environment and Heritage).
That the DPIE ensures that its staff are properly inducted and receive ongoing training regarding the responsibilities of public officers in respect of the classification and handling of confidential and sensitive information.
That the DPIE reviews its recruitment policies and procedures to ensure that they are consistent with the Government Sector Employment (General) Rules 2014 rules and best-practice guidance provided by the Public Service Commission. Particular attention should be given to ensuring that:
- job advertisements run for enough time to allow the market to be tested
- hiring managers undertake the Public Service Commission’s recruitment training
- more than one member of a selection panel participates in the cull of candidates, unless exceptional circumstances exist
- clear guidance is provided about the relevance of any independent reports assessing the suitability of candidates.
That the NSW Government guarantees the funding of the Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR), at least to a level equivalent to the recommendations of the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal of NSW, over the long term.
That the DPIE periodically publishes aggregated water account information on its website and makes individual-level data available to NRAR.
Responses to ICAC recommendations
The documents posted below have been provided by
the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) and the NSW Government in response to the ICAC’s recommendations. Their publication here is to show the status of the responses. It does not
constitute approval or endorsement by the Commission.
12 month progress report - DPIE and the NSW Government - Operation Avon and Mezza
Plan of Action - DPIE and the NSW Government - Operation Avon and Mezza