Showing posts sorted by relevance for query water theft. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query water theft. Sort by date Show all posts

Sunday, 28 October 2018

On past performance it will only take state and federal National Party politicians and their mates a couple of years to drain Morrison's $5 billion Drought Future Fund

On 26 October 2018, in the face of ongoing allegations of financial gouging of the public purse and mismanagement of water resources in the Murray Darling Basin, Prime Minister and Liberal MP for Cook Scott Morrison unveiled his $5 billion Drought Future Fund at a summit attended by farmers, economists, industry bodies and state and federal ministers in Canberra....promising measures to drought-proof the nation's agriculture sector. The first $3.9 billion of the scheme, which would operate similarly to the Medical Future Fund, is to be paid for out of a pool of money originally intended for the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

What a brilliant idea.

Rob an already underfunded disability sector and the vulnerable people who depend on its services in order to beef up a proposed drought future fund,

What can possibly go wrong?

Well, on past history it will likely take National politicians and their mates about two years to empty this new fund  - with little to no drought-proofing to show for the taxpayer dollars they manage to redirect towards their own businesses.

The Age, 26 October 2018:

The Nationals' federal treasurer Peter Schwarz is accused of gouging much of the $850,000 he was paid by Australia’s largest drought-proofing project and calling in favours when pressed to account for the taxpayer cash.

As Prime Minister Scott Morrison launches his drought summit, leaked government files reveal that Mr Schwarz banked the taxpayer subsidies in November 2011 and then spent years resisting efforts from water officials to get him to or use it for its intended purpose – saving water.

The frustration of the Goulburn-Murray Water authority with the conduct of Mr Schwarz – who as well as being the Nationals key federal fundraiser is also running in next month’s Victorian election – is exposed in dozens of damning leaked authority files.

The files provide a case study of issues which are front and centre at Mr Morrison’s drought summit and which are being examined by drought envoy and Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce: using taxpayer funds to help farmers deal with drought, and, questions about whether backroom favours or mismanagement are undermining drought-relief efforts.

Among the leaked files is a July 15, 2016 memo from a water authority lawyer summing up his view of Mr Schwarz’s conduct after he joined hundreds of other farmers given cash incentives as part of Australia’s largest water saving initiative, the Connections Project. The project aims to help restore the Murray Darling water system.

The lawyer stated that after Mr Schwarz received $850,505 in 2011 – divided into $473,000 for on-farm water-saving measures and $300,000 to buy a neighbouring property – he ‘‘failed to perform any of the obligations despite having received the payment … in full.’’

‘‘The Schwarzes have spent much of the ensuing period attempting to make a case that, notwithstanding they entered into the agreement and received payment, they should not be bound to perform,’’ the July 2016 legal memo states.

The leaked files also reveal that Mr Schwarz sought to call on his personal relationship with a controversial high-ranking water official, Gavin Hanlon, and an unnamed ‘‘minister’’ to ‘‘support [his] cause’’.

Mr Hanlon was a senior Victorian water official who was headhunted by the NSW government as its irrigation chief. He quit his NSW post in 2017 after revelations of questionable dealings with farm lobbyists, sparking an ongoing investigation by the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption……..

In a statement to Fairfax Media, the water authority said that seven years after it gave Mr Schwarz the funds, the stand-off over with him has been "substantially resolved." It is understood that Mr Schwarz and Goulburn-Murray Water have finally agreed that he will use the funds for water savings, but no work has as yet been done.

The files reveal intense frustration inside Goulburn-Murray Water not only about Mr Schwarz’s conduct but the authority’s inability to recoup taxpayer funds.

A note written by an employee in April 2014 states that: ‘‘Peter told me on a number of occasions he would prefer to deal with higher GMW management and would not be accepting the agreement he had previously signed.’’.......


SBC News, 1 December 2018:

The NSW public has a right to know whether a senior government executive, fired over her alleged involvement in the Murray-Darling water theft scandal, received a six-figure payout, the opposition says.

A report into water theft in the Murray-Darling Basin, released on Thursday, confirmed that along with top bureaucrat Gavin Hanlon's public resignation, a second executive was fired for her role in the alleged misconduct.

AAP understands the senior executive is a former National Party staffer and irrigation lobbyist, who was appointed to a senior job within the Department of Primary Industries in 2015.

Opposition water spokesman Chris Minns said the Berejiklian government should confess whether the executive had received a golden handshake on her way out the door......

In September, NSW Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair said misconduct proceedings had started against Mr Hanlon.

Mr Hanlon was forced to resign as the Department of Industry director general in September following allegations of misconduct, including promising to share internal government documents with irrigation lobbyists in 2016.

Thursday's independent investigation into NSW water management and compliance report, authored by Ken Matthews, said the second senior executive is alleged to have also been involved in the teleconference.

According to her LinkedIn profile, the executive was a policy officer for lobby group Southern River Irrigators between 2011 and 2013 before becoming an advisor to federal senator Simon Birmingham for a year......

Thursday's report comes less than a week after both NSW and Queensland were slammed by a Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) review into water theft and regulation.

That inquiry found both states regularly failed to make sure irrigators complied with the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, and weren't transparent about their failures......

The Guardian, 27 September 2018:

A former water industry lobbyist preselected by the New South Wales National party to lead its Senate ticket in the next federal election has suggested examining Barnaby Joyce’s proposal to release more water for irrigators.

Once a lobbyist for Murray Irrigation, Perin Davey won the No 1 spot on the NSW National party’s Senate ticket earlier this month, after the longtime Nationals senator and bank campaigner John “Wacka” Williams retired and the former Nationals deputy leader Fiona Nash resigned over her dual citizenship.

Davey was part of the teleconference with NSW government water official Gavin Hanlon, when he allegedly offered documents stripped of the department logo to help irrigators lobby against the Murray-Darling basin plan.

Hanlon resigned following the revelations, which were referred to the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption. The former water minister Kevin Humphries was also referred to the state watchdog. Icac makes it a practice not to comment any current investigations. Davey said she had not been interviewed by Icac and Guardian Australia does not allege any wrongdoing.

The meeting was exposed in the 2017 Four Corners episode that reported allegations that water was being harvested by some irrigators in the Barwon-Darling region of the Murray-Darling basin to the detriment of the environment and downstream communities.

Joyce, the former agriculture minister, had nominated Davey to the board of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority but, as a result of the fallout from the program, Davey asked Joyce to withdraw her nomination.

Davey, who now runs her own government relations company, said she was simply participating in a teleconference and that it was not unusual......

North Coast Voices:

13 MARCH 2018
Only a handful of NSW landowners to face court over Murray-Darling Basin water theft allegations? The NSW Government will prosecute several people over alleged water theft on the Barwon-Darling, eight months after Four Corners investigated the issue. WaterNSW has named the people it is taking to the Land and Environment Court over alleged breaches of water management rules.

13 APRIL 2018
Alleged irrigator water theft heading for the courts? A cousin by marriage of the current Australian Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources David Littleproud, John Norman, finds his agricultural business practices under scrutiny...

30 APRIL 2018
What the Australian Government didn’t want the UN to publish During Nationals MP for New England Barnaby Joyce’s disastrous sojourn as Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources the federal government began a successfull campaign to have the United Nations delete all criticism of Australia’s $13bn effort to restore the ailing Murray-Darling river system from a published study.

Friday, 4 August 2017

The Trouble With Water: not a good look for the National Party of Australia

On 1 June 2017 former NSW Minister for Natural Resources, Lands and Water (23 April 2014 - 2 April 2015) and current Nationals MP for Barwon, Kevin Humphries, announced that he will retire at the next state election in March 2019.

In the wake of the 24 July ABC “Four Corners” revelations of large-scale water theft under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, Humphries has been referred to the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) by the Labor Opposition.

Hot on the heels of this program came another announcement on 31 July 2017.

Former NSW Minister for Primary Industries (3 April 2011 - 2 April 2015) with responsibility for lands & water and current Nationals MP for Cootamundra, Katrina Hodgkinson, announced her retirement effective mid to late August 2017.

Hodgkinson denies any connection between her sudden retirement and those Four Corners revelations.

However it should be noted that it was on the joint watch of Humphries and Hodgkinson that the position of NSW Water Commissioner responsible for the overall management of the State’s surface water and groundwater resources was axed and the NSW Office of Water was reformed as part of the Dept. of Primary Industry maintaining overall responsibility for accepting and assessing applications to change water access licences and operating the Water Access Licence Register.

High volume water theft appears to have become easier on the watch of these two National Party politicians.

All that would be needed for a trifecta of retiring state politicians associated with water resource policy would be for the current NSW Minister for Primary Industry, Minister for Regional Water and Nationals MLC, Niall Blair, to announce an unexpected desire to spend more time with his family and pursue other interests.

Any further scandal surrounding the management water resources in the NSW section of the Murray-Darling Basin and this may well be a distinct possibility - or even more media coverage like this perhaps?

The Daily Telegraph, 2 August 2017:

A NATIONALS minister is pushing Cabinet colleagues to change irrigation laws to retrospectively justify a decision by his department to give a major political donor and cotton farmer more rights over the precious Barwon-Darling River.

The Daily Telegraph can reveal that Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair is behind a push to alter an element of the Barwon-Darling Water Sharing Plan.

It comes after his department in 2016 overruled what it called “minor” error in the law to grant extra irrigation rights to Brewarrina cotton farmer Peter Harris.

A department briefing, seen by The Daily Telegraph, said the error was impacting on “some users wishing to trade between river sections covered by the plan”.

The briefing was written shortly after Mr Harris was given extra rights.

Mr Harris gave $10,000 to the National Party prior to the 2011 election in combined personal donations and those made by his company.

Its understood an internal Coalition fight has broken out between Mr Blair and current Water Minister Gabrielle Upton , who is resisting the changes. The revelations come as several inquiries have been launched into the alleged water theft on an industrial scale of precious resources across the basin…….

The Daily Telegraph has obtained another document showing that the retiring Ms Hodgkinson changed the water sharing plan to benefit irrigators after lobbying. She was water minister at the time.

In a 2012 letter to lobbyist and cotton farmer Ian Cole, Ms Hodgkinson wrote: “Following consideration of a number of WSP (water sharing plan) matter raised with me, I ­requested the Office of Water to make several amendments which I believe now present a fair and equitable outcome for all.”

The Minister for the Environment and Liberal MP for Vaucluse Gabrielle Upton's obvious reluctance may be due to her appreciation of a change in wind direction within the national electorate on the subject of Murray-Darling Basin water allocations.

The present Deputy Prime Minister and Australian Water Minister, Barnaby Joyce, is also in a somewhat precarious position – less to do with his manifest inadequacy as a federal minister and more to do with his stated motives for seeking to add the water ministry to his portfolio responsibilities.

Cartoonist David Rowe at Financial Review

Sunday, 3 December 2017

SA Royal Commission into Murray-Darling Basin management and alleged water theft

The NSW Berejiklian Government will not be happy with this………

ABC News, 30 November 2017:

Allegations of water theft upstream in the Murray-Darling Basin (MDB) have prompted South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill to launch a state royal commission to identify any perpetrators.

New South Wales and Queensland were slapped with a scathing assessment of compliance with the MDB Plan on Saturday, after a review found poor levels of enforcement.

The review also found a lack of transparency surrounding the states' water management, along with Victoria's.

Mr Weatherill said the report did not go far enough and announced a royal commission.

"The review that was handed down did not go into detailed findings of who committed water theft and who behaved inappropriately in relation to the river," he said.

"There have been no specific findings in relation to individuals or groups of individuals."

When asked whether a state royal commission could force bureaucrats from interstate to give evidence, Mr Weatherill said the royal commissioner would be given the powers of compulsion.

"And they will have no choice but to come forward," he said.

"A state-based royal commission does have the capacity to analyse things that touch on other states, provided there is a connection to South Australia.”

"That's our very clear legal advice and it's our intention to pursue this royal commission's power to their fullest extent, so we can get to the bottom of this water theft."…..

Despite labelling it "just another stunt", the Federal Government said it would cooperate with SA's royal commission.

Assistant water resources minister Anne Ruston said the issues in the basin were being addressed but the Commonwealth would not stand in the way of the commission, and neither should NSW or Victoria.

"I'd like to think they'd cooperate, certainly the Commonwealth will cooperate, we haven't got anything to hide," she said.

The Australian Government’s 25 November 2017 The Murray–Darling Basin Water Compliance Review can be read here.

Friday, 18 January 2019

State of Play: Australian Water Wars in 2019

Time lapse images of part of the Lake Menindee system in the Murray Darling Basin drying up through mismanagement, 2016 to 2018.

It won't be long before multiple talking heads from the Liberal and National parties will be penning opinion pieces in national newspapers and popping up as guests on radio or television accusing those who are acutely concerned, about water sustainability and the plight of the Murray-Darling Basin, of bashing the poor hardworking farmer and telling us that all irrigators are ethical individuals who are only trying to feed the nation.

Now that may be true of some, it probably isn't true of many and it is definitely not true of all irrigators.

The amount of water being taken from Murray-Darling Basin rivers is eye watering.

According to the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA); Irrigated agriculture in the Basin consumes about 60% of Australia’s available water.1

Again according to the MDBA, by 2017-18 this 60% was being harvested by only 9,200 irrigated agricultural businesses

In 2017 the National Water Account stated that total surface water and groundwater entitlements in the Basin equalled 19,374 gigalitres.

The whole Murray-Darling Basin receives just 6.1 per cent of Australia’s distribution of water run-off and the MDBA admits that approximately 42% of this surface water run-off is diverted from Basin river systems primarily by irrigators.

Professor Sheldon of the Australian Rivers Institute at Griffith University states that more than 50% of average water inflows into the Murray and Darling rivers are extracted for irrigation.

Overall, the Murray-Darling Basin contains 77,000 km of rivers, with flows said to total some 35,000 gigalitres on average.2  A figure which now appears unreliable. 

At the beginning of the 2017–18 water year, the total volume of held water for the environment was nominally about 2,871 gigalitres (in long-term available water terms).3

Science has been telling the Federal Government and the governments of Qld, NSW, Vic and SA that Murray-Darling Basin rivers cannot sustain the rates of water extraction they have been experiencing since the second half of last century and more water needs to be returned to the rivers as environmental flows.

Government does not appear to be listening. Probably because implementing an effective response to years of mismanagement of Basin water resources would mean reducing the over allocation of water rights by commencing a policy of permanently buying back at least 7,000 gigalitres of water entitlements from irrigators and reducing the annual amount of water their remaining water entitlements represent.

Here are just three examples of excessive water consumption in the face of declining national water security.


Webster Ltd (WBA): “Webster owns a diverse portfolio of over 200,000 megalitres of water entitlements, stretching from southern Queensland, through New South Wales to northern Victoria and Tasmania. It’s also fundamental to our strategy of streaming water to areas where we can generate greatest return for each megalitre of water applied…..  we are able to extract further value by exploiting opportunities in water markets. A significant component of this entitlement holding resulted from the acquisition of Kooba along the Murrumbidgee and the subsequent acquisitions of Tandou and Bengerang with significant water entitlements in the Murray Darling Basin. Our portfolio is a complementary mix of high and general security water with supplementary and groundwater entitlements. This scale, diversity and surety of our water holdings underpins our competitive advantage…”

Webster states that its primary crop focus is on cotton, using technology and expertise to maximise yield and water efficiency, with capability to produce over 200,000 bales of cotton annually”.

Chris Corrigan is the Chairman Webster Ltd and Joseph Corrigan is the Alternate for Chris Corrigan.

Corrigan (formerly Managing Director of Patricks Corporation Ltd who colluded with the Howard Government's attempt to break a union) became chairman of the ASX listed agribusiness in March 2016, soon after it had completed a major takeover. In that play, Webster bought land and water company Tandou, assembling the nation’s top private water rights portfolio, according to Irrigation Australia.

Webster Ltd landholdings include 40,000 irrigable hectares as well as extensive grazing farmland. 

Webster holds its most of its water rights in perpetuity. As at 30 September 2018 the company listed the value of its water rights as $161.9 million.

In 2017 the company sold the water rights at its Tandou property to the Turnbull Government for $78 million which was reportedly almost twice the recommended value of the water.

Current WBA share price is in the vicinity of $1.565. In 2018 the company listed its assets value as $760.44 million. Combined salary & fees received by Webster directors exceeded $1.49 million in that year.

Its substantial shareholders in 2017-2018 were: AFF Properties No 1 Pty Ltd ATF The AFF Operations Trust (14.41%), Verolot Limited (8.92%), Mr Peter Robin Joy (8.43%), Belfort Investment Advisors Limited (5.89%) and Mr Bevan David Cushing as trustee of the KD Cushing Family Trust (5.60%).


Cubbie Station is an aggregate of three properties owned by CS Agriculture Pty Ltd, which in turn is 20% owned by RF CSAG & 80% Chinese-owned through Shandong Ruyi Technology Group Co.5

Cubbie Station is 93,000 ha in size and sources its water from the from the Condamine and Balonne river systems in the upper reaches of the Murray-Darling Basin. 

Cubbie has annual water entitlements of 460,000 megalitres. In addition it holds back in off-river storage up to 45,000 megalitres of surface water from the flood plain

Its water storage area covers 12,000ha configured in a cell arrangements with an estimated capacity of 540,000 megalitres. It is reportedly the largest irrigation property in the Southern Hemisphere.

The company’s water storage dams are said to stretch for more than 28 kilometres along the Culgoa River.

Cubbie's principal crop appears to be cotton.6

In 2017 the Australian Taxation Office listed the company’s total annual income as $161,911,344.

The value of the Cubbie Station aggregate is est. $350 million.


Norman Farming Trust trading as Norman Farming has a combined land area of over 18,000 ha across two properties in the Macintyre River delta of the Border Rivers region.

The company has an entitlement of 76,000 megalitres of annual water diversion capable of being pumped at 7,000 megalitres take-per-day, with the potential for 500 megalitres per day of additional water harvesting from rainfall/runoff without an annual limit. An est.1,218ha are used for water storage.

Norman Farming's principal crop is cotton.

Estimated value of the company is $100 million. 

The owner is currently charged with defrauding the Australian Government of $20 million in Murray-Darling Basin water funding.

Webster, Cubbie and Norman Farming between them have annual water entitlements which exceed the volume of water in Sydney Harbour.


1. MDBA, Water markets and trade:
Water in the Murray–Darling Basin can be bought and sold, either permanently or temporarily.
This water is traded on markets – within catchments, between catchments (where possible) or along river systems. This form of trading allows water users to buy and sell water in response to their individual needs. Water trading has become a vital business tool for many irrigators.
The majority of water traded in the Murray–Darling Basin is surface water, however some groundwater also changes hands.
Irrigated agriculture in the Basin consumes about 60% of Australia’s available water….
There are more than 150 classes of water entitlement in the Basin….
Water trading in the Basin is worth about $2 billion annually.
The New South Wales, Queensland, South Australian and Victorian governments are primarily responsible for managing water markets, and each state has its own process and rules for allocating water.
Irrigation infrastructure operators create and maintain trading rules within their networks.
In November 2018 in the NSW section of the Murray-Darling Basin est. 2,988 megalitres of water was transferred between trading parties.

2. For comparison Sydney Harbour is estimated to hold 500 gigalitres.1 giglitre of water equals 1,000 megalitre. 

3. Water theft appears to be an ongoing issue. In 2018 one NSW irrigator pleading guilty to the theft potentially involving billions of litres at a Mungindi property near the NSW-Queensland border, while another at Brewarrina has been charged with taking water when the flow conditions did not permit it, and breaching licence and approval conditions.

4. Initially a scientific assessment by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority identified that 6,000-7,000 GL per year would be required to return the environmental assets of the Murray-Darling Basin to sustainable ecological health. This was reduced by almost half to 3,000-4,000 GL per year in the Basin Guide. Eventually, the Australian Government considered 2,800 GL, even lower than the minimum proposed, was a reasonable target. This was further reduced to 2,750 GL before the Queensland Government agreed to sign up to the Basin Plan, a reduction from the Northern Basin. Reduction of the target by another 70 GL represents a further significant reduction in environmental flows which will exacerbate environmental decline. [Professor Richard Kingsford, Director of the Centre for Ecosystem Science, UNSW, submission]

In 2018, the Turnbull government won support from Labor to amend the amount of environmental water allocated to the system, while the Greens and some senators were opposed. The amendments cut 605 billion litres a year that were allocated from the southern basin's environmental water flows, and 70 billion litres a year from the northern basin's flows. [ABC News, 17 January 2019]

5. The volume of water entitlements owned by businesses with some level of foreign ownership was 1.9 million megalitres at 30 June 2016 or 12.5% of the total volume of water entitlements for agricultural purposes in Australia. Of the water entitlements with some level of foreign ownership, the majority (1.6 million megalitres or 83%) was held by businesses that were more than 50% foreign owned. [Australian Bureau of Statistics, 7127.0 - Agricultural Land and Water Ownership, 2015-16] 
In 2016 in New South Wales in 847,250 megalitres of water entitlements were 100% foreign owned and in Queensland 744,957 megalitres were totally foreign owned.

6. According to the Dept of Agriculture and Water Resources ABARES, the Murray–Darling Basin accounts for around 91 per cent of Australia’s total cotton farms and cotton area. It is estimated that the total area in the Basin under cotton production is 490,000 hectares.If all of this land was planted for cotton in a given year then it is likely that the crops would require somewhere between 2.19 million to 3.82 million megalitres of water.

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Ecological Disaster in Murray-Darling River Systems January 2019: Trump-lite Scott Morrison blames Labor and the drought

@michaeldaleyMP, 13 January 2019

In March 2012 it was the O’Farrell Liberal-Nationals Coalition Government who received the above Memorandum on the Water Sharing Plan for the Barwon-Darling Unregulated and Alluvial Water Sources which covered both the Barwon-Darling unregulated river water source and the Upper Darling Alluvial groundwater source.

This NSW water sharing plan was clearly prefaced on creating a market for the sale of water rights and the needs of commercial irrigators and the mining industry:

2.1 Why are water sharing plans being prepared? Expansion of water extraction across NSW in the 20th century has placed most valleys at or close to the limit of sustainable water extraction. This has seen increasing competition between water users (towns, farmers, industries and irrigators) for access to water. This has also placed pressure on the health and biological diversity of our rivers and aquifers.

Plans provide a legal basis for sharing water between the environment and consumptive purposes. Under the Water Management Act 2000, the sharing of water must protect the water source and its dependent ecosystems and must protect basic landholder rights. Sharing or extraction of water under any other right must not prejudice these rights. Therefore, sharing water to licensed water users is effectively the next priority for water sharing. Among licensed water users, priority is given to water utilities and licensed domestic and stock use, ahead of commercial purposes such as irrigation and other industries.

Plans also recognise the economic benefits that commercial users such as irrigation and industry can bring to a region. Upon commencement, access licences held under the Water Act 1912 (WA 1912) are converted to access licences under the Water Management Act 2000 and land and water rights are separated. This facilitates the trade of access licences and can encourage more efficient use of water resources. It also allows new industries to develop as water can move to its highest value use.

In conjunction with the Water Management Act 2000, plans also set rules so that commercial users can also continue to operate productively. In general, commercial licences under the Water Management Act 2000 are granted in perpetuity, providing greater commercial security of water access entitlements. Plans also define the access rules for commercial users for ten years providing all users with greater certainty regarding sharing arrangements.

The warning in the Memorandum was ignored by the O’Farrell. Baird and Berejiklian Coalition Governments and, by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority when it drained 2,000 gigalitres of water from the Menindee lakes in 2017.

Obviously fearing the electorate will remember: a) that when the Abbott Coalition Government came to power it handed even more power over water resources back to the states & abolished the independent National Water Commissionand b) then recall the rampant abuse of water resources under then Deputy PM and Nationals MP for New England as Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Barnaby Joyce as well as multiple allegation of water theft; Prime Minister and Liberal  MP for Cook Scott Morrison sought to wrongly blame first Federal Labor and then the drought for the ecological devastation which is occurring in the NSW section of the Murray-Darling river systems.

ABC News, 14 January 2019:

 The State Government is bracing for another mass fish kill in the Darling River this week, with soaring temperatures forecast in western NSW.

The mercury is expected to reach up to 46 degrees Celsius in the town of Menindee, where up to 1 million native species were killed in an algal bloom over the New Year.

The Bureau of Meteorology said a heatwave, caused by hot air being blown from Central Australia, would persist until Saturday and could break temperature records around Broken Hill.

Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair said state and local governments would work with the community to manage the possibility of another ecological disaster.

"Well we know that we've got high temperatures right across the state and a lot of poor water quality situations particularly brought on by the extended drought so unfortunately we are expecting that we may see more fish killed," Mr Blair said.

The warning comes as contractors prepare to clear the 40-kilometre stretch of the Darling River of dead fish before their rotting carcasses compound the situation.

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud will convene a meeting of State and Federal environmental and water stakeholders working under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

Mr Littleproud proposed using $5 million for a native fish recovery strategy and will seek agreement for the money to come from Murray-Darling Basin funds.

"The reality is we're in a serious drought and the only silver bullet is rain," he said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison refuted a report released by NSW Labor at the weekend claiming the Liberal Government ignored warnings about low water levels.

"I'm concerned today that some might want to play politics," he said.

"There were reports done by scientists under Labor's contribution to that plan back in 2012, the plan has been operating in accordance with that advice and so we need to just keep on working on the issue."

Mr Morrison said the fish kill was because of the drought.

"It's a devastating ecological event, particularly for those all throughout that region the sheer visual image of this is terribly upsetting," he said.

However, that is disputed by many people in Menindee, who argue poor water management has compounded the mass kill. [my yellow highlighting]

Morrison in blaming everyone but successive Federal (since September 2013) and NSW (since March 2011) Coalition governments forgets that Australian voters can read and, as late as June 2018 the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office as part of the NSW Interagency Working Group for Better Managing Environmental Water offered advice on the Barwon-Darling which both the current Australian Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Drought Preparation and Response & Liberal MP for Maranoa David Littleproud and current NSW Minister for Primary Industries, Minister for Regional Water & Nationals MLC Niall Blair appear to have ignored until it was too late.


1. One of the last things the National Water Commission (NWC) did before then Liberal Prime Minister Tony Abbott abolished it was to inform the Abbott Coalition Government that:

"Ten years on from the signing of the NWI, water reform in Australia is at a cross roads. Many reform gains are now taken for granted and the multi-party support that has been a hallmark of this historic agreement is at risk of breaking down.
Given the substantial government investments and hard-won progress so far, and the valuable but challenging gains yet to be realised, it is critical that there is no backsliding from reform principles.
Strong leadership is essential to realise the full benefits of water reform and to embed proven NWI principles into the decision making of all Australian governments."