Consolidation sees solid commissioner scrapped
Irrigators in NSW are not impressed by the sudden scrapping of the state’s Water Commissioner.
A reform of the water portfolio has removed the commissioner’s position, doing away with David Harriss, who spent the last five years as water commissioner after more than 25 years with the state's water department.
Separate water-related arms of NSW government have been consolidated into the smaller Offie of Water, which will itself function as a division of the Department of Primary Industries.
The move has been accused of bringing political ideology to an environmental issue, while some are worried that there will be no one to fill the large gap between industry and government that Mr Harriss leaves.
Richard Stott, chairman of NSW Irrigators Council, has told media outlets that the restructure was badly timed.
He said that the state’s new Water Minister, Kevin Humphries, has made the change without fully understanding Mr Harriss’ role or importance.
Jeremy Buckingham, Greens NSW spokesperson for water, also said the move was short-sighted.
“With an El Nino on the cards, this is the worst time to re-politicise water decisions and sack someone like David Harriss who has enormous experience and knowledge in this area,” he said.
“It's unclear who is in charge in the natural resource management for the Baird Government.
“Ministers Katrina Hodgkinson and Kevin Humphries seem to share the same administrative responsibilities and there is no clarity about how these are divided.
NSW Water Minister Kevin Humphries said the Government is re-configuring the entire state’s water system to a smaller and cheaper model.
He says the Murray-Darling Basin Agreement, regional water sharing plans and metropolitan water sharing plans will all be treated the same in the Office of Water.