The final Matthews Report has been released. You can find a copy in the links at the end of this update.
There are a wide range of recommendations, many of which impact Water NSW.
While the Terms of Reference were focused on the Department of Industry, many of the recommendations are sound and Water NSW should look to adopting similar approaches.
The most important features which will impact on members are the following recommendations:
In addition, Ken Matthews has identified that “problems [have been] caused by unresolved boundary issues between government agencies involved in compliance and enforcement”. He recommends that “[t]he objective should be to delineate roles to avoid any overlap in responsibilities. Not only is overlap unnecessarily costly but it causes confusion in the minds of clients and staff.” (page 3)
Specifically, for the Crown Lands and Water Division in the Department of Industry, Ken Matthews recommends the Department implement cultural changes including,
“communication to all staff of the importance and priority of reform projects”, “introducing external whistleblower service for employees” and “a cultural transformation to improve ethics”.
The Department has started implementing strategies to improve staff morale, staff engagement and communication.
Ken Matthews also recommends that the Department implement a “re-design of staff feedback processes to encourage frank and empowered communication up the line without staff needing the cover of anonymous formal whistle-blower procedures (although anonymous channels should of course, continue to be available).”
The Department of Industry is establishing a Water Renewal Taskforce to work closely with matter experts in the Crown Land and Water Divisions and other agencies including Water NSW. Expressions of interest are open for those who are interested.
These are excellent developments and similar strategies should be implemented by Water NSW.
All employees at Water NSW are bound by the same legal requirements as the rest of the NSW public service in relation to conflict of interest, maladministration, and potential corrupt behaviour.
Like the rest of the public service, all employees at Water NSW are required to report behaviour or actions that may constitute corruption or maladministration.