Labor Leader Luke Foley has called for all work on the River Murray to Broken Hill pipeline to be paused until details of the business case are made public and investigations into serious allegations of water theft are concluded.

Mr Foley has concluded a two day visit to Broken Hill, Wilcannia and Menindee to listen to the concerns of locals about the pipeline- along with Shadow Water Minister Chris Minns and Shadow Minister for Western NSW Mick Veitch.

The NSW Government expects construction on the $500 million dollar project to start at the end of the year but has deflected questions about just how much Broken Hill consumers will have to pay for pipeline water.

The City of Broken Hill and other Far West stakeholders have been calling for a moratorium.

Mr Foley says the Council has every right to be concerned about the merits of the pipeline following revelations on Four Corners that billions of litres of water have been stolen from the Barwon River.

Given all the uncertainty, NSW Labor believes that a moratorium on the pipeline is prudent and responsible.

Last week, the release of the Matthews investigation into water theft was delayed.

The NSW Government is also refusing to release the business case for the pipeline, or say who will ultimately pay for it.

The conduct of the Matthews investigation came under scrutiny at last week’s NSW Parliament’s Estimates hearings with the Government confirming that there is no penalty for lying to the Matthews investigation.

NSW Labor called for the terms of reference in the Matthews report to be expanded to allow the investigation of former Nationals water ministers Katrina Hodgkinson and Kevin Humphries, as well as Minister Blair, over their conduct and decisions.

Quotes attributable to Opposition Leader Luke Foley

“Over the last two days many people in Broken Hill, Wilcannia and Menindee have told me they believe the pipeline plan is designed to justify the drying out of the Darling River & Menindee Lakes.

“Getting the Darling River to flow should be the priority. But the Nationals are content for the big northern cotton irrigators to take the water.”

Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for Water Chris Minns

“The National Party has made sure that the ‘independent’ Matthews inquiry is legally unable to look at the conduct of current or previous National Party Ministers.

“How is it possible to have an independent inquiry into water theft and political interference without questioning the Minister responsible? Only a full judicial review will get to the truth of these serious allegations.”

Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for Western NSW Mick Veitch

“Too many questions over the pipeline have been left unanswered and until we know more about the business case and the water theft scandal, the NSW Government must agree to a moratorium.

“In order to regain community support for water administration in NSW, Minister Blair must schedule a second appearance before the Budget Estimates Committee. Or alternatively move to a full judicial inquiry – a move which Labor has been pushing for.”