Hunter River Salinity Trading Scheme Operations Committee

The Operations Committee advises the EPA on the operation and the performance of the Hunter River Salinity Trading Scheme.

The scheme uses water salinity monitoring and economic incentives to regulate the flows into the river of salty water from coal mining and electricity generation activities. The scheme ensures that the Hunter River’s water quality is suitable for agriculture.

The primary function of the committee is to advise the EPA on matters referred to it in connection with the operation of the scheme.

Committee membership

The Operations Committee represents the interests of licensees, irrigators, and the environment. Representatives from the Hunter-Central Rivers Catchment Management Authority (as Chair) and Water NSW are also on the committee.

Chair and Hunter Local Land Services representative

Wej Paradice AM

Wej Paradice

Dr W.E.J. (Wej) Paradice AM is Conjoint Professor at the University of Newcastle, NSW, a member of the NSW Independent Water Advisory Panel and a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Dr Paradice grew up in Scone in the Upper Hunter and received his undergraduate degree in natural resources from the University of New England in Armidale, NSW. Wej received a Master of Science from Colorado State University and a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Idaho, USA. Wej is past Chairman of the Hunter Central Rivers Catchment Management Authority. He was a Trustee of the Hunter Catchment Management Trust for 14 years and chaired the committee which developed the current set of water sharing plans now operating throughout the Hunter Region. Wej served as Chief Executive Officer and Director of Research at the Hunter Valley Research Foundation between 1985 and 2013.

Industry representatives

Gary Mulhearn
Gary Mulhearn

Mr Mulhearn is Manger Environment and Community at Yancoal Mt Thorley Warkworth Coal Mine, Mount Thorley. His responsibilities with this role include planning approvals, licence and permit management, compliance with conditions of consent and licences, liaison with government and community engagement. Mr Mulhearn is supportive of a fair and equitable operation of the Hunter River Salinity Trading Scheme to support the needs of industry and the wider community.


Chris Rooney

Chris Rooney

Mr Rooney is the Water Plant Coordinator for AGL Macquarie, responsible for all bulk water management on site, and represents the largest partner in terms of water volume within the Hunter River Salinity Trading Scheme. Mr Rooney has ongoing experience with the Scheme where he is currently serving his second membership as an Industry Representative,  and is a current member of the Hunter and Coastal Customer Advisory Group (CAG) with Department of Industry, Land and Water.


Craig White

Craig White

Mr. White is an Environment Superintendent at Bengalla Mine, responsible for approvals, environment and reporting and key stakeholder management including: State Significant Development application and modifications, Environment Protection Licence variation applications, mining lease applications, safeguard mechanism applications, S138 Roads Act applications, and management Plans. Prior to Bengalla Mine, Mr. White has held various management roles and ownership positions working in the property development sector, childcare, workplace health and safety and consulting.

Lisa Richards

Lisa Richards

Lisa Richards is the site Water Planner with the Mt Arthur Coal Technical Services team. Her responsibilities cover Mt Arthur Coal’s water stewardship requirements, including technical planning of water movements within the operations and the requirements for water intake and discharge. Key considerations in the role are the potential impacts and interactions within the Hunter River and Hunter Valley Catchment area, and ensuring water is managed to enable efficient mining operations. Mrs Richards has grown up in the Hunter Region working in a range of Environmental Management and Community Relations roles in the mining industry in QLD and NSW, and previously worked as a Compliance Officer within NSW EPA. Mrs Richards is an active member of the NSW Minerals Council Water Working Group.

Irrigators representative

Ken Bray

Ken Bray

Mr Ken Bray is currently the President of the Hunter River Water Users Association  and has over 50 years extensive experience in the wine and tourism industry of the Hunter Valley, and associated irrigator/water management. Mr Bray has been a long-term supporter and advocate of the Hunter River Salinity Trading Scheme and its successes. Mr Bray has held delegated positions in various stakeholder groups including the NSW Irrigators Council, NSW Minerals Council and Hunter Valley Wine and Tourism Association and Viticulture subcommittee.


Environmental representative

Dr Thava Palanisami

River catchment management representative

Robyn Parker

Robyn Parker

Having lived almost all of her adult life in the Hunter, Ms Parker has a deep understanding of the Hunter region and it’s diverse agricultural, industrial and environmental landscapes. Ms Parker has over 30 years of public sector experience which included roles in child and family services, as a TAFE teacher and as CEO of ageing and disability services. Ms Parker served in the NSW Parliament for twelve years serving first as a Member of the Legislative Council followed by four years as the Member for Maitland. Ms Parker was the NSW Minister for the Environment and Minister for Heritage (2011-2014). As Environment Minister Ms Parker established the EPA as a stand-alone statutory authority and provided greater resourcing for regulatory and environmental protection measures. Since leaving Politics Ms Parker is a non-executive Director to a number of environmental, education and for-purpose organisations and she represents the Hunter Local Land Services Board on the Committee.

Water NSW representative

Danielle Doughty

Danielle DoughtyDanielle is currently the Manager of Regional Coastal Planning within the Water Branch of the Department of Planning and Environment. Danielle has worked in Natural Resource Management for 24 years. The majority of her work in water management has been in the development of water sharing plans for both groundwater and surface water. Danielle is passionate about ensuring a balance between environmental needs and human use of water.



The Hunter River Salinity Trading Scheme (the Scheme) uses economic instruments to manage the water quality of the Hunter River, to ensure a sustainable level of salinity. Clause 70 of the Protection of the Environment Operations (Hunter River Salinity Trading Scheme) Regulation 2002 (the Regulation) requires the appointment of the Hunter River Salinity Trading Scheme Operations Committee (Operations Committee). According to clause 71 of the Regulation, the Operations Committee will advise the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) on the operation and performance of the Scheme. The Operations Committee may have other functions as conferred or imposed on it by this Regulation, these Terms of Reference or by the EPA in connection with the Scheme.

Role of the Operations Committee

The Operations Committee is expected to attend two meetings each year to review and provide advice on matters including but not limited to:

  1. The operation of the Scheme:
    • finance and budget
    • scheme reports and publicly available information
    • scheme administrative functions and systems.
  2. Scheme performance to ensure on-going delivery of the scheme’s operational and environmental objectives.

From time-to-time matters requiring Operations Committee review and advice may be distributed out of session for the Committee’s consideration. The EPA will support the Operations Committee with:

  1. Secretariat functions at the biannual meetings and out-of-session meetings.
  2. Providing information on scheme performance, finance and budget.
  3. Responding where feasible and reasonable to any actions, questions or issues raised by the Operations Committee.


The Operations Committee is to consist of the following members, each of whom is to be appointed by the EPA:

  1. 1 person nominated by Local Land Services,
  2. 4 persons appointed to represent the interests of discharge licence holders,
  3. 1 person appointed to represent the interests of persons who use water from the Hunter River catchment for irrigation,
  4. 1 person appointed to represent environmental interests,
  5. 1 person who is a member of a committee or other organisation concerned in the management of the Hunter River or of any other river in the Hunter River catchment (who may be a member of the Hunter Regional Local Board of Local Land Services, who is additional to the person referred to in a,
  6. 1 person who is employed in the Department of Industry, Skills and Regional Development.

Each person appointed by the EPA as a member of the Operations Committee is to be a person who, in the opinion of the EPA, has sufficient skills and experience to be a member of the Operations Committee. Members are appointed for a maximum term of three years. Further details about appointments are in Schedule 2 of the Regulation.

Alternate representation at meetings

If the Chair is unable to attend a committee meeting, an alternative time should be agreed. If the Chair is unavailable for several meetings, the EPA can act as an alternate chair.

If a Committee Member cannot attend, they should notify the chairperson and nominate a relevant alternate representative to attend.

The use of alternate representatives should be limited. Any alternate representatives must sign the Committee Members Code of Conduct and Declaration of Interest Form before attending their first meeting.   

Replacing the Chair

Local Land Services (LLS) will nominate a new Chair if the Chair resigns, is regularly unable to attend meetings or following a departmental review.

The appointment of a replacement Chair should be made within two weeks of the LLS’s nomination to replace a Chair or the EPA being notified of their resignation.

Replacing committee members

If a Committee Member resigns, or the EPA decides on the need for a replacement, that member may recommend a replacement.

This is usually undertaken if the person is not attending meetings, has breached the code of conduct, has received multiple warnings from the Chair about their conduct, or is found to have provided false or misleading information in their application. In circumstances where the code of conduct has not been breached, the departing member may recommend a suitable replacement to the EPA and the Operations Committee.

Any departing member can be replaced by another suitable representative, recommended by the departing member in circumstances that do not relate to the breach of the code of conduct. If no suitable representative is available, a new member may be appointed by the EPA.     


A minimum of two meetings are required each year to review and advise on the Scheme. There must be one meeting in each half of the year. The meeting dates are determined by the availability and capacity of the EPA and the Operations Committee. A proposed meeting schedule is as follows:



Priority agenda items

Odd years


2023, 2025, 2027 etc.



Budget forecasts


Scheme performance and finance reports

Even years


2024, 2026, 2028 etc.



Credit Auction outcomes, budget forecasts


Scheme performance and finance reports

The first meeting of each year will differ to align with and allow for the credit auction to take place and allow for credit auction results to be finalised before the Operations Committee Meeting in even-numbered years.

Additional meetings, out of session can be held if deemed necessary and scheduled by the Chair of the Operations Committee in consultation with the EPA.

At least one representative from the EPA and the Service Coordinator will be present at all meetings.

Meeting Procedure

The agenda for each meeting will be drafted by the EPA, following advice from the Chair and supported by the Operations Committee.  Members may request that items for discussion be added to the agenda by contacting the Chair no later than two weeks prior to the meeting. Last minute items can be raised during the “other business” portion of the meeting, but these items may be taken on notice as adequate time is not provided for supporting information to be gathered by the EPA and/or Service Coordinator. The agenda and any papers or items for consideration at a meeting of the HRSTS Operations Committee will be circulated to members at least three working days prior to the meeting.

Meetings will be a maximum of 4 hours and will include but not be limited to the priority agenda items outlined in the above table.


Meetings will be conducted in person whenever possible, however an on-line meeting platform (e.g., MS Teams) will be provided to support accessibility.  


A quorum for a meeting of the Operations Committee is a majority of its members. In some circumstances, the committee may be consulted in a decision-making capacity. This will be expressly written in any requests for decision. In these circumstances, the format for decision making will be as follows: A majority of the votes cast at a meeting of the Operations Committee at which a quorum is present is the decision of the Operations Committee.

The Chair will preside at a meeting of the Operations Committee, has a deliberative vote, and in the event of an equality of votes has a second or casting vote.

Committee sitting fees

Members of the Operations Committee are entitled to a sitting fee for all mandatory bi-annual meetings they attend. The sitting fee is a fixed amount and total sitting fees can be claimed upon the completion of the Sitting Fee Form. Sitting fees are to be claimed once a year after both meetings have concluded. The sitting fee amounts are as follows:

HRSTS Operations Committee Sitting Fees


Full Day

Half Day







Communications and record-keeping

An agenda will be prepared and forwarded by the EPA at least three days prior to each meeting.

The EPA will keep a record of decisions made at each meeting of the HRSTS Operations Committee. Minutes and actions will be distributed to each member within two weeks following the close of each meeting. Members are expected to provide feedback on these minutes within two weeks of receipt. The minutes from each meeting will be uploaded by the EPA to the EPA website within three months of the close of each meeting.


All matters dealt with by the Operations Committee must be treated as confidential. Operations Committee members are expected to maintain the confidentiality of any documents or information identified as ‘cabinet-in-confidence’ or ‘commercial-in-confidence’. Please see the HRSTS Operations Committee Code of Conduct for more information on confidentiality and privacy of information.

Disclosure of conflicts of interest

Operation Committee members must disclose if there is a direct or indirect pecuniary interest in a matter being considered or about to be considered at a meeting of the Operations Committee, and the interest appears to raise a conflict with the proper performance of the member’s duties in relation to the consideration of the matter. This disclosure must be raised as soon as possible after the member becomes aware of a possible conflict. 

Particulars of any disclosure must be recorded by the Operations Committee in the minutes of the meeting concerned.

If the Operations Committee member is taking part in any deliberation of the matter, or in a decision with respect to the matter, because of the member’s conflict of interest, then they may not be allowed to vote.

A lack of disclosure of pecuniary interests invalidates any decision of the Operations Committee.

Please see the HRSTS Operations Committee Code of Conduct for more information on conflicts of interest.


Chair – the Chair of the Operations Committee.

Credit Auction – the auction conducted by the EPA every two years on even numbered years for the sale of 200 salt credits for the Scheme.

EPA – The NSW Environment Protection Authority.

Local Land Services – a regional focused, NSW Government agency, providing services to assist landholders, farmers and communities with land management and sustainable practices.  

Member – a member of the Operations Committee.

Pecuniary interest - an interest a person has in a matter because of a reasonable likelihood or expectation of financial gain or loss to the person. Money does not have to change hands to be a pecuniary interest.

Regulation – the Protection of the Environment Operations (Hunter River Salinity Trading Scheme) Act 2002.

River Register – the River Register required to be kept under the Regulation.

Services Coordinator – the person or body appointed by the EPA as Services Coordinator.

EPA Liaison Officer/Contact

See HRSTS for contact details.




Application of the code

This code of conduct (the code) applies to all chairs and committee members (members) of the Hunter River Salinity Trading Scheme (the Scheme) Operations Committee. Members of the Operations Committee are required to demonstrate standards of behaviour that will preserve public trust and deliver the best possible outcomes for the people of NSW.

The code provides an easy-to-understand summary of these responsibilities and sets out the standards of behaviour expected.


The NSW Government core values are set out in the Government Sector Employment Act 2013, and are:

  • integrity
  • trust
  • service
  • accountability

These values are the heart of how we work and, if applied consistently, they also help us to maintain the trust of the community.

Standards of conduct

This Code outlines the standards of conduct expected of members in exercising their functions. It is the personal responsibility of each member to comply with this Code.

The Code has been developed to deliver the best possible outcomes for the people of NSW. The Operations Committee must

  • commit to upholding a high degree of service and ethical leadership
  • act in a way that promotes public confidence in committee conduct
  • have a clear understanding of their duties and responsibilities
  • act for proper purposes without exceeding their powers
  • exercise due diligence in all their functions.

General conduct

Members must

  • act honestly and exercise a reasonable degree of care and diligence in carrying out their functions
  • act for a proper purpose in carrying out their functions
  • not use their appointment for personal advantage
  • not use their appointment to the detriment of the committee
  • disclose any interest (whether pecuniary, non-pecuniary or otherwise) that could conflict with the proper performance of their functions and avoid performing any function that could involve such a conflict of interest.

Work health and safety

Ensuring committee members feel safe when undertaking committee activities is a top priority, as is public safety. Committee members are considered ‘workers’ for the purposes of the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act and Regulation 2011. The EPA is committed to eliminating and minimising work health and safety (WHS) risks as far as reasonably practicable. Chairs are responsible for:

  • being aware of the safety systems and practices that help keep everyone safe and well
  • looking for hazards, and acting if a safety risk is identified and it is safe to do so
  • reporting all WHS incidents, including near misses, to the EPA.

Respect and inclusion

Respect and inclusion are fundamental to a harmonious, productive and psychologically safe environment where people feel safe to speak up about concerns. The EPA is committed to ensuring a safe environment in which everyone feels they can achieve their potential.

The EPA has no tolerance for harassment or victimisation. All members of community consultative committees are responsible for:

  • treating people with dignity and respect, and contributing to a positive and productive space
  • making sure people feel valued and can fully participate
  • not discriminating against, harassing or victimising anyone on any grounds including
  • sex, gender identity or sexual orientation
    • marital status
    • pregnancy
    • age
    • race or ethnicity
    • physical or intellectual disability
    • political or religious conviction
  • demonstrating inclusive behaviours and using inclusive language
  • creating an environment that is safe and offers protection from sexual, physical and psychological harassment and neglect
  • preventing bullying.

Conflicts of interest

A conflict of interest exists when a reasonable person might perceive that a committee member’s personal interest(s) could be favoured over their committee duties.

Most committee members are likely to have a personal interest in relation to the committee they are appointed to. For example, their business or livelihood might be impacted by the project which is the subject of the committee.

There are four elements to consider when determining whether a conflict of interest exists

  • does the member have a personal interest?
  • does the member have a duty to the committee?
  • is there a connection between the personal interest and the duty to the committee?
  • could a reasonable person perceive that the personal interest might be favoured?

Conflicts (or declarations) of interest do not, in themselves, usually constitute dishonest conduct. Dishonest conduct can, however, arise when a conflict of interest is concealed, understated, mismanaged or abused.

Examples of when conflicts of interest can arise include where a member has

  • other directorships or employment
  • professional and business interests or associations
  • investment interests or the investment interests of friends or relatives
  • family relationships
  • participation in party political activities
  • personal beliefs or attitudes that affect impartiality
  • private interests related to the subject matter of their work with the committee.

The above list is indicative only and there may be other situations that can lead to a real or perceived conflict of interest.

A member has a duty to declare any private interest that may impinge on a committee decision. When an issue arises, the committee member must as soon as practicable disclose full and accurate details of the interest or issue to the Chair of the committee. A member must disclose interests to the committee (which include positions and pecuniary / non-pecuniary interests) in corporations, partnerships or other businesses or organisations that may be relevant to the activities of the committee. A member’s interests must also include those of an associate or close relative.

General disclosures must be made at the beginning of a member’s term. Member’s must make specific disclosures as soon as possible after the relevant facts come to the member's knowledge, and they must be recorded by the committee in minutes of the meeting.

A register of such interests must be maintained by the committee.

Gifts, benefits and hospitality

Members should be aware that it is illegal to seek, offer or receive money or gifts to obtain a benefit or favour. Members must not accept gifts or benefits that could place them under an actual or perceived financial or moral obligation to another organisation or individual.

Offers (other than light refreshment) should be politely refused. Members are required to report all offers of gifts, benefits or hospitality that are offered to them in their role as committee member. A committee may establish a Register of Gifts to provide a high degree of transparency.

Confidential and private information

During their duties, members might have access to sensitive, personal and or commercially confidential information. Such information is varied in form including written information, stored information, e-documents and verbal information.

Such information may only be used for the purposes of the work of the committee. Members are expected to protect the integrity and security of information and documents for which they are responsible and to adhere to the principles of the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998.

Members have an ongoing duty to protect confidential and private information even after they have retired from the committee.

Examples of misuse of official information or documents include:

  • speculating on shares, commodities or property based on confidential information about the affairs of a business or of proposed Government actions
  • seeking to take advantage of another person, for personal reasons, based on information held in official records
  • disclosing sensitive information to members of the public, political parties, clients, lobby groups, other public servants, other government organisations or members of Parliament, without proper authority
  • providing or trading confidential information for use by private investigators, banks and credit agencies.

Members must

  • not use information for any unofficial purpose outside the committee
    use confidential or official information only in relation to their committee role and consistent with their obligation to act impartially
  • be cautious and use sound judgement when discussing sensitive information with others
  • not use information gained in their capacity as a committee member for personal gain
  • not improperly collect, use or disclose the personal information of individuals including community and staff members
  • not use information gained during their committee role to cause harm or detriment to government or any person or organisation.

Release of information

Committees are encouraged to proactively release decisions of their meetings in accordance with the NSW Government’s Open Government policy unless there is an overriding public interest against disclosure.

The Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (GIPA Act) applies to public sector agencies including the boards and committees that meet the definition of public sector agency in the GIPA Act. If an application is made under the GIPA Act to the EPA for information relating to the Committee that the EPA holds, the EPA will determine the application.

Communicating with the media and third parties

Views that are publicly expressed by a member may be perceived or construed by the broader community as views of the committee or the EPA.
Members should ensure that any public comments made in a private capacity are not attributed as official comments by the committee. In this respect, members should not use official stationery for private correspondence or for purposes not related to their official duties.

Members must not:

  • initiate contact with the media on matters or issues that have been subject to discussion by the committee
  • make public comment on behalf of the committee or the EPA
  • share any committee records with the media or on social media that have been identified as confidential.

Speaking up and reporting matters

The EPA can only resolve problems and put improvements in place if people speak up and make the EPA aware of the situation.

The EPA will support people who speak up by listening and providing feedback on the actions they have taken and the reasons for these actions. Speaking up is more likely to be effective if it takes place early and in a constructive, courteous way.

Breach of the code

If a member does not comply with the code, the Chair may direct the member to take a specified action to rectify their conduct or issue a warning. If the Chair is in breach of the code, the relevant NSW EPA contact may take similar relevant actions.

If members of the committee do not adhere to the code of conduct or are seen to display inappropriate ethical standards of behaviour, the EPA may take applicable action.

Any action taken will consider the seriousness of the breach, whether there is a pattern of such conduct, the intent of the member concerned and the effect it is having on the work of the committee.