Submission to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation Partnership 2050

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Submission to the Inquiry into the Great Barrier Reef 2050 Partnership Program (PDF, 123 KB, 2 July 2018)

The Science Party's submission to this inquiry noted that the earmarking of $444 million dollars to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation (GBRF) was unprecedented; the gifting of a sum this large is usually accompanied by a tendering or grant process. Failing that, the awardee should at least have a strong track record in managing similar dollar amounts.

Shockingly, the GBRF grant does not come close to satisfying any of these requirements. There was no competitive selection process and the grant amount is tens of times larger than the organisation's annual budget. It's also difficult to figure out what the foundation actually does.

We would have liked to have researched the potential conflicts of interest surrounding the GBRF board members, many of whom have strong corporate ties, as well as the capability and suitability of alternative organisations to manage the funds.

Unfortunately for that aim of ours, the timeframe for the enquiry was much shorter than usual, presumably because this is a current matter that is not yet settled (it is our understanding that the funds in question have not yet been transferred to the foundation). If this is the case, then we hope the initiative is put on hold and subjected to further scrutiny before it goes ahead, hopefully in a different format.

The potential harm to the reef if we don't change our trajectory is devastating. To save the health of the reef, it is not enough to just allocate the necessary funding; we must also to spend it wisely. Further, bypassing the usual mechanisms demonstrates a shameful lack of accountability on the government's behalf.

 

NOTE: The deadline for submissions has been extended to 15th August, after which time the parliamentary committee will report on its findings.

 

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[Published: 12 Jul 2018]