The entire basis the Government gave for it’s half a billion dollar give away to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation has collapsed. 

The reason the Government gave was they repeatedly said that this Foundation was capable of leveraging $80 million or $90 million worth of private money. The Foundation has been claiming $80 million, the Government’s been claiming $90 million. 

The Foundation have recently posted information on their website which states that “64%” of the $90 million they have allegedly raised is “private and corporate philanthropy”. By their own accounting, that would mean their actual fundraising is only around $57 million.

The Government’s Environment department website says that the Foundation has “generated around $80 million from private and philanthropic sources”.

Minister for the Environment Josh Frydenberg has said on ABC Radio that the Foundation has been chosen “Because they are the best organisation to leverage off the private sector. They’ve raised more than $80 million themselves.”
It is clear that the Government has not checked these figures and The Environment Department has not gone through the annual reports to verify these claims. 

The Auditor-General announced yesterday that the $444 million deal will be considered for audit this financial year. Labor welcomes this decision.

Half a billion dollars has been given away on trust and now the Foundation is admitting its private fundraising is lower than people have been led to believe. 

The Foundation has already made clear it intends to keep $44 million for itself for “administration”. That means the Foundation will be spending taxpayers money on administration faster than it has managed to raise corporate donations since its inception.

The Government and the Auditor General need to look into these figures.

It’s clear Malcolm Turnbull is trying to privatise the management of the most precious and fragile environmental asset we have.


Tony Burke