MEDIA RELEASE - THE REEFGATE SAGA SO FAR - THURSDAY, 2 AUGUST 2018
THE HON TONY BURKE MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT AND WATER
SHADOW MINISTER FOR CITIZENSHIP AND MULTICULTURAL AUSTRALIA
SHADOW MINISTER FOR THE ARTS
MANAGER OF OPPOSITION BUSINESS
MEMBER FOR WATSON
THE REEFGATE SAGA SO FAR
On April 29 the Turnbull Government announced the largest donation of taxpayers money to a private foundation in history. Half a billion dollars was given to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation instead of going to government agencies including the CSIRO, the Environment Department and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.
During public hearings this week the following facts have emerged.
There was no tender process for the donation and the foundation never applied for the money.
The Prime Minister was present at the meeting with the foundation and he personally told the chair, Dr John Schubert about the donation. It appears no public servants were present.
Before receiving the donation the budget for the foundation was only $10 million and it only employed six full time staff.
Dr Schubert is a member of the Business Council of Australia and previously a mining executive.
The Government and the Foundation have yet to finalise all the terms of the contract which now govern the half a billion dollars of taxpayers’ money. The negotiations for the contract only began after the money had been announced and committed by the government.
The government has already transferred all $444 million to the foundation and the public funds are now sitting in term deposits in banks associated with the foundation.
The Chair of the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, Dr John Schubert, has previously declined four dates offered to him to appear before the Senate Inquiry
The members who run the private foundation include executives from the major banks and mining companies. This means the CSIRO and the GBRMPA will need permission from the banks and miners if they seek extra funding.
The foundation has acknowledged the biggest threats to the reef include climate change and land clearing. The foundation has made clear none of its work goes to act against climate change or land clearing.
All the probity checks and balances which ordinarily apply to expenditure by government agencies will not apply to spending decisions made by the foundation.
Effectively half a billion dollars of taxpayers’ money has been given away without process, probity or policy justification.
The future of the reef should not be determined behind closed doors by Mr Turnbull’s mates.
Labor will continue to pursue this through the Senate Inquiry process and all other avenues available to the opposition.
THURSDAY, 2 AUGUST 2018