Half-a-billion dollar Reef rort on shaky foundations

11 July 2020

Less than seven per cent of The Great Barrier Reef Foundation’s private sector funding goal has been reached, blowing Scott Morrison’s justification for giving the foundation almost half a billion dollars out of the tropical water.
 
The Morrison Government must now come clean on why their Reef Rort funds have failed to deliver on their promises. 
 
While Scott Morrison was Treasurer the Liberal-National Government outrageously gave $444 million to The Great Barrier Reef Foundation, a tiny and ill-equipped organisation, in a dodgy backroom deal without tender in 2018. 

The Auditor General found the government had failed to comply with rules designed to ensure transparency and value for money on these Reef Rort funds.
 
And the Auditor found that the administration costs associated with the grant could be more than $86 million.
 
The Government’s justification for this dodgy backroom deal was that the Reef Foundation would be able to secure money from the private sector.
 
Two years on, we’ve learned that only $21.7 million (in in-kind support, not cash) of the $357 million goal has been secured.
 
It is deeply concerning that almost two years after receiving almost half a billion dollars of public money, without a tender, in a dodgy backroom deal from Scott Morrison, there is no clear detail on the funds raised from the private sector.

This is embarrassing for the Prime Minister.

He must demand his hand-picked foundation be open and transparent with the Australian people about how, and if, it will deliver on its promises of more money for the Reef.
 
The Liberals and Nationals’ record on the Great Barrier Reef is a disgrace. 
 
Three devastating bleaching events in five years and Reef Outlook reports which have downgraded the Reef’s condition from poor to very poor show the need for immediate action, not just dodgy backroom deals which cost Australians $444 million.
 
After seven years of rorts, inaction and mismanagement, the Reef is going backwards on the Morrison Government’s watch and it’s clear they have no plan to fix it.