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The Great Barrier Reef Foundation Received $443 Million Grant Without Tender Process

Updated: Jul 17

The Great Barrier Reef Foundation is an organisation whose stated goal is to "regenerate and restore the Great Barrier Reef, building its resilience in the face of major threats."

$443 Million Grant

In June of 2016, the Turnbull Government announced the establishment of a $1 Billion fund towards helping save the Great Barrier Reef. The fund was established to provide 10 years of investment in projects focused on clean energy, reducing emissions and improving water quality.


In 2018 it was announced that $443 Million of this $1 Billion fund was provided to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, an organisation which only had 6 full-time employees at the time. This offer was a complete surprise to the organisation itself, as they did not apply for funding. Furthermore, the government never issued a tender process for the funds nor offer it to any other organisations. According to Michael Smith:

"There was no competitive process at all - and prior to the deal being offered to the GBRF no public servants were involved in negotiations."

Then Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, had stated that the reef had previously been placed on UNESCO's endangered watch list, a list which does not exist. According to a report from the Australian Conservation Foundation, the Federal Government had previously made a commitment to spend $716 million into the Reef 2050 Plan between 2015 and 2020. The purpose of this commitment was to avoid a "World Heritage in Danger" listing for the Great Barrier Reef. Between 2015-2016, the total federal investment in the Reef 2050 Plan had only reached $20.7 Million. By 2016-2017, this had increased to only $44.7 Million. The report went on to state:

"The Government has outsourced most of its investment commitment to Reef 2050 Plan actions to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation. In doing so, it has laden a single not-for-profit organisation with significant organisational scale, expertise and program delivery challenges. In doing so, the Federal Government has put at risk its 2020 investment commitment made to the World Heritage Committee."

According to Michael Hirst from Independent Australia:

"Without the extraordinary gift of funds to the GBRF, the Turnbull Government was never going to meet its obligations to UNESCO."

Australian National Audit Office Investigation

The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) conducted an audit into the award of $443 million to the GBRF. The audit concluded that the advice which informed the offering failed to comply with government rules around such grants designed to ensure transparency and value for money. Three particular areas of insufficiency were also noted:

"capacity and capability of the foundation’s delivery partners to scale-up their activities; foundation’s past fundraising performance; and total administration costs of the partnership model (the department focused on the foundation’s costs, with no evaluation attention given to the administration costs of the foundation’s delivery partners)."

The Great Barrier Reef Foundation's Corporate Partners

According to their Corporate Partners page, the GBRF works "closely with our valued partners to develop a creative, detailed strategy that will get your brand noticed for all the right reasons."


Some of these corporate partners, amongst others, include:

- BHP

- BHP Foundation

- Boeing

- Rio Tinto

- Orica


The Great Barrier Reef Foundation's Chairman's Panel

According to the GBRF's 'Chairman's Panel' page, this panel includes:

- Frank Calabria, Origin

- Ken MacKenzie, BHP

Sources

https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/reefgate-gbrf-plans-to-hold-onto-its-443-million-lottery-win,11771


https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/auscon/pages/5899/attachments/original/1528176466/ACF_Media_Brief_-_Federal_Governent_Investment_in_the_Great_Barrier_Reef.pdf?1528176466


https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-01-16/great-barrier-reef-funding-grant-scrutinised-auditor-general/10720928


https://www.michaelsmithnews.com/2018/08/turnbull-handed-over-nearly-half-a-billion-borrowed-dollars-to-the-private-great-barrier-reef-founda.html


https://www.thechainsaw.com/the-coalition-says-it-will-spend-1-billion-to-save-the-great-barrier-reef-2016-6


https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/aug/08/it-stinks-444m-grant-to-reef-foundation-is-a-scandal-greens-say?CMP=share_btn_fb


https://www.anao.gov.au/work/performance-audit/award-4433-million-grant-to-the-great-barrier-reef-foundation


https://michaelwest.com.au/barrier-reef-grant/


https://www.anao.gov.au/work/performance-audit/award-4433-million-grant-to-the-great-barrier-reef-foundation


https://www.businessinsider.com.au/the-coalition-says-it-will-spend-1-billion-to-save-the-great-barrier-reef-2016-6


https://www.barrierreef.org/what-we-do/about-us


https://www.barrierreef.org/what-we-do/partners/corporate-partners


https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/may/05/great-barrier-reef-foundation-still-well-short-of-fundraising-target-auditor-general-finds

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