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Privatising Reef protection the wrong way to go

Media Release
Peter Whish-Wilson 5 May 2021

The ‘Implementation of the Great Barrier Reef Foundation Partnership’ audit report has confirmed longstanding concerns from the Greens of a dodgy $443.3 million government grant to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation (GBRF).

Greens spokesperson for Healthy Oceans, Senator Peter Whish-Wilson:

“The audit report confirms long-standing concerns relating to the proficiency of the GBRF and its capacity to deliver on the grants objectives.

“The GBRF is essentially a private organisation with no track record in managing large scientific programs.

“The government grant to the GBRF hinged on its capacity to raise funds from philanthropists – which it has categorically failed to deliver.

“This convincingly proves the government’s rationale for providing the GBRF with the grant was a complete farce.

“The GBRF’s lack of transparency surrounding its use of grant funding is of concern. Specifically, the Audit report confirms ‘there has been insufficient use of open and competitive approaches for procurements’.

“The government established this grant to get money out the door quickly to avoid the international embarrassment of a World Heritage ‘In Danger’ Listing due to the rapid decline in the health of the Reef.

“From inception this grant has been a tokenistic distraction from the real action required to save the Reef, which is radical climate action including phasing out fossil fuels and no more new coal mines.

“It’s time for the government to stop passing the buck on protecting our Reef, to take action on the climate crisis, and to properly fund statutory management authorities whose actual job it is to manage the Reef.”
Greens Senator for Queensland, Larissa Waters:
“Protecting and restoring the Great Barrier Reef should never have been privatised and outsourced by the government.
“This is not a model that should be adopted to manage any other natural or public asset.
“The fact remains that the biggest threat to the Reef is the climate crisis, which has already killed 50% of the coral cover of this precious icon.
“Is it any wonder the GBRF is struggling to get investment when donors who care about the Reef can’t trust the government to stand up to the fossil fuel giants killing the Reef?
“The GBRF do not have jurisdiction to address the drivers of the climate crisis – but the federal government does, and should, to save what’s left of the Reef and the 60,000 jobs that depend on it.”

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