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Turnbull was outright evasive about probity concerns on Barrier Reef $.5BN foundation grant

The issue isn't whether Turnbull's $.5BN appeared in the budget.

The issue isn't whether this bundling up of 6 years of spending adds up to "the biggest contribution to the Great Barrier Reef - ever".

And it's not whether or not the Great Barrier Reef Foundation is an outstanding organisation.

The issue is the process that led to the grant of almost $.5BN to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, without a tender, without any public consultation and in the pre-decision stage without public servants.

Have a listen to him studiously avoiding it.

 

.@TurnbullMalcolm: The Great Barrier Reef foundation is an outstanding organisation. The allocation of the grant was completely transparent.

MORE: https://t.co/kganacdTHH #newsday #auspol pic.twitter.com/irtsAKSI2R

 

Turnbull is skating on very thin ice when he says, "It's in the budget, it was considered by the parliament, it's in legislation so it's gone through the parliament".

That's just misleading and deceptive rubbish.

The budget and its supply bills were considered by the parliament - not the process for selecting the GBRF to receive $500M now.

Here's the relevant explanatory reference in the budget papers for Frydenberg's deparment:

http://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/0349e89d-e187-415e-8568-8561177f3591/files/2018-19-pbs.pdf

The Department is implementing the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan in partnership with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the Queensland Department of the Environment and Energy  to protect and manage the Great Barrier Reef.

The Australian Government has significantly boosted investment in Reef protection activities, providing an additional $500.0 million over seven years from 2017-18 and $10.2 million ongoing from 2024-25. This investment builds on the funding boost for Reef protection measures agreed in the 2017-18 Mid-Year and Economic and Fiscal Outlook.

Note the lead-in talks about partnership with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and Queensland Government.  Then the $.5BN is presented as government spending taking place over 7 years.  It's not.  It's off the government's books this financial year, as a grant to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.

There's no explanation in the main budget papers on the issue of the "partnership" with the Great Barrier Reef Foundation - nor the fact that it's the recipient of the $.5BN up front - now!

In 2018- 19, the Department will focus efforts on the partnership with the Great Barrier Reef Foundation to deliver further water quality improvements, Crown of Thorns Starfish control, science for reef restoration, increased community engagement and improved monitoring. 

To get even close to the truth, forget about Frydenberg's main budget papers with their misleading "spending over 7 years" commentary.

The accounting truth is hidden away in the supplementary estimates statements.

http://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/deaea16e-6d98-4004-90b9-da78c1dc9750/files/2017-18-psaes.pdf

DEPARTMENT OF THE ENVIRONMENT AND ENERGY Overview of additional appropriations The Department of the Environment and Energy is receiving a net increase in appropriations in 2017-18 of $6.6 billion. As part of the Great Barrier Reef 2050 Partnership Program, the Department is receiving additional funding of $443.8 million in 2017-18 to support a Reef Trust partnership with the Great Barrier Reef Foundation. This funding will support water quality improvements, crown-of-thorn starfish control, science for reef restoration, community and Indigenous engagement in Reef protection, and improved Reef monitoring and reporting. This forms part of a measure that will continue to 2022-23. Details are reported in the 2018-19 Portfolio Budget Statements.

Here's the Turnbull/GBRF loot - all of it handed over this year.

Screen Shot 2018-08-03 at 11.26.25 pm

The explanatory notes are misleading here too:

(a) This measure provides a total of $500.0 million over seven years from 2017-18 with $10.2 million ongoing from 2024-25 to the Environment and Energy Portfolio. Full details are reported in Table 1.2 of the 2018-19 Portfolio Budget Statements

The taxpayer isn't providing that money over 7 years.  We've already done it, this financial year.

And all of that so Turnbull can make his vanity statement "The biggest ever investment in the Great Barrier Reef's History".

If Turnbull thinks this all about his legacy he's probably right.  

He's right up there with the dodgiest of Rudd and Gillard's antics. 

 

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