Scott Morrison has today admitted in The Australian newspaper that he is responsible for the decision to grant almost half a billion dollars in taxpayers’ money to a small private foundation in one hit.
The Government transferred every single dollar of almost a half billion dollars of taxpayers’ money to a small private foundation, the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, on 28 June 2018.
It’s reported that Mr Morrison said this “made financial sense to consider doing this investment in one instalment.”
This is despite reports that the Department of Finance instead recommended the Budget allocation to protect the Reef be set at $200 million over six years.
This one-off transfer of almost half a billion dollars also costs the Australian taxpayer at least $11 million in public debt interest every year because the entire amount of the grant is already sitting in the Foundation’s bank accounts.
Scott Morrison still hasn’t answered whether any due diligence was done on the Foundation for a grant of $443.3 million, and not a smaller grant amount, before Malcolm Turnbull and the now Treasurer offered it almost half a billion dollars of taxpayers’ money in a closed door meeting on 9 April 2018.
It’s also reported today that Scott Morrison said about the Reef grant “There is no impediment for government organisations like the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, or the CSIRO, being funded for projects as part of this process”.
Under the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government, we now have a situation where if one of these expert Government agencies wants to use some of this Commonwealth grant money, it first has to apply to a small private foundation.
By privatising the management of Australia’s most precious and fragile environmental asset, money which could have been spent on the Reef is instead spent on administration. The agreement between the Environment Department and the Foundation allows the Foundation to spend up to $44 million of the grant money on its own administration.
Labor is committed to protection of the Great Barrier Reef.
A Shorten Labor Government will terminate the grant agreement between the Environment Department and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation and demand the Foundation return unspent funds to taxpayers. All recovered funds will be invested in the Great Barrier Reef via Government agencies.