Wednesday, 15 August 2018
Questions without Notice
Great Barrier Reef Foundation
My question is to the environment minister. How can the minister claim there was extensive due diligence before offering the foundation almost half a billion dollars when the government didn't contact the foundation, didn't go through all of its annual reports, didn't know how much money the foundation has raised and, as has been revealed today—
Government members interjecting—
The Manager of Opposition Business will just pause for a second. Members on my right will crease interjecting. I would like to ask the Manager of Opposition Business to repeat his question. Members on my right expect me to hear the questions, particularly when the Leader of the House raises points of order on them. Manager of Opposition Business, please start again.
The question is to the environment minister. How can the government claim there was extensive due diligence before offering the foundation almost half a billion dollars when the government didn't contact the foundation, didn't go through all its annual reports and didn't know how much money the foundation had raised, and, as has been revealed today, the foundation has now had to contract out its fundraising plan to a consultant, which was the very issue that the government had claimed was its core expertise?
Well, that fundraising expertise must have been the reason the Labor Party welcomed the announcement of half a billion dollars when we did it—thanks to the member for Sydney. That fundraising expertise must be the reason the member for Watson gave $12½ million when he was last in government. That must be the reason the member for Grayndler has called the foundation a reputable organisation. Always rely on the member for Grayndler for a timely intervention!
As I have told the House previously, there was due diligence conducted by my department. In the first phase of due diligence they looked at its governance, its structure, its constitution, its project management, its fundraising history, its capacity for growth, its board composition and its science expertise. In the second phase of due diligence, which then informed their final recommendation to me, which I signed off on 20 June under section 71 of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act—
Mr Dreyfus interjecting—
they made it very clear that they looked at the corporate information, the financial report, compliance with applicable laws, litigation, property searches and ASIC checks of the foundation directors, and they engaged the Australian Government Solicitor.
We've got to go back to the reason the Labor Party are raising this issue at this time. It's because when they were in office they put the reef on the path to the endangered list. And I want to read from a 2012 statement from the World Heritage Committee:
… in the absence of substantial progress, the possible inscription of the property on the List of the World Heritage in Danger …
We know that the Labor Party had five capital dredge disposal projects planned for the marine park, and we know about the good work of my predecessor, who actually banned those dredge disposal projects and the ones going forward. Through the good work of my predecessor, we put in place a $2 billion Reef 2050 Plan with the Queensland government. We know that this half a billion dollars has been welcomed, including by the Queensland Premier and the Queensland Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef, who in a joint statement with me on 20 July said about the $500 million:
with the work we're doing with the $2 billion Reef 2050 long-term sustainability plan—
will be bolstered by the recent investment of an additional $500 million in the Great Barrier Reef by the Australian government …
So there we have it: a Labor Queensland Premier saying that this $500 million will bolster our efforts.
We have the member for Grayndler saying that it's a reputable organisation, we have the member for Sydney welcoming the announcement that was made, and we have the member for Watson giving money to the same foundation when they were in office. Talk about hypocrisy: thy name is the Labor Party. (Time expired)