House debates

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Questions without Notice

Great Barrier Reef Foundation

2:37 pm

Photo of Cathy O'TooleCathy O'Toole (Herbert, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the environment minister. Yesterday the minister claimed that administration costs under the reef grant were capped at five per cent. Can the minister confirm that the agreement between the government and the small, private, Brisbane based foundation in fact allows more than $80 million to be spent on administration? Why is this government spending more than $80 million on administration instead of on the reef?

Mr Frydenberg interjecting

2:38 pm

Photo of Melissa PriceMelissa Price (Durack, Liberal Party, Minister for the Environment) Share this | | Hansard source

Thank you for the question. Yesterday I was asked by the member for Watson:

I refer to the government's almost half a billion dollar grant to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation. How much of that money could be spent on administration and scaling-up activities?

I had assumed the member for Watson's somewhat general question initially was asking how much of the $440 million grant—which is a lot of money for the reef, and I'm sure the member would agree—was able to be spent on administration and scaling-up activities. It is five per cent, which is correct. I think it's worthwhile reflecting a bit more broadly on this incredible record grant: up to $200 million for water quality; $57.8 million for crown-of-thorns starfish; up to $100 million for reef restoration and adaption science activities; up to $22.35 million for Indigenous and community reef protection activities; and up to $40 million for reef integrated monitoring and reporting activities.

The total amount of the grant that may be spent on the foundation's administration work, which was what I thought was the question associated with the grant, is $22.5 million, or five per cent. In addition, the foundation may use an amount of interest that it earns on the grant towards administration costs, but this is capped. The maximum amount that the foundation may use for administration, including the interest component, is a total of $44.3 million. So, given the scale of the grant, I think this administration spend is reasonable.

The agreement also allows for the foundation to enter into subcontracts, and schedule 10 of the agreement—

Opposition Members:

Opposition members interjecting

Photo of Melissa PriceMelissa Price (Durack, Liberal Party, Minister for the Environment) Share this | | Hansard source

But I wasn't asked that, so let's be specific. I think it's reasonable for any organisation or anyone—whether they're a non-government organisation or they're a scientist or they're a farmer—that receives funds under the Reef Trust Great Barrier Reef partnership, to have reasonable administration costs.

The Australian public can trust this side of the chamber to look after the reef. They believe that we have the reef's best interests at heart. They don't know what you stand for.