In the media

Barrier Reef charity gets $444 million grant – is something fishy?

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has been accused of making a ‘fishy’ deal after giving $444 million to a small Great Barrier Reef charity, even though no environmental officials were at the meeting.

A Senate Committee has said that the government has not followed the proper grant process and the opposition has said that the PM must come clean on the deal, questioning the foundation heads having mining and banking backgrounds.

Josh Frydenberg, the Federal Environment Minister, defended the funding decision and said the Government had been “completely open”.

“We have a comprehensive set of arrangements with the foundation to ensure that the Queensland [and] federal governments and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority are involved in the investment decisions and consulted, and indeed the foundation is made up of some of the most eminent scientists who understand the reef and the challenges it faces,“ he said.

My view is that this is a very large sum of money to be given to a single entity, for reef management.

I also question whether this money was well spent, considering that there is a severe drought that is threatening our agricultural industry, which had a gross value of $63 billion in 2016-2017, and our farmers are still in need of Federal Government help. Going by that figure, Australia’s economy would be ruined if we lost our agricultural industry.

While I believe the Great Barrier Reef is a fundamental part of our tourism industry, its economic value to Australia, according to the Deloitte Institute, is only valued at $6.4 billion per year.

The government has some tough decisions to make and money needs to be spent wisely if both our agricultural and tourism industries are to survive. It is certainly a balancing act.

Image: ABC