Tasmanian Times

Economy

Reefgate or reefport?

*Pic: Great Barrier Reef. Lush image from here: HERE

Reefgate should be Malcolm Turnbull’s Watergate, but probably won’t be.

All the ingredients are there for suggesting a massive misuse of public funds.

We have an organisation called the Great Barrier Reef Foundation (GBRF), ostensibly a not-for-profit charity with six full-time staff and a 13-member board with current or background experience as CEOs, directors, presidents and chairs of Esso, BHP, Qantas, Boeing, Queensland Ballet, Suncorp, St George’s Bank, Commonwealth Bank, Goldman Sachs, Origin Energy, AGL Gas, Rio Tinto, Colonial First State, CSIRO institutes, Bond University and the Queensland University, to mention some.

A number of the board members share experience with each other on these various corporate boards, and many of them have held key executive positions with the BCA.

Well that looks all above board, so to speak, doesn’t it? Who else would you have on a charity like GBRF which suddenly gets swamped with $440 million of public funds to save the barrier reef from climate change?

And why else would Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull handball the ‘lotto’ – as GBRF chair Anna Marsden quipped in an understatement of significant proportions – when they hadn’t even bought a ticket in the lottery?

The mainstream media reports that experts in the field of how public funds are meant to be distributed under the guidelines of due process and diligence, which is supposed to include a tender process managed independently from political influence and interference, are ‘baffled’, ‘puzzled’ and even ‘alarmed’ by the facts of the matter.

What can possibly be wrong with the ‘captain’s call’, given that his predecessor Tony Abbott set a neat precedent to be followed when he brought back knight and dames, especially to honour the great Australian, Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh, consort to her Majesty the Queen of Australia?

It is entirely in keeping with being agile and innovative, and entirely egalitarian in its purpose of transferring public funds to those you like and those you know, and all that stuff about making sure the big end of town makes the decisions, so what’s the fuss?

It’s all pretty minor, to say the least. After all, the GBRF was asked to put in an application, or decided to do so, after it had already been given the money, which makes perfect sense. Why apply for something until you get it?

And $440 million is a tidy sum to keep in the bank – which one? – to earn some interest to employ a few more much –needed staff, don’t you reckon?

There are enough financial brains on GBRF to work that one out, so it shouldn’t be too difficult for them to tell us asap how they’re going to spend it all, with all transparency.

Or is that too much to ask?

And where does Adani fit into the picture?

– Peter Henning

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Simon Warriner

    August 18, 2018 at 2:43 am

    Re #6 … The average Australian gets their sense of what they should be concerned about from the mainstream media.

    We have a mainstream media that is a near monopoly as a result of the actions of generations of politicians from our political parties whose sense of public duty has been sold down the river in favor of self interest, a self interest the owners of the monopolised media have made bloody sure to serve well whenever it counts.

    If we want the general public to change, then [i]we[/i] have got to make a concerted effort to encourage the people to kick out the party hacks and replace them with people who can see that a diverse, aggressive and non partisan media is in our national interest, and will better serve the common good.

    We need more Independent politicians. That is where the knot starts to get untangled.

  2. Peter Henning

    August 17, 2018 at 11:27 pm

    #5 … One problem with this abrogation of due process is that the mainstream media is not keen to make too much of it.

    There have been a couple of editorials in Fairfax asking questions, but nothing that is going to grab much public attention.

    The ALP won’t push it very far.

    Ultimately, the issue is whether Australians are interested. My guess is they couldn’t care less.

  3. Russell

    August 17, 2018 at 2:55 pm

    First it’s half a billion dollars to an ‘environmental’ organisation run by miners and bankers.

    Now Malcolm is moving to remove vast swathes of the GBR from being protected.

    Where do Malcolm’s buddies at Adani fit in all of this?

  4. Alison Bleaney

    August 15, 2018 at 6:37 pm

    Well it’s all in the public interest, surely!
    Question is – whose public?

  5. Chris

    August 13, 2018 at 12:39 pm

    ICAC
    I Can Access Cash, and like my charitable donations to myself, I pay no tax on my salary.
    Fizza.

  6. Russell

    August 13, 2018 at 11:59 am

    How can so many people with links to the mining and banking industry be on a ‘charity’ Board … and be gifted HALF A BILLION DOLLARS of OUR money and not even know it was coming?

    The only honourable thing to do would be to give it back.

    ICAC.

  7. philll Parsons

    August 13, 2018 at 11:29 am

    Perhaps Turdbull thought the GBRF was like a Private Ancillary Fund (look it up on the Australian Taxation Office website).

    There you can park your Prime Ministerial salary as a tax deductible gift (donation), then give just 8% to a registered charity (see the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission for a list) and then pay the Fund’s Directors the balance of the money left in tax free Directors’ Fees.

    An audit of any PAF is at the discretion of the ATO.

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