Picture the scene: three men in a room, two of them offering the third the deal of a lifetime. The pair say they will give the man’s little outfit – which has assets of only about $3 million, turnover of less than $8 million and just a handful of staff – a $444 million contract, under terms yet to be negotiated. The offer comes out of a clear blue sky, totally unsolicited by the lucky recipient. For this little organisation, it is like winning the lottery, except they didn’t even buy a ticket. Such a deal would have been exceptional even if the pair making the offer had been, say, investment bankers, and the third man the head of a tech start-up.

But they weren’t. Two of them were the prime minister of Australia and his environment minister, and the third was the chairman of a charitable organisation called the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.

The question is why it was done this way. Why solicit this little organisation, of which most people would never have heard, to be the recipient of the biggest such grant ever made in Australia? Mike Seccombe reports.

Plus: Sean Kelly on crises and political inaction, Karen Middleton on the accusations of collusion between the federal and South Australian governments over the Murray-Darling royal commission, and Lisa Martin on the bipartisan effort to help Bangladesh’s Rohingya refugees …

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The Saturday Paper