Great Barrier Reef (GBR) Foundation, a non-profit organization with just handful of staff, has achieved the largest environmental grants in the history of Australia, without a legitimate tender process.
A week earlier the declaration of the Australian government budgets, the federal body has made an announcement of granting $444 million to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation to deal with crown-of-thorns starfish, eliminating pollution into the reef and take measures to lessen the impact of climate change.
But on Monday, questions arose whether a non-profit organization is able to handle the administering of a grant which is 45 times more than its annual budget, with the staff of 6 permanent employees and 4 part-time employees.
The bureaucrats of Environment Department amid the Senate estimates hearings, said, there was no legitimate competitive process of tender executed to identify that who is the deserving organization to grants the record funds.
Instead, the non-profit organization, which has referred the windfall as like winning a lottery, was selected by the federal government without any concerns if they desire the money and how they are planning to spend it to accomplish the purpose.
Officials asked why the fund to safeguard the Great Barrier Reef was granted to a non-profit organization which has just handful of employees but has the backing of corporates instead of agencies like the “Marine Park Authority” which is run by the government.
Peter Whish-Wilson, Greens Senator, told the hearing, “There are enough places we could have been granted the money where we could have effective control over it.”
Peter Whish-Wilson also targeted the close link of the foundation with corporate Australia, pointing some of the chairpersons of the foundation were part of big polluting industries.
Stephen Oxley, Bureaucrat, Environment Department, said, “It is not just the foundation which is going to be providing it.” He said, “This would bring investment other than the fund granted by the government from external sources, as it is a philanthropic foundation.”