Reef boss left out of grant due diligence
Posted on 09/13/18 6:52 PM
The federal government is pushing back at Labor over its grant to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.The head of a reef foundation handed $444 million in taxpayer funds says she wasn’t aware the federal government was conducting due diligence on the charity.
Great Barrier Reef Foundation managing director Anna Marsden says no-one from the government contacted her – or anyone else in the foundation – about this.
“I wasn’t (contacted). I wasn’t aware that the diligence process was underway, no,” she told ABC radio on Monday.
Asked if anyone else in the foundation was contacted, she replied: “No.”
But Ms Marsden did say the foundation had to “do an application” after it had learned in April it was getting the money.
The government is under mounting pressure over its decision to grant the funds to the foundation without a competitive tender process.
Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg has defended the process, pointing to what he called “extensive due diligence” to ensure the foundation was best placed to receive the funds.
Ms Marsden said she’d heard some details about the due diligence process while listening to a Senate inquiry looking into the grant.
“I’m certainly told – and I heard department officials in the inquiry hearing – say that they undertook significant diligence on the foundation,” she replied on ABC radio.
Ms Marsden said the foundation learned on April 9 it would receive the money and “afterwards we had to do an application”.
That was the day she and foundation chair John Schubert attended a private meeting with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Mr Frydenberg and his Environment Department secretary Finn Pratt.
“We had to certainly demonstrate value for money and our track record,” she said of the retrospective application.
Ms Marsden said questions about the process were for the government to answer.
“We’ve been told time and time again that the process that we followed is an absolutely correct process. There’s a Senate inquiry. There will be outcomes from that.”