This is the report of the Committee's inquiry into the Great Barrier Reef 2050 Partnership Program, which received $444 million funding in the 2018–19 federal budget, and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, which was commissioned to deliver components of it.

Terms of reference

The 2018–19 Budget measure Great Barrier Reef 2050 Partnership Program, with particular reference to:
(a) the delivery of the Reef 2050 Plan, including through the Great Barrier Reef 2050 Partnership Program and through other avenues;
(b) the proficiency of the Great Barrier Reef Foundation and its capacity to deliver components of the Reef 2050 Plan;
(c) the proficiency of other organisations and their capacity to deliver components of the Reef 2050 Plan;
(d) the process of granting funding to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation for the Great Barrier Reef 2050 Partnership Program, the terms of agreement for funding, and the ongoing administration of funding;
(e) the prior activities and operations of the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, including research, public policy advocacy and fundraising;
(f) the establishment, governance and membership of the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, including the management of conflicts of interest and commercial interests; and
(g) any other related matters.

Structure of the report

This report comprises six chapters, as follows:

  • Chapter 1: The remaining discussion in this chapter provides a background of the issues considered by this inquiry, including the Great Barrier Reef 2050 Partnership Program Budget measure, and the principal stakeholders in the Reef management sector.
  • Chapter 2 looks at the Great Barrier Reef Foundation (the Foundation), its history, governance and fundraising activities, and its funding of research projects and program delivery. It also sets out evidence about the development of the conditions of the Grant Agreement establishing the Foundation Partnership between the Commonwealth and the Foundation.
  • Chapter 3 looks at the available information about the development of the Foundation Partnership measure by the Commonwealth, as well as how the decision to award an unprecedented $444 million was reached. 
  • Chapter 4 sets out the matters raised in evidence received by the committee regarding the probity of the decision to award unprecedented grant funding to the Foundation, the risks of the Foundation's administration of the grant, and shortcomings of the policy in addressing the real causes of damage to the Great Barrier Reef
  • Chapter 5 provides an overview of the Auditor-General's performance audit of the award of the grant to the Foundation; and
  • Chapter 6 sets out the committee's views and recommendations.
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