Environment secretary welcomes audit of Great Barrier Reef Foundation deal

The Secretary of the Department of Environment and Heritage, Finn Pratt, has written to the Auditor General, Grant Hehir, requesting him to consider undertaking an audit of the Australian Government's Great Barrier Reef Foundation Partnership “as a matter of priority”.

Mr Pratt's letter followed notification that the Australian National Audit Office has identified the Great Barrier Reef Foundation Partnership as a potential audit in its forward work program for 2018-19, which stated that an audit "would examine the Department of the Environment and Energy's design of the Australian Government's $444 million partnership with the Great Barrier Reef Foundation to deliver water quality improvements, crown of thorn starfish control, science for reef restoration, increased community engagement and improved monitoring."

The audit of the design of the partnership model would include “examining governance arrangements to support the effective implementation of programs covered by the partnership."

Mr Pratt said the Department welcomed the Auditor-General's interest in the program and the proposed focus of the audit.

“Given the intense public and media interest over the last few weeks, I consider such an audit has become a priority and ask that you consider approving it going ahead and starting as soon as practicable,” Mr Pratt wrote.

Meanwhile, the Chief Executive of CSIRO, Larry Marshall, has warned in an internal email that was tabled in Parliament that the Great Barrier Reef Foundation (GBRF) was in danger of spending "millions in overheads".

Other tabled documents revealed a range of concerns held by CSIRO staff that the $444 million of funding would not be effectively spent by the Foundation.

The chairman of the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, John Schubert, and two other board members are expected to appear at the Senate inquiry examining the funding grant.