The Great Barrier Reef Foundation and the
$444 million Foundation Partnership
This chapter provides an overview of the Foundation, including its
history, funding, activities and governance. It then considers how the
Foundation was approached by the Commonwealth Government on 9 April 2018 to
establish a $444 million partnership and the process, including setting
out how the basic terms of the agreement were negotiated and agreed over the
This chapter then provides a summary of how the $444 million Partnership
Agreement was finalised between the Commonwealth and the Foundation, before
looking at the terms and conditions of the agreement itself.
The Great Barrier Reef Foundation
The Foundation is a public company limited by guarantee that is a
registered charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission
(ACNC). According to the Foundation's website, it is an organisation that:
...exists to ensure a Great Barrier Reef for future
generations. We seek out the solutions and innovations that will
also benefit coral reefs globally as they tackle the same
threats and challenges facing the world's largest coral reef.
We are the lead charity dedicated to protecting the
Great Barrier Reef through funding solutions grounded in science,
technology, engineering and on-ground action to ensure their long-term
On its origins and work, the Foundation's website states that it:
...was established in 1999 following the first mass coral
bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef in 1998, and in alignment with the United
Nations World Heritage Convention encouraging countries with world heritage
sites to establish a national foundation with the purpose of inviting donations
for their protection.
We lead the collaboration of business, science, government
and philanthropy–groups who would not otherwise come together–for the benefit
of the Reef. Our success is due to the quality of institutions and people
we bring together–harnessing advances in science, technology and industry to
ensure a future for this global treasure.
Ms Anna Marsden, Managing Director of the Foundation, told the committee
that Sir Sydney Schubert, who was a founding director of the Great Barrier Reef
Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), was the instigator of the organisation. She
suggested that Sir Schubert had 'called a meeting of business people and the
heads of various marine institutions...in an airport lounge' to form a charity to
raise money and drive collaboration in the Reef sector.
Following the committee's hearing of 30 July 2018, the Foundation
provided further details on its origins:
In November 1999, the Great Barrier Reef Research Foundation
was registered as a company with the following founding directors:
Sir Sydney Schubert, Sir Ian Mcfarlane, John B Reid and David
It is our understanding that Sir Sydney Schubert's idea for
forming the Foundation was to create a charity to bring science and business
together with a common purpose of protecting the Great Barrier Reef.
The Foundation is an independent entity registered with and regulated by
the ACNC and governed by a Board of Directors. Its website states:
Our Board comprises representatives of Australian business,
science and philanthropy, reflecting the charter to bring all sectors together
for the benefit of the Great Barrier Reef.
The Board oversee the role of the Managing Director and has
the job of ensuring all activities are directed towards securing the funds
needed to support research to protect and restore the Great Barrier Reef. And
importantly, these research outcomes must help and inform the Reef managers.
The board is currently chaired by Dr John Schubert AO, who was appointed
chairman in 2004. Positions previously held by Dr Schubert include Chairman and
Managing Director of Esso Australia, Managing Director and Chief Executive
Officer of Pioneer International Limited, President of the Business Council of
Australia, and Chairman of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.
The Foundation has established an International Science Advisory
Committee (ISAC). The ISAC is an advisory body that assists the Foundation with
'the selection, development and implementation of significant research projects
with the Foundation's partners'. Members of ISAC include representatives from
GBRMPA, the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), University of
Queensland, James Cook University and CSIRO. ISAC is currently chaired by
Professor Paul Greenfield AO.
The Foundation also has established a Chairman's Panel (the Panel). This
is a group of chief executives and chairs of Australian and global companies.
According to the Foundation, the Panel 'offers the opportunity for employees
and stakeholders of companies involved in the Chairman's Panel to learn about
the Reef and the efforts to protect it'. The Foundation benefits from this
arrangement through the 'personal and organisational expertise' provided by
Panel members, as well as the provision of 'infrastructure, skills and
resources of member companies'.
Members of the Panel pay an annual membership fee of $20 000.
Corporate partners also provide support to the Foundation by providing a
range of services without charge. In 2017, pro bono services valued at around
$830 000 were provided to the Foundation.
The committee understands that the Foundation sets aside around 47 per
cent of the membership fee paid by members of the Chairman's Panel for events
for its members and scientists, including retreats at luxury resorts. The
Foundation provided information on the role of the Panel and stated it has no
influence on the selection or oversight of Foundation activities, which is the
responsibility of the ISAC.
As part of the Partnership Agreement, the Foundation established the
Partnership Management Committee (PMC) to oversee the $444 million grant,
including its investment and oversight of its progress over the six-year
funding term. The PMC is chaired by Mr John Gunn AO, the former chair of AIMS,
and Mr Steven Sargent, 'a leading executive from the Australian
corporate sector where he has held senior roles in mining technology, energy
and finance'. Other members of the PMC are:
...internationally-renowned and respected marine scientist
Prof. Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, former Queensland Chief Scientist Dr Geoff Garrett
AO, former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Queensland
Dr Paul Greenfield AO, Far North Queensland tourism expert
Wendy Morris, distinguished Yuku Baja Muliku woman from Cape York Cr
Larissa Hale, Executive Director of Projects and Partnerships at the Great
Barrier Reef Foundation Theresa Fyffe, Australian Government representative
from the Department of Environment and Energy
Deb Callister and Queensland Government representative from
the Office of the Great Barrier Reef, Elisa Nichols.
Budget and fundraising activities
The Foundation's most recent annual report states that, in the 2017
calendar year, it had revenue of $7.7 million and distributed around $5.2
million in funding for Reef projects, and had an operating deficit of $1.3
million. The annual report also indicated that the Foundation had six full-time
employees, and five part-time employees.
According to the Foundation, it has raised $90 million since it was
established, as follows:
$58.87 million from the corporate and philanthropic
$3.28 million from other sources such as interest and research
$4.74 million from the corporate sector for pro bono and in kind
$29.71 million from government sources, including $22.35 million
from the Australian Government and $7.36 million from the Queensland
The Foundation informed the committee in response to a question on
notice, that Board members have contributed a total of $1 337 200 in their
The committee understands that the Foundation has received three
Commonwealth grants for projects, as outlined in the department's submission:
$12.5 million for the Resilient Reefs Successfully Adapting to
Climate Change research program (2013–14 to 2016–17);
$2.3 million for the e-Reefs modelling and reporting tool
$5 million for restoration and conservation of Reef Islands
2022–23) (approved but not yet contracted).
On its administration costs, the Foundation stated that it 'strives to
keep our administration and fundraising costs low—80 cents in every dollar goes
to Reef projects'.
Work undertaken by the Foundation
The Foundation told the committee that its projects to research and
manage the Reef range from micro-scale activities ($10 000) to large-scale
projects up to $35 million. These 'cover a range of activities, including
foundational scientific research, the development of tools for reef managers,
and on-ground conservation activities'.
The 2017 Annual Report outlines a number of new projects for the
Foundation clustered under the themes of 'innovation, resilience and
restoration'. This included the establishment of a project for 'Reef
Restoration and Adaptation':
There was unanimous support through the International Science
Advisory Committee (ISAC), the Chairman's Panel, our board and our team that
the flagship project for the Foundation for the next decade will centre around
Reef Restoration and Adaptation. From a small idea presented at a Chairman's
Panel event in 2016, this concept has evolved into what will become the largest
and most ambitious marine science and engineering challenge ever undertaken in
Australia. The goal is simple: to rebuild the reefs we have lost and to build
them stronger in the process. Significant work was undertaken in 2017 to
socialise this concept to leaders across government, research and industry
which has led to a fully funded definition phase commencing in 2018.
The 2017 Annual Report also commented on a number of smaller pilot
projects. The report described these projects in the following terms:
It remains a constant message from our ISAC members to always
be open to bright, new, out of the box thinking, and to have the courage to
invest in these riskier projects because any one of them could hold the turning
point in its process and solution. Even at pilot stage, projects such as
RangerBot and Larval Reseeding have changed the landscape and provided a step
change in reef management.
The Director's report for 2017 drew attention to the way in which the
Reef is discussed and stated that it had reached 'a turning point' and that the
Foundation would work in a number of public advocacy spaces to disseminate not
only the challenges facing the reef, but also the positive benefits that could
come from scientific research and conservation actions. The report stated:
The loss of coral and the negative impacts of water quality
and climate change have been well documented—everyone has heard the bad news.
And while the seriousness of these threats cannot be denied, there is growing
evidence that material improvements in the outlook of species and ecosystems
are possible through a combination of scientific research and conservation
actions. There is good news to share alongside the bad. However when people
don't know or hear enough about the good news, we are at risk of the world
seeing the challenge of saving the Reef as being too hard and therefore
switching off–akin to a 'learned helplessness'.
We recognise the Foundation has an increasingly powerful role
to play as a trusted, independent voice for the Reef. To bring hope to the
outlook for the Reef, to tell the world that Australia does care about the Reef
and that Australians are doing everything they can to save it.
Approval of $5 million funding for
the Foundation in early April 2018
As noted above, the Foundation has received Commonwealth grants. As part
of the Reef Trust Phase VI Investment, the Foundation sought a grant of $5
million. Documents released by the department under FOI requests include a
brief signed on 6 April 2018 by Minister for the Environment
approving the grant. The approval provided funding to the Foundation 'for a
co-investment project from 2018–19 to 2022–23 to rehabilitate and conserve Reef
islands, as an ad-hoc grant from the Reef Trust Special Account'.
Supporting documents for this brief indicate that the Foundation would
'match the Reef Trust contribution of up to $5 million...over five years, with
funds raised from philanthropic and private donors'. This would form part of
the Foundation's Reef Island Refuge Initiative, which it was undertaking in partnership
with the Queensland Government.
According to the brief, this funding was awarded following the success
of the $7.95 million Raine Island rehabilitation project delivered by the
Foundation. The new grant would enable 'on-ground restoration and conservation
works for terrestrial or main island ecosystems, commencing in 2018–19',
focussing on particular islands identified by stakeholders as of the 'highest
ecological value/greatest need to target'.
The brief also notes that the sensitivities and risks of investing in
projects with the Foundation were low, as it had 'a successful track record for
implementation of Reef projects [and is] an experienced fundraiser of private a
The brief is supported by attachments, including a 12-page departmental
proposal for the project, an eight-page outline of guidelines for the grant,
and a four-page project assessment.
Attachment D is a one-page 'Justification for use of
non-competitive grants process', which calls the project an 'Island Restoration
Partnership'. This cites a number of positive elements of the Foundation's
track record, particularly that it is the 'only current provider currently
capable of delivering this grant funded activity and able to leverage a
significant co-contribution to the project', and that the grant met all Public
Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act) and
Commonwealth grant requirements.
Positive reputation of the
In evidence received by the committee, the Foundation was recognised as
a significant organisation working in the Reef-related sector, even by some
stakeholders who disagreed with the approach adopted in the Foundation
While noting it did not have the staffing or capacity of organisations
such as GBRMPA, the Australian Coral Reef Society stated that the Foundation
has 'a good record of fundraising for the reef and of corporate engagement, and
it has an expert scientific panel of sound repute'.
Cape York Regional Organisations (CYROs) noted the Foundation's good
reputation and work. The CYROs considered that it had the 'proficiency and
capacity to deliver components of the Reef 2050 Plan', and supported
Commonwealth funding for the Foundation Partnership.
Others noted that the Foundation had the capability to expand its
capacity, develop due processes to ensure rigour of its funding decision, and
administer Commonwealth funding effectively while attracting private investment
in the Reef.
The approach to the Foundation for the $444 million Partnership
It is clear from the evidence received that the Foundation itself was
unaware of the proposal for a $444 million Partnership until the meeting in
Sydney on 9 April 2018 with the then Prime Minister and then Minister
for the Environment. The department summarised this meeting as follows:
On 9 April 2018, following approval from the Expenditure
Review Committee, the Foundation was approached to ascertain its interest in
establishing the Partnership. There was a meeting between Prime Minister
Turnbull, Minister Frydenberg and Dr John Schubert, Chair of the Foundation. At
this meeting, Dr Schubert confirmed the Foundation's interest in developing the
partnership. The partnership offer was conditional on the approval of the grant
under the Commonwealth financial framework including further due diligence
assessment and the negotiation of a satisfactory Grant Agreement.
The Foundation confirmed that it had not been aware of the proposal to
award it a $444 million grant before this meeting. Ms Marsden told the
I'd like to state for the record that the foundation did not
suggest or make any application for this funding. We were first informed of
this opportunity to form a partnership with Reef Trust on 9 April of this
year...We were informed that there was an allocation being announced in the
upcoming federal budget and that they would like to invite the foundation to
form a partnership with Reef Trust to distribute these funds across five
component areas of the Reef 2050 plan.
...We didn't know ahead of the meeting what it was for, but,
once we were in the meeting, [the discussion of the partnership] was the sole
purpose of the meeting...
On the unexpected nature of the grant, Ms Marsden commented to the media
that the award of such significant funding was like 'winning the lottery', and
that the Foundation 'didn't have much time before the announcement to be
prepared for it'.
She provided some context to that statement at the committee's 30 July 2018
The way I explained it to the journalist at the time is there
are moments in life when there are things you want to do, and there are moments
in life when there are things you can dream of doing. For all of us who work in
the reef space in the last 2½ years we've seen that we've lost half the coral
on the Great Barrier Reef. It has been a very sobering, challenging time, with
people struggling to deal with this and not knowing how to get out of where we
are and how to get the change that's required. When someone is down and they
win the lotto, suddenly they can dream and they can do the things that they
dream of doing. That is how I felt, and I stand behind that. I think the reef
won the lotto. It got a strong, strategic, sustained amount of funding to do
some work that it desperately needs.
The Secretary of the department, Mr Finn Pratt AO PSM, confirmed that he
had not been present at the meeting to discuss the Partnership Grant proposal.
He reiterated that the offer made to the Foundation on 9 April 2018 was
contingent on the grant being approved under the Commonwealth financial
framework, due diligence checks and the successful negotiation of the agreement
This was not an unconditional offer, and was subject to (1)
the grant being approved under the Commonwealth financial framework, (2) due
diligence checks and (3) the parties successfully negotiating and executing a
Development of Collaboration Principles for the Partnership
Following the approach made by Mr Turnbull and Mr Frydenberg to the
Foundation on 9 April 2018, the department and the Foundation commenced
development of 'Collaboration Principles' to help guide the development of the
grant. Information provided to the committee indicates that these were drafted
in 'little more than a week' before they were sent to the Foundation on 22
April 2018 by the Minister. The Collaboration Principles were confirmed by the
Foundation Board on the 26 April 2018.
The timeline provided to the House of Representatives by the then Minister
confirms the speed at which the measure was developed following the initial
meeting. The Minister noted that over the two weeks following the meeting on 9
April 2018 'the department
worked with the foundation to develop the fundamental principles of the
partnership, which included governance, decision-making, risk mapping,
reporting, financial management and other things'.
The Minister, in his letter of 22 April to the Foundation, stated that:
I look forward to the Foundation confirming its intent to
progress negotiations with a view to the parties agreeing a new grant agreement
that establishes a productive partnership for the delivery of positive outcomes
for our Great Barrier Reef. The formal offer of any Australian Government funds
for this proposed new partnership is dependent on the parties successfully
negotiating and executing that new grant agreement.
The Collaboration Principles attached to this letter are outlined in a
document just over two pages long, covering the basic terms of the agreement.
Notably, it includes an outline of the approach to stakeholder engagement that
the Foundation Partnership should adopt, as follows:
2.9. Implementation of the grant will require close
collaboration in the design and delivery of Reef investment activities with
relevant Government agencies, key advisory bodies (e.g. Independent Expert
Panel and Reef Advisory Committee), delivery partners and technical experts.
2.10. Consideration will need to be given to the interaction
and roles of key advisory bodies in providing strategic advice and input into
investment proposals. Arrangements will need to be practical and effective in
delivering the best available scientific and expert advice. Advice will not be
required to be sought from advisory bodies on individual project investments,
unless the Foundation wishes to do so on a case by case basis.
The Collaboration Principles also briefly state the risks for the
2.11. The rapid increase in operational scale for the
Foundation poses significant capacity, governance and capability challenges.
The Department and GBRMPA have capacity to assist the Foundation during the
start-up phase, for example the potential secondment of staff to the
2.12. The start-up phase could potentially delay delivery of
on-ground projects, leading to loss of local capacity and momentum. The
Department has capacity to assist the Foundation to implement transition
arrangements while organisational capacity is being increased.
2.13. Activities funded through the Foundation will include
on-ground or 'in-water' works (e.g. diving) with inherent safety risks. The
Foundation will be required to ensure it has appropriate arrangements to manage
any WHS risks that arise from the funding activities.
On 29 April, the Government announced its funding commitment and it was
included in the 2018–19 Budget on 8 May 2018. On 24 May 2018, 'consistent with
the government's grant guidelines', the Minister for the Environment approved
the partnership guidelines, outlining the necessary requirements to be included
in the Foundation's application, which were published on the Minister's
website. On 29 May 2018, the Foundation formalised its proposal.
Ms Marsden described the process by which the Foundation engaged in
discussions with the department to develop the Collaboration Principles:
Following [the meeting], I had a conversation with the
secretary of the department, and we convened a teleconference with assistant
secretaries of the department the next day to, I guess, unpack the different
components, the intent of the funding and what would be the next steps if the
foundation were to accept and enter into such a partnership.
...What happened over the subsequent week was that there were a
number of conversations where we came together on a series of collaboration
principles. Then, once they were determined, we brought those to our board.
Once they were approved, there was an exchange of letters between the minister
and the chairman which cemented the agreement to enter into a partnership.
Approval of the grant
The Grant Guidelines released by the department on 31 May 2018 provided
that the department and the Foundation would work collaboratively to develop a
Grant Funding Proposal (the proposal). The proposal informed departmental
recommendations to the Minister and the development of the proposed Grant
Agreement with the Foundation.
The Foundation provided the department with a 400-page proposal on
29 May 2018. The department concluded that the proposal met Grant
Guidelines, and would be consistent with requirements for expenditure of
Commonwealth funds under the PGPA Act and the Commonwealth Rules and
Guidelines. The grant to the Foundation of $443.8 million (excluding GST) was
approved by Mr Frydenberg as Minister for the Environment on 20 June 2018:
...in accordance with s 71 of the PGPA Act as a one-off, ad hoc
grant from the Reef Trust Special Account to the Foundation, subject to the
passage of the Appropriation Bill (No. 5) 2017–18 through Parliament.
In approving this expenditure the Minister was satisfied that
the funding proposal represented a proper use (i.e. an efficient, effective,
economical and ethical use) of Commonwealth funds.
The department noted that:
On 25 June 2018 Appropriation Bill (No. 5) 2017–18 received
Royal Assent and on 27 June 2018 the Grant Agreement between the Department and the Foundation was executed. The
Grant Agreement runs from the period from 1 July 2018 until 30 June 2024.
The Grant Agreement
The Grant Agreement executed on 27 June 2018 between the Commonwealth
and the Foundation is available in full on the department's website, along with
The Overview confirms that the objective of the Grant Agreement is to 'achieve
significant, measurable improvement' in the health of the Reef, in accordance
with the Reef 2050 Plan, 'underpinned by innovation, science and community
engagement'. It 'requires the Foundation' to invest the following amounts on
activities outlined in the Grant Agreement between 2018–19 and 2023–24:
up to $200 649 000 for water quality improvement activities
up to $57 800 000 for crown-of-thorns starfish control activities
up to $100 000 000 for reef restoration and adaptation science
activities (Schedule 5);
up to $22 349 000 for Indigenous and community reef protection
activities (Schedule 6); and
up to $40 000 000 for Reef integrated monitoring and reporting
activities (Schedule 7).
Additionally, the Grant Agreement includes $22.5 million for
'administration and scaling up activities', as well as allowing a 'capped
amount of interest earned on the Grant funds for this purpose'.
The Grant Agreement stipulates that in undertaking Grant activities, the
Foundation must act consistently with:
Commonwealth administrative law, particularly the PGPA Act
(Reef Special Trust Account 2014) Determination 01;
Government policy, including the overarching Reef 2050 Plan, the
draft Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan 2017–2022, the Reef
2050 Plan Investment Framework, the Reef Trust Objectives, Outcomes
and Investment Principles and the Reef 2050 Plan Integrated Monitoring
and Reporting Strategy;
Plans to be developed under the Grant Agreement; and
All applicable laws.
Under the Grant Agreement, the Foundation is required to develop certain
guiding documents, notably its Investment Strategy and an Annual Work Plan,
both of which must be publicly available on the Foundation's website. These
documents must be developed in consultation with the department, the Reef 2050
Plan Independent Expert Panel and Advisory Committee, the Reef Ministerial
Forum, the Queensland Government's Office of the Great Barrier Reef, and
The Foundation is also required to develop:
a Resourcing Plan that sets out
how it will deploy resources to deliver on its obligations;
a Co-Financing Strategy Plan
outlining the Foundation's approach to raising other contributions from private
and philanthropic donors;
a Communication and Stakeholder
Engagement Plan to drive collaborative efforts and ensure comprehensive
engagement with the community; [and]
a Monitoring and Evaluation Plan
to support an adaptive management approach over the life of the Agreement. The
Foundation will monitor and evaluate the outcomes of each Activity Component
and participate in any formal review or evaluation of the Agreement.
The Foundation is required to maintain 'detailed accounts and records',
including on 'the progress, selection and performance of projects, use of Grant
funds and other contributions, and the creation, acquisition and disposal of
assets'. These must be provided in a number of written reports to the
department, notably progress reports due every six months on activities and
expenditure, and annual audited reports regarding expenditure and
The Foundation is required to fulfil a number of other reporting
requirements. These include reporting to the Ministerial Forum on progress
against Reef 2050 Plan objectives, and the Foundation's Investment Strategy and
Work Plan, as well as to the department on completed activities undertaken
under the Partnership, some additional specific reports set out in the terms of
the Grant Agreement, and 'other ad-hoc reports as required by the Department'.
The Grant Agreement allows the Foundation to subcontract activities to
'appropriately qualified and expert subcontractors using rigorous assessment
criteria', and outlines a number of provisions that must be included in its
subcontracts and funding agreements'.
Between the signing of the Partnership Agreement on 27 June 2018 and
January 2019, the Foundation released nine plans as well as an Activity Gantt
Chart 2018/19 as part of the Partnership Agreement. The plans are as follows:
Collaborative Investment Strategy;
Risk Management Plan;
Investment Strategy and Annual Work Plan Consultation Plan;
Communications and Engagement Plan;
Monitoring and Evaluation Plan (Stage 1);
Fraud Prevention Plan; and
Annual Work Plans will be released in June of each year for the life of
On governance matters, the Agreement provides for the department to
appoint a Commonwealth observer to attend meetings of the Foundation's Board
(with a limited number of exceptions), and a departmental representative on the
PMC. The Foundation must also share relevant information with the department,
including changes to its 'constitution, structure, management or financial position'.
The overview of the Grant Agreement notes that the Foundation is
generally required to:
...employ best practice corporate governance arrangements and
engage governance and risk management experts to help develop and implement
strong governance, anti-corruption, fraud prevention and audit and risk
management policies and procedures.
The Foundation is required to develop a Fraud Prevention Plan both for
itself and its subcontractors, as well as preparing a Risk Management Plan and
appointing a Risk and Compliance Officer. The Foundation must also ensure that
'persons who have a history of poor governance or financial management' be
prevented from being involved in the management of the Grant or its activities.
Regarding compliance, the overview of the Grant Agreement states that:
As is usual practice in government contracting, the Foundation
indemnifies the Department for any loss, cost, damage or claim arising from,
amongst other things, the Foundation's breach of the Agreement or its negligent
or unlawful act or omission or wilful misconduct in connection with the
The Agreement also provides for termination or reduction in its
scope and outlines the conditions under which a termination event may occur,
including as a result of non-performance, breach of obligation, or insolvency
or other significant change to the nature of the Foundation.
The Department may elect to continue all or part of the Activity
if the Agreement is terminated for any reason, or if the Foundation so requests
it. The Department may recover from the Foundation reasonable costs incurred in
exercising these provisions. The Department may also seek to recover for the
Government, any Grant funds which are not legally committed or that have not
been spent by the Foundation in accordance with the Agreement.
The Agreement also includes a number of other provisions common
to Commonwealth grants regarding assets; intellectual property; confidential
information; privacy obligations; conflicts of interest; compliance with
legislation; work health and safety; Foundation representations and warranties;
insurance policies required to be effected and maintained by the Foundation;
dispute resolution procedures; force majeure events; notices; and preparation
of an Australian Industry Participation Plan.
Termination of the agreement
The Agreement may be terminated or reduced in scope. Clause 25.1.1
states that this can be done:
If there is a material change in Australian Government policy
that is inconsistent with the continued operation of this Agreement, the
Department may by notice terminate this Agreement or reduce the scope of the
The Agreement can also be terminated on a number of other grounds,
including for breaches of its terms, non-compliance with an agreed Plan, or if
the Foundation becomes insolvent or is put into administration.
Termination or cessation of the Agreement would require the Foundation
to return unspent monies to the Commonwealth.
Delivery of funding to the Foundation
The grant was paid in full to the Foundation on 28 June 2018, the day following
the execution of the Grant Agreement.
The Grant Agreement requires that the grant must be held in a separate account
to the Foundation's other operational accounts and its Public Fund.
Information provided by the Foundation indicated that at the
21 September 2018, the grant was being held across a number of term
deposit accounts while the Foundation was developing its longer term investment
Answers to questions on notice provided by the Foundation indicate that it has
term deposits with ANZ, Bank of Queensland, Commonwealth, NAB, Suncorp and
Expenditure to date
At the committee's hearing on 21 September 2018, the Foundation confirmed
that it had spent $800 000 of the grant on operational and 'project
This included expenditure on salaries, consultants, rent, equipment, travel and
accommodation to meet community representatives in Cairns, Townsville and
Mackay to provide briefings on the RTP, meeting expenses and legal services.
This expenditure was part of the Foundation's 2017–18 budget which
provided for up to $25 million for Project Component Activities, along
with $7.3 million in administrative costs.
Ms Marsden commented:
The contract clearly states that we must be able to commence
delivery across all five components by 1 July. It clearly states that for the
first year, and the Activity Gantt Chart really outlines the key activities
that will put the foundation and the partnership in that position. So that's
what we're building up towards.
Ms Marsden went on to add that in relation to the $25 million for
projects, this had been set aside 'because we understand, in our initial stages
of project design and consultation and even in discussions with the department
and the Queensland government, there are projects that could be green lit right
Announcement of initiatives
The Foundation announced the first stage of its Reef Water Quality
Improvement Grant Program on 13 November 2018, with applications closing on
10 December 2018. These grants totalled $20 million, and were
open for projects over $500 000 that would be ready to start by March 2019
that addressed the declining quality of coastal water 'influenced by land-based
At the time of writing, the results of this process have not been announced.
On 10 January 2019, the Foundation announced that around 10 per cent of
total Partnership funding, around $42 million, would be allocated to Reef
activities with traditional owners, including building on work 'already being
done by more than 200 Indigenous Rangers and 70 Sea Country groups within the
Reef catchment'. Ms Marsden, the Foundation's Managing Director, stated
Traditional Owners have an
enduring connection to the Reef and have been working to conserve and restore
it for generations. Today's announcement will ensure that a strategic plan of
action can be co-developed with Traditional Owners, building on and scaling up
existing activities which include tagging turtles, cleaning beaches, monitoring
the health of waterways and remediating land and sea country along the Reef.
On 21 January 2019, the Foundation
announced its first funding for Reef projects: $574 000 funding for AIMS
to undertake a '25-day health check of remote far northern reefs'. It has been reported that AIMS
will contribute $833 000 from its own budget to undertake this project.
The Foundation has also announced its
first funding round for Community Reef Protection Grants. These will be grants
between $50 000 and $100 000, with a total of $700 000. The initial grants round is focussed on 'Activating
citizen science projects to collect and communicate information on Reef
health'. Regarding these grants, the Foundation stated:
Summer can increase the levels of potential Reef disturbance
events, including coral bleaching, flooding and cyclones. Citizen science can
complement research and management efforts to collect and share information on
This grant program will enable community-led projects focused
on collecting, analysing, sharing and utilising citizen science information
relevant to Reef heath. Investment will be targeted at organisations with
demonstrated experience in reef citizen science and community engagement.
Applications for Community Grants opened on 7 January 2019 and closed on
30 January 2019, with successful applicants to be announced in February 2019. The Foundation has stated that a further round
for projects will be undertaken in late 2019.
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