Dear Mr Burke
I refer to your letter dated 4 September in relation to Labor’s plan, if elected, to change government policy under clause 25.1.1 of the Reef Trust Grant Agreement. We have always and will continue to work constructively with both sides of politics. We exhibit the highest standards of ethical behaviour in everything we do and that will determine our decisions as we meet our contractual obligations under the Agreement which includes delivery of Annual Work Plans. We will deliver these obligations effectively and efficiently.
The Reef Trust Partnership Grant with the Australian Government was announced on 29 April, 2018, however, the Foundation has an 18 year history of protecting the Reef. Our role reflects the UN World Heritage Convention recommendation to establish a national foundation that raises money to protect world heritage sites.
The Foundation has been extremely successful in raising funds for the Reef – around $90 million with $58.87 million from corporate and private philanthropy. The cost to the Reef of terminating the Agreement will be significant - the amount of funding the Foundation would have leveraged from corporate and private philanthropy which is in addition to the Government funding will no longer be realised.
The Australian Government selected the Foundation to administer the Reef Trust Partnership through their federal budget process. The Foundation was not part of this process. However, should Labor choose to run a competitive tender process, the Foundation would be pleased to take part.
We have been working with federal governments for the past decade and have a strong record of delivering high impact private-public partnerships including a $12.5 million portfolio of projects with the former Federal Labor Government. This program was a world first in developing solutions for resilient reefs successfully adapting to climate change.
We also have a strong track record of working with Federal Government agencies including the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) and the Queensland State Government on Reef projects including the Raine Island Recovery Project which is a successful private-public partnership that is securing the future of the world’s largest green turtle nesting ground.
The Foundation’s singular focus has always been delivering projects that protect and restore the Reef for future generations. We will continue this work as everyone has a role to play in protecting the Reef. We look forward to continuing our dialogue with you.
Dr John Schubert AO