Concerns about Great Barrier Marine Park Authority Board swept under the carpet

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Feature Story - 24 February, 2014
Last year Greenpeace’s Investigations Unit took a fine tooth comb to minutes of meetings of the board of the Great Barrier Marine Park Authority (GBMPA). What we uncovered looked fishy.

© Darren Jew / Greenpeace

UPDATE: Since this feauture was written the Environment Minister has released the full reports of the inquiry, available here We will be closely examining them and their findings.

We found evidence suggesting that changes were made to water down position statements by the Board on port development.  

Two members of the Board, Tony Mooney and John Grayson, have financial links to coal and gas companies.

Mr Grayson is Queensland Director-General of the Department of Premier and Cabinet and has a financial interest in coal and gas companies.

Mr Mooney was receiving up to $250,000 a year to manage stakeholders for Guildford Coal.

ABC TV’s 7.30 Report outlined in detail what occurred in its segment: ‘Conflict of Interest Threatens the Reef’.

As a result of the ensuing outcry, the Environment Minister Greg Hunt ordered a probity inquiry into the allegations.

Ex-public servant Robert Cornall, who has just been appointed by the Abbott government to conduct an inquiry into violence at the Manus Island detention centre, was tasked with the job.

The probity inquiry’s findings, announced late yesterday, cleared the two board members of any conflict of interest and recommended the GBRMPA ‘take no further action’.

This is disappointing to say the least.

The GBRMPA Board oversees one of the world's most precious and delicate natural places and has a mandate to protect the Reef.

The public would rightly expect that Board members are picked for their expertise in marine conservation. 

Greenpeace has called on the Environment Minister Mr Greg Hunt to release the full report of the inquiry. 

This will allow proper scrutiny of the thoroughness of the inquiry and whether the Board members in question were in fact working with the best interests of the Reef in mind.

Failing to release the full report of the probity inquiry suggests Minister Hunt is keen to play down what was uncovered by Greenpeace’s Investigations Unit, as he has the impending damage to the Reef by massive port developments.