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Yes, Prime Minister. Fishy, well not at all, you see …

Sunday 12 August 2018

Aid Memoir: Meeting between the Prime Minister of Australia and the Minister for Energy and the Environment the Rt. Honorable Josh Frydenberg representing the Commonwealth, and Dr. John Schubert representing The Great Barrier Reef Foundation.

April 9 2018

Schubert: “Good afternoon, Prime Minister, Minister Freydenberg. Please take a seat. May I enquire as to the reason for your visit?”

Turnbull: “I want to give your company $440 million. No, it’s closer to half a billion …

Schubert: “Good lord, that’s a lot of money. And might I enquire as to why you have selected us?”

Turnbull: “Do you mind if I close the door. You understand that this is all highly confidential.”

Schubert: “What is?”

Turnbull: “Well you see, in the May budget we managed to cut $500 million from Early Childhood development. Nobody noticed. Nice piece of work by the Treasurer wouldn’t you say, Josh?”

Frydenberg: “Yes, Prime Minister. It went as planned. ‘Save’ might be a better word Prime Minister.”

Turnbull: “Pardon.”

Frydenberg: “A better word than ‘cut,’ Prime Minister.”

Turnbull: “Of course.”

Frydenberg: “Yes, Prime Minister”

Turnbull: “Yes of course, Josh. Well we managed to save some money and we think you are well placed to put it to better use. The reef for example. And some of your directors are friends of ours. A lot of them actually. Lucy even had two of your directors over for lunch. Anyway the money will eventually make its way to the right places.”

Schubert: “The reef, you say. What it needs most is urgent action against climate change.”

Turnbull: “Oh goodness no, we were not thinking along those lines at all.”

Schubert: “Oh I see. I’m beginning to get your drift. Yes we don’t do climate stuff. It upsets some of our donors. Tell me how did you find us?”

Turnbull: “Some of my friends at Goldman Sachs recommended your foundation. Have you had a chance to peruse the agreement?”

Schubert: “Well to be honest it did pass my desk but I thought someone was trying to pull my leg. For example it said we could spend $40 million on administration no questions asked. It sounded well; it looked a little fraudulent if you ask me. If it’s a grant, it would seem to lack process, due diligence is “entirely absent”. There isn’t much transparency.”

Turnbull: “Doctor, if you’re not interested we can … ”

Schubert: “Oh please don’t take me the wrong way, Prime Minister. The agreement also indicated that the CSIRO would have to approach us for funds.”

Turnbull: “Is that correct, Josh?”

Frydenberg: “Yes, Prime Minister.”

Schubert: “A bit like winning tattslotto, isn’t it? Won’t someone find out that $500 million has gone missing from the early childhood development budget. That fellow Shorten is rather smart.”

Turnbull: “Probably not, but if they do the storm should pass in a few days. Any further questions? Anyway it has passed in the budget.”

Schubert: “Well there is the question of transparency. I read that Law professor Tim Stephens has jumped in, saying that cutting greenhouse gas emissions was a key to helping the reef. You know we don’t get involved in that area. Actually we don’t believe in that. Well most of our members don’t.”

Turnbull: “Yes, you said that before.

I thought you would have been better briefed than this.”

Frydenberg: “Yes, Prime Minister.”

Turnbull: “I know you have been busy with energy Josh but how much does John know.”

Frydenberg: “The more he knows the less the better, Prime Minister.”

Turnbull: “Yes I realise that, Josh but … “

Frydenberg: “Yes, Prime Minister, it’s just that the climate, if you will pardon the pun, has gotten a little out of control and I have been trying to fix it so I asked Christopher to do the briefing. He rang this morning to say that what I thought he said was only a figment of my imagination. That what I think I thought he meant is not what he meant at all. That when he says something and I take it to mean one thing he has the option of saying that what I thought I heard was not what I heard at all. Man’s a bloody fool.”

Turnbull: “Yes of course I understand, least I think I do. Josh, you stay behind and brief Mr. Schubert thoroughly. It’s a good chance to pick up a little extra on the allowances. Mr. Schubert has got to understand the end objective here.

And tell Pyne not to worry so much about what people think of him. Jesus, if only he knew how little they did.”

Frydenberg:I think he needs a manager boss, if you want my opinion he has been handling himself to long. Too busy thinking about what’s in it for him.”

Turnbull: “Umm we have a few like that. Delighted to have you on board, John.”

Schubert: “Thank you, Prime Minister. Well gentlemen if you don’t mind its Friday and I have a luncheon appointment with the CEO.”

Turnbull: “Why don’t you take the staff and break the news? I’m sure the 8 of you will be in for promotions all round.”

Schubert: “Just amazing to think that you would hand responsibility for the reef’s future to one tiny private charity. I’m sure that with former executives from BHP, Origin Energy and GE Mining on the board that we are the right folks for the job.”

Turnbull: “Yes, so are we. That right, Josh?”

Frydenberg: “Yes, Prime Minister.”


Frydenberg: “What do you think, Malcolm?”

Turnbull: “Most of it will be up to you, Josh. Just keep everyone as confused as you possibly can. We don’t want anyone to know what the end game is. Especially the public servants.”

Frydenberg: “Yes, Prime Minister. Remember Orwell wrote an excellent book for dyslexics called 1948.”

My thought for the day

“The right to vote is the gift that democracy gives. If a political party is not transparent in supplying all the information necessary to exercise this right. It is destroying the democracy that enables it to exist.”

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  1. Pappinbarra Fox


  2. johno

    Only in Australia

  3. Terence Mills

    So, our government has outsourced the Great Barrier Reef to private enterprise !

    A classic move by a conservative regime (you can’t call them Liberal anymore).

    Has Turnbull been seen symbolically washing his hands like Pontius Pilate to clearly demonstrate that he absolves himself of all responsibility or future blame for the fate of the reef.

  4. ajogrady

    On a daily basis members of the State and Federal L/NP governments prove that “Politics is the last refuge of a scoundrels”.

  5. Egalitarian

    Spot on Terence! It’s all part of their big picture manifestation. And a great analogy.

  6. paul walter

    Wot Terrence Mills reckons. The cynicism of this government is incredibly depressing.

  7. Stephen Tardrew

    On Ya John says it all.

  8. Keitha Granville

    TQhis piece – brilliant – needs to be out there splashed all over billboards. But it won’t be, so the public will be left in the dark and they will continue to believe that the LNP are doing a great job (cos that’s what they are told) and squillions of our tax dollars will juts be flushed down a pipe into the banks and grubby hands of the private sector. Just watch the GBRF grow exponentially in number, and nothing else will happen.

  9. helvityni

    ” ….now that we are finished with the Emma story, we’ll have to find something more titillating than the Climate Chance to get people talking … we have done the Kill Bill….Michaelia might think of something we can use, let’s get creative….”

  10. Coralie Naumann

    Yes Prime Minister. No Prime Minister. (have another go, you fool)

    Who arranged this, who is responsible, who let this happen?

    Who cares, as long as we got it through, nobody will notice.

    Nobody will notice? Except everybody already has.

    While I’ve still got your attention Prime Minister, where’s the money going?

    The usual place Josh, we’ve already managed to make it untraceable.

    Don’t ask too many questions Josh, the less you know, the less chance you can stuff things up.

    Now run along, it’s your baby now.

    Yes Prime Minister.

    This is so crazy, more like something out of the old Mad Magazine.

  11. Terence Mills

    Just while it’s front of mind, I heard Josh Frydenberg again this morning saying that his NEG would deliver savings in electricity bills for average households of around $550 a year from 2020.

    Is that part of the Guarantee making up the National Energy guarantee ?

    Just asking !

  12. Kaye Lee

    Well that’s interesting Terence because on their website the government says….

    “Based on Energy Security Board advice, it is expected that the Guarantee could lead to a reduction in residential bills in the order of $120 per year over the 2020–2030 period.”

    “could” being the operative word so don’t spend your extra $10 a month just yet. They are also talking about an average saving over a decade so don’t expect the savings to come soon.

    “The typical household could save between $110 and $115 each year for a decade from 2020, according to the Energy Security Board, which costed things for the Government.

    Separate modelling by Frontier Economics predicts savings of up to $120 a year, and a 23 per cent drop in wholesale electricity prices between 2020 and 2030.

    BUT … the head of the Energy Market Commission, John Pierce, who is also a member of the Energy Security Board, said that figure was an average over the decade, leaving open the possibility it would be much lower in the early years.

    Mr Pierce told Sky News that some modelling showed the saving could be as low as $25 a year in 2020.”

    And then we have…

    The average household would “save around $550 a year on their retail bill over the 2020s relative to 2017-18,” the official report predicted.

    “Of this, nearly $150 per year is forecast additional savings as a result of the guarantee.”

    Prices will come down anyway because of renewables adding capacity cheaper

  13. eefteeuu

    I heard Frydenberg say this morning that ALL of the money would be used by the charity to save the reef. But the charity said that only 90% of it would be used.
    Who is telling porkys.

  14. Rhonda

    Our Common-wealth is dead, buried & cremated

  15. Terence Mills

    And as reported on Friday after the COAG meeting :

    POWER bill relief of up to $550 a year is one step closer for Australian households after state and and territory energy ministers agreed to take the federal government’s National Energy Guarantee to “the next stage” today.

    It’s estimated about $150 of that saving will come as a direct result of the NEG — if it actually eventuates — while the remaining $400 in savings is expected to come from new, largely renewable energy generation coming on line, according to modelling by the Energy Security Board.

    As it will be the electricity retailers who will pass on these savings to us, we really need them to come out and guarantee what this government is saying because we know that the retailers will be there is 2020 but not so much this coalition.

  16. diannaart

    Some good work, John Lord.

  17. Harry

    Both Reefgate and the NEG have the fingerprints of the IPA all over it! Could it be that the Coalition is trying to lock in as many of the items on the IPA wishlist because they realise they will be turfed out at the next election?

  18. totaram

    Yes, Harry: It’s the neoliberal “ratchet”, which goes one or more further clicks each time they are in power, and none of these are really removed when Labor comes in because the coalition and the MSM will shout and scream about “waste, debt, deficit, tax and spend” etc. Then, someone like Wayne Swan will proudly announce that he is going to deliver a budget surplus, and make a fool of himself while starving important parts of the economy by imposing “cuts and savings”. And so it goes.

  19. Kronomex

    The LNP stinks of House of Cards, not the crap Yank version, but the English mini-series. Gads, must read the trilogy by Michael Dobbs, they’ve been sitting in my to-be-read stack long enough.

    Is it me or is Friedeggburger looking more and more like Duttonuci?

  20. Dave Bradley

    The National Energy Guarantee is being brought to you by the same people who are now offering

    Malcolm Turnbull and Josh Frydenberg’s The Great Barrier Reef 2.0

    “We know, from their track record of working … with the Federal Government and other bodies, that they (The Great Barrier Reef Foundation) have delivered excellent results, they have managed large technical projects with multi stakeholders and they put science as their pre-eminent focus,” the Minister said. “That demonstrates they are qualified to deal with the money.”

    Like umm like what excellent results? Maybe Frydenberg lost the coaster he’d scibbled them on the back of.

    ‘It’s not unusual’: Frydenberg defends $444m reef grant

  21. diannaart

    The GBRF appear to be “managers” – that is middle managers between donors and organisations who do the real work of saving/restoring/retaining the GBR.

    Lucrative business this middle management gig; they receive kudos AND a pay-check just for administration. Except the GBRF phrase their management in far more glossy terms:

    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.

    We are a champion of new ideas. We seek out the knowledge gaps. We seek to be a catalyst for solving the most complex and challenging problems.

    Working closely with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, we fund priority projects that help protect and restore the Great Barrier Reef and build its resilience in the face of major threats.

    Increasingly our impact reaches further, with solutions developed to address the common challenges facing the world’s coral reefs.

    Climate Change actually does receive a mention, although the focus is upon a climate that will become warmer and more unpredictable and how to create a more “resilient” reef. I guess they’re not expecting any change from business as usual by their regular donors.

    We believe climate change is the biggest threat to the Great Barrier Reef.

    We support the Paris Agreement and believe every individual, business and government, both in Australia and internationally, has an important role to play in achieving these targets.

    The Great Barrier Reef Foundation is acting by prioritising projects that build the Reef’s resilience to the impacts of a changing climate and participating in constructive dialogue on policy options.

    We accept our broader role in helping our partners and the community understand the impacts of climate change and what they can do to care for our environment.

    Our projects range from saving endangered green turtles and restoring damaged reef ecosystems, to revealing coral DNA breakthroughs and using frontier technologies to create robotic reef ‘rangers’ and powerful, reef-scale monitoring and forecasting systems to help reef managers.

    And some major new projects in development right now are the big, bold, complex projects that have the potential to create a step change for the Reef – projects to help keep the Reef we have and improve it in the future.

    All so reassuring, except isn’t all of the above PLUS actual on the ground work what the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority is doing?

    For a minuscule budget of $$142.5 million

    National funding for environment research

    Much of our new knowledge about the reef will be generated through the Australian Government’s $142.5 million National Environmental Science Programme which includes a $31 million Tropical Water Quality Hub. The hub’s research over six years will help maintain and improve coastal and marine water quality in Australia’s tropical regions, particularly the Great Barrier Reef.

    It covers risk abatement for the impacts of infrastructure, agriculture, extreme events and biosecurity threats; management, monitoring and reporting for coastal species including status, trends and threatening processes; and tropical water quality trials. It builds on work by the National Environmental Research Program’s Tropical Ecosystems Hub. It saw almost $13 million invested between 2011 and 2015 in Great Barrier Reef research partnerships between academia and governments, statutory authorities, natural resource management bodies, non-government organisations, industries, Indigenous communities and the public.

  22. Eva Kopke

    Interesting article in yesterday’s Saturday Paper regarding this. Another of government’s shifty, dishonest moves. Worth a read.

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