on air now

Ben Fordham takes Environment Minister to task over mysterious $444-million reef grant

Listen to the heated exchange

Ben Fordham has taken Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg to task over a mysterious $444-million grant to a small private foundation.

The Prime Minister has been criticised for making a captain’s call in a secret meeting which lead to almost half a billion dollars finding it’s way into the bank account of The Great Barrier Reef Foundation.

What’s worse is that there was no competitive tender process.

After a round in the ring with Ben, the Environment Minister was left bruised and battered, failing to answer whose idea the grant was and why there was no tender process.

It seems ‘yes’ and ‘no’ are two words that slipped from the minister’s vocabulary.

Ben: “Have you ever, Josh Frydenberg, handed over nearly half a billion dollars without going to a competitive tender?”

Minister: “Ben, the money has gone to the foundation in accordance with the Commonwealth grant guidelines.”

Ben: “I’m guessing it’s a no Josh.”

Minister: “I don’t think you want to hear the answer,

Ben: “Well I do want to hear the answer, it’s a yes or a no.”

Getting agitated, the minister says “I don’t have a big bucket of money to continue to hand out to every need”.

“Well you do for the Great Barrier Reef Foundation,” says Ben.

Click PLAY below to hear the firey exchange

Repeatedly dodging the question, Mr Frydenberg then attempts to direct the spotlight.

“The Labor party gave millions of dollars to the foundation over many years when they were in government.”

“Not $444 million,” Ben responds.

As to why it didn’t go to a tender competitive process, the minister again failed to hit back with a straight answer.

“You’re not telling us why you didn’t put it to a competitive tender process,” says Ben.

“If they’re so phenomenal, they would’ve won on their own merits”.

Listen to the heated exchange