Reef Foundation’s panel includes miners, bankers and more

THEY lead some of the nation's most powerful companies: banks, mining and chemical firms, airlines, retailers and universities.

The one thing they have in common: membership of the Great Barrier Reef Foundation's chairman's panel.

The panel has 47 members, mostly corporate donors who have poured more than $4 million in to fund the foundation's operations since 2007.

Among the members are chiefs and chairs of companies including Dow Chemical, BHP Billiton, Foxtel, GE Australia, Boeing, Wesfarmers, Aurizon, Woolworths, Peabody Energy, Lend Lease, Amcor, ANZ, Macquarie Group, Qantas and the Commonwealth Bank.

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The foundation's annual reports show donations from these firms partly funded exclusive trips to Hayman Island Resort for scientific briefings and lectures and helped cover the foundation's overall operations.

By covering operating costs, these donations enabled the foundation to direct more funds towards research projects.

Documents also show a $153,000 bequest from former Queensland shale oil proponent and investment banker Sir Ian MacFarlane to fund an annual lecture the foundation hosts.

Financial records also show the foundation raised an average $541,450 each year since 2007 in tax deductible donations through the panel, rising from $405,000 that year to $769,000 in 2014.

GBRF managing director Claire Hanratty said the panel was part of the foundation's strategy to "leverage each funder's contribution to deliver maximum benefits for the reef".

She said the foundation also had an "ethical donations policy", although the policy was not publicly available on its website, and it "does not undertake contract research relating to investor business interests".


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