A new report has revealed  fresh details about the Great Barrier Marine Park Authority’s administration of permits and compliance investigations.
A new report has revealed fresh details about the Great Barrier Marine Park Authority’s administration of permits and compliance investigations. Peter Holt

Audit shows details of GBRMPA's investigations problems

FRESH details of problems in the controversial approval to dump dredge spoil in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park at Abbot Point have emerged in a national audit report.

The Australian National Audit Office report has also revealed wider problems in the marine park authority's administration of permits and compliance investigations.

Among the problems found with the authority's assessment of the project, the audit office confirmed "differing views" between the minister's delegate who approved the project and the assessment staff working on the case.

However, despite those differing views, and what have since been shown to be three more environmentally-appropriate options, the delegate, Bruce Elliot, approved the project.

The report shows Mr Elliot also failed to officially ask the staff for their recommendation on the project, despite that being a usual procedure in assessing similar projects in the past.

The authority told the audit office the recommendation was not requested due to its "complex nature' and "the range of approval options available".

The audit also confirmed the documents the authority used to assess the project "did not indicate" that several issues were "substantively addressed", including the potential for conditions imposed on the development to actually manage the project's environmental effects.

It also showed the Mr Elliot's decision did not fully explain how he reached the decision to approve the project, "nor address the specific issues raised in the assessment report".

However, after environment groups asked for an official "statement of reasons" about the decision, the information was released a month and a half later.

It also confirmed that the approval was based on three key issues, including the permit application, extra proposed conditions and "documentation supporting the project's approval" from Environment Minister Greg Hunt.

APN first reported the letter Mr Hunt sent to the authority urging the project be approved in July last year.

The audit office made five recommendations to the marine park authority, which it has agreed to implement. - APN Newsdesk


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