A Sydney corporate law specialist has questioned the transparency of the Great Barrier Reef Foundation's board.
A Sydney corporate law specialist has questioned the transparency of the Great Barrier Reef Foundation's board. C Veron

Reef Foundation ‘lacks transparency’: expert

A RESPECTED corporate governance expert is most concerned at the lack of transparency surrounding the Great Barrier Reef Foundation's role in approving taxpayer-funded research.

University of Technology, Sydney corporate law specialist, Professor Jason Harris said changes to the board to shift away from it having a majority of fossil fuel-linked members addressed most of his concerns.

But he said the board had the "ultimate sign-off" and he was concerned the changes could be little more than "window-dressing".

"For instance, if it's actually the portfolio committee that controls the approvals and the board just approves them, you could have potential problems," Prof Harris said.

"But really it comes down to whether there is a board charter or a code of conduct, having that in place, and public, would be best practice.

"There's still some concern about potential conflicts, but that's really less of a concern than the portfolio committee now."

Prof Harris said the "other possibility" was that the board had "well-respected, strong people" who "could not be swayed".

But in the absence of more public information about the vetting and applications process, he could not be sure.

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