Liberal MPs pressure PM to replace Malcolm Turnbull in Bali
MALCOLM Turnbull will be reunited with members of the barrier reef foundation to which he awarded a half-a-billion-dollar grant when he attends a climate change conference in Bali next week.
Liberal MPs are demanding Prime Minister Scott Morrison reverse his decision to ask Mr Turnbull to represent Australia at the summit, with the backlash set to intensify over the revelation the Great Barrier Reef Foundation will launch a new project at the "Our Ocean Legacy" conference in Bali on Monday.
The tiny organisation is the subject of a parliamentary inquiry into why the former Turnbull government handed it a $440 million grant in June without a formal tender process.
"One of the GBRF Projects team will be attending the Our Ocean conference next week as one of the partners in a project that will be discussed at the conference," a spokeswoman for the foundation said.
"The project will be announced at the conference. GBRF is one of a number of partners. The project is not related to the Reef Trust Partnership with the Australian government."
Labor's Environment spokesman Tony Burke questioned whether taxpayer funds were going towards the Great Barrier Reef Foundation member's trip to Bali.
"I find it hard to believe that none of the $80 million from the government that can be spent on administration isn't supporting this in some way," he said.
"At the beginning of the year, they were a small foundation employing six people.
"Now, thanks to Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg, they have $444 million in the bank and they are off saving the world at international summits."
Liberals have been facing a strong backlash from members over Mr Morrison's decision to send Mr Turnbull to Bali. A Liberal frontbencher said "the base is up in arms about this" while another MP said he had been inundated with messages from local branch members astounded Mr Turnbull was representing Australia at the conference.
The MP said he hoped Mr Morrison would see sense and cancel the former prime minister's travel plans.
Mr Morrison spent the second day in a row mounting a lacklustre defence of his decision to allow Mr Turnbull to represent the government at the conference despite the fact he refused to support the Liberal Party during the Wentworth by-election.
The invitation was extended as an olive branch to Mr Turnbull in September, based on the expectation he would campaign in the seat he was leaving.
After Mr Turnbull refused to help and the once-safe Liberal seat was likely lost, Mr Morrison made it clear to numerous colleagues and senior Liberals that he was done with Mr Turnbull and wanted nothing more to do with him.
He also said he would not send Mr Turnbull to represent Australia at any future international summits.
Yet, it was a position he refused to state publicly in Parliament yesterday.
Former prime minister Tony Abbott told 2GB Mr Turnbull had always been "emissions focused" and was likely to put a particular point of view to the conference.
"It doesn't matter how distinguished someone might be, doesn't matter how exalted a private citizen might be, you can really only speak for the government if you're a minister," he said.