The decision to appoint a former adviser, Josh Thomas, as chief executive of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority comes following a governance crisis at the Authority. A director had left after allegations that she was profiting from funds given by the body.
The Federal Environment Minister Melissa Price said Thomas brings a strong understanding of the Authority with more than 15 years of experience in the public and private sector. The Authority has also applauded his appointment saying Thomas has "helped shape and lead environmental policy and programs for the Great Barrier Reef and in terrestrial natural resource management." In an official statement, the Authority further said that Thomas is committed to enhancing Australia's natural environment and has been a strong advocate for incorporating both contemporary science and indigenous traditional knowledge into environmental management throughout his career.
However, key environment groups, mainly the WWF, Australian Marine Conservation Society and the Australian Conservation Council expressed their disappointment saying that they were not consulted. Imogen Zethovan from the Australian Marine Conservation Society said the Authority needs strong, bold and independent leadership. The society says the Great Barrier Reef is the cornerstone of Australia's $31 billion marine tourism industry.