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Reef protection, despite official advice recommending against the projects, or repeatedly finding them to be failing.

The contracts include millions of dollars for tourism operators to cull out-of-control coral-eating crown of thorns starfish. Funds continue to be distributed, despite researchers employed to evaluate the program repeatedly finding it to have failed, and potentially having made the problem worse.

It also includes $2.2m spent on an unusual project involving giant fans installed on a small part of the reef to cool water down to prevent bleaching. Documents obtained by the Guardian reveal the government’s independent expert panel recommended against the project proceeding, finding the justification relied on claims that were “a major departure from reality” and that the fans could accidentally kill nearby coral.

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