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GBRMPA non-response to research misconduct allegations: An open letter
Tuesday, 04 May 2010 14:34
Article Index
GBRMPA non-response to research misconduct allegations: An open letter
Page 2 - Media response
All Pages

FROM: Walter Starck, Ph.D,

TO: Peter Garrett, Australian Minister for Environment Protection, Heritage and the Arts.

Dear Minister Garrett,

I bring this matter to your attention as the Minister responsible for oversight of the Great Barrier Reef Mariner Park Authority.

My letter to Russell Reichelt, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) Chairman, regarding serious concerns with report on adaptive management of the GBR, has as yet received no reply or even acknowledgment  of receipt from either GBRMPA or your office.

The attached Media Response from GBRMPA (page 2) dated April 30 was received by Fishing World magazine in response to their enquiry on this matter. As the response quotes Dr Reichelt extensively on this situation, it seems apparent that he is fully aware of it and has chosen to ignore it.

This stands in marked contrast to the prompt response from the James Cook University (JCU) when this same matter was brought to their attention in connection with the involvement of the ARC Centre for Excellence in Coral Reef Studies which they administer.

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor has assured me that JCU takes such allegations seriously and they will be investigated.

The dissembling media response from the GBRMPA is not only pathetically inept, but also incorrect and self negating as well. It is dissembling in that it addresses none of the issues I have raised. It is inept in that not only is it unconvincing, it also presents the appearance that Dr Reichelt must either believe he has no obligation to address such serious allegations or that he can simply ignore them.

It is grossly incorrect in characterising my concerns as simply an opinion. On the contrary, the important issues I have raised are overwhelmingly matters of simple unequivocal facts which are clearly set forth and may readily be verified.

It is self negating in that if one is to accept the argument presented, the response itself must be dismissed because it is only an opinion piece not published in a peer reviewed scientific journal. It might also be added that the idea that allegations of misconduct can be ignored if not published in a peer reviewed journal is pure self serving drivel.

I would like to draw your attention to the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research, which is jointly administered by the ARC, National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and Universities Australia. The code is available on the NHMRC website at

I am sure that a careful reading of this document and of the details of the issues I have raised will indicate that this is a matter of much greater concern, and indeed obligation, than has been recognised by either the GBRMPA or your office.  

The failure of the GBRMPA management to properly address this issue has now been compounded by this pathetically inept attempt to justify ignoring it.

As the GBRMPA is your responsibility, I assume you would wish to be appraised of this situation and take steps to assure it is handled properly before even more damage is done.

Editor's note: This matter will not fade away or die no matter how much Minister Garrett or Dr Reichelt might hope. Eventually, they will have to face reality. The longer thattakes, the worse the consequences will be for them.