Reuters/Simon Newman
Messages written by Climate Camp protesters are seen outside Barclays offices in the Canary Wharf financial district of London August 28, 2009. Reuters/Simon Newman

According to news reports, Queensland’s former Newman government has sold off the state-owned company Ecofund. This company helped combat climate change. It was only sold for $250,000 even though it was set to grow to $40 million within a couple of years.

Ecofund Queensland was a state-owned carbon and environmental offsetting and advisory company. It was put up for the mere use of buying up land to help reduce Queensland's greenhouse gas emissions. In confidential briefing documents, it was quoted by the ABC that it is a "profitable, cash flow positive and standalone entity" whose revenues were set to double.

Recently, the former senior manager of the Ecofund company said that the sale was ideologically driven. However, a confidential government briefing noted that the company was one of the market leaders in Australia. The ABC obtained a raft of Cabinet briefing documents and internal government savings proposals. These outlined the government’s moves to slash millions from programs under the former Liberal National Party of Queensland (LNP) administration.

"It was profitable and its revenue was growing," a former senior manager told the ABC. "But [Campbell] Newman didn't give it a chance because he was ideologically opposed to this sort of initiative."

A former director, on the other hand, said, "It wasn't sold off, I would say it was killed off.” While another director said that trading in carbon credits was not the role of government. "The carbon tax was abolished shortly after the sale and I think we were lucky to get out when we did," she said.

During its operation, Ecofund received no government funding, with all its expenses and operating costs — including IT, lease of premises and Board fees — covered by the company's revenue. However, after its full year of trading, the company was able to have a deficit of only $645,000 in the end of the financial year. Furthermore, it had $1.8 million in cash on its balance sheet. During its second year, it was reported to have made about $70,000. The company’s revenue was forecasted to double before its sale.

One confidential government briefing note said Ecofund was a "market leader" that had "achieved the shareholder's financial performance targets and was tracking well over the original Queensland Treasury Corporation's modelling for the first year of operations."

According to the ABC, Ecofund was not the only climate change sold off by the Newman government. In the documents obtained, it revealed that another program called the Energy and Carbon Reporting Framework was also cut. This program was cut from the government budget to help save $180,000. This was despite the program aiming to deliver at least $14 million in savings to the government.