Scott Morrison supported $18m charity before it was formally registered, director says | #socialmedia

A mystery foundation established less than a year ago by a businessman with connections to the royal family has managed to secure more than $18 million in federal funding, but the man behind it is refusing to outline how the program will run or when it will launch. 

The Australian Future Leaders Foundation Limited — which appears to have no office, website or staff, apart from three directors — received the five-year cash injection in last week’s budget.

Several sources have told the ABC that its executive officer and director, Chris Hartley, boasted that he secured federal support more than a year before it was publicly announced.

Promotional brochures published early last year, and seen by the ABC, claimed vice-regal and government endorsement of the program. 

Mr Hartley titled the program “The Governor-General’s Australian Future Leaders Programme” and asserted to potential supporters that it would complement “the government’s economic recovery plan to catalyse societal cohesion and fairness”.

Another promotional document seen by the ABC, also issued early last year, states the program is “championed by federal government with supporting funding”.

In an email seen by the ABC that was sent by Mr Hartley more than a year ago, he declared the Prime Minister was supportive of the project and that the Prime Minister’s Office would “own” the project. 

The ABC has asked the Prime Minister’s Office for comment. 

Mr Hartley had lobbied businesses, universities, unions and social media companies for their support, and Governor-General David Hurley agreed to be the inaugural patron of the foundation. 

The Governor-General and his office have confirmed their involvement in the design of the leadership program but his office insists it had no involvement in government funding decisions. 

Few public details

Months after Mr Hartley declared the program had government support, he registered the Australian Future Leaders Foundation Limited as a charity in April 2021, with an official launch held at Admiralty House in May.

To date the foundation has not started any projects that are publicly accessible. Despite this, it will receive $3.6 million in federal funding this financial year alone. 

The ABC put a series of questions to Mr Hartley who is listed as director and secretary of the foundation.

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