Successive Federal Governments have demanded “efficiency dividends” from the Australian Public Service (APS) over the last decade. This has not resulted in the elimination of unnecessary work, more that the work of the APS has increasingly been outsourced to the Big Four consulting and audit firms – Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC). In return these firms jointly donated $1.02 million to political parties’ federal and state branches in 2018/2019 according to the Australian Electoral Commission.
Analysis by Crikey shows that these donations have resulted in an extraordinary return on investment for these firms. Journalist Bernard Keane shows that PwC secured over 250 contracts worth at least $192 million from the federal government, according to the Austender website.
That’s $494 in federal contracts for every dollar donated – and that does not include the contracts secured from state and territory governments. But that’s nothing in comparison to the return KPMG generated – they secured contracts worth $289.4 million from the federal government alone for a donation of $190,000, a return of $1,500 for every dollar donated.
How is it acceptable that companies that tender for, and are awarded, state and federal government contracts can be free to donate to the political parties that either become the party of government, or have the potential to become the government in the future?
How can this be considered anything other than a conflict of interest at best, or outright corruption at worst?
Australian political donation laws are in desperate need of reform to close egregious loopholes like the one outlined above, but will the political parties who benefit from these donations have the moral courage to bring real transparency to them?
We need to keep the bastards honest.
Elana Mitchell, Democrats campaigner