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This is the Dawning of the Age of Consultancy

Before the election the Coalition announced a series of inquiries, reviews and white papers that it would instigate if it were elected. They included:

  1. Commission of Audit
  2. Inquiry into the Financial Sector
  3. Review of Competition Policy
  4. Judicial Inquiry – Home Insulation Programme
  5. Review of the Department of Defence
  6. Coal Seam Gas Management and Wind Farms
  7. Inquiries into the National Broadband Network – The Coalition will conduct three inquiries as part of its “Plan for a Better NBN”.
  8. Inquiry into the Australian Tax Office

Productivity Commission Inquiries and Reviews

  1. Inquiry into Child Care Funding
  2. Review of Industrial Relations
  3. Review of the Automotive Industry

White Papers

The Coalition will produce White Papers on the following:

  1. Tax Reform
  2. Direct Action Plan
  3. Federal-State Relations
  4. Defence
  5. Development of Northern Australia
  6. Resources and Energy

Since the election, that list has grown.

Sussan Ley was up and running, commissioning a report from PriceWaterhouseCoopers into child care funding. Apparently she couldn’t wait for the results from the inquiry that the Productivity Commission was already conducting

Coincidentally, the North Sydney Forum, a campaign fundraising body for Joe Hockey whose $22,000 annual membership fee is rewarded with “VIP” meetings with Mr Hockey, was established in 2009, shortly after Joe became shadow treasurer, by Joseph Carrozzi, managing partner at professional services firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

Mr Carrozzi is also chairman of the Italian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Australia and was a board member of the organisation when Nick Di Girolamo was its chairman.

Members of the forum include National Australia Bank as well as the influential Financial Services Council, whose chief executive is former NSW Liberal leader John Brogden.

The FSC’s members, including financial advice and funds management firms, stand to benefit from the changes to the Future of Financial Advice (FOFA) laws. The National Australia Bank would also benefit from the changes.

The chairman of the North Sydney Forum is John Hart, who is also the chief executive of Restaurant and Catering Australia – a hospitality industry lobby group whose members stand to benefit from a government-ordered Productivity Commission review of the Fair Work Act that is expected to examine the issue of penalty rates.

Mr Hart also sits on Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s Business Advisory Council.

The National Commission of Audit was officially announced by Treasurer Joe Hockey, and Finance Minister Senator Mathias Cormann, on October 22, 2013, to be led by Tony Shepherd, former Business Council of Australia president and chairman of Transfield Services.

Mr Shepherd’s appointment was seen as being particularly controversial because as head of the BCA he had been critical of the previous Labor government policies such as the National Disability Insurance Scheme and the Gonski schools funding reforms.

His appointment was also questioned because of his links to companies that had benefited from government contracts.

Mr Shepherd stepped down as chairman of Transfield Services upon his elevation to the Commission of Audit. Transfield, a construction and services firm, won a string of contracts in recent years worth hundreds of millions of dollars, including the contract for maintenance and support services at the Nauru detention centre.

The other commissioners are former senator and minister in the Howard government, Amanda Vanstone, and former senior public servants Peter Boxall, Tony Cole and Robert Fisher.

The coalition predicted in its midyear Budget update that the commission would spend about $1 million but figures show it cost taxpayers about $2.5 million to produce the audit. That’s a 150% budget blowout from the panel advising us how to “live within our means”.

It cost $1.9 million for expert staff drafted in from the departments of Finance, Treasury and the Prime Minister and Cabinet to work on the study.

The head of the commission’s secretariat, Peter Crone, was paid $157,000 to oversee the probe, while the commissioners were paid $85,000 each for their five months work.

Consultants Boston Consulting Group were paid $50,000.

And then there’s the NBN.

As the rollout of superfast broadband slows down across the country, consultants have been the biggest winners, pocketing millions of dollars from numerous reviews and cost-benefit analyses.

A Question on Notice tabled in Federal Parliament revealed the external consulting cost for the NBN was $10.1 million. The cost of implementing the recommendations was not included, the 2016 deadline has been abandoned, and the new agreement with Telstra is yet to be concluded.

Boston Consulting Group, KordaMentha and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu received the biggest financial boon from the government-commissioned reviews.

Then there are the Royal Commissions.

The Government will provide $53.3 million over two years (including $5.3 million in capital funding) to conduct the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption.

The cost of this measure will be offset by redirecting funding from the Employment, Industry and Infrastructure and Regional Development portfolios.

Even though there have been coronial enquiries, inquests, administrative investigations and a full government audit report into the Home Insulation Programme’s problems, Abbott found another $25 million for a Royal Commission.

We then have the Warburton led review into the Renewable Energy Target. The Climate Change Authority was legislated to conduct this review, which they will still do to “keep them occupied” according to Greg Hunt. To get the results he wanted, he chose to conduct his own review led by climate change sceptic Dick Warburton and representatives of fossil fuel producers and users.

A Senate Committee was told the total cost of the review was $587,329. That figure does not include the salaries of the staff on the secretariat or overheads such as IT and accommodation.

Mr Warburton received fees in the order of $73,000; Mr Fisher $39,900; Ms In’t Veld, $43,900; and Mr Zema, $29,700.

Clean energy representatives were shocked by the panel’s appointment as chief advisor and modeller of ACIL Allen, a consultancy seen as close to the fossil fuel industry, and whose highly contested research formed the basis of the coal industry’s attempts to dismantle the RET in 2012.

They refused to include in their modelling the benefits of renewable energy – including the health benefits, job benefits, and the network benefits – which the panel dismissed as “too hard to model” and little more than a “transfer of wealth”, presumably away from the coal generators and network providers.

ACIL Allen were paid $287,468 for their modelling

We also have seen Christopher Pyne’s National Curriculum Review which cost $283,157 to tell us we need less Indigenous focus and more Judeo-Christian, less creativity and more rote learning, and less about progressive reform and more about business.

Kevin Donnelly and Ken Wiltshire appointed 16 external experts to make contributions, including Barry Spurr, each of whom were paid $8250 for their reports.

This government’s intentions are clear. They have bypassed government departments and statutory bodies, ignored expert advice and the results of previous reviews, to pay hundreds of millions to consultants, vested interests, and party hacks to produce the results that endorse their stated policies or that damage the previous government.

This is indeed the Age of Consultancy.

 

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21 comments

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  1. David

    Broadband under the Labor scheme was scheduled to start in my regional WA suburb in February this year, the preparatory work has begun. Then with no public advice from Turnbull or the Govt, not even a courtesy letterbox drop to explain, it just stopped. The surveyors packed up, not seen since.
    Finally a clearly furious and frustrated local Chamber of Commerce published an explanation in the local paper. Installation has been postponed indefinitely. No date as been set for a resumption. The last time the NBN website list was updated, also gave no indication of a time frame.
    Had the labor original gone ahead, I would be now using ultra fast fibre BB.
    Another addition to my loathing list of this bastard non Govt…it is a big list.

  2. townsvilleblog

    Kaye, It appears to me and please correct me if I’m wrong but it appears that the tax placed on “the people” GST will rise and the uncollected tax on corporations will continue not to be collected much like the USA economy where the rich pay little if any tax, while the average Joe remains poor to support the rich. It also appears to me that the ALP silence is stunning?

  3. stephentardrew

    Townsvilleblog:

    That is the burning question how do you present the actual facts to the general public with so little access to progressive media. The current debacle started with removal of regulations under Clinton and the consequent GFC which has actually led to increased inequality and a substantial reduction in contribution to revenue by the banks, financial sector and corporations globally. Meanwhiles trillions in quantitative easing is gifted to the financial sector while the toxic assets still remain hidden somewhere between the financial institutions and the Fed. Australia is a mirror of this process minus the effective management of Labor through the financial crisis.

    The maddening thing is that, regardless of Labors sound management, we have been thrust back into the global financial fray by a corrupt and unethical government stealing from the middle, low-income and poor just to prop up their rich mates. Kaye’s article is a clear reminder of this immoral transfer of wealth from poor to rich while the trickle down drippy tap has been effectively shut, locked and bolted.

    Most people have no idea how serious this is and that we are headed, full throttle, towards yet another GFC. It’s only a matter of time unless we can increase revenues from the Banks, Financial Sector and Corptocracy.

    There is no other solution.

  4. M-R

    “Harmony and understanding
    Sympathy and trust abounding
    No more falsehoods or derisions
    Golden living dreams of visions
    Mystic crystal revelation
    And the minds true liberation”

    I wish you’d picked a different song title to use …

  5. Kaye Lee

    Sorry M-R…..we have replaced Aquarius with a Hairy Ass

  6. bkpyett

    The cartoon says it all!! 🙂

  7. winstonclose

    Excellent article Kaye Lee. Very well written.

  8. The Lion

    We shouldn’t forget either the Commission of Audit went 50 % over budget!

  9. Kaye Lee

    Stephen,

    I think we all have many suggestions on what COULD be done (including a financial transactions tax to help make those who caused the GFC pay for it). Keeping the carbon tax and the mining tax would surely have been preferable to the debacle we are now enduring.

    But no, it is up to the poor to fund this government’s jobs for the boys and to make the budget bottom line black instead of red. I would really like to know how this accounting term makes our lives better because it is becoming more apparent every day that it will be us rather than those making billions who are going to pay for it just as we are paying for the reviews that tell us that coal barons need more profit.

  10. Kaye Lee

    The Lion,

    150%….they budgeted $1 million and spent $2.5 million.

  11. John Lord

    I dislike being represented by a green pattern when I like your stuff Kaye but it’s me. Another good one.

  12. Katie08

    Abbott, aka L-ABBOTT-omy, is DUMBED DOWN to idiocy! The never ending, ongoing, relentless commission and investigations targeting ANYONE and EVERYONE who “dares” criticise the overbearing, undemocratic, fascist ideology of the loathsome, internationally despised and condemned neoliberal Abbott government is costing Australian taxpayers BILLIONS and BILLIONS of dollars! Abbott is a megalomaniacal lunatic who is completely out of control … his spendthrift government have DOUBLED Australia’s DEFICIT … yes, DOUBLED in only 12 short months of catastrophic mismanagement! Never before in our history has Australia been burdened with such a STUPID, short sighted, incompetent, war mongering pack of sociopaths … completely morally bankrupt and with a condescending arrogance and “born to rule” mentality that is truly offensive.

    The sneering malignant cabinet of the LNP forget that they work for us, the Australian taxpayer. Their arrogance and sneering scorn for Australia, Australians, our democracy and our egalitarian society is absolutely reprehensible! The LNP believe they are better than all of us. The British born Abbott is a nauseating little imperialist who pays obsequious subservience to British elitism and snobbery; he believes that Margaret Thatcher was a hero … a vile fascist who brought England to its knees and whose death was celebrated throughout the UK; her cruel neoliberal policies are Abbott’s dream for Australia in combination with the dreadful fascist agenda of Murdoch’s IPA!

    The LNP believe that they are ABOVE the laws that govern the rest of Australians as can be seen by the horrific level of their callously cruel policies and continuing unscrupulous behaviour. Abbott and every member of his sociopathic front cabinet are SERIAL LIARS whose litany of broken promises are churned out on a daily basis. They are up to their necks in depravity and corruption. They use hard earned taxpayers money to initiate vindictive, vicious Inquiries into Labor/Greens MPs (eg Julia Gillard) who have been completely vindicated yet they are rotten to the core themselves! They do all of this whilst trying to hide behind a thin veil of bible bashing, sanctimonious hypocrisy that is sickening to watch. Julia Gillard was justifiably vindicated but not so the LNP whose disreputable, thoroughly discredited MPs have a long, long history of being caught with their fingers in the taxpayer purse. Only recently, the effete hysterical Christopher Pyne was caught expending over $30,000+ of taxpayers money to fund a holiday jaunt for he and his family to Europe! Before that, Hockey claimed over $250 per night taxpayer funded “Accommodation rebate” to stay in his OWN WIFE’S $1.5 Million dollar home in Canberra! Before that, Abbott tried (and failed) to get away with a $9000 taxpayer handout to fund the promotion of his OWN book “Battle LIES” (or Battle Lines … whatever) … the unconscionable Abbott ONLY gave it back because of the outraged outcry and the fact that he was CAUGHT with his hand in the till … AGAIN! And, of course, we all know about the disgusting, phony and thoroughly nefarious $60,000 psuedo “scholarship” grab for Fiona Abbott by her father who just happens to be the same PM who has trebled the cost of tertiary education for everyone ELSE! If any disgraceful governments needs a FULL ON INQUIRY, it is the LNP at State and Federal level.

    Spending money on ramped up terror, hate campaigns and phony vindictive inquiries is just another day’s work for the vile, malignant Abbott. This government have not ACHIEVED a single thing since they fraudulently crawled across the electoral line on a platform of LIES. Joe Hockey’s pathetic, penny pinching regressive EPIC FAILURE of a budget has been loudly criticised by internationally respected authorities like the IMF and Nobel prize winning economists. Scott Morrison is an unspeakable psychopath whose savage brutality and callous disregard for asylum seekers is receiving WORLDWIDE condemnation. This government is the most debased, disgraceful pack of LOSERS in our history … there is not one member in the front LNP cabinet that has a single redeeming feature … NOT ONE!

  13. Rob Mccartney

    And you know what I think is equally as deplorable……not a wimper from an equally creepy Christian tinged, flaccid opposition. I’ve seen more of captain Jurassic and his bogan comic from Tasmania. That in itself is surely a sign of imminent doom!

  14. Kaye Lee

    Julie Bishop’s new hairdo is nice. Other than that, ^^^^^what she said.

  15. Loz

    Well said Katie08

  16. dennis

    Sorry M-R…..we have replaced Aquarius with a Hairy Ass

    Wonderful Kaye-lee thanks for a good laugh, reading along all gloomy and hit this

    we need lots of humour in dark times to survive.

  17. Lee

    Good work Kaye.

    Re: the NBN – A friend of mine is installing it. He said recently that the way the Libs want to do it is considerably more expensive in the long run than what Labor had planned. I wish pollies of both parties would stop dismantling and rearranging everything their opponents have done just because they can.

  18. Annie Byam

    Good article Kaye ….. ta muchly.

    To Katie08 …….

    Gather you don’t like Abbott and his Liberal band of twits ??? !!!!!! ……… I can do nowt but agree with every word you have written.

    Good onya.

  19. Katie08

    Thanks, Annie! Hmmmm! I thought my description of the loathsome tyrant, Abbott, showed immense self control … I believe my comments above were rather benevolent to him … just wait till I get in a bad mood, lol! Actually, Abbott is about as popular as a castor oil enema .. won’t be long before he and his Blue Tie get choked at the next election (fingers crossed) xx

  20. Pingback: When the moon is in the 7th house | Adjusting my background

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