The National Commission of Audit

The National Commission of Audit was set up by the government in October last year. One of over 50 reviews announced since Abbott became PM the stated purpose of the commission is to review the performance, functions and roles of the Commonwealth government. The actual purpose of all audit reviews since Jeff Kennett first came up with the idea in 1992 is to identify what government programs and services can be cut, privatised or outsourced. The scope of this review is enormous, it includes all government services, programs, departments and staff as well as looking at corporate tax structures and the possibility of increasing the GST.
Given the scope of this review and the very short deadline it has to report by (March 2014) it is highly unlikely the commission will have time to form any new positions. So where do they stand now?

Tony Shepherd: Is the chairman of the commission and also the former chairman of Transfield Services. In the last 5 years Transfield has received over half a billion dollars in defence contracts as well as running Nauru and Manus Island detention centres. Transfield have profited considerably from the sale of government assets in the past and with over 200,000 shares in the company Shephard has the potential to become a very rich person, depending on what decisions the commission makes.
Shephard is also president of the Business Council of Australia. The BCA represents the interests 121 corporations in Australia (http://www.bca.com.au/about-us/our-members) including News Corp, BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and the big 4 banks. The sole purpose of the BCA is to lobby Australian governments to influence policy decisions regardless of who is in government or what the Australian people voted for.
From 2004 to 2007 the BCA worked closely with the Howard government designing WorkChoices, they also lobbied businesses on the government's behalf and raised funds for advertising and promoting the policy. The BCA advocates the privatisation and commodification of water rights, privatisation and outsourcing of government services, halving the corporate tax rate while increasing taxes on consumer goods and opposes any cuts to business concessions or tax exemptions.

Peter Crone: Is the commissions secretariat head (whatever that means). A former economic adviser to John Howard, he is also the BCA's chief economist and policy director. Crone advocates increasing the GST from 10% to 15% and reducing the corporate tax rate from 30% to 15%.

Amanda Vanstone: Other than being yet another former Liberal MP unable to wean herself off the public teat and get a real job, Vanstone has no qualifications for being on this commission. Apart from overseeing a $1.7 million dollar loss last year as a board member of the Port Adelaide football club, Vanstone has no financial experience and shaky record as a government minister. A $1500 a day appointment, however, was too good an offer for her to pass up.

Robert Fisher: A former senior public servant in the Barnett government, Fisher has held a number of impressive titles including Director-General of the Department of Trade and State Development. During that time, while WA was experiencing the biggest mining boom in history and Gina Rinehart increased her net wealth more than 5 fold, WA's trade deficit blew out, government revenue declined and the state lost its AAA credit rating. Fisher remained one of the highest payed public servants in the country while carrying out some of the severest cuts to government jobs and services yet seen in WA.

Peter Boxall: The former chief of staff to Peter Costello, Boxall was in charge of implementing the Howard governments WorkChoices policies (anyone seeing a pattern here?). Boxall has more recently been active in promoting cuts to government services, privatisation and outsourcing in the O'Farrell government in NSW.

Peter Cole: As the only member who hasn't worked closely with a Liberal government and/or profited extensively from one, Cole is the black sheep of commission, or at least that's what they'd like you to think. Cole worked for the Treasury department during the early 90s, where he advocated a 15% GST, cuts to the public service, privatisation and outsourcing. He is currently a director of Mercer's, who profit significantly from government outsourcing.

The commission will be receiving submissions from business but these submissions will not be available to the public. Nor will the statements declaring financial interests submitted by the commission's members.
I'm guessing there are going to be a few unhappy people after the commission comes back with its recommendations in March this year, but not these 6 people.

Commenting on this Blog entry will be automatically closed on April 2, 2014.

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