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On Friday afternoon, accounting and “consultancy” giant KPMG appeared again before the Senate inquiry into consultancies. 

This second act included a full flotilla. It was led by KPMG’s hapless — some would say “gormless” — CEO, Andrew Yates.  

His first appearance before Parliament was an extravaganza of self-immolation — on a bonfire of “power maps” — and pitiful attempts to deny KPMG used them.  

An attempt which had been blasted into oblivion when Yates was confronted with…KPMG’s power maps!

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O’Neill on Friday holds up a copy of a document provided by KPMG. Source: Australian Senate


Power maps are used to set out the who’s who in a government department: names; titles; positions; contact details; and, crucially, a colour-coded ranking system detailing how well-disposed (or otherwise) those individuals are to, say, KPMG. 

These are used by consulting firms to get their tentacles into departments. To traffic in favours. To peddle influence, so as to sell consulting services — worth hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ dollars — into those departments.  

And, crucially, these maps undermine an arms-length, transparent, non-partisan and uncorrupted framework for the procurement of consulting services.  

They undermine getting the best and most appropriate advice, from the best qualified firms. They also work to preclude smaller, less influential, less corrupting, boutique firms.   

“Power maps work to preclude smaller, less influential, less corrupting, boutique firms” — Dr Schmulow

 Power maps, or relationship maps, or influence maps or whatever other stupid name KPMG tries to come up with – are a contamination of government procurement.  

 They are inherently, demonstrably and unavoidably corrupting. 

 Put differently, power maps are corruption writ large. Pure and simple.  

“Power maps are corruption writ large. Pure and simple” — Dr Schmulow

KPMG CEO Andrew Yates on Friday. Source: Australian Senate


For Act Two, Yates on Friday addressed the issue of the use of power maps in his opening statement. 

He tried to spin it as some sort of “miscommunication” based on a “too-narrow definition” of the term “power map”. 

The inquisitors — one from each of Australia’s three biggest political parties — were having none of it.

ALP Senator Deborah O’Neill reiterated what he and KPMG had originally been asked about their use of power maps.

KPMG and Yates had been asked the question “on notice”, and in writing (so no chance of a “misspoke in the moment” defence). And the question had indeed been cast in wide terms.  

O’Neill read it out: “Is KPMG aware of the practice of consulting firms maintaining records that characterise any or all of the following: which public servants in government departments hold influence; what the relationship of public servants is to one another; what the attitude of individual public servants is towards your firm and/or consultancies more generally; or any similar information?” 

“These records can be referred to as power mapping but may be referred to by another name”. 

Yates AGAIN tried to deny the obvious, and again tried to claim he’d misread the question. O’Neill was having none of it. As she pointed out, she’d been a schoolteacher, and she knew all the tricks. 

“Yates again tried to deny the obvious, and again tried to claim he’d misread the question” — Dr Schmulow

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From there it got much, much worse: Yates, having burned himself to the ground last time, proceeded to set fire to the ashes. 

KPMG had provided the Senate with the kind of maps they said they used: a government department organisational chart.  

This lie — to be fair, this lie wrapped in plagiarism — burned out as fast as a grain of dust glancing off the earth’s atmosphere.   

Its credibility sustained for a mere nano-second.   

“Yates, having burned himself to the ground last time, proceeded to set fire to the ashes” — Dr Schmulow

It transpired that the “map” that KPMG had provided was, in fact, a copy and paste of an organisational chart, apparently plagiarised off the web from a government department.

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The Senate inquiry hearings Friday. Source: The Klaxon

Senator O’Neill said it took her “a couple of minutes” to see KPMG had apparently plagiarised it.

“I don’t know if you take us for fools but it took us a couple of minutes to look at this chart and go onto the internet and come up with a public document for one of the departments,” O’Neill said.

“All it looks like you’ve done is copy that chart, change that heading and pretend that’s one of your power maps.

“You must think we’re absolutely stupid,” O’Neill said.

“You must think we’re absolutely stupid” – Senator O’Neill

It was a moment in which KPMG’s intellectual prowess, research capacity and originality were completely immiserated. Along with the mere molecules of credibility that Yates could still muster.   

It was pitiful.  

But then it got even worse.   

Federal Nationals MP and former Deputy Prime Minister of Australia Barnaby Joyce filmed Wednesday night. Source: SMH


O’Neill and Greens Senator Barbara Pocock produced more ACTUAL power maps — authored by KPMG — which KPMG had not revealed in their earlier “big reveal” – and which clearly outlined their “land and expand” strategy. 

That is, to get in the door by quoting competitively, or under quoting, then vastly expanding the cost of contracts and footprint within departments. 

Yates had — again — been hoisted by his own petard. It was as shocking as it was funny.

A CEO on $2.2 million a year reduced (as Pocock stated) to a “4-year-old caught with his hand in the cookie jar” who responds: “that’s not my hand and that’s not a cookie jar”. 

KPMG’s “flotilla” on Friday. Source: Australian Senate


This was a most pathetic, piss-weak, incompetent, feckless, idiotic, gormless, worthless, hapless, immiserating, pitiful attempt to lie — and get away with lying — to parliament.

“Andrew Yates was reduced…to the professional services firm’s CEO equivalent of Barnaby Joyce” – Dr Schmulow

Andrew Yates was reduced, in front of his flotilla, his peers, his firm, parliament, and the nation, to the professional services firm’s CEO equivalent of Barnaby Joyce.  

Flat on his back blabbering incoherently while passers-by stepped over his corpse. 

Dr Andy Schmulow is an Associate Professor in the Law School at the University of Wollongong. He is internationally recognised in the field of financial regulation and driving good conduct in corporate governance and culture. He is also co-creator of podcast Corporate Grime.

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Anthony Klan

Editor, The Klaxon

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