The private company of the man who was CEO of PwC Australia during the entire tax leaks affair has received over $6.2 million in taxpayer funds in just the past two years.
Sayers Group — a “consulting” company Luke Sayers set up after he left PwC in 2020 — has received 17 Federal Government contracts since April 2021, totalling $6,262,007.21.
Sayers was PWC Australia CEO from 2012 until May 2020, and so boss of the company for the entire relevant period it was illegally selling Federal Government tax policy secrets, the scandal roiling the company and making international headlines.
Just like PwC, Sayers Group cashes in on government “outsourcing”, making large sums of money from government contracts by providing services that were previously undertaken by the public service.
In just the past five weeks, three new Sayers Group contracts totalling $330,550 have been disclosed on AusTender, the Federal Government’s tender register.
“In the past five weeks three new Sayers Group contracts totalling $330,550 have been disclosed on the register”
Last month the Department of Health & Aged Care awarded Sayers Group a $226,050 contract for “management support services”; and two weeks ago it was disclosed it had been awarded a $49,500 contract from federal agency Geoscience Australia for “business intelligence consulting services”.
Federal contracts are required to be disclosed on AusTender, but details are generally scant.
In October last year, five months after the ALP Federal Government took office, Sayers Group was given a $71,500 contract by Anthony Albanese’s Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet.
The purpose is stated only as: “ICT Services”, “Category: Business administration services”.
Cate Sayers, Luke’s wife, made headlines last year after she appeared in political advertisements spruiking then Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg for re-election.
The founder and director of government-funded disability charity the Inclusion Foundation, Cate appeared in advertisements under the heading “Why I am voting for Josh Frydenberg”.
(Luke Sayers is chair of Inclusion Foundation).
In the advertisements, Cate is quoted gushing for Frydenberg, saying he had a “massive track record” of supporting “our local charities”.
It is illegal for charities to endorse politicians or political parties and Frydenberg was forced to scrap the advertisements.
Yet it appears Cate Sayers has faced no penalties.
As previously reported, the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) has refused to comment on the matter, instead falsely claiming it is legally prevented from doing so under “secrecy provisions” in its legislation.
In her advertisement, Cate Sayers says she invited Frydenberg to an event in 2010 and “since then he has attended so many of our events…Because he cares”.
Luke Sayers is very close to politicians on both major sides of politics.
Both ALP Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and Frydenberg attended his 50th birthday in 2019.
Luke Sayers (left) and Josh Frydenberg in 2019 when Sayers was CEO of PwC Australia. Source: Twitter
This month the Federal Government released a bombshell audit which found that in 2021-22 — private businesses were paid a massive $20.8 billion to deliver public services.
This “shadow public service” was equivalent to almost 54,000 full-time workers, compared to the about 144,000 in the Australian Public Sector workforce.
The Centre for Public Integrity, an anti-corruption think tank founded by former top judges report, says rampant outsourcing is “decimating” the public service and undermining the national interest.
It released a report Monday showing government contracts to the “Big Four” consultancies has exploded by over 400 per cent over the past decade.
At the same time political “donations” — effectively soft bribes — has surged.
“Over the last ten years, the Big Four (KPMG, PwC, Ernst & Young and Deloitte) have donated $4,289,253 to the ALP and Coalition,” it states.
Political “donations” from the four firms grew from $388,200 in 2012-13 to $520,081 in 2021-22.
“Over the same period, total contract volume for the firms jointly has increased by over 400 per cent, from $282 million in 2012-13 to over $1.4 billion in 2021-22,” the document states.
“While business has boomed for the Big Four, the Australian Public Service – one of the pillars upon which our Westminster democracy depends – has been left with static staff numbers and a diminished policy capability”.
“The Australian Public Service… has been left with static staff numbers and a diminished policy capability” – The Centre for Public Integrity
The Sayers, who live in a $15 million mansion in Melbourne’s Hawthorn East, have made a private fortune on the back of the Australian public — first via PwC, then the Sayers Group.
The couple’s 19th Century manor, “Strathner”, is “clearly one of Melbourne’s most significant estates”, says one luxury real estate agent.
Documents filed with the ACNC show the charity the pair run, Inclusion Foundation, is a major recipient of taxpayer cash.
As previously revealed, in the 2021-22 financial year the charity received $933,986 in government grants, which was over six times higher than its average over the preceding decade.
Government Grants to Inclusion Foundation exploded in 2020-21. Source: ACNC. Graphic: The Klaxon
How much of the $933,986 came from the Federal Government is not known because Inclusion Foundation has not reported that information in its financial statements.
The subsequently pulled advertisements featuring Cate Sayers (which had been officially endorsed by Frydenberg) appeared in April last year, weeks before the federal election.
Sayers says “Josh” had given “unwavering commitment“ and recently made a “significant investment” into Inclusion Foundation’s Impact21 program.
“Because he cares Josh has always supported the Inclusion Foundation, most recently with a significant investment into Impact21,” Cate Sayers says in the advertisements.
Cate Sayers, Luke Sayers and the Inclusion Foundation have repeatedly refused to comment when approached by The Klaxon.
On Tuesday last week, Sayers Group’s latest Federal Government contract was disclosed: $55,000 from the Federal Department of Education under a “category” called “strategic planning consultation services”.
The reason given is simply “Planning and Facilitator Services”.
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