PwC is continuing to receive taxpayer funds, with the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) paying the “Indigenous” arm of the disgraced consultancy $121,000 to map “government programs and policies”.
PwC’s Indigenous Consulting (PIC) was given the contract despite PwC’s extensive governance failings, including being caught disclosing federal tax data to offshore multinationals to make millions.
Federal government tender register AusTender shows the seven-month contract with AHRC, disclosed on September 14, is for “mapping government programs and policies relevant to anti-racism”.
The “$121,000.00” contract was awarded on a “limited tender” basis, “due to an absence of competition for technical reasons”, states the disclosure. It provides no explanation as to why a government body needs a private company to identify programs and policies of government.
“The contract is for an independent audit of government programs and policies with relevance to anti-racism, at the national, state and local level,” AHRC media adviser Michael Badorrek said. “The work is intended to enhance the commission’s understanding of existing anti-racism work, identify opportunities for expansion of existing initiatives and highlight the gaps in programs and policy.”
The contract was via “limited tender” — although “other quotes were sought and received” — because “there were a limited number of suppliers equipped with the necessary skills, experience and working knowledge of the issue”.
Badorrek did not answer directly the question of why it had awarded the contract “given the serious illegality PwC has been found to have engaged in”.
“PIC is a majority Indigenous-owned, -led and -staffed consulting firm,” Badorrek said.
The University of Technology Sydney and the Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research did not respond, despite repeated approaches.
Website for PwC’s Indigenous Consulting. Source: PwC Australia
On May 19, the Finance Department issued a ”procurement policy note” to federal agencies, in what was widely reported as an “effective ban” on PwC Australia. It was to “remind” the agencies they “must” consider the “performance history” of potential suppliers, including “any unethical behaviour” and any “failure of the tenderer to abide by substantive requirements such as confidentiality provisions”.
As previously revealed, PIC, which says it provides “advice to government” on “Indigenous matters”, has been given more than $44 million in federal government contracts since 2015. PwC Australia claims it is “separate” from PIC. That’s despite PIC being based in PwC Australia’s offices, sharing a website with PwC, sharing directors with PwC, being 49% owned by PwC — and its name being “PwC’s Indigenous Consulting”.
Aside from PwC Australia, PIC is owned by just two people, former Sydney financial adviser Gavin Brown (35%) and former public servant Selwyn Button (16%). Brown owns his stake through his company Validus Private Wealth.
Ownership structure of PwC’s Indigenous Consulting. Gavin Brown (top) and Selwyn Button. Source: ASIC. Graphic: The Klaxon
PwC Australia has been caught taking secret government data it gleaned while providing “advice” on new laws to prevent multinationals avoiding Australian tax — and selling it for millions of dollars to multinationals seeking to avoid Australian tax.
PwC’s Indigenous Consulting was founded in 2013 under PwC Australia’s then-CEO Luke Sayers, and since then has been given at least $44 million in federal government funds.
Payments to the group surged under the Coalition government, elected in 2013, and reached a record of $13.78m in federal contracts in 2022.
On PwC Australia’s website, PIC says it “works together with governments” to “close the gap”.
Anti-Indigenous Voice to Parliament campaigner and Coalition spokeswoman on Indigenous Australians Jacinta Nampijinpa Price last week called for an “audit” on Indigenous spending. Opposition leader Peter Dutton said he “absolutely strongly” supported Price’s “call to make sure money has been paid in taxes … are being spent appropriately”.
Key details regarding PwC’s Indigenous Consulting — such as how much its executives are paid and how much it is now worth — are unknown. Although 49% owned by PwC, PwC’s Indigenous Consulting is registered as a “small proprietary company”.
Brown, PwC and PIC all refused to provide The Klaxon with a copy of its audited financial accounts.
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