PwC’s behaviour must be condemned

Welcome back to , our Friday dive into the letters and comments on what you decided was the topic of the week.

This week, readers voiced their horror about the behaviour of consulting giant PwC and whether government cutbacks in the public service have been part of the problem.

Illustration: Matt Golding

Who is paying for this ‘ignominious impropriety’?

  • Economics editor Ross Gittins wrote that as we watch the Albanese government and the Senate crossbench getting to the bottom of what’s become “The PwC Scandal”, it’s important to join the dots. It’s not just a question of who did what and when and how they’ll be held accountable for their actions. It’s more a question of how did the federal government allow itself to get into such a compromised position.

Sally A lot of snouts in the outsourced trough.

Swamp Thing Reduce the reliance on outside consultants but at the same time do not replace them with increasing the public service. Smaller government is always a win-win.

Reader Half the consultants were once public servants who left because they were treated like expendable dirt. What goes around, comes around but much of that money has now been salted away.

Ron Sinclair, Windradyne Quixotic? That is about as kind as Ross Gittins could be about the scandalous behaviour of a massive firm with the profligate mindset of “It’s only taxpayers’ money”. We have all had to pay for this ignominious impropriety.

Decoherence Government failure to govern has done great damage to Australia.

Rees Hughes, Oyster Bay If we don’t have enough trained people within the bureaucracy to ensure we are complying with the law and behaving ethically, does it then beg the question of why bother legislating laws at all?

Peter Thornton, Killara It is offensive to the many hardworking and law-abiding professional accountants to suggest, because of the actions of a few, that they may no longer be entitled to their hard-earned epithet of being “boring”.

Illustration: Matt Golding

Should PwC’s consulting work be totally severed?

Economics correspondent Rachel Clun reported that PwC blocked the Australian Taxation Office’s attempts to garner more information about its involvement in the tax leak scandal at least six years ago, prompting the ATO to report its “significant concerns” to federal police in 2018.

Paul Doyle, Glenbrook A large multinational accounting company trusted with sensitive government information. What could possibly go wrong?

James Purss, Moruya Heads As usual, the culprits, including their senior public service enablers, will get a wet lettuce slap on the wrist and a stage three tax cut bonus.

Peter Nash, Fairlight “Smaller government” policies have not only cost the taxpayers a fortune but denuded our government of crucial expertise.

Kevin Farrell, Beelbangera Why isn’t the government calling on PwC to refund all fees it was paid by the Australian people plus compensation for taxes lost to us that could have been used to reduce our debt? Justice is still only the prerogative of the wealthy and powerful.

Michael Blissenden, Dural We do not know if PwC broke the law; leave that to the AFP. What we do know, by its own admission, is that PwC shared the confidential information on a multinational tax matter outside Australia and that, by itself, is a breach of trust. It goes to the heart of the professional relationship and must be condemned. The consulting work must not be ring-fenced but totally severed.

Alan Marel, North Curl Curl After decimating the independent public service, the Coalition wasted vast amounts of public money in order to get the advice it wanted to hear.

Killarney Heights I can’t help but wonder what else that blocky, pixillated PwC logo is covering up.

Illustration: Matt Golding

What’s the collective noun for consultants?

Senior business columnist Stephen Bartholomeusz wrote that PwC is trying desperately to head off what could be a global crisis for the firm’s network of affiliated businesses but the damage has already been done.

Lee Cook, Orange PwC – another company that thinks that ethics is a county in England.

John Rome, Mt Lawley PwC = Profit without Consequences.

Peter Campbell, Potts Point Retaining PwC as the ATO and Reserve Bank’s auditor – and the government’s trusted advisor – might be akin to asking the guy who burgled your house last week to monitor your security cameras.

Bill O’Donovan, Thirroul The revelations of the underlying self-interest that guides the behaviour of the swarming and ravenous private consulting firms should not come as a surprise. This metastatic culture has overwhelmed all aspects of public life. Its excision will be prolonged and painful. But no doubt much better out than in.

Pasquale Vartuli, Wahroonga What did you expect would happen when you hand over non-profitable (government) work to businesses, which only exist to make a profit?

Rowan Godwin, Rozelle What’s the collective noun for private consultants? May I suggest a corruption?

  • You can join the conversation at in the comments sections of each article and in letters to the editor in print and online. See you next Friday. Pat Stringa, letters editor

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