PwC and the Robodebt Royal Commission. What’s the scam?

by Michael West | Feb 3, 2023 | What's the scam?

PwC was commissioned to do a report on Robodebt in 2017 but but can’t recall if it was finalised, or not, or why. What’s the scam?

PwC is the scam. PwC was effectively paid *not* to deliver the Robodebt report; to never “finalise” it, to keep it in draft form so nobody ever had to be accountable.

This was the Big4 consultancy the government used to attack poor people with its big “welfare report” a year earlier now deployed in the cover it up. Highlights from the testimony of PwC partner Shane West at the Royal Commission this week:

“No … I can’t recall.” “I don’t know.” “I’m not sure”. “I don’t recall”. “I’m not sure I can say whether or not it is”. “Sorry, I can’t think of one” “This is getting beyond my area of knowledge”. The series of short videos on this Twitter feed is worth watching for sheer obfuscation.

In 2016, PwC had been reportedly paid a $10m to do a report on the future cost of welfare. As exposed here by Greg Jericho, it was alarmist analysis which lacked integrity and was used as moral cover to cook up the Robodebt scheme. Christian Porter used it to kick off a crusade against social welfare “bludgers”.

PwC gives bludgers a lesson in corporate welfare

PwC’s evidence and evasive testimony before the Royal Commission indicates the true nature of its engagement with government; that is to shoulder blame when things go wrong and to provide political cover for public servants and politicians. As with the mysterious, mooted KPMG report into Scott Morrison’s departure from Tourism Australia, it has emerged that the PwC report was never “finalised”.

As it was never quite “finalised”, PwC can try to avoid being accountable for its advice, as can the government people who commissioned it. More importantly, as the report was “shelved” before it was finalised, it was effectively buried, unable to be accessed under FOI laws by the public. Never presented to government.

Australia has more of a problem with corporate welfare than social welfare, as evinced in recent weeks by the PwC scandal passing on government secrets about tax lawyers to tax avoiding multinational clients. Thanks to surging contracts with the federal government, PwC Australia recorded a 17% increase in revenues last year to $3bn.

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Michael West established Michael West Media in 2016 to focus on journalism of high public interest, particularly the rising power of corporations over democracy. West was formerly a journalist and editor with Fairfax newspapers, a columnist for News Corp and even, once, a stockbroker.

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