Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has today declined to support referring the PricewaterhouseCoopers scandal to the imminent National Anti-Corruption Commission, with the Greens saying the matter needed to be independently investigated by the watchdog.
In Question Time today, Greens Leader Adam Bandt MP asked Albanese whether the government would refer the matter to the anti-corruption watchdog, which will commence operations on July 1.
Responding to Mr Bandt, Mr Albanese declined to offer support for the referral, arguing that the existing AFP referral is sufficient. However, Senate Estimates has revealed that the AFP has already failed to investigate PwC in 2018 and 2019, leading a desperate Tax Office to pursue other options for an investigation.
The Greens support the AFP continuing in its current investigation of the matter.
Comments attributable to Adam Bandt MP, Leader of the Australian Greens:
“The Prime Minister saying that the anti-corruption watchdog doesn’t need to look at the PricewaterhouseCoopers scandal is a massive cop out,” Mr Bandt said.
“PriceWaterhouseCoopers has its hooks sunk deep into many government agencies and it has ties with the Australian Federal Police. According to evidence given to Senate Estimates, the AFP refused to take action against PwC over its tax leak in 2018 and 2019, following which the ATO was forced to go elsewhere.
“PwC is a big donor to Labor and Liberal, and remains connected to Treasury and the AFP. We need an independent investigation into the PwC scandal by the national corruption watchdog, an investigation in which the public would have confidence.
“The Parliament set up an anti-corruption watchdog to get to the bottom of big, complex scandals. It’s not enough to create a NACC, you have to actually use it.
“The AFP should continue with its investigation, but it’s time to set the anti-corruption watchdog on every aspect of the PwC scandal.”
Comments made by Senator Barbara Pocock, prior to Question Time:
“It’s incredibly disappointing that it has taken five years to get to this after the knocking back of a referral to the Australian Federal Police,” Senator Pocock said.
“That’s five years of wasted time in which we do not know what happened, in terms of the probity and the proper management of our taxation system.
“We need strong action now, and we certainly need at the top of the agenda on the First of July, the National Anti-Corruption Commission undertaking a full-throated investigation of this matter.”
Hansard Extract of Question from Mr Bandt to the PM
Estimates hearings have revealed the enormous scope of the PWC scandal, including last night that the ATO reported evidence of PwC's conspiracy to defraud the Commonwealth to the AFP back in 2018.
Meanwhile, PWC remains the governance and internal risk auditors for the AFP and Treasury, and has made big donations to Labor and Liberal.
Prime Minister, will you refer the growing PWC scandal to the National Anti-Corruption Commission when it begins in July?