The federal government’s new Commission of Audit, announced on Wednesday will be headed by Tony Shepherd, who is not only the head of the Business Council of Australia, but was also chair of government contractor Transfield Services until earlier this week.
Questions need to be asked about the appointment of Shepherd, considering Transfield Services has been a major donor to Labor and the Coalition parties, while being a major beneficiary of government contracts.
Transfield Services has profited from large government contracts, most recently a $175 million deal to service the Nauru detention centre. Wednesday’s Herald article also points to Defence Department contracts worth more than $400 million. It is expected that the Commission of Audit will recommend further privatisation. So companies like Transfield Services could pick up more lucrative government contracts.
Over the decade from 2002 to 2011, Transfield Services gave over $200,000 in donations to the Australian Labor Party, the Liberal Party and the Nationals. This has included donations to the federal branch of the ALP and state branches of the three parties in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia.
Unfortunately, donations given since July 2012 are yet to be disclosed, and any donations under $12,400 do not need to be disclosed under federal law.
It’s worth noting that Transfield Services is separate from Transfield Holdings, which has given over $900,000 in donations to the ALP and the Coalition since 1998.
Transfield Services is also a client of Liberal-linked lobbying firm Premier State Consulting. Premier State is headed up by former Liberal NSW state MP Michael Photios. Photios has announced he will formally resign his executive position with the Liberal Party. He has been forced to make that move after public pressure pushed Prime Minister Tony Abbott to announce that party officials could not also be lobbyists.