Abbott gives the vampires keys to the blood bank

October 25, 2013
Big business lobbyist Tony Shepherd will lead an audit of the government's spending.

The Business Council of Australia (BCA) is a powerful right-wing lobby for big corporations, which has spearheaded the push for deregulation and privatisation in Australia for four decades.

It has also led the war on trade unions and the promotion of individual contracts to replace collective bargaining.

Six weeks before the last federal election, the BCA release its ambit claim for pro-big business “reform” by the new government. Economic Action Plan for Enduring Prosperity proposed 93 measures big business wanted implemented over the next 10 years.

Among these were demands to raise the rate of GST, reduce business taxes and carry out more privatisation.

The BCA action plan also called for “a comprehensive audit of public spending to ensure it is being spent wisely and efficiently”. Read this as: big business demands more cuts to social services.

Now, under PM Tony Abbott, the BCA's dreams are being realised.

Abbott announced on October 23 an audit commission would be carried out and chaired by BCA president Tony Shepherd. The secretariat for the current audit is to be led by Peter Crone, chief economist for the BCA, who helped prepare the BCA action plan.

Another audit commission member is former federal public servant Peter Boxall, who oversaw the introduction of Work Choices during the Howard government.

So a leading lobby group for big business is in control of a wide-ranging “audit” of government spending.

Veteran political commentator Michelle Grattan wrote in The Conversation: “With his appointment as chair and the audit’s sweeping terms of reference, Shepherd has hit the jackpot. After difficult years with Labor, the big end of town is back at the centre of Canberra town.”

Until a week ago, Shepherd was also chairperson of Transfield Services, a government contractor operating in mining, oil and gas, transport, utilities (including water, power, and telecommunications), facilities management, and military supplies and services.

Transfield builds bridges, tunnels, dams, hydroelectric and coal-fired power stations, oil rigs, concert halls, sugar mills and power lines — mostly with public funds.

When it scored a $6 billion contract in 1989 to build 10 ANZAC class frigates for the Australian and New Zealand navies, it became the biggest military contractor in Australia.

Recent government deals include a $184.3 million contract for maintenance and support services at the Nauru refugee detention centre.

Besides conflict of interest, giving the BCA control of the national “audit” of government spending, Abbott has done the equivalent of giving the blood bank keys to the vampires.

The world is already ecologically endangered and socially fractured by the extreme concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the corporate rich. And now they will have direct control of public spending.

Green Left Weekly says this is morally unacceptable, and socially and ecologically unsustainable. If you agree, please join the struggle to change the system.

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