The Labor party is days away from announcing the latest federal budget, brought to us by Jim Chalmers’ “values-based capitalism” which will likely leave us having to decide whether we use our last remaining can of soup or stage one last desperate “Just Stop Oil” climate protest.
For many who are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis, escalating inflation and an increasingly unstable housing market, there is likely very little about the upcoming budget to be excited about.
There is one company, however, which is looking forward to the budget with dollar signs in its eyes: PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
Who is PwC?
Many may be unfamiliar with PwC’s enterprises and its participation in tax avoidance, its efforts to privatise India’s water supply and it accidentally awarding Academy Awards to the wrong films.
PwC are one of the “big four” global accounting firms which, along with Deloitte, KPMG and Ernst & Young, handles global publicly-traded companies.
PwC played a nefarious role in the lead up to the 2017 marriage equality plebiscite: former PwC Australia CEO Luke Sayers prepared a report detailing the “excessive cost” of the marriage equality postal vote.
Almost every corporate news outlet reported that the decision to treat LGBTIQ people with dignity would cost taxpayers $500 million. In fact, the plebiscite only used $80 million of its $122 million budget.
Not only did they get the numbers wrong, but PwC senior executive Mark Allaby had to resign from the board of the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) after his conflict of interest came to light: PwC produced the damning report of the cost of the plebiscite and ACL was the group pushing the hardest against marriage equality.
(For those interested in the innumerable controversies of PwC, there is a dedicated section in its Wikipedia.)
PwC is excited to tell us about its budget predictions, its post-budget analysis and will, no doubt, offer professional advice on where to invest your money after the budget is public.
Its website reads: “PwC Australia’s Chief Economist and Insights Officer, Amy Auster, expects the upcoming Federal Budget to be carefully crafted to provide responsible and restrained relief to those who need it, while catalysing activity in high-growth future industries.”
What high growth future industries is Auster referring to? War!
We can expect to see an uptick in military spending, but not healthcare. The federal government said the National Disability Insurance Scheme and Medicare are “fast-growing” areas of expenditure that need to be reined in — particularly if we are going to be able to afford to ramp up war preparations against China with the United States military.
However, one of the biggest money-managing firms in the world has assured us that jobs from the military industrial complex will be a real boost for local manufacturing industries.
PwC’s messaging is the kind you would normally expect to see from the Coalition. But now it’s coming from Labor. This includes assurances that of a “sensible” and “responsible” budget that reduces inflation and cuts the deficit.
How is this achieved? By cutting public spending.
It may not all be doom and gloom. PwC says there will be many opportunities opening up in the green energy transition — mining companies will be able to extort the public by hoarding and price-gouging the minerals needed for a renewable energy sector.
This will also supposedly help the pandemic recovery, also known as the cost-of-living crisis.
Why would PwC, with $50 billion in annual revenue and a history of using insider information to exploit tax loopholes, be so optimistic about Labor’s budget?
Is PwC, and all the Fortune 500 companies it services, developing a social conscience?
The answer is simple: no.
PwC doesn’t have a single negative prediction for this year’s federal budget. This is because Labor is keeping the Coalition’s Stage 3 tax cuts, it will continue to subsidise the fossil fuel industry and refuses to make meaningful steps to tackle the cost-of-living crises. The benefits will only be felt by the likes of PwC and its wealthy investors.