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Pricewaterhouse Coopers to Ban Political Donations in Australia

Pricewaterhouse Coopers to Ban Political Donations in Australia

One of the Big Four accounting firms, PwC, will extend its ban on political donations to include bodies using indirect means to channel election funding.

On Monday, PwC acting chief Kristin Stubbins announced that the consultant giant will scrap its political donation program. She said although the firm always took the utmost care to ensure political donations did not create any real or perceived conflicts of interest, doing away with political donations was “the best way of ensuring the highest standards of governance.”

“PwC Australia will no longer make political donations, with none to be made in FY24. This includes payments to attend fundraising events, in-kind donations for event hosting/catering and other direct donations,” Ms. Stubbins wrote, according to a note by PwC.

“Although we have always taken the utmost care to ensure our political donations do not create any real or perceived conflicts of interest, we recognise that doing away with political donations is the best way of ensuring the highest standards of governance.”

“While we cannot change the past, we can control our actions today and in the future,” Ms. Stubbins said. “As stated, we will continue to take all appropriate steps to improve the firm’s governance standards.”

According to the Australian Electoral Commission data, PwC donated at least $246,532 to political parties in the 2021-22 financial year and $246,008 the previous year.

“We should be confident that we will restore our brand, our business performance and re-earn the trust of our stakeholders and the broader community,” Ms. Stubbins said.

“To do this we must come together as a partnership and support one another so that we are truly able to lean in and life our team members and care for our clients.”

Political donations, including in-kind support such as catering, services and office space, are among the contributions that will be reported to the Australian Electoral Commission.

Initially, the ban did not include donations to organisations such as the Liberal Party’s Australian Business Network and the Federal Labor Business Forum.

But AAP reported that a spokesman had confirmed on Thursday that PwC had decided to cancel its subscriptions to the forums.

Many other firms use the forums for networking and engagement.

The Greens have urged all of the Big Four consulting firms to stop making cash donations to political parties.

Greens Senator Barbara Pocock said the new company, Scyne Advisory, should not have access to new government contracts.

She has written to Finance Minister Katy Gallagher seeking assurances about the company’s interactions with the government.

Sen. Pocock applauded the donation ban, calling it an important step forward in “cleaning up the murky world of consulting”.

“Anyone doing business with the government should not be ­allowed to make political donations,” Sen. Pocock said.

“If Australia’s biggest consulting companies recog­nise the perceived corruption, then so should Labor and the LNP.”

“It’s time to break all the links. The government must act now to clean up politics once and for all.”

AAP contributed to this report. 

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