The Big Four Accounting Firms

The powerful ‘Big Four’ accounting firms are at the centre of the privatisation of our public service, receiving $1.9 billion in government contracts after handing $2.9 million in donations to the Liberal and Labor parties over the past five years.

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The ‘Big Four’ accounting firms, Deloitte, PwC, Ernst & Young and KPMG are some of the most powerful and politically influential businesses you’ve probably never heard of.

These private firms are slowly replacing the public service, skyrocketing to a staggering $1.9 billion in government contracts in the last five years to perform functions that used to be performed by the public service before tens of thousands of public servants were sacked.

These firms wield huge amounts of influence over policy design and the country’s economic direction.

They have risen to this position through carefully cultivated relationships and a regular stream of political donations to both major parties, totalling $5 million in the past decade.

The relationship is so close that PwC even hosted a $12,500 a head ‘pick a minister’ fundraiser for the Liberal Party in their Sydney offices last year.

The big four always seem to escape public scrutiny. Because they are partnerships, not corporations, they don’t have to disclose how little tax they pay. As accountants and financial advisers they are the architects of corporate tax avoidance strategies, yet they are rewarded by government with ever more lucrative government contracts.

These firms are in the top tier of regular donors to political parties and that buys them influence, access and profitability over government services at a level enjoyed by no other industry.  

Donations from the Big Four accounting firms FY2013-FY2022:

FromcategoryLiberal/NationalLaborActive betweengroup_id
FromcategoryLiberal/NationalActive betweenLaborActive betweenTotalgroup_id
PWC PriceWaterhouseCoopersConsultancies and Law Firms1,502,068FY2013–2022250,182FY2013–20222,697,94622
KPMGConsultancies and Law Firms926,101FY2013–2022108,963FY2013–20221,617,34924
Deloitte Touche TohmatsuConsultancies and Law Firms567,705FY2013–2022225,767FY2013–20221,141,85223
Ernst & YoungConsultancies and Law Firms370,181FY2013–2018221,883FY2014–20221,121,94225
PWC PriceWaterhouseCoopersConsultancies and Law Firms310,000FY2019–20200310,00022
KPMGConsultancies and Law Firms126,500FY2013–201612,090FY2013–2016221,24324
PWC PriceWaterhouseCoopersConsultancies and Law Firms55,000FY2014–2020055,00022
Ernst & YoungConsultancies and Law Firms12,500FY2013–20138,058FY2013–201654,50025
KPMGConsultancies and Law Firms44,000FY2015–2015044,00024
∑ = 3,914,055 ∑ = 826,943 ∑ = 7,263,832
Avg = 434,895.00 Avg = 137,823.83 Avg = 807,092.44
Max = 1,502,068 Max = 250,182 Max = 2,697,946