The behaviour of accounting behemoth PwC reveals a problem much larger than that of trust and accountability (“Scandal apology ‘not good enough’”, May 30). Regrettably this experience reveals a major trend in public and corporate key indices – the head count. Over the past decades we have witnessed the downsizing of the public service as more and more services are outsourced. We have watched as we have traded experience, loyalty and accountability with a more preferable number on the balance sheet. All care, no responsibility.
In this instance PwC has taken taxpayer money for advice and sold it on to corporations all over the world to help those corporations avoid the very taxes PwC was employed to protect. And what is the Australian government response. An inquiry? A request for a list of the names of the offenders? They can’t be serious. There should only be three satisfactory outcomes.
First, and most importantly, PwC should pay back money billed for the work done. All of it. Secondly, sensitive work of this nature should be done in-house. The information belongs to the Australian people, not to PwC. And the third outcome? We should for the time being stop giving work to PwC and tighten up on our contracts of employment so that these acts are protected by massive penalties. Norm Lurie, Hunters Hill
The PwC scandal is very illuminating about the relationship between big business and government. Clearly big business thinks the government regulators and more importantly, the law, have no teeth and they have no need to worry. If tough laws and regulations were in place, this scandal would not have occurred in the first place. The piecemeal, token response by PwC and the timid response by the Albanese government demonstrates clearly that PwC believes that feeding a few crumbs and the passage of time will see them back on the government gravy train. I don’t know who I am more angry at, PwC or the government. Ross Hudson, Mount Martha (Vic)
The public are outraged at the dishonesty of a group of partners’ collective conduct at PwC . While the police investigate their potential criminal conduct, the firm ought to be put into involuntary management, controlled by the Commonwealth auditor-general. The losses to Australia can then be clawed back and the firm never again be awarded a government contract.
The regulator also needs to audit the other Big 4. As for the members of the Tax Practitioners Board, who imposed a mere two-year suspension on Peter Collins and kept its decision low profile, they should be called to account. Howard Charles, Annandale
Of course the PwC response is inadequate. There are so many questions. How much did PwC make and how much did Australians lose in lost tax, and are PwC of any mind to offer compensation. To give some unnamed partners a “holiday” and say we won’t do this again is a complete joke. PwC should explain why they should ever be given government work again. Brenton McGeachie, Queanbeyan West
By all means encourage endeavour, but never at the expense of integrity. This is what PwC has done, boosted by the political currency of the past decade that enabled unethical profit seeking at the expense of propriety. To the new Albanese government: do not reward this behaviour. Companies like PwC, despite self-serving apologies, have lost the right to taxpayer money. Choose ethical alternatives. Alison Stewart, Riverview
American democracy is a dangerous example to follow
Peter Hartcher’s comments are worth thinking about (“America’s drowning in mayhem”, May 30). Apparently, Churchill once said that democracy was “the worst form of government, except for all those other forms”. He was, of course, talking about a well-run, healthy democracy. The USA, however, is a democracy containing various flawed components: an imperfectly-structured and corrupted political-judicial system; rampant capitalism, and the ensuing inequality and divisions within society; an unrelenting desire to maintain world power; and a diverse, largely inward-looking population ignorant about how things are often done better in other democracies. As a result, America’s democracy has mutated into something that is increasingly unworkable and disturbing and dangerous. Democracy gone wrong. In light of this, can somebody please tell me why our government blindly continues to tie us so closely to this disintegrating nation? Pam Timms, Suffolk Park
Hartcher’s editorial reveals a chilling fact:“Guns are the leading cause of death among American children aged 19 and under”. With America unable to protect its own I continue to wonder why we blindly follow and align ourselves with this nation that has clearly lost its way. The second amendment was enacted so the US didn’t have to support a standing army and it’s citizens had a right to protect themselves in their homes the primary weapon available at the time was a single shot musket. The amendment is completely out of step with current times. The unchecked slaughter of innocent children is a stain on the nation. Mike Keene, Stanwell Park
The “defund the police” movement is rightly concerned about the thousands of separate federal, state and local police forces in America which are often armed with surplus US Army military weapons. Members of these police forces often receive minimal training and in 2022 they killed more than a thousand citizens, a disproportionate number of whom were African Americans. The quest to defund the police and stop them from using military weapons is a logical step towards the creation of a police “service” instead of a “force”. The American “left” is in no way responsible for the failure of governments to properly regulate the too easy access to firearms which continues to create mayhem in the US. Pauline Croxon, Undercliffe
Let’s remember that most Americans strongly support tougher, sensible gun control. A majority voted against the incompetent Trump and for a responsible Biden administration. Most do not support tax dodgers. Most want the police to be funded, but for those funds to be used more effectively. The rub is that the antiquated electoral college system and ultra-partisan state shenanigans place the power to disrupt in the hands of the minority. Unless and until there is the courage to tackle structural change, the US will never be great again. Mark Paskal, Austinmer
The greatest threat to America is not China or Russia, it is the Republican Party, the rise of fascism and galloping inequality. Derek Hall, Cremorne
Hartcher aptly describes a non-fictional dystopian nightmare society called the (dis)United States of America, the land of the “free”, where freedom’s reign has turned on itself, becoming a “free-for-all”, and imprisoning itself in a cell made from the unchecked practice of the power-hungry, greedy; and criminally and immorally rampant self-obsessed, orgiastic, wheeling and dealing of the bloated wealthy classes. Fred Jansohn, Rose Bay
Time to hear the Voice
In 1967, when I was 23 I was amazed that I had to vote on whether Indigenous people of our nation could actually become citizens (“Voice pamphlet needs ‘respectful’ tone”, May 30). Out in the south-west of NSW I was playing cricket and football with Indigenous people and as a teacher taught and worked with them. At that time, I had no idea Indigenous people weren’t even recognised as citizens of their own country. How shameful that was, and it was a privilege to vote in that referendum. Now I have another chance to at least give Indigenous people better recognition and a chance to improve the lives of many by advising government when it is making policies that will affect them. It’s been more than 50 years to give Indigenous people a Voice in their own affairs. Ken Pares, Forster
In the debate about the Voice, although I am a Yes supporter, I accept that others may have some questions, but can we do this in a civil manner, please? Scare campaigns have no place in an honest debate of ideas. I can recall some real doozies from past issues – the granting of land rights was going to see our backyards taken away and farmers were going to lose their land. The Apology was going to lead to billions of dollars compensation paid out and, my personal favourite, during the marriage equality debate we were told that people were going to marry their horses (thankfully for the horses, this never happened). None of these things came about.
Surely, as a nation, we are capable of discussing issues and viewpoints without resorting to the lowest common denominator. We are supposed to be an educated, adult people – let’s act that way, please. Ron Wessel, Mount St Thomas
I can’t understand what the opponents of the Voice are so worried about (Letters, May 30). It’s not as if it is handing the keys of Parliament House to our Indigenous communities: we’re just giving them the right to walk up to the door. For those who are worried about our nation being held to ransom via some High Court challenge, remember that “intent” is a core precedent for rulings about the Constitution – and it is crystal clear that the intent of the Voice is to be an advisory body. It’s not meant to force its opinions onto the rest of the nation. To put it simply, it’s the least we can do. Tom Orren, Wamberal Heights
The less students know about economics, the more vulnerable and preyed upon they will be by those politicians and media commentators who also know little about economics (“Failing to profit: students lose interest in HSC economics”, May 30). Brian Collins, Cronulla
There is little debate that economists are making an impact on our lives, and for the most part it is fairly negative. The simplistic neoliberal lens through which they tend to view the world is driving wide-spread failures across the public policy spectrum. It is very difficult to see the benefits that economics has been delivering to Indigenous affairs, biodiversity, disability services, health, and the list goes on. Economics may well be important, but not at the expense of our humanity. Chris Andrew, Turramurra
Those making laws regarding AI and those developing AI should keep in mind the three laws promulgated by Isaac Asimov in his 1942 book I, Robot (“Labor to take first steps in writing AI rule book”, May 30). First law: A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. Second law: A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the first law.
Third law: A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the first or second law. A valid amendment would change “robot” to “robot or AI system”. Robert Ballinger, Pymble
While there are elements of the internet which are antisocial, there are many sites which are not (Letters, May 30). This morning I have watched a Victorian farmer save the life of a newborn lamb and its mother and shared the joy of friends’ travels in Italy and Japan. I have laughed at the antics of dogs, admired beautiful gardens and Sydney architecture. On Facebook and Instagram I can find inspirational quotes, suggestions for reading material and recommendations for local tradespeople and cafes, as well as keep up with friends and family in other states and countries. I see sights I will never see in person and widen my knowledge. I use social media with care and it enriches my life. Sally James, Russell Lea
Does the job
Your correspondent must be taking a limo to and from the Sydney airport (Letters, May 30). I recently caught the airport train and unless I was totally dazzled by its similarity to a normal train, I further observed that it was integrated into the normal system via the T8 Line all the way out to Campbelltown. From where I reside, I wish I too could take a limo. Brian Jones, Leura
Noah’s packs up
I know things change but I feel a bit nostalgic for the old Noah’s Backpackers at Bondi Beach that is to become a boutique hotel (“Chef Clayton Wells takes charge of food direction at new Bondi hotel”, May 30). I never stayed there but whenever I went past, I’d think about travelling and being carefree and exploring the world. Somehow I don’t imagine a boutique hotel will quite conjure those same feelings. Lisa Clarke, Watsons Bay
When you read how Sam Bloom’s life was influenced by a bird’s fate (“Magpie saved a para surfers life and inspires the Blues”, May 30) you can understand why two of our leading departed poets, Robert Adamson and Denis Kevans, were both obsessed with writing about their feathered friends. Jefferson Lee, Petersham
From St Kilda to Kings Cross
My uni mates used to joke that if people who lived in Sydney had something to say they threw a party, while citizens who existed in Melbourne formed a committee and founded a journal (“I’m a Melburnian – but Sydney is by far a better city”, May 30). The Melburnians’ journals featured learned analyses of the stereotypes held by ill-educated New South Welshmen/women. Philip Bell, Bronte
In an age where diversity and acceptance are promoted, why not be grateful that Australia is blessed with capital cities that each have their own characteristic style? Jeanette Mollenhauer, Leonay
Whether you a fan of Kochie or not, you have to admire someone who gets up before the crack of dawn and puts on a brave face for the television audience for such a long time (“Koch counts down to set alarm for final Sunrise”, May 30). Enjoy a good sleep in, Kochie. Peter Miniutti, Ashbury
Kochie and Mark McGowan resign hours apart – it can only be a matter of time until McGowan is on Sunrise and Kochie is running for WA premier (“‘Exhausted’ premier quits”, May 30). John Dinan, Cheltenham
The digital view
Online comment from one of the stories that attracted the most reader feedback yesterday on smh.com.au
Nationals leader says claim Voice will re-racialise Australia should not be in referendum pamphlet
From HWGA: “The pamphlets for both the yes and no case should be written by the Australian Electoral Commission, or, at the very least, vetted by them. There is no place for misinformation, divisive rhetoric or inflammatory text in pamphlets on such an important topic.″
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