Member for Kiama Gareth Ward has said the Premier’s answers to his questions on consultants shows that the scandals involving the Big Four consultancies in Canberra could happen in NSW with no indication that the government will implement recommendations it put forward when Labor was in Opposition.

Mr Ward asked Chris Minns a question in Question Time with the Premier tabling his answer yesterday: Additional information to question without notice asked by the Member for Kiama of the of the Premier on 3 August 2023.pdf (nsw.gov.au)

“Rightly, Labor in Opposition commenced an inquiry into the Transport Asset Holding Entity. This inquiry highlighted appalling conflicts of interest by taxpayer-funded consultants that exposed the people of NSW to significant risk,” Mr Ward said.

“That inquiry handed down recommendations including those deemed ‘urgent’ but there is no clarity on whether any of these integrity measures have been implemented. Based on the Premier’s answer, he either doesn’t know or doesn’t care.

A copy of the Public Accountability Committee findings into its inquiry into the Transport Asset Holding Entity can be found here: Report (nsw.gov.au). Specific attention is drawn to recommendation 3.

“Whilst I appreciate that there is another inquiry underway, the Premier has recommendations proffered by his own Labor Members of Parliament that he can act on now. Why is he delaying acting on these important ethics, probity, and integrity measures?

“Chris Minns needs to assure the people of NSW that his government takes probity seriously. His answer to important questions in Parliament shows a dangerous and flippant disregard for important integrity measures proposed by Labor Members of the Legislative Council when in Opposition.

“If action was deemed ‘urgent’ in opposition, why is the Premier and his government failing to implement these their own recommendations in Government. It’s a shocking case of blatant and habitual hypocrisy,” Mr Ward concluded. 

Recommendation 3:

That the NSW Government, when engaging consultants, urgently implement:

  • Controls to ensure consultants are chosen to provide genuine independent advice rather than to deliver desired outcomes.
  • Measures to ensure agencies share information with each other, to avoid the same consultancy firm being used to provide advice in instances where agencies may have disparate interests in the same policy area.
  • Measures to prevent conflicts of interest when engaging consultants from more than one agency.

Source: Public Accountability Committee ‘Transport Asset Holding Entity’ – Report 13, Page 12, April 2022.