Wednesday, September 13, 2023

ATO commissioner race is KPMG’s to lose


Uni scraps PwC contract over Scyne concerns

Edith Cowan University has moved to terminate a contract with PwC to manage its $853 million campus project in Perth amid concerns the work was scheduled to be moved to the big-four firm’s public sector consulting spin-off, Scyne.

The cancellation of the contract, which had more than two years to run, has left builder Multiplex in a difficult position because several PwC employees who were managing the build have stopped working on the project before the contract ends on Friday.

 PwC sold off its public sector consulting unit, which led to the creation of Scyne, after the firm’s tax leaks scandal prompted the Department of Finance to effectively cut it off from winning new work from the federal government.

The pitch is that Scyne purely concentrate on providing advisory services to public sector organisations, feature ASX-level governance and only allow partners and staff not involved in any PwC-related scandals to move across.

It was hoped that most of the work being carried out by PwC’s public sector advisers would move across to Scyne.


Rear Window

Myriam Robin

ATO commissioner race is KPMG’s to lose

Myriam RobinColumnist

We’ve already pointed out that the recruitment firm that employs noted corporate tax critic Emma Alberici is helping Jim Chalmersfind the next Australian commissioner of taxation. No doubt with the utmost professional detachment.

Still, if the above in any way discourages ATO insider and leading contender Jeremy Hirschhorn, he might take comfort from a familiar face on the panel compiling the shortlist this week.

Jeremy Hirschhorn: ATO contender.  Michael Quelch

Reliable sources say that sitting alongside Public Services Commissioner Dr Gordon de Brouwer and Treasury secretary Dr Steven Kennedy on the selection committee is Rosheen Garnon, who chairs the Board of Taxation.

According to her LinkedIn, Garnon was a partner at KPMG until 2016, and was the lead managing partner of tax from 2009 until 2015.

Hirschhorn is another ex-KPMG partner, having worked there for nearly two decades beginning in 1995. He finished up in 2014 as the lead partner of financial services tax. This would certainly have put him in Garnon’s orbit.

Treasury declined to confirm who would sit on the selection panel, but did say the process would include “appropriate declarations” of any conflicts of interest, with panel members not being a referee for any candidate regarding whom they might have a conflict.

You’d have to say Hirschhorn’s odds of being picked by Chalmers as the next commissioner of taxation are good, given the role’s current occupant, Chris Jordan, was the first outsider to be appointed to lead the ATO in its 113-year history.

In other ways though, Jordan trod a well-worn path from KPMG to the senior ranks of the Tax Office, after being forced to retire as KPMG Sydney’s chairman at the consultancy’s former (and legally dubious) mandatory age cut-off of 58

Apart from Hirschhorn, another KPMG graduate is Assistant Commissioner Andrew McCrossin, though he spent time at Ernst &Young in the interim. Ex-deputy commissioner Deborah Jenkins, who left for another public service job in January, spent 15 years at KPMG before joining the ATO.

The KPMG history of ex-deputy commissioner Jeremy Geale was shorter (a mere five years across two stints). Former client engagement director Sean Madden has one of the most interesting trajectories, having started at the ATO, joined KPMG, then rejoined the ATO, where he finished up as a client engagement director. He’s now back at KPMG, where he made partner this year.

Myriam Robin is a Rear Window columnist based in the Financial Review's Melbourne newsroom. Connect with Myriam on Twitter. Email Myriam at

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