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Auditors to be paid $1500 a day to recommend spending cuts

Treasurer Joe Hockey with the chairman of the Commission of Audit Tony Shepherd, who will be paid $1500 a day by the government.

Treasurer Joe Hockey with the chairman of the Commission of Audit Tony Shepherd, who will be paid $1500 a day by the government. Photo: Andrew Meares

Members of the team hand-picked by the Abbott government to rein in spending will be paid $1500 a day.

The Coalition's election costings earmarked $1 million for the government-wide commission of audit, set up last week to consider ways to cut costs and privatise assets or services.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann told Fairfax Media the Business Council of Australia president, Tony Shepherd, would be paid $1500 a day to head the commission.

The same rate would apply for the four other commissioners: former Liberal minister Amanda Vanstone, former Finance Department secretary Peter Boxall, former Treasury chief Tony Cole and former West Australian director-general Robert Fisher.

''This level of remuneration recognises the skills, experience and responsibilities of the commissioners and the fact the role is of limited duration,'' Senator Cormann said.

''Commissioners will be paid on a pro-rata basis where they do not work a full eight-hour day.''

Industry figures said the pay rates were standard for this type of work but the opposition have been highly critical of what they call the "commission for cuts'' and any possible privatisation.

Labor finance spokesman Tony Burke said the "big business representatives" would be paid more in a day than a family received through the scrapped Schoolkids Bonus each year.

"Tony Abbott is axing the Schoolkids Bonus but can't see a problem paying a fortune to representatives of our wealthiest businesses to decide what the government should and shouldn't spend money on, and everyone else in the community is supposed to cop it," Mr Burke said.

An audit industry insider told Fairfax Media the daily rates revealed by the government were "in the ballpark of what we would expect people to be charging".

This was backed by audit expert Dr Margaret Wade, an adjunct associate professor at the University of Canberra.

"I would agree that that's an amount that consultants are usually paid for that kind of work," Dr Wade said.

The Australian National University's Greg Shailer, director of the Australian National Centre for Audit and Assurance Research, said senior accountants or barristers could expect to be paid $400 to $500 per hour.

"It's lower than normal consultancy fees. You don't get too many consultants under $2000 a day," Dr Shailer said.

Mr Shepherd's team has been asked to find areas of duplication between federal and state governments, spell out what activities could be done ''more efficiently'' by the private sector or not-for-profit bodies, and consider an overhaul of service delivery.

It has been set a three-month deadline for its first report with the second stage due for completion in five months to feed into the budget process.

The daily rates are significantly less than Queensland's Liberal National Party government paid members of its own post-election commission of audit last year.

Former Liberal treasurer Peter Costello was paid $3300 per day before GST, while his two deputy commissioners were paid $2500 each.

Their reports sounded the alarm over Queensland debt levels and recommended big spending cuts and outsourcing in numerous service delivery areas.

429 comments

  • Well............ it's always someone else who needs to show restraint, isn't it.

    Commenter
    conan the grammarian
    Date and time
    October 31, 2013, 8:34AM
    • "Areas of duplication", well lets get rid of the Senate.

      How much would that save the country ?

      Commenter
      Rod
      Location
      the Coast
      Date and time
      October 31, 2013, 9:06AM
    • That's the conservative way...one rule for them ..another one for us lowly plebs.

      Commenter
      Bemused
      Date and time
      October 31, 2013, 9:08AM
    • Nicely put Conan!

      Commenter
      Passionfruit
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      October 31, 2013, 9:09AM
    • Couldn't have said it better myself Conan.

      Commenter
      Neal
      Location
      Cairns
      Date and time
      October 31, 2013, 9:12AM
    • @conan You are obviously a Uni student or a Greenie - 1500 a day these days is what any good tradie can earn, let only engineers, financial advisors etc ( 150 per hour gross x a 10 hour day -maybe you haven't heard of a 10 hour work day ? )

      Commenter
      gc
      Date and time
      October 31, 2013, 9:30AM
    • There is such a thing as volunteer work and when someone like Amanda Vanstone has been paid salaries in excess of $300,000 a year as an MP, then takes home a full pension she is already being paid to do this work. She should not be paid $1500 a day. Of course the very first thing she can do is study her own rorting of the VIP jet service from Adelaide to Canberra when commercial flights were available on the hour. Please put the Adults back in charge. The ones that don't rort the system. Isn't it interesting that these are Liberal Party members? Only 50 days in office and have already shown their complete contempt for honesty, integrity and the general public. You voted them in and reading the Murdoch papers isn't going to make it any better because funnily enough everything is rosy from their point of view.

      Commenter
      Thanks for the balanced reporting Fairfax
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      October 31, 2013, 9:40AM
    • gc. Obviously your not aside from the fact trades etc need to run a business pay other workers insurance etc, and to the rest of us struggling $1500 a day for the likes of Vanstone makes me ill.

      Commenter
      amro
      Date and time
      October 31, 2013, 9:43AM
    • Wrong on both counts gc. Don't let facts or evidence get in the way of making a judgement though.

      Commenter
      conan the grammarian
      Date and time
      October 31, 2013, 9:44AM
    • You know $1500 a day for highly experience professionals seems more than reasonable to me.

      Having working in consulting for many years in and around financial services, seeing rates well in excess of $5000 a day...$1500 seems like a bargain.

      Stop whining and wake up peoples...have to spend $ to make $.

      Commenter
      Alex
      Location
      Geelong
      Date and time
      October 31, 2013, 9:44AM

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