Under the miscroscope: Tony Shepherd. Photo: Jesse Marlow
The Abbott government's plans to slash spending, privatise public assets and consider tax rises - including a higher GST - will come under the microscope when the leadership of the National Commission of Audit face a Senate grilling.
Fairfax Media has learnt that commission chairman Tony Shepherd and his panel, which includes former Liberal minister Amanda Vanstone, have been asked to appear in Canberra next Wednesday.
Members of the Senate select committee into the commission of audit were alerted on Wednesday to keep the date free, with one saying the hearing would ''kick off the political year''. The committee was established by Labor and the Greens to try to prise out detail of the government's plans before what is expected to be a savage first Joe Hockey budget in May.
The commission, which was given open-ended terms of reference, will provide a road map for the Coalition's aim to return the budget to a continuing surplus equivalent to 1 per cent of gross domestic product.
On Wednesday, audit commissioners will be asked what instructions they have been given by ministers on everything from raising the GST to selling off Medibank Private and Australia Post. The proposed $6 Medicare levy and any changes to industrial relations laws will also be topics under scrutiny.
Committee chairman Richard Di Natale, a Green, said he could not confirm details of a hearing but it would be welcome to hear from Mr Shepherd and other commissioners.
The secretariat of the Audit Commission could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.