Australian government contracts worth $374m deemed poor value amid conflict-of-interest concerns

Taxpayers forked out $374m for contracts deemed to be poor value for money and have perceived conflicts of interest, a damning review has revealed.

The investigation was launched following allegations that former minister Stuart Robert was linked to a Canberra lobbying and consulting firm helping companies secure lucrative government contracts.

Nineteen contracts were flagged by the review for further investigation over a lack of appropriate record-keeping and were not considered as having delivered bang for buck.

The majority of the 95 contracts considered had “broadly demonstrated good practice”.

Robert was appointed minister for the National Disability and Insurance Scheme and government services in 2019 under the former Morrison government.

He has repeatedly rejected the accusations.

The government services minister, Bill Shorten, demanded to know why basic standards weren’t met.

“It is completely unacceptable,” he said.

skip past newsletter promotion

“People pay their taxes in good faith to Canberra, they do not expect to have substandard procurement arrangements and no conflicts of interest declared or disclosed.”

Shorten said the government would consider the report, and called on Robert to explain why certain contracts failed to meet the standards.

Dr Ian Watt, the former head of the public service, completed the review and looked at contracts awarded from 2015 onwards.