peter costello
Nine Chairman Peter Costello

It took a pandemic to finally slow the hitherto remorseless rise of the big four consulting firms to the dominant position in Australian public affairs.

Having grown in recent years to become one of the biggest sources of political donations while siphoning off billions in government contracts, Ernst & Young (EY), PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), KPMG and Deloitte all pulled their political funding back in 2019-20, but still made major contributions.

EY, which in 2018-19 gave more than a quarter of a million dollars to the major parties, handed over only $72,000 in 2019-20, split roughly equally between both sides, with the ruling ACT Labor and Tasmanian Liberal parties doing best (state and territory governments are lucrative sources of contracts as well).