Commission of Audit to be grilled on conflict of interest

THE leaders of the Abbott Government's Commission of Audit will face questions about any potential conflicts of interest they may have during a Senate committee hearing on Wednesday.

A Senate inquiry set up last year by the Federal Opposition and The Greens aims to extract information about the focus of the Audit and its commissioners during the hearing.

The Audit, led by Business Council chief Tony Shepherd, aims to balance the government's books, but Labor has been feeding fears about potential budget cuts and a raft of government sell-offs.

Those fears, Labor and The Greens figures say, are justified by the Abbott Government appointing largely pro-market business figures to lead the inquiry.

While there is no evidence of any problems during the Audit to date, the Senate committee will aim to shed light on its plans, despite a government edict not to comment on its potential recommendations.

Committee chairman, The Greens Senator Richard Di Natale, on Tuesday said he did not know how potential conflicts were being dealt with by the Audit.

He told reporter he believed it was "quite likely in some areas" that Mr Shepherd may have some conflicts of interest.

Labor Senator Sam Dastyari, who also sits on the committee, told Sky News he was worried the audit had "preordained outcomes" and that the audit was "a smokescreen for the Abbott Government walking away from its election promises".

There is no indication that there are any real of potential conflicts of interest among the audit commissioners, or how such issues may or may not be dealt with.

The audit is expected to reports its initial findings by the end of the month.


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