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Home News How government occupations rate among ‘unethical’ professions
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The base salary of Australia’s top government officials is nothing short of unethical to the community they serve, a recent survey from the Governance Institute of Australia has found.
The Ethics Index, now in its second year, show a continuing gap between Australians’ expectations and perceptions of those who run the country — both in government and business. It also ranks public sector occupations across professions and tiers of government for perceptions of whether it is ethical or unethical.
The tipping point when a remuneration package went from acceptable to ‘unethical’ is the $600,000 mark, but a $300,000 package was seen by most as ethical. There aren’t many government officials in Australia with salaries above $600,000, but it does include every federal Band 4 in the Senior Executive Service and every notable government-owned corporate head on a negotiated contract. A significant number of state executives and federal Band 3 remuneration packages fall in the grey area of the public’s expectations.
Overall the public sector received a 43% positive rating on the Ethics Index — behind education sector (80%), health (69%) and charities and NFP (60%), but well in front of media (1%), corporate sector (-3%) and banking and finance sector (-5%).
Ambulance and fire services are seen as the most ethical public sector occupations (85% and 84%), trailed closely by police (63%).
Consistent with last year, public servants are seen as more ethical than politicians — executive salaries not withstanding. Federal public servants had the highest improvement in the last year, up 12 to 20%. Local and state public servants also rose in public perception of ethicality.
The index is created by asking the public how they view the occupation or sector on a scale of very unethical, somewhat unethical, neither unethical or ethical, somewhat ethical and very ethical. The survey used three definitions of ethics that all but 3% of the 1000 respondents could agree with at least one:
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