Corruption Perceptions Index: Australia failing to improve

By David Donaldson

Thursday January 31, 2019

frankston council

A lack of progress on corruption demonstrates the need for a federal anti-corruption commission, international watchdog argues.

Australia is failing to improve on corruption, according to this year’s Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index.

A score of 77, unchanged from the previous year, places Australia as the 13th-cleanest country in the world.

Denmark is seen as the least corrupt country in the world, with a score of 88.

Perhaps more importantly, New Zealand ranked second on 87.

While Australia’s score did not worsen this year, it is two points down from 2015.

The index is based on the perceptions of experts, as corruption itself is impossible to accurately measure. This raises the possibility that perception and reality may be somewhat misaligned.

One need not look too far from home to find an example of this — Victoria’s reputation as the clean state has been severely damaged since the inception of the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission, which has uncovered plenty of evidence to the contrary.

And a glance at the index shows Australia is not the only country to have seen a slight decrease — indeed, every country above Australia, with the sole exception of Singapore, has fallen since 2015.

“Transparency International points to Australia’s ‘downward trend’ as evidence of the need for a federal anti-corruption commission.”

Are things getting worse or are western countries just becoming more aware they may have previously been overlooking the problem?

Transparency International points to Australia’s “downward trend” as evidence of the need for a federal anti-corruption commission, adding that research they conducted last year found 85% of Australians now think at least “some” federal politicians are corrupt.

“Strengthening our democracy must be a priority for 2019,” says Transparency International Australia CEO Serena Lillywhite.

“It is great that most of our parliament now supports some form of national anti-corruption agency, but the government’s proposed model does not go far enough. The national integrity bills proposed by Cathy McGowan MP provide a more comprehensive and coordinated approach to addressing issues of parliamentary integrity and preventing, detecting, investigating and disclosing corruption.”

After all, the lack of major federal corruption scandals might be because Australia is relatively clean — or it might mean we’re just not looking hard enough.

Australian trust in government on the rise: Edelman 2019 survey
Dreyfus: new corruption watchdog must be ‘delicately designed’ 

About the author
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

The essential resource for effective public sector leaders