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Australia's corruption score plummets to shameful new low

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Under the Morrison Government, Australia's corruption score has fallen to a record low (Image by Dan Jensen)

Australia's corruption score has reached a new low, highlighting the urgency for a national integrity commission, writes Ross Jones.

The day before Australia Day, on 25 January 2022, Transparency International issued a media release with the headline: ‘Australia's worst-ever corruption score points to urgent need for national integrity commission.’

The release begins:

‘Transparency International (TI)’s latest Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) report has put Australia in 18th place, scoring just 73 points on the 100-point scale.

 

This is the worst result Australia has ever received since Transparency International’s new methodology began in 2012.’

Back in 2013, not long after TI adopted this new methodology, the Australian Parliament posted to its site:

Ahead of International Anti-Corruption Day on 9 December, Transparency International released its latest annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). The CPI allocates countries a score from 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean) based on the perceived extent of public sector corruption as measured by a number of data sources (13 in 2013) — principally surveys of corruption and business experts. Australia’s score dropped from 85 in 2012 to 81 in 2013 and its ranking from seventh to ninth out of 177 countries.

Ait added a small caveat:

It is important to note that the CPI measures perceived, not actual, corruption. The methodology has also been questioned by some for reliance on expert opinion. However, head of Transparency International Australia, Michael Ahrens told SBS that many companies take the CPI into account when assessing business opportunities; the way Australia is perceived can affect their willingness to invest or do business in Australia.

In other words, the global perception of Australia as a place of increasing corruption kicked off the day the Abbott Coalition Government bullied and lied its way to power.

And, like our coat of arms, we haven’t taken a backward step since.

In 2012, Australia ranked seventh globally, equal with Norway, not great but not too bad.

Now we rank 18th.

From a peak of 85 in 2012, Australia’s perceived corruption score has moved inexorably downwards, reaching 77 just eight years later in 2020.

Then things turned bad.

In the last two years, Australia’s score has plunged to 73, dragging its global ranking down to its miserable 18th.

COVID-19 provided the perfect blanket under which crimes of government members and their associates could easily be hidden. At least from a big chunk of the Australian populace, not so much from the global business community.

According to Transparency International CEO Serena Lillywhite:

The dramatic fall in Australia’s standing underscores the urgent need for the establishment of a national integrity commission with the full powers of a royal commission.

 

Transparency International Australia has been sounding the alarm on Australia’s deteriorating global corruption standing for years. The latest results point to systemic failings to tackle corruption, foreign bribery and strengthen political integrity.

 

We need to fix this as a matter of urgency.

 

As we head into another federal election, political integrity and the health of Australia’s democracy should be a priority for every political candidate, party, and voter.

Lillywhite pointed out:

‘Corruption is not a victimless crime. It disproportionately impacts marginalised communities, undermines human rights and can damage the natural environment, such as when dodgy planning deals are done. In short, corruption threatens the health of our democracy.’

We are now firmly on the slide to a banana republic or, more accurately, banana dominion.

According to The Conversation:

‘Overall, Australia has dropped 12 points on the index since 2012, more than any OECD country apart from Hungary, which also fell 12 points. Australia’s rate of decline is also similar or steeper than other countries with far worse issues, including Cyprus, Lebanon, Syria and Venezuela.’

Hungary — now that’s stiff competition but I reckon we can do them.

The thing about perceived corruption is that it can’t be quantified. It is, to an extent, the “vibe”.

But you can be very sure the stuff we know about makes an iceberg tip look generous.

See more information on FIN (Federal ICAC Now) HERE.

Investigations editor Ross Jones is a licensed private enquiry agent and the author of 'Ashbygate: The Plot to Destroy Australia's Speaker'. You can follow Ross on Twitter @RPZJones.

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