Taking care of our democracy
The response to the covid-19 crisis demonstrates the importance of good government.
We need to trust that governments are making good decisions, decisions that put people’s health and well-being first.
We need to feel confident that our public institutions are strong enough to perform the critically important tasks that the public needs.
Australians have been successfully fighting the spread of this virus by acting as a community that cares for one another.
Our governments have been successful by working cooperatively at the state, federal and local levels; by listening to independent expert advice; and by keeping the public well informed.
A strong democracy and solid, well-funded public institutions are essential to tackling a health crisis and looking after people’s needs.
However, in Australia, and elsewhere, we are concerned about the use of extraordinary powers and decisions being made without scrutiny.
Disruption, uncertainty and distraction contribute to an environment in which corrupt actors can take advantage of a crisis for their own benefit.
There is a risk that:
- Politicians might give themselves extraordinary powers without a clearly defined scope and deadline.
- People with unfair levels of access and influence might sway political opinion towards their own agenda, leading to poor decisions and poor outcomes for the greater public and the natural environment;
- Public funds might be misspent or misappropriated for activities that are not in the public’s best interest;
- Large projects, such as mining and infrastructure, will be approved without the necessary checks and balances and meaningful community consultation;
- Punitive measures to control the crisis might too severely impact on people’s rights,and these might not expire after the crisis is over;
- The use of citizen’s data to track and control the pandemic might be used for other reasons beyond health.
Transparency International Australia is committed to championing the highest standards of political and business integrity.
In this new series, we shine a light on governments’ responses to this health and economic emergency.
We will track and scrutinise how governments are using their power and analyse where and how corruption might threaten our democracy.
We will insist on transparency and accountability so that public decisions put the public’s best and long-term interests first.
We will continue to insist that the health of our democracy be protected, and people’s rights respected.