The Corruption Perceptions Index released today by Transparency International shows that Australia has fallen again in the CPI score.
Despite attempts to combat corruption around the world, the majority of countries are moving too slowly in their efforts – including Australia, who has continued to slide.
While Australia’s ranking has not changed – 13th for three years running – and it may appear we are holding ground, our CPI score has notably decreased over the last six years.
In 2012, Australia scored 85 out of 100. Today, in the latest CPI, Australia has slipped 8 points, receiving a score of 77, and remains outside the top 10 countries. Australia scored 79 in 2016.
“This suggests a loss of trust in the Australian public sector and the perception, at best, that corruption has gotten worse, in only a few short years”, said Serena Lillywhite, CEO of Transparency International Australia.
The Index, which ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption according to experts and business leaders, uses a scale of 0 to 100, where 100 is the cleanest, and 0 is the most corrupt.
In the 2017 CPI, several countries significantly improved their CPI score, such as Côte d’Ivoire, Sénégal and the United Kingdom, while several countries declined, including Syria, Yemen and Australia.
The CPI scores and ranks the perception of corruption on a number of corrupt behaviours in the public sector from bribery to the diversion of public funds. It also looks at the mechanisms available to prevent corruption, such as the government’s ability to enforce integrity mechanisms, access to information and the legal protection for whistleblowers, journalists and investigators.
“It’s hardly surprising Australia’s corruption perception score continues to fall, the integrity score card has taken a battering”, said Serena Lillywhite.
“The misuse of travel allowances; inadequate regulation of foreign political donations; conflicts of interest in planning approvals; revolving doors; a culture of mateship; and inappropriate industry-lobbying in large scale projects, such as mining, and the misuse of power by leading politicians – have no doubt had an impact”, she said.
Within the Asia Pacific region, where the regional average score is 44.39, New Zealand, scored 89, and now ranks number one in the world on the CPI. Close neighbours, Singapore, scored 84, with Indonesia scoring 37 and PNG scoring 29.
In comparison to Australia’s declining score, the UK, over the last six years, has improved its score from 74 to 82.
Most African countries scored well below 50. Australia is the largest miner on the continent, with 140 ASX companies alone operating in 34 countries across Africa.
“This should have alarm bells ringing for Australian miners, and underscores the importance of Transparency International Australia’s work to combat corruption in mining approvals”, said Lillywhite.
The 2017 CPI results indicate that more needs to be done to strengthen Australia’s national integrity system.
“Australia’s failure to improve its position on the CPI suggests a failure to address with sufficient urgency a range of serious public-sector issues. These include money-laundering, whistleblowing, political donations and the effectiveness of our integrity systems. The Government has simply not faced up to the need to have in place an independent anti-corruption agency at a national level”, said Anthony Whealy QC, Chair of Transparency International Australia.
Australia’s failure to advance up the rankings – and in fact its further decline in the scoring in the Corruption Perceptions Index highlights the need for urgent collective action. Corruption, or even the appearance of corruption, has no place in the Australian public sector.