Corruption can take generations to heal, says Minister Leigh

Minister Andrew Leigh presenting at NIS 2023.
Minister Andrew Leigh presenting at NIS 2023.
30 August 2023
As keynote for Transparency International Australia’s National Integrity Summit The Hon. Dr Andrew Leigh MP, Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities, Treasury and Employment, spoke to the economics of corruption and the long-term impacts it can have on both institutions and the economy. 

When corruption really gets into the bones of a society the damage it does to institutions can take generations to heal, Leigh said. 

“While Australia has had many corruption scandals, the Fitzgerald Inquiry and the systemic corruption among police and Queensland politicians it unearthed stands out both because of the scale of the corruption that it revealed and the long-term impact it had,” he said. 

“The Inquiry ultimately led to four former state ministers, and multiple senior police being found to have engaged in corrupt conduct, and the establishment of Queensland’s first anti-corruption body, the Crime and Misconduct Commission (now the Crime and Corruption Commission) in 1988. “

Joh himself was put on trial for perjury in 1992 with an episode of Four Corners from 2008 revealing that a later inquiry conducted by Justice Bill Carter found the jury. selection process had been manipulated by ex-police officers.

“Corruption diminishes us all. To live in a corrupt society is to live a less fulfilling life. But corruption has economic costs too,” Leigh adds. “It undermines health and education. It diminishes tax revenues. It worsens inequality. It discourages investment. And it erodes trust.”

Among decreasing tax revenue, distorts public spending and compromised healthcare, Andrews’ outlines the economic costs of corruption on doing business, undermining of innovation and reducing foreign investment. 

“Companies operating in corrupt environments often face higher costs due to bribery demands, unofficial ‘fees,’ and bureaucratic delays. Countries with more corruption tend to have slower growth,” said Leigh. 

“The World Economic Forum estimates that corruption increases the cost of doing business by up to 10% globally. Corrupt economies are – almost by their very nature – uncompetitive economies. If bribes are the price of entry then only those who can afford to pay a bribe ever have the opportunity to get started.

“Research analysing four Latin American nations found that ‘the more firms offer bribes, the lower their innovation capability and productivity are.”

Above all else, Leigh describes corruption as eroding public trust in government and undermines social cohesion “that is fundamental to a dynamic economy.”

Please watch and share the full recording of Andrew Leigh’s key note address.