Australians’ trust in government has continued to slide, driven by growing concerns about corruption at the federal level, according to a special Global Corruption Barometer survey conducted by Griffith University and Transparency International Australia.
The results also show strong support for creation of a new federal anti-corruption body, with two-thirds (67%) supporting the idea, especially in Victoria, NSW and South Australia – with those ‘strongly supporting’ the idea outstripping those who strongly oppose it by 4 to 1.
Combined with Griffith University’s Australian Constitutional Values Survey, the in-person telephone poll of 2,218 adults, conducted in May-June, provides the first measure since 2012 of the growing impact of corruption on citizens’ trust and confidence in government. The survey shows:
- Trust & confidence in all levels of government fell in the last year, to 46% for federal and state levels and 51% for local government nationally
- Continued low levels of experienced bribery (less than 2%), but high concerns about officials or politicians using their position to benefit themselves or family (62%) or favouring businesses and individuals in return for political donations or support (56%)
- A 9 point increase since 2016 in perceptions that federal members of parliament are corrupt (85% at least ‘some’ corrupt, 18% ‘most/all’ corrupt) – placing them on par with state parliamentarians and worse than local officials.
Project leader Professor A J Brown, of Griffith University’s Centre for Governance & Public Policy, said the results provide both a warning and an opportunity for Australian governments.
“We now see a stronger correlation between trust and action against corruption.”
“Well over a third of citizens’ total trust and confidence is now explained by whether they feel the government is doing a ‘good job in fighting corruption’ (37% at the federal level, 25% state).
“Continued slippage in the perceived integrity of federal officials clearly has a disproportionate effect on overall trust and confidence, nationwide.”