Perceptions of corruption and ethical conduct

Public sector Democracy Australia

This report finds that the media, trade unions and political parties top the list of institutions the public perceives to be the most corrupt.

The report presents the results of the latest ANUpoll, which measured public confidence in government and institutions, perceptions and experiences of corruption and the ethical conduct of elected representatives, as well as taking stock of the political mood.

It confirms that acts of bribery involving public officials in Australia are very low, yet at the same time reveals that the public believes corruption is on the rise. The results also demonstrate a strong link between public confidence and perceptions of corruption.

The Federal Government was seen as corrupt by almost one in three people and only one in five believe that governments can usually be trusted to do the right thing.

However, Australians’ satisfaction with democracy remains among the highest in the world suggesting the public distinguishes between the broad institutions of the political system, in which confidence is high, and the individuals who occupy elected positions within that system, in whom confidence is low.

At the opposite end of the spectrum the armed forces, the public service and the police enjoy the highest levels of public confidence and are regarded as the least corrupt.

Other key findings include:

  • Satisfaction with democracy in Australia remains high by international standards, although it is lower in 2012 than at any time since 1998.
  • Judged over more than decade, the largest increases in confidence have been in the public service and the legal system, and the largest decreases have been in the federal government and political parties.
  • Satisfaction with the direction in which the country is headed remains positive, and has been virtually unchanged over the past year.

This is the thirteenth ANUpoll. ANUpoll is a regular survey of Australian public opinion on matters of national importance.

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