Political donation reform needed to regain public trust

With Queensland’s new political donation disclosure system now online, a new international survey shows strong Australian support for banning businesses from making political donations.

The release of Transparency International’s 2017 Global Corruption Barometer results marks the commencement of Queensland’s new online disclosure system for donations to candidates, until now only revealed after elections are over.

Professor A J Brown from Griffith University’s Centre for Governance & Public Policy, said the telling results highlight how crucial it is for such reforms to be rolled out nationally, and extended, if citizen trust in government is to be maintained or restored.

Professor A J Brown says political donation reform is needed to restore public trust
Professor A J Brown says political donation reform is needed to restore public trust

“In many countries, citizens are concerned by the level of petty bribery they face when trying to access government services, but Australians are clearly most concerned about the risks of ‘grand’ corruption and secret deals behind closed doors,” Professor Brown said.

Public distrust

The survey shows that 76% of citizens think at least some federal parliamentarians ‘are involved in corruption’ – including 12% who believe most or all are involved — confirming other data that Australians do not see federal officials as inherently ‘cleaner’ than state ones.

An even higher proportion (93%) think at least some business executives are involved in corruption — including 20% who believe that most or all are involved.

Donation reform needed

“This is why a strategy for extending political donation reform across the country has to be part of strengthening our national integrity system, to boost confidence in government and business alike,” he said.

The issues will be front and centre in two weeks at National Integrity 2017, being co-hosted in Brisbane by Griffith University and Transparency International Australia on 16-17 March as part of a new Australian Research Council project.

The conference will hear from Queensland Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath on the political donation reforms, Senator Jacinta Collins, Chair of the new Senate Select Committee on a National Integrity Commission, and anti-corruption experts and professionals across business and government.