Modern corruption in democracies doesn't often involve paper bags of money - it has more to do with the ways powerful interests intrude into political decision making. This can be influence-buying through parties, elected officials or bureaucrats; professional lobbying - that is, exploiting privileged access; and creating obligations in many different forms. Reform therefore means transparent regulation of lobbyists, limiting political donations; and enforceable oversight.
Some of the main integrity problems for Australians at the federal level are:
• A very weak system of regulation for federal lobbyists (opaque undue influence);
• Lax political donation laws, allowing private interests to create obligations with law-makers;
• Long delay of donor disclosure - public does not know donation sources at election time;
• Particularly bad "revolving door" which allows retired politicans and bureaucrats to exploit their position as lobbyists;
• Very weak enforcemnent of freedom of information (FOI) laws;
• Political interference and hostility in respect of the national public broadcasters.
Here are some useful analyses of the problem in our country, and some of the proposed remedies.
Corruption is a cancer ...
that eats away at a citizen's
faith in democracy
Three essays from The Conversation (2017) on the feeble regulation of lobbying in Canberra
A thorough report by the Grattan Institute (2018) on the lobbying problem and sensible solutions
An interesting commentary on the Grattan report written for Renew Economy showing how this problem contributed to Australia's terrible climate policy record
A discussion paper by The Australia Institute (2018) making the case for a federal watchdog, plus a blueprint
The Greens' anti-corruption bill & notes to the bill
The federal coalition, after strenuously opposing the idea of a corruption commission, proposed their own bill late in 2018. It was immediately condemned as a sham by all experts, and will never become law. Two articles.
GetUp has a special interest in this matter because of the enmity of senator Eric Abetz. The senator considers citizen advocacy to be illegitimate. This is a piece from The Conversation about his campaign in 2017.
The 2018 Transparency International report/index rates Australia among the 'decliners' - 13th out of 180. We ought to be a leader.
SAVING THE ABC
Australia has by far the most concentrated media ownership of any OECD country. This would not matter so much if media were impartial reporters and analysts - but of course they are not. That makes the position of our public broadcasters specially vital for sustaining a working democracy. Here's the site of ABC Friends, an organisation of ordinary citizens wanting to stick up for the independence and fair treatment of the ABC & SBS
This article from The Conversation briefly recounts the shocking abuse of ABC funding since the first Abbot budget of 2014
Here, if you want more detail of the ABC's current problems, is the latest annual report