The answer: more corrupt than New Zealand, but not as bad as the US and UK, according to new report. But with 68 per cent of our region scoring poorly, how will corruption hinder Australia in the Asian Century? Andy Park reports.
Measuring corruption is like counting rats in the dark.
The rats don’t want to be counted and you can’t see them anyway.
Apart from surveying inflation to the cost of living and comparing those to other countries' data sets, we must rely on the only available torch to shine a light into that darkness.
Transparency International has been formulating their report for the last 18 years.
It ranks 176 countries/territories, drawing on 13 surveys covering expert assessments and surveys of business people.
Australian director and chief executive Michael Ahrens says that corruption is composed of two things, greed and secrecy.
“[The report is] how corrupt Australia is perceived to be, by those dealing with the public sector in that country,” he said.
Dealings like the alleged improper use of inside government information by New South Wales Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid, now the subject of an Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) investigation.
This year’s report (below) again sees the perception of corruption in New Zealand to be less than in Australia, with Australia jumping one spot from eighth to seventh.
“[Australia] ranks in with the Scandinavian countries, not quite as good as New Zealand, but is still in the top quartile.”
This despite the corrupt behaviour in Reserve Bank subsidiaries, Note Printing Australia and Securency, whereby eight former executives were charged with bribery in relation to alleged bribes paid to foreign officials in Malaysia, Vietnam and Nepal.
But with 68 per cent of our region scoring poorly (under 50), Mr Ahrens questions the lack on mentions about corruption in the Asian Century White Paper.
“The government announcement about the Asian Century unfortunately doesn’t take into account that there are such a number of countries in this region with whom our companies do business rank very low on this score,”
A word search in that white paper reveals no mention of "corruption".
Mr Ahrens said that it has flow-on effects to Australian business and investment.
“It not only affects the companies themselves it also affects investors in those companies. It’s a worry that so many of them rank so low on our scores."