Although Australia’s reputation for integrity in government is now among the world’s highest, corruption has afflicted Australian public life to varying degrees for the past two centuries. A few areas of government have been troubled with persistent and entrenched corruption for many years.
Some officials cannot control their greed while others find themselves in difficult situations and cut corners or take inducements. Fortunately, these are a small minority of our public officials. In a Transparency International survey, Australia ranked 12th out of 99 countries on a “corruption perception index”. The dynamics, however, are universal—a simple formula proposes that discretion plus monopoly minus accountability equals corruption.
This paper provides a basic overview of corruption in Australia. It outlines its basic forms, explains why corruption occurs, and, most importantly, spells out what Australian governments and the private sector have done, and can do, to reduce the level of corruption in society.