Renewed calls for watchdog to investigate public service corruption
A recent survey of public servants revealed that many of them have witnessed corruption first-hand, with reported instances of misconduct doubling in the past three years.
Even the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) has admitted that there is corruption within the bureaucracy, although it says cases of dishonesty are rare and that there is no need for a watchdog.
It's own survey revealed that around five per cent of respondents witnessed corruption first-hand and that 59 per cent believe they work in a high corruption-risk environment.
Apart from reports of general misconduct, nepotism and cronyism were also high on the list.
Co-author of The Australia Institute The Cost of Corruption report, Rod Campbell, believes such unscrupulous practices increased business costs and caused inequality, saying a federal independent commission against corruption is needed to stem the flow of duplicity in Australia.
"The perception of corruption is on the rise, the number of public servants who have witnessed corrupt behaviour is on the rise and public trust in federal parliament is at an all-time low,” he said.
"As well as the obvious democratic cost, corruption and the perception of corruption also costs our economy."
In fact, the report estimates that corrupt practices could cost the Government over $72 billion – or four per cent of the nation’s GDP.
There are also fears that any known corruption would only be the tip of the iceberg.
"We know that in the public service, whistleblowing is absolutely frowned on," said President of Transparent International Anthony Whealy QC.
"People who work in the public service, in many instances, would be afraid to report their superiors or even their equals who are involved in corruption."
According to The Australia Institute report, trust in government is at an all-time low in Australia.
While a parliamentary comittee has previously put the brakes on a federal anti-corruption body, Mr Whealy believes the Government will eventually come around.
"By the time we get to the next election, this is going to be a hot election issue, and I'm hoping there will be bipartisan support," he said.
Do you think there is a need for a federal anti-corruption body? Do you trust the Government?
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