Who are Australia's least trusted politicians?

Australians have lost trust in all forms of government, according to the latest research from Roy Morgan.

An examination of people’s ‘trust’ or ‘distrust’ of government and politicians over the course of the Morrison government’s current term shows levels of distrust far exceed levels of trust, leading to a consistently negative ‘net trust score’ since 2019.

The prime minister is currently Australia’s least trusted politician and Senator Penny Wong the most trusted, but the electorate as a whole is losing faith in government.

Roy Morgan conducted the phone survey with more than 1400 Australians earlier this month.

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Trust in the government grew significantly during the first months of the pandemic, peaking towards the end of 2020. But the positivity was short-lived, with trust nosediving in early 2021 as Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins’ allegations of sexual assault emerged.

The drop was further cemented with the arrival of the Delta variant, forcing many Australian cities back into lockdown. The view expressed was that the government had lost control of the pandemic, even though it had ample time to prepare for the second wave.

“In 2019, when Scott Morrison won the ‘unwinnable’ election things changed – more people believed the government was doing a good job and fewer people distrusted the government,” says Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine.

“But by June 2021, it all went into reverse – Black Summer bushfires, the end of JobKeeper, parliamentary sex scandals, COVID vaccination delays – all sent trust plummeting and distrust climbing.”

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The research also looked at levels of trust or distrust for individual politicians – and again the current government came up short.

No less than six members of the current LNP government feature on the list of the 10 least trusted Australian politicians, with another former government member (Craig Kelly) on the list.

Least trusted Australian politicians:

  1. Scott Morrison
  2. Peter Dutton
  3. Barnaby Joyce
  4. Pauline Hanson
  5. Craig Kelly
  6. Dominic Perrottet
  7. Angus Taylor
  8. Michaelia Cash
  9. Josh Frydenberg
  10. Matthew Guy

The news was better for Labor ahead of the upcoming election, with three federal Labor MPs taking out the top three spots on the list of most trusted politicians.

Read: Will pork-barrelling cost the government the election?

Most trusted Australian politicians:

  1. Penny Wong
  2. Anthony Albanese
  3. Tanya Plibersek
  4. Mark McGowan
  5. Jacqui Lambie
  6. Gladys Berejiklian
  7. Adam Bandt

Although Labor features more often on the trusted list, Ms Levine says it’s the distrust list that has more impact on the public when it comes time to vote.

“Australian political contests are no longer purely won on trust, they are lost on distrust,” she says.

“My take-out from the significant win for Mark McGowan in last year’s WA election and the big swing away from the increasingly distrusted Coalition in Saturday’s South Australian election is that the upcoming federal election will be won or lost on how distrusted a party’s leaders are.”

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Written by Brad Lockyer

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