On 13 September, Professor AJ Brown of the Centre for Governance and Integrity at Griffith University presented on a proposed national integrity agency on behalf of the Development Policy Centre and the Transnational Research Institute on Corruption. The presentation was well attended by ANU Masters students from two long-running ANU Courses - POGO8076- Corruption and Anti-Corruption and LAWS 8009 - Transnational Anti-Corruption Laws. AJ posed a series of pertinent questions - how does a country raise its ranking in the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index? What does Australia’s slippage on the Corruption Perceptions Index really mean? And most importantly, what institutional reforms are required at a national level?
Professor Brown’s presentation gave some directions toward answers that have been developed as a result of the ARC Linkage research project he and Professor Adam Graycar, the Director of TRIC, have been working on. The project brings together Griffith University, Flinders University, Transparency International etc to conduct the latest National Integrity System Assessment for Australia (NISA). This project has developed an options paper which diagnoses the strengths and weaknesses in the Australian national integrity system.
The project also included the latest Australian survey data for the Global Corruption Barometer. The project took a novel approach to extend our understanding of what kinds of problem are “corruption” - refining previous tranches where respondents were only asked whether they perceived government at corrupt. Undue influence of government (bribery, donations, lobbying, business); self interest by officials (expenses, fraud, nepotism, cronyism); and political deceit, dishonesty, lack of transparency or accountability were revealed for the first time empirically in the GCB as how citizens perceive corruption via a specific behaviour.
Any anti-corruption commission at a federal level does need to root out bribery and traditional forms of corruption. While these functions are necessary, they are not sufficient to meet the concerns of Australian society.
A full copy of A National Integrity System - Options for Australia can be found here.
A summary of the report is available here