Date posted: 2/09/2015 3 min read

Are Australia and New Zealand corrupt?

Corruption is on the rise. What’s Australia and New Zealand’s response?

in brief

  • Australia and New Zealand perform well when assessed against global measures of corruption.
  • Rates of corruption are on the rise because of increased trade with countries considered corrupt
  • Both Australia and New Zealand have been harshly criticised for what’s seen as a casual approach to corruption.

The fight against corruption

This paper explores why corruption seems to be on the increase in Australia and New Zealand and considers if we’re doing enough to fight it. It asks some thought-provoking questions, concluding with ten calls to action.

There is a common perception that bribery and corruption exist in business, the government and even in sport in many countries but not in Australia and New Zealand.

They are well positioned in international rankings of corruption and appear to be amongst the least corrupt countries in the world. New Zealand’s public sector ranked fourth least corrupt in the world, and Australia came thirteenth according to the 2015 perceptions index by renowned anti-corruption agency Transparency International.

But the positions are less impressive when compared to rankings in earlier years:

  • In 2013, New Zealand was first and Australia ninth.
  • In 2014, New Zealand was fourth and Australia 11th.

Both countries are slipping steadily down the rankings suggesting corruption is perceived as on the rise.

For example, New Zealand is one of a handful of countries in the world where facilitation payments aren’t just legal, but also tax deductible. This is also true in certain situations in Australia. According to our law, facilitation payments, or “grease payments”, are “minor benefits used to secure the performance of a routine government action.” However, Transparency International considers facilitation payments bribes.

We’re also trading more than ever with countries that have higher levels of corruption. We’d be naïve to think we aren’t being exposed to corrupt practices.

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