Are Australians losing faith in the integrity of our political system?

Jamie Briggs is cloaking his attempt to nobble GetUp! with electoral law in concern about how Australians feel about their political system. He told The Age that

“We are heading into dangerous territory where Australians are losing faith in the integrity of our political system because of the large amounts of money being spent on access and donations.”

Alas Jamie, a subject on which there is empirical evidence!

As this publication on trends in Australian public opinion (largish pdf) records, satisfaction with Australian democracy in 2007 was, at 86%, the highest it has been in a series of questions going back to 1969. It has been trending up since 1998. No sign of losing faith in the system there.

A question which more directly targets the issue of ‘access and donations’ is this:

Would you say the government is run by a few big interests looking out for themselves, or that it is run for the benefit of all the people?

Here people are more cynical, with 65% saying ‘big interests’. But contrary to the losing faith theory, this is trending down from a peak of 82% in 1998. On a slightly different question, 71% gave the ‘big interests’ response in 1969. There is no long-term rise in cynicism, despite the vast increase in the cost of election campaigns and consequent need for more donations.

Voters are wisely sceptical of what politicians tell them. But there is no crisis of integrity in government or public perceptions of that integrity.

7 Responses to “Are Australians losing faith in the integrity of our political system?

  • 1
    Richie
    December 29th, 2008 06:09

    You obviously either don’t live in or know anything about NSW and well documented public perceptions of government there.

  • 2
    Andrew Norton
    December 29th, 2008 06:52

    Richie – I tend to think that the NSW government’s failure to deliver basic services in a competent manner, rather than a few instances of corruption, is at the heart of public disconcent there.

  • 3
    Sinclair Davidson
    December 29th, 2008 07:26

    Amazing – another person who thinks that NSW defines the whole of Australia.

  • 4
    Sinclair Davidson
    December 29th, 2008 07:38

    From the Age article

    Jamie Briggs, from South Australia, who is a former adviser to John Howard on industrial relations

    WorkChoices-man?

  • 5
    John Humphreys
    December 29th, 2008 14:23

    Yes Sinclair… workchoices-man. And the guy who was nominated ahead of free-market-man Bob Day (who went on to run against Briggs as the FF candidate).

  • 6
    opit
    January 5th, 2009 10:05

    You might try checking on Australians’ confidence on polling. ‘Rigged’ push polls are typical dirty tricks of the last few years.

  • 7
    Andrew Norton
    January 5th, 2009 10:11

    Push polling is just a form of telemarketing; the ‘results’ are almost never published. If you want examples of dodgy polling, try the newspaper online surveys or the call-ins to TV shows.