Have politicians become more ethical and honest?

According to the latest Morgan Poll on the ethics and honesty of various professions, more people now rate federal MPs highly on those measures than at any time since they started asking the question in 1979. Admittedly, only 23% rate federal MPs highly for ethics and honesty, but that is up 7% on the previous year.

Looking back at the history of this question, there are upward spikes after governments change, and downward spikes when election promises are broken (Keating’s L-A-W tax cuts in the 1994 and 1995 surveys, and the ‘non-core’ promises in the 1997 and 1998 surveys). With Ruddmania, the spike this year was bigger than the 4% after the 1983 and 1996 changes of government. It is unlikely that the average ethics and honesty levels of politicians have changed much, but with the passing of Howard and arrival of Rudd some Australians are prepared to upgrade their ratings.

Though there is evidence that the numbers respond to real-world changes, this series is a very poor predictor of how voters will feel about individual politicians. Continue reading “Have politicians become more ethical and honest?”