2nd March 2022

Do you get the feeling that corruption is on the increase?

If you do, then you would be right, and not alone, according to the annual 2021 Global corruption perceptions index published by Transparency International.

The index measuring corruption perceptions across 180 countries shows Australia has crashed out of the rarefied prime top group, which still includes New Zealand, to drop by twelve points, a significant downward move.

This index has recorded a trend for Australia that is not pretty accelerating in the wrong direction.

The current measure should have our leaders scurrying for a solution.

The index is based on-

“Unfair and opaque political financing and undue influence in decision making and lobbying by powerful interest groups” in some democracies including Australia may have resulted in the increased perception of corruption, Transparency International says.”

There is something disturbingly familiar with the definition by Transparency International that will resonate very strongly with every Victorian, irrespective of their political bent.

As previously published by the CAA, corruption is estimated to cost each person $4000, so for a nuclear family, Two +Two, that estimate equates to $12000 P/A, a cost most of these families could well do without.

We know that corruption in this State extends well beyond this definition, but we do not see an appetite from the ruling Politicians to address the problem, perhaps because it may adversely impact them?

It has undoubtedly impacted those Politicians who have been exposed, albeit at an unbelievable snail’s pace, by the responsible authorities.

The way these authorities are going, many of the miscreants will be either retired (on a fat pension) or expired permanently by natural attrition by the time the process grinds to a Court.

Looking at many of the alleged corrupt practises identified and the relevant offences perpetrated, it beggars’ belief that responsible authorities can be so inept at charging suspects.

The CAA has a number of retired Police in its midst. All have at some stage charged and achieved convictions for offences parallel to those exposed in current corruption investigations. The number well into the thousands over an extended period, so they have an insight into the process.

A complex investigation may take some months, but once a ‘prima facie’ case has been established, the suspect is charged, and the Courts then deal with the process from there.

As reported in the Herald Sun on the 2nd of March under the banner ‘Rogue car dealers, exporters caught up in major crime probe.’

Competent Police investigators charged forty- three (43) people with two hundred and fifty (250) offences, sized twenty-five vehicles (25) worth more than $1.75m – and that investigation took just four (4) months.

The difference between the two comparison groups is with the Rogue car dealers, police would be dealing with hardened criminals where the second group are predominantly first offenders. However, they have unlimited legal support and Political influence. But that is no excuse as legal representation cannot and political influence must not alter the facts, and facts are what achieves a conviction.

Some of the allegations which have exposed possible offences are very straightforward and could be processed by a first-year constable. Still, the authorities procrastinate for years either by incompetence or a lack of conviction to prosecute those that sign their paycheque.

The responsible agencies cannot hide behind COVID; this failure to act against corruption precedes the Pandemic. Any adverse impact of COVID would expose gross mismanagement of the authority.

We often wonder whether this failure to act, is deliberate and is corrupt itself.