26th of September 2021

A commonly agreed definition of corruption—albeit a narrow one—is ‘the misuse of entrusted power for private gain’.

Forms of corruption vary but can include bribery, dishonest lobbying, extortion, cronyism, nepotism, parochialism, patronage, influence peddling, graft, and embezzlement.

Corruption erodes trust, weakens democracy, hampers economic development, and exacerbates inequality, poverty, and social division.

However, exposing corruption and holding the corrupt to account can only happen if we understand the way corruption works and the systems that enable it.

Corruption has no limits, status, level of education, heritage, wealth, social, political views, cultural divides or what football team you follow.

There is just no limit to which sector of the socio-economic divisions where corruption may be spawned or who the purveyors might be.

Corruption per se, is also not a criminal offence of itself but a description applied to a raft of very serious criminal offences.

The Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) defines corruption in the public sector as

  • Taking or offering bribes.
  • Dishonestly using influence.
  • Committing fraud, theft or embezzlement.
  • Misusing information or material acquired at work.
  • Conspiring or attempting to engage in the above corrupt activity.

There is also a raft of Criminal Offences that can be applied to many alleged corrupt activities currently occurring in Victoria within the public sector disappointingly not seen by the IBAC definition,

  • Perverting the Course of Justice.
  • Perjury
  • Misconduct in Public Office
  • Malfeasance In Public Office
  • Multiple conspiracies to commit these offences and a raft of lesser dishonesty crimes.

We strongly suspect that many people in the public sector will be horrified to know that they are unwittingly being used to commit such serious crimes.

Their station within the bureaucracy or the nature of their work across the whole of the government sector, including all the independent agencies- anywhere where the public purse is the employer, whether executive management or the lowest level of the sector we should  not allow them to escape the consequences of their unlawful actions.

Corruption has a unique capacity of being exposed no matter how careful or deceptive the perpetrators are.

Often, perpetrators foolishly believe that their superiors will protect them because they are only doing what they would want – absolute rubbish.

History is littered with those who suffer the consequences of doing illegal acts believing that is what the boss would want. The most striking of examples were exposed in the Hague War Crimes Tribunals. A cold cell is often the consequence.

At the first sign of trouble, the perpetrator’s subordinates go under the bus. If you are a friend of the perpetrator, you are guaranteed to be the first to go under well ahead of the subordinates.

Why is Victoria so corrupt?

The Government of the day has to take a fair amount of responsibility, but it matters little the Government’s political persuasion but most importantly, the example they set.

Rife corruption is an extension of behaviour and tolerance by executives within a system.

Corruption becomes a cycle and is normalised to such a degree; many do not realise they are corrupt or their unlawful behaviour.

Ironically, the purveyors of corruption are punished by corruption as much as everybody else. They are shooting themselves in the foot; how stupid is that?

The impact of corruption defined by IBAC is,

Corruption erodes the trust we have in the public sector to act in our best interests. It also wastes our taxes or rates that have been earmarked for important community projects – meaning we have to put up with poor quality services or infrastructure, or we miss out altogether.

How do we break this cycle and bring this State back?

The CAA proposes a Judicial body to deal with the current and historical corruption issues and, in the first instance, offer immunities to government employees from all sectors and levels who have witnessed, are aware of, or have been involved in corrupt practices.

The targets of the Inquiry are the leaders who perpetuated the corrupt evolution. To those people, the CAA warns you should be very concerned.

This Inquiry will allay a lot of concerns from employees who fear they have been unwitting participants either through coercion or ignorance in illegal activity and should be allowed to come forward without retribution.

Although the Inquiry will require powers to conduct in-camera hearings, the function of the Inquiry will be to allocate any investigations to the appropriate agency with the capacity to monitor and make directions to the agency as required.

A corruption buster that will remove the shackles of corruption from the many who have been burdened with the crimes by the unscrupulous is essential.

We are confident that the vast majority of people relying on the public purse to service their mortgage and lifestyle are basically honest and dedicated – they should not be put in the positions many find themselves in, just to retain or curry favour with a boss.

It is the boss that must be held to account.