Points of View 30th January 2019

‘Good government’ coming soon?

by Peter Timmins

Four years ago then Prime Minister Tony Abbott told the nation “good government starts today” but that turned out badly, hopes rose with the arrival of Malcolm Turnbull in November that year but didn’t amount to much, and the words so far are yet to pass Scott Morrison’s  lips.

So how do we rate?

On some ‘good government’ international indices– a few of these are dated-Australia does reasonably well, for example:

World Justice Project-Rule of Law Index 2017-18 Score 0.81/1.00 Position 10/113

World Bank Global Indicators of Regulatory Governance Score 3.75/5

Open Knowledge Network Global Open Data Index 2016-17 Score 79% Position 2/94.

World Wide Web Open Data Barometer 2017 Score 75/100. Position 3/30. However on “Detailed Data on Government Spend”- 5/100

 But other international comparisons are poor to middling:

Transparency International –Corruption Perception Index 2018 Score 77/100 Position 13/108, down from 7th in 2012.

Bertelsmann Foundation Sustainable Governance Index Score 7.6/10 Ranking 14/41

Centre for Law and Democracy-Right to Information Rating Score 84/150 Position 65/123

Publish What You Fund-Aid Transparency Index 2018- Score 57.3/100. Position 23/45

International Budget Partnership-Open Budget Survey 2017 –  Scores: Transparency 74/100. Public Participation 41/100. Budget Oversight 70/100.

And then there’s what we think when we hear ‘trust us we’re the government’:

Edelman- Trust Barometer 2018. Trust in Government: Percentage of population 35%

Scanlon Social Cohesion Survey- 2018 “Quality of government and politicians” third highest in “Problems facing Australia’ behind the Economy and Climate Change; “Trust in government to ‘do the right thing for the Australian people’ ‘almost always’ or ‘most of the time’ 30%; “The system ‘needs major change’ or ‘should be replaced’ 37%.

Lowy Institute Poll 2018 :62%  say ‘Democracy is preferable to any other kind of government’; 20% say ‘In some circumstances, a non-democratic government can be preferable’; 15% say ‘For someone like me, it doesn’t matter what kind of government we have’. Only 47% of Australians aged 18–44 years of age say ‘Democracy is preferable to any other kind of government’.

There are many other dimensions of ‘good government’: vision, honesty, capacity to listen and lead, responsiveness, equity, and policies that address public priorities and deliver results efficiency and effectively.

With an election in May, ‘good government’ or at least improvements in areas that the surveys and polls identify coming soon? We live in hope.