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QTPA Member Alert |IBISWorld MARCH REPORT (15/3/2013)


From the desk of Phil Ruthven

Dear Jim,

Australians don’t trust their politicians at federal or state levels, as the first table suggests.

ethics & honesty poll










With a pass mark of 50 points, only one-third of the 30 surveyed occupations passed the muster, so to speak. Our MPs scored just 10 points and were relegated to the lowest five occupations in terms of ethics and honesty. This is a pity, given the vital role that government has in the safety, wellbeing, economic growth and fairness of and for its citizens.

Sadly, this low level of regard is common across many of the world’s 230 nations and protectorates today, especially in those countries directly involved in the GFC debacle – Japan, the EU members and the United States. In these cases, ruling governments were careless and corrupted by power and privilege over good governance, and arguably still are in many of these afflicted economies.

However, lest we become too depressed by such rankings in Australia, it is useful to note where Transparency International ranks Australia among the 176 nations assessed for their levels of public sector corruption, with the top and bottom 15 nations shown in the next table.

public sector corruption









Australia ranked 7th with a pass mark of 85 in the 2012 survey, a comforting position indeed. We ranked ahead of the United Kingdom, the United States and Japan. So, seemingly there is a big gap between perceptions and reality (or a comparative context), not that the two tables are measuring quite the same features.

This year is our federal government election year, with September 14 already set as poll date. It will hopefully lead to a majority government, unlike the current minority government as depicted in the chart below (only the second since Federation in 1901, the other being in 1940).

australia house of reps










Opinion polls have favoured the Coalition against the ALP for most of the past few years. Prime Minister Gillard has consistently outpolled the opposition leader, until February this year. But the ALP has felt the weight of several negatives, including:

  • a legal but somewhat illegitimate party in power (“hung parliament”)
  • broken promises (e.g. the carbon tax)
  • deficit budgets, massive addition to national debt
  • alleged corruption in the ALP ranks (and state ALPs, particularly NSW)
  • suggested scandals
  • worsening of the “boat people” issue
  • abandonment of tax reform
  • inability to implement some programs efficiently
  • loss of competent ministers

On the other hand, the negativity of the Coalition up to the recent announcement of the next election date has added to the low opinion of politics and politicians in general. The issues with the Coalition include:

  • general negativity and scandal mongering
  • suggested reversal of carbon tax (rather than modification)
  • suggested second-rate solution to fast broadband implementation
  • vagueness or filibustering about reform of Fair Work Australia
  • difficulty finding workable solutions to a number of contentious issues
  • perception of thinness of competent talent (an “opposition party” thing)

Whichever major party leads Australia, there are priorities to be tackled.

The Committee for the Economic Development of Australia (CEDA), in its 2012 Big Issues survey, listed the priorities for the next government term, whoever is in power. These are shown in the following table.

priorities for nxt govt term





The same CEDA survey asked respondents (over 3,000 of them) what they saw as the main challenges to the end of the first quarter of the 21st century.

They responded as per the final table.

challenges to 2025






Not much argument with that list. So, hail the forthcoming election and every hope that these priorities and challenges are picked up and actioned by the winning party.

Phil Ruthven
Chairman of IBISWorld


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