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Monday, August 26, 2013

It's all about trust..

The Prime Minister in announcing the election and Mr Abbott speaking more expansively on a number of occasions including at the campaign launch yesterday, are both talking 'trust'.

The Leader of the Opposition puts it at the top of the list: the trust deficit is even more serious than the budget deficit.

The Fairfax Poll published on Saturday had Mr Abbott as the more trusted leader, with a rating of 43 per cent to Mr Rudd's career-low 36 per cent. 

But in May Federal members of parliament were 25 in the list of 30 professions rated for ethics and honesty in the Roy Morgan Survey (pdf). That 14% score was a 4 point improvement! 

Mr Abbott offered 'say what you mean and do what you say' as his shorthand solution to the problem. 

Sounds like a welcome commitment to honest, open communication. But a long way short of a plan to restore and maintain trust. 

More will be needed from whoever wins for example improvements on the open, transparent, accountable government front, a code of conduct for parliamentarians, an integrity commissioner and other anti-corruption measures, lobbying and political donation reform, and addressing shortcomings in whistleblower protections. For a start get rid of that blanket FOI exclusion for the parliamentary departments that both sides of politics rushed through a few months ago. (As an aside remember 'I'll end secrecy in 2007? There is a long list of that sort that might have something to do with the trust deficit.)

The Accountability Roundtable and Transparency International Australia have separately called on the main parties to outline their plans on a range of these issues. No published responses to date.

Throughout the two years saga of will we or won't we join the Open Government Partnership, I'm not aware the Opposition said anything on the subject. I've written to Shadow Attorney General Brandis and Shadow Foreign Minister Bishop (and to my local member Malcolm Turnbull) inquiring where they stand, but no response there either.

The Liberal Party's Plan for Real Action in the chapter 'Delivering strong, stable and accountable government' contains, well, no plan for real action:
The Coalition will do the right thing for Australia and deliver a strong, stable, accountable government that puts the national interest first and delivers a better future for all Australians. We will restore accountability and improve transparency measures to be more accountable to you. We will govern for all Australians, not favour any particular group. We’re all in this together and we’ll encourage all Australians to work together. We will end the class war and the bad blood between Labor and business that is damaging investment and employment.
As usual we live in hope. 

Trust in government-that's another matter.

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