Attitudes to Corruption, Misconduct and Maladministration in South Australia

In 2013, a small project team at the University of Adelaide was requested by the Local Government Association (LGA) of South Australia to conduct research into local government and public attitudes to corruption in the State. The Public Law and Policy Research Unit’s Deputy Director, Dr Gabrielle Appleby, headed the project team. She was joined by Paul Leadbeter, Professor Deborah Turnbull and Professor John Williams, and the team was assisted by consultants Dr Ian Zajac, Dr Candice Oster and Peter Lockett.

Corruption within government at any level, and even the perception of corruption, affects the Australian community in a number of detrimental ways. Pivotal to combatting corruption is fostering an awareness of it within the government and the community, and an awareness of the processes, mechanisms and protections available for reporting corruption. Attitudes to corruption have been found to be ‘an important determinant of the desire to act corruptly’: see Tanja Rabl and Torsten M Kühlmann, ‘Understanding Corruption in Organizations: Development and Empirical Assessment of an Action Model’ (2008) 82 Journal of Business Ethics 477, 490.

In 2012, the South Australian Parliament passed the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Act 2012 (SA). The creation of the ICAC (and the Office of Public Integrity (OPI)), provides an important moment to reflect on government and community understandings and perceptions of corruption, with a view to tailoring future education and training.

This project provides an initial study into the attitudes of those within local government and members of the general public to corruption, misconduct and maladministration. It is part of a proactive move within local government in South Australia to respond to the introduction of the ICAC as a mechanism for increasing awareness of and vigilance against corruption. The result of this survey will help shape the future response of local government to developing anti-corruption measures, including education and training in the sector. This project provides an exploratory study conducted at a point in time when the ICAC is only newly introduced. In doing so it provides an important base of information for future longitudinal work. Further information on the objectives and can be found in Part 1, Background to Survey.
This project was funded by the Local Government Association of South Australia through their research and development scheme, established to support research projects for the benefit of legal government in South Australia.

The project was to build from the work already undertaken by the LGA by developing an understanding of the culture within local government and their communities about what amounts to corruption, misconduct and maladministration in public administration, and how people would respond to this type of conduct. Obtaining a comprehensive data set of attitudes and perceptions at the time when the ICAC is introduced is an initial step towards a systematic approach to achieving a culture of good public administration across government.

The team reported in May 2014, and in July 2014, the recommendations were accepted in full by the LGA.

Access the complete report via the LGA (SA) website here:

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