"There’s a growing political movement for anti-corruption," someone said at an event your correspondent was speaking at last week. Really? In Australia? Where exactly is it? Where are the street marches and public rallies, the organisations, the pressure? Far from being seen as pressing, the issue is treated by many Australians with a type of fatalism. The manifold evidence is that the political system is riddled with active and passive corruption, from party donations for presumed policy shifts to outright payments to individual MPs and all points in between. The Greens and some crossbenchers have advocated for a federal ICAC, or corruption tribunal. The major parties will not go near it.
With good reason, in terms of their own survival. Every time someone starts a state ICAC, state governments fall, and MPs go to prison. There are backbenchers, ministers and shadows who are pissing razor blades at the possibility that either Turnbull or Shorten will weaken -- or strengthen, depending on your view -- and establish one. But such people can rest easy. There’s little chance of it. The truth is that the Australian political system can tick over indefinitely with very little regard to the stated wishes of its populace, so long as those stated wishes run against the interests of politicians as a group. The Australian federal system reproduces a system as resilient against real reform as a cockroach against nuclear war.