Feb 8, 2018

With trust plummeting, what’s in store for Australian society?

A low-trust political environment can have serious consequences for the kinds of governments we have. Even libertarians should be worried.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

Recent trend data from the Edelman Trust Barometer series suggests Australia, along with some other western democracies, is becoming a low-trust society in regard to its major institutions -- especially its politicians and the media. This has potential ramifications for economic growth, which is stronger in high-trust societies where complex social and legal mechanisms aren't needed to ensure basic transactions and contracts work.

There are non-economic consequences, however, that seem to accompany the diminution of trust. A 2010 study of a number of different countries found that low levels of trust tended to encourage demand for greater economic intervention by government:

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12 thoughts on “With trust plummeting, what’s in store for Australian society?

  1. Michael

    Crikey, Bernard, you are a depressing bloke. Is there no glimmer of hope? No thin feeble flicker of a brighter future for us? Picked a bad day to give up barbiturates, I suppose. Cheers, or not, M

  2. Paul

    Yet Crikey and a couple of other small media outlets are the ones who call the politicians out.

    What major outlet has come close to the assessment of Turnbull as a PM as GR did yesterday? News Corp and Sky we accept this from but the blatant grovelling from Fairfax, ABC and Guardian and the conga line of Turnbull sycophants debase and degrade trust in the media’s integrity.

    Without scrutiny the politicians can do and say whatever they wish, knowing they will not be held to account, in Turnbull’s case knowing that the liberal media will gather together to help with his reelection.

  3. klewso

    How can you trust any politicians (that we pay our $tax; for whom we vote, on what we know) who want us (their employer) kept from the truth; and their opinionated media flunkies-for-access quite happy to be complicit in that pursuit of the cultivation of ignorance – “editing news for our own good” – passing off opinion as news?

  4. klewso

    As for “he says what he thinks” a babbling moron does that.

  5. AR

    Any particular reason BK failed to mention the most prolix, ubiquitous, deceitful and oleaginous liars on the political scene, the overpaid, duchessed stenographers?

  6. AR

    “Awaiting moderation”? You gotta be kidding!

  7. MJM

    “Recent trend data from the Edelman Trust Barometer series suggests Australia, along with some other western democracies, is becoming a low-trust society in regard to its major institutions — especially its politicians and the media. ”

    And the last 36 hours have given a clear example of why this might be the case. The role of the msm is to report – even on the politicians. But as we have seen with the Deputy PM the msm has signally failed to report on his behaviour. They have taken the supine line that private behaviour should remain private and expressed this collective opinion in a quite sanctimonious manner. So behaviour which goes to a person’s character is not reported on and the Deputy PM goes on tv and bats away any questions with a defence that it is “private”.

    I already held a low opinion of this government. Yesterday it fell lower. I hold a pretty low opinion of the msm, too, and yesterday that also dropped. If the msm and the politicians want to remain bedfellows on their own heads be it when the rest of us walk away holding our noses.

  8. Agrippa

    Regarding “How different would Australia’s political environment be if Tony Abbott and Barnaby Joyce had not so egregiously lied about issues like the carbon price when in opposition?”
    The problem isn’t, entirely, the politicians, the majority of the problem lies with the media. For years Abbott peddled his fantasy of the carbon price and budget emergency. And for years the media, in general, simply reported his comments with no critique applied to them at all. The ABC, in particular, really let the country down here. Organizations, unfortunately, like News Corp have “commentators” to promote these lies, but few media outlets genuinely make an effort to critique them. Isn’t that what competent news reporters are expected to do? Provide a balanced reporting of the news to the public?

    1. klewso

      Especially when they can be cynical, smirking and sceptical when critiquing Labor and the Greens.

  9. Charlie Chaplin

    How can we trust them, BK? When we find ourselves explaining to our children’s generation that it wasn’t greed made us vote for trickle down economics, it was gullibility, the fact that both sides of politics were spruiking it, and we at 28 had as much trouble believing our own parliament would govern against our best interests as our 28 year old children have now?

  10. cp

    And both parties are now having a love-in with the new subsidised war stuff manufacturing export industry replacing the car industry. Australia’s next generations can look forward to some good old fashioned but this time genuinely​ Australian war mongering. The embarrassing hyper marketing of Anzac and Australia days will fit really well. Not to mention the huge amount of money going into war memorials at the moment.

    1. klewso

      The sacrifices – for “political PR/photo ops”?

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