MP's trust slump
Our trust in politicians has fallen dramatically in recent years, so is new PM Tony Abbott a solution to the trust problem - or a big part of the problem?PT2M8S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2vw4c 620 349 October 21, 2013
Trust in government and the nation's politicians is falling dramatically, a major research project tracking social harmony and Australia's large-scale immigration program has found.
Australians' trust in their fellow citizens has also fallen, Mapping Social Cohesion, a report to be released on Monday, says. The report also found a marked increase in the number of migrants who said they had experienced racism and discrimination.
"There was a collapse of trust and Julia Gillard was never able to reclaim it." Photo: Andrew Meares
Compiled by Monash University and backed by the philanthropic Scanlon Foundation and the Australian Multicultural Foundation, the study found just a quarter of people believed federal government could be trusted.
The fall in public trust of government is one of the strongest shifts recorded so far in the study, which began in 2007.
In 2009 of those polled, 48 per cent said Canberra could be trusted ''almost always'' or ''most of the time''. By this year, this had fallen to 27 per cent.
The report's author, Andrew Markus, said the studies tracked a shift in trust among Australians in federal politics that began when the Rudd government ''failed to deliver'' on big promises.
''There was a collapse of trust and Julia Gillard was never able to reclaim it,'' Professor Markus said.
The survey showed doctors, police and school teachers received ''a lot of trust'', while trade unions and Federal Parliament received little. Political parties fared the worst, with only 3 per cent of people saying they had ''a lot of trust'' in them.
''The politicians are nudging real estate agents for bottom position,'' Professor Markus said.
The study found very high levels of support for multiculturalism across the nation, with 84 per cent of those polled saying it was good for Australia. But it revealed a growing polarisation over asylum seekers, with 18 per cent saying they should be offered permanent residence and 33 per cent believing in ''turning back the boats''.
The research found that, while Australians regard themselves as ''kind, caring and friendly'', new migrants don't - rating this trait last in a list of what they like most about life in Australia.
Australia's immigration intake - there were 236,000 arrivals last year - found majority support, although the proportion believing it was too high grew to 42 per cent. The highest level of negative feeling towards immigrants was directed at people coming from the Middle East.
Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane said the findings in the report matched recent statistics by the Human Rights Commission.
He said figures for the 2012-13 report showed there had been a 59 per cent increase on the previous year in complaints about racial vilification. But Dr Soutphommasane said Australia had managed a substantial immigration program ''for many decades'', and handled the issues it threw up ''pretty well by international standards''.
Despite the issues raised in the report, Professor Markus said Australia was a socially cohesive nation by international standards, with the country's ''sense of belonging'' at 92 per cent and personal satisfaction with financial circumstances at 71 per cent.
For this year's research, 6000 people were questioned, including 2300 immigrants who arrived over the past 20 years. A series of polls were also taken in metropolitan suburbs and in regional towns with high immigrant concentrations, including Shepparton in Victoria and Murray Bridge in South Australia.