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Australia and Singapore record overall decline in trust in institutions

Every year there is an international survey, called the Edelman “Trust Barometer” carried out in 28 countries to measure the level of trust its citizens hold with institutions such as Governments, media, business, and NGO's. Australia, for the second year in a row along with Singapore were the only countries that recorded an overall drop in trust in all categories. Across all 28 countries an average of 42% of people thought their government was the most broken institute but in Australia the figure was 56%.

A law passed in a Joint Resolution by the 84th Congress and approved by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1956, declared "In God We Trust" must appear on American currency.

Apparently this trust does not extend to mere mortals. Every year there is an international survey, called the Edelman “Trust Barometer” carried out in 28 countries to measure the level of trust its citizens hold with institutions such as Governments, media, business, and NGO's. Australia, for the second year in a row along with Singapore were the only countries that recorded an overall drop in trust in all categories. Across all 28 countries an average of 42% of people thought their government was the most broken institute but in Australia the figure was 56%. This was just 4 percentage points ahead of the lowest rated country, Russia where elections are rigged and opponents jailed or worse. Perhaps this last figure has a lot to do with our expectations, we are after all relying on governments to protect us from the ravages of banks, miners, developers and assorted tycoons. Interestingly China has the greatest level in trust, possibly because of the very public crack down on corruption currently underway by the nations leader Xi JinPing.

It would be difficult to find a complete answer as to why our trust in governments have collapsed so dramatically but one aspect is obvious, both major parties have such an obsession with monetary economics that human welfare is often sidelined or even ignored by the demands for GDP growth. Treasurers continually boast about our 25 years of continuous economic growth and seemed surprised when the population is unimpressed even though they are well aware that GDP “measures everything but tells us nothing”.

One example of this comes from Francis Sullivan who is the Catholic Churches representative at the Royal Commission into child abuse. He is neither an apologists or a defender of the church but he recently went public lamenting the lack of willingness of politicians to pursue the recommendations of the royal commission or even the bill on a national redress scheme they belatedly tabled in October last year. Perhaps tellingly Sullivan suggests that child abuse is not considered sufficiently important by politicians who only only respond to what he called “dynamic political narrative.”

Perhaps so, but this claim could also be made by victims of the HIV, asbestos related diseases and those afflicted by chemical contamination of their environment, all of whom languished in obscurity until public pressure forced governments to act. Even then James Hardie was allowed to relocate to Holland and thus avoid much of its financial responsibilities, the contamination from fire fighting chemicals sits firmly in the too hard basket and vehicle emissions in Australia remain far higher than other developed nations. There have been similar stories of governments failure to respond to issues including childhood poverty, the stolen generation, homelessness or even the obesity crises where the government rejected recommendations to put a tax on sugar. The indigenous disadvantage report is tabled every 2 years and joins others in the round basket including action on climate change even though the frightening effects are becoming painfully obvious to everyone but those in Canberra.

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