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Corruption – “grand” or “gray” – is an international problem, and government is a high-risk domain. Research in the field has tended to focus on the more serious and damaging area of grand corruption, including clearly illegal acts such as bribery and embezzlement. However, there is also a growing body of research concerned with more minor and ambiguous areas of alleged misconduct – or “gray” corruption. These include gifts and benefits, misuse of entitlements, influence peddling through donations, excessive and wasteful expenditures, lies and false promises, cronyism, nepotism, and sinecures. Government in Australia presents as an instructive case of scandal and controversy in these areas, with a record of partial and unsatisfactory attempts to manage the challenge. A crisis point was reached during the recent Abbott-led federal government (September 2013 to September 2015), although the problem reached back to previous federal governments and crossed over into state and local government. The issues coalesced around the federal “expenses scandal” of 2014/2015, leading to a major review of parliamentarians’ entitlements, released in 2016. The present paper reviews these issues, drawing primarily on media accounts, focusing on the period of the Abbott government and the aftermath of the entitlements inquiry up to mid-2017. The chapter highlights key lessons for corruption prevention beyond Australia, including the need for much tighter rules and much better enforcement to ensure comprehensive integrity in government.
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- Identifying and Preventing Gray Corruption in Australian Politics
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