Trust Me, I'm a Politician

Gerard Henderson thinks our politicians are in very good standing, and distrust is all in the vivid imaginations of our politicians. I beg to differ.


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5 Responses to Trust Me, I'm a Politician

  1. Andrew C says:

    Typical. Right after I’ve finish submitting a piece on political apathy to my Uni magazine, everyone in the media begins talking about it with all these useful quotes and claims. Ahh well.

    The AEC had a good survey of young voters recently :
    Report 1 – Enrolment and Voting
    Report 2 – Youth, Political Engagement and Voting

    The figures certainly dont agree with Hendersons rosey view.

  2. Whether Henderson is right or not, I think polls like Morgan’s exaggerate the public’s disillusionment. For a start, they demand a too high standard. Pollies don’t always tell the truth, so it hard to say that they meet high standards of ethics and honesty. But most of them do most of the time so if you ask a less demanding question you get a more positive result. Also, asking about a large class of people lets people invoke stereotypes, which are relatively immune to empirical reality.

    Compare for example questions in the AES with Morgan for 2004. 9% say that pollies have high or very high standards of ethics and honesty. Yet over at the AES 45% say ‘honest’ describes John Howard well, and that’s after a sustained campaign to paint him as a liar. 46% think trustworthy describes Howard. He has taken a battering – 58% thought he was honest in 1998. But only 7% that year thought pollies in general had high levels of ethics and honesty.

    It’s a bit like the phenomenon you see studying prejudice – stereotypes that are not actually working assumptions in dealing with individual people.

  3. Andjam says:

    Don’t trust me, I’m lousy at statistics, but I think the “people in government can be trusted” regression line is influenced too heavily by the 1969 (and possibly 1984) figure. Given how much the numbers fluctuate, (compare 1993 with 1995/6), I don’t think you could really draw a conclusion at all.

  4. Andrew Leigh says:

    Andjam, if you throw away the 1969 and 1984 observations, you’re only left with the 1990s. And I agree with you that there’s no discernable trend during the 1990s.

  5. Sinclair Davidson says:

    I’m probably contradicting what I said at ACE – trust the government at what? When Howard says the government is doing all it can to prevent terrorism in Australia, I believe him. In fact, given what I read in the papers (and the sudden ALP obsession with the Magna Carta) some people are arguing the government is doing too much. Yet, when (if) Howard says to me Telstra is a good investment I don’t believe him.

    I think people have nuanced view of trust and confidence in government that is not (necessarily) meaningfully captured in broad summary statistics.

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