Newspaper Reporting and Changing Perceptions of Ministerial Accountability in Australia



Throughout the developed world, there is a general perception that politicians are more corrupt than they used to be. In Australia these claims appear to be supported in recent decades by far more calls for ministers to resign. In this article we argue that the perception of declining quality in our federal government ministers is the result of much greater media attention, the rise of new controversial cross-cutting issues and changing cultural attitudes rather than declining parliamentary and ministerial standards. We argue that the belief that politicians are more corrupt or less trustworthy than they used to be has arisen because they are now much more comprehensively reported upon; and we suggest that ministerial accountability might have been enhanced by more extensive media coverage.