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Research Finds Australians’ Confidence in Corporations Hits All-Time Low

Australians’ distrust of corporations and the entire economy has reached a new high due to the poor behaviour of companies during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, a study has found.

The market research and public opinion statistics company Roy Morgan released new research on Australians’ trust and distrust of familiar household names in 2023.

The survey of 25,662 Australians aged 14 and above showed that Australians have never been more distrusting of corporate Australia since the research first started in 2017.

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Roy Morgan said that recent incidents involving large corporations, such as the PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) tax scandal, data breaches at Optus and Medibank, and flag carrier Qantas’ unwillingness to refund $2 billion worth of cancelled flight credit, had caused distrust to soar among the Australian population.

In May, it was revealed that a PwC partner had leaked confidential government information within PwC and with overseas partners to create a system that allowed large companies to avoid tax in Australia.

Meanwhile, hackers managed to break into the databases of telco giant Optus and private health insurer Medibank in late 2022 and stole the personal information of their customers, causing millions of Australians to be affected financially and mentally.

Alarming Result Reflects Australians’ Attitude Toward Large Companies

Roy Morgan cited the opinions of many respondents, who believed greed and corruption were the root of the poor behaviour of Australian corporations in the past few years.

“All the reasons are currently emblazoned across our newspapers. Excessive greed and arrogance and seeming absence of professional integrity,” a respondent said.

“Corrupt; too much access to power has gone to their collective head; [they] seem to have no mechanisms for maintaining integrity,” another respondent added.

Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine said the rise in distrust was an alarming trend and showed the dire consequences of disregarding morality by many businesses.

“From the onset of COVID, corporate leaders had to respond with agility, often sidestepping the checks and balances. This got many of them through the pandemic recession,” she said.

“But once the crisis had passed, they found the new freedoms they had enjoyed under the cover of COVID hard to relinquish, and a kind of moral blindness became endemic.”

The PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) offices stand in More London Riverside in London, England, on Oct. 2, 2018. (Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
The PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) offices stand in More London Riverside in London, England, on Oct. 2, 2018. (Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

The CEO then called on Australian companies to improve their ethics in doing business to regain Australians’ trust.

“The pandemic made it easier for leaders to look the other way, to avoid facing the ethical repercussions of their behaviour,” Ms. Levine said.

“Fundamentally, we need to arrest this trend and embrace a decency principle while at the same time ensuring company directors put distrust on their boards’ risk registers.”

The Most Trusted and Distrusted Brands in June Quarter 2023

Meanwhile, Roy Morgan also released the lists of the most trusted and distrusted Australian brands for the June quarter.

Supermarket giants Woolworths and Coles continued to top the list of trusted brands, followed by household hardware and garden centre chain Bunnings, German supermarket chain Aldi, and retail company Kmart.

This reflected the finding that supermarket and

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