John Menadue. What does Labor stand for? Part 4

Ethical responsibility

Those in prominent office should promote those qualities which draw on the best of our traditions and the noblest of our instincts.

The duty of those with public influence is to encourage hope and redemption rather than despair and condemnation, confidence rather than fear. It is to promote the common good – to encourage us to use our talents. It is to respect truth and strengthen learning to withstand the powers of populism and vested or sectional interests. This would set a tone of public discourse which nurtures public institutions

Business cannot hide behind the corporate vale. As the late Bernie Banton reminded us during the dispute with James Hardy over asbestos ‘it is people that make decisions, not corporations’

Areas where we fall short in ethical responsibility include

  • Leaders who appeal to our worst instincts, e.g. dog whistling on refugees,
  •  Media-drenched commercialism and the values it projects.
  •  Executive salaries,
  •  Undue influence of vested interests, corporate lobbyists and political donors e.g. NSW ICAC enquiry.
  • Those in public office should help the community to deal with difficult problems which may require painful adaptive change, such as climate change, rather than provide the false comfort of ignoring or downplaying them.

John Menadue is the publisher of Pearls & Irritations. He has had a distinguished career both in the private sector and in the Public Service.

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