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Whatever happened to integrity?

Our politicians and, to a large degree, our media, do not seem to understand the real implications of the Joyce Affair.

As Dr Simon Longstaff AO, the Executive Director of The Ethics Centre, wrote:

In helping Mr Joyce evade responsibility, our government has put yet another nail in the coffin of Ministerial (and personal) responsibility. Our Prime Minister and Cabinet have made it clear – personal obligations extend no further than obeying the strict letter of the law. If there is a loophole, exploit it. If the regulations are silent, then do whatever you feel like. Forget issues of ethics, of integrity, of basic decency. Exercise no judgement. Do not hold yourself personally responsible. Just comply. Just meet the minimum legal standard. Just don’t get caught.

Do our political leaders really not understand what their example is doing to the nation? Do they truly have no idea of the corrosive effects of their hypocrisy? They rail against the rest of us for not being accountable for our actions, they hold our feet to the fire. But never, not ever, if it is one of their own… unless, unless there is not a nanometre of wriggle room left to be exploited.

The examples of this in government and the corporate world are endless.

No amount of legislation or regulation can ever replace principles. There will always be a bevy of experts whose sole purpose is to find ways around the rules.

Without integrity, without responsibility and accountability, without personally-recognised obligation, without consequences, we become a society of individuals getting away with whatever we can whether it be cheating on your spouse, misusing public money and position for personal gain, rorting entitlements, telling lies, evading taxes, underpaying employees….

That is the lesson taught to us by our political and business leaders.

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  1. Frank Smith

    Simon Longstaff has hit the nail right on the head. Ethics in politics has gone out the window and taken responsibity with it. The irony is that “just meeting the minimal legal standard” is the primary reason for employing all these media advisers as spin doctors to twist, colour and obfuscate all communications. Apparently Vikki Campion is very good at that job. It is a very small step between such spin and outright lies and regrettably many in Government have made that step.

  2. Vixstar

    Turdball brought himself the leadership he is desperate to hold onto that one seat majority, he spun the” Bonking beetroot saga “into “it’s all about the sex” and the media went for it , sex sells more papers says RUPERT.
    It wasn’t the sex it was the breaking and bending of rules, Turdball is a dead man walking can’t let his leadership crumble he paid 1.75 million for it . He’s quite happy to destroy Australia as long as Rupert is happy and money keeps on rolling into the offshore account.

  3. Ella miller

    Kaye Lee, totally agree. Things start to matter when a poll is imminent.

  4. ozibody

    Spot on Kaye Lee !… Thank you for writing on this topic, and striking at the very Heart of the matter !

    Rules & regulations are often drafted by ‘ lawyer minds ‘ with the built in ‘ hair split ‘ option … to benefit the exploiters !

    Also … the word ” Ethic ” has assumed the (sub) proportion of any bottom drawer four letter variety …. the overuse of the latter utterly drowning out logical context !

  5. Diane Larsen

    Its far easier to forgive human frailty but to ignore hypocrisy and sanctmonious politicians is by far the harder position to adopt. This current government practise both to the detriment of the country

  6. Topenda

    Short, sweet and nailed it. Thank you, Kaye.

    Diane – excellent summary of the odour of the whole mess.

  7. ajogrady

    Why are people surprised that the L/NP is showing hypocrisy in their Christians beliefs, morals and ethics. They have trashed their own good book, the Bible, by their treatment of refugees, welfare recipients, pensioners, women, children and most of all the majority of Australians. Hypocrisy be the L/NP.

  8. George Swalwell

    Oh absolutely, Kaye Lee.

    ”More in sorrow than in anger” as the saying goes, Kaye clearly
    and steadily points out the moral dimension of the present sordid
    mess. The Blunderer has shown up all the government,too

    Not wasting words, she holds the whole lot up for scrutiny and
    they are seen as the amoral, manipulative, self-serving lot they are.

    ”Show me an honest politician”, and I’ll applaud the tiny few that
    are honest, principled and proper representatives of the people
    they were elected to serve.

  9. Roswell

    George, they certainly were elected to serve. And they all do.

    But as you point out, it’s only a small percentage who serve the electorate. The others serve a different god.

  10. paul walter

    If people cant wake up to Turnbull and his government after all of this, it would be the sleep of the dead.

  11. guest

    I have always been suspicious of a PM who uses a tax haven to reduce his own tax. Or who donates a large sum of money to secure his own job. The best part about all that is that the double dissolution almost failed and he was reluctant to appear late at night after the result hung in a balance. He knew he had stuffed up badly again.

    Now he censors opinion which opposes his opinion.He gives no valid argument for his action. It is but a small step to actually sacking someone for disagreeing, even by a person in authority who advocates jobs and growth. and freedom of speech. I have a feeling that there are journalists who are very careful to avoid being sacked for publishing alternate opinions. The ABC is especially vulnerable, given right-wing white-anting and reduction of funding, but I suspect the fear of redundancy in the MSM is a factor wide-spread now that social media is expanding.

    The Joyce-Campion relationship was kept quiet in some quarters (not in others) before the by-election, but had to come out more widely because of the associated mis-judgements. Some might say “Lack of integrity”. How Turnbull deals with all that will be very revealing about him. Not good so far.

  12. lawrencewinder

    Isn’t it interesting that this ruling rabble is full of Catlics and people are writing about the demise of political integrity?
    Isn’t it interesting, too just how hard-line or should I say, border-line fascist they are in policy?
    We are in a dangerous place.

  13. Kaye Lee

    I think the quality of the people we elect has a great deal to do with the demise of integrity and, in some cases, the rise of madness. Did this Nats member not hear about the mass shooting in America?

  14. Glenn Barry

    Kaye Lee, great article and I think you may have just documented the initial point of our descent into fascism.

    A brilliant acronym which I learnt on another page here on AIMN – CHRINO – Christian in name only.

    Now I’m not religious, however when you observe the LNP and the hypocrisy residing in the canyon between their supposed heart felt and sacred religious beliefs and their behaviour, it’s not difficult to understand the demise in religious affiliation in this country.

  15. mrflibble4747

    On Journalism:
    1. If it bleeds it leads.
    2. Publish and be damned.

    On Ethics & Integrity: (self test when deciding on a course of action)
    1. Would I like to explain what I did to my parents?
    2. Would I like to explain what I did to my wife and family?
    3. Would I like everyone to read about what I did in the newspapers?

    It really IS that simple!

  16. Matters Not


    always be a bevy of experts whose sole purpose is to find ways around the rules

    True enough. But that doesn’t mean we have to lie back and enjoy it. The occasional dose of retrospective legislation would have salutatory effects and affects. LOL. Of course retrospective legislation has a significant downside, so perhaps we need to include certain clauses in new legislation and a raft of amendments to existing legislation that highlight the spirit of the legislation and a warning that retro is a possibility against obvious rorts.

    We are having enquiries into the banking system but ignore the Big 4 Accounting Firms which advise companies on how to avoid tax.

  17. diannaart


    On Ethics & Integrity: (self test when deciding on a course of action)
    1. Would I like to explain what I did to my parents?
    2. Would I like to explain what I did to my wife and family?
    3. Would I like everyone to read about what I did in the newspapers?

    It is not that simple.

    Barnaby Joyce et al, do not care about their parents, their partners or children – I can only assume they love seeing themselves splashed across the MSM.

    If a person can only behave ethically, by considering those 3 questions, then that person has a problem. Just like those people who believe that by holding religious beliefs they will somehow always “do the right thing”. They claim to such nonsense as “I always ask god what to do?”

    Most humans have what is called a conscience. But they’re not the ones in power.

  18. mrflibble4747


    Did you miss the point or are we in “violent agreement?

  19. Vixstar

    Mrflibble you are wrong using that argument of what are others going to think and how will I explain it. Its your own personal judgement of your self which includes integrity , personal responsibility and asking yourself would I like to be treated that way. It starts with you ,not what other people think. Barnaby never asked that question to himself , he wasn’t honest . He could of had an honest and ooen conversation with his wife, he chose not to and by his bad decisions led to very sad consequences for his family and Turdball went with the sex spin instead of being honest and aired all his dirty laundry out for the world to see. Disgusting behaviour for a PM and DPM of Australia.

  20. diannaart

    Thank you Vixstar for explaining. I guess I was not clear enough for mrflibble.

    Its your own personal judgement of your self which includes integrity , personal responsibility and asking yourself would I like to be treated that way

    That is what I meant by most of us having a conscience on doing the right thing.

  21. mrflibble4747

    Err, which bit about “self test” is ‘wrong” then? We agree! Beetrooter should have applied this self test at many points and clearly did not. As a Junior Woodchucks Guide to Ethics it is not a bad little 3 point checklist. Of course it assumes some basic moral basis and self awareness in an individual. Not for the psychotic. Beetrooter clearly had another organ demanding too much blood flow to think straight. Now you can form a team with Diannarrt who is still not thinking it through!

    “Violent Agreement” means acting as if there is disagreement when the parties are actually largely in agreement.

    My father advised me to never get into a battle of wits with an unarmed man, so I’ll leave it there!

  22. win jeavons

    I saw this attitude starting to appear in the late 80’s in secondary school. I presume those who held to this are happy to vote, for politicians without integrity, so long as they are doing alright themselves.

  23. Leo

    Integrity went out of style with Reebok pumps and self respect.

  24. Vixstar

    You were right Diannart saying its not that simple ! each situation is very hard to navigate on “the merry go round of life ” but Barnaby’s choice to go for the rollercoaster says allot about him and he deserves to face the consequences for that decision. Its just so sad for his wife and 4 girls and the little one on the way. I am astounded by his actions and the thought its been happening for months.

  25. Glenn Barry

    Vixstar, I believe that the affair has been going since 2016, there’s mention of it in others articles which I’ve encountered, nothing definite however.

    If there are FOI requests seeking information on the re-employment of Vikki Campion, then those dates will likely get published

  26. diannaart


    If you don’t have a conscience or even a tenuous shred of integrity then you do need to use the 3 question test.

    Our elected representatives in Canberra cannot or will not even apply such a test, they simply do not care.


  27. Kaye Lee

    “BARNABY Joyce cleaned out his media squad after the 2016 election, except for one staffer who had been seconded from the NSW Nationals. Mr Joyce then took her to Canberra.”

    So she started working for him in the lead up to the 2016 election. Considering she was the ONLY person he kept on, I think it’s probably a fair bet it started in 2016 though I don’t think anyone has actually admitted that.

  28. diannaart

    Kaye Lee

    Waiting for honesty from Joyce is like waiting for Godot.

  29. Kaye Lee

    Barnaby is more than happy to spend our money trying to cover up the fact that he has no integrity…….

    Paul Grimes, the former head of the Agriculture Department, was sacked after he wrote a letter to Barnaby in 2015 regarding the doctoring of Hansard.

    “I am writing to advise you that I no longer have confidence in my capacity to resolve matters relating to integrity with you,” Mr Grimes began.

    “This follows the sequence of events before and following the alterations to Hansard that were made in October 2014.”

    “I am heavily conscious of my obligations to act ethically and impartially discharging my duties. There are established processes under the Public Service Act for resolving circumstances where a relationship between a secretary and a minister has broken down irretrievably,” Mr Grimes wrote

    “As I have conducted myself appropriately at all times, I have no intention of resigning or stepping aside.”

    Opposition agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon had fought for the release of the letter, which was emailed directly to Mr Joyce and Tony Abbott’s former head of department Michael Thawley, since the independent Information Commissioner ruled it should be made available.

    Mr Joyce’s department fought that ruling, spent $80,000 on engaging Ernst & Young to review its public information processes, and then fought the matter through the Administrative Appeals Tribunal before giving up the fight just after Parliament rose for two weeks in October 2016.

  30. mrflibble4747


    Exactly the opposite of your statement, the test is useless without some ethical or integrity grounding. I never said it would work for The Beetrooter just proves he has no ethics or integrity. (Helps to winkle out the disingenuous though i.e. most religious proclaimers and politicians)

    If we fail to COMMUNICATE in English why would you believe Italian would work? Capiche?

    PS Engage brain before operating keyboard!

  31. Matters Not

    The concepts of ethics and morality are often conflated (generally speaking) which often leads to some confusion, Legal people, for example, if they want to be true to their profession, must abide by the profession’s Code of Ethics. And therefore must do all in their power to provide the best possible defence for their client, even if it involves suspending their own moral judgement(s).

    While that’s the current common sense in some circles, one might accept that there’s no golden rule when it comes to the meaning individuals give to concepts such as ethics, morality or indeed anything. As an example, I give you Barnaby as a current practioner..

  32. diannaart

    Oh mrfibble

    Trying to win me with such an infinitesimal degree of charm and wit may work for some. However, I do believe you may have had a few too many rounds of turps tonight and as I see it is approaching midnight, way past your bedtime, little fellow.


  33. oldfart

    I wonder if George actually possesses a handgun licence? Or for that matter a shooters licence.

  34. diannaart

    If people disagree (and this IS about integrity), why reply with personal insults?

    My point was simply this, the normal rules which work (or not) for society do not apply to many in power – even though they should. Barnaby is a case in point. He and his like consider themselves above the normal constraints in society, in fact, they believe themselves to be above the law.

    Now, perhaps my critique of the “3 point question” to establish how to behave was clumsy. I do expect disagreement what I (or anyone proffering opinion) do not deserve is a litany of insults.

    Now mrflibble may not be a ageing white male, however, experience informs that on occasion when I have dared to differ, it is the “ageing white men” who react with excessive outrage, to the point where any real argument they may have to offer is lost. And nothing is achieved.

    And like, Barnaby Joyce, these killjoys of discussion will never, ever apologise.

    Robust discussion is possible. Personal attack is not “robust” instead it reveals a complete lack of integrity on the part of the abuser.

    Everything is connected – from the lack of respect for the electorate/public by politicians and big business through to the contempt for others by apparently ordinary people.


    Before I get slammed – not all “ageing white men” are complete tools…

  35. ozibody

    diannaart , to my point of view the points you raise are in line with this article.

    My parents raised me to attain a ” standard ” which (they maintained) any ‘ fair & honest person ‘ could expect to uphold – I was no exception, and my peers were raised accordingly …. In my own household, my wife & I applied a similar standard.- in accord with our own upbringing.

    In my perception , the bar defining the Lower end has been allowed to fall down. One scarcely hears phrases such as …….. ” common decency ” . or .. ” any fair minded person ” …. in today’s parlance.

    It used to be said that, in a debate, the party which resorted to debasing their opponent / argument had little little or no valid substance to present !

    Please understand that the points I raise are simply personal observations upon how the range of behaviour appears to have changed in my lifetime ….. ‘ standards ‘ apply to all modes of human conduct.

    Indeed ! … the Fish DOES rot from the head !

  36. Kaye Lee

    It is really easy to lie, cheat and steal. It is much harder, but infinitely more rewarding in a personal sense (if not financially), to set your own standards and stick to them.

    I detest lying. I always said to my kids, we can deal with anything if you tell me the truth, If you lie, I cant help you. We also, in my household, all find satisfaction in helping others. We will never be wealthy, but what we have, we share. My children are generous people who always think about others. I am extraordinarily proud of them.

  37. Kaye Lee

    Oh this just keeps getting worse. Vikki Campion went on “stress leave” in October and then got a redundancy payout in December.

    Stress leave?????? That is EXACTLY why you should not have workplace affairs!!! Why the hell should we pay her for stress leave that was entirely due to her own behaviour? Was the stress leave to cover up an inconveniently growing baby bump?

    Redundancy payout from a job that didn’t exist???? What a lurk that is! I thought she was on a temporary contract?

    They just keep changing the story.

  38. Rhonda

    Vikki looks to have received a lot buck for her bang…but what a trade off!

  39. Jexpat

    Not only do these sorts have zero integrity, but they double down when caught out- knowing full well that there’s little to no chance of their being held accountable under the rule of law.

  40. diannaart


    Thank you for your thoughtful and timely comments.

    I appreciate the support and agree such terms as “common decency” have been traded for such gems as “if you don’t like it, I don’t give a ….” insert expletive of choice.

    In the headlong rush to be tougher than any other primate, we have arrived at a point in time where even love has to be “tough”.

    Although I am hearing the word “resilient” being tossed around now. I do hope this word’s meaning does not become distorted into some sort Newspeak where it is devolved to mean “tough”. For resilience requires nurturing, support, opportunity and respect. Resilience rarely arrives when people are continually demeaned, disparaged, abused and finally just ignored.

    I, instinctively, do not like Vicki Campion, – but that says more about me than her. I do not know Vicki, maybe she really fell for Barnaby – women fall for some utter creeps – even non-wealthy ones. Who am I to judge?

    Which brings me to a nasty theme among societal nasty themes – everyone is a judge these days. Can’t put my head above the parapets and I am instantly judged – so many varieties of judgements, have I received, I should suggest a start-up with Heinz.

    The fish rots from the head – well when it comes to unsubstantiated judgement, who can go past Peter Dutton, does he not just put the “R” into racist? Was that judgemental of me? Well, I present Dutton’s record, your honour and I rest my case.

    Then there is everyday judgement, which is related to every day sexism.

    How does the above relate to integrity?

    Decent people try to do no harm. We try. We need to remind other people to try to do better.

  41. Peter Hilbig

    Fair comments from all, and thank you Kaye for the topic.

    The remedy – I have commented in another thread today. It’s non-political and it’s more appropriate under this post.

  42. Oscar

    Australia sold off and privatised it’s Integrity.It just seemed like a good idea at the time.She’ll be right mate; no worries ?

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