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.