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In whose interest? Political ethics under scrutiny

If we hauled Australian and PNG politicians into a searching ethical spotlight, just how good would they look? PAUL OATES examines what seems to be a growing deficit in proper ethical reasoning.

Most stories and articles about PNG these days focus on the negative aspects of political corruption and malfeasance at the highest levels.

In his remarks on an article in yesterday’s Melbourne Age about today’s PNG [Dave Tacon: ‘As things fall apart’], Phil Fitzpatrick comments in PNG Attitude:

“… it’s almost a mandatory requirement for stories about PNG. I suspect that Dave Tacon knew that without the negative sensation, including the title, his story wouldn’t have otherwise been published.”

Is this therefore the situation most journalists find themselves when an editor calls for an article on PNG? Is this why. in PNG Attitude, the PNG Governor General called on PNG writers to write about only good things that are happening in PNG today?

Any ethical debate about a politician’s actions should focus on outcomes and not inputs. Otherwise, there is a tendency to start tripping over the trees while losing sight of the forest.? Could there be a more practical way? After all, what we really want are politicians who, by their actions, can improve our existence, not make it worse.

Imagine if all politicians were held accountable for their time in office and responsible for achieving what they said they would do prior to being elected. Imagine if there was a public report card on each elected member prior to the next election. Surely the acid test ought to be whether the lives of their fellow countrymen and women were demonstrably better off for a politician being elected.

How would Australian and PNG politicians stand up to assessment, I wonder?

You can read Paul’s article about ethical reasoning in the current political context in its entirety here: Ethics & Politics: Are they mutually exclusive?


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