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In February this year, I spoke about integrity and conduct. Politics is about perception, and, regrettably, the public perception of our politicians is not good. Repeatedly, politicians from local, state and federal ranks have acted without integrity and contributed to the ongoing and deteriorating perception of the body politic.

In any survey about the most trusted professions in our society, politicians usually rank amongst the lowest, and why wouldn’t this be the case, given the continued exposure of questionable activities over the years? Whether it’s alleged lies in election campaigns, dodgy preselections, misappropriation of public monies, personal benefits resulting from insider information, monies sequestered in overseas tax havens, abuse of office for personal advantage, dodgy land deals or connections with foreign governments, the list goes on and on.

Negative public perceptions are compounded when politicians dig their heels in, spin the story and fail to take responsibility for their actions. They rely on the fast-moving media cycle and wait for the next story to take over the front page, and this frustrates the public even more. Modern democracies and the operation of open government must be accountable and transparent, thereby obviating any suspicion of skulduggery.

In conclusion, those who resist the introduction of an effective federal integrity body raise people’s curiosity. One has to ask the question: are they conflicted? Why are they resisting the implementation of such a body? And when we speak of integrity, I’m once again reminded of the words of Marcus Aurelius, Roman emperor and philosopher: ‘If it is not right, do not do it. If it is not true, do not say it.’

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