By John Uhr

Phrases of belief is the 1st book-length research of the function of ethics in Australian executive. It scrutinizes what really occurs in perform opposed to the democratic conception, and identifies the strengths and weaknesses of public-sector ethics.

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Extra resources for Terms of Trust: Arguments over Ethics in Australian Governments

Sample text

Much of the time, of course, the policy discourse of trust reflects a situation in between these possibilities, not as bad as its critics might fear but not as good as its proponents might want us to believe. I see no good reason for citizens to take on trust any of the ‘terms of trust’ appealed to by governments in the growing list of values statements, ethics guidelines, integrity frameworks and the like. The language of ethics now comprises its own distinctive policy discourse reflecting emerging demands on democratic governance caused by doubts about the sustainability of public confidence in government.

It is understandable that policymakers would settle for an approach to ethics defined as a kind of neutral balance between the vices of personal benefit and the virtues of public benefit. But does this understandable compromise measure up, ethically and not simply politically? Above, I sketched the conventional liberal doctrine of the public-interest concept, which works best in the negative direction of alerting good liberals to the self-interested motives built into liberal premises of politics and good government.

You can trust us to monitor our trustworthiness, seems to be the message from government to the community. TermsTrustfinal 32 14/3/05 10:22 AM Page 32 PA R T I • F R A M I N G G O V E R N M E N T A N D E T H I C S In examining the Australian scene, I do my best to take seriously what governments say they are doing when they write the rules about ethical conduct for public officials. My analysis follows the policy profile traced by Australian governments, trying to tease out the policy logic behind this important initiative, comparing the Australian story with the experience of comparable other nations experimenting with ethics regimes regulating public life.

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