As the Australian Government edges closer to releasing a bill for the establishment of a Commonwealth Integrity Commission, it seems timely to look back at what a former Governor-General — the Hon. Sir John Kerr KCMG KStJ QC — had to say on ‘The Ethics of Public Office’ in his 1974 Garran Oration.
To provide some historical context, Sir John delivered the Oration at the national conference of the Australian Regional Groups of the Institute of Public Administration on 11 November 1974, exactly one year before his dramatic dismissal of the Whitlam Government on 11 November 1975.
Putting the drama associated with the dismissal to one side: what did Sir John have to say about the ethics of public office that might inform our thinking on integrity in Australian government half a century on?
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