THE Ethics Centre’s Simon Longstaff this morning delivered to a packed 450-plus audience in the north eastern Victorian town of Beechworth a provocative and powerful 2015 Kerferd Oration about Australia’s ‘invisible people’.
Dr Longstaff drew on the ‘fireside chat’ broadcasts made by Australian politician and later statesman Robert Menzies in the midst of World War II to argue for a fresh contract between people and government – in which government should act for the people, not in political self-interest.
He said that government in Australia, regardless of political colour, had come to keep from the public eye:
- The ‘hidden’: those whom the powerful see but will not show;
- The ‘ignored’: those whom the powerful see but will not recognise; and
- The ‘unseen’: those whom the powerful look at but cannot see.
Dr Longstaff also said that government in recent decades had watered down the ‘constabulary’ role of the public service.
“…The public service must look for and see every citizen in an equal light – irrespective of who they are or where they live,” he said.
“There can be no ‘dark corners’ or ‘zones of irrelevance’ – no citizen should ever be ignored simply because they are not thought to ‘count’ for much in the calculation of party politics.”
2015 Kerferd Oration PDF
by Dr Simon Longstaff AO
The Ethics Centre, Sydney
Image: Ovens & Murray Advertiser / Jamie Kronborg