A Crisis of Ethical Leadership.

Drawing wide the curtains of political antiquity can anyone remember the days when politicians resigned at the least hint of impropriety?

Obviously not. Evidence, for the second time in in three years the Speaker’s office of the Australian parliament is embroiled in scandal. This is national disgrace.    

The Speaker of Parliament is supposedly the preeminent arbiter, manager and comptroller of the highest body in our land. It is axiomatic that the Speaker should be of exemplary character and unsullied in political dealings.

Three years ago the position of Speaker degenerated into open and disgraceful farce under the ministrations of the unlamented Peter Slipper. The spectre of this scandal has barely dimmed and now we have the controversial and unreconstructed political Hammerhead, Bronwyn Bishop, bringing the office into further disrepute. 

Significantly, the absence of the Prime Minister’s magisterial hand staying the ethical bleeding is compounding the lack confidence in the nation’s political affairs? His knock-kneed response in placing the Speaker on probation will not do! On probation!! Any hint of impropriety – any hint, intentional or otherwise – is sufficient to disqualify a Speaker. What is he waiting for? A sign from Heaven! His prevarication is a measure of the man.

Sadly, Bishop’s decision not to walk and Abbott’s weakness in not withdrawing her remit is symptomatic of a deeper ailment in our society. Collectively we have lost the clarity of ethical vision to determine between right and wrong; individuals will not accept responsibility for their wrong doings and, of supreme significance, politicians lose sight of the fact that they are not Gods, and that they do not live in Olympian Halls far removed from their accountability to the people.

All three factors coalesce to the detriment of the democratic process. If our parliamentarians cannot, or will not distinguish between a pile of dung and ethical process they cannot complain if the people follow suit.

The Speaker’s position requires strength of purpose and moral clarity. Bishop clearly has neither. Her failure in this instance gives lie to her original promise. She has disappointed her supporters, she has disappointed Parliament and, if a vacillating and lacklustre Prime Minister will not address the problem the Parliament must. Checkmate Bishop.

Clear the chessboard!