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Monday, March 16, 2015

Premier Baird gives Politicians' Pledge the brush: just trust us, please

In the second (and last) leaders debate in the NSW election campaign on Friday Chris Uhlmann asked only one question about trust and left it when both said a few things about political donation reform. 

Maybe Uhlmann hadn't heard of the Politicians' Pledge or didn't think commitment to the pledge was worth pursuing, let alone the smorgasbord of other integrity, transparency and accountability issues that deserve an airing in the interests of good, honest, clean government. 

Whatever, it was poor judgment in an election campaign where the electorate needs no reminder of the record of both major parties, and on trust the Premier is rated 5.5/10, the Opposition leader 4.3/10. (ABC Vote Compass)

On Saturday The Sydney Morning Herald reported Premier Baird declined to sign the pledge. 

Instead, the Premier said he and his Liberal team "will always act in your interests, and will do so in an ethical and democratic manner." (So too The Shooters and Fishers Party saying its MPs took an oath of office and their "honesty and integrity is beyond reproach.)

The general commitment to ethical and democratic values didn't deliver those goods from Liberal or Labor in the recent past. It's why candidates should be willing to provide  assurance by signing on the dotted line to a list of basic democratic values.

Opposition leader Foley told the Herald he would sign as would all Labor candidates. So far they aren't on the published list. Two of Premier Baird's Liberal team both sitting members have broken ranks and signed on as well as a growing number of others.

It's puzzling what Premier Baird finds difficult in the pledge.

Campbell Newman in Queensland similarly found it difficult to commit to the Fitzgerald principles until saying no proved indefensible during a leaders' debate there.

With less than two weeks to the election in NSW will Premier Baird come to the same realisation?

The Politicians' Pledge:

"In the pursuit of power, I will:
  • Act in good conscience;
  • Enable informed decision-making by my fellow citizens;
  • Respect the intrinsic dignity of all;
  • Refrain from exploiting my rivals' private failings for political gain; and
  • Act so as to merit the trust and respect of the community.
In the exercise of power, I will:
  • Give effect to the ideals of democratic government and represent the interests of my electorate as a whole;
  • Abide by the letter and spirit of the Constitution and uphold the rule of law;
  • Advance the public interest before any personal, sectional or partisan interest;
  • Hold myself accountable for conduct for which I am responsible; and
  • Exercise the privileges and discharge the duties of public office with dignity, care and honour."

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