Reasonable and decent people have cause to be horrified at the unfolding disaster that is Sportsrorts.
Millions and millions of taxpayer dollars spent according to sly and crooked criteria and a process that defines bad faith administration.
Ministers and ministerial advisers in the thick of things.
Whatever happened to responsible ministers?
If trust is the currency of government, then scandal burns political capital. Scandal causes people to wonder about the judgement of government, about priorities and about their ability to undertake sensible things. Scandal makes it more difficult to do good things.
Scandal always drags energy and attention away from the hard work of government. And Lord only knows, government these days is not easy. The media cycle is short; politics is partisan; criticism is endemic; generosity is rare; issues are complex.
A-grade foolishness like Sportsrorts shackles good ministers who require the attention and support of Cabinet and prime ministers if they are to succeed. Forced by scandal to fight on ground they did not select, a racked government neglects the business that should truly demand their focus.
Scandal derails government.
Because governments must sometimes be protected from themselves, and public servants must protect themselves from governments, 2020 is quickly becoming the year of probity and proper process.
It’s a great word, probity, suggesting strong moral principles, honesty and decency. Similar words include: right-mindedness, trustworthiness, truthfulness, honourableness, fairness, equity and principles. The origin is late Middle English: from Latin probitas, from probus, good.
In government, probity is the making of good decisions by proper authority according to specified, transparent criteria. An approach based on probity demands that proper records be kept; authority be formally warned the moment they start to diverge from proper process; conflicts of interest be avoided; self-interest play no part in any assessment; shortcuts not be made. The person who approves a proposal is not the same as the person who assesses it.
Let’s not pretend that we haven’t been warned.