Ethics shouldn’t have to be the Election Issue

Gareth MorganPolitics

What an indictment of our democracy that it’s the behaviour of our political actors that has captured the imagination of the media rather than their policies. Whether this is because the media is so lightweight that it couldn’t do analysis of policy if it tried, whether it’s because there is little policy of content to consider anyway, or whether it’s because gossip columns and mud-slinging are what media have found to be most effective in boosting their ratings, who knows? But it is all a bit of a bore.

I mean who cares whether Judith Collins gets off using the gutterings of a Cameron Slater or whoever to score herself and her party political points? Certainly not those concerned with growing their businesses, nor those trying to feed and educate their families, not those wanting New Zealand to improve the quality of its economic growth. It’s as if the “Truth” newspaper has come back in a different guise and the behavioural standards of our politicians are just too salacious to be ignored.

Of course we expect minimum standards of decency and the fact National actually engages with a lowlife like Slater tells us a lot. That Hagar has highlighted behaviour that suggests a decided lack of ethics at best and possible corruption, is something that warrants thorough public discussion. So to that extent events of the last week and the media’s amplification of the claims and counter-claims serve a public interest purpose.

But wouldn’t it be a shame if this turns out to be all there is to this election – that policy differences are not front of mind when voters enter the ballot boxes on September 20th? It would confirm the tragedy of a body politic that has sunk so low that we have reason to question the morality of our leaders.

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Ethics shouldn’t have to be the Election Issue was last modified: December 15th, 2015 by Gareth Morgan
About the Author

Gareth Morgan

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Gareth Morgan is a New Zealand economist and commentator on public policy who in previous lives has been in business as an economic consultant, funds manager, and professional company director. He is also a motorcycle adventurer and philanthropist. Gareth and his wife Joanne have a charitable foundation, the Morgan Foundation, which has three main stands of philanthropic endeavour – public interest research, conservation and social investment.