Fitzgerald has written a more comprehensive critique on The Drum.
He has put forward four principles of good governance, now picked up by others as in this Open letter, asking political parties for a commitment and a clear explanation how they would be implemented if elected:
- Govern for the peace, welfare and good government of the State;
- Make all decisions and take all actions, including public appointments, in the public interest without regard to personal, party political or other immaterial considerations;
- Treat all people equally without permitting any person or corporation special access or influence; and
- Promptly and accurately inform the public of its reasons for all significant or potentially controversial decisions and actions.
As Fitzgerald explained, the principles are simply asking politicians to behave democratically
"They're really requirements of what we call representative democracy, which is a system in which a parliament is elected to represent the people and to govern on behalf of the people. Whereas the political parties of today see it rather as a contest in which whichever one wins does pretty much what it likes. And so I suppose if we're ever going to get back to the proper representative democracy, it will have to come through pressure from the public to force the parties to acknowledge these requirements and it seemed appropriate in the present circumstances to start that pressure going forward."Fitzgerald acknowledged the principles can't be legally enforced."To be held accountable, they can be held politically accountable." That's a collective responsibility for us at the ballot box and thereafter as well.
The Fitzgerald principles should be waved in front of contenders for political office at all levels of government starting with those contesting the NSW election in March. And before those already exercising legislative or executive power in the people's name.
For our government in Canberra, determinedly keeping its head down on the whole range of integrity, transparency and accountability issues except its plan to abolish the Office of Australian Information Commissioner, Fitzgerald had this to say about the need for a federal anti-corruption agency, something the government opposes:
I think it's self-evident. The people who go into State Parliament, who go into the major political parties are the same people who go into those parties and go into Federal Parliament. I don't think they're any different in one group or the other. They're people who, for one reason or other, are prepared to buckle down and do what the party wants, to advance the interests of the party, to advance the ideologies of the party and to advance their own interests. I can't understand why they'd be corrupt at one level - or be corruptible at one level and not at the other. So, that's not to say I know of any corruption in the federal system at the moment, but I'm pretty sure you'd find that if the digging started, there'd be bones at the bottom of the hole, you know.Finally Fitzgerald on the skills and experience of the political class:
.. I'm concerned on a wide range of things about government in Australia, but in particular, the idea that the people who are now running politics are professional politicians, learning all the bad habits in political office. Nearly all members of Parliament now will have done a stint in the party office, a minister's offers or an associated entity's office. We need to get people who are independent, who've taken - who've learned and exercised values outside the political system. So that's my broad concern