Integrity Lectures

Named after Jim Carlton from 2016, the Jim Carlton Integrity Lecture is jointly hosted by the Centre for Comparative Constitutional Studies at Melbourne Law School and Accountability Round Table. The lectures are held at the Melbourne Law School.


Jim Carlton 2023: Professor Peter Doherty Nobel Laureate, AC, FAA, FRS

Integrity and Complex Systems: The Rum Rebellion or the Shearer’s Strike?

Much public discussion of moral, legal, and political integrity reflects the interface between Australia’s two great sociological themes, based respectively in the 1808 Rum rebellion and the 1891 Shearer’s Strike. Scientists like me also talk about ‘Integrity’ in somewhat different contexts. Architects and civil engineers focus on the integrity of physical structures. That also relies on the integrity of suppliers, builders, and regulators: there have recently been some spectacular failures! With health, whether it be human medicine or environmental well-being, we’re discussing the physical integrity of complex systems, and the moral integrity deficit of those who carelessly compromise such systems.

Read the full lecture here.  Watch a recording of the lecture here.


Jim Carlton Lecture 2022: The Hon. Barry Jones AC FAA FAHA FASSA FACE FRSA

Liberty, Fraternity and – what was the other word? How equality fell off the political agenda in Australia

Freedom’ now means ‘freedom from accountability’ and Fraternity means ‘tribalism’. But égalité –‘Equality’ – has disappeared without trace.

‘Equality’ dropped off Australia’s political agenda in the 21st Century. Both sides of politics recognise that winning elections depends on winning votes from ‘aspirationals’. So progressive taxation was dropped, education is more stratified in Australia than the UK or US, and governments/ political parties abandon ‘needs based’ policies.

A standard measure of ‘equality’ has been equal treatment under the law, but past decades have been marked by the protection of special interests who are above the law and the harsh treatment of  those below the law. Big miners,  private schools, and – for decades – casino owners were  in the first category, government schools, asylum seekers, Indigenous Australians and people in insecure work in the second. Both sides of politics are tainted in this area.

In the age of retail politics, all values have a dollar equivalent, debate is minimal and ‘truth’ purely operational. Courage, imagination, curiosity, compassion have disappeared without trace.

What is to be done?

Read the full lecture here.

Jim Carlton Lecture 2021: Glyn Davis AC Distinguished Professor of Political Science, ANU 

The first task is to find the right answer…. Public service and the decline of capability

Professor Glyn Davis AC asks what these reviews, and decisions taken in response, tell us about contemporary governance in Australia. It explores the rationale of Prime Minister Morrison to reject key findings of the Thodey review and speculates on the long-run consequences of changes now shaping the Australian Public Service.

………What was once a partnership to govern between ministers and public service experts is now described as a command and control system. The minister and their advisers are firmly in control, and the public service becomes the delivery arm of political goals.

The assumption of a public service which can endure through changes of government, a public service which acts as a deep well of collective experience and intellectual capital for the nation, is lost in this narrow formulation advanced by the Prime Minister. The tendency to push aside traditional public service advice in favour of consultants, contracted service delivery and underfunding of core policy capability are all long-standing trends. Changes over 40 years have delivered a much transformed public service, likely more efficient, but at the cost of policy capability and coherence.

Read the full lecture here

Jim Carlton Lecture 2019: Terry Moran AC  

The next long wave of reforms – where will the ideas come from?

Terry Moran AC, one of Australia’s most distinguished public servants, gave this year’s Jim Carlton Integrity Lecture, drawing on his extraordinary career in public administration.

The lecture, held 25th March, examined the development of Australian public policy after the Second World War, the acceptance of macro and micro economics as a source of policy ideas from the early 1980, the public’s eventual disenchantment with what this has delivered, the conversion of the Australian Public Service to economic as an ideology, and ideas for reform of the APS to ensure it is fit for the emerging challenges we face.

My view is Australians want government to seek tailored, smart, creative solutions that draw on the experience of civil society, business and the public. They want missions. They want government to admit they don’t have all the answers and organise the search for them.

Read the full lecture:  Terry Moran Integrity Lecture oration

Jim Carlton Lecture 2018: Gillian Triggs

The Decline of Parliamentary Democracy in a Post-Truth Era

Emeritus Professor Gillian Triggs was president of the Australian Human Rights Commission from 2012-2017,. She was previously Dean of the Faculty of Law and Challis Professor of International Law at the University of Sydney from 2007-12 and Director of the British Institute of International & Comparative Law from 2005-7. Professor Triggs is a former barrister with Seven Wentworth Chambers and Governor of the College of Law.

Her lecture held 23rd March 2018 at the Melbourne Law School explored the ‘post-truth’ era, where opinion is likely to drive political outcomes more than evidence, that expertise is a subject for attack, that populism, tribalism and ‘retail politics’ shape public discourse and there are serious concerns that, as in the 1930s, democracy itself may be under threat. With her commitment to openness and accountability, Gillian Triggs is able to make a major contribution to this necessary debate.

I have observed what I believe to be the truth: parliamentary democracy in Australia is in decline, failing to meet its role as a check on the inevitable encroachments by the executive. The failure of Parliament and its many parliamentary committees poses a serious threat to our democracy; our ranking by The Economist recently, for example, continues to slide down the democratic country list –in short, we should be both alert and alarmed.

Read the full lecture

Jim Carlton Lecture 2016: The Hon Peter Baume

Accountability: Do programs work? (and how can we find out?) Through a glass darkly…

This year the lectures have been renamed “The Jim Carlton Lectures” in honour of the late Hon. Jim Carlton AO, who was a highly valued member of Accountability Round Table.

Professor the Hon. Peter Baume, AC has had a distinguished career  as Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Health and Education in the Fraser Government, Former Chancellor of the Australian National University, Former Professor of Community Medicine, University of NSW. He has an outstanding record of integrity.

Read the full lecture:



Annual Integrity Lecture 2014: Michelle Grattan

Integrity in Politics: A Media Perspective

Accountability Round Table, in association with Melbourne University Centre for Comparative Constitutional Studies, presents our Annual Integrity Lecture. This year, (2014) Michelle Grattan AO (Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra & Chief Political Correspondent, The Conversation), speaks on “Integrity in Politics: A Media Perspective”.

The lecture was given at Melbourne Law School on 18th November 2014

“Michelle is uniquely qualified to comment on integrity in politics.  Of unquestioned integrity in her own profession, she has observed more examples of integrity, or lack of it, over the years than most people in Canberra.  This will be an opportunity for an insight not to be missed.”

This lecture was published in full at “The Conversation”. 18 November 2014, 9.48pm AEDT.


Annual Integrity Lecture 2012: Lindsay Tanner

Integrity in Politics – The Power of Ideas

Accountability Round Table in conjunction with Melbourne University Law School Centre for Comparative Constitutional Studies invited The Hon Lindsay Tanner, former Federal member for the seat of Melbourne, to give the 2012 Annual Integrity Lecture.  The lecture was given at Melbourne Law School on 22 Nov 2012

Lindsay addressed matters of the media’s relationship with politicians and its negative effect on political literacy and interest. However he considered this to be part of a wider phenomenon of deep economic and technological changes that have swept the Western world.


Related Articles

A ‘revolt of the engaged’ just might save our politics – The Age

Annual Integrity Lecture 2011: Fred Chaney

Integrity in Parliament – Where Does Duty Lie?

Accountability Round Table in conjunction with Melbourne University Law School Centre for Comparative Constitutional Studies invited The Hon Fred Chaney,  former Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party of Australia, to give the 2011 Annual Integrity Lecture.  The lecture was given at Melbourne Law School on 11 October 2011.

Asking “where does the politician’s duty lie”, Fred Chaney canvassed the difficulty of judging politicians through the lens of integrity because of the layers of responsibility they have and the complexity of many of the issues with which they have to deal. Political judgement is contextual.

Read the full lecture and see the video


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