The Board of The Accountability Round Table values members of the organisation and is ultimately answerable to them.  

Our aim is to engage with members in meaningful and productive ways in order to achieve our objectives.

Below is a short introduction to ART for potential members. We look forward to receiving your application.

The Accountability Round Table welcomes the interest of all who share a deep concern that confidence in democracy, as an essential element of civilised governance, is now seriously depleted and important principles have been subordinated to very short term political vision.

As Trump’s America epitomizes, populism is either embraced, or answered with contempt.  Both approaches are profoundly inappropriate.  One cultivates a disdain for facts, for evidence and for expertise.  The other unnecessarily alienates populist adherents and generates an unwillingness to accommodate difference.  The result is a loss of the essentials of civilized society, among them; decency, a respect for difference, and an ability to project political aspirations into a vision that addresses the significant issues for the nation.

ART’s reason for being is to press for reforms that can restore trust in democracy. What follows is designed to give those contemplating membership of ART a sense both of the organisation itself and of how solutions to the democratic deficit might be pursued.

Who we are

ART’s members have diverse backgrounds and professions, including retired judges, practicing lawyers, academics, researchers, journalists and former politicians.  However, all – including those who have held political office – are dedicated, and non-partisan, in working to improve standards of accountability, probity, transparency and democratic practice in all governments and parliaments in Australia.  ART’s members recognise that we must ourselves practice in our relations with each other the virtues we insist must inform the actions of those who are elected or appointed to govern us.   

The public office, public trust principle

ART embraces the principle that public office is a public trust; in other words, that every holder of a public office, whether elected or appointed, must subordinate private and party interests to the public interest.

Breaches of the public trust should be exposed.  Transparency in the parliament and in government is the necessary means.  Subject to the exceptional case in which the public interest clearly requires confidentiality, the exercise of power must be open to public scrutiny. 

ART therefore champions transparency in government and those institutions that enhance it: effective integrity commissions, auditors-general, ombudsmen and other entities which confine the executive of government and its agencies within its lawful boundaries.

The public trust is also betrayed whenever official decisions are improperly influenced.  Political donations are frequently made in the hope or expectation that they will result in more favourable consideration of the interest of the donor than adherence to the public interest would permit.  ART therefore calls for laws that prevent the corrupting potential of political donations to be strengthened

It is beyond the scope of this brief introduction to cover all the issues of concern to ART.  Others include, but are not limited to, the role of lobbyists and ministerial advisers and the need to protect citizens against the misuse of the vast amounts of information collected by government.  

To summarise

Broadly, ART’s approach is informed by a determination that, in a properly functioning democracy, the qualities of decency, honesty, compassion, empathy, and a commitment to keep an open mind and to put public service above private interest, will be foremost constantly in the minds of all those who hold public office.  

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