Call out conflicts of interest
MANY of us in Tasmania are busy people but because of our small population and a desire to contribute, we often find ourselves called on to do multiple tasks and fill multiple positions at the same time.
In some ways this is very much a Tasmanian attribute.
However, the passion to “be involved” and “give back” can come with a risk. Unfortunately in this state we see that risk become reality far too often, sometimes with devastating effects.
A conflict of interest refers to a situation where a conflict arises for an individual between two competing interests. These are often, but not exclusively, conflicts of public duty versus private interests. Conflict of interest can be reasonably perceived, potential or actual.
In this state we need to be constantly vigilant against the spectre of conflict of interest. It is risk that in many instances we fail to mitigate.
Often the individuals themselves fail to recognise their own conflicts of interest, and this can result in inadvertently incriminating actions.
We must all be vigilant to ensure that if we sit on a board, committee, council or any type of organisational arrangement we do not have a conflict of interest or, if we find that we do, we step aside while key decisions are made.
If this state is to prosper we should all strive for openness and transparency. We should ensure that decisions are made for the benefit of all, not for the benefit of the few.
But this does not just apply to individuals. It also applies to organisations, to businesses, and to the bureaucracy and the government. None of us are exempt.
These conflicts arise in governments and departments, even in the not-for-profit sector. Indeed, in the environment movement we have seen on occasion blatant examples. Environmental non-government organisations promote and campaign on a raft of environmental issues but too often, because of their own internal conflicts, fail to address some significant threats to our state.
Being encumbered with internal and bureaucratic conflicts of interest often leads to governments failing to achieve optimum performance.
The challenge for all of us is to address these in our own lives and question them when we find them in other areas.
In some ways, it is better to over-declare than to stay silent. We certainly shouldn’t be afraid to say to governments at any level or the associated bureaucracy, that inherent conflicts of interest are not acceptable and do not represent the future of Tasmania.