4 March 2023

PODCAST: The Hoot on public service ethics, woke rewrites and the Canberra identity

| Genevieve Jacobs
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Jimmy Rees in ”Border Control for Canberra” – did the comedian nail it this time? Photo: Screenshot.

This week on The Hoot, Ross and Genevieve start with the serious things and move on to the plain annoying ones.

Public service ethics have been in the spotlight for days as the Robodebt saga continues to focus public attention on who allowed the program to continue and why.

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During the past week, the inquiry has heard from several department secretaries, including Renee Leon, who believed she had been effectively demoted for warning that the scheme was probably illegal and should not continue.

READ ALSO Robodebt shows just how far APS independence has been eroded, says Podger

Ms Leon said she believed former secretary Kathryn Campbell had probably been promoted above her experience level because of her willingness to acquiesce to government policy on the issue.

What happens to frank and fearless advice when the consequences take effect from the top of the APS tree? And how can we restore ethics and personal responsibility to the most senior echelons of the public service?

There’s been plenty of discussion about extensive rewrites to popular fiction – authors from Roald Dahl to Ian Fleming have been chopped up because the language no longer sits comfortably with modern sensibilities.

READ ALSO Sure signs of grumpy old man syndrome

There’s been a parallel controversy over who has the right to be a brand ambassador for sanitary products. Whose rights predominate and why? – and is the argument essentially about who is most offended?

These are topics that make Ross shout at the clouds, but in a rapidly evolving world, can we expect public standards to remain the same – or is it time to acknowledge change and move on?

Comedian Jimmy Rees hasn’t moved too far – he’s had another crack at Canberra and how you’d know you’re really a local. There’s no mention of roundabouts this time, but are the jokes close enough to home, or the same old lines from people who don’t know much about the city? You be the judge.

READ ALSO Do you pass ‘the Canberra test’? Comedian Jimmy Rees roasts the capital in viral video (again)

The Hoot appears every week on Riotact and wherever you get your podcasts, including Apple and Spotify. Have a listen, tell us what you think and rate us.

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