Following orders no excuse, support needed for public servants


wrong or right ethical question

A cloud hangs over the APS amid allegations of paying people smugglers. Acting on ministerial instruction is no excuse for breaking the law, say experts who advise the services, but refuse and you may not find your career going places.

If people smugglers were paid to return to Indonesia and if this activity were found to be illegal, following ministerial instruction would not be a valid excuse, say public sector corruption and accountability academics.

“‘I was following orders’ is never an excuse” for illegal activity, argues Queensland University of Technology Associate Professor Mark Lauchs.

“The CCC [Crime and Corruption Commission] or ICAC [Independent Commission Against Corruption] are never going to care, nor will a judge or jury,” the former head of the ethics and integrity unit at the Queensland Public Service Commission told The Mandarin.

There has been controversy in recent days following claims Australian officials gave money to people smugglers to turn back their boats.

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