Friday, October 29, 2010

Perception is 9/10ths of the law

Fundamentally I think we want to believe in government and that its highest officers govern with integrity and transparency. And yes, at times we can be disappointed. The recent furore involving the Directorate of Public Prosecutions is a timely reminder about the demanding importance of doing and appearing to do the right thing, in every instance.

I do not profess to know any of the specific circumstances surrounding the very regrettable situation that faced the DPP, Jeremy Rapke and his staff. And of course, if I were professionally involved in any way in mediating this dispute, it would be totally inappropriate for me to comment. So for what its worth this case invokes a number of tantalising yet potentially unfair and unfounded conspiracy theories vis a vis merit based selection, the application of EEO principles, workplace culture and the challenges thrown up by good old human nature. Some of those would be:

Scenario One

The woman at the centre of the storm, Diana Karamikov is a seriously talented solicitor and is being recognised for that alone. Old fuddy duddies intent on preserving the best traditions of seniority (or plain old jealousy) are throwing a vitriolic tantrum and getting rewarded with lots of attention for it. In this scenario protesting staffers would appear petty and age-ist. Only yesterday I met a talented lawyer who told me she was promoted to senior litigator and partner in a national firm in her late 20′s.

Scenario Two

Parties have behaved inappropriately and are getting their just desserts if power and authority have been abused potentially resulting in dinted reputations, and diminished morale and confidence in governmental leadership by staffers and the public.

Scenario Three

Independent of any possible poor judgment or otherwise, parties have seized on the opportunity to discredit the Director, the Office of Public Prosecutions which would arguably have a number of enemies and/or the government in the weeks before a state election. The fact that a senior staffer resigned over it some weeks ago doesn’t automatically invalidate the justness of an appointment and refute the possibility of Scenario One. Conversely the possibility of any friendship between the “appointer” and the “appointee” does not automatically render the appointment a perversion of natural justice for other candidates. We do know all 7 candidate recommendations were independently scrutinised by a panel convened by the Attorney General Rob Hulls and all passed muster.

In Conclusion

Government must continue to be accountable for all its decisions but the ability of individuals and the media at large to monster those responsible for such decisions and cast such aspersions on character so easily and so readily in the absence of any real evidence presented thus far would rattle even the most resilient.

It is a relief to hear there has been a reported rapprochement between two of the senior players to this regrettable saga late last week because we have long since known that a working relationship is the minimum condition of success in any high performing team and the work done by the Directorate of Public Prosecutions is vital to the wellbeing of our citizens and the preservation of our democracy.