Berry makes right call on nepotism - Opinion - Editorial - General - The Canberra Times [Australia]
Berry makes right call on nepotism
7/08/2008 12:00:00 AM
Nepotism, commonly defined as favouritism based on kinship, is a hardy perennial with deep and widespread roots. Considered as an extension to the concept of the selfish gene, there are compelling reasons why people favour family, clan or tribe over strangers. The family is, after all, the rock on which human society is built, and it behoves members to show it allegiance and advance its fortunes where possible.
Blood is thicker than water, but, intriguingly, nepotism does not always advance the long-term interests of the family. Many a family fortune has been squandered, or a dynasty rendered moribund, by those third- or fourth-generation scions who have proved unequal in skill, talent or temperament to the founders. Provided it is kept within the family firm or business, nepotism is considered by most right-thinking people as an acceptable if dubious practice, or at least as being nobody's business but the family's concerned. Where it occurs in public life, or in a business or corporation with a public shareholding, it is held in rather less esteem, if not downright hostility.
Many parliaments and legislatures, mindful of the fact that nepotism discredits entire institutions, have proscribed it in their codes of ethics or conduct. The ACT Legislative Assembly Members' code of conduct, for example, includes the warning under ''conduct as employers'' that ''Members should not appoint close relatives to positions in their own offices or any other place of employment where the Member's approval is required''. But like many such codes, the ACT's is non-binding, and though it exhorts sitting and former Members to respect the spirit of the code, some MLAs, including Bill Stefaniak and Vicki Dunne, have ignored it. Indeed, Labor MLA Mary Porter continues to employs her husband as her senior officer. And in a clear indication some MLAs consider the nepotism clause to be unnecessary if not a nuisance, an Assembly committee which conducted a recent review of the code (introduced in 2006) has recommended that the anti-nepotism clause be dropped altogether.
[The rest of the article available at link, but less about kinship than politics. Emphases added by CEB]