FORMER Governor-General Sir William Deane has called for national leadership that values justice and truth, citing failures of Australia’s current leaders to do so.
Sir William, who is a Catholic, made his plea as he accepted an honorary doctorate of laws at the University of Queensland on May 29.
In addressing several hundred law and business graduates, he said one of the major challenges facing the future leaders of Australia was the commitment to justice and truth.
Sir William said that was the challenge never to be indifferent in the face of injustice or falsehood.
‘It encompasses the challenge to advance truth and human dignity rather than to seek advantage by inflaming ugly prejudice and intolerance,’ he said.
‘Who of us will easily forget the untruths about children overboard? Or the abuse of the basic rights of innocent children by incarceration behind Woomera’s razor-wire?
‘Or the denial of the fundamental responsibility of a democratic government to seek to safeguard the human rights of all its citizens, including the unpopular and the alleged wrongdoer, in the case of the two Australians indefinitely caged without legal charge or process in a Guantanamo Bay jail?’
Sir William said if Australia’s coming generation of leaders refused to honestly confront the denial of truth or responsibility which such instances reflected, ‘our nation will surely be in peril of losing its way in the years ahead’.
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