In October I was fortunate to have the opportunity to address 150 local government officials in Beijing on the theme of building good governance at the local government level.
The attendees were staff of the Beijing Municipal Commissions for Development and reform. This meant that they had a wide range of backgrounds in areas such as policy development, local government reform, project management, performance monitoring and anti-corruption activities.
At short notice I ended up presenting for four days straight, as my co-presenter had to withdraw at the last minute. It was an exhausting but fascinating experience; the presentations were demanding, especially as for the most part I was lecturing through an interpreter, non-simultaneously, with only limited opportunities for workshop sessions or questions.
When the questions did come they were very broad-ranging, covering areas from exactly how did the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption catch corrupt local government officials, through to the impacts of the implementation of the Rudd Government’s code of ministerial conduct. Needless to say I was fortunate to have access to the internet in my accommodation to follow up on some of these queries!
The people I met seemed genuinely committed to achieving good governance and at least appeared receptive to the central message of my presentation – that in Australia, good governance and high ethical standards are the result of strong and independent public institutions, a free press and strong community input and expectations.
Thanks to the Trans Asian Education and Culture Association for arranging the presentation and for the care they took of me throughout the trip.