Dirty hands and commissions of inquiry: An examination of the independent local government review Panel in NSW, Australia
© 2015 by Emerald Group Publishing Limited. We utilise the problem of dirty hands to consider the ethical dimensions of commissions of inquiry, particularly commissions of inquiry conducted for the purposes of public policy. The Independent Local Government Review Panel (ILGRP) in NSW is used as an example for the purposes of discussion. Four questions endemic to considerations of dirty hands are derived from Coady (2014). The framework affords various insights into the ethical terrain of this particular inquiry and those undertaken for the purposes of public policy more generally. We argue that commissions of this type and the ILGRP in particular cannot be labelled examples of dirty hands and that the concept of determinatio from the work of St Thomas Aquinas sheds light as to the nature of moral claims around commissions. We also argue that a fruitful analysis is afforded by Wallis' (2013) analytic framework of the 'logic of fateful choices faced by the leaders of commissions of inquiry'. Nevertheless, confusion surrounding the nature and types of inquiries is partially responsible for accusations of their ethical incoherence.
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