Leading the way

ALISTER HENSKENS SC, STATE MEMBER FOR KU-RING-GAI

As I sit to write this piece there are two major news items of relevance to our area.  The first is that the Ku-ring-gai Council area that corresponds to about 80% of the state electorate that I represent has been found by the Australian Bureau of Statistics to be the most advantaged area in Australia.  This finding is the result of scoring the education and occupation, economic resources and relative socio-economic advantage and disadvantage of people in Ku-ring-gai.

The finding represents what we already know – which is that there are many people who live in our area that have been very successful in many diverse walks of life.  We have captains of industry, former sporting greats, leaders of the professions, educational leaders, scientists, writers, musicians and many other people of achievement.  They live in our streets, are the parents of kids at our children’s schools or who take part in other local sporting or cultural activities.

Their achievements have come from hard work as well as talent. We are able to observe that successful people usually have characteristics that include being well-read, strategic, philosophical, and socially responsible with a strong ethical framework tested in real world decision making.

The second major news item also relates to the achievement of success. Some of our cricketers have succumbed to the wrong temptations present in a competitive environment. We like to think of sport as a noble form of competition where its core feature is human achievement through tenacity and fair play.  The fact that a few leading cricketers have chosen to take the easy road of cheating rather than maintain their integrity in the way in which they play their sport has been profoundly disappointing. It has shown a misunderstanding of Australian values – we value integrity in how you go about things more importantly than success.

As a barrister before coming into Parliament, I worked in an environment where integrity was everything. Our legal system relies upon barristers being honest with the Court and each other.

The events in South Africa also remind us of the great importance of leadership.  Being the member of a team, does not mean that you check your brain in at the door. In a team, people will have different views about what is the best way to collectively get ahead. If everybody refuses to accept the captain’s decision on everything, then there is anarchy.  A team cannot function. There must be a high degree of compliance with the decisions of the captain. But there are important times when team members have a duty to challenge decisions. When the decision is based upon a mistaken fact, there is a duty to speak out. When acts that are illegal or immoral are advocated, team members have a duty to voice their opposition.  It is not the right thing in these circumstances to be a compliant member of the team.

These are lessons that I believe parents, coaches and educators in our area try to teach our children.  A number of young cricketers are learning the wisdom of those values at the moment with potentially devastating personal and financial consequences.

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