Ethics Helpline

(248) 422 5517


Good conduct in government means that public officers should act with integrity and impartiality. They should be honest and diligent, avoid conflicts of interest, treat people with respect, act lawfully and show leadership.   Good conduct or behaviour is an important part of a civil society. It is also the basis for good relationships which are, in turn, crucial for good governance.


The principles for good conduct are set out in the Code of Conduct and Ethics. The Code defines several other requirements for the conduct of officers.   Some forms of conduct are considered to be criminal and can result in prosecution.


Good conduct and good relationships are particularly significant in government  because it relies on public officers working together as the government to make decisions in the name of the organisation (regardless of whether individuals agree with a decision or not).

Good relationships are characterised by mutual respect and courtesy which is especially important when there are differences of opinion. Equally important is the need for public officers to listen to each other, and focus debate and discussion on the issues rather than on personalities.

Good reasons for good conduct

There are three main reasons why public officers should follow the principles of good conduct:  Public officers’ behaviour reflects on government as a whole. If organisations are seen to be acting fairly and ethically their decisions will be better respected and are much more likely to be accepted by the community.

  • The conduct of individual public officers affects the ability of the organisation to function properly. If public officers behave badly, it can negatively affect the quality of their relationships with each other. This can lead to a lack of trust which will undermine the effectiveness of the organisation as a whole.
  • As community leaders, public officers should recognise their position as role models. Just like leaders at the state and federal levels of government and other prominent citizens, public officers’ conduct sets the standard for other people to follow.



An important foundation of good governance in government is goodwill.  While there are various mechanisms to guide and manage public officers’ behaviour (such as codes of conduct, the Public Sector Orders or the Employment Act), good governance depends on the capacity and preparedness of public officers to behave well and do whatever is necessary to build and maintain good working relationships, the administration supporting this, and public officers committing to repairing working relationships when things come unstuck as they may do from time to time.

About the POEC

To administer and enforce the Public Officers’ Ethics Act which comprises of the code of conduct and ethics for public officers and declarations of income, assets and liabilities for designated public officers.