Your task: The Engineers Australia Code of Ethics “defines the values and principles that shape the decisions we make in engineering practice”. Members of Engineers Australia “commit to practice in accordance with the Code of Ethics”. This week’s report asks you to investigate the scope of the Code of Ethics for a particular scenario. If a practicing engineer moves into politics and becomes an elected member of parliament, are they still bound by the Code of Ethics? What ethical dilemmas exist (if any) surrounding a broken election promise? Are there other ethical dilemmas that you can identify? As always, please provide a variety of robust references to support your view.
Engineers are bound by the Australia code of ethics. This code is effective during their time as practising engineers and only binds them when dealing with engineering services. A politician may still be a practising engineer, which implies that there will be two codes of ethics binding them. The code of ethics governing engineers will only be effective when the engineer is offering engineering services and will be null and void when politics are considered (Davis, 2001). This code cannot be used in politics because it is a whole new field. The issues that the engineers code of ethics deals with are different from those a politician is involved in. This implies that if an individual quits engineering and joins politics fulltime, then the code of ethics does not guide their practise.
Politicians make many election promises and deliver on very few or none at all. This has tarnished the reputation of politicians leading to the electorate labelling them as liars. Politicians are under no ethical code to fulfil their promises (McAllister, 2000). This implies that they cannot be sued or their election revoked due to failure to meet their promises. The only ethical code they have is one that dictates how they carry out their duties and behave in the house. People may label the politician as a liar because of unfulfilled promises but that does not imply that the politician has broken any ethical code. A dilemma may occur when politicians make a commitment that binds them to the promise (Morrell & Hartley, 2006). This is common where a politician promises to deliver a certain service once they get into power but then fails to do so. This becomes a dilemma if the politician had made a commitment that bears enough weight to sue them. Examples are when politicians make a commitment to have a public facility developed and even proceeds to hire people to begin working on the project. If the politician dupes people then there is a dilemma. Under such circumstances, the politicians must deliver the service or else the public can sue them.
Davis, M. (2001). The place of a code of ethics in the practice of a profession. Business Ethics: Critical Perspectives on Business and Management, 2(2), 243.
McAllister, I. (2000). Keeping them honest: public and elite perceptions of ethical conduct among Australian legislators. Political Studies, 48(1), 22-37.
Morrell, K., & Hartley, J. (2006). Ethics in leadership: the case of local politicians. Local Government Studies, 32(1), 55-70.