Politicians may need to ditch slogans and instead explain the reasoning behind decisions if they want Australians to trust them, the man who spearheaded the nation's damning banking royal commission believes.
Former High Court judge Kenneth Hayne made the suggestion in Canberra at an awards ceremony celebrating federal MPs who show particular integrity.
Former Victorian MP Cathy McGowan, who retired at the election, claimed one award from the Accountability Round Table, while House of Representative Speaker and Liberal MP Tony Smith won another.
Mr Hayne said the pair deserve the kudos, stressing personal integrity is guided by the standards of "eloquent simplicity": honesty and courage.
"That personal integrity demands honesty is self-evident. And honesty demands courage," he said in an address.
"It demands courage because compromise, in pursuit of some apparent immediate advantage, always beckons.
"It demands courage because ends may be thought to justify the means used to achieve those ends."
Those same two qualities are needed to maintain trust in public institutions, he believes.
Another factor that could help politicians in particular win the trust of Australians is ensuring they are given an insight into why policy decisions are made.
Judges have long been required to state reasons for their decisions and administrative decision makers are increasingly called on to do so, Mr Hayne said.
Legislators considering following their example will need honesty and courage in spades, he believes, particularly to recognise the short-comings of sloganeering.
"It will take honesty to recognise that slogans may sell, they do not persuade.
"It will take courage to recognise that slogans sell by appealing to emotion not thought or reason."
Mr Hayne's led the banking royal commission which uncovered shocking evidence of misconduct and greed in the Australian financial sector, at the expense of customers and businesses.
He famously refused to smile at a photo opportunity when he handed Treasurer Josh Frydenberg the report.
His comments come as the Australian Public Service Commissioner has faced increasing demand from government agencies in the past year for "ethics awareness" presentations.
The presentations include real, de-identified examples of ethical dilemmas raised with the APS ethics advice service, according to the commissioner's latest annual report.
The annual report has also laid bare the results of a survey into how well government agencies are living out APS values, which spoke with a sample of agencies and staff.
Only about half (55 per cent) believed their agency always or almost always complied with federal anti-discrimination laws.
A similar amount (54 per cent) felt their agency always or almost always treats all people with dignity.
But ultimately, 86 per cent felt their agency always or almost always complies with APS values, while 77 per cent believed their agency always or almost always acted lawfully.
Australian Associated Press