Developing an Australian code of construction ethics

Sean Francis McCarthy


This article looks at the increasing need to consider the role of ethics in construction. The industry, historically, has been challenged by allegations of a serious shortfall in ethical standards. Only limited attempts to date in Australia have been made to address that concern.

Any ethical analysis should consider the definition of ethics and its historical development. This paper considers major historical developments in ethical thinking as well as contemporary thinking on ethics for professional sub-sets. A code could be developed specific to construction. Current methods of addressing ethics in construction and in other industries are also reviewed. This paper argues that developing a code of ethics, supported by other measures is the way forward.

The author’s aim is to promote further discussion and promote the drafting of a code. This paper includes a summary of other ethical codes that may provide a starting point. The time for reform is upon us, and there is an urgent need for an independent body to take the lead, for fear of floundering and having only found ‘another debating topic’ (Uff 2006).


Ethics, Australia

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