Objective: To put the case that public health professionals have a responsibility to foster a more informed, autonomous community.
Method: To argue that the current Australian Federal Government is failing to provide the impetus for building a compassionate society, particularly with respect to social justice for asylum seekers and Aboriginal people.
Results: There is a need for public health professionals to assist in promoting an informed debate about what it means to be a minimally decent Australian.
Conclusions and implications: Education of the citizenry and by the academy in public debate and public debating is the lifeblood of democracy. This is the ethical goal of public health.