Transparency International to report on New Zealand's integrity systems

Wellington New Zealand

6:00 p.m., 19 November, 2013

Transparency International Annual General Meeting

Suzanne Snively Chair of Transparency International New Zealand said today that while New Zealandís national integrity systems remain fundamentally strong, a new report to be released later this month finds there are increasing challenges.

Ms Snively said a National Integrity System (NIS) can be considered as "the institutions, laws, procedures, practices and attitudes that encourage and support integrity in the exercise of power."

She said the NIS assessment takes stock of the integrity with which entrusted authority is exercised in New Zealand. "This assessment will help us all to understand the quality of transparency and accountability in the public and private sectors, and the integrity of governance systems.

"Since the first NIS assessment of New Zealand in 2003 there have been some welcome areas of strengthening relating to transparency and accountability - these include the establishment of a single electoral authority and a Judicial Conduct Commission and strengthened governance of crown entities.

"Ten years on we have maintained a strong culture of integrity in New Zealand, the great majority of decisions conform to a high ethical standard, but this culture is coming under increasing pressure.

"Areas of concern, weakness and risk do exist, for example, there are shortfalls in transparency in a number of areas, including Parliamentís exclusion from the Official Information Act (OIA) and the need for a comprehensive national anti-corruption strategy. The report will make a large number of recommendations to strengthen transparency, accountability and integrity. The governmentís announced intention to ratify the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, and New Zealandís recent membership of the international Open Government Partnership, provide opportunities to implement a number of the recommendations", Ms. Snively said.

Ms Snively said Transparency Internationalís second comprehensive assessment of New Zealandís National Integrity Systems (NIS), Integrity Plus 2013, would be released before the end of November. The assessment, in the form of a Report, has involved the collaboration and consultation of many individuals, agencies and sector groups to evaluate the principal governance systems in the public and private sectors in New Zealand and to assess if they function well and in balance with each other and therefore help to guard against the abuse of power.

Integrity Plus 2013, will be publicly available on Transparency International New Zealandís website www.transparencynz.org.nz.

Background information

A National Integrity System

The framework on which the report is based has been developed by Transparency International and applied by TI national chapters in many countries. A good working definition of a National Integrity System (NIS) is: Ďthe institutions, laws, procedures, practices and attitudes that encourage and support integrity in the exercise of power.í Beyond restraining the abuse of power, integrity systems should also be designed to ensure that power is exercised in a manner that is true to the values, purposes, and duties for which that power is entrusted to or held by institutions and individual office-holders, whether in the public sector, the private sector, or civil society organisations.

Transparency Matters

Citizens have a right to information Ė a principle well established in such codes as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and New Zealandís Official Information Act (1982). Transparency is also a precondition for effective public debate, strengthens accountability, and promotes fairer and more effective and efficient governance.

Professor Jeremy Waldron has observed: Ď Ö there is such a degree of substantive disagreement among us about the merits of particular proposals Ö that any claim that law makes on our respect and our compliance is going to have to be rooted in the fairness and openness of the democratic process by which it was made.í

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