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Chair, Transparency International New Zealand Inc (TINZ)
New Zealand sits at the centre of a perfect storm.
Around the world, leaders of governments, businesses, and organisations are waking up to the need to scour out corruption. Major scandals, such those at FIFA and Volkswagen, have jolted businesses, organisations and governments into being pro-active about strengthening integrity systems as they recognise how quickly hard-won reputations—and economic well-being—can be destroyed by corrupt practices.
Perplexingly, in New Zealand many of our leaders, directors and executives refuse to take seriously the measures that are necessary to prevent corruption and complacency.
When issues are raised to address what appear to be corrupt practices, many New Zealand leaders react defensively rather than correctively. The wider public generally supports them, preferring to shoot the messenger rather than demand accountability.
This low level of willingness to strengthen integrity systems is undermining the legitimacy of our public institutions, civil society organisations and private businesses. One indication is the World Justice Project comparisons with others, foreshadowing the likelihood that both New Zealand’s score and ranking will drop when the 2015 Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index is published at the end of January 2016.
There are huge challenges to engaging policy-makers (either elected or employed) and business executives to talk openly about their approach to preventing corruption. Where there are integrity officers, the priority often appears to be enforcing the power of senior management rather than building a trusting internal culture.
For the wider public, corruption it is a topic to be avoided—along with politics and religion— which limits the dialogue concerning ways to achieve greater openness and public accountability.
TINZ’s working hypothesis is that these behaviours stem from lack of knowledge. Its solution is to communicate the huge stakes, and strive to identify and promote key tools and processes that support good governance and transparency.
The TINZ Board was delighted then when the New Zealand Defence Force received an “A” score in the Government Defence Anti-corruption Index.
Speaking at TINZ’s Annual General Meeting (AGM), NZDF’s CEO, Lieutenant General Tim Keating, added to this reassurance. He set out how NZDF intends to not only maintain the “A” grade, but also to address the weaknesses identified by the research, that was carried out to assess the 76 scores that make up the index.
Suzanne Snively, Chair
Transparency International New Zealand Inc.