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Interim Director: Mark Sainsbury
Interim Director, Transparency International New Zealand
Mark begins his term as director in March. He will be replacing Suzanne Carter as the director responsible for communications.
What Motivated You to Join TINZ? Quite simply, Suzanne Snively. I was MC’ing the Wellingtonian of the year awards when Suzanne won the supreme award. I of course had known Suzanne over many years but this reaquainting lead to a discussion about how I could help TINZ. The more I read about TINZ the more I appreciated the fit. In my own work in media consultancy the first piece of advice I give clients and the advice that drives everything that follows is: Be honest. Be open. I give that advice because it is the right thing to do and also because it is the sensible thing to do.
Why is it Important to be Involved in an Organization Like TINZ? We all have ideals we think are important but the reality is unless you are prepared to back up your belief with your time and commitment it’s meaningless. You can’t; just leave it to someone else. The biggest issue really is identifying what you can contribute and often you can underestimate that. In this case I was gently persuaded that I could use my skills to help promote what I believe in.
Why Does New Zealand have a Strong International Reputation for Transparency and Good Governance? I think in many ways it goes back to us being such a young country. The entrenched interest groups with their own patch to protect didn’t have as long to take root and given the size of the country transparency was more easily achieved.The structures and strictures of our public service also helped to establish that groundwork and is something we need to jealously guard. I also believe that a good reputation builds on itself. The longer and stronger we have this reputation the more reason there is to safeguard it. As a country consistently rated in the top two in the world it sends a message that this is how business is done here. This acts as a deterrent to those who would want to corrupt that and as an incentive to those who want to do business with honest brokers.
What Should TINZ's Focus be in New Zealand? We talk about what we export for this country why not focus on exporting transparency and the benefits it brings. What I found fascinating looking into this whole area was that it wasn’t just a virtue in itself. Transparency and the lack of corruption are good for business you don’t have to be moral crusader there is the business case for operating the right way. We also can’t just rest on our laurels. We have a well-deserved reputation but we must ensure we live up to it. To leverage off that reputation we must also be vigilant in protecting it.
What Steps Can We Take to Prevent Corruption in New Zealand? The expectation of openness and transparency is our best weapon. We demand a standard and call out those it. There are competing pressures that while not in themselves are directly corrupt but can facilitate it later. For instance changing the ethos and the independence of our public service might be considered market driven but what if it undermines the fundamental independence of the service and so over time special interests with no oversight have greater influence all out of the public gaze? This is where TINZ has a huge role to play. I hope I can assist in some small way with that.