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2014 was the first year since 2006 where New Zealand was not ranked or tied for first in Transparency International's annual Corruption Perceptions Index. This could hardly be construed as a fall since Denmark improved slightly scoring 92 out of a possible 100 in the index while New Zealand remained at 91.
In a personal opinion piece published in the New Zealand Herald in December, TINZ Board Member Bryce Edwards raised this topic pointing out that the impact of Nicky Hager's "Dirty Politics" - if any - would not have been reflected in the 2014 survey.
Since then Judith Collin's resignation, questions raised about the Government’s unorthodox scheme of flying sheep to Saudi Arabia and fitting out a private farm with $6 million of kit, and the intentionally un-transparent process of the TPPA negotiations all are tarnishing our reputation.
Even with allegations of corruption largely unproven, the perception that it occurred is strong. Corrupt or not, each case is a glaring lack of transparency. Our reputation demands taking steps to ensure that similar activities be conducted openly in a manner where there is little reason to even perceive that corruption occurred.
Furthermore Parliament appears unprepared to curtail facilitation payments in international transactions in the guise of international competitiveness.
We can expect to fall in the index; there are few similar allegations of corruption in other traditional CPI leaders Denmark, Finland orSweden.
This should serve as a wake-up call. The costs of corruption are too high to tolerate anything other than strong international leadership and New Zealand remaining on the top of the CPI.