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TINZ Chief Executive Officer
As progressive minded people all over the world come to grips with the results of the US presidential elections, they are all asking themselves the same question – how can it have gone so wrong? One thing is clear to me as we face the aftermath civil society organisations such as Transparency International New Zealand have now become even more relevant and vital to finding new ways of thinking and doing things.
Before the election, Mike Moore predicted the outcome in a blog and documentary saying, sadly the worst will happen – Trump will be President and that those who saw it as unthinkable were “…living in a bubble that comes with an adjoining echo chamber where you and your friends are convinced the American people are not going to elect an idiot for president…. You need to exit that bubble right now. You need to stop living in denial and face the truth which you know deep down is very, very real. Trying to soothe yourself with the facts – 77% of the electorate are women, people of colour, young adults under 35 and Trump can’t win a majority of any of them!” – or logic – people aren’t going to vote for a buffoon or against their own best interests! – is your brain’s way of trying to protect you from trauma”.
At about this stage one of my colleagues wrote similarly to me about the risk of our own echo chamber saying that: “One of the positive things about the conversations for integrity and transparency is they seem to cut across partisan lines. But still we only reach like-minded people. So, how do we get these conversations spread more widely? That's the big question.” Getting the traction TINZ is experiencing is a good start.
Currently here in New Zealand we are having excellent conversations with our public-sector leaders, with the banking and finance sector (see the Chair’s description of FISA), lawyers and accountants about integrity issues. These are occurring in our one-on-one meetings with public sector leaders, as well as by working with our corner stone partner, the Office of the Auditor General.
Events like the release of the Auditor-General's report on the Government's Saudi Sheep Contract provides the basis for a wider public debate about corruption and bribery. The report called for detailed analysis about what happened and how to avoid similar re-occurrences. It is often stated that we learn more from our mistakes than from our successes and this clearly is an example of where that needs to happen. I sincerely hope that the necessary analysis takes place and lessons are learned so that we do not see a reoccurrence of this type of lawful but awful behaviour. It will be our ability to progress these kinds of conversations with the wider community in the coming year that will be our way out of the echo chamber.
TINZ Chief Executive Officer
Transparency International New Zealand Inc.