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TINZ Chief Executive Officer
October has been another action filled month for TINZ. I have just returned from a week in Australia as part of the UNESCO Study Tour on Educational Data Transparency. Next month’s newsletter will include an article on that adventure.
Local Government has been a focus for TINZ this month. With the elections now over, we have a bunch of freshly elected Mayors to meet and support on issues of transparency, integrity systems and the benefits these can bring to their roles as community leaders. TINZ's partnership with Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) is also discussed in this issue. As less than 40 per cent of eligible voters took part in this year’s local government elections, it is surely time we took a closer look at what is happening with democracy in New Zealand.
Interesting theories about low voter turnout for local government elections include
In 2017, the election year for central government, it may be timely to have the conversation about devolving power from central to local government once local government bodies have ensured that their integrity systems and transparency is world class. New Zealand is an outlier in terms of heavily centralised governance in the OECD.
In partnership with the Office of the Auditor General (OAG), TINZ has been facilitating discussions about topics of transparency, integrity and accountability. The latest discussion about reconciling security and privacy is the subject of a blog post from the OAG's Ann Webster: The trust paradox.
Close to my heart is protecting the ability for professional public servants to be able to “speak truth to power” and provide apolitical, free and frank advice without fear or favour to the government of the day. Under the heading Govt wants 'free and frank advice': PM Mr Key emphasizes that Cabinet Ministers may not always like the advice they receive, but they must listen to it carefully, respectfully and professionally. In return the government wants its "free and frank advice" from public servants in written form, and expects officials to be politically aware, but not politically active. This is a very encouraging shift in thinking and in light of that we are re-publishing below an excerpt of the speech that Andrew Kibblewhite, Chief Executive of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC) gave to the Institute of Policy Administration New Zealand (IPANZ) in August on “Mastering the art of free and frank advice”. The complete speech is available here.
Andrew cleverly references the “F” words in his speech as going beyond the free, frank and fearless without favor to include fallible, future focused and full – to which I add fantastic! The speech also notes the increasing tendency for advice to Ministers to be of a verbal nature and not as a part of the written record. Pleasingly Mr. Kibblewhite also suggests that “the written record is (sic) more accurate, more considered, less likely to be misunderstood and ultimately serves ministers better in making their decisions.” And of course from our perspective it is a much more transparent way to conduct government business.
I am personally greatly encouraged to see such excellent leadership on this issue and hope that SSC can ensure that the CE’s of our Public Sector agencies show similar leadership on getting this message firmly into the hearts and minds of our public sector.
TINZ Chief Executive Officer
Transparency International New Zealand Inc.