Message from the CEO

Janine McGruddy

Janine McGruddy
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

  • New Zealand Initiative research fellow Jason Krupp claims that Government has taken on council business and oversight of local government to such an extent that no one sees the point of voting anymore
  • Blaming unelected officials for dominating local government and putting voters off
  • Poor media coverage, focused on mayoral candidates only, with limited coverage of the final results.

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.

Ngâ mihi

Janine McGruddy
TINZ Chief Executive Officer
Transparency International New Zealand Inc.


Recent Activity

Protect our whistleblowers
Transparency International New Zealand (TINZ) is calls for better whistleblower protection. 8 Aug, 2017

Auditor General resignation requires transparency
Transparency International New Zealand (TINZ) calls on Parliament to release the report by Sir Maarten Wevers that lead to the resignation of Auditor-General Martin Matthews. 5 Aug, 2017

TINZ applauds decline in foreign trusts
Government implementation of tougher disclosure requirements for foreign trusts have led to around 75% discontinuing or exiting New Zealand. 9 Jul, 2017

Public Sector Integrity Media Release
State Services Commission took a very positive step in addressing a key recommendation of TINZ's Integrity Plus 2013 New Zealand National Integrity System Assessment by advertising a role for Deputy Commissioner, Integrity, Ethics and Standards. 11 May, 2017

Corruption Perceptions Index 2016 TINZ media release
Transparency International 25 Jan, 2017