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TINZ has been working in partnership with central and local government to define and implement the policies that enable New Zealand to work again towards being the world leader in public sector integrity, corruption prevention, trust and transparency.
TINZ and Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) plan to adapt tools for local government that will enable it to prevent corruption and strengthen integrity systems. With these in place, cities can harvest the benefits of the resulting stronger New Zealand reputation in terms of greater growth, innovation, better jobs and a larger tax base.
During the TINZ Mayor’s events, it became clear that knowledge, transparency and good governance could be enhanced. Yet we were encouraged at the quickness with which the candidates grasped the benefits of making transparency and accountability a foundation of their leadership.
TINZ is inviting councils to demonstrate the importance they place on matters of integrity by subscribing to our local government program. In return, they will receive findings for research into solutions that work for local governments, providing guidance and information that can be accessed in striving for more trust and better performance.
TINZ plans to adapt training across all levels, sectors and industries. This will strengthen the case for greater devolution, council involvement in a wider range of community development, and regional autonomy of funding.
Kay aspects are:
October 2016www.transparency.org.nz Transparency International New Zealand Membership Newsletter
A common theme of local councils is their concern about lack of autonomy and interference from central government.
Local Government can promote greater transparency through fairer, more efficient and effective governance. Strengthening the role of democracy at a local level not only strengthens accountability, but makes running for local government more attractive, thus encouraging a wider range of candidates.
When local government earns the trust of their constituents, they can make a strong case for more autonomy and resources. Devolution of power back to local communities equals powerful local communities.
The TINZ Integrity Plus 2013: National Integrity Systems assessment (NIS) emphasised that a key weakness and significant barrier to greater transparency is the interface between central and local government. In particular, there is concern over intervention by central government in the decision-making authority of local government.
An absence of constitutional protection of the powers of local government in New Zealand is also stressed as a critical weakness. While, arguably, local government has a considerable degree of independence, there are no entrenched constitutional provisions to protect that independence.
According to the NIS, local government receives, on average, only 9 per cent of central government operating revenue. The report’s recommendations emphasis the need for a ‘more firmly embedded role for local government’. Greater devolution of power to local government is not of course the only means of improving transparency in government, but it is an option that merits public debate.
The LGNZ publication Mythbusters: examining common assumptions about local government in New Zealand agrees that Central government needs to give councils more autonomy.
On any scale of centralisation, New Zealand is an outlier and problematically out of step with international practice.
The more decision-making we place into the hands of communities themselves, and their local governments, the better policy outcomes are likely to be for that community. Social capital is strengthened by providing better opportunities for citizens to contribute to the governing of their towns, cities and districts. Let the discussion begin.