Money Laundering Stock Photo

Bridges Both Ways—Transforming the openness of New Zealand government

Publication cover Bridges Both Ways by Max Rashbrooke

Bridges Both Ways
Transforming the openness of New Zealand government
Max Rashbrooke (2017)

Review by Michael Macaulay

Associate Professor at the School of Government, Victoria University

TINZ delegated authority for Open Government Partnership

Bridges Both Ways—Transforming the openness of New Zealand government written by Max Rashbrooke, is a new report that looks at New Zealand’s record on openness, public transparency, political participation and anti-corruption policies. It questions New Zealand’s long-standing international reputation for integrity and openness, and puts forward ideas to make government more open.

While New Zealand has much to be proud of, there are serious problems. These have been highlighted in previous research, including, TINZ’s Integrity 2013 Plus National Integrity System Assessment.

Max explains: “Political donations are badly regulated, official information laws very are being widely circumvented, and opportunities for deep citizen engagement with politics are very limited. New Zealand is also passing up the chance to get on board the latest global push for greater openness, which is being impelled both by advances in technology and citizens' growing expectations of greater transparency in all parts of their lives.”

Making government more open means ensuring that where possible, core political decisions are made in the full view of the public.

Max Rashbrooke presenting

Max discusses his report at a recent seminar conducted by Victoria University of Wellington’s Institute of Governance and Policy Studies

“That means key information is available, political decisions are free from corruption, the public can hold its leaders accountable, and ordinary people are directly involved in making decisions as often as possible. Ultimately this makes government more honest, more effective and more democratic. It also builds trust between the governors and the governed, and gives political decisions more legitimacy.”

The report suggests there are many ways to improve New Zealand’s level of openness, from straightforward fixes to legislation, to more far reaching and innovative ideas.

Suggestions include crowdsourcing bills, so the public gets the opportunity to submit proposals for legislation, and democratising party funding by giving each voter a voucher to allocate to the party of their choice.

Max argues that regardless of which policies are taken up, inaction is not an option. “While New Zealand's long-standing reputation as an open and transparent country should be a source of pride, it cannot be a source of complacency.”

The report should act as a spur to New Zealand’s continued concrete progress on international initiatives, especially the Open Government Partnership.

Download the report here http://igps.victoria.ac.nz/publications/publications/show/377

Wallace Chapman interviews Max Rashbrooke spanning five key ideas (2 July 2017): http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/sunday/audio/201849597/max-rashbrooke-towards-a-truly-open-government.

Actions

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