From the Chair
COVID-19 is a force of nature. Already hundreds of thousands of lives have been lost to this world because of it. Failure to recognise its danger comes at the cost of human lives.
The world is learning a very expensive lesson. It needs to understand the nature of the virus and its force in order to tame it. COVID-19 cannot be instructed to do as it is told. Failure to understand its impact on vulnerable populations such as rest homes has contributed to too many sad endings of our loved ones’ lives.
Strong Integrity Systems are Essential
Governments without strong integrity systems are paying the price in the form of unnecessary death of their own people and others around the world.
China was slow to initially report on the breadth of the outbreak and severity of the disease. The U.S. Government’s attitude that the pandemic was a political issue, failure to take expert advice, and inept response has led to countless unnecessary deaths.
Transparent Tests and Tracing
COVID-19 is a force of nature that affects everyone on the planet. Deaths from it cannot be prevented by covering them up.
Truthful accounts, such as those given by brave clinicians like Wuhan’s Li Wenliang, public health specialists like the US’s Dr Anthony Fauci and our own Dr Ashley Bloomfield are critical to saving lives. Front line staff, emergency services personnel, and research scientists that have seen the nature of the virus up close are the voices we need. From the beginning, they have been giving truthful accounts of what they have seen.
Because this virus has no ideology, we also need statisticians, social scientists and economists to provide fact-based assessments of the impact of public policy alternatives on the welfare of our populations.
New Zealand Government Integrity
The New Zealand Government has so far demonstrated the strong integrity systems consistent with its joint first-equal ranking (as least corrupt) on the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index and the findings of Transparency International New Zealand's National Integrity Systems Assessments. [add links]
From the start, there have been daily press briefings outlining what is known and unknown about the impact of the COVID-19 virus. A special cross-party Epidemic Response select committee set up with the Leader of Opposition as Chair, has answered other questions.
Our Government understood the nature of this virus early and has been able to take steps to contain it in the community. It has led us to being one of the more successful countries at containing community transmission of the virus.
While the pandemic demands a coordinated whole-of-nation approach, press freedom and freedom of expression provide a basis for widening the understanding of the facts. This is a time for facts and truth. This is time for integrity.
Suzanne Snively, ONZM
Transparency International New Zealand Inc.