Transparency International New Zealand
The last few weeks of lock down have been a time for me to tackle to-do lists, exercise, eat and reflect. I’d like to share some of my reflections on the support and leadership TINZ can provide during the COVID-19 response and recovery.
In times of crisis the Government necessarily exercises extraordinary powers. Exercising those powers does not mean that transparency and accountability are suspended. Democracy depends on the institutions and processes of our parliamentary democracy being in place.
First and foremost is the institution of Parliament itself and its role of asking questions, debating ideas and considering different opinions. Those roles are especially important at this time. TINZ should continue to endorse and encourage the Parliamentary process now and support good election practices later in the year.
Corruption and Fraud
While most people are doing the right thing, as we expect from the country's first equal position on the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index, we would be naïve to think everyone is acting in the public interest.
The wage subsidy and procurement are obvious risks in the current environment. I have tremendous sympathy for the large number of small/medium businesses that are suffering significant pain at this time, but maintaining integrity is vital. We as a country should have no tolerance for corrupt/fraudulent practices.
Keeping our eyes peeled for examples of corruption and a lack of transparency are the responsibility of us all. TINZ has a particular interest and expertise to support and encourage the system of transparency and exhort people to do the right thing.
Many parts of society have a role in holding the Government to account.
I am pleased to see that the Auditor General is carrying out an inquiry into the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) for those in urgent need of it. I have to admit that despite trying, I can’t work out whether we have enough PPE or not. Other reviews have been announced and I welcome that real time learning.
The media has an important accountability role. They should not just report on what people need to do but also provide alternative views, and maintain an appropriate level of communication and questioning no matter what the alert level.
Finally I would like to record my appreciation for the hard work and sacrifices made by all the essential workers across New Zealand. We are not New York so don’t have Thunderbirds and Blue Angels to do a fly over to thank essential workers. So in a more Kiwi approach: Thank you, Kia ora.