From the Chair

Suzanne Snively ONZM Chair Transparency International New Zealand

Suzanne Snively ONZM
Chair
Transparency International New Zealand

As you read this, you are likely to be caught up in the most frantic time of the year. December is when the final drive to‎ complete school and work projects is combined with the special end of year events designed to celebrate achievement and thank colleagues.  

It is a frustrating period where the desire to ‎spend meaningful time with people is compromised by an absolute lack of it.

The holidays provide time for true intimacy

Upcoming, though, is the possibility of relief over the summer which also, thankfully, is the holiday period. As well as being an opportunity to re-charge through relaxed reading, and, weather permitting, outdoor activities, it is a time to share true intimacy with whanau.

It is this intimacy that is the key antidote for corruption. The ‎ability to be compassionate and empathetic, to test standards of fairness and sharing, to include people who themselves may appear distant and exclusive, to negotiate in close circumstances where sometimes it appears a compromise is impossible. 

There is finally time while on holiday to fill the days with affection and activities that progress challenging relationships and build new ones.

These are the best times for building strong integrity systems – it is your imagination working to shape trusting relationships which is the instrument of moral good.

Through this, the wellbeing of the nation grows and living standards have greater potential to improve.

No amount of protection and enforcement against corruption will succeed unless the seeds of transparency, accountability and integrity are planted.  Time together with whanau over the holidays is especially fertile ground.

Trust is essential

As L’Oreal’s Vice President Ethics, Emmanuel Lulin demonstrated when he visited in September, technology is driving new ways of doing things so quickly it is increasingly challenging for legislation to keep pace. The prevention of corruption requires a transformational mind set.

Trust amongst all peoples is essential.  

A topic for discussion over the summer will be growing inequality and the impact it is having. Graphic examples are being dramatically played out such as by the Yellow Vests in France.

Opportunity to out westernised corruption

The social license obligations of the rich and powerful which verge on white collar, westernised corruption, are coming under greater scrutiny. For example in the UK, Netflix is currently under the spotlight.

Founded in 1997 based on DVDs, Netflix switched to streaming in 2007 and has grown to become one of the world’s highest valued entertainment companies. Despite this, it isn’t as profitable as other Internet companies because it re-invests a large share of ‎its annual income in building up a stock of movies and other entertainment. 

Even so, like any company, it has tax obligations.  Are these lessened because it is providing a space for artists to earn an income?

Watch Mexico

Meanwhile, Mexico’s first left-wing leader in 8 decades, President Lopez Obrador, has promised to lead a government “free from corruption where the poor come first.”

He says: “We are going to govern for everyone, but we are going to give preferences to the most impoverished and vulnerable.” 

Mexico is two countries – one governed with a rule of law and the other governed by the drug kings. 

President Obrador’s success is important to us as we watch what he does to address the great challenge of putting living standards first. This is a far greater challenge for Mexico than it is here because of the breakdown of the rule of law. 

Mexican drugs to New Zealand

A consequence on United States tightening at the Mexico border is the greater increase in the illegal drug trade heading for New Zealand coming from Mexico than from China.‎

A big part of the success of keeping drugs out of New Zealand is our Customs Agency’s border control.  Back in 2014, the drug trade from Mexico that was stopped at the border was $15 million. Now the captured Mexican-sourced illegal drugs that were headed for New Zealand are over 10 times this amount.

These dollar values fail to reflect the true costs of illegal drugs that do get through.  These products of corrupt international traders provide a source of income on the streets of our communities, leading to crime and family dysfunction. They also contribute to our high imprisonment rates. 

We know that the devious corrupt will always find a way around any enforcement, no matter how good.

Taking time to be together over the holidays to find other channels for the enjoyment of intimacy builds trust. This is a deterrent too.

Suzanne Snively, ONZM

Chair

Transparency International New Zealand Inc.