Prosperity through transparency for the 2020 General Election

Credit: David Dunsheath

Suzanne Snively welcomes attendees to the September 2019 Leaders Integrity Forum

From the Chair

On 19 September, New Zealanders will elect the Government that will lead the economy towards recovery from the downturn caused by the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic crisis.

Political parties are in election mode already. Candidate selections are being completed. The parties’ list candidates are being confirmed. Parliament is sitting late into the evening to progress as much legislation as possible prior to the official beginning of the election campaign.

General Elections and the Economy

In past election years, once central Government campaigning starts, the economy has tended to march in place. It is only when the election outcome is clear, that activity begins to gear up again.

The extent of the normal pre- and post-election slowdown may be allayed with the current coalition Government’s extension of the $5.2 billion business cash-flow loan scheme for COVID-19 impacted businesses until the end of the year.

The challenge is to find timely economic data that is as transparent as the daily reporting of COVID cases. Such transparency to inform business decision-making, will be the difference between the government stimulus package aligning with business. It is also a way to ensure the business sector invests in future prosperity instead of resources being channeled into corrupt purposes.

Politicians fill the vacuum generated by limited economic data with their own analysis of the likely outcome of economic policies. This is where transparency about the basis for their analysis and the integrity about their reasoning leading to outcomes, is important for voters.

Questions to political parties about how they address corruption

As has become customary, TINZ has prepared a questionnaire for all major political parties, about their approach to addressing corruption through strengthening integrity systems.

There are two innovations in this year’s questionnaire. One is feedback from TINZ’s members to shape the questions. Secondly, the questions are designed to gain an understanding of how the different political parties are preparing to ensure that spending during the pandemic recovery is applied to support business recovery, rather than for corrupt purpose.

Political parties have been asked to provide answers about their approach to preventing corruption through their principles, values, and practices in 7 broad areas:

  • Post pandemic recovery
  • Political party and campaign funding
  • Code of ethics
  • Protection for whistleblowers
  • Sustainable development
  • Open government
  • Beneficial ownership

The responses will be published in our August edition.

Questions for voters to ask candidates about how they address corruption

Another TINZ initiative for this important pandemic-recovery election has been to develop a set of questions that members of the public can ask political candidates. These open-ended questions are broadly aligned with the topics above.

The antidote for corruption is integrity

Parliamentarians have a major role to play in national leadership and in their electorates to contain the virus. The Government has an important stewardship role.

Transparently monitoring and reporting negative as well as positive economic trends enables everyone to see for themselves what is working and what isn’t working.

There are many unknowns about the health consequences of the novel COVID coronavirus. What is known from experience to date is that integrity of analysis about the number of cases and open communication with the wider public can reduce the spread of the virus and save lives. It can also build assurance and confidence about the future.

As New Zealand moves through response to and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government’s integrity when addressing corruption becomes more important than ever. New Zealand has demonstrated that our team of five million can work together to contain COVID-19. Now, by strengthening integrity systems there can be a more robust economic recovery. Transparency leads the way to prosperity.

Suzanne Snively, ONZM


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