Transparency Times February 2020

From the Chair

Your country needs to hear from you now to shine a light on government!

Open Government is a more transparent and receptive Government

Transparency International New Zealand (TINZ) has been advocating for 8 years about the importance of people’s participation in Open Government Partnership (OGP) from throughout our country.

This is different from voting for a candidate and a political party’s policies.

‎It is about progressing commitments co-designed by the people, for the people, that lead to improved outcomes through government.

OGP has a mandate to hear from you about the outcomes that you want from your government. 

What new commitment do you want from government?

You now have just over a month to express your views about prioritising new specific government activities to include in the next National Action Plan, NAP4 spanning 2020-2022.

OGP is an international multilateral initiative that seeks to secure strong national ‎participation in democratic government. Currently 79 countries have signed up as members of OGP which was initiated in September 2011. Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, the UK and US were some of the inaugural member countries.

Transparency reflected through open government, is a critical tenet for democracy.

It is also essential to protecting against corruption by specifying, detecting, sanctioning and preventing corruption.

How the wider public views openness is still a major unknown and risks continuing to be so unless your stronger public voice is heard.

The channels for the public to be heard have been set up. They are designed to consider the new commitments to be incorporated into NAP4. The channels include representations via the OGP website and participation in workshops.

You’ll have to be quick though. The window for involvement is now online. See the TINZ OGP schedule or the New Zealand OGP page.

NAP4 Workshops

OGP workshops are being held during March. New Zealand’s OGP team has set up these events in Auckland, Rotorua, Wellington, Christchuch and Dunedin. Workshops in other cities may possibly be arranged if there is local interest.

The Commitments in the previous three National Action Plans have been focussed on enhancements to the work of core government agencies. These commitments, designed after public workshops, have had some excellent outcomes‎.

Yet surveys indicate that the things government do of most concern to the public are related to health, housing and education.

NAP4 provides the opportunity to develop commitments with momentum for new approaches in these areas, if there is a public expression of what these commitments could be.

Election 2020

This year’s general election has already got underway with two of our political parties in front of the Serious Fraud Office for lack of transparency around political party funding.

In this issue of Transparency Times, Tim Barnett outlines six things that need to change for there to be more transparency in political party funding.

He makes a strong case about the benefits for change for all political parties. At the same time, he notes that 2 main political parties are unlikely to come to the table to progress these.

Perhaps this is another topic to shape into a commitment for NAP4?

Suzanne Snively, ONZM

Chair

Transparency International New Zealand Inc.

New Zealand’s Open Government Partnership

A democratic right

Civil society’s bottom-up participation in New Zealand government policy and procedural settings is little-known. But there is slow awakening to the potential for a stronger open government relationship, as a democratic right. Better outcomes can ensue from increased public participation. Open Government Partnership (OGP) provides a clear democratic mandate for the public to present ideas for improvements to, and reprioritisation of government activities, and for the government to seriously heed these ideas.

Such outcomes include participation and transparency in economic and social wellbeing, greater public transparency of government information, and greater controls over corruption and other negative impacts on our country’s broad wellbeing. Outcomes can come from new ideas to address issues, on the immediate horizon, such as climate change, globalisation, energy and technological changes.

Public participation is enshrined within the Open Government Partnership (OGP) global movement adopted by nearly 100 countries and local governments, including New Zealand since 2014.

Current unique opportunity

A limited window of opportunity exists now, for New Zealanders to influence the future content of our proposed OGP National Action Plan (NAP) spanning from 2020 to 2022.

This fourth NAP, as with its three predecessors, will focus on improvements to public service outcomes and government priorities through improved practices, legislation and service delivery.

New Zealand’s participation in OGP is an important driver for transparency and accountability. It provides a basis to draw attention to such issues and continue to push for progress.

“Countries are increasingly acknowledging the role of open government reforms as catalysts for public governance, democracy and inclusive growth. The OECD Report underscores how open government principles are changing the relationship between public officials and citizens, making it more dynamic, mutually beneficial and based on reciprocal trust. It moreover finds that open government initiatives are a tool to achieve broader policy objectives, rather than as an end to itself.” Open Government The global context and the way forward OECD 2016.

Open Government is about public involvement

Openness is a critical tenet for democracy. It enables transparency, which enables accountability, which in turn drives better public outcomes and ideally a useful check and balance on power. But openness is also a critical tenet for modern public sectors if they are to be capable of responsiveness and resilience in the face of dramatic and rapid change, and to best ensure evidence-driven policy, programs, and service delivery.” Pia Andrews, What does open government mean for digital transformation?

While public involvement in the development of NAP4 is critical, it is even more critical that deliverables go beyond public sector agency co-creation. It needs to go beyond making information available, by also involving the public during plan implementation. Open government is designed to be an active process whereby the public is naturally engaged and benefits from the results.

Public involvement is critical for effective open government. The public needs to be involved in driving government changes that make government more transparent and more responsive to them. They also need to be involved by utilising the tools of open government to be more informed and engaged. Government on its part needs to constantly be amenable to ways for achieving open data, make processes transparent and deliver services effectively for all. In Taiwan, for example, their open data goal is “to lower the threshold to broaden participation.”

Now is the time to promote the Open Government Partnership (OGP) to your networks and encourage everyone to get involved in the process.

OGP workshops in March 2020 across New Zealand

The development of New Zealand’s Fourth National Action Plan (2020-2022) is underway, coordinated by the New Zealand OGP team within State Services Commission (SSC). In March of 2020, the OGP team will be conducting a series of workshops to gather ideas for the next National Action Plan.

Public sessions include:

  • Wellington – Wednesday 26 February, Youth Council, 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm
  • Wellington – Tuesday 3 March, National Library, 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm

  • Dunedin – Wednesday 11 March, Youth Action Committee, 4:30 pm – 6:30 pm
  • Dunedin  – Thursday 12 March, Dunedin Public Library Drop-In Session, 12:30 pm – 2:30 pm

  • Christchurch – Monday 16 March, University of Canterbury Students Association, 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm

  • Christchurch – Tuesday 17 March, Christchurch Library Drop-In Session, 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm

  • Rotorua – Tuesday 17 March, Public Library, 12 pm – 2 pm

  • Wellington – Monday 23 March, Common Leaders’ Workshop (Workshop as part of Commonwealth Youth Event), National Library, 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
  • Auckland – Tuesday 24 March, Auckland Central Library, Drop-In Session – Library workspace, 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm

  • Auckland – Wednesday 25 March, Youth Voices Network, Pacific Community Room, MIT Campus Otara, 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

The SSC wants you to be involved! “If you would like to conduct a workshop in your community to discuss open government and the potential to take action through the National Action Plan we would like to talk to you. Please contact us through ogpnz@ssc.govt.nz.” An overview of the Fourth National Action Plan development process is available from their website.

For more information, visit the New Zealand OGP website workshop page.

What is New Zealand’s grand initiative?

The OGP initiative challenges governments to make transformative commitments reaching beyond incremental steps that would not be undertaken without the OGP commitment. In the first three New Zealand National Action Plans, this challenge has remained unmet. While the OGP process has been largely successful in completing its plan commitments, no results have been evaluated as having a ‘transformative impact’ or as ‘opening-up government in a major or outstanding way’.

There are a number of topics that Transparency International New Zealand (TINZ) recommends could be addressed when building its new national action plan –  NAP4. This could facilitate exposure of, and countermeasures against, damaging and corrupt activities.

  • Adequate whistleblower protection

  • Transparency of ultimate beneficial ownership of trusts and companies 

  • Political Party Reform

  • Election Financing

  • Robust policy frameworks to safeguard against digital threats to democratic institutions and/or that disrupt anti-corruption systems

  • Stronger provisions in the Official Information Act to address bribery and corruption

  • Embracing our Government’s world-leading wellbeing strategy through provisions based on zero-tolerance for corruption. 

In looking to make NAP4 a grand initiative, we need to ask: Will these commitments be sufficiently ambitious to be impactful? Will they target our society’s most pressing challenges? Will they result in a more collaborative, accountable way of governing? And, importantly, will they help to protect democracy and elections?

OGP schedule

The international OGP schedule of activities allows very short consulting periods. These are required to be the same for all countries, and, as a result, allow little flexibility for public holidays and other localised activities.

We are publishing in this newsletter the Open Government Partnership: Schedule for interactions to keep us informed about oportunities for public involvement to better anticipate when information will be needed. This schedule will be kept current for reference.

Links

 

Open Government Partnership: Time for a different approach

Rochelle Stewart-Allen
Pou Kaiãrahi Hui E!

Rochelle Stewart-Allen

Pou Kaiārahi (General Manager)

Hui E! Community Aotearoa

As we enter the community consultation phase to draft the Open Government Partnership (OGP) 4th National Action Plan (NAP4) for New Zealand, is it time to consider a different approach?

The development of previous NAPs has clearly demonstrated there is a group of engaged citizens and organisations committed to preserving our democracy and increasingly opening up government in Aotearoa New Zealand.

I’m not here to revisit the Independent Review Mechanism (IRM) reports. Nor to revisit the many public, private and media conversations with robust critique about the formation and delivery of previous NAPs and New Zealand Government’s commitment to OGP.

Instead I’m suggesting New Zealand change its approach. We need to work together and make our presented actions more complete to ensure their chances of adoption are vastly improved.

Shortfalls have inhibited progress

The facts are this – the New Zealand Government is a member of the OGP global movement. The State Services Commission (SSC) has committed (limited) resources to managing our OGP commitments. This includes an Officials Group representing government agencies and an external Expert Advisory Group. There is currently no money committed by the New Zealand Government to roll out new actions. There is currently no resource committed to marketing and communication, to ensure that engagement opportunities reach the right audiences.

Although hundreds of actions have been submitted to this point, there remains limited uptake of these proposed actions in development of the NAPs. At the end of the day, the NZ Government makes the final decision on what actions are adopted.

Is this right or wrong and does it need to change? Much has been written about these facts, but instead I suggest we reframe our approach.

A fresh approach

Let’s start asking how we can make our suggested actions compelling enough that they be adopted.  It’s time to try something different.

We can generate opportunity to present our actions as fully formed. These can already have committed delivery from a civil society group/organisation, with a partnership government agency already on-board. They can be sufficiently resourced from government, philanthropic or business funding. Proposed commitments within an NAP would be presented as fully formed actions with committed resources and partnerships.

As the State Services Minister, Chris Hipkins (also responsible for open government) needs to demonstrate public leadership around NZ Government’s commitments to OGP. He needs to ensure the voice of civil society is accurately represented. Minister Hipkins has already said he was committed to “push hard to go even further and faster” for the current NAP3 and therefore, we can rightly expect the same for the forthcoming NAP4.

Let’s change the conversation and the method of forming OGP NAPs.

We know the current methods of engagement aren’t working and don’t lead to actions that truly reflect the aspirations of civil society. This leads to feelings of frustration, mistrust and disengagement.

Let’s use our energy to form solid suggested actions, identify the right support at both civil society and government level, find the resources, and ensure our ideas cannot be shelved. This will be a far better use of our time and energy.

Hui E! contributes to thriving communities through Hui (gatherings), Āwhina (support) and Kōrero (conversation) across Aotearoa’s Community and Voluntary Sector. Their focus is on bringing people together to test ideas, developing practical support for the sector, and helping frame the conversation.

Open Government Partnership: Schedule for interactions

The international Open Government Partnership (OGP) schedule of activities allows very short consulting periods. These are required to be the same for all countries and allow little flexibility for public holidays and other localised activities.

The schedule interlaces New Zealand government’s OGP milestones with those of the Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM). The latter provides regular, specialist, country-independent reviews of the effectiveness of each New Zealand OGP National Action Plan.

While the New Zealand Government’s OGP team and IRM reviewer strive to be inclusive, they are severely constrained by short review times when turning drafts into final product. One objective of the table below is to anticipate the timing for future invitations for public comment to allow better preparation of responses. These invitations will be interlaced as indicated, within the key milestones,

For context, the following table spans New Zealand’s existing three National Action Plan (NAP)s, plus the next two plans. It is a work in progress and we intend to keep the schedule current.

Description Timing Comment
NAP 1 (2014-2016)    
IRM Final Report February 2017 IRM final evaluation of NAP1
NAP 2 (2016-2018)    
IRM Final Report 7 March 2019 IRM final evaluation of NAP2
NAP 3 (2018-2020)    
Plan developed Published 10 Dec 2018 Cabinet approved plan for implementation)
Plan implementation period 31 Aug 2018 to 30 June 2020  
IRM Design Report Published 12 Feb 2020 IRM assessment of plan design for anticipated effectiveness
Mid-term NZ govt self-assessment progress report    
Public comment invited on a draft of the following    
End-of-term NZ govt self-assessment report    
Public comment invited on a draft of the following Expected 2 weeks in February 2021  
IRM Implementation Report Prepared December 2018- November 2020; final version due March/April 2021 IRM assessment of plan implementation
NAP 4 (2020-2022)    
Plan development 1 Feb to 31 Aug 2020 Inputs from civil society, selected-representative team, and Expert Advisory Panel.
Workshops across New Zealand 3 March to 27 March 2020 Civil society workshops for plan development
Public comment invited on a draft of the following Expected 2 weeks in July  
Plan completion with Cabinet approval 31 Aug 2020  
Plan implementation period 31 Aug 2020 to 31 Aug 2022  
Public comment invited on a draft of the following Expected 2 weeks in July 2021  
Mid Term NZ Govt Self-Assessment report completed 1 Sept to 31 Nov 2021  
Public comment invited on a draft of the following Expected 2 weeks in February 2021  
IRM Design Report due Final version due Apr 2021  
Public comment invited on a draft of the following Expected 2 weeks in February 2023  
IRM Implementation Report due Prepared December 2020- November 2022; final version due March/April 2023  

Transparency in coming general election

With the announcement of the National Elections on 19 September, Transparency International New Zealand (TINZ)  continues to promote reforms to our political processes to improve transparency and integrity in the electoral process.

Money in Politics

Questions raised about the New Zealand First Foundation are keeping the topic of campaign finance at the forefront of the news cycle.

“Transparency International New Zealand has been raising the red flag about political party funding for over 16 years,” says Suzanne Snively, Chair, Transparency International New Zealand. “We raised it in our 2003 National Integrity Systems Assessment and our Integrity Plus 2013 New Zealand National Integrity System Assessment  strongly recommended a complete review of the funding of political parties and candidates’ campaigns.”

Transparency International (TI) focussed on the role of money in politics globally by making it a major issue when releasing the 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index.

“Governments must urgently address the corrupting role of big money in political party financing and the undue influence it exerts on our political systems” says Delia Ferreira Rubio – Chair Transparency International.

Keeping big money out of politics is essential to ensure political decision-making serves the public interest and curbs opportunities for corrupt deals. TI’s research highlights the relationship between politics, money and corruption. Unregulated flows of big money in politics also make public policy vulnerable to undue influence.

Avoid Mind Hacking

TINZ will be paying particular attention to political integrity in electioneering through media, particularly social media. A key challenge is to prevent or neutralise the cynical manipulation of the democratic space that has been seen overseas?

After investigations into Cambridge Analytica’s use of personal information, the UK Information Commissioner recommended:

  • that political parties work with the appropriate authorities to improve transparency around the use of data, that all the parties have the right to have and use (e.g. the electoral register)
  • that online platforms providing advertising services to political parties and campaigns, have expertise within their sales support teams to provide advice on transparency and accountability in relation to how data is used to target users, and
  • that the government should require the Information Commissioner to create a statutory Code of Practice about the use of personal data in political campaigns.

Past Elections

For the 2017 General Election, TINZ surveyed the largest ten political parties. Six key questions were addressed to each party on issues of transparency, anti-corruption and protection for whistleblowers.

TINZ’s aim was to examine their understanding of anti-corruption issues and their ideas about addressing them. Each party’s response was published verbatim. See Transparency Questionnaire 2017 General Election: Party Responses.

In last year’s local body elections, TINZ publicised Local Body Elections: Questions for Candidates. This set of questions focussed around integrity, transparency and accountability, including encouraging broader community participation in decision-making. The questions were well received, yet often surprising to local candidates who tend to focus on issues and are unused to questions about how they will govern all their constituents if elected.

2020 General Election plans

TINZ’s general plans for the 2020 General Election cycle are sketched out below:

  • Creation of forums throughout the country, focussed on transparency and integrity. Please contact us if you are involved in an organisation or community that is interested in teaming with TINZ to produce an event.
  • Distribution of a set of questions similar to those done in 2014, 2017 and 2019.
  • Promotion of knowledge, ideas and anti-corruption tools to inform voters to discern honest and legitimate information and sources of information, and not be swayed by inflammatory headlines and false narratives.

Watch this space and offer your assistance

TINZ will be actively reporting on this election through its anti-corruption lens. Please contact the CEO and editors with questions, suggestions and offers to assist as we go through this process.

Links

Integrity Plus 2013 New Zealand National Integrity System Assessment 

Building Accountability: National Integrity System Assessment 2018 Update

2017 General Election party survey with responses

Elections 2019 – raising questions on integrity

Local Body Elections: Questions on Integrity

Transparency of Political Party Funding Essential

Money in Politics

Political party funding in New Zealand

Tim Barnett

Tim Barnett

Guest Author

At a time when party funding has become a media hot topic, with both New Zealand First’s and National’s party funding under investigation by the SFO, and prosecutions related to National Party funding, it is timely to take a broader view of the whole issue of political party funding in New Zealand.

The funding of political parties is a complex area requiring the alignment of law and practice to achieve multiple outcomes. In my view it should specifically be organised in a way which delivers the following six outcomes (the fact that there are six indicates the complexity!):

  1. minimises the potential for corruption
  2. creates as balanced a playing field as possible between political parties
  3. allows flexibility for the entry of new parties over time
  4. is sustainable (implying support from the significant parties, and also resulting in party-building above Parliamentarian-building),
  5. can be effectively monitored, and,
  6. enriches the democratic experience for those entitled to register to vote.

New Zealand currently provides partial funding of political parties – arrangements cover election broadcasting and social media and, through the Parliamentary funding of party leaders, some research and coordination activity. This has developed in an unplanned way. The expenditure on the current system does not seem to be a particular matter of controversy, although the gaps in the current system present multiple risks.

In short, we have ended up with the worst of both worlds – a system full of holes and inconsistencies where the risk of corruption is real, and a skewing towards resourcing the Parliamentary side of organised politics. This upsets the desirable balance between party and Parliamentary wings. This is only partly offset by the vital limit on spending per voter.

Noting the above, the current system in New Zealand can be measured as follows against those six criteria:

Item Rating Reason
1 Corruption Fail More can be done
2 Balance Fail The parties with strong links with wealth, accrue more of it
3 New Entry Modest pass The broadcasting/social media allowance factors in parties which have appeared since the last election and are polling well
4 Sustainability Fail It is the subject of disagreement between parties and skewed to the Parliamentary side of things
5 Monitoring Partial fail Partial fail, because Criteria 1 (above) is weak
6 Democracy Modest pass some of the funding does go to communication with voters, and the funding per voter limits the allowable costs of the whole election.

It is clear that something needs to be done. The obvious move – filling the gap by Government (taxpayer) funding of political party administration between elections, plus tightening up on current weaknesses – is apparently strenuously opposed by two of the four major political parties.

There is a need for fresh thinking coming from outside the parties.

There are aspects of two overseas approaches which provide some potential clues for New Zealand going forward.

Canada

The first is Canada. There were two foci of their party funding law reforms between 2004 and 2015.

  • The first was to exclude institutional funders of political parties – companies, NGOs, unions – and to increase state funding to make up some of the difference.

  • The second element was to encourage small amounts of political donations from as many individuals as possible, similar to the funding flow to some US Presidential election candidates over the years (e.g. Elizabeth Warren in 2019/20).

Canadian citizens can give a total of $1550 annually to a party, plus the same to a party’s electorate committee, and to a leadership candidate. If their total donation is more than $200 their name is made public. Total anonymity is only allowed if the donation is less than $20 per annum. Conversely, a generous tax credit for donations is offered.

City of Seattle

Developing this approach, the second example is the City of Seattle.

In 2019, Seattle introduced the concept of a Democracy Voucher for their city elections. The city’s Ethics and Elections Commission issued each of their 461,000 registered voters with four Democracy Vouchers, with a face value of $25 each. Vouchers were only redeemable by the campaign organisations of the candidates standing for City Council in 2019.

Each Voucher is uniquely tracked and, when used, their name or the registered voter and the name of the candidate they “donated” the Voucher to, were put on public record.

Campaign limits also applied, so that when a candidate reached that limit their campaign couldn’t accept more vouchers. By the time of the vote in 2019, 98,179 of the vouchers had been used, around 5% of those issued. That cost voters US$2.4 million.

More information is available on http://www.seattle.gov/democracyvoucher/program-data.

I think there is a dearth of fresh thinking in this area. Here’s hoping that we can break the mould!

Airbus record bribery settlement shows corruption can happen anywhere

Ferdinand Balfoort
Director
Topics: Anti-Corruption Pledges, Fundraising, Governance

Ferdinand Balfoort
Director

At a public hearing on 31 January 2020, the British Courts found Airbus SE guilty of bribery in a large number of countries globally, and ordered it to pay nearly one billion pounds in fines as part of a Deferred Prosecution Agreement. This was part of a total estimated global fine of around three and half billion pounds, to be additionally paid in France and the USA.  So far, bribery evidence has been found and confirmed in around 13 countries, many of these low ranking on the recently published Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index (TI-CPI), including China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Nepal.

Airbus’s fines are extraordinary. To put into context, the British fine is greater than the total of all the previous sums paid under other judgements. It is more than double the total of fines paid in respect of all criminal conduct in England and Wales during 2018.

The judge found the criminality involved has been grave.  Airbus and its employees, in order to increase sales, paid bribes in various forms to third parties to induce them to act improperly.  The judgement also noted that Airbus had no proper and effective systems in place to prevent such behaviours. This is a surprising finding because in 2019, Airbus was the largest global aircraft producer by number of aircraft sold. Also notable is that Airbus is still substantially owned by the governments of Britain, France, Germany and Spain, in addition to private-sector shareholders.

Lessons learnt are that no matter how large and reputable an organisation regardless of whether it is private or public, systems and anti-corruption preventative measures may still be weak and ineffective to prevent bribery.

This should be a wake-up call to all New Zealand organisations to review the risks around corruption and bribery internally, to ensure these risks are effectively tested and managed. Boards and stewards of organisations cannot relax in the belief that such a thing does not happen in their apparently well run and successful entities.

 A final lesson, I believe, is that when doing business with countries that are poorly ranked on the TI-CPI index, companies should be especially vigilant. This is especially the case when engaging with third-party intermediaries and service providers, who should also be legally bound to prevent them from becoming bribery gatekeepers.

Facts have been checked by reference to this legal judgement:  Director of the Serious Fraud Office v Airbus SE. See also Airbus bribery fallout investigations launched worldwide.

We note that Air NZ owns about 30+ Airbus aircraft.

Transparency International and others remonstrate over G20 Summit’s civil society process in Saudi Arabia

In a joint public statement, Amnesty International, CIVICUS and Transparency International announced that they would not be attending the annual ‘Civil 20’ (C20) meetings this November, hosted in affiliation with the annual G20 Summit by Saudi Arabia.

On the surface

G20s provide photo opportunities and have in the past, led to useful communiques from the leaders of the world’s largest economies. The media release notes that:

“Despite the many limitations and challenges of the process, for many voices from outside government – especially trade unions, rights groups and civil society – these are rare opportunities to make policy recommendations directly to national authorities and to influence the global agenda on issues that affect billions of people.

Traditionally they are also a forum for public protest. For the last few years, there has even been a dedicated stream of meetings for civil society within the G20, known as the Civil 20 (C20).”

Of growing concern

G20 host Saudi Arabia has tried to promote an image of itself as a modern country attractive to foreign investors. The Saudi government has recruited expensive Western PR advisors and spent millions of dollars to polish its image and suppress criticism from international media.

Meanwhile, at home the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia regularly arrests and prosecutes human rights defenders, censors free speech, limits free movement, and tortures and mistreats detained journalists and activists. It also discriminates against women.

The joint statement goes on in detail about the numerous aspects of Saudi government control that are not supportive of the C20’s fundamental principals. Further, it observes that many civil society actors who normally attend G20 meetings, are excluded. Those who are eligible to attend cannot safely communicate their positions.

The joint statement concludes

“The Saudi-led C20 process is lacking in many respects, most notably in guaranteeing the C20’s fundamental principles. Even this early in the 2020 C20 process, we have observed a marked lack of transparency from the C20 hosts. The appointment of the Chairs of working groups and various committees was opaque and non-consultative, while arbitrary decisions have excluded experienced international groups. The C20 process, led by the King Khalid Foundation which is connected to the Saudi Royal Family, cannot be considered as transparent, inclusive and participatory, as required by the C20 Principles.

At a time when the world is facing a wide range of challenges to democracy, independent voices are needed more than ever. A state that closes civic space until it is virtually non-existent, cannot be trusted to guarantee the basic conditions for international civil society to exchange ideas and collaborate freely on any issue, let alone those issues it deems sensitive or offensive.

While we will not participate in the C20 this year, we commit to work together to make sure those voices are heard in 2020.”

Algorithm Charter puts the focus on people

Strongly supportive

In early February, Transparency International New Zealand (TINZ) prepared a submission supporting the work of Stats NZ to create an Algorithm Charter. The charter aims for a more consistent approach by Government agencies in their use of algorithms in “a fair, ethical and transparent way.”

“We strongly support the primary purpose of the charter – to put the right safeguards in place when algorithms are used so that data ethics are embedded in the work, and so that the people and communities being served by these tools are always front of mind,” says Julie Haggie, Chief Executive Officer of TINZ in a related media release.

Critical areas for improvement 

TINZ would like to see the Charter go further, in four key areas:

  • Include a commitment to cross agency engagement on matters such as algorithmic literacy, frameworks for algorithmic hygiene, governance frameworks, whistleblowing, peer bias assessments and public consultation.
  • Extend the scope of the charter beyond people, to include the data related to natural systems.
  • Include algorithm use or development by external organisations for any provision of public services or projects.
  • Include a commitment by all government agencies to apply their knowledge in support of the development of industry standards in algorithm use.

Significant risks

The use of sophisticated data modelling puts a lot of power in the hands of a few. Background reports and international research shows the risks of using algorithms. These risks include unintended bias, persistent error, breaches of privacy and restriction of choice. It is critical that there are systems in place to monitor and review this use, to make sure it is fair, unbiased and transparent. Also, researchers, journalists and civil society groups have an important role to play in shedding light on the use of data, as has been evident overseas.

Trust

There are different levels of transparency. The general population may not find use in seeing raw anonymized data, and may not understand the associated algorithm itself. But they do need to have trust in the fair use of algorithms that particularly apply to them. Transparency International supports the use of a principle called the ‘right to explanation’. Using this principle, organisations can show what the outcome would have been for an individual if they had had certain different attributes. This allows people to understand a decision and to challenge it if they think it is not fair.

TINZ also strongly supports the inclusion of digital literacy within a general framework of literacy. Students should be encouraged to understand what algorithms do and how they are used in both operations and analysis.

Private sector critical to effectiveness

The Stats NZ proposed Charter applies to government agencies, but the main use of algorithms is in the business sector. Examples of this include in recruitment, financial services, product marketing, social media and the private health industry. TINZ calls on the business sector to show a similar commitment as that provided by government agencies, including developing and improving industry standards.

 

Intensive anti-corruption training for future leaders

The School on Integrity, 6 – 12 July 2020,Vilnius, Lithuania.

Every summer since 2010 Transparency International has organised “The School on Integrity” in cooperation with Mykolas Romeris Law School in Vilnius.

From their website:

Transparency International School on Integrity is an annual state-of-the-art anti-corruption and accountability training for future leaders. The upcoming School will take place during  6-12 July, 2020 in Vilnius, Lithuania. The School exposes its participants to the latest developments in the field of anti-corruption and accountability and offers real opportunities to try and implement their ideas in practice.

Following a rigorous selection process, students spend 7 highly intensive days learning from leading anti-corruption and accountability professionals. Transparency School seeks to create a peer-to-peer learning and integrity-building environment that links theory with practice and helps young leaders to acquire skills to better convey the message of anti-corruption.

“School lectures, seminars, trainings and field trips provide the School participants with a unique blend of international and local knowledge, while also challenging students to approach the subject from a new perspective and offer novel, previously untested solutions. Since 2010, Transparency School has welcomed some 1200 youth leaders from more than 120 countries worldwide”.

Do you know someone who should go so there can be an exchange of knowledge between New Zealand and other countries?

TINZ Submissions activity

Transparency International New Zealand (TINZ) continues to encourage its readers to exercise their democratic responsibilities by making submissions and responding to government consultation processes with your opinions on future direction-setting and legislation.

The following two centralised websites invite and facilitate public submissions on a variety of legislation, policies, levies, plans and projects currently being processed, together with updates about progress for recently closed submissions:

The existence of these websites is misleading as readers may be led to believe that all government agencies utilise one or both of these facilities. Infact, many government agencies conduct their own publicity when seeking submissions.

In the spirit of the new and joined-up open government, TINZ’s recommendations are overdue for consideration:

  • Develop a single submissions website link where all central and local government requests for submissions are listed 
  • Manage this website location with constantly improving frameworks for the making of submissions and for following-up on submissions.
  • Analyse the responses to submissions, by key population indicators including geographical spread, and of the individuals and organisations that make submissions 
  • Summarise the content of submissions and how the content becomes included in policy development and legislation 
  • Provide timelines/milestones to track the progress of submissions passing through the submissions/legislative processes.

Submissions currently being sought

The following invitations to submissions known to, and of potential relevance to TINZ, are currently open for public comment by their stated deadline. We encourage our readers to take the time to draft a submission, even if it is a short one. The submission process is an opportunity to exercise your democratic rights. 

Inquiry into the 2019 Local Elections

  • Deadline: Saturday 29 February 2020
  • Public submissions are invited by the Justice Committee of Parliament
  • The terms of reference for this inquiry include:
    • 1(e) any irregularities or problems that could have compromised the fairness of elections, and
    • 3(c) consulting with stakeholders and the wider public about the recommendations in the Justice Committee’s report on the 2016 local elections, with particular reference to feedback on the committee’s recommendations on foreign interference.

Financial Markets (Conduct of Institutions) Amendment Bill

  • Deadline: Thursday 26 March 2020
  • Public submissions are invited by the Finance and Expenditure Committee of Parliament
  • This bill proposes to create a new regulatory regime for the general conduct of financial institutions and their intermediaries. This regime has been designed in response to recent reviews that have identified that certain institutions, particularly banks and life insurers, lack focus on good outcomes for customers and have ineffective systems and controls to identify, manage, and remedy conduct issues.

Recent TINZ submissions

View earlier submissions prepared by TINZ, or search on the ‘Submissions’ category at the bottom of TINZ homepage www.transparency.org.nz . 

In case you missed it

Climate

Corruption and climate action

  • While the outcomes are not clear yet, one thing is: Governments have to urgently spend billions of dollars on climate mitigation measures, from flood shelters to reforestation and renewable energy. We can’t afford to lose that money to corruption.

Corruption is destroying the world’s forests

  • 13 million hectares of forest are lost every year — equivalent to a football field every two minutes. Corruption is a significant cause.

TI’s Corruption Perceptions Index

Corruption index result is not a laurel to rest upon

  • Justice Minister Andrew Little scarcely chose his words wisely when he declared New Zealand “as close as you could possibly be” to being free of corruption.

Least corrupt country ranking a testament to public servants

  • Public servants work every day to earn the trust and confidence of New Zealanders, so the news that New Zealand’s public sector and judiciary has regained its position as the least corrupt in the world is a great start to the New Year. Peter Hughes – State Service Commission

New Zealand ranked world’s least corrupt country

  • New Zealand has regained its spot as the world’s least corrupt public sector (joint at the top with Denmark) in a major annual study, but Justice Minister Andrew Little admits there’s still work to be done and a more powerful anti-corruption agency may be needed.

New Zealand ranked world’s least corrupt country

  • NZ Herald – New Zealand has regained its spot as the world’s least corrupt public sector in a major annual study, but Justice Minister Andrew Little admits there’s still work to be done and a more powerful anti-corruption agency may be needed.

Corruption index with NZ on top ‘biased’ – academic

  • University of Waikato political scientist Olli Hellmann told Stuff that the TI-CPI survey is biased towards western nations and it was impossible to really know which country was the “least” corrupt.

Governance

The top five issues for directors in 202  Institute of Directors

International

Saudi G20 Pursues International Cooperation to Fight Corruption

  • The G20 Anti-Corruption Working Group (ACWG) will pursue international cooperation on global anti-corruption challenges including the cost of corruption and its impact on the global gross domestic product (GDP). The ACWG met for the first time under the Saudi G20 Presidency this week, following the announcement by the Saudi Control and Anti-Corruption Authority (NAZAHA). The working group will hold a Ministers’ meeting this year. (MENAFN – Saudi Press Agency) Riyadh, February 06, 2020, SPA —

Automated welfare fraud detection system contravenes international law, Dutch court rules

  • A Dutch court has ruled that an automated surveillance system using artificial intelligence (AI) to detect welfare fraud violates the European Convention on Human Rights, and has ordered the government to cease using it immediately. The judgement comes as governments around the world are ramping up use of AI in administering welfare benefits and other core services, and its implications are likely to be felt far beyond the Netherlands.

Danish anti-corruption watchdog recommends higher penalties for abuse of trusted power

  • In the wake of a series of high profile cases involving the embezzlement of millions of Danish Kroners by Danish public employees, the watchdog organisation Transparency International Denmark, issued five recommendations for politicians on Thursday.

Top 10 International Anti-Corruption Developments For January 2020

  • A Summary of some of the most important international anti-corruption developments from the past month, with links to primary resources. (Morrison Foerster Law)

The Luanda Leaks documents

  • A leaked trove of financial and business records reveals the inside story of how Africa’s wealthiest woman moved hundreds of millions of dollars in public money out of one of the world’s poorest countries on the planet and into a labyrinth of companies and subsidiaries, many of them in offshore secrecy jurisdictions around the world. (International Consortium of Investigative Journalists)

TI-DK: Five concrete proposals for reactions to the misuse of public authority

Sweden’s Ericsson to pay over $1bn to settle US corruption probe

  • Sweden’s Ericsson to pay over US$1 billion to settle a foreign bribery case over its sixteen-year-long cash-for-contracts campaign.

New Zealand transparency, integrity and accountability

Integrity Plus 2013 New Zealand National Integrity System Assessment 

Building Accountability: National Integrity System Assessment 2018 Update

Donna Grant pleads guilty to million-dollar fraud

  • Serious Fraud Office media release

Serious Fraud Office: ‘Billions in public funds likely lost to fraud’

Uber is a case study in our complicity with tax avoidance

  • Opinion: Uber’s habit of pushing tax rules to breaking point is the reason Terry Baucher refuses to use the ridesharing service. But price and convenience outweigh most people’s moral indignation, he writes.

New Zealand seeks more powers to monitor banks, increase transparency at RBNZ

  • The New Zealand government plans to expand its powers to monitor banks and hold directors and executives more accountable for their actions. (Statement from Minister of Finance Hon. Grant Robertson)

RBNZ Monetary Policy Handbook internationally recognised for transparency

  • The Reserve Bank of New Zealand has won the ‘Transparency Award’ at the Central Banking Publications annual awards for its work on the Monetary Policy Handbook. (RBNZ Media Release)

More than $17m transferred from Bahamas to NZ bank account following corruption, money laundering scandal in Venezuela oil company

  • A corrupt lawyer living in Spain took $24 million in bribes to arrange lucrative contracts with Venezuela’s state-owned oil company. He pleaded guilty to corruption and money laundering, with millions of dollars being laundered through Swiss bank accounts. Now New Zealand police allege his wife sent $17 million of dirty money to a Hamilton accounting firm. The case is the latest example of police testing their powers under the Criminal Proceeds Recovery Act, which came into force in 2009.

New terrorism bill could breach press freedom

  • The Terrorism Suppression Bill, designed to deal with terrorists returning from overseas, has hit its latest speed bump as Amnesty International raises concerns it could be used to stifle press freedom.

Yield-hunting offshore investors put NZ on the map

  • The global hunt for higher-yielding commercial property assets has propelled New Zealand onto the world stage, leading to a significant uptick in offshore investment at the top end of the market.

New Zealand faces real threat to ‘real’ democracy

  • Christopher Luxon in Indiannewslink.com. Christopher Luxon has held top positions in multinationals, the last of which was a Chief Executive at Air New Zealand. His entry into politics was rewarded with a win in the contest for the National Party seat in Botany, East Auckland.

Money in Politics

  • Money in politics is a major issue when releasing the 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index. “Governments must urgently address the corrupting role of big money in political party financing and the undue influence it exerts on our political systems”. (Delia Ferreira Rubio – Chair Transparency International).

Transparency: Reserve Bank of New Zealand

  • The Reserve Bank of New Zealand is known for punching well above its weight in the central banking world. Some 30 years ago, it was the first central bank to adopt an inflation targeting regime, starting a trend that was followed by institutions in many of the world’s largest economies. Now that inflation is so low, RBNZ is focused on maximising employment.

Elections 2019 – raising questions on integrity

NZ’s new aid policy ‘encouraging’ but more transparency needed – watchdog

  • More transparency in New Zealand’s foreign aid spending would boost the positive changes within its new aid policy, academics say. (RNZ)

Building Accountability: National Integrity System Assessment 2018 Update

Transparency of Political Party Funding Essential

New Zealand needs to show it’s serious about addressing Chinese interference

  • Wellington has restricted foreign political donations but its lax approach to Beijing suggests economic interests still trump national security concerns.

Local Body Elections: Questions for Candidates

  • This set of questions focus around integrity, transparency and accountability, including encouraging broader community participation in decision-making. The questions were well received, yet often suprising to local candidates that tended to focus on issues and were unused to respond to questions about how they would govern if elected.

Transparency Questionnaire 2017 General Election: Party Responses

Pacific

PNG maintains its position as most corrupt Pacific country

  • Papua New Guinea has again maintained its position as the most perceptibly corrupt country in the Pacific. That’s according to Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, which rates it at 137 out of 180 countries.

Cautious optimism about reducing corruption in PNG

  • Transparency International Papua New Guinea says long-term commitment to good governance is critical if efforts to fight corruption can succeed.

NZ govt to establish ‘Pacific-led hub’ for public sector

  • New Zealand has announced the creation of a Pacific-led hub aimed at strengthening public services across the region.

Trainee law students join Transparency International

  • Three law students from the UPNG Law School have now embarked on the Transparency International PNG (TIPNG) Legal Internship Program (LIP), as they seek to bolster the functions of the anti-corruption body. – PNG Post Courier

Political Party Funding

The foreign donation ban is a good thing – but it won’t protect NZ from political corruption

Donations made to NZ First Foundation referred to police for investigation

  • The Electoral Commission said, based on the information available, it had formed the view that the New Zealand First Foundation had received donations that should have been treated as party donations. (RNZ)

The overseas donation ban is a excellent issue – but it will never defend NZ from political corruption | Pete McKenzie

Serious Fraud Office files criminal charges against four people over donations paid into a National Party electorate bank account

National integrity at risk over political funding

  • In November 2019, Transparency International UK launched the updated Anti-Corruption Pledge Tracker. This global Tracker monitors the progress of the commitments made by governments at the 2016 Anti-Corruption Summit held in London. (Indian News Link)

NZ First Foundation dodging electoral rules?

  • Records suggest breaches. Almost half a million dollars in political donations appear to have been hidden inside a secret slush fund controlled by a coterie of Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters’ trusted adviser.

Four out of every five dollars donated to big parties in secret, sparking new push for transparency

  • Stuff.co.nz

Second SFO inquiry into donations a worry for NZ democracy

  • Newsroom – opinion

Sport

ICC tackling ’50 live cases’ of potential corruption as T20 leagues targeted

  • Cricket’s anti-corruption unit is investigating 50 cases of possible wrongdoing and is acting on intelligence gathered from players at last summer’s World Cup. (stuff.co.nz)

Transparency International

Condemnation of harassment against anti-corruption campaigner in Mozambique

  • Transparency International condemns the intimidation and harassment of Edson Cortez, Executive Director of Centro de Integridade Publica (TI Mozambique), and his family.

Next week governments can take a step to close down secrecy jurisdictions. Will they?

  • National financial regulators attending the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) plenary in Paris 16 – 21 February have the opportunity to significantly reduce money laundering, corruption and terror financing.They must not squander the opportunity. A joint statement by Civil Society Organisations.

Why we are not engaging with the G20’s civil society process in 2020

  • A joint public statement from Amnesty International, CIVICUS and Transparency International regarding not attending the conference in Saudi Arabia because of Saudi Arabia’s poor civil rights behavior.

Transparency International New Zealand

NZ’s Women in Power: Where are they now?

  • Transparency International New Zealand’s Chair, Suzanne Snively, is featured in this article that recognises her 30 years of sustained progress as a significant business and political influencer at NZ’s top tables.

White Ribbon proud to announce Luke Qin as a White Ribbon Ambassador

  • White Ribbon is a campaign that educates men about non-violent attitudes towards women. The campaign aims to end family violence, the seriousness of which is indicated by the 118,921 incidents which police investigated in 2016. Ambassadors are a key way in which the White Ribbon Campaign challenges the behaviour of abusive men and builds support and visibility for non-violence.

Influencing Increased Transparency in Clinical Trials

  • Healthworks is Transparency International’s initiative to fight corruption in the health sector and to share learning between chapters. This outlines work done by Transparency International New Zealand (TINZ) with Transparimed and Mesh Down Under.

Voices of Transparency

The many-headed hydra: how grand corruption robs us of a sustainable future

  • There can be no sustainable development where corruption thrives, yet it is all too easy to find examples of high-level public officials implicated in corrupt schemes resulting in the gross misappropriation of public funds or resources.

Facing future corruption challenges — trends of the next decade

  • There are many reasons for concern when it comes to the developments that will shape corruption in the future. First of two articles

Future anti-corruption trends—four reasons to be optimistic

  • Those working in the field identified four main reasons to be optimistic about the long-term future of the fight against corruption. Second of two articles

Anonymous company ownership helps hide foreign bribery. The OECD should promote transparency

Whistleblowing

Whistleblowing: legislation is just part of the picture

  • Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier sets out the nuts and bolts of the Protected Disclosures Act 2000, and why we need to lift our game in both awareness and practice.

TINZ Team

TINZ engages New Zealand and New Zealanders in a broad range of issues related to building stronger integrity systems to mitigate the impact of bribery and corruption. TINZ Directors, Members with Delegated Authority and staff provide subject matter expertise in the topic areas of interest.

TINZ Subject Matter Experts, current at the time of this newsletter publication, can be can be found at TINZ Team February 2020. To view by topic, visit the category page which lists TINZ topics and respective current subject matter experts.