Transparency Times March 2018

From the Chair

Suzanne Snively ONZM Chair Transparency International New Zealand

Suzanne Snively ONZM
Transparency International New Zealand

Good news doesn’t engage readers as easily as bad news.

And when there is so much information flying around through the ether these days – on smart phones, radio, bill boards – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, it’s important for an organisation like TINZ to be able to engage readers.

So, here I am writing my second “From the Chair” in 2018 with even better news to report than in February. Back then I described all the work being done by the new government – supported by public officials – to progress Open Government Partnership and address TINZ’s Integrity Plus 2013 New Zealand National Integrity System Assessment (NIS) recommendations.

It’s not before time that the process to progress NIS recommendations is now actually happening.

Even so, like the many skeptics – always the first to comment on social media – I was surprised when I first sighted the initial 2017 Transparency International Corruptions Perceptions Index (TI CPI) results. I opened the email attachment from our umbrella organization Transparency International with trepidation. I was concerned about our previous government’s lack of momentum to prevent corruption since the 2016 Shewan Inquiry, about the dreadful culture of corruption at Rodney District Council’s transport division and about the case of corruption at the New Zealand branch of Fuji-Xerox.

Whether it’s because of lags in the data used to compile the index or lack of corruption in New Zealand relative with other countries, the latest TI CPI calculates that the integrity of New Zealand’s public service outweighs all the negative trends.

In the latest TI CPI survey, New Zealand’s public sector ranks #1 on is own, ahead of close competitors Denmark, Finland and Sweden.

New Zealand’s score dropped to 89. An index with a more robust methodology might provide knowledge about the basis for the decline in score and in this way assist policy decisions to be more effective. A challenging aspect of the methodology is that the CPI score is a poor indicator of the absolute level of corruption. This year, a new database was added. New Zealand’s score would be higher than last year’s without this new database where we are first equal with 8 or 9 countries all awarded a score of 77 based on unclear data.

Since the last newsletter, I’ve found out that three more NIS recommendations are being addressed.

  • First, is Speaker of the House, Trevor Mallard’s initiative to publish cabinet papers. It will be interesting to see what stage these will be published – ideally early enough for there to be public input prior to final cabinet decisions.
  • Second is the Justice Minister’s review of the mandate for the Serious Fraud Office to enable it to more effectively address bribery and corruption and the enforcement of the law.
  • Thirdly, is the step taken by Green Party ministers to make public their ministerial diaries to counter the influence of money and lobby groups in politics. Watch this space for the other ministers in the coalition Government to follow suit.

The Greens also announced that they and their staff will stop accepting corporate hospitality. While at first sight this appears to be an indication of an ethical culture, there are risks when all contact is constrained. All Parliamentarians need exposure to a wide range of organisations – sports and arts bodies, education providers, corporates, NGOs, churches, Maori, refugees – most who use hospitality as a way of demonstrating their culture. TINZ refers readers to Justice Sally Fitzgerald’s judgement in the Auckland Transport Case (2017), that defines the boundaries between gifts and bribes. Ministers need to be informed and have context for their policies and this means spending time with their stakeholders, especially NGOs, community groups, sporting bodies and arts.

Corporates aren’t the only influencers offering hospitality and entertainment. The transparency of diary entries, including ‎recognition of any (capped) gift value, will enable Parliamentarians to gain context wider than that provided by public officials.

There is still a lot more to do.

Well overdue is overhaul of the Privacy Act.  If anybody thinks we are currently safe here, they need to have been with me at the 2018 Fraud Film Festival where documentaries about cyberwar revealed the extent of private information in circulation. To this day, the personal information of Sony employees and Ashley Madison customers is still accessible to the wider public.

Also overdue is ensuring that anti-corruption agencies are adequately resourced to do their job. The participation during Fraud Film Festival discussion sessions, of staff from ACC, FMA and the SFO demonstrated desired attributes including courage, wisdom and good judgment. We need funding in place to ensure there are enough of them and they have the tools necessary to do their job, given the threat of offshore criminal activity.

Otherwise, will they be up to the challenge from new depths of criminally corrupt behaviours of hackers operating in the dark shadows?

Suzanne Snively, ONZM


Transparency International New Zealand Inc.

2017 Corruption Perceptions Index ranks New Zealand Number One

New Zealand #1 least corrupt public sector in the world

Steve Snively

Transparency Times Newsletter Editor

New Zealand’s public sector is ranked the least corrupt in the world, according to Transparency International’s 2017 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) released globally in late February.

Compiled annually by Berlin-based Transparency International, the CPI ranks countries worldwide by perceived levels of public sector corruption.

Transparency International New Zealand (TINZ) Chair, Suzanne Snively, says “Transparency International’s top CPI score for New Zealand reflects the integrity of our public servants. Our public sector leaders are inspiring their own people and others to harness the value that integrity and resultant good business contributes to a more prosperous New Zealand.

“All of New Zealand benefits from investments being made by public sector leaders, as well as regulators and businesses. They build public trust and business confidence by identifying and eliminating bribery and corruption and enable industry to leverage off our positive ranking.”

“Complacency, however, remains our biggest challenge. The prevention of corruption is too often a low priority. Work to enhance transparency must continue for New Zealand to maintain leadership in the fight against corruption. This includes more open public involvement in government decision making and a publically accessible registry of the beneficial owners of companies and trusts”, says Ms Snively.

TINZ Patron and former Commonwealth Secretary General, Sir Don McKinnon, says that “Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index rankings are independent and objective assessments. Today’s announcement reiterates the importance of New Zealand having strong integrity systems in place. A perceived lack of corruption and active examples of good business practices make it easier for kiwi organisations to gain market access offshore, all of which ultimately benefits all New Zealanders.”

TINZ has identified seven important benefits for the New Zealand economy based on having strong integrity systems. These are: positive reputation and brand; greater customer loyalty; committed and engaged staff; easier market access; lower cost of business; increased returns on investments; and improved access to capital.

Top performers share key characteristics: high levels of press freedom; access to budget information so the public knows where money comes from and how it is spent; high levels of integrity among people in power; and judiciaries that don’t differentiate between rich and poor, independent from other parts of government.

Key areas of assessment where New Zealand can improve include:

Click map to open full size

  • Access to Information
  • Open Government
  • Order and Security
  • Fundamental Rights and Civil Justice
  • Absence of Corruption
  • Regulatory Enforcement
  • Lack of Constraints on Government Powers and Criminal Justice.

Detailed information about the Corruption Perceptions Index is at


Open Data Charter signed by Government

Hon James Shaw, Minister of Statistics and Liz Macpherson, CE Stats NZ after signing the Open Data Charter letter, 2 March 2018.

Source: James Shaw on Twitter

Hon. James Shaw, Minister of Statistics and Liz Macpherson, Chief Executive of Stats NZ after signing the Open Data Charter on 2 March 2018

Keitha Booth

OGP Independent Reporter on
NZ’s Open Government Partnership National Action Plan 2016-2018

On 2 March 2018 the Hon James Shaw,  Minister of Statistics posted on Twitter: “Today the Government Chief Data Steward and I officially signed New Zealand’s commitment to the Open Data Charter (ODC). This means we’ve signed up to an alliance of governments and experts across the world who, like us, are working to make data more easily available”.

The ODC is an independent programme which more than 70 government and organisations have joined. It describes itself as a “collaboration between governments and experts working to open up data.”  Its goal is to “embed a culture and practice of openness in governments in ways that are resilient to change through opening up data”.

The Open Data Charter (ODC) was founded in 2015 around six principles for how governments should be publishing information. Its aspiration is that data should be

  • Open by default
  • Timely and comprehensive
  • Accessible and usable
  • Comparable and interoperable
  • Promote improved governance and citizen engagement
  • Inclusive development and innovation

In New Zealand the principles are expected to improve government performances and pursue economic development and innovation through innovative legal re-use of government’s public data.

This signing is the culmination of work initiated by Land Information New Zealand in the winter of 2016, subsequently transferred to Stats NZ and adopted by the Government in August 2017. The Open Data Action Plan, created by Stats NZ, sets the direction for the Charter’s implementation in New Zealand. This plan was launched in July 2017 and updated on 2 March 2018.

It is great that the former and present Governments have adopted the ODC, that Stats NZ is working actively to implement its principles, and that there is an ongoing forum for the public to participate. We New Zealanders will benefit from NZ officially joining and working with the international open data community, as well as being invited to contribute directly to this work here in NZ. This is a good example of transparency in action.

Everyone is invited to join the ODC Action Plan feedback and discussion forum. Stats NZ wants “your feedback to help us keep the action plan relevant, effective, and working towards the best interests of New Zealanders”.

I encourage you to look at these documents and join the forum.

NZ’s Second International Fraud Film Festival Recap

Lisa Traill

Lisa Traill

TINZ Director

Watching stories unfold about fraud, never felt so good!

TINZ has had the honour of partnering once again with the 2018 NZ International Fraud Film Festival (FFF) earlier this month to present a deeply engaging range of documentaries and films themed around corruption, technology and dishonesty. The festival attracted a very appreciative audience of risk and fraud specialists from around New Zealand as it played over two days at the ASB Waterfront Theatre in Auckland.

The Hon. Andrew Little, Minister of Justice, opened the festival noting that our relative geographical isolation is no longer the protection it once was from increasingly diverse practices of corruption. Confirming that cyber crime is a key focus for government departments, the minister highlighted the need for both private and public sectors to work together to combat this significant risk to New Zealand’s current standing in the Corruption Perceptions Index. He also emphasised that developing and supporting a strong culture of accountability, better support and policy around whistle blowing will both be critical to New Zealand maintaining this important economic edge.

The FFF line-up highlighted extraordinary examples of individual fraud achieved regardless of tight control of both processes and the perceptions of their colleagues. These included Rita Crundwell, the city clerk who defrauded the small town of Dixon, Illinois of more than $US50million over twenty years and the extensive deception perpetrated by Bernie Maddoff’s Ponzi scheme. Both stories asked the question ‘how did no-one realise what was happening?’ and highlighted the importance of distributed processes in financial practice.

By contrast, cyber fraud can be committed by a vast network of individual players who may never be discovered or have their identity revealed. Our dependance on the internet to connect socially, and increasingly to access everyday services, makes us all vulnerable to a myriad of scams with significant real life impacts. Documentaries on the hacking of Sony, for which no-one has ever been identified or held accountable, and the development of Bitcoin challenging traditional financial institutions on multiple fronts, both highlighted the extraordinary times we are living in.

There is little that is predictable or certain with regard to the type or scale of corruption that we will be confronted by in the coming years, other than that it is a very real and significant threat. As the Hon. Andrew Little noted it is important that we all, individuals and organisations, are constantly vigilant, speak up when we have concerns and support strong integrity systems both at work and at home.


SDG Summit on 23 April 2018

David Dunsheath
Board Member with delegated Authority for SDG’s

Nearly two and a half years into the United Nation’s 15-year Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) programme, wide spread public awareness of these SDGs is only now dawning in New Zealand.  Government, civil society and business institutions have only recently begun to align their policy settings with specific SDGs of relevance to them.

To accelerate knowledge and collaboration about how our nation is working towards the SDGs, New Zealand’s first SDG Summit will be held on Monday 23 April 2018. Click here for details and registration (N.B. The Early Bird registration deadline is 16 March). Attendees are invited to propose and develop ideas for discussion topics within an interactive Action Stations session.  

In our December issue of Transparency times, we outlined the strong relevance of SDG-16: ‘Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions’ to the 7 key global Values of Transparency International (TI) and how TI can, and must, leverage-off SDG-16 in the global communication of its own key values and goals.  

Transparency International New Zealand (TINZ) has a key role to assist achievement of this ambitious programme within New Zealand and its South Pacific neighbours. It strongly recommends the development of Goal 16, including the specification of a standard measure of corruption applied across all countries.

For background, in September 2015, all countries in the United Nations resolved to adopt the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It is deliberately ambitious and transformational with a set of 17 integrated and indivisible SDGs and their underlying targets, to guide us all. These goals are designed to free humanity from poverty, secure a healthy planet for future generations, and to build peaceful, inclusive societies as a foundation for ensuring lives of dignity for all. Global progress within the first 2 years of the SDG programme is identified in The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals Report 2017 (pdf). 


Hon James Shaw presentation: Green, Greener, Greenest

Hon James Shaw
Minister of Climate Change

Hon James Shaw, Minister of Climate Change, will share his in-depth knowledge of climate change and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at a presentation at Victoria University’s Pipitea Campus. He will discuss how transparency about climate change and emissions reporting will lead to a better future. 

SOLD OUT – Register below for wait list

Date:  Wednesday 21 March 2018  6.00pm – 7.00pm

followed by a cash bar and canapés to continue discussions 

Venue: Rutherford House, Lecture Theatre 1 (RHLT1)

Victoria Business School, 23 Lambton Quay, Wellington

Places are limited; Register now to secure your seat

All are invited to this free public lecture hosted by The Brian Picot Chair in Ethical Leadership at Victoria Business School, in partnership with Transparency International New Zealand (TINZ). 

One of TINZ’s values is environmental sustailability and James will discuss the Government’s policy to achieve this.


TINZ thanks Sir Don McKinnon

Sir Don McKinnon

Stephanie Hopkins

TINZ General Manager Operations

Transparency International New Zealand thanks Sir Don McKinnon for being its patron for the past three years.

Sir Don is a former Secretary General of the Commonwealth, as well as having served as New Zealand’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs. He is Chairman of the Global Panel Foundation – Australasia, a respected NGO that works behind the scenes in crisis areas around the world.

As TINZ’s patron, Sir Don has continued his long tradition of being highly involved in the Pacific, with the Commonwealth and with Asia. Through his experience, he added a particular emphasis to TINZ on supporting “good governance”.

Sir Don has overseen a period of TINZ growth in relevance and impact, as well as the development of its private sector relationships to complement TINZ’s public sector network.

He remains committed to New Zealand and its place in the wider world. As a continuous TINZ member, he remains a mentor about human rights and good governance as the most effective antidotes to corruption.


Pivotal Anti-corruption Role for Public Sector Leaders

Anne Gilbert

Anne Gilbert

Anne Gilbert

TINZ Project Manager
Public Sector

The first public sector Leaders Integrity Forum for 2018 focused on how our public servants can support the government in its commitment to combat and prevent corruption in New Zealand. Forum chair, Greg Schollum, Deputy Auditor General, introduced the first speaker, Andrew Bridgman, Chief Executive and Secretary for Justice.

He began by stating “… integrity, transparency, accountability, probity, [and] freedom from corruption – are fundamental to our country … perhaps the most important contributors to New Zealand’s economic and social development so far, and powerful determinants of our future success.”

Our country is currently perceived to be the least corrupt country in the world but Bridgman warned that while “New Zealand is doing well … we are not corruption free. Just because we don’t ordinarily see corruption, this doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen.” He urges his peers throughout New Zealand’s public service to recognise that they “… have a special duty to guard against corruption because it is in the public sector that its effects can do the most harm”.

Included in Bridgman’s full presentation is an intriguing insight into the great potential for blockchain technology to provide a transparent and incorruptible public record of all types of activities.

The second speaker, Julie Read, Chief Executive of the Serious Fraud Office, spoke of New Zealand’s naivety and vulnerability to corruption in its international dealings. She referred to recent countermeasure developments in the European Union that may challenge New Zealand to remain at the top of the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) – refer to earlier article. The April Transparency Times will detail Read’s presentation and the discussion that followed these two Leaders Integrity Forum presentations.

Deputy Auditor General Greg Schollum chairs LIF March 2018

Chief Executive Serious Fraud Office Julie Read at LIF March 2018

Secretary for Justice Andrew Bridgman at LIF March 2018

TINZ Chair Suzanne Snively at LIF March 2018

Momentum building on lobbyists transparency

Bryce Edwards

Bryce Edwards

TINZ delegated authority including political party integrity

Transparency issues in New Zealand are suddenly gaining serious momentum  mostly due to the change of government. Not all  the changes are positive.

An important development has been the Green Party decision to make public the appointment diaries of its Ministers and to ban all of its MPs and staff from accepting gifts.. These are significant wins for the transparency agenda, and they will put pressure on other parties to implement similar policies.

Less positively, lobbyists are in the news  due to their relationships and involvement with politicians. I reported on this back in November with a column in the New Zealand Herald about The rise of the hyper-partisan lobbyists in Wellington.

An even more concerning issue became apparent this summer with news that the Labour-led government hired a lobbyist to be acting Chief of Staff for the Prime Minister fully intending to go back to lobbying when the four month engagement was complete. I covered this last month, in a Herald column, The Government’s revolving door for lobbyists.

There are also growing concerns about lobbyists employed in the media as commentators. One example came from a Beehive employee being used as a commentator on RNZ. In another case, the NBR newspaper decided to drop the lobbyist, Matthew Hooton, from its publication. I commented on some of these issues in my Newsroom column, Be transparent about pundits’ conflicts of interest.

More recently I’ve written about how a lot of these issues fit together – see my Herald column, Lifting the lid on lobbying in politics.

Interestingly, these columns have gained surprisingly high readerships, with significantly higher than usual feedback. It’s apparent that a renewed interest in transparency in public life is growing. Questions about conflicts of interest, about the “revolving door” between government and private sector, and about lobbying in general, are all resonating with a public that is increasingly intolerant of “integrity deficits”.

In case you missed it…

Corruption Perceptions Index

Vigilant public servants the key to NZ’s number-1 ranking Public Service Association on

How corruption free is New Zealand? Bryce Edwards – NBR Political round up

Jones Will Send NZ Down Corruption Perceptions Index Press Release: ACT New Zealand.

Continued effort needed against corruption Hon. Clare Curran media release

New Zealand’s public sector ranked least corrupt in the world

NZ whistleblowers need more protection – Chief Ombudsman  New Zealand’s ranking as the least corrupt country in the world comes as no surprise, but more can be done, the Chief Ombudsman says.

NZ ranked least corrupt in the world

NZ ranked least corrupt country, again New Zealand has once again been rated the least corrupt country but Open Government Minister Clare Curran warns there’s still more work to be done.

PNG improves ranking in global corruption index

New Zealand’s public sector ranked least corrupt in the world Serious Fraud Office Media Release

New Zealand ranked least corrupt country in the world New Zealand Herald

New Zealand #1 least corrupt public sector in the world TINZ media release on Scoop

Continued effort needed against corruption

NZ has work to do despite ‘world’s least corrupt’ tag Otago Daily Times

New Zealand transparency, integrity and accountability

New Zealand adopts International Open Data Charter Ensuring government-held data is used to help achieve better outcomes for New Zealanders is a key reason why the government is officially adopting the international Open Data Charter, says Statistics Minister James Shaw.

No more corporate freebies for Green MPs as they announce transparency measures Green Party co-leader James Shaw today announced two new transparency measures to “counter the influence of money in politics.”

More light on revolving door lobbyists Bryce Edwards Newsroom

Political Roundup: How corruption-free is New Zealand? Bryce Edwards NZ Herald

New Zealand signs charter opening access to Government data Computer World: New Zealand has confirmed its commitment to the practice of openness in government with statistics minister James Shaw co-signing a letter with the Government Chief Data Steward, Liz MacPherson, that officially commits New Zealand to adopting the international Open Data Charter.

Ombudsman Releases OIA Data Community.scoop: Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier today released his Office’s latest data on Official Information Act complaints and outcomes.”‘I believe this work has contributed to New Zealand’s public sector being ranked as the least corrupt in the world according to Transparency International’s 2017 world rankings released last week”

Driver licence scandal: hundreds of licences chucked out after officer accepted bribes for passes NZ Herald: Hundreds of drivers have had their licenses cancelled after a fraudulent licensing scam was uncovered; revealing staff had accepted bribes of up to $600 in exchange for a licence.

Corruption has ‘no place in driver licensing system’  Voxy news item.


Calls for anti-graft body in Australia The Straits Times

Whistleblowers still in the firing line from foreign influence and official secrets laws Australia is in the middle of intense debate about new federal foreign influence and official secrets laws


PNG anti-fraud squad says corruption has grown significantly The head of the Papua New Guinea police anti-fraud squad says corruption has grown significantly in recent years. Matthew Damaru said with the growth of PNG’s economy, corruption had grown from simple fraud to more elaborate scams.


We condemn the murder of investigative journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancee Martina Kušnírová Transparency International media release

Govt’s not doing enough to fight graft – Transparency International New Vision