Transparency Times March 2020

From the Chair

COVID-19 is a virus on the march. China has shown that while it may not be stopped, this is a march that can be controlled.

Lessons from the coronavirus – COVID 19 – outbreak are being learned daily if not hourly. A key lesson is that the successful outcomes require transparency.

First China, Japan, Italy, Iran, South Korea and now, every day it spreads to new places. The coronavirus is affecting everyone. Well over half of countries worldwide have reported cases, with additional countries are reporting cases everyday.

In the US which is still struggling to provide an adequate supply of testing kits, commentators believe the number of cases is significantly under-estimated.

As of this writing, over 6,800 now have died worldwide with positive cases globally growing towards 200,000.

Responses to contain the virus require speed, resources and political courage. It requires getting out in front and being transparent with people.

So far this transparency has been effective in New Zealand’s case. There have been 8 confirmed cases here. Of these, one has been discharged, with the other seven self isolating. The MoH reports over 9,000 New Zealanders have self isolated.

Economic uncertainty

COVID-19 has created economic uncertainty. Financial markets have plunged so deeply, trading has been stopped on Wall Street several time. Central banks dropping interest rates have had little impact because the effects of COVID-19 are primarily economic, not monetary.

The difference about this virus-related economic uncertainty is that it is spreading around the world. The impact on developed economies is already worse than anticipated.

The response is different from a recession where people stop spending because of declining incomes. Even those people who are currently healthy and who have money are bunkering in and not spending.

Transparency

When you get into a crisis, the only asset you have is your credibility.

People want to know the truth. This is where transparency comes in.

The worst thing a government can do is not test whether there is an infection. The second worse thing is to fail to openly report the results, so as to demonstrate it is testing and monitoring the virus.

What has made this a perfect storm is that as the virus creates economic uncertainty, central banks were already struggling to generate consumer spending. Consumer spending remained stagnant even before the virus, as interest rates were adjusted further and further down.

Meanwhile, with people staying at home and social gatherings cancelled, consumer spending on the services – restaurants, movies, holidays, sporting events – is falling off a cliff.

Chinese response: containment looks effective

Two months from the first formal Chinese reporting of numbers with the disease, new cases have dropped from thousands per day down to less than a hundred per day. This has allowed China to shut down some of its field hospitals and its leader to visit Wuhan, the apparent source of COVID-19.

China has shown if you move early and fast, you can stay ahead of the coronavirus.

It’s important for testing for the virus to work.  It is equally important that the results to be reported openly by place and with a profile – age, gender, location – of the infected cases.

China’s 31 provinces outside Wuhan applied these lessons based on the fundamentals of public health. They quarantined 60 million people, equal to the current lockdown of the whole country of Italy. This is based on international practice (ironically originated in the United States) to manage communicable disease.

Viruses only survive in people and they have to get from one person to the other. COVID-19 is a virus on the march. China has shown that while it may not be stopped, this is a march that can be controlled.

A silver lining perhaps is that meantime with everyone staying inside, factories closed and cars being used less, the level of carbon emissions in China have dropped dramatically and air quality has improved.

New Zealand’s challenges

New Zealand’s Ministry of Health (MoH) has shown a strong leadership role here, being quick to isolate and quarantine possible cases and to make test kits available.

Companies like Air New Zealand and Fonterra were quick to develop responses to COVID-19. As well as keeping their tens of thousands of employees free of the virus, they have developed strategies to support their staff through continuity and scenario planning. Even so, there will be staff layoffs.

The challenge is that while MoH policy has to date prevented the spread of the virus beyond 8 positive cases, New Zealand hasn’t been immune from the impact of global economics. The New Zealand Government is introducing new policy aimed at assisting businesses impacted.

TINZ has designed a pandemic policy that can be implemented by smaller organisations. This policy is available on our website. When it comes to public health everyone has a role to play, including our country’s over 100,000 NGOs and over 300,000 enterprises that employ five or fewer people. They too will need a policy.

With transparency and accountability, the COVID-19 virus can be controlled here.

On the anniversary of the 15th March Christchurch attack, we welcome first time Transparency Times Author, Dr Zainab Radhi. See Intransigence, opaqueness for the Culturally and Linguistically Diverse.

Suzanne Snively, ONZM

Chair

Transparency International New Zealand Inc.

Intransigence, opaqueness for the Culturally and Linguistically Diverse

Dr. Zainab Radhi, Founding Director of Smart Start Business Ltd

Dr Zainab Radhi

Founding Director of SMART Start Business Ltd

(Providing support to migrants and refugees)

In addition to being a great place to live, New Zealand also has a reputation for fairness and transparency. As a nation we welcome legitimate new arrivals to our shores. However, while working very closely with the Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) community, I find there is much work to be done. There is an urgent need to improve inclusivity and integration of our recent arrivals by overcoming intransigence and lack of transparency in the public service. 

The mission of my Wellington-based business is to help migrants and refugees to help and develop themselves and contribute to the New Zealand economy. In other words, to assist migrants and refugees to be self-sufficient and prosper in our legislative, political, social and business environments, initially unfamiliar to them.

Obstacles are challenges

Day after day, job after job, project after project, I’ve increasingly experienced many gaps in the network of support services that ought to be available to the CALD community.

My experience over the last five years is that there is a widespread lack of transparency, access to information, accountability, flexibility, understanding of the community needs, and adaptability to new circumstances and situations. All these factors have created obstacle after obstacle and endless challenges, to those of us who are trying to improve the wellbeing of the CALD community in the broadest sense.

Over three years, I have developed many programmes to support this community without any government support, funding or even income. These programmes were thoroughly researched and recommend solutions to address the diverse challenges faced by this community. 

I’ve knocked on many doors, including Ministers, with little success.   There is an unfortunate pattern in all the responses: 

‘We cannot help you!’ 

‘I will put you in touch with someone else!’ 

‘This is not what we do!’

‘Your services are not listed with us!’ 

‘You are on our waiting list to have a meeting which will take months to arrange!’

Unresponsiveness 

From my experience I identify a number of issues within an unresponsive CALD support system comprising the public sector, NGOs and even the private sector:

  1. People who are making the policies for the CALD community are not from this community. Therefore, they do not understand their needs and challenges. Unfortunately, many people from our community cannot be in these positions in the first place
  2. The rigidity of the system does not accommodate new challenges and problems. The system continues to offer the same solutions to different problems
  3. There is no outcome assessment system in place. When in a high-level public sector meeting, I asked “what is the system in place for assessing the outcomes?” the answer I very directly received was “there is not any”. In other words, government puts a lot of resources into programmes which do not understand the needs, do not fill the gaps, do not appreciate the challenges, and then does not assess their outcomes.
  4. Government agencies do not communicate and talk to each other. It’s difficult to recognise gaps in services when many do not seem to know who is responsible for what and who can be held accountable for what.
  5. Government funding rewards known, established organisations, while indifferent to the value of CALD projects and the demand for them.
  6. Appointments in government, NGOs and private sectors, depend more on networking and connections than qualifications. Every Job Search workshop reiterates that “finding a job in New Zealand is highly dependent on your network!”. How effective is this strategy for someone from the CALD community who might not have built the right network and is still developing their qualifications and skills?
  7. It follows from the above, that job applicants within the CALD community are very often rejected for being “over qualified”. As a result, New Zealand is losing for example, research-based development planning talent by relying on global trends instead of local innovation. This poses the question of do we have the right people in the right places? 
  8. For many years our immigration system has welcomed qualified and skilled migrants. But many such people are undervalued and under-utilised. This stems in part from lack of communication between government agencies and between government and recruitment companies.

Need for improved assimilation

In conclusion, it is high time to acknowledge the current lack of transparency of services that have the potential to greatly enhance the wellbeing and self-sufficiency of New Zealand’s CALD community. Improving assimilation of this community of the typically highly-motivated immigrants and refugees we have welcomed to our shores, they will flourish and successfully contribute to our society and overall wellbeing.

 

The Author: Originally from Iraq, Dr Zainab Radhi holds a SJD(Hons), equivalent to PhD(Hons), in International Law of Economic and Human Development and Islamic Finance. After moving to NZ in 1994, she gained both LLB(Hons) and LLM(Hons) at Waikato University Law School. 

Dr Radhi’s career includes: Solicitor, University Lecturer, Researcher, Community Developer, Interpreter, Trainer and Programme Developer. In 2017, she founded and became the Director of SMART Start Business Ltd and New Zealand Business Beyond Borders Ltd.  She is a proud mother of two sons and currently living in Wellington with her family.

She is the co-founder and project manager for the UMAH Day exhibition in remembrance of the 15 March 2019 attack in Christchurch.

Transparency is an everyday job

Carlos Rozo, Entrepreneur, ex Digital Government Director, Government of Columbia

Carlos Rozo

Entrepreneur

(ex Digital Government Director, Government of Columbia)

Colombia’s climb into third place on the OECD OURindex ranking (at bottom of the graphic) was a surprise to many in the Open Data Community. The name of the country is more likely associated with corruption and a violent past, rather than transparency and openness of government information.

Government leadership

But such a result is not a coincidence or a flaw in the rankings. Colombia’s government has, throughout the last decade, passed legislation, implemented technology and created a set of institutions that let citizens know what the government is up to. Both in regards to spending and purchases and also in its day to day operations, the publication of open data and the periodic reporting of results, has given citizens a better understanding of government initiatives that used to be known only by headlines.

Agency champions

Groups of data enthusiasts started to have access to information they could only dream of before. Public servants started to understand that the best way to safeguard their efforts was to make them public. Slowly the culture of openness permeated many agencies. Those enthusiasts became organised and more visible, becoming the front line of Open Data overseers in the public service, as well as defenders.

We created an agency in charge of making public purchases efficient. This was achieved with opened data that allowed the public to see government contracts almost immediately after being signed, as well as the process prior to the signing. We created datasets that allowed businesses to become more competitive by understanding their context and making the market less obscure.

Sustained initiative through avoiding complacency

However, such an effort is at risk of being lost because openness and transparency now appear to be taken for granted. Some of the newly appointed public servants feel that reporting is an opportunity for self-promotion rather than transparency. Some open data initiatives lose their funding due to lack of direct correlation (a worldwide problem) to the benefits they promote. In general, the perception is that the work has been completed so now there are other more pressing issues around citizen participation or digital transformation.

Transparent by default

We can’t afford to let this work fall behind and allow transparency to slowly move back to obscurity. Opening data with a clear vision and initiatives for transparency, is a work that must not stop. It is necessary that leaders recognise the importance of being “transparent by default” regardless of the size or apparent importance of the government initiatives. The only way to assert that recognition is by maintaining or increasing funding, keeping openness as a pillar of government, and understanding that citizens’ trust is an asset that takes years to build and only seconds to destroy. 

The future will be transparent as long as our leaders understand that the commitment to transparency is not an initiative, but the only way of doing government business as usual.

OGP action planning: Not a good start

Andrew Ecclestone
Freedom of Information & Open Government consultant

Guest Opinion

by Andrew Ecclestone

Committee Member of New Zealand Council for Civil Liberties

Tuesday 3 March saw the first workshop to help develop New Zealand’s next (fourth) Open Government Partnership (OGP) National Action Plan. Last month’s issue of Transparency Times provided detail of what that process could entail. It also indicated how civil society organisations might want to make more of an effort this time to demand the inclusion of commitments that will lead to real change on things they care about.

Worrying indications from this first workshop, organised by the State Services Commission (SSC), suggest we’re on course for another unambitious ‘do little’ plan, unless more people get involved to push for higher quality commitments.

Poor promotion leads to poor attendance

First, unlike most government consultation exercises, there has been no ministerial press release inviting people to take part. Nor did the Minister attend the workshop, unlike his predecessor. This absence speaks volumes about the priority given by the Minister, and a lack of understanding about the opportunity these plans provide, to build trust as well as delivering on their agenda.

Neither did the State Services Commissioner issue a release, or ensure the current work to develop the action plan appears on the all-of-government Consultations Listing page.

As of 10 March the government’s OGP twitter account has only published a single tweet about these workshops – on 10 February.

This might explain why less than twenty members of the public and civil society representatives were present at this first workshop in Wellington (excluding members of SSC’s advisory panel).

Workshop concerns

Missing at the outset was an explanation about what the OGP is, and the standards for co-creation of the National Action Plan. While most people in the room were there because they already knew about the OGP, the hope is to attract new people to participate.

Instead, there was a distracting conversation about whether participants in an open government workshop wanted their comments kept confidential (see photo).

Ignoring shortcomings of the first three plans

There was no attempt to explain how the government intended to address the shortcomings in its process for creating the last three action plans.

For example, at the July 2018 ‘Synthesis workshop’ for the current action plan, non-government participants were unhappy when told of the commitments offered up by departments, and how these fitted within the ideas suggested at previous workshops. There was no opportunity to work with officials to draft the wording of the action plan commitments.

No reassurance was provided by SSC officials to explain how things were going to be better this time around. Since they provided no feedback on the consultation they ran in December on the draft proposals for developing this next action plan, they appear not to understand the importance of the standard practice of closing the feedback loop with people who volunteer their time and effort. This is problematic, because the OGP is predicated on iterative learning from earlier shortcomings.

OIA not being considered

Workshop attendees were given a clear signal by the senior official that suggestions for improvement of the Official Information Act (OIA) were not being considered. This is because Ministers are still trying to decide whether there should be a review of this key law for openness. (See side bar.)

Fait accompli (again)

Considering that the ethos of the OGP and creation of the action plans is ‘co-creation’ and ‘co-design’, it is troubling that officials had predetermined the broad action plan themes to be ‘Participation’, ‘Responsiveness’ and ‘Transparency and Accountability’. They were presented to attendees as a fait accompli, to be addressed in their discussions, with no invitation to suggest different themes for the action plan.

The OGP is indeed about openness as an instrument to shape and deliver services that are better for the publics that governments serve. As one who has participated in the development of New Zealand’s three previous action plans, it is apparent that if we continue in the pre-defined direction, we will once again produce an action plan that delivers more business-as-usual by government departments.

Alternatively, more imaginative and potentially transformative, over-arching themes for the next action plan might instead be how open government can assist with key issues. Examples include climate change, the government’s well-being indicators, the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, or even making more progress on the recommendations made by Transparency International New Zealand (TINZ) in its National Integrity System Assessment 2018 Update. The Independent Reviewer of New Zealand’s OGP participation, Keitha Booth, offers several excellent suggestions in her recently published report on the design of the last action plan.

Lack of funding

Finally, there was no assurance that additional money would be available to departments leading action plan commitments. After three OGP action plan cycles, the Government now has the experience (and has been advised) to align development of the plans with the budget cycle, and encourage agencies to make budget bids. Until this happens, action plans will continue to be full of activities that should have occurred anyway. Or comprise of ‘side projects’ delivered on a wing-and-a-prayer by overworked officials with no funding for the additional work they have taken on.

Breaking the cycle

170 years ago, Marx and Engels were discussing how history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce. New Zealand is now working on its fourth OGP National Action Plan with the risk that a lack of Ministerial interest may lead to the whole process becoming risible.

While I’ve focussed on procedural shortcomings, the key effort to break this cycle of under-performance is to ensure as many people as possible get involved now, and push for high-quality commitments. These must articulate clear, logical connections between the actions promised and the goals they are aiming for. And they must be properly resourced.

OGP requires democratic involvement in government

David Dunsheath

TINZ Member with Delegated Authority for Open Government

Transparency Times Newsletter Co-editor

The culture of open government

One of five Public Service principles in the new Public Service Act specifies is “to foster a culture of Open Government”.  Transparency International New Zealand (TINZ) aims to ensure the current biennial engagement of the public in OGP will develop into more continuous involvement of civil society under a wider Open Government strategy.

OGP provides a clear democratic mandate for the public to formally present ideas to improve and reprioritise government activities, and for the government to seriously heed these ideas. The vehicle for this participation is the government’s next (fourth) National Action Plan (NAP4) within the global OGP global initiative.

A democratic opportunity to contribute

OGP Wellington workshop March 2020

We, the people have a democratic right and obligation to participate in government. TINZ urges NZ organisations and individuals to participate by attending advertised OGP events. Alternatively, they are urged to urgently host their own local event that can be supported by SSC’s facilitation or SSC’s supply of session guidelines. A third option is emailed contributions, about:

  • Methods deployed by the public sector, to substantially raise public participation and engagement with open government initiatives, from the current very low levels
  • Policy priorities and settings, e.g. influence over innovative topics for inclusion within annual national budgets, and
  • Delivery of services, e.g. minimising risk of procurement/supply chain corruption.  

Challenging next steps

SSC recognises it does not have sufficient communications capacity and thereby is struggling to reach community groups to promote opportunities for their initial stage engagement. More seriously, it does not appear to have the attention of the Minister to promote the importance of OGP planning. Refer to separate article for related comments by Andrew Ecclestone.

Following the initial round of March workshops, SSC plans to facilitate a second round of more limited public involvement during April and May to synthesise a draft NAP4. For this they wish to encourage groups to pre-think their themes for this stage.

In anticipation of the September general election, SSC is aiming for Cabinet’s agreement of the draft plan in early June before its public consultation. If feedback results in changes within the scope for Ministerial approval, the OGP’s publication by 31 August might be achieved.

Evolving trends

TINZ urges government agencies to provide much greater engagement and partnering with external groups during the implementation phase of their individual NAP4 commitments. Their past performance has typically been delivery of fait-accompli commitments for public comment, by which time any public involvement is rendered ineffectual. 

SSC recognises that some government agencies are now realising that OGP provides them with a possible leverage opportunity to progress with some dormant initiatives.

SSC also recognises emergence of ‘adaptive management’ within government agencies for their NAP commitments. This may encourage more ambitious and transformational commitment outcomes, and longer-term commitments straddling multiple NAPs.

Culture builder – a bouquet for Police Commissioner Mike Bush

Mike Bush Police Commissioner

Source: YouTube

Mike Bush Police Commissioner

by Julie Haggie
Chief Executive Officer
Transparency International New Zealand

In April Police Commissioner Mike Bush ends his six-year appointment as chief constable of New Zealand and chief executive of the New Zealand Police Force.

Extraordinary events and bad behaviour test community safety, values and beliefs. High quality responses from public sector leaders and their agencies to these tests, generate deep public trust.

Commissioner Mike Bush deserves considerable praise for his skilled and ethical stewardship as a public service leader. He led the police through traumatic events such as the terror attack targeting the Muslim community in Christchurch and the Whakaari eruption tragedy. He led transformation practices for response to crime and to internal reform (including cultural change) within the police force.

One of his recent innovations to reduce criminal offending included a shift in focus from understanding drivers of crime to understanding the drivers of ‘crime demand’. Commissioner Bush set up a range of programmes to better understand the way mental health, organised crime and youth re-offending contributed as factors leading to crime. Major challenges remain, not least the prevalence of family violence and organised crime here. By focussing on cause as well as effect, the Police are developing programmes that reduce the numbers in prison while also improving outcomes.

Highlights from some of Commissioner Mike Bush’s public statements

In his response to the report ‘A Decade of Change’ that followed on from the Bazley report in 2007, Commissioner Bush noted:

A far-reaching programme was launched that touched almost every aspect of policing – from policy and training through to performance management and leadership; as well as practice changes that would better serve victims of sexual assault. Victims of sexual assault who turn to Police today can expect to deal with staff who uphold our values of empathy, professionalism, and respect. The changes we have made as an organisation are enduring.

Under his watch, New Zealand Police has made efforts to address diversity, including in its recruitment intake, resulting in a steady increase in the number of Maori, Pacific and Asian people in the Police workforce. The gender balance has also shifted over time, now at 22% women overall, and 34% of recruits. In the Commissioner’s view diversity is vital:

As an organisation, we look to encourage staff to ‘use who they are’ not ‘lose who you are’ when becoming a police officer. We are a diverse organisation and I am proud of the work we’ve done over recent years to build relationships with the LGBTIQ+ community. (Commissioner’s blog)

Recently Commissioner Bush spoke at a packed Transparency International New Zealand (TINZ)’s ‘Public Sector Leaders Integrity Forum’. These peer-led, shared learning forums focus on senior leadership of the public services . They are co-hosted by TINZ and the Office of the Auditor General. He spoke about the importance of transparency to maintain trust and the importance of empathy.

His message on empathy is reflected in his words in an Ethical Leadership discussion publication:

Empathy is deeper, and more relevant, than respect. Empathy is not judging, and it is being able to understand somebody else’s situation and supporting that situation. (Ethical Leadership: Opportunities and Challenges for Aotearoa New Zealand..)

To round off, here is a quote from a speech he gave at the 12th annual Diversity Awards in 2016, about the role of the Police:

The point I want to make is that the police have a huge role to play in community harmony, people feeling safe. Something came out of the Boston police a few days ago, where they said they want to move from being warriors to being guardians. It does worry me that police forces have seen themselves as warriors. Great that they want to move to guardians, but I’d like to think we moved from that midst in the 1800s when we moved to being a police service. We align ourselves to Sir Robert Peel way back then who said the police are the community and the community are the police. We are here to serve you, and we get our consent from you. It’s not from the Queen, not from the governor general, not from the Prime Minister not from the Minister of Police. We police with your consent. (Building Trust and Confidence through Culture Change, 12thAnnual NZ Diversity Forum, 1.9.16.)

The global body Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, includes measures of police corruption. While our police force has some work to do around conduct, no country in the world comes close to the integrity of New Zealand’s police force.

TINZ thanks Commissioner Mike Bush for his six years of exemplary service.

On 8 March,  as this article was going to press, Commissioner Bush,announced the creation of a dedicated anti-corruption unit address growing organised crime and internal police corruption.

Quotes from Mike Bush’s speeches, blogs and public statements are included with permission of his office.

Another Money Laundering Prosecution under AML-CFT

The Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) announced a new criminal conviction under the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Act.

Jiaxin Finance Limited was fined  NZ$2.55 Million for its actions. During a 13 month period starting April 2015, Jiaxin and its brokers were responsible for remitting over $53 million into New Zealand for the wealthy Chinese-Canadian businessman, Xiao Hua Gong.

According to the DIA, this is the first time that criminal action has been taken under the Act by any of the AML/CFT supervisors.

Mike Stone, Director AML Group, says “Money-laundering is a global issue, and unfortunately it does happen here. An estimated $1.35 billion from fraud and illegal drugs is laundered through legitimate New Zealand businesses every year. The true cost and social impact is much higher.”

This is a small positive outcome to a challenging issue around the world and within New Zealand. Illicit gains of money and consequential actions to turn it into legitimate assets and wealth, reduces the quality of life globally. Money laundering supports ongoing corruption by operating in grey areas of the law, using channels where there are or limited transparency.

It is essential to New Zealand’s reputation and wellbeing, that serious effort is made to prevent money laundering activities within our financial, corporate and trust systems. TINZ is encouraged by the increased spotlight on AML/CFT compliance in New Zealand and internationally. It is reassuring to see that the DIA has strengthened its AML supervisory team, thereby demonstrating a commitment to being effective.

Also reassuring are the professional services, law, accounting, real estate and other firms that are recognising the threat to New Zealanders and working with robust systems to reduce money laundering.

As the world continues to become more connected and moving money increasingly sophisticated, the government’s experience of the required resources and tools will become better at protecting New Zealanders by thwarting the movement of corrupt funds.

The DIA announcement is here.

Public Speaking Award: United Nations Association of NZ

The United Nations Association of New Zealand (UNA NZ) has launched its 2020 Public Speaking Award for secondary school students. It has held regional secondary school speech awards for over 30 years. 

Regional events will be held in late March and April. UNA NZ branch winners will be funded to attend the UNA NZ National Conference in Wellington, to compete for the national award.

The 2020 competition topic is “Are the reasons for establishing the United Nations in 1945 still relevant today?”.  Speeches are to be 6 to 8 minutes long. Students must make a particular reference to the aims, work and aspirations of the United Nations.

Register directly at http://bit.ly/UNAofNZSpeechAward2020  

For more information contact office@unanz.org.nz.

TINZ Submissions activity

 

Transparency International New Zealand (TINZ) continues to encourage our readers to exercise their democratic responsibilities by making submissions and responding to government consultation processes with their 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. In fact, 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. 

Financial Markets Infrastructures 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.

Inquiry into parliamentary scrutiny of confirmable instruments

Reserve Bank Act Review – Consultation phase 3

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

Banking

RBNZ Monetary Policy Handbook internationally recognised for transparency

  • The Reserve Bank of New Zealand has won the ‘Transparency Award’ at the international Central Banking Awards 2019 for its work on the Monetary Policy Handbook.
  • Reserve Bank of New Zealand – Media Release – 7 February 2020

Political Party Financing

Reputation vs reality: how vulnerable is New Zealand to systemic corruption?

  • I have reason to believe that New Zealand’s reputation for being corruption-free and its sense of well-being do not fully align with reality. This article focuses on the influence of money in NZ politics.
  • Timothy K Kuhner – The Spinoff – 6 March, 2020

Political Roundup: Fixing the problem of money in politics

  • New Zealand has a problem with money in politics. National and NZ First have been the subject of Serious Fraud Office investigations. And now that Labour mayors Phil Goff and Lianne Dalziel have been added to the list of fraud investigations, this should cement in the fact that we have a problem across the political spectrum, and at central and local government levels.
  • Commentary with Links – Dr Bryce Edwards – 6 March 2020

It’s time to end the secrecy over political donations

  • Future historians of New Zealand politics may look back on 2020 as the year in which voters finally lost patience with the arcane secrecy that surrounds donations to parties and candidates. 
  • Editorial – Dominion Post – 29 February 2020

To build a new politics, we must break the grip of big money

  • Action Station’s Laura O’Connell Rapira argues that the existing system simply cements the interests of the richest and most powerful.
  • Laura O’Connell Rapira – Guest writer- he Spinoff – Commentary – 20 February 2020

Cat MacLennan: Time for state-funded political parties to replace donations

  • For donations to two of New Zealand’s largest political parties to be investigated by the Serious Fraud Office in the same year, appears to be more than an unfortunate coincidence. Rather, it seems like a clear signal that something is seriously wrong with our political party funding rules.
  • Cat MacLennan – Opinion – RNZ – 20 February. 2020

Transparency International warns need for political funding reform is urgent

  • Transparency International is warning that the need to reform political funding structures is more urgent than ever – and that complacency is leaving the country more vulnerable to corruption. TINZ Chair Suzanne Snively is quoted extensively
  • Yvette McCullough – political reporter – RNZ – 27 February, 2020

Political donations law must be tightened to prevent abuses

  • Our political donations rules are wide open for abuse and corruption, and they need to be changed.
  • Chris Smith – Opinion – stuff.co.nz – 20 February, 2020

Political Roundup: NZ’s latest political lobbying problems

  • Commentary with Links – Dr Bryce Edwards – 19 February 2020

Should the political donation system change?

  • Both National and NZ First are facing Serious Fraud Office investigations related to political donations – Tranparency International’s Suzanne Snively joins The Panel to talk about whether things need to change.
  • RNZ – “The Panel” – 19 February 2020

Vested interests in New Zealand politics are too big to ignore – we need a Royal Commission

  • Our whole parliamentary and political system is deficient, especially when it comes to how political parties operate
  • Bryce Edawrds – Opinion – The Guardian – 19 Feburary, 2020

Sport

Despicable them: sport’s worst cheaters

  • Manchester City and the Houston Astros are latest inductees into the sports hall of shame.
  • newsroom.co.nz – 19 February 2020

Transparency

‘Never again’ says whistleblower about lifting lid on large-scale wine fraud

  • The employee who exposed large-scale fraud at a North Canterbury wine company says she will never take on the role of whistleblower again after her experience in this case.
  • Stuff.co.nz – 13 March, 2020

Mike Bush: Police announce anti-corruption unit

  • It’s hoped a dedicated anti-corruption unit will put a stop to growing organised crime, and catch out bent cops.
  • Newstalk ZB – 8 March 2020

New Zealand’s Turn For The Worse On Financial Transparency

  • New Zealand, along with Japan, has made the largest turn for the worse between 2018 and 2020 among 133 countries on the Index of Financial Security released today by the Tax Justice Network.
  • Scoop.co.nz

Financial Secrecy Index 2020

  • The Financial Secrecy Index ranks jurisdictions according to their secrecy and the scale of their offshore financial activities. Remaining and systemic issues in New Zealand law on trusts continues to allow their use as vehicles for tax avoidance.
  • Tax Justice Network – February 2020

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 March 2020. To view by topic, visit the category page which lists TINZ topics and respective current subject matter experts.