Transparency Times September 2020

From the Chair

Suzanne Snively, Chair of TINZ,

This special election issue of the Transparency Times covers the responses of ten political parties to questions about their policies and practice regarding the prevention of corruption.

All ten parties demonstrated this year, that they take the prevention of corruption seriously.

However, they do not inspire confidence that the parties recognise the extent of the external threat of corruption and the leverage that a solid reputation brings to the New Zealand economy’s recovery including the potential to repay debt at a faster rate.

Wellington-based candidates have an opportunity to build confidence by demonstrating that they do get this, at the event on 6 October (5:30pm, Rutherford House). This will be co-hosted by the Brian Picot Chair in Ethical Leadership and Transparency International New Zealand (TINZ).

External threat of corruption

Transparency International New Zealand (TINZ) has warned the Government to be vigilant about the prevention of offshore corruption over many years. With the COVID-19 crisis, the warning message is to not let the crisis become a veil for the corrupt.

Sure enough. As if COVID-19 was not already doing enough damage to the economy, the website of the New Zealand Stock Exchange (NZX) was crashed by cyber-attackers. Distributed denial of service (DDOS) hacks disrupted share trading for over 4 days from the end of August and several times in September.

These attacks come as the NZX electronic trading systems were enabling more online trading and when the number of daily NZX trades have been reaching all time highs.

Cyber-attackers also assaulted the Meteorological Office, which relies heavily on the collection of data for its weather reports and forecasts to generate revenue.

Mt Ruapehu Skifield and Westpac (New Zealand’s top listed company by market capitalisation), were also recently affected by DDOS hacks. Other targeted organisations, including Stuff Media and Radio NZ managed to fend them off.

Cybercrime is corruption where hackers distort activities operating for the common good for the purpose of personal gain. Fortunately, the cyberattacks activated the Government’s National Security System and triggered investigations by the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) and the Five Eyes partners.

Other external corruption threats  relate to sporting gambling, illicit financial flows, money laundering and cryptocurrency.

It would be good to have seen recognition of the threat of offshore corruption including cybercrime with suggestions for dealing with it in the responses from political parties.

Now that these attacks have happened, it would be reassuring to see the next Parliament focus early on effective well resourced policy addressing cybercrime and offshore corruption.

Repaying debt through doing the right thing

A common theme in the political party responses to TINZ’s questions is that they regard corruption prevention through the lens of compliance and enforcement.

The seven main elements of compliance and enforcement include

  • tone from the top
  • having a code of ethics
  • communication and training about corruption detection and prevention
  • up-to-date knowledge about relevant legislation
  • whistleblowing and protected disclosure
  • effective Know-Your-Customers practice
  • and regular audits covering bribery, fraud and corruption.

While no political party demonstrated how they would administer the full list of these seven key tools to address corruption, several parties did a good job of describing areas where they complied.

The answers were of a higher standard than in 2017 but the standard is low for a country whose public service and judiciary achieve a joint #1 global ranking as the least corrupt. Further, with the high trust process keeping the economy going during COVID-19 lockdowns, it would be prudent to have strong anti-corruption processes in place.

Paying off COVID-19 debt

To keep some level of economic activity going during virus-containment lockdowns, the Government has increased its spending, building up high levels of debt.

It is natural then, for the public to question candidates about where the revenue is coming from to pay off the huge debt accrued from policies to subsidise wages and benefits.

Integrity is the best antidote for corruption. It is time for political parties to prioritise building stronger integrity systems as part of their own strategies. This will be proof that they really understand the nature of corruption and could make a difference if they were in Government.

Organisations, countries and our political parties benefit from strong integrity systems through a quality reputation, lower costs, increased investment, committed staff, loyal customers, lower cost of capital and easier market access. Our political parties and politicians must recognise and communicate to their constituents the essential role integrity will play in paying off that debt.

When you get into a crisis, your credibility is your best asset.

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

If by the time the next election comes around our political parties are prioritising corruption prevention through stronger integrity systems, we can expect an economy growing fast enough to repay debt AND provide the financial support for businesses to be sustainable and grow new jobs.

Suzanne Snively, ONZM

Chair

Transparency International New Zealand Inc.

Transparency questionnaire for 2020 General Election: Commentary on political party responses

by TINZ Elections Team

Transparency International New Zealand (TINZ) posed seven questions to political parties on topics of transparency.

TINZ first asked each party how they will address corruption during the post pandemic recovery. Then about political party and campaign funding, their code of ethics, protection for whistleblowers, United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, open government and beneficial ownership. 

This article contains our commentary about the responses to each question and TINZ’s assessment about the answers of each political party. 

TINZ thanks all 10 participating political parties for making the effort to respond to its 7 questions. Thanks also to Anne Gilbert, our Public Sector Project Manager for her initiative in collecting the responses.

This was a tough ask when the campaign period is as short as it is and when, in most cases, parties’ own internal practice lacks many of the formal processes that shape integrity systems. For example, the responses from party organisations showed they have limited codes of ethics and few specific anti-corruption policies.

We asked each political party to respond to these 7 questions on the basis that their responses be published verbatim. Accordingly, the parties’ responses published in Election 2020 questionnaire responses are “all their own words”.

Readers have an opportunity to open the link and form their own view of these responses.

TINZ Commentary

Below is a high-level assessment of the parties’ responses.

TINZ remains concerned that political parties are largely unaware of New Zealand’s vulnerability to the impact of corruption originating from overseas. They are generally naive about: 

  • how our international reputation for strong integrity attracts the corrupt on one hand,
  • while on the positive side, strengthening New Zealand’s integrity systems to prevent this corruption has the potential to accrue value to their constituencies and to our economy.

The answers as written, portray a dangerous lack of awareness by all political parties of the damage that could be done to New Zealand’s reputation through government failure to recognise and protect our country against offshore corrupt practice.

Commentary about the 7 questions

Post pandemic recovery

With the COVID-19 crisis top of mind and the economic recovery a hot topic, political parties appear to be largely unaware of the propensity for external flows of illicit funds to hide behind any crisis. As has been seen from the cyber corruption faced by the NZX, this can interfere with the operations of local organisations. Loose beneficial ownership regulation impacts the local economy and dampens recovery by driving up prices of local housing, commercial property, and high valued goods.

The political party answers to the first question about dealing with corruption during the post pandemic recovery reflect some knowledge about local anti-corruption processes but limited knowledge about the nature of the overseas corruption threat.

Political party and campaign funding 

While the answers about political party and campaign funding show a far deeper understanding of current laws than in previous years, there is a disappointing lack of ambition to address gaps or concerns about foreign influence on our election.

Code of Ethics 

Also disappointing are the responses to the question about the role of a Code of Ethics. While 9 of the 10 political parties describe practices designed to ensure transparency around pecuniary interests, the Labour Party is the only party to state that it has a code of conduct for its members. The Māori Party provides references to its comprehensive constitution driven by its values proposition.

TINZ recommends that all organisations adopt Codes of Ethics, designed from the bottom up and supported by staff. This contrasts with Codes of Conduct, often dictated from the top and enforced through compliance.

Research has repeatedly demonstrated that the best antidote for corruption are strong integrity systems. Codes of Ethics provide explicit guidelines that support these systems.

Given the Debbie Francis report and the spate of activity for Parliament to adopt a Code of Conduct just before the House rose, TINZ had high expectations that political parties would be prepared and knowledgeable when responding to this question. An ideal answer would have referred both to each political party’s own code and the features the party wants to include in a Code of Ethics for Parliament.

Protection for whistle-blowers 

As the New Zealand First party says, when it comes to the protection of whistle blowers, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” 

While all ten political parties say they want to achieve protected disclosure, none provide details about what they would do other than support the key deficiencies addressed by the current bill in front of the house.

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

TINZ’s ideal answer to its question about the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) would refer to the Governance Goal 16 and a commitment to its key objectives to (i) good governance to prevent corruption and (ii) a consistent international measure to monitor levels of corruption.

Unsurprisingly, considering the lack of progress with the SDGs over the last few years, the responses to TINZ’s question about SDGs show little understanding of the issues.

Open Government

All political parties support open government.

The Labour Party response proposed a more ambitious approach to the Open Government Partnership (OGP) following the election. TINZ has been advocating for this

Other parties appear to be unaware of the specific OGP process and suggest various policies such as better access to government information as options to open up government.

Beneficial Ownership 

When it comes to beneficial ownership, the views of the different political parties are more diverse than for the other 6 topics.

The National Party cautions: “We need to carefully balance the rights of privacy with those of public disclosure…”

New Zealand First Party’s answer is closest to TINZ proposals for “better transparency around beneficial ownership of companies and trusts and the introduction of a publicly accessible register.”

Common thread of limited awareness with less complacency

A common thread that runs through the answers suggests a lack of basic knowledge about the threat of corruption and the key policies and practices required to address this threat.

The good news, however, is that all 10 parties show evidence of taking these questions seriously. There is less complacency. This is an important change in behaviour, especially given all the other things going on at this time.

While not one party would achieve an excellent grade, all the respondents would score over 50% if this was an exam.

Follow this link to the Election 2020 questionnaire responses

Political Parties’ highlight different approaches to address corruption

National

Despite major achievements in addressing corruption and a stated commitment to safeguarding New Zealand’s reputation during its previous term in office, the National Party’s answers are confined to expressing willingness to comply with anti-corruption legislation, while showing limited knowledge about the reasons that this legislation exists. 

The National Party’s approach to its candidates’ conflicts is less rigorous than the policies it imposes on public servants. Its answers to TINZ questions failed to do justice to the record of the National Government over its last 3 years in office (2014 -2017) when it ratified the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), passed major omnibus anti-corruption legislation and tightened up beneficial ownership regulation.

Labour

The Labour Party’s answers reflect ongoing activity underway to address corruption.  It has a Code of Conduct for its members.  While leading the Coalition Government, it progressed policies and practices to strengthen integrity systems such as the proactive release of cabinet papers, briefing papers, minutes and key advice for decisions that the Government made. 

Its answers also demonstrate an understanding about more transparent ways of being accountable for political party funding, improving responsiveness of official information requests, managing conflicts and strengthening protected disclosure for whistleblowers. TINZ is watching carefully to see how Labour honours its ambitions for an effective Open Government Partnership.

New Zealand First

New Zealand First Party’s answers demonstrate growing awareness of the need for greater transparency around the disclosure of party funding sources, access to official information, the need to monitor and review the effectiveness of corruption laws and of the protected disclosure law.

Greens 

The Green Party’s responses describe some of its actual achievements including pioneering the proactive release of Green Party Ministers’ diaries.  Its answers in the TINZ 2017 pre-election survey demonstrated greater knowledge than the other political parties about the UN Sustainable Development Goals and how the strong governance provision of Goal 16 could assist in preventing corruption.  It was great to see in 2017 that somebody had read the Chapter 6 ‘Conclusions and Recommendations’ in the TINZ Integrity Plus 2013 New Zealand National Integrity System Assessment

The Green Party response takes things further with its own ideas about making lobbying more transparent by requiring Ministers to include organisations consulted in Regulatory Impact Statements and explanatory notes, and, to remove lobbyists’ Parliament access cards.

ACT

The ACT Party is focussed on transparent and accountable policies to re-start the economy.

Māori Party

In the previous TINZ 2017 pre-election survey, the New Zealand Māori Party was the only party providing evidence of its own anti-corruption practices and its recognition of the role of a comprehensive national anti-corruption programme. So, it is pleasing to see in its current answers that they show an understanding of the features of a strong integrity framework.

For the 2020 post pandemic recovery, the Māori Party will ensure a dedicated and separate unit fully resourced out of the Auditor-General Office to review all procurement decisions and also resource the Serious Fraud Office.

Social Credit

The New Zealand Democratic Party for Social Credit notes the limitations of bureaucracy in enforcing anti-corruption processes. 

The Opportunities Party

TOP Party states, “To prevent risks of corruption generally within our political  system, we have called for a Royal Commission to review our electoral laws. The electoral regime is currently inadequate to safeguard against the risks of undue influence or political access being exercised by private interests.”

TOP has provided a list of topics to be addressed by the review of the legislation covering the Official Information Act (OIA). 

Vision New Zealand

For the post pandemic recovery, the Vision New Zealand Party will demand ‘transparent processes and a level playing field for all companies and contractors wishing to tender for public works contracts with a review of the current GETS tendering application process”. 

It believes that any party that is under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office should have their party funding suspended until they have been cleared of allegation.  Further, “Vision New Zealand believes the application process for new political parties, through the Electoral Commission, needs to be more robust… [with] high standards and requirements for those individuals wishing to hold office in…any potential party.”

Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party

The Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party says that cannabis prohibition arose from a “corrupted system resulting in approximately 500,000 New Zealand citizens being criminalised over 45 years.”  Because of this, the ALCP understands the need for transparent decisions to protect individual freedoms and cultures.

Deeper engagement is better for corruption prevention

Answers to the 7 questions by the 10 political parties are more informed than for the previous survey. This increased engagement with the tools for preventing corruption in New Zealand, is a major step forward.  

It is a further step forward to be able to put the policies of the 10 political parties on the record. This provides the basis for greater levels of informed debate in the future. 

TINZ is publishing the answers from these political parties on our website, in social media and in releases to public media.

Our country’s reputation and future prosperity will be the better for this. 

Follow this link to the review each political party’s Election questionnaire responses

Citizen power – building our knowledge base

Julie Haggie

TINZ CEO, and

Sam Collins

TINZ Administrator

Less political pontification due to the focus on COVID-19 may be a relief for some, but it leaves others wondering how to use their votes this year, or even whether to use them.

At TINZ we are big fans of democracy, we strongly encourage people to inform themselves and to vote. Voting is a power that each of us holds. It is our opportunity to influence those who make decisions that affect us and matter to us.

The internet has emerged as a key information source for our elections. According to data from the 2017 New Zealand Election Study, 64% of New Zealanders use the internet for information about the election, 44% often or sometimes follow election news on social media, and 25% use social media sites to promote an issue.

Below are a few online tools to help think about your priorities, learn about policies of parties, and be more savvy about who is paying to influence your voting power.

Ad Libraries

This year for the first time, people or organisations paying for Facebook advertising around political or social issues, have to register with the Facebook Ad Library. This promotes transparency within paid political advertising on Facebook.

Facebook is the largest single source of online political advertisement spending. In 2017 it was 25% of 2017 party election expense in New Zealand.

While limited, the Facebook Ad Library and Google’s similar Transparency Report are positive steps in political advertising transparency.

Are you on the Fence?

Do you want a tool to help you think about which parties align with your general political beliefs, including about the referendum on legislation around cannabis use?

On the Fence (onthefence.co.nz) is a gameful questionnaire that guides you to your best match amongst the political parties. The tool was created to lower barriers that deter young people from voting such as lack of information and lack of understanding.

Another guide for voters in general, is the TVNZ 1-News Vote Compass civic engagement tool developed by political scientists. It calculates how your political views compare with party platforms. It is the New Zealand customised version of the Vote Compass tool used by millions of people during elections over recent years in many countries.

I want to know what their policies are!

Do you want to learn about the policies of political parties? Check out The complete guide to NZ Election 2020. This is a product of Policy who, like TINZ, is non-partisan and strives to treat all parties and candidates fairly.

In the realm of transparency, look no further than TINZ’s Election 2020 questionnaire responses. TINZ made valiant efforts to engage political parties to provide answers on questions that are important to TINZ’s mission – transparency, anti corruption, public participation, political integrity and open government.

What about the referendum votes?

Referenda are a rare opportunity for citizens to directly vote on legislation. Referenda are about ‘participative democracy’ instead of ‘representative democracy’. This places a responsibility on each voter to do their homework before exercising their vote. This year NZ will have two referenda on the ballot.

On the Fence’s questions are useful to help voters work through the issues around the cannabis legalisation. The questions were designed by Massey University’s Design+Democracy Project alongside rangatahi from across Aotearoa, RNZ, Generation Zero and Platform Charitable Trust. Big ups to this public-community partnership.

The Government’s End of Life Choice referendum page contains solid non-partisan information on this referendum.

The Government’s overall referendum site has great information with links to frequently asked questions on both referendums. 

Non-partisan information in alternative question and answer formats is also available at Explainer: End of life choice referendum (Newsroom) and Explainer: Cannabis referendum (Newsroom).

Voting for the first time?

Who Targets Me – A tool we would like but can’t use… yet

Lack of usage within New Zealand prevents Who Targets Me from bringing personalised analysis to New Zealanders. Created by a UK based NGO, this browser extension tracks the ads presented to its users on Facebook, building a crowdsourced dataset of political adverts and targeting. While at last count there are only 100 users in New Zealand, it has been installed by over 30,000 users worldwide in more than 100 countries.

Democracy daily faces new risks in the digital age. Tools like ‘Who Targets Me’ are important to create an informed electorate and provide transparency around political advertising and political content.

 

 

Candidates’ Panel: Business and political integrity during COVID-19 recovery

Tuesday 6 October 2020, Wellington

5.30pm – 7.00pm followed by refreshments

Lecture Theatre One, Rutherford House, Victoria University

of Wellington, 33 Bunny Street, Pipitea, Wellington 6011

Note: this event has been rescheduled from 25 August, to align with the revised election date 17 October and the hope that we will be able to hold an in person event at that time.  If you registered for the 25 August event, you are already confirmed for the new 6 October date. Please let us know if you will be unable to make it so we can offer the seat to someone else.

Register Now!

 

How might we ensure business and political integrity in our recovery?

Join Transparency International New Zealand and the Victoria University Brian Picot Chair of Ethical Leadership, to hear the 2020 Wellington election candidates focus on business and political integrity.

Tamatha Paul, Wellington City Counsellor
Ian Fraser

Wellington City Counsellor Tamatha Paul, will MC the event. Broadcaster and political specialist Ian Fraser, will ask the hard questions.

This is not a debate. This is an opportunity for the candidates to describe what they will do to both prevent corruption and promote integrity.

Hon Grant Robertson (Labour), Fletcher Tabuteau (NZ First), Jessica Hammond (TOP), David Patterson (National) and Hon James Shaw (Green), will share their insights and perspectives on business and political integrity during our recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.

Under COVID-19 Level 1 limitations, there still are some seats available.

As New Zealand transitions from addressing the immediate COVID-19 crisis to navigating through our recovery, there is a heightened opportunity for integrity violations. The crisis has required the Government to make quick decisions and implement drastic measures to protect communities. Without resilient and robust safeguards, our recovery is vulnerable to abuse.

SEATS ARE LIMITED – SECURE YOUR SPOT HERE TODAY!

To observe COVID Alert requirements, tickets pre-registration is mandatory. 

Mary Jane Kivalu joins TINZ

Mary Jane Kivalu
Project Manager
TINZ network for South Pacific communities

Mary Jane Kivalu has joined the Transparency International New Zealand (TINZ) team as the Project Manager of our network for South Pacific communities.

She will be connecting South Pacific people and their anti-corruption communities in New Zealand and the South Pacific region, to our anti-corruption messages. The aim is to extend the reach of our common messages on the importance of integrity, accountability and transparency, within a South Pacific context.

Mary Jane is of Tongan descent; her father hails from Noapapu, Vava’u and her mother comes from Nomuka, Ha’apai. She is the second eldest of 7 children and was born and raised in Otara, South Auckland.

She currently holds roles in other sectors such as tertiary education, sports governance, community and also tertiary student networks. Mary Jane holds a Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Otago, where she is currently pursuing a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA).

During her studies, Mary Jane has held multiple roles in the Otago Tongan Students Association (OTSA), New Zealand Tongan Tertiary Students Association (NZTTSA), University of Otago Pacific Islands Students Association (UOPISA), and Tauira Pasifika (TP).

Her highlights in these roles include leading the movement that resulted in reinstating the Pacific seat back onto the Otago University Students’ Association (OUSA) Executive, and also the progressive development of the national Tongan tertiary student conference called Ama-Taki-Loa.

Mary Jane is passionate about the vision of fostering transparency in Pacific communities. “Transparency is about being honest, which is an important value for Pacific people. This network is an opportunity for our leaders to work together to foster that value in our people. We need to highlight the important purpose of transparency in supporting the greater good” says Mary Jane.

“Often the fear of exposure of truth becomes the reason behind non-transparency, which is common for humanity. But Pacific people have always been about the collective rather than individuals. When leaders realise the true impact of corruption, non-transparency and lack of integrity on our Pacific families and communities, we will be making huge progress.”

Welcome to TINZ, Mary Jane!

Parliamentary Code of Conduct

Ann Webster, TINZ Director: Focus areas: Constitution, National Integrity Systems, Parliamentary Liaison, Public Service

Ann Webster

TINZ Director with Focus areas: Constitution, Government,

National Integrity Systems, Parliamentary Liaison, Public Service

When Parliament adjourned this month for the election, the Speaker of the House, Hon Trevor Mallard gave a challenge to the five parties of the outgoing Parliament – to improve the conduct of Parliamentary business when it reconvenes after the election. He released a proposed Parliamentary Code of Conduct in July 2020, after many years of lobbying by Transparency International New Zealand (TINZ) and others. 

The code opens the door for all Parliamentarians elected in October 2020 to walk into the House ready to create a place of democratic debate based on respect for all people – and on the highest standards of integrity.

Francis Report

The genesis of the code reflects that, despite the gravitas, working in the hothouse of Parliament is brutal. Recommended by the Francis Report, the code is part of proposals to make Parliament a safer working environment, from one where unacceptable conduct had become “normalised”. The report describes Parliament as a workplace of high pressure, long hours, unusual and complex employment arrangements, intense media scrutiny and a high level of competition even within individual political parties.

This complex environment creates pressure on standards of integrity, such as the transparency of political lobbying and the funding of political parties. TINZ has been raising concerns about these and other integrity matters with Parliament, and identifying the opportunity the code provides for integrity reform.

Cross-party support

Although not compulsory nor to be put to a vote, Trevor Mallard hoped all political parties would support the code, which was drafted by a cross-party group of MPs led by the outgoing Deputy Speaker, Hon Anne Tolley.

Disappointingly, it is not yet clear that all parties expect their MPs and staff to commit to the code. Nor has agreement been reached to a further recommendation of the Francis report to establish an “Independent Commission for Parliamentary Conduct” to investigate code complaints.

Pivotal opportunity

The effectiveness of the code depends fundamentally on the conduct of MPs and others working in Parliament. But without a Commission mechanism for considering conduct concerns, its effectiveness is unclear. Until Parliament, adjourned, Mallard had signalled that he, with party whips, was prepared to be responsible for enforcement. When Parliament reconvenes following the election, the new and returning MPs will have a brief and pivotal opportunity to reshape and set a new tone for the conduct of Parliament. TINZ will be urging them to seize that chance.

Key requirements

The proposed Code, Upholding the Mana of Pāremata Aotearoa, New Zealand Parliament, asks people working in Parliament to:

  • Show that bullying and harassment, including sexual harassment, are unacceptable
  • Speak up if they observe unacceptable behaviour
  • Use their position of power or influence to help others, and avoid harm
  • Act respectfully and professionally
  • Behave fairly and genuinely, treating others the way they would like to be treated
  • Encourage diverse perspectives, and the free and frank expressions of views
  • Foster an environment where people feel safe and valued. 

Further opportunities 

The proposed code of conduct’s primary focus is to address the important issues of inappropriate sexual conduct and bullying. It is missing an opportunity to further address Parliamentary conduct by ignoring several recommendations of TINZ’s National Integrity System Assessments of 2003, 2013 and 2018.

The code of conduct needs to go further to support Parliamentary reform including:

  • ensuring lobbying transparency
  • requiring stronger independent oversight of MPs travel expenses.
  • Improving transparency in the administration of Parliament (as distinct from its legislative work). 

Procurement data must be improved

Laurence Millar
Member with Delegated Authority for Open Government

Laurence Millar

TINZ Member with Delegated Authority for Open Government

Transparency of procurement is essential for public trust in government. Open procurement was one of twelve areas of focus in the third Open Government Partnership National Action Plan (NAP3), specifically Commitment 12 – to publish the contract award notices online by June 2020.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) began publishing quarterly contract award notices online in October 2019 making the information available publicly through the Government Electronic Tenders Service (GETS).

The Government has now published a full year of data on contract award notices. Transparency International New Zealand (TINZ) has analysed information from the 2,557 contract award notices that were published as open data for the 2019-2020 year.

This analysis is made difficult by data quality issues. Specifically, too many records of awarded contracts contained:

  • A blank mandatory supplier field
  • A blank mandatory amount field
  • Incorrect information in the award field
  • Variations of the supplier company name

We found that the missing or incorrect data is often entered into the comments field. TINZ member with delegated authority Alexandra Mills, combed through the data and updated the correct fields where data was available in the comments. We have published this to an accessible list of 2,281 contracts award notices.

Even after the updates, only 35% of the contract award notices contain information on the contract value; this is despite Government Procurement Rule stating that “an agency must publish a contract award notice, including the expected spend under the contract(s), or the highest and lowest offers the agency evaluated to award the contract.

The graph below summarises the publication of contract award notices during the year – the number published (bar graphs), and the percentage that contain the contract value (trend lines). The agencies are clustered as listed below:

  • Public Service – core public service departments and ministries
  • Required – government organisations required to comply with the procurement rules
  • Other – other government organisations using GETS
GETS Contract award notices 2019-2020

We note from the graph:

  • The number of contract award notices declined sharply in the second half of the financial year. While this could be caused by the COVIS-19 pandemic, in many areas there has been a significant increase in government procurement, which should be published on GETS even if it was conducted as an emergency procurement.
  • Public service departments are better than other agencies at publishing the contract value, but still do so for less than 50% of awarded contracts.
  • There was a substantial decline in the publication of contract value in the second half of the financial year.

There is a significant opportunity for improvement in the quality of the information about contract award notices published by government. Government agencies’ level of compliance with mandatory procurement rules needs significant improvement. They need to improve the quality of information they publish on GETS. 

We have suggested to MBIE that the quality of data collected must improve before considering the Open Procurement Commitment to be successfully achieved. This is a great objective to address now, during the National Action Plan 3 COVID-19 one year extension.

We propose the following targets:

  • ‘Award’ field correctly published – Target by June 2021 98% (current 80%)
  • ‘Contract value’ published and located in the correct field – Target by June 2021 70% (current 35%). 

TINZ also supports the ongoing efforts by MBIE to improve the quality of the supplier data, such as encouraging suppliers to provide their New Zealand Business Number .

Tracking commitments – Pledge Tracker update

Julie Haggie
Chief Executive Officer
Transparency International New Zealand

Transparency International New Zealand (TINZ) recently completed its final New Zealand monitoring report for the Anti Corruption Pledge Tracker.

This civil society tool tracks the progress of how 20 governments have performed on the commitments they made at the 2016 Anti-Corruption Summit. The Tracker led by Transparency International UK (TI-UK) is a collaborative effort with Transparency International chapters or partners in each relevant country.

As this was the final Tracker, TINZ took an overall look at the pledges, and agreed that despite good progress across all of the commitments, there is still work to do.

Asset recovery is one area where New Zealand has made progress, with good cooperation between New Zealand agencies as well as with overseas enforcement agencies. One notable result is that during lockdown, the NZ Police froze NZD140 million from Canton Business Corporation and its owner Alexander Vinnik who were holding funds in a New Zealand company. It is alleged Vinnik operated this company from the United States. This is the largest restraint of funds in New Zealand Police history. Vinnik was arrested on money laundering allegations in Greece in 2017 and has since been extradited to France where he remains in custody.

There has been some – but insufficient – overall progress is in Sports Integrity. New Zealand is working closely with the World Anti-Doping Agency to protect the international anti-doping system from corruption. However we have not yet joined the International Sports Integrity Partnership.

New Zealand’s commitment towards implementation of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption is also ongoing. There has been good progress in several areas, but plenty of room remains to more fully meet our commitments. One area in particular is the need for more transparency of beneficial ownership.

The final tracker will be published later this year.

A distant dream – Watch this space – Exporting Corruption webinar

Foreign bribery has huge consequences for both payer and recipient. Money lost to foreign bribes triggers unfair competitive advantages and results in fewer public resources for the people who need them most. Exporting Corruption is a biennial report that rates the performance of 44 leading global exporters. It includes 40 countries that are signatories of Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Anti-Bribery Convention. It shows how well – or poorly – countries are enforcing the rules. More than 20 years after this international law was adopted, a corruption-free, level playing field for global trade is still a distant dream.

Transparency International New Zealand (TINZ) will host a free webinar in October, for the launch of this year’s Exporting Corruption Report. This will focus on Australasian results, with presentations from Professor John Hopkins, the author of the NZ chapter in the report, and Serena Lilywhite, CEO of Transparency International Australia. We will also receive a global view from Gillian Dell, Head of Conventions Unit, at the International Secretariat of Transparency International in Berlin. There will be time for Q&A.

Attend this webinar if you are interested in combating foreign bribery to enable a fair playing field for international trade. We will keep you informed of the date and the link. CPD certificates will be available to attendees after the event.

Ethical Leadership in a Changing World – Massive Open Online Course starts again on 30 September

Last year around 3,500 learners from 144 countries or territories enrolled in Victoria University of Wellington (VUW)’s free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), Ethical Leadership in a Changing World. The MOOC was so popular that it will be run again from 30 September 2020.

Enrol now via: www.edx.org/course/ethical-leadership-in-a-changing-world.

This MOOC draws on case studies from New Zealand, which is ranked the world’s least corrupt country (along with Denmark) in Transparency International’s 2019 Corruption Perception Index. It offers a unique New Zealand perspective to learn from.

Partnered with online course provider edX and developed by VUW’s Brian Picot Chair of Ethical Leadership, the course provides an introduction to the theories and practices of ethical leadership, with a focus on organisations. Drawing on New Zealand case studies, the course will enable learners to recognise the role of ethics in organisational decision-making, analyse the actions of leaders from an ethical perspective, and become an ethical leader themselves.

Professor Karin Lasthuizen, Brian Picot Chair of Ethical Leadership, says, “integrity and care tend to be core values in business dealings in New Zealand and this course recognises that ethical leadership has to be underpinned by the values that are unique to each country.”

All types of learners, students and professionals are encouraged to take part in this free course.

The second edition of the edX Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) ‘Ethical Leadership in a Changing World’ goes live on 30 September 2020.

Please sign up through edX for this free course.

Training webinar: The Role of Internal Audit in Fraud Risk Management

The Institute of Internal Auditors New Zealand is hosting a training webinar Raising the Bar on Anti-Fraud: The Role of Internal Audit in Fraud Risk Management.

It will present findings from a recent global IIA/Kroll fraud risk survey. The presentations will be followed by a panel discussion.

The findings include perceptions of the effectiveness of fraud risk management programmes, the role of internal audit in fraud risk management (including prevention, detection and response), the tools used in the fight against fraud, instances of fraud versus perception, tone from the top, and resourcing for successful fraud risk management.  

Date 23 September 2020
Time 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm
Delivery Method – Zoom
Facilitator – IIA NZ & Kroll
Duration & CPE: 1.00 hours

For registration and details, visit the IIA NZ website.

IIA NZ is an Affiliate of Transparency International New Zealand. 

Sustainable Development Goals: Panel discussion 25 September

It is 5 years this month since the leaders of the world committed to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

To mark this milestone, United Nations Association of New Zealand (UNA NZ), an Affiliate of TINZ, is hosting a 5-day SDGs campaign from 21 – 25 September. The campaign aims to raise awareness of, encourage engagement with, and celebrate progress already made towards, the SDGs.

The campaign will culminate in an UNA NZ panel event co-hosted by SDG.org.nz and Victoria University of Wellington School of Governance:

Friday 25 September, 5:00-7:00 pm
Rutherford House Lecture theatre 1 (RHLT1),
33 Bunny Street, Wellington
Tickets available here.

This event seeks to connect those who have worked towards the SDGs or have recently been inspired into action. There will be a panel of people who have engaged with the SDGs in a variety of ways including through business, academia and policy.

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.

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

Submissions currently being sought

The following two centralised websites invite and facilitate public submissions on a variety of legislation, policies, levies, plans and projects currently being processed under, and beyond COVID-19 restrictions. They also provide updates about progress for recently closed submissions:

Unfortunately some government agencies still choose not to utilise the above websites, and instead advertise their public feedback invitations only within their own websites. 

The following invitations 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. 

 

Reserve Bank Act Review – Consultation phase 3

  • Deadline: extended to Friday 23 October
  • Submissions are invited by The Treasury 
  • This consultation is on the regulation of deposit takers and the introduction of a deposit insurance scheme to ensure that the framework within which the banking sector is regulated and supervised, enables the Reserve Bank to perform its role effectively

Protected Disclosures (Protection of Whistleblowers) Bill

Overseas Investment Amendment Bill (No 3)

  • Deadline: (extended – to be confirmed at later date)
  • Submissions are invited by The Finance and Expenditure Committee
  • The purpose of this bill is to ensure that risks posed by foreign investment can be managed effectively while better supporting productive overseas investment by reducing the regulatory burden of the screening process

Election 2020 questionnaire responses

Transparency International New Zealand (TINZ) posed seven key questions to political parties on issues of transparency, anti-corruption and protection for whistleblowers.

We asked each party to respond to each of our seven questions – on the basis that we would publish their responses verbatim. Accordingly, the parties’ responses compiled below are “all their own words”. It is up to the public and individual citizens to form their own view on these responses.

The questions were sent to all political parties registered with the Electoral Commission, in June. The responses are arranged by the current number of seats held in the recently dissolved Parliament.

Jump to a question: Post pandemic recovery| Political party and campaign funding| Code of Ethics| Protection for whistle-blowers| United Nations Sustainable Development Goals| Open government| Beneficial Ownership

 


Post pandemic recovery

Post pandemic recovery – As New Zealand moves through response to and recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic what steps will your party take, if in government, to:

  • Prevent corruption – the misuse of public funds for personal gain – in response and recovery activities?

  • Deliver relief transparently so the basis on which the Government arrived at its decisions are clear and open?

  • Protect democracy, individual freedoms and respect cultural practices?

NationalNational logo

A high standard of transparency and probity is required in the terms of billions of public money being spent on the Covid-19 pandemic and related economic recovery. Funding needs to be open and specific. Watchdogs like the AG and SFO need to be properly resourced. We need to maximise the protection of NZer’s fundamental freedoms within the constraints of keeping NZ free of Covid-19.

LabourLabour logo

Although trust in Government has remained high throughout our response to COVID-19, we recognise these are exceptional circumstances. In order to maintain that level of trust, the Government must continue to display transparency in decision-making, be accountable, and be effective in our fight against the virus.

Any response and recovery spending will be subject to oversight and scrutiny. For example all projects funded through the Infrastructure Reference Group process have been subject to due diligence checks by Government agencies, Crown Infrastructure Partners will provide regular reporting on the projects to Ministers and Treasury, and the Auditor-General has the ability to scrutinise any financial decisions made.

We are proactively making available the papers, minutes, and key advice for decisions the Government has made relating to COVID-19 including the economic recovery to provide transparency and these are available here: https://covid19.govt.nz/updates-and-resources/legislation-and-key-documents/proactive-release/.

The Prime Minister delayed the election until October 17, to protect democracy and maintain the integrity of the electoral process. This move intends to ensure all parties have the opportunity to campaign, outside of Alert Level 3 or 4 restrictions.

We will continue our work next term to protect democracy, individual freedoms and respect cultural practices.

New Zealand FirstNew Zealand First logo

New Zealand First, if in government, will look at maintaining the high level of transparency that the present government has already shown through very clear public communication of problems, health and economic risks, as well as maintain our fidelity to the proactive release of Cabinet decision making. Systems already in place, such as IRD audit processes, will assist in detecting corruption such as wrongly claiming the Wage Subsidy when not qualified. Same commitment to the honest conveying of information during COVID that has been a hallmark of the government. Will also monitor closely any incorrect or abused use of personal health information, especially in regard to any regulation around possible contact tracing electronic processes

Green PartyGreen Party logo

The Green Party will continue to prioritise transparency and accountability measures. We pioneered the proactive release of Green Party Ministers’ diaries, which was eventually taken up by all Government Ministers. We also saw the implementation of a longstanding Green Party policy that Cabinet papers are consistently proactively released.

ACT PartyACT Party logo

ACT’s fundamental principles are based upon individual freedoms. In response to COVID we have lost sight of the many costs imposed by lockdowns that are unaffordable. We need a well organised government response with government as a referee, not a player. ACT’s alternative budget transparently outlines our plan to deliver relief and restart the economy.

Māori Party Maori Party  logo

The Māori Party will ensure a dedicated and Separate Unit fully resourced will be set up out of The Auditor General Office to review all Procurement decisions. In addition, the Serious Fraud Office will be resourced to carry out a large number of searches and reviews. All whistle blowers will be provided with full anonymity and protection.

Social CreditSocial Credit logo

A greater level of prevention against the misuse of public funds for personal gain in the current situation would require an army of bureaucracy and is not justified. Spot checks are being carried out, and large payments audited. The processes being adopted a present adequately address the questions raised.

The Opportunities Party The Opportunities Party  logo

To prevent risks of corruption generally within our political system, we have called for a Royal Commission to review our electoral laws. The electoral regime is currently inadequate to safeguard against the risks of undue influence or political access being exercised by private interests.

Improving transparency over government decision-making is essential. In particular, a significant issue with the recovery is the huge amount of infrastructure spending. This is hugely expensive and will have an impact on Kiwis for generations. Infrastructure decisions should not be made by politicians behind closed doors. TOP would ensure there is transparent, independent information on each decision, covering the economic, social, cultural and environmental impacts (including emissions).

TOP would also reform the Official Information Act, to provide more effective oversight by the Ombudsman, ensure that we have a truly independent public service (by getting rid of no surprises) and restarting a conversation on a written Constitution to better protect individual rights and honour the Treaty.

Vision New ZealandVision New Zealand logo

  • Vision New Zealand will demand ‘transparent processes and a level playing field for all companies and contractors wishing to tender for public works contracts with a review of the current GETS tendering application process. New Zealand companies will be favoured over international companies. (nzherald.co.nz, 3rd Jun 2020, “NZ Firms Fletcher & Downer fuming as 371m Govt Kiwirail contract goes overseas”)
  • Vision New Zealand will seek to have the Treaty of Waitangi as the foundational document for Constitutional Democracy in New Zealand.

Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis PartyAotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party logo

Cannabis prohibition arose from unjust, unscientific and corrupted system resulting in approximately 500,000 New Zealand citizens being criminalised over 45 years. The ALCP understands the need for transparent clear and open decisions, to have sound democratic systems, protecting freedoms, respecting cultures, resulting in good response and recovery for disasters including prohibition.

 

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Political party and campaign funding

Political party and campaign funding – What specific actions does your party plan to take (for this and future elections) to:

  • Ensure complete transparency of campaign funding from all sources?

  • Minimise the influence of money given in expectation of actions?

  • Address the threat of foreign influence in our political process?

NationalNational logo

National is committed to full compliance with the Electoral Law on campaign and party donations. We keep a clear separation between party officials fundraising and the policy work of MPs. We will advance the recommendations of the Justice Select Committee and others to protect New Zealand from foreign interference in our democracy.

LabourLabour logo

The inquiry into the 2017 General Election enabled a thorough investigation into political party donations, potential foreign interference, and data collection vulnerabilities. A number of recommendations were produced by the Justice Select Committee’s work in this inquiry that were considered by Government.

One of the outcomes of the inquiry was the Government’s ban on foreign donations of more than $50, and greater responsibility on party secretaries to check the origin of donations.

We will look at how we can strengthen the Electoral Act and its provisions following the 2020 election which will include looking at the recommendations of the Justice Committee report as well as modernising the Act.

New Zealand FirstNew Zealand First logo

Following the SFO investigation into donations the party has reviewed its processes with any donations now clearly and transparently being submitted to the NZF Party. Despite media perceptions, NZF has never sold policy for donations. The reality is that institutional checks and balances – such as consultation between parties in government, cabinet committee processes, as well as the full Cabinet process – means that there are robust processes to ensure public policy settings have integrity. These processes protect political actors and provide the break between donor expectations and public policy outcomes. Regarding foreign interference, NZF has pushed the system hard to respond to what we see as a pernicious and growing threat. Work streams are now dedicated to improving our system’s readiness and capacity and ability to respond to foreign interference. That said, we think New Zealand is behind the curve to where it needs to be and playing catch up poses its own risk.

Green PartyGreen Party logo

The Green Party is concerned about the impact of big money in politics. Green MP, Golriz Ghahraman has a Member’s Bill to cap all annual candidate and party donations and to drastically reduce the anonymity threshold to reduce anonymous donations from both domestic and overseas sources.

ACT PartyACT Party logo

Political contributions should continue to be disclosed as they are required to now. Any concern about foreign interference or influence of campaign funding must be considered soberly and be given thorough consideration through a proper parliamentary process.

Māori Party Maori Party  logo

Total disclosure of all funds received by a party, a candidate and all related parties must be declared in this age of infometrics and digital reportage this is no longer onerous. Consequently, there are no thresholds and every cent should be disclosed. Finally, we want all political parties must receive a fair broadcasting allocation, rather than the present model that favours a First Past the Post preference to the two large parties.

Social CreditSocial Credit logo

All donations of $500 or more to candidates, MP’s or parties will have to be disclosed to the Electoral Commission. MP’s and Parliamentary Service staff will be required to disclose their financial affairs to the Auditor General to ensure there is no conflict of interest between their private affairs and their public duties.

The Opportunities Party The Opportunities Party  logo

TOP is funded by small, individual donations which prevents undue influence from any particular wealthy donor (unlike for many other the other political parties, who rely on significant donations from a small number of donors). When TOP receives donations, donors are also required to provide their full names.

TOP has called for a Royal Commission into electoral funding as we believe the current system is broken. In particular, we would like the Commission consider whether donations should be limited to citizens only, as well as an annual donations cap (as we have seen in Canada, where they have a cap of about $1,900 NZD per year that can be made to political parties, and caps at the same level for donations to candidates and third parties). A donations cap at a level that is considered to be reasonably within the reach of the average citizen would mitigate against what are currently significant inequalities of access and influence experienced by the wealthy donors compared to ordinary citizens.

There currently remains a significant loophole in electoral rules that enables foreign funds to be channelled to political parties: foreign owned but New Zealand registered companies can direct donations to political parties. If donations were restricted to citizens only, preventing foreign influence could be strengthened.

Vision New ZealandVision New Zealand logo

  • Vision New Zealand believes any party that is under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office should have their party funding suspended till they have been cleared of allegations.
  • Vision New Zealand believes the application process for new political parties, through the Electoral Commission, needs to be more robust and now set high standards and requirements for those individuals wishing to hold office in the leadership, administration and management of any potential party.

Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis PartyAotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party logo

It is vital campaign funding sources are publicly available so people can make informed choices. The practice for money to be given in expectations of actions should be stopped. It creates an uneven playing field between rich and poor, giving advantage to wealthy. No to foreign influence in our politics.

 

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Code of Ethics

Code of Ethics – Describe the guidelines your party provides to members regarding:

  • Commitment to ethical standards to guide the behaviour of your candidates and elected officials?

  • Rules around accepting funds, gifts and invitations to social events and entertainment?

  • A requirement for your members and your campaigns to use social media with integrity and honesty and to prevent misinformation?

  • A commitment to a statutory Code of Practice about the use of personal data in political campaigns?

  • A mandate for candidates and elected members to publish a full list of all of their beneficial interests and declare conflicts where/when they may arise?

  • Transparency in MP diaries and lobbying contacts?

NationalNational logo

National MP’s fully comply with the requirements we introduced in Government requiring an annual pecuniary interest register. This ensures transparency around gifts, travel and other interests.

National ensures it complies with the Privacy Act, Electoral Act, and Advertising Standards in its campaign activities. We are cautious of Government extending its role into censoring political commentary and opinions because of the risks to freedom of speech.

LabourLabour logo

A Parliamentary Code of Conduct was introduced, in the wake of the Debbie Francis Report. This is being firmly enforced by our Government members, in a concerted effort to improve workplace behaviour and hold those in positions of power to account.

To support this work, enhanced training is also being provided to ensure behaviour and practice expectations are met by MPs and staff. On 10 December 2018, the Government announced that summary information from Ministerial diaries would be routinely released from January 2019 onwards. This information relates to ministerial business including meetings with other Ministers and government officials, and meetings held outside New Zealand and are freely available online.

This followed the September announcement that the Government would be proactively releasing Cabinet papers. Part of the Government’s wider plan to improve openness, this action also reflects our commitment to the international Open Government Partnership.

Labour also has a code of conduct for our members which applies to our candidates and elected MPs as well to ensure a high standard of behaviour.

New Zealand FirstNew Zealand First logo

NZF has clear written guidelines for all its candidates and elected officials to set expectations of proper and prudent conduct across those dimensions raised above. It also possesses control mechanisms to ensure social media information doesn’t stretch the boundary of truth-telling beyond normal political marketing allows.

Green PartyGreen Party logo

Along with being the first to proactively release Ministerial diaries, Green MPs have a policy of not accepting corporate hospitality such as event tickets. The Green Party consistently sets a high standard on ethics, including an ethics committee assessing whether to accept larger donations and being the first party in Aotearoa to sign-up to Facebook’s transparent advertising rules.

ACT PartyACT Party logo

ACT maintains a high standard of ethics and principles in how it operates. All our candidates follow these standards of behaviour and would carry these standards through should they become MPs. We expect all our candidates and party officials to conduct themselves to the high standard the public would expect them to adhere to.

Māori Party Maori Party  logo

We refer you to our comprehensive constitution which is driven by our significant ethical values propositions.

We have no problem in ensuring full disclosure of all our candidates financial positions once elected to parliament.

Social CreditSocial Credit logo

50 words to respond to 7 questions is a ludicrous expectation.

The Opportunities Party The Opportunities Party  logo

One of our core values is Tika & Pono – doing what is right.

We are focussed on telling the truth and being transparent. Our policy is evidence based. TOP’s Constitution maintains an independent Policy Committee to ensure this is the case.

We believe in data sovereignty and so TOP would willingly commit to a Code of Practice around the use of personal data.

If elected into Parliament our MPs will operate in a completely transparent way with respect to diaries, to ensure all meetings and attendees are recorded, and beneficial interests are public.

Vision New ZealandVision New Zealand logo

As a new political party Vision New Zealand has had the opportunity to establish an infrastructure that includes guidelines, checks and balances to ensure that the integrity of the party, the behaviour of its office holders and candidates will remain at a standard that would be expected of its membership base.

Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis PartyAotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party logo

When a member signs up, they take a pledge for good honourable behaviour. They are also given the Electoral Commission Candidate rule book to understand legal obligations required. Everyone is taken in good faith, but if a problem or issue arises, we deal with it on a case by case basis.

 

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Protection for whistle-blowers

Protection for whistle-blowers – Regarding whistle-blowers and protected disclosure, if your party becomes government:

  • What measures will you take to strengthen the Protected Disclosure Act 2000?

  • What policy will your party promote to support legitimate whistle-blowers and protect them from the negative impacts of speaking out?

NationalNational logo

Legislative support is one mechanism for ensuring people who disclose wrong doing are protected. We also need to ensure we have strong independent institutions like the SFO, AG and police for investigating and prosecuting services wrong doing.

LabourLabour logo

It is crucial that working people feel safe to report cases of serious misconduct. Labour will replace the 2000 Act with a strengthened Protected Disclosures (Protection of Whistleblowers) Act to provide better protection for whistleblowers.

We have already begun this process by introducing a Bill that addresses the key deficiencies in the Act by:

  • Allowing people to report serious wrongdoing direct to an external authority if they wish;
  • Strengthening protection for disclosers by outlining what those receiving disclosures must do;
  • Requiring public sector organisations to provide support for disclosers;
  • Extending the coverage of serious wrongdoing to include misuse of public funds or public authority by non-government organisations;
  • Requiring public sector organisations to state in their published internal procedures how support for disclosers will be provided; and
  • Making it clear what behaviour is not acceptable by specifying a range of potential forms of retaliation against a discloser that are prohibited.

New Zealand FirstNew Zealand First logo

NZF supports the Protected Disclosure Act 2000 although it is concerned that the road to hell is often paved with good intentions. We would like to see frequent reviews of the Act to ensure that it is actually working. The concern here is that formal processes can create their own barriers to greater whistle-blowing, hence the need to analyse how effectively the act is working. We see the role played by whistle-blowers as an essential one in our democratic firmament.

Green PartyGreen Party logo

The Green Party supports the Protected Disclosures (Protection of Whistleblowers) Bill and will push for this to be as practical as possible to give whistle-blowers confidence to come forward. There also needs to be priority placed next term on the second phase of work on protected disclosure reform.

ACT PartyACT Party logo

Every citizen, including activists and whistleblowers, should be free to express themselves without being intimidated by the state. ACT supports whistleblower protection for people who expose issues of wrongdoing, corruption or criminal activity in both the private sector and public institutions.

Māori Party Maori Party  logo

There can be no transparency unless whistle blowers are protected and we would go further rewarded for information leading to any prosecutions in regards to secret transactions or the utilisation of a person in a special relationship using that relationship to advance either themselves or those connected with them. Accordingly, we would upgrade the present whistle blower’s legislation to assert our standards of ethics.

Social CreditSocial Credit logo

We would ensure that anyone who makes a protected disclosure of information and who claims to have suffered retaliatory action of any kind is supported by the crown both with expertise and funding in taking a personal grievance claim. We would strengthen the Bill of Rights.

The Opportunities Party The Opportunities Party  logo

The public service should serve the public, not the interests of Ministers. The independence of the public service should be enshrined in our Constitution, and conventions that prevent it (such as no surprises or the current approach to CE contracts) should be stopped.

Vision New ZealandVision New Zealand logo

Vision New Zealand does not advocate trial by media and people or political parties using the media to create an air of uncertainty around disclosures made by legitimate whistle-blowers or about whistle-blowers themselves. We believe it is in the public interest that public sector employees, who become legitimate whistle-blowers, should be given more support and protection.

Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis PartyAotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party logo

The ALCP understands the importance for protection of whistle-blowers. Cannabis prohibition creates the ‘fear factor’ of speaking out. When people stood up for cannabis consumer rights, they risked getting a police visit. That is why even today, we have difficulties finding people who will speak out on this topic.

 

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United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs)

  • How does your party prioritise the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals ​(UN SDGs)?

  • What particular plans do you have to address Sustainable Development Goal # 16 – to develop strong governance across public and private entities to prevent corruption?

NationalNational logo

The UN SDG’s are useful global goals for human development but tend to be very broad whereas National seeks to improve NZer’s living standards with more specific NZ goals.

The key policy for reducing corruption is strong independent institutions that have the resources and skills to investigate and prosecute corruption. We do not support the SFO being folded into the Police. We do support strengthening the SSC in the public sector practically in requiring all public servants to have a duty to wisely and effectively spend public funds.

LabourLabour logo

Sustainable development is a priority concern to our Government in all relevant policies; it is essential for New Zealand’s success, security, and welfare to ensure that of our Pacific neighbours also.

Initiatives we have worked on under SDG 16 relating to governance include proactively releasing Cabinet papers, improving access to justice, and anti-money laundering.

This Government supports MFAT’s six priorities for policy work:

  • Advocate, at the global level, for policies that support sustainable development in small island developing states.
  • Engage with Pacific partners on economic and social policies that promote sustainable development and effective implementation.
  • Work with partners to improve donor coordination in the Pacific.
  • Strengthen the development impact of New Zealand’s domestic and international policy positions.
  • Work with the Pacific to develop effective regional approaches to regional issues.
  • Negotiate and implement policy agreements that improve the ability of Pacific Island countries to trade in goods, services and labour.

New Zealand FirstNew Zealand First logo

NZF fully supports the UN Sustainable Development goals. We see these promoted in bi-lateral and multi-lateral engagement, through governmental and NGO advocacy and of course it is a staple of New Zealand’s foreign policy, whether in regional and multi-lateral forums and particularly through our aide programme (e.g., the Pacific Reset and transformative increase in ODA under Foreign Minister Peters.

Green PartyGreen Party logo

Sustainable Development Goals. Goal # 16 also covers inclusive institutions, and we are on track to our goal of 50% women on state sector boards. On preventing corruption, our policy includes a code of corporate responsibility.

ACT PartyACT Party logo

New Zealand is currently ranked number one on Transparency International’s corruption index. Our ranking is a reflection of the strong systems and processes we have in place to deal with issues of corruption. ACT’s comprehensive policy platform that we campaign on determines our priorities in the next parliament.

Māori Party Maori Party  logo

Regretfully public servants in this country since the State Sector Reform of the late 1980s and early 1990s, has seen a significant shift of constant authority and power in government move from the executive legislature and courts to an unelected group of senior civil servants that appear to be above reproach. The State Sector Act must be amended to ensure that civil claims by citizens can be taken against Civil servants given the lack of oversight from a political perspective of these bureaucrats that control the distribution of billions of dollars of contracts.

Social CreditSocial Credit logo

Social Credit’s monetary reform policies will make more impact on the majority of the UNSDGs than any other actions.

The Opportunities Party The Opportunities Party  logo

TOP’s policies are aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals.

In terms of reducing corruption, we stand for greater transparency at every level of Government.

In particular:

  • The OIA needs amending to give the Ombudsman teeth,
  • The public service and public should be surveyed about their perceptions of the independence of the public service,
  • No surprises should be dropped,
  • The independence of the public service needs to be enshrined in a Constitution and
  • The Government needs to make a full commitment to Open Government.

Vision New ZealandVision New Zealand logo

Vision New Zealand favours a post-Covid reset, resulting in a cessation of policy driven from outside New Zealand to policy that is driven by ‘whakamana hapu’ advancing and supporting the health, wealth and wellbeing of the Kiwi Intergenerational Family. Policy that is culturally and socially relevant and responsive for present and future generations.

Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis PartyAotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party logo

Sustainable development is the central platform of our policies for recreational, medicinal cannabis and industrial hemp. Cannabis is fast growing renewable resource supplying all humanities’ needs – Housing, clothing, paper, plastic, food, beauty products, fuel and much more, including saving forests, rivers and air. ALCP supports transparent governance to prevent corruption.

 

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Open government

Open government – If your party is in government from September:

  • What will be your top three transformational actions under the Open Government Partnership?

  • Describe policies you will promote to improve the Official Information Act and how agencies adhere to it?

NationalNational logo

The open Govt Partnership requires a genuine commitment for public agencies to comply. Our concern is that the practise of so many public agencies is to find reasons not to share information. Our top priority would be to improve the culture of public agencies.

The official Information Act is in need of reform. National wants to see improved compliance with required timeframes and less use of exclusions.

LabourLabour logo

We are currently consulting with the public on what should be included in the Open Government Partnership priorities for our action plan next term. The IRM design report recommendations include reforming official information laws, civics education, and strengthening public-media reporting. You can see more about the proposed action plan and have your say here: https://ogp.org.nz/new-zealands-plan/fourth-national-action-plan/.

New Zealand FirstNew Zealand First logo

NZF fully supports the Open Government Partnership. We would look to the improving public understanding in parliament, bolstering the School Leaver’s Toolkit, and improving the monitoring function and performance of public body information management practices as our focus in the 53rd parliament. Regarding the Official Information Act. It needs a thorough overhaul. From a governmental perspective, the Act is functioning on its supply side, but any with experience in government will say that the demand side of the OIA – that is, the burden it places on resourcing for, frequently, mendacious and/or frivolous official information requests, seriously impacts and detracts from the other policy and political work required in ministerial offices.

Green PartyGreen Party logo

The pathway to transformational open government changes exists in our current OGP National Action Plan but there are commitments that are not being met. The Greens would hold a citizens’ assembly on public funding of election campaigns to meet Commitment 5 and also investigate citizens’ bills being debated in Parliament. The Greens would prioritise OIA reform, both legislative and cultural changes, to meet Commitment 7.

ACT PartyACT Party logo

ACT believes in an open and transparent government. While OIA requests are one element of transparency, Parliament is also fundamental to providing scrutiny over government decisions. A strong functioning Parliament holds the government of the day accountable which will be particularly critical as we manage COVID-19.

Māori Party Maori Party  logo

Firstly, to resource a separate unit out of the auditor general’s office working in close liaison with the Serious Fraud Office in running constant vetting of Crown Procurement processes and personalities.

Secondly to upgrade the protection and reward of whistle blowers.

Thirdly to make accountable senior civil servants for the failure in delivery of any procurement made by them that fails for want of appropriate probity on their part.

Social CreditSocial Credit logo

We’d provide Parliamentary committees and their members with effective power of investigation, and implement Binding Citizen’s Referenda and Recall. We would reduce the grounds for withholding and redacting information and shorten the time frame for responses. If more staff were needed to meet those requirements, they would be employed.

The Opportunities Party The Opportunities Party  logo

All Government reporting data should be digitised, anonymised and made public for research, including Local Government consent monitoring.

All Cabinet papers and Ministerial advice should be made public as soon as possible as a matter of course.

All major infrastructure projects should be independently evaluated in a comparable way across economic, social, cultural and environmental criteria. This information should be open to the public to allow them to compare what is and isn’t funded. (As Treasury CBAX data improves, eventually this could be expanded to all government spending).

The OIA needs to give the Ombudsman teeth if breaches are found.

Vision New ZealandVision New Zealand logo

  • Vision New Zealand would seek to implement our Whakamana Whanau – Family Empowerment Policy
  • Close New Zealand’s international boarders for 24 months
  • Vision New Zealand will seek to institute Binding Referenda for those issues that Parties had not campaigned on or issues that are of a moral nature.

Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis PartyAotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party logo

Sustainable development is the central platform of our policies for recreational, medicinal cannabis and industrial hemp. Cannabis is fast growing renewable resource supplying all humanities’ needs – Housing, clothing, paper, plastic, food, beauty products, fuel and much more, including saving forests, rivers and air. ALCP supports transparent governance to prevent corruption.

 

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Beneficial Ownership

Beneficial Ownership

  • What is your party’s position on improving transparency around beneficial ownership of companies and trusts?

  • Does your party support the introduction of a publicly accessible register (or registers) of beneficial ownership for companies and/or trusts?

NationalNational logo

National is open to improving transparency around the beneficial ownership of companies and trusts and a public register.

We need to carefully balance the rights of privacy with those of public disclosure. A key issue is the scale of and thresholds of such entities.

LabourLabour logo

Improving the transparency of the beneficial ownership of New Zealand companies and limited partnerships remains a priority for Labour.

New Zealand FirstNew Zealand First logo

NZF does support better transparency around beneficial ownership of companies and trusts and the introduction of a publicly accessible register.

Green PartyGreen Party logo

Some trusts have legitimate uses, but too many of them are used to try to avoid tax or other legal responsibilities. Our net wealth tax, which covers individual wealth held in private trusts, will help address these issues and a register of beneficial ownership could be part of the enforcement.

ACT PartyACT Party logo

As mentioned previously ACT supports transparency of government in the decisions it makes. With respect to private individuals and private companies they should be able to maintain their privacy.

Māori Party Maori Party  logo

Our party requires full disclosure of all beneficial ownerships and interests across any level entity where they may vest.

Social CreditSocial Credit logo

We will require all registered companies to publicly display their relationship with all their associate companies and subsidiaries. Nominee shareholders in public companies will not be allowed.

The Opportunities Party The Opportunities Party logo

TOP supports full transparency of beneficial ownership of businesses and trusts including a publicly accessible register.

Vision New ZealandVision New Zealand logo

  • Vision New Zealand advocates investigation of the effectiveness of a publicly accessible register
  • Vision New Zealand believes there needs to be legislation that protects New Zealand from international companies using New Zealand Maori names in their company name. Thereby creating transparency around foreign ownership and the destination of those company profits.

Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis PartyAotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party logo

Yes the ALCP supports the introduction of a publicly accessible register (or registers) of beneficial ownership for companies and or trusts. Transparency is vital for strong systems of democracy. We have the democratic right to know our systems. Voting Yes in Referendum will help develop a better system for cannabis consumers

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