Hon. Grant Robertson presenting to Budget 2019 media lock-up

Wellbeing budget gold nuggets of transparency and accountability

David Dunsheath

TINZ Member with Delegated Authority for Open Government

Transparency Times Newsletter Co-editor

The Coalition Government’s Wellbeing Budget 2019 was announced on 30 May as reported in the June edition of Transparency Times. It contains various initiatives to enhance transparency and accountability in our nation which are summarised below.

Wellbeing Indicators

The Budget document reminds readers of the Treasury’s ‘Living Standards Framework’ (LSF) which is structured around Wellbeing Indicators. The Indicators of particular interest to Transparency International New Zealand (TINZ) are:

  • Voter turnout, Trust in government institutions and Perceived corruption, respectively. These are three of the 38 ‘Indicators of NZ’s current quality of life (Domains of wellbeing)’, all under the subheading of Civic engagement and governance.
  • Trust held in others, Perceived corruption, and Trust in government institutions, respectively. These are three of the 23 ‘Indicators of New Zealand’s sustainable and intergenerational wellbeing (Capitals)’, all under the subheading of Social capital.

TINZ looks forward to the development of direct linkages updated regularly by process, between Wellbeing Indicators and Budget items. In the 2019 Wellbeing Budget, the Budget categories have yet to be aligned with the LSF sub-categories.

Wellbeing Budget initiatives of particular interest to TINZ

Scrutiny of The Wellbeing Budget 30 May 2019 revealed the following positive new transparency, accountability and anti-corruption initiatives. These are briefly listed below with the relevant page numbers from this budget document designed to give an overview of the Government’s wellbeing approach.

Bridging the venture capital gap and supporting innovation

Digitally connect businesses with central and local government to establish a catalogue of services, business rules and information that can be reused by agencies across government (page 80).
TINZ comment: This supports the strengthening of open data and the free flow of public information. 

Skills for the future

School Leavers’ Toolkit development will better equip young people for life after leaving school, including civics knowledge and skills (page 81).
TINZ comment: A core part of a strong integrity system that prevents corruption is civics education.

A secure digital nation

Investment in Cyber Security will enable a lift in cyber security capability to meet the expectations of customers and to protect systems from external threats (page 82).

Supporting the continuing operation of RealMe will provide a secure way for New Zealanders to access a range of online services and prove their identity (page 82).

Delivering national statistics and enhanced wellbeing data

New Zealand Census funding will ensure Stats NZ completes its 2018 Census products and services, and the first year of fundamental work required to deliver the next census in 2023 (page 83).
TINZ comment: Robust census information is central to a strong democracy.

Maintaining and investing in public services

Leading New Zealand’s public services to deliver transparent, transformational, and compassionate government. This will ensure the State Services Commission has the capability and capacity to contribute to government priorities, the wellbeing domains and to perform its statutory functions (page 108).

Supporting our communities

Leading New Zealand’s Public Services to deliver transparent, transformational, and compassionate government. This will ensure the State Services Commission has the capability and capacity to contribute to government priorities, the wellbeing domains and to perform its statutory functions (page 108).

Supporting our Pacific Neighbours

Increasing New Zealand’s investment to deliver on the Pacific Reset will help address regional and global challenges, including increased support globally for effective governance, peace building and stability (page 114).

Justice and democratic institutions that work for all New Zealanders

Ensure stable delivery of New Zealand’s electoral system and provide enrolment services on election day. This is to maintain voter confidence in a secure, transparent, accurate and impartial electoral system (page 115). 

Maintaining the capability of the Office of the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security. This will maintain public confidence in the intelligence agencies by providing effective monitoring, reviewing and reporting on the agencies to ensure they are acting lawfully (page 115).

New Zealand’s history and national identity

Funding of Archives New Zealand and National Library of New Zealand to meet their core statutory responsibilities to maintain public access to, and use of, New Zealand’s documentary heritage materials and public accountability of government (page 116).

Strengthening Radio New Zealand (RNZ) as the cornerstone of public media in Aotearoa to continue to provide quality New Zealand programming and journalism, and also assist RNZ’s use new platforms (page 117).

The fiscal strategy

The government remains committed to transparency about its fiscal management and responsibility, and to establish an Independent Fiscal Institution to measure progress against the fiscal strategy (page 123).

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