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NZ Herald Editorial: ‘NZ’s culture of honesty one to be cherished’ – What UTTER garbage

www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=10725551

Editorial: NZ’s culture of honesty one to be cherished

5:30 AM Saturday May 14, 2011
Bob McMillan. Photo / Herald on Sunday

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Bob McMillan. Photo / Herald on Sunday

Corruption is foreign to New Zealand’s government, we believe.

The belief is so deeply ingrained in this country that we instinctively doubt an accusation such as that levelled against the Government this week over the ministerial vehicle fleet replacement.

The Labour Party revealed that the National Party received a $50,000 donation from an Auckland BMW dealer two days after a meeting between the Prime Minister’s chief of staff and the Department of Internal Affairs which approved the purchase of 34 new BMWs.

A month earlier the dealer, Team McMillan, had held a function attended by the Prime Minister.

Both John Key and the company’s managing director, Bob McMillan, have denied the function and the donation had any connection with the fleet purchase.

Mr Key accused Labour of a “baseless smear on my integrity”. Mr McMillan said, “We have no involvement whatsoever. It is handled by BMW New Zealand. We are a privately owned family operation. I haven’t supplied a single vehicle to any Government in my life.”

His only interest in the Government’s BMWs, he said, was a possible bid to buy the old ones, but he had not expressed that interest to Mr Key or the Internal Affairs Department.

That seems to be that; even Labour does not appear to believe there was anything more to the meetings or the donation. “I’m not suggesting the Prime Minister’s office is corrupt,” said front-bencher Trevor Mallard, “but there is a perception of conflict of interest.”

In any other country there would be that perception, but here? We are blessedly confident in the probity of our public service. The country rates close to zero on international measures of corruption and local industry representatives who deal abroad say we do not realise how lucky we are.

The public can be reasonably confident the ministerial limousine replacement was conducted at arm’s length from the Cabinet because the Opposition has raised it before and Mr Key appeared genuinely angry that he had not known about a department-level decision that had the potential to embarrass him with its costs and comforts.

It also turned out to be a decision made in line with a contract entered into under the previous Government.

Labour has made many attempts of late to mine the Prime Minister’s Department for supposed profligate spending. Most of what it has turned up has been no more telling than a BMW’s heated seat, but this week the Opposition did its work.

Even if appearances deceive, the meetings and the donation deserved to be probed.

Political leaders would do well to ensure their benefactors have no association with a brand the Government is purchasing. The incident also underlines the correctness of divorcing party donations from purchasing decisions.

No country can be too vigilant against corruption. If this is one of the world’s least corrupt places, it is at risk of assuming too much. Corruption, after all, is not completely unknown here.

A former MP, Taito Phillip Field, went to jail for work done for him in return for immigration help.

An immigration official, Mary Anne Thompson, resigned in 2008 over indiscretions that included helping relatives enter New Zealand.

Exceptions are sufficiently rare to prove the rule: we retain a culture of honesty in public life that we ought never to take for granted.

__________________________________________________________________

THE NZ ‘CORRUPTION REALITY CHECKLIST’!

If New Zealand is supposed to be the ‘least corrupt country in the world’ (along with Singapore and Denmark, according to the 2010 Transparency International ‘Corruption Perception Index’ – then arguably we should be the most ‘transparent’?

www.transparency.org/policy_research/surveys_indices/cpi/2010/results

Here are some quite specific points which clearly identify where NZ lacks genuine transparency.

If these were turned into ‘demands’ and achieved – in my view – there would be quite a transformation which is long-overdue.
_________________________________________________________________
CORRUPTION REALITY CHECKLIST – NEW ZEALAND
1.    Has NZ ratified the UN Convention Against Corruption?   ………    NO

2.    Does NZ have an independent anti-corruption body tasked with educating the public and PREVENTING corruption? …….    NO

3.    Do NZ’s laws ensure transparency in the funding of candidates for elected public office and political parties at central government level? ………………….   NO

4.    Do NZ Members of Parliament have a ‘Code of Conduct’? NO

5.    Do NZ Local Govt elected reps have a ‘Code of Conduct’? …….    YES

6.    Is it an offence for NZ Local Govt elected reps to breach the ‘Code of Conduct’? ..NO
7.    Is there a lawful requirement for a publicly-available ‘Register of Interests’ for NZ Local Govt elected reps? …………………NO
8.    Is there a lawful requirement for a publicly-available ‘Register of Interests’ for NZ Central Govt staff responsible for procurement? ………………    NO

9.    Is there a lawful requirement for a publicly-available ‘Register of Interests’ for NZ Local Govt staff responsible for procurement? ……….    NO

10.    Is there a lawful requirement for details of ‘contracts issued’ – including the name of the contractor; scope, term and         value of the contract to be published in NZ Central Govt Public Sector, and Local Govt (Council) Annual Reports so that they are available for public scrutiny?……. NO

11.    Is it a lawful requirement that a ‘cost-benefit analysis’ of NZ Central Govt public finances be undertaken to substantiate       that private procurement of public services previously provided ‘in-house’ is cost-effective for the public majority? ………NO

12.    Is it a lawful requirement that a ‘cost-benefit analysis’ of NZ Local Govt public finances be undertaken to substantiate          that private procurement of public services previously provided ‘in-house’ is cost-effective for the public majority? ………NO
13.    Does NZ have a legally-enforcable ‘Code of Conduct’ for members of the NZ Judiciary? ……NO
14.    Are all NZ Court proceedings recorded, and audio records made available to parties who request them?……………NO
15.    Is there a lawful requirement for a publicly-available NZ Judicial ‘Register of Interests’? ….    NO

16.    Is there a lawful requirement for a publicly-available NZ ‘Register of Lobbyists’ at Central Govt Ministerial level? …………    NO
17.    Is there a legal requirement at NZ Central and Local Govt level for a ‘post-separation employment quarantine ‘ period’     from the time officials leave the public service to take up a similar role in the private sector?………………NO
18.    Is it a lawful requirement that it is only  a binding vote of the public majority  that can determine whether public assets      held at NZ Central Govt or Local Govt level are sold; or long-term leased via Public-Private –Partnerships? ………………….    NO

19.    Is it unlawful in NZ for politicians to knowingly misrepresent their policies prior to election at central or local government level? ………………………….    NO

20.    Do NZ laws promote and protect individuals, NGOs and community-based organisations who are ‘whistleblowing’ against ‘conflicts of interest’ and corrupt practices at central and local govt level and within the judiciary? …………………………….    NO

Prepared by Penny Bright – for Transparency International 14th Conference 7/11/2010
IACC ID D – 1198    https://waterpressure.wordpress.com   (waterpressure@gmail.com)

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May 14, 2011 - Posted by | Fighting corruption in NZ, Fighting corruption internationally, Human rights, Internationally significant information

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