20 November 2013

The impressive numbers who attended the Transparency International AGM in Wellington yesterday anticipating the release of the enhanced National Integrity System evaluation will have a few more days to wait.  Despite a media release by the Minister of Justice welcoming the findings, these will not be available until later in the week.  The extensive and unique process developed for this New Zealand NIS evaluation has required considerably more time than its dedicated contributors first contemplated.

Attendance figures suggest a strengthening of cooperation between government and civil society. The Minister of Justice, the Opposition Justice spokesperson and two former Governors-General spoke.

The Minister confirmed New Zealand’s intolerance of corruption and the Government’s commitment to the anti-corruption aspirations of the UN Convention Against Corruption, the OECD Anti Bribery Convention, and Anti Money Laundering arrangements. She outlined a programme to strengthen a people centred justice system that enhances trust and confidence in the Courts, a national plan of action to implement Open Government Partnership responsibilities and an ongoing focus on delivering Better Public Services with the “Kiwis Count” survey measures of quality improvement. She spoke of supporting “all twelve of the integrity pillars” – a reference to the Greek temple integrity model developed by the late Jeremy Pope.

Dame Sylvia Cartwright, who for five years has been working in corruption riddled Cambodia as one of two international judges on the Supreme Council of Magistracy, spoke of the appalling absence of good government in that country and the almost unconceivable differences in the lives of citizens living in countries rating at the top of the Corruption Perceptions Index and those like Cambodia in the bottom decile.

The Opposition Justice spokesperson, as the Chair of the New Zealand  branch of Global Organisation of Parliamentarians Against Corruption, acknowledged the importance of a continuing focus on standards. Despite a  belief that New Zealand’s politicians were ethically motivated, among other remarks, he noted that the promotion of transparency through systems involving self disclosure “has gaps”.