7 January 2014

“Integrity Plus”, the supersized national integrity systems assessment published by Transparency International NZ last November provides a substantial evaluation of the way our institutions, laws, procedures, practices and attitudes contribute to the exercise of power with integrity.  There has not been any substantive critique yet of the assessment, which to a large degree confirmed the general view of many who have an interest in these matters – that New Zealand’s national integrity systems remain fundamentally strong and rate highly on a broad range of transparency and good governance indicators.

The summary is that “…by international standards there is very little corruption in New Zealand. It is clear that New Zealand remains legitimately highly rated …(for) transparency and quality of governance…”

What appears as a collective passivity and complacency is a concern to the assessors.  Politically there is no imperative for a stronger measures, there is no concerted attention given by civil society to integrity matters,  the public sector commitment is resource constrained, and the commercial sector is largely uninterested.

The primary recommendation is that New Zealand ratifies its membership of the UN Convention Against Corruption and implements a national anti corruption strategy, as encouraged by UNCAC.  Transparency International NZ has continually criticised New Zealand’s tardiness in committing to UNCAC, although membership cannot be seen as necessarily making a difference to the anti corruption environment in any of the 140 States parties. 

( Interestingly, despite the United States championing UNCAC membership, the Financial Transparency blog this week noted that “…U.S. Department of Justice reported that HSBC wilfully failed to apply money laundering controls to $881 million in drug trafficking proceeds. The investigation compelling(ly) revealed that senior officials at HSBC were complicit. Despite the magnitude of this crime and the intent behind their actions, no one at HSBC went to jail. While the United States does have strong anti-money laundering structural reforms, in practice, the nation is still behind…”  )