22 May 2014

Corrupt conduct seems to be a seasonal theme – and cricket is getting its share of attention this week.

While Australian cricketers, tossing from the Knacker’s End are making maiden-like claims to purity, some of their New Zealand counterparts seem to have been exposed closer to Stiff Cover than Silly Point – and possibly as removed from the spirit of the game as an Outfield Nancy.

The irony of course is that while New Zealand politicians squabble to paint each other as more corrupt because of historic horse ownership, the Independent Commission Against Corruption in New South Wales has exposed Liberal Ministers scheming to extract donations from prohibited donors, not unlike the corrupt practices of some of their Labor party predecessors.   It may well have been corrupt payments that funded the campaigning that gave the Liberals election success.  And this week Federal Police, who have warned of  a  ”tsunami of corruption” as organised crime swamps Australian sport,  have arrested a public service statistician and an investment banker who corruptly acquired millions of dollars from currency trading with the benefit of restricted official information.

In Canberra  an undercurrent of corruption is motivating an unusual alliance as small parties and independent MPs, pushing for a national anti corruption agency along the lines of ICAC.  They seem unlikely to gain any more traction  than in 2012 when the Federal Parliament first rejected proposals for a corruption commission.  Yet Australia is party to the UN Convention Against Corruption which expects member states to have an anti corruption agency independent of the Police. The need for such an agency is one of the reasons for delay in New Zealand’s ratification of UNCAC as there is a reluctance to disrupt the jurisdictions of the Police and Serious Fraud Office.

There seems little basis for the faith that the New Zealand chapter of Transparency International has in the transformative effect of UNCAC membership.  Germany Japan, Bhutan and Barbados remain aloof from UNCAC like New Zealand – although so do Syria, Sudan, South Sudan, Eritrea, Chad and North Korea!