New Zealand drops down World corruption free index

Written By: - Date published: 8:14 am, January 28th, 2016 - 21 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, accountability, corruption, Hekia parata, john key, national, paula bennett, same old national, slippery, the praiseworthy and the pitiful - Tags:

According to Transparency International New Zealand was for a long time the least corrupt nation in the world.  We achieved that ranking in 2006 under Helen Clark and the fifth Labour Government and managed to maintain the rating until 2013.  But since then it has all been bad news.

From Stuff:

New Zealand is slipping down the ranks of the least corrupt countries, with watchdog Transparency International accusing the Government of “astonishing” complacency.

After topping the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) for seven years in a row until 2013, the 2015 survey ranked New Zealand behind Denmark, Finland and Sweden. In 2014 New Zealand was ranked second, behind Denmark.

The survey draws scores from a range of other surveys to give an overall rating of the perceptions about corruption for 167 countries. In 2015 New Zealand scored 88, a marked fall from the 91 it scored in 2014.

New Zealand remains the least corrupt country in the Asia Pacific region, and continues to rate much better than trans-Tasman arch-rival Australia, which dropped two places to 13. Canada was ranked ninth, Britain 10th and the United States 16th.

But Transparency International’s New Zealand chair Suzanne Snively warned that if action was not taken to keep pace in areas such as access to information and environmental protection, further downgrades in the survey were likely.

The area where the Government was marked down hardest was the provision of information.  Clearly there has been a declining standard of openness in the way that the Government responds to requests for information from the media and from ordinary citizens.  My personal experience from when I asked Paula Bennett for data relating to her complaining that there was a major problem of housing corp tenants being picky showed to me how much of a game it is for the Government to frustrate attempts to hold them to account.

This has started at the top.  John Key’s earlier admission that National broke the law by delaying the release of information because it was in National’s political interests to do so should have been met with universal opprobrium and an insistence by the relevant agencies that this was not acceptable.  Instead the Ombudsman chose to attack the media for engaging in fishing expeditions.  No doubt these have occurred because simple requests by them had been stonewalled.

My experience is not a unique one.  Frank Macskasy has posted about his experience with OIA requests to Heka Parata and the charade that occurred.

The whole process is so cynical.  Key has a reputation out there in floating voter land of being excessively open, down to admitting that he pees in the shower and the last time that he “fed the chickens”.  But the really important information, required so that we the people can actually understand what is going on, is being hidden from us.

A large part of the problem is that the relevant Minister has to be involved in the release of information under the “no surprises” doctrine.  I believe we should just let the public service determine these requests.  There are precedents.  The Courts rule on issues all the time without reference to Ministers.  Releasing information should have the same feeling of independence.

Recent news that the Reserve Bank is intending to charge more regularly for OIA requests is only going to make matters worse.  It is our information.  We pay for it.  It should be made available free of charge and the only vetting should be a legal one.

21 comments on “New Zealand drops down World corruption free index”

  1. ICD 1

    Wow, 4th out of 167. That sure is bad news, if you want it to be. That kind of ranking usually gets celebrated, but hey, since it’s JK, it’s his fault.

    Have you considered that, maybe, those northern countries simple upped the ante a little at the same time?

    Still, least corrupt in our neck of the woods, so what exactly is the problem? Being negative for the sake of being negative isn’t a good thing.

    • esoteric pineapples 1.1

      Hey look, it’s only a little bit of cancer. There’s lots of other people with much more cancer than me so what’s the big deal?

    • mickysavage 1.2

      Nope the report states that it was the decline in our score that caused the change. I thought the right would be more ambitious than this?

      Besides the solution is simple, improve the flow of information by removing the political roadblocks that are currently in place.

      • fisiani 1.2.1

        A drop from 91 to 88 is hardly bad news in a survey about perceptions. Not about reality. This is just another lame excuse to try to attack National.

        • Muttonbird

          …a survey about perceptions. Not about reality.

          Indeed. The reality is even worse.

          • Macro

            ^ This

            • In Vino

              Some people say that perception is reality for many…

              Fisiani – even if you think perception is unimportant, what do you think caused our perceived purity to be so suddenly contaminated?

              And why do you think that contamination to be harmless?

              I think it is like the beginning of brown rot in a peach. Tomorrow the entire peach will be gone.

              Never mind, Fisiani – you can stick to last year’s dried prunes.

              • Muttonbird

                I expect that for fisiani and the like, the drop in fairness and transparency indicated by this survey is a necessary and acceptable consequence of pushing though undemocratic, unpopular, and antisocial policy.

  2. Shouldn’t the “No Surprises” policy just mean that the info being requested is sent to the minister involved as well as the requester? I don’t see why lawful request for data should require an approval by the minister, maybe approval from a supreme court judge but not the minister.

  3. reason 3

    World education rankings —– going backwards and dropping from 7th to 23rd under the nats

    Fresh water quality —— going backwards and dropping under the nats, the majority are now polluted.

    Home ownership and home affordability ——– going backwards and dropping under the nats.

    Our bent key is opening all the wrong doors …………………

  4. Incognito 4

    Coming fourth in the 2015 RWC out of 96 qualifying nations was a great effort by Argentina. It would have been a disastrous result for John Key if the ABs had come fourth and that knighthood may not have eventuated either.

  5. Penny Bright 5

    Since John Key has been Prime Minister, New Zealand has dropped from ‘the least corrupt country’ in the world, according to Transparency International’s ‘Corruption Perception Index’ to FOURTH


    NZ drops in corruption perception index
    Wednesday 27 Jan 2016 5:20 p.m.

    By Simon Wong

    New Zealand has slipped two places in the latest global rankings of perceived public service corruption, a new report shows.

    The Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index 2015 has New Zealand fourth in the rankings of 168 countries.

    Last year it was second only to Denmark and in the years since John Key took over as Prime Minister, New Zealand had been either first or first equal.

    It is the country’s lowest ranking since 1998. It now sits below Denmark, Finland and Sweden who make up the top three.

    The Public Service Association is worried about the slip and has urged the Government to take the report seriously.

    “While our members work extremely hard to maintain an open and impartial public service, the Government’s been complacent about New Zealand’s reputation,” says PSA National Secretary Glenn Barclay.

    Mr Barclay says the gradual slide isn’t surprising given a “growing lack of transparency”.

    He pointed to recent examples including journalists and members of the public being charged for Official Information Act requests and also facing sometimes lengthy delays.

    The secrecy around the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the process around the Auckland Convention Centre and Serco’s handling of Mt Eden Prison have also damaged New Zealand’s reputation.



    Penny Bright
    2016 Auckland Mayoral candidate.

  6. Mosa 6

    Any drop at all is unacceptable
    No excuses cut it
    The amount of times the National party in opposition threw the word about when it suited them different now they are in authority
    In a un biased country this would make the front page in all media outlets not buried out of sight
    Democracy yeah right

  7. Scott M 7

    We have bigger problems than information release under the OIA.

    Local Government in this country is completely corrupt. On a daily basis those who are wealthy or consider themselves important manipulate decision making through lobbying/deal making. There needs to be a complete disconnect between politicians who should set the policy settings and the bureaucrats who should be given the space to administer those regulations or laws.

    That simply doesnt happen in NZ.

    • Doogs 7.1

      Local government is a contradiction in terms Scott. They are the biggest obstacle to progress. Little tin gods sitting in comfortable offices, on comfortable salaries, interpreting the RMA to their advantage.

      Here’s me, trying to get consent to subdivide my property and all I get is more and more things I have to do and more and more expenses I have to incur. It went so far as to them asking me to design a concrete block wall to contain overland flow, only to find that, under some pressure from my engineer and surveyor, a small earth bund will suffice. So I spent $3000 on engineer’s fees to design something I didn’t need to have designed. I shall be asking for a reduction in my council fees to compensate. Wish me luck and don’t hold your breath.

      Council are always unclear, have a website that is so labyrinthine that you can’t find anything specific, charge like wounded bulls for bugger all. I remember paying some unearthly amount to them for a previous home extension to have some flunky bring his clipboard, grunt a few things to my builder and go. He did that twice – for thousands of dollars.

      If you are looking for corruption, or at the very least obfuscation and planned unhelpfulness, then look no further than local authorities.

      This is in Auckland, where we need expansion and intensification to alleviate the housing problems.

      • Scott M 7.1.1


        I think we are talking at different levels. I am sure there will always be improvements that can be made in the way Council is run.

        What I am talking about is regional growth where land owners hold inappropriate sway over Council officers and get their land zoned knowing full well the costs of that zoning will be passed onto ratepayers.

        Classic case of privatise the gains, socialise the losses.

    • greywarshark 7.2

      Don’t try to deflect critical attention from our central government to local government.
      They are trying to keep the country running in the absence of a thoughtful, intelligent, people-oriented bunch at the top. And the virus of special groups getting pre-eminent treatment which ails central infects local as well. Such as when they joined in an agreement to co-operate that would advance irrigation in southern NZ – about sixteen joined up to advance that.

      Who controls the bureaucrats then? You seem to be putting down the pollies and raising the bcs up to pure status, efficiency will prevail and result in cost-effective, corruption-free utopia. Well maybe not utopia, a few things will go wrong, every now and then, and we can trust them more than pollies. Remember the cynical USA motto ‘In God we trust all else must pay cash’.

  8. Gristle 8

    I am surprised NZ dropped only to fourth and is not lower.

    Corruption is Murray McCully et al trying to buy the support of someone to get a Suadi trade deal done. Regardless of whether there was a viable legal claim or not, confusing a legal claim against the National Party with trying to sign a trade deal is encouraging corruption in other countries. When a government thinks that this is the right way to business with others I can only assume that they also think that this is the right way for others to do business with them.

  9. greywarshark 9

    Our ranking has been higher than what reflects reality for years. We have been papering over the cracks for a long time – that is now the agreed path (a greed!) that is the New Zealand Way. But eventually some hapless person affected by the naive response to the Emperor having no clothes, actually squawks in surprise.

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