The recent fiasco of New Zealand’s Serious Fraud Office distributing a press release linked to a political party just 1-day before the election process commencing, is a political bias, claims the Deputy Prime Minister (see story below). The Deputy Prime Minister claims the Serious Fraud Office have not remained impartial to their statutory power of independence from politics.
The Serious Fraud Office is New Zealand’s highest level of an investigation agency. They however are focused on ‘complex and serious fraud’. Corruption of course is quite different and what Mr Peters is alleging, and is certainly a view that with the absence of further information I support, the SFO have clearly taken an action that presents as a bias and if impartiality can not be demonstrated, New Zealand’s electoral process has now been impacted.
This is a reminder of the harm and shenanigans that can occur in New Zealand in the absence of any Anti-Corruption Agency.
New Zealand as a Member State of the United Nations, has not yet ratified requirements to implement an Anti-Corruption Agency. In not doing so it is undermining the efforts of all other countries who work towards combatting corruption and the links to corruption such as organised crime.
New Zealand’s Cabinet know, through specialist reports, the harm that corruption creates and the impact if an adequate resource is not provided.
Papers to Cabinet have advised, “Complacency impacts on our willingness and capacity to proactively detect and prevent corruption” and “Corruption erodes public trust in government, institutions and the rule of law, and takes a significant toll on the global economy”.
For New Zealand to have any integrity behind its reputation as a ‘low risk’ country to corruption, it first needs, as a matter of urgency, to put in place a competent Agency to identify, measure, manage and report corruption. Until that happens corruption and the harm of corruption will continue within New Zealand, harming its people, its institutions and undermining countries who have made efforts to fight organised crime.
Without such an agency, New Zealand remains the weak link in a global chain, undermining the proactive steps of international efforts to combat organised crime and acts of corruption.
When the Chair of Transparency International New Zealand was asked if there were any concerns from their survey with all political parties gauging their stance on corruption, and not one party mentioned the need for New Zealand to establish an Anti-Corruption Agency, Ms Snively stated, –
“I am just hopeful that is one of the political problems picked up by all political parties, because I think it is a very important one. I totally agree with you. We need a very strong anti-corruption agency in New Zealand and we need it resourced to be effective”, said Ms Snively, Chair, Transparency International New Zealand.