• New Zealand must take a lead on transparency

    by  • June 11, 2014 • News • 1 Comment

    New Zealand should be taking a leadership role in international efforts to promote open and transparent government, Dr Michael Macaulay said in a talk to the Institute for Governance and Policy Studies.

    Macaulay, the institute’s incoming director, attended a recent Asia-Pacific Summit for the Open Government Partnership, which was launched in 2011 with eight countries and now has 64 signed up.

    Every participating country has to produce an action plan for increasing transparency, accountability and integrity in government, with measurable commitments. The plans are then evaluated through an independent review process. Some 45% of all partnership commitments have so far been achieved.

    The partnership had a number of “grand challenges” and core values, Macaulay added. The grand challenges were: improving public services; improving public integrity; and more effective management of public resources; creating safer communities; and increasing corporate accountability.

    The core values were transparency, citizen participation, technology and innovation, and accountability.

    New Zealand, which joined the partnership in December 2013, is drafting its initial action plan, to be submitted later this year.

    Macaulay said New Zealand “can and should take a leadership role” in the partnership, given its long-standing reputation for being an open and transparent country.

    The recent summit had shown that New Zealand was “clearly very highly respected”. But that created “an attendant danger” that it could fail to live up to that reputation and that its efforts could look “half-hearted”.

    In addition, the pace of technology was such that policies around e-government were “getting a bit out of date”, as other countries were increasingly talking about m-government, short for “mobile government” accessed through smart phones and the like.

    The summit had also shown that collaboration was “king” and governments needed to listen more. This was especially important as fewer than half of participating countries had adequately consulted on their initial action plans.

    Civil society organisations were crucial to the partnership project, especially in the long term, Macaulay said. “This is not a one-off. This is a long-term, iterative process.”

    However, some key questions remained unanswered, such as how an action plan would translate into specific commitments, and what would be the “participatory infrastructure” to allow input from those groups.

    In developing the initial action plan, the State Services Commission had held meetings in Wellington and used the online discussion software Loomio. That feedback had been collected and presented to ministers.

    Commission members in the audience for Macaulay’s talk conceded that there had “not been enough” consultation, but promised there would be “full and proper” processes put in place as the partnership work developed.

    Max Rashbrooke

    About

    Max is an author, academic and journalist working in Wellington, New Zealand, where he writes about politics, finance and social issues. Sign up to Max's mailing list.

    One Response to New Zealand must take a lead on transparency

    1. Robyn Pengelly
      November 8, 2015 at 2:14 am

      Hi Max,

      I have just watched your interview on The Nation & am very interested in the research you have done. I am a 56 year old pakeha woman with 3 grown up kids. I brought my children up by myself for 17 & a half years after leaving a 12 year violent relationship. For the first 6 years I was on the DPB & once my kids were at kindy & school I went out & did voluntary work to increase my skills & confidence to return to the workforce. I created a job for myself by establishing a Charitable Trust from my voluntary work & am now the CEO. I have been & still am on a fairly low income due to my work being in the community sector, but I work bloody hard & love the work I do in the disability field. I also have Multiple Sclerosis & I have struggled financially to make ends meet on one income coming into my house for the past 17 years & have only escaped living in poverty only because my parents have helped me out & I have a mortgage which I have been able to borrow on to ‘get ahead’, if you could call it that. In my work with people with disabilities & chronic illness I see a lot of inequality. Most of our clients are on benefits or very low waged work & they too often live on the poverty line. Carers struggle not only financially but physically as well and feel so undervalued, especially when they have to deal with WINZ. There is also so much inequality within the disability sector between funding through ACC & funding through the MOU. This system is very wrong! Why should someone with a disability from an accident be more valued & treated better than someone with a disability from birth or illness!

      There was one comment that Lisa made on the Nation, that “people who are wealthy have worked very hard to become wealthy”. While I agree with this to a certain degree this comment gets me VERY angry & I have heard this comment so many times & have always retorted by saying “I take offense to that cos I work bloody hard in the job I choose to do”. Many people work bloody hard but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re ever going to be wealthy & often those hardworking people are working to make the people at the top rich! I will probably never be wealthy & I feel sorry for young people nowadays who don’t come from wealthy families & have to start their young lives off with huge debts & the unlikely hood of ever owning their own home. When I was a kid there sure wasn’t the huge gaps between the rich & poor in NZ & in our neighborhood in Whangarei all people worked, even the Maori family down the road who had 11 kids! The father was Pakeha & mother was full blooded Maori & they didn’t bludge off welfare like half the people in my current neighborhood do! It makes me sad to see that gap increasing even more.
      I don’t know if this information is of any interest or relevance to you but I felt the urge to email you after seeing your interview this morning. My hope is that things will change for the better in NZ but I doubt it will when we have so many right wing, self absorbed supporters! Thanks.
      Regards,
      Robyn Pengelly

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *