9 Dec 2013

No room for complacency, says integrity report

5:03 pm on 9 December 2013

One of the authors of a new report says the Government needs to introduce stricter rules and greater transparency governing political party funding.

The Integrity Plus Report released by Transparency International New Zealand says the country cannot afford to get complacent about corruption and is calling for more scrutiny of the public service.

One of the authors, Murray Petrie, says while the public service generally operates with integrity, there is too much complacency.

He says while the public service operates with integrity, some areas are susceptible to corruption.

"We have tended to be too complacent, two thirds of New Zealanders surveyed think that corruption has increased in the last three years and the report identified a number of areas of systemic weakness and gaps in transparency."

Mr Petrie says one area raising concern is the lack of transparency over rules governing political parties and their funding.

He says political parties have become far more dependent on public funding and yet there has been no corresponding increase in the ombudsman's powers to monitor this.

Public servants diminished - Labour

The Labour Party says the Government has fostered a culture of fear in which public servants no longer feel able to give frank advice.

Labour state services spokesperson Maryan Street says that has become a hallmark of the Government.

She says the public service has been diminished by the bullying tactics of ministers.

Ms Street says Labour would also support greater transparency over funding for political parties

The Green Party also says the Government has displayed an increasing disregard for transparency.

Greens co-leader Russel Norman says that's not surprising given the Government's conduct with big business such as SkyCity.

"You could hardly operate in a more non transparent manner than when you hand over tens of millions of tax payer dollars without having any clear criteria for it."

Mr Norman says he also supports tougher scrutiny of political party funding also flagged in the report.