Friday, 29 October 2010

nz pm gets update on suicide secrecy

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Secrecy rules surrounding suicide may be relaxed depending on reaction from government.
"The annual suicide rate in New Zealand is nearly 50 per cent higher than that of the road toll, figures show. The media is prohibited from reporting the circumstances of suicide unless the coroner allows it."
Strict secrecy has not resulted in fewer suicides. In world terms, New Zealand is among the top ten highest suicide rates for youth. Also stopped by secrecy laws is more public debate over why New Zealand is one of the world's few societies to suffer proportionally more youth suicide than adult. For the last 25 years in New Zealand, that society has been dominated by a hard right-wing economic ideology.


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Wednesday, 27 October 2010

minister just walks away

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Walking away from a potential long and expensive judicial conduct hearing leaves the New Zealand justice system exposed to dangers, warns capital newspaper, the Dominion Post, in an editorial.
"The danger for Ms Collins – and for the integrity of justice system – is that the lesson the public will take from the Wilson episode is that, when there is a problem involving the judiciary, shortcuts are taken, it is tidied away, and judges whose behaviour is questioned walk off with what Auckland University law expert Bill Hodge has described as "a very sweet package".
Justice minister Judith Collins, a National Party hardliner, announced the deal after a Supreme Court judge successfully challenged a special panel set up to hear complaints against him of conflicts of interest. The deal includes a salary payout nearing NZ$1 million.

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why NZ is not least corrupt in the world

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Ironically, New Zealand, one of three top ranked countries, does not even appear on the global map at Transparency International.  


Unionists and left-wing commentators have praised top ranking in a global corruption index - but a right-wing business paper describes the result as "dubious".

A poll on a mainstream media also reveal significant doubts about the ranking. 

Mixed reactions reveal a surprising twist to the frequently criticised CPI, Corruption Perceptions Index, by leading anti-corruption, Transparency International.

Only one media organisation sought public reaction to today's release of the global survey.

In a front page poll, TVNZ recorded a roughly half-half split between those who believe the CPI ranking - and those who don't.

Website visitors were asked if they "agree New Zealand is the least corrupt country in the world?"

"Yes, we're squeaky clean" was clicked on by 43% of those answering the poll question.

Some 57% - poll numbers were not given - clicked on "No, we're deluding ourselves."

The poll is half way down the TVNZ main page.

However, yet again, the survey failed to make the two main free-to-air news programmes, on TVNZ and TV3.

Perhaps the most damning figure came from an investment advisory service - noting that just a fifth of a percent of law and order spending of NZ$3.5 billion goes on serious fraud cases. Some 62 comments are recorded.

Meanwhile, the Public Service Association has grabbed the survey announcement as an opportunity to praise public service integrity in the face of slashed worker numbers.

"We've held the top spot on Transparency International's Index for five consecutive years," said PSA national Secretary Brenda Pilott.

"This shows our public services and those who work in them are a world-class asset and worthy of our thanks and respect."

"This top ranking is a great credit to New Zealand's public servants," says PSA National Secretary Brenda Pilott.

"Despite the government slashing over 2,000 jobs, excessive workloads that continue to spiral out of control, numerous departmental reviews that bring stress and uncertainty, we've managed to retain our top ranking on Transparency International's Index. As well as indiscriminate cuts, agencies are coping with thousands of long-term vacancies that lump pressure on individuals, teams and ultimately services. So it really is commendable that we've kept on top."

The Dominion Post was another mainstream media organisation reporting doubts.

"Our biggest risk is our companies just don't care," says Alex Tan, director of Transparency International NZ.  

"Blasé – absolutely. When we talk about what they do overseas, they say, 'Oh, yes, we've got good policies'. 

"No, they don't. Only 44 per cent [of NZX 50 companies] have any policies that talk about bribery and corruption."

Only 10 percent actually prohibit "facilitation" payments.

Although New Zealand signed the United Nations Convention Against Corruption in 2003, it is one of only 18 countries not to have ratified it.

Mr Tan said 122 countries had signed and ratified the convention.

"For a country that consistently tops the CPI, the fact that seven years after signing [the convention] we still have not ratified it is somewhat hard to fathom."

High profile liberal blog, No Right Turn, noted that New Zealand actually dropped in ranking - from a score of 9.4 out of 10 to 9.3.

Controversial right-wing blogger, Whale Oil, makes damning reference to a lack of transparency on government tender contracts, including an insolvency agent buying stocks in failing companies he is supposed to be disposing of.

Collapse of finance companies, massive overcharging by telecommunications, power and supermarket companies, the resignation of a supreme court judge to avoid investigation, environmental degradation, and a series of botched cases pointing to police corruption are among a host of criticisms leveled against New Zealand, much from within the country. 

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Monday, 25 October 2010

OECD warning on Transparency International

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International governance indicators like the Transparency International "Corruption Perceptions Index" should be taken with a grain of salt, suggests the OECD, the world's largest economic club.

"Not only are the individual country scores provided by some of these systems less accurate than many users seem to assume, they reflect biases of which users are often unaware," reads the release.

In a press releasetitled the "transparency paradox", the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development highlights a "policy brief" released ahead of tomorrow's CPI figures. The OECD policy brief is by far the most heavyweight critique of the CPI in its 15 year history. Some suggest the survey reflects well known but relatively minor third world corruption at the expense of ignoring massive first world scandal.


Full release follows.





25 October 2010, Paris – Tomorrow, Transparency International will release its 15th annual Corruption Perceptions Index.  While not disputing the importance of these and other such international governance indicators, the authors of the OECD Development Centre's new Policy Brief "Measuring Governance" warn of a transparency paradox.  They urge potential users to be more inquisitive about the real contents and precision of all international governance rating systems, and more careful how they use them.


Not only are the individual country scores provided by some of these systems less accurate than many users seem to assume, they reflect biases of which users are often unaware.  The result can be misguided discrimination against developing and emerging economies not only by the many private international investors who use them, but by official aid donors as well.


'All international governance ratings systems are normative and imply a judgment. They are often not determined by an objective theory of what constitutes good governance, or of how to distinguish good from bad governance,' said Charles Oman, Head of Strategy at the OECD Development Centre. 'Governance indicators need to be transparent as official aid agencies often use them as a basis for their aid-allocation decisions.'


To access the new policy brief on "Measuring Governance" by The OECD Development Centre, please click here.

To speak to Charles Oman, please call: +33 (0)1 45 24 82 96.


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