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Risk of complacency in NZ governance, says expert

June 16, 2014

Risk of complacency in NZ governance, says expert

Complacency about our reputation as the least the corrupt nation in the world is a risk for New Zealand in maintaining good governance practices with overseas trading partners that lack the same levels of integrity, says the chair of Transparency International New Zealand Suzanne Snively.

She will be discussing recommendations to help public and private sector organisations operate with integrity in challenging new trading environments at a Massey University symposium in governance next month.

Titled Redefining Governance for the new New Zealand, the one-day event brings together a diverse range of experts and thought leaders with experience in governance, with the aim of framing new ways for organisations to collaborate over controversial decisions, such as water use.

Among the speakers and panellists are Alastair Bisley (chair of the Land and Water Forum), David Shand (public sector reformer and a member of the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance), Grant Taylor (Auckland Council’s governance director), and Dave Hansford (award-winning photographer and environmental journalist).

The symposium will explore challenges and complexities in key decision-making areas, from natural resource management to industry and education. Participants will consider new approaches through a series of workshops, panels and round table discussions.

Ms Snively, previously a partner in Public Sector Advisory at Pricewaterhouse Cooper’s Wellington offfice, and a regular analyst and commentator on New Zealand's comparative economic position for over 25 years, including commentary on its level of corruption, says a “lack of focus” on good governance could lead to “economic crimes”. As organisations increasingly operate globally, they encounter different cultural values and practices – such as ‘facilitation payments’ – that constitute normal business methods in some countries but are considered corrupt by New Zealand standards, she says.

Transparency International New Zealand (TINZ) is the recognised New Zealand representative of Transparency International, the global civil society organisation that is “leading a strategy unique to New Zealand to motivate robust governance, working directly with government, business and NGOs to address corruption by building strong integrity system,” she says.

The event is being spearheaded by public policy senior lecturer Associate Professor Grant Duncan, and politics senior lecturer Associate Professor Richard Shaw – both from the School of People, Environment and Planning – to generate constructive debate and new thinking in governance for New Zealand.

“It’s timely to reflect on how robust, inclusive and transparent our current governance practices are in some areas, and how we can do better,” says Dr Duncan. “While New Zealand holds pride of place as the least corrupt society in the world, we are not immune to economic and political pressures that can lead to bad decisions with a lasting impact.”

A greater awareness of how to ensure the values and concerns of New Zealand’s increasingly diverse population are represented at governance level is among topics for discussion at the event, hosted at the Albany campus.

“New Zealand is a comparatively well-governed country. But we need to continuously improve the way we address complex social, environmental and economic problems that affect multiple communities,” Dr Duncan says.

“While we won’t all agree with one another on critical issues, we need to learn more effective ways of governing collaboratively. As a small country we have the ability to work together across sectors: public, not-for-profit and private enterprise. Applying concepts such as Crown–iwi partnership, co-governance and co-production, working inclusively across diverse cultures, and meeting requirements for transparency are just some of the challenges that we face.”

Among Massey University participants are Professor Claire Massey (Director of Agrifood Business); Professor David Tripe (researcher and commentator on New Zealand’s banking sector); Distinguished Professor Paul Spoonley (researcher and commentator on migration and population trends); and Vice-Chancellor Steve Maharey (currently working on new approaches to government and public service for the 21st century).

To register for this free event click here.


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