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Government warned not to squander critical opportunity


6 August, 2015

Transparency International New Zealand

Wellington New Zealand

Patron: Sir Don McKinnon

Media Release

Government warned not to squander critical partnership opportunity

"If the Government is serious in its pledge for New Zealand to have a truly open and accountable government, then it's time for it to walk the talk" says Transparency International's New Zealand Chair Suzanne Snively.

New Zealand signed up to the Open Government Partnership (OGP) in late 2013 and is obliged to consult citizens, but Ms Snively says the 24-day window proposed for public feedback is insulting and, if anything, undermines the principle of "Open Government".

"The grand challenge of the Open Government Partnership is for governments to re-engage with the people in an open and democratic way. It offers a precious opportunity to cement New Zealand's place in the front rank of the world's democracies.

"The OGP and its National Action Plan empower New Zealanders to deliver to the Government their priorities and concerns about Government initiatives and policies, whatever they may be - including such core public policy issues as affordable housing or the health spend.

"So, a three week on-line consultation period looks like they're just "ticking the box" rather than engaging in meaningful consultation", Ms Snively says.

"Unlike New Zealand's membership of the Security Council, few New Zealanders know what the OGP is. That's a real issue, because the Open Government Partnership stands to have a much more marked long term impact than New Zealand's brief, two- year term on the UN Security Council" she says.

"Importantly, the OGP mustn't be allowed to degenerate into a charade. We'd like to see something of the same intent, energy and resources dedicated to breathing life into the Open Government Partnership that the Government put into securing New Zealand's seat on the Security Council. " she said.

"Transparency International New Zealand has been supporting and promoting New Zealand's involvement in the Open Government Partnership since the inception of the OGP in 2011."

"TINZ welcomes the long awaited appointment of the OGP Stakeholder Advisory Group announced this week by State Services Commissioner, Ian Rennie. TINZ director, Fuimaono Tuiasau, has been appointed Chair of the Group," says Ms Snively.

"We earned our place on the Security Council in large part because of our international reputation for being an open, inclusive, engaged democracy."

"Let's not squander that reputation and good will by paying mere lip service to the principles of open government."

"Instead, we should provide sufficient time and resources for meaningful consultation within the framework of the Open Government Partnership - and then base a National Action Plan on it" she said.

BACKGROUND

• State Service Commission Press Release on Appointment of the OPG Stakeholder Advisory Group, 4 August 2015 http://www.ssc.govt.nz/advisory-group-open-government-partnership-appointed

• Reference to public engagement in the 4 August 2015 release "The State Services Commission will also run an online engagement process throughhttps://www.govt.nz/browse/engaging-with-government/ogp to collect further feedback from New Zealanders about our OGP commitments. All New Zealanders are encouraged to participate in the discussion, which will take place from 4 August to 28 August."

Open Government Background information

• Open Government Partnership was launched in 2011 to provide an international platform for domestic reformers committed to making their governments more open, accountable, and responsive to citizens. Since then, OGP has grown from 8 countries to the 66 participating countries indicated on the map below. In all of these countries, government and civil society are working together to develop and implement ambitious open government reforms. http://www.opengovpartnership.org/

• Open Government in New Zealand website http://www.opengovpartnership.org/country/new-zealand

• Open Government Partnership New Zealand Action Plan, referhttp://www.ssc.govt.nz/nz-ogp-action-plan

• 1 November 2013 Press release from the National Government announcing NZ is a signatory to Open Government Partnership http://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/nz-join-open-government-partnership


ends

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