Now, this is a good policy idea

Sometime the Poms get things right, not often, but sometimes they do.

Like this new idea to open up charities to their equivalent of the OIA.

Charities that administer millions of pounds of public funds will be subject to Freedom of Information laws in wake of Kids Company collapse, under plans being developed by ministers.

Ministers want to extend FOI powers to the charity sector to allow members of the public to keep track of the way government grants are being spent.

At present charities are exempted from FOI laws despite receiving tens of millions of pounds in grants from the Government.

There was controversy last summer when Kids Company, the high profile charity run by Camila Batmanghelidjh, collapsed despite being handed tens of millions of pounds grants over the past decade.

A report by the National Audit Office found that in all £42 million was handed to the charity since 2001 – far more than the £30million previously thought – from at least six different Government departments.

Matthew Hancock, a Cabinet Office minister who is leading a review of FOI in Whitehall, is driving the changes to bring greater transparency to how public money is spent in the charitable sector.   Read more »

The people who do the corruption rankings must be corrupt

Because New Zealand only fell one spot, to number two.

Colin Hamilton writes:

New Zealand has fallen from its top spot as the world’s least corrupt country being pushed out by Scandinavian nation Denmark.

In the 2014 Corruption Perceptions Index released today New Zealand was ranked the second least corrupt out of 174 countries.

The index which compiled by Transparency International, ranks countries based on how corrupt their public sector is perceived to be.

A country’s score indicates the perceived level of public sector corruption on a scale of zero (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean).

New Zealand’s score of 91 was second only to Denmark on 92.

Last year the two nations were tied on 91 and in 2012 they were tied on 90.

New Zealand was the only non-Scandinavian nation in the top five while Australia slipped out of the top 10 to eleventh place with a score of 80 points.

Now, depending on your political proclivities, you’d expect New Zealand to have plummeted.  Either because of the National Party and me, or because of Kim Dotcom, Hone Harawira, Laila Harre, Matt McCarten, David Cunliffe, Lyn Prentice, Martyn (Martin) Bradbury, and Russel Norman.

But either way, how did NZ only slip one rating point?

Bryce Edwards continues: Read more »

Greens raise the shield of sanctimony again

After weeks of banging on about transparency in politics the Green party has once again deployed their shield of sanctimony along with the helmet of hypocrisy.

Andrea Vance reports:

The Green Party is demanding transparency of political donations – but will hold a closed door auction to raise funds later this month.

Last month co-leader Russel Norman called for more details about National’s Cabinet Clubs – where ministers mix with donors over lunch or breakfast. The money raised from ticket sales goes into National party coffers.

It sparked a ”cash for access” row with Norman saying the Government has put democracy up for sale, and calling for a ministerial disclosure regime.

However, the Greens are coy about their own fundraising methods. An agenda for next weekend’s annual day meeting shows the media are barred from a pre-lunch ”party fundraising session” on the last day of the three-day conference.   Read more »

Another angry reader emails

There are so many I am only picking the best now.

corrution a

Elected local government officials have a sworn duty to protect not only our democracy, but also the framework of that very process that achieves democracy, transparency and accountability.  The process & framework are there to ensure no one is enabled, or is capable of perverting the very “rules/laws/code of conduct/ethics/framework” for their own personal, corrupted benefit.

Subverting and “gaming” bureaucratic frameworks and processes, checks and balances that then allows & encourages further tenure & questionable behaviors from the dodgy individual – and all with unchecked productivity/spending from the same dodgy person – can only translate to hopelessly compromised Councillors also, or some might say, political corruption.

And in years past, that “further enabling” by compromised Councillors, who chose not to stop the enabling of a corrupt official, would be seen as political corruption and even treason upon the Nation.    Read more »

Transparency for thee but not for me, why journalists should come clean


Antony Loewenstein writes at the Guardian about his wish for journalists to come clean and declare their political allegiances. He contends that journalists should follow the strict rules of transparency they demand from others as a way of attempting to restore trust in their industry.

Are mainstream journalists dedicated to journalism? This may seem like a strange question, especially since I’m a journalist myself, though independent and not tied to a corporate news organisation.

We are bombarded with details that claim to inform us about the world. From war and peace to politics and global affairs, reporters produce content that is consumed by the vast majority of the population. There are claims of holding power to account, questioning how governments, officials and businesses make decisions that affect us all. In reality, corporate and political interests too often influence what we see and hear.

There are those who think that our journalists are bang in the middle…but they are far from it. Loewenstein proposes a solution.

..[T]he media has singularly failed in holding itself to account. We, as journalists, should disclose for whom we vote and any other political affiliations that may affect our reporting. It’s the least we can do to restore trust in an industry that regularly receives low marks by its readers. A 2011 study by Edelman Public Relations found only 33% of the Australian public trusted the press, compared to an average of 49% globally. A 2013 study by Transparency International finds Australians rank political parties and the media as the most corrupt institutions in the state.  Read more »

Holding their Feet to the Fire

Francis Maude brings some refreshing honesty to the halls of power in the UK:

Political parties love transparency when they’re in opposition, and they love it for the first year or two in power when it’s about exposing your predecessors’ failures. After that there’s a risk of being exposed yourself.

But then that’s the point. Transparency is risky, difficult and uncomfortable for governments – it also sticks. Once you start, you can’t go back. This government has put transparency at the heart of its agenda. As the new lead chairman of the Open Government Partnership, we will promote transparency all over the world. The partnership was set up a year ago, with governments and civil society working together to empower citizens, and harness technology to strengthen governance. We were one of eight founding members. Now there are 57.

Transparency drives prosperity and exposes corruption. In Uganda, when communities were able to read in their newspapers how much government money their schools were supposed to be getting, the amount the schools actually received jumped from just a fifth of the promised amount to four fifths. Citizens must hold their governments to account.

Not just governments either, all politicians, local body, opposition and government.

Some Transparency for Winston

When the expenses scandal broke in 2009, it ultimately claimed Shane Jones’ career and outed Clayton Cosgrove as the worlds most hapless priority traveller. Winston Peters remained above the fray, he was no longer in parliament and anyone who asked him about his expenses was told to “get lost” in no uncertain terms.

However Winston peters is back in parliament and he is raising questions about all sorts of exepenses with regard to Whanou Ora and other government departments. So it is is only fair that we examine his record in order to provide a bit of transparency.

So dear Army, let’s crowd source a proper review of Winston Peters’ Ministerial Expenses…:

I wonder what movie he watched here?

And what was the movie in Rome? 

Why did he get a cash advance here?

Why was he buying so many sleeping pills?

Is it right that he was booking up smokes on the Ministerial Credit Card? Above & here:

What did he buy from the leather store in Kuala Lumpur?  What did he get from Harrods?  Why was the taxpayer covering his minibar expenses? How many lost luggage claims is too many?  Why was he booking up sauna’s and his partner’s medical expenses on the taxpayer-funded credit card?  Especially since the health centre is supposed to be free

That transparency feeling, but with limits

Len Brown is on record as saying he will front up.

“I will always front up. I will give you the straight answers, always with a limit.”

Unfortunately he added that rider, always with a limit. He is also on record with his beliefs about transparency.

“I clearly don’t give a damn about this stuff.”

“It’s critical for me as a point of basic principle as a leader and mayor of the city.

“I sit in this room. I don’t tell anybody I am having an interview with you today. It is between you and me. It is totally confidential.”

He said there was no requirement for him to disclose who he spent council money on.

“Transparency is not a perfect thing,”

Actually he is dead wrong on that point, he does have to disclose who he spent money on, so that also makes him a liar. The fact that he hasn’t makes him a liar who hides things. Transparency is not a perfect thing, indeed.

So, bearing those quotes in mind, one has to wonder now just exactly what the position is with the golden hand-shake of his lickspittle CEO, the guy who ran interference for Len over his expenses.

The Auditor-General has been called in to investigate lucrative golden handshakes being awarded to the chief executives of seven Auckland councils which are expected to cost ratepayers millions of dollars.

The Herald on Sunday has been told council bosses from Rodney to Franklin will receive redundancy packages with a combined cost of about $2.5 million.

The Auditor-General still hasn’t ruled on whether or not Len Brown has to tell the truth about his dinner at Volare. So I won;t be expecting any information to be forthcoming any time soon.

We do know that one council is squeaky clean though. Auckland City. We know this because Mayor John Banks does believe in transparency and transparency without limits.

Auckland City mayor John Banks has released the severance package of his chief executive David Rankin, and said there were no golden handshakes given to him by Auckland City Council. He called on other councils to do the same.

“Rankin will be paid an additional $30,000 because he has stayed on past his contractual arrangement. We didn’t want him to leave halfway through the year.

“Whereas the CEO of Manukau City has received a huge exit package, which has been kept secret as we can clearly understand it would.

“Ask Len Brown to tell you how much some of the poorest people in New Zealand have had to pay the CEO in golden handshake and golden exit packages.”

I’m pleased to see that Phil Twyford has been attempting to hold the councils to account.

Twyford had sent requests to all councils in Auckland under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act asking for the redundancy packages of executives.

Good on Phil Twyford, I suppose not having a seat to campaign for helps hugely time-wise. Though he seems a little confused as to who is responsible for holding the information, trying to pin the blame on Rodney Hide. Perhaps he should look a little closer to home politically, and ask Len Brown why he keeps secrets so much. Perhaps while he is at it he could also ask Len Brown just exactly who he was at dinner with at Volare. I mean he has been asked by LGOIMA and he refused, he is required by council rules to disclose and he refused.

I still can’t believe that Len Brown is running ads about opening the books when the books of his own council remain firmly shut to public scrutiny.

It seems we are seeing those limits that Len Brown talks about when he talks about transparency.