Andrea Vance thinks New Zealand’s halo is slipping:
Frequently topping global transparency indexes, the world believes Kiwis operate the world’s cleanest government. Its politicians are rated incorruptible: fraud, bribes and sleaze-free.
And yet, of late, domestic politics has been dominated by a series of grubby scandals. Take Taito Philip Field’s conviction in 2009 as the watershed. Since then MPs have been exposed for rorting their expenses to pay for blue movies and gluttony, golf clubs, flowers and massages, family holidays and bucketloads of booze. . .
She goes on to list various scandals, though misses two of the ones which best-fit the label corruption – Labour’s pledge card rort and Winston Peter’s dance around the truth of the donation from Owen Glenn.
However, bad as these are, it’s not the doing of dastardly deeds which puts a country’s reputation at risk. Even the best countries can’t claim a total absence of corruption from every citizen.
It’s the catching of the corrupt and fixing that really matter.
Our reputation is based on relatively few acts of corruption and a good record for catching the wrong-doers and making changes to close the loopholes through which they wriggled.
Fields was accused, tried, found guilty and imprisoned. Speaker Lockwood Smith has made MPs’ expenses public which has acted as a very effective restraint on their spending. . .
The halo is slipping, it’s not yet tarnished.
There is no room for complacency but our reputation for lack of corruption shouldn’t be threatened while those who do the catching and fixing keep ahead of those who do the doing.