Thursday, August 11, 2011

Compare and contrast

Last month, we learned that the New Zealand Debt Management Office has been behaving like bankers, accepting hundreds of lavish gifts from the banks they were meant to be representing us against. Today we have a counterpoint, from the Reserve bank of New Zealand:

When it comes to lavish corporate freebies and gifts, the Reserve Bank has set the standard for austerity in the wider state sector.

Bank staff accepted only 19 gifts or instances of hospitality during the past 2 1/2 years, records show, in contrast to hundreds accepted by Treasury staff.


The bank has a policy requiring staff to register and surrender to the bank gifts worth more than $100.

However, golf clubs and golf bags worth more than $100, won at a Westpac event, were kept by staff members but the value above $100 was given to the Christchurch earthquake fund.

Corporate hospitality is rare at the bank, although human resources head Tanya Harris and her partner were guests of Telecom at the World of Wearable Arts show and at the Rugby Sevens. The Reserve Bank's policy states that meals, social functions and entertainment can be accepted "so long as it is modest, infrequent, does not imply an obligation and is unlikely to be misconstrued".

This is how public servants are supposed to behave: with professionalism and integrity, for the benefit of the public rather than themselves. The contrast with the greedy, corrupt, self-interested staff at NZDMO and Treasury couldn't be any clearer.