Friday, October 07, 2011

Ending corruption at Treasury

Back in July, we learned that Treasury staff had been behaving like bankers, accepting lavish gifts and hospitality from people they were meant to be regulating and/or representing us against. Today, Treasury released an independent review of their gift policy [PDF] - and it ought to give us all concern. The report found that there had been shortfalls in Treasury's policy and that

there were several instances where hospitality was accepted with a level of frequency and nature that could be perceived as frequent, excessive or misconstrued. The nature of some of the hospitality (such as entertainment-related events) and frequency leave the Treasury open to public and / or media perception that there have been shortfalls in the Treasury's compliance with its policy and guidance.
For example, one Debt Management Office staff member had accepted 107 gifts since 2007, 36 of them in 2010-2011, and 30 of them from ANZ. Another had 79 total gifts, 31 for this year alone, and 22 from Westpac. The next four biggest recipients had also received significant hospitality from ANZ. This pretty obviously contravenes SSC guidance on gifts, and leads us to question Treasury's integrity (not to mention that of ANZ).

The good news is that Treasury have fully accepted the recommendations of the review and that Treasury staff will no longer be allowed to accept gifts or hospitality unless refusal would cause offence. Which will hopefully put an end to their culture of corruption.