Friday, May 13, 2016

NZ on corruption: "We'll think about it"

Overnight, David Cameron held his anti-corruption summit in London. While it has been called underwhelming, the summit was a useful start, with several countries committing to expose, punish and drive out corruption. The core of these commitments was to expose corruption through the use of beneficial ownership registration of companies and corporate property owners - something which will clearly be effective, given the reaction of the global super-corrupt. New Zealand's response to this? "We'll think about it". Rather than committing to public beneficial ownership registers, we have only committed to "exploring" the idea. And rather than committing to the automatic sharing of such information with partner countries, we commit only to bilateral arrangements (which means, in practice, none at all).

Contrary to the government's PR, this is not "strengthen[ing]" our commitment to combat bribery. Instead, its doing as little as possible. Faced with a huge global problem, one which demands an international response, National's response is to do nothing. Where have we seen that before?

Combined with the government's performance in the House this week, I don't think there's any question: National is on the side of the corrupt and the tax cheats, apparently so that a tiny clique of lawyers can make a few dollars enabling and facilitating them (something else we were supposed to ban and didn't). And that won't change as long as they're in power. If we want a clean government which acts against this global scourge, we need a change of government.