Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Less transparent than Australia

New Zealand likes to pretend we're not corrupt. But our system of disclosing political donations is backwards, with a high disclosure threshold, and only annual disclosure of most donations. One of the consequences of this is a deep suspicion of politicians, because we just can't tell who is buying them and who they are beholden to.

Meanwhile, in Queensland, they've just moved to real-time disclosure:

Information on political donations in Queensland will be published live from early next year, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has said.

The Government will work with the Electoral Commission of Queensland (ECQ) on the real-time updates for a list of state and local government electoral donations.

Ms Palaszczuk told Parliament during the estimates hearings that the electronic system would be set up by January 1 and go live by the end of February.

They've also lowered the disclosure threshold from $12,800 to $1,000. The reason, of course, is corruption - Australia has a serious corruption problem, with politicians routinely being jailed for doing favours for donors. This makes that sort of behaviour much harder to hide. New Zealand doesn't have that sort of problem (in part because zoning decisions are the responsibility of local government, in part for cultural reasons), but that's no reason to be complacent. And it burns to be left behind in transparency by corrupt Australia. Shouldn't we be trying to lead the world on this, to show we're as clean as we think we are? Or are we happy to continue a regime which may be allowing corruption to fester in secrecy?