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We are becoming more corrupt

The release of the 2023 International Corruption Perception Index in January saw New Zealand continue its slide down the list, now scoring 85 points out of a possible 100 lowering us to third place, down from those heady years when we were top ranked on 96 points, now lower than Denmark.
 |  Trevor Ammundsen  | 

We are getting worse and this is a concern as we all have to pay for this. When, for example, a power company must pay many millions that they should not have to pay, purely to get a project approved, who eventually pays those millions? We do of course.

Corruption is defined by Oxford Languages as “Dishonest or fraudulent conduct by those in power, typically involving bribery”. The prime element of this definition is power and this can come in many forms. The introduction of the Resource Management Act many years ago opened us up for an increase in corruption by expanding the number of groups that have power over any project to include anybody that has a desire and is organised enough to exert what power they have. The ways they exert this power may be to gain money from the other party or it may be, without merit, to simply delay or force cancellation of a project. The groups mentioned can be varied, being commercially based, ethnically based, environmentally based or even be single individuals.

There are many examples of this behaviour, such as Progressive Enterprises delaying the building and opening of a supermarket by Foodstuffs in Auckland’s Wairau Valley by 15 years. Many court cases and appeals were lodged by Progressive to delay this project with the apparent reason being they did not want competition in that area. This was not corruption in terms of bribery but was for gain in terms of keeping competition at bay. How would you describe the conduct of those in power? Honest? The conduct certainly ensured Foodstuffs incurred much unwanted cost.

Some months ago, the Informer printed a letter from Mr Dal Minogue (ex Waikato Regional Councillor and ex TCDC Councillor) describing how corruption works within local authority regions, allowing Iwi to use privileged positions and the RMA, or Council positions, to gain benefit for themselves.There are many localised forms of such corruption and I have personally witnessed such practices. This was with a sporting club in Auckland being forced to pay two gentlemen $1000 and two jugs of beer (there were two of them and the meeting was at a pub) to gain their sign off and assurance that the Taniwha in a non-existent creek wouldn’t be upset by our plans.

National politics is also exposed to corruption. The Sunday Herald on 5th May reported on Willie Jackson refusing to sign off the 2022 budget until Maori Ministers were allocated an extra billion to be used for targeted funding. Was this honest?

Do you believe it was fraudulent or do you argue it was just good negotiation skill? He used a position of power to gain a financial advantage, to be used for a select group of our society. What would you call it? There are many other examples of politicians dabbling in corrupt practices, many of these in the area of jobs or contracts for family members. They all cost us.

The use of the RMA as a weapon of gain for your group is quite prevalent when any large project is mooted. For example, Genesis and Meridian recently reported that they were spending 180 million to “smooth the path of re-consenting the Waitaki Power Scheme”. They reported that they had obtained the support of 3 Ngai Tahu Hapu for 100 million and the rest was intended for conservation groups and some smaller Iwi. This was just for re-consenting but should have just been a rubber stamp. However, the entities that use the RMA weapon were queuing up with their hands out and the cost is ours.

It is good to see that the Government is not only intending to improve the Resource Management Act but is introducing a Fast Track Approvals Bill to be used for consenting major projects. The Fast Track process removes the ability to obstruct using the RMA with any appeal being on points of law only. It looks to me that this will certainly speed up the redevelopment of our country and it will also derail a very lucrative gravy train.

So hopefully we will start moving back to the top of the list but before we get too upset; just bear in mind that Australia is in position 14. We’ve got a long way to go to be as bad as the Aussies.