June 2004 (#64)

In this update:

  • NISPAC Country Studies now available
  • Papua New Guinea Electoral Commission invites TI
  • NSW Corruption watchdog to face judicial review
  • New Money Laundering legislation for Australia
  • Pacific Regional Conference Report
  • Human Development Report 2004
  • Rarotongan mother campaigns against corruption
  • Transparency and Anti-bribery Bribery Principle added to the Global Compact
  • World Bank Bars Canada’s Acres for Corruption

NISPAC Country Studies now available

As a part of TI’s worldwide National Integrity System (NIS) project, TI Australia in collaboration with Asia Pacific School of Economics and Government at the Australian National University (ANU) has carried out 12 National Integrity studies of Pacific Island Countries. The research has been funded by AusAID. The NISPAC research was carried out in-country during 2003 and early 2004 and culminated with a workshop in Fiji in March 2004 to discuss the findings and conclusions. The workshop was organized by TI Australia as the project manager, and included the ANU lead researchers, the contracted country researchers and representatives of relevant TI Pacific Chapters. The NISPAC Overview Report 2004 was released in June 2004 at the Pacific Forum, Finance and Economic Ministers Meeting (FEMM) in Rotorua. A report for the joint presentation by TI PNG and TI Australia on behalf of the TI Chapters in the Pacific can be found on NISPAC presentation at FEMM 2004 On 8 June TI Australia made available a NISPAC Overview media release. The 12 individual country studies were released during July/August 2004. Click here to access the studies.

Papua New Guinea Electoral Commission invites TI

The Papua New Guinea Electoral Commission is breaking new ground to protect elections and its own integrity. It has decided to open its door to an independent housecleaning integrity check by community corruption watchdog Transparency International. In July, Transparency International were asked by the Electoral Commissioner to do the audit because of reports that Electoral Commission staff and election officials from provincial administrations had acted wrongly during by- elections.

NSW Corruption watchdog to face judicial review

The Independent Commission Against Corruption is to be overhauled and the legislation controlling it examined by a judicial inquiry. The independent review, recommended by a parliamentary committee, has now been accepted by the NSW Premier, Bob Carr. The report says that the commission’s legislation is 15 years old and urgently needs independent review to de-politicise the process. The criticisms include ICAC’s low conviction rates, the �soft standard� of burden of proof, the need for a new focus to recover �ill-gotten financial rewards� and a re-targeting of attention to serious issues of systemic corruption as opposed to �matters of a petty nature�. The document also floats the idea of entities like Canada’s Public Disclosure Commission or Office of Ethics, which would police and advise on conflict of interest laws and pecuniary interest codes for elected officials. This would free ICAC for serious, systemic corruption, perhaps taking on a co-operative role with the Crime Commission.

New Money Laundering legislation for Australia

New Money Laundering legislation before the Federal Government is designed to bring Australia in line with other major countries where the rigorous scrutiny of identification is now part of life. Identity theft and its relationship with sponsored terrorism are a huge challenge for Australian financial institutions, and they are preparing for expensive changes should the legislation pass as expected. But establishing an identity will get tougher this year when revised anti-money laundering legislation goes before Parliament, replacing the 1988 Financial Transactions Reports Act. The current 100 points of identification will not be enough, and financial institutions, including the �Big 4 Banks� will be required to not only check identity, but to better understand customer behaviour and closely monitor their financial activity.

Pacific Regional Conference Report

The Pacific Regional Conference held in New Zealand from 18 – 21 June 2004 was attended by representatives from Pacific TI chapters in Vanuatu, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Australia and New Zealand, with observers from the Cook Islands and Samoa. A communiqu� from the conference expressed concern that �the region still suffers from systemic corruption and a lack of political will to combat this scourge� and called for political will and resources from Pacific governments to make their anti corruption commitments effective. The Chapters called for the region�s governments to allow more citizen input into their country�s budgets and more transparency and accountability in the way government money is spent. While there is much to be alarmed about, the Chapters also pointed to the outstanding success of the multi-million dollar Tuvalu Trust Fund as an example of good governance in the region.

Human Development Report 2004

The United Nations Human Development Report 2004 was released on 15 July and focuses on cultural diversity. Released each year since 1990, the Human Development Reports provide an update on the fight against poverty around the world, each time with a new theme. This year�s report ties two themes together, arguing that respect for diversity is integral to development. The UNDP�s press release says unambiguously that �there is no evidence that cultural diversity slows development�, and dismisses the idea that there has to be a trade-off between respecting diversity and sustaining peace. The report warns: �The Human Development Index in this Report is constructed to compare country achievements across all levels of human development. The indicators currently used in the HDI yield very small differences among the top HDI countries�For these high-income countries an alternative index – the human poverty index – can better reflect the extent of human deprivation that still exists among these populations and help direct the focus of public policies.�

Rarotongan mother campaigns against corruption

A Rarotongan mother of three has enjoyed some success in tackling the Cook Islands’ �self serving� Government. Tere Carr, who is standing as an independent in the upcoming Cook Islands elections, yesterday told a meeting of Transparency International about the disillusionment of Cook Islands people over their system of government. Mrs Carr said the Cook Islands two-party system had become a nonsense as there was effectively no difference between the parties. In the past five years the country had had three to four different prime ministers through various coalitions, and many MPs had crossed the floor to join the opposition �to get a better deal�, she said. �Cook Islanders watch this happen and see the loyalty of their MPs is not there.� Mrs Carr, 36, said a group was formed in 2002 to push for reforms using mainly weekly radio broadcasts, as well as television. Mrs Carr said initially the group was told they would achieve nothing but their efforts culminated in a 2000-strong petition which the Government was forced to address. Mrs Carr said it was important for women like her to get involved in the country’s politics to stress the need for taxpayers’ money to go back to basics like health, education and social issues.

Transparency and Anti-bribery Bribery Principle added to the Global Compact

Launched in 2000, the Global Compact is a direct initiative of UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, which aims to bring companies to support nine principles in the areas of human rights, labour and the environment. In early 2004, the Secretary-General started a consultation with the 1200 or so participating companies to solicit their views regarding the introduction of a principle against corruption. The results of this consultation indicate that respondents were overwhelmingly in favour of the addition of a 10th Transparency and Anti-Bribery Principle whose recommended wording will be: �Business should work against corruption in all its forms, including extortion and bribery.� The official launch of the 10th Principle will take place at a Global Compact Leaders Summit to be held in New York on 24 June. TI was represented at this event.

World Bank Bars Canada’s Acres for Corruption

On Friday 23 July, the World Bank said it had blacklisted Acres International, a major Canadian engineering firm, for three years for �corrupt activities� related to a bank-sponsored dam project in Lesotho. Acres, bought in June by design firm Hatch of Mississauga, Ontario, will be barred from receiving any new bank-financed contracts for the next three years. Acres is the largest company to be sanctioned for corruption by the World Bank, which is under pressure by shareholders like the United States to root out misuse of money spent on development projects in poor countries.