The misuse of public money and abuse of power stems from our collective failure to hold officials accountable and demand transparency, writes Thomas Tarurongo Wynne.
29:12 says, “If a ruler listens to falsehood, all his officials will be wicked.”
Or those who have a position of authority who are dishonest, invite others with
corrupt ambitions to join them.
or the misuse of public money, which is money earned by the taxpayer and deducted
by government, is misused for personal gain or profit. But let us be clear, this
is an issue ultimately for the voter and not the government official, because
it is us the voter that votes public officials in, and we the voters that
empower them and enable them to act as they do, by not holding them to account
or to develop robust legislation to protect them and our hard-earned monies. Clearly
there are gaps and clearly once again we have accountability, procedural and
the responsibility of what happens to public money and property ultimately lies
with us, to ensure that they do their job with integrity, or we have the power
at each election to vote them out. When government officials and government
ministers get caught, we as citizens, also get caught having to think again at
what we expect, what we look for and how we hold to account those we put into
positions of power to manage the affairs of our families, businesses, lands,
traditional titles, and government.
they stand trial, it is our whole of government that stands trial, its
processes, its mechanisms of accountability, and its overall effectiveness. It
is in this crucible of public scrutiny that our choices, our voting power, and
our decision-making are held accountable, revealing the true power we hold to
shape our government.
worked in several Ministers Offices here in Aotearoa, it was clear to me from
the outset that the level of scrutiny was high as were the expectations. All
Cabinet papers were proactively released to the public at the end of each
month, and my role was to see them before they went out. All accounts and
spending and all reports from government agencies were public released, so
public scrutiny was well understood as nothing was secret or to be found out later
if at all. Government trips and spending by Ministers and officials was publicly
released and the reasons for trips and the value back to the country also made
level of scrutiny was not just so the public could scruitinise it and hold
Ministers and heads of ministry to account, but more importantly to protect
them from potential decisions or the temptation to spend where they shouldn’t
or to do something outside what was allowed, what was permitted and what would
not meet public scrutiny. We were always acutely aware, this was public money,
spent by public servants on public time.
my interview, I remember getting a purchase expense card and reading through
the rules when it could be used. At the end of the interview, I said to
Ministerial services, “I can’t really use this except in an emergency”. “Yes,” they said “only in an emergency”. One
time, at a meeting, I realised I had left my personal card at home. I used my
expense card to pay for two coffees. The next day, I received a “please explain
email” from Ministerial services. I then had a meeting where I had to explain
my actions and was shown how to reimburse that money back again.
gave me a real sense of working with integrity. We travelled economy, sometimes
flying into events and staying only the necessary nights. Per diems, a daily
allowance for expenses, had been eliminated, with all travel costs covered by
the budget for the trip. Everything had layers of scrutiny, layers of what was
in the public good and layers of eyes across it with us all knowing at the end
of each month the public and opposition would see it all.
misuse of public money and abuse of power and decision making, be it Ministers
in Cabinet, heads of government ministries, government officials or government
boards, happens because we allow it. Be it businesses, sport codes, churches,
state owned enterprises, boards or family titles and land, public scrutiny and
transparency of decision making, and accountability protects us all and the
assets we entrust others to look after. That power has always been in our
hands, what we do with that, and who we entrust that with is entirely up to us.
Te Tuhi Kelly on 10/02/2024
Many of us have commented on this. The more change is advocated the more it stays the same. The voters don't care as evidenced by the people they vote as MP's. All voters are interested in is what they can get into their kopu's be it kaikai, chickens, hand outs, bribes and all manner of incentives. What went before is conveniently forgotten in the scramble to get over the line. Forgiveness is paramount and thus all the hand wringing and posturing such as articles like this will not matter a whit. The reality is that the needy, seedy and greedy will carry on as before and the village favourite will get voted in and those who can and will make a difference for our country will be ignored as of no consequence.
graham roper on 10/02/2024
I have made comments before regarding mis spending within the TMO by the SOH and Minister. At what point do the locals say enough is enough and demand the health care money is spent on Health needs , prevention and those providing the services.
The latest news regarding “leading cause of death “ is a message that can be and should be addressed immediately. The budget is available if applied as it should be rather than useless overseas trips and “trough feeding “