NZ drops in corruption perception index
New Zealand has slipped two places in the latest global rankings of perceived public service corruption, a new report shows.
The Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index 2015 has New Zealand fourth in the rankings of 168 countries.
Last year it was second only to Denmark and in the years since John Key took over as Prime Minister, New Zealand had been either first or first equal.
It is the country's lowest ranking since 1998. It now sits below Denmark, Finland and Sweden who make up the top three.
The Public Service Association is worried about the slip and has urged the Government to take the report seriously.
"While our members work extremely hard to maintain an open and impartial public service, the Government's been complacent about New Zealand's reputation," says PSA National Secretary Glenn Barclay.
Mr Barclay says the gradual slide isn't surprising given a "growing lack of transparency".
He pointed to recent examples including journalists and members of the public being charged for Official Information Act requests and also facing sometimes lengthy delays.
The secrecy around the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the process around the Auckland Convention Centre and Serco's handling of Mt Eden Prison have also damaged New Zealand's reputation.
But Justice Minister Amy Adams says the ranking "reflects the good systems we have in place for exposing corruption in the public sector".
New Zealand scored 88 points from a possible 100, which represented a slight slip in standards on the previous year, when we earned 91 points -- but Ms Adams says there's plenty to be positive about.
"While New Zealand's score and ranking on the index have dropped since last year, we are still perceived as one of the least corrupt countries in the world and held in high esteem internationally."
"The Government has strengthened our anti-corruption measures and enhanced transparency since the underlying surveys for this index were undertaken, which we would expect will have a positive impact next year," she explained.
But Labour leader Andrew Little says the result could affect New Zealand's international reputation.
"This is a worry, because you know international investors look at this, and people overseas looks at this, and particularly seeing two successive drops, people will see this and say 'Jeez, something's happening in New Zealand."
The annual report is based on expert opinions from around the world and measures the perceived levels of public sector corruption worldwide.
4 New Zealand
5 = Netherlands, Norway
10 = Germany, Luxembourg, United Kingdon
158 = Haiti, Guinea-Bissau, Venezuela
161 = Iraq, Libya
163 = Angola, South Sudan
167 = North Korea, Somalia
(Source: Transparency International)