NZ maintains high score in corruption index

Transparency International has released the 2014 Corruption Perception Index. New Zealand drops from first to second place but maintains it’s 2013 score of 91. It was 90 in 2012. Denmark increased from 91 to 92 which put it just ahead on ranking.

The Corruption Perceptions Index ranks countries and territories based on how corrupt their public sector is perceived to be. A country or territory’s score indicates the perceived level of public sector corruption on a scale of 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean). A country or territory’s rank indicates its position relative to the other countries and territories in the index.

Top twenty:

RANK COUNTRY 2014 2013 2012
1 Denmark 92 91 90
2 New Zealand 91 91 90
3 Finland 89 89 90
4 Sweden 87 89 88
5 Norway 86 86 85
5 Switzerland 86 85 86
7 Singapore 84 86 87
8 Netherlands 83 83 84
9 Luxembourg 82 80 80
10 Canada 81 81 84
11 Australia 80 81 85
12 Germany 79 78 79
12 Iceland 79 78 82
14 United Kingdom 78 76 74
15 Belgium 76 75 75
15 Japan 76 74 74
17 Barbados 74 75 76
17 Hong Kong 74 75 77
17 Ireland 74 72 69
17 United States 74 73 73

That’s a very good result, but it isn’t being reported like that. Firstline started their item just now saying we had dropped, and it was introduced as saying ‘plummeted’ – not sure if it was tongue in cheek or not. And an expert commentator corrected the perception.

A misleading NZ Herald headline: Politics: Is NZ becoming more corrupt?

New Zealand has been knocked off its perch as the least corrupt country on earth, slipping to number two on the just-announced Transparency International Corruption Perception Index. So does this mean we’re becoming more corrupt?

And, with so many corruption stories and allegations in the media and politics over the last year, shouldn’t we have expected our ranking to drop further than just one place? Why hasn’t Dirty Politics translated into an international ‘telling off’ for New Zealand?

Should New Zealand have fallen further?

The first thing to note about the New Zealand’s drop in the corruption index is that the raw score for the country remains the same: 91 out of 100. By contrast Denmark has increased its score to 92, which explains the loss of the number one ranking. Therefore this is hardly bad news for New Zealand’s reputation.

Despite Edwards and the Herald portraying it as bad news.

And 3 News reports: Don’t take NZ’s corruption rating for granted – Labour

We might be seen as one of the least corrupt countries, but it’s important not to become complacent, Labour’s justice spokeswoman Jacinda Ardern says.

Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index released on Wednesday ranked New Zealand second for least perceived corruption in the public sector, beaten out only by Denmark.

It’s the first time since 2006 New Zealand’s been knocked off its first-place post which it shared last year with Denmark.

Ms Ardern says in a year of reports into unsavoury political and public activity, the drop in placings should give everyone pause to think.

“Today’s report shows we cannot take anything for granted if we want to maintain our hard fought for reputation.

“Good governance, transparency and vigilance in the face of a changing globalised environment are all key if we are to maintain a well-functioning democracy.”

My headline for that item would be “NZ maintains high corruption score but Labour still grizzles”.

Tacked on the end of the article:

Justice Minister Amy Adams said New Zealand’s public sector is internationally renowned for low levels of corruption and noted a number of anti-corruption initiatives had been passed by the Government this year.

But that doesn’t make a good headline.

Back to Edwards in the Herald.

Why are allegations of corruption increasing?

A caution about the perceptions of increased corruption in New Zealand also needs to be made. Just because there are many more media stories and allegations of corruption made by politicians, this doesn’t actually mean that New Zealand is becoming more corrupt.

While the media promote stories about allegations of corruption it “doesn’t actually mean that New Zealand is becoming more corrupt”, it just means media is getting more dramatic and less accurate.

And we should take allegations about corruption from various politicians with even more caution. Such allegations are the new weapon of electioneering. In a period when policy is less important or divergent in New Zealand politics, it is now issues of integrity that have become the main battleground for the political parties. They can often score easy hits against opponents by impugning their reputations.

Again the most pertinent commentary was relegated to the end of the article, well below the misleading headlines.

Media are often willing participants in promoting “allegations about corruption from various politicians” without providing sufficient examination of the validity of the claims.

They are often pawns of attack politicians. Is there a corruption index for media?

Leave a comment


  1. Brown

     /  4th December 2014

    I am always suspicious of such lists and its funny that there are countries toward the top of the list I think are in decline because they are soft cocks without a sense of identity or history. They may not be “nice” places to live despite the veneer of civility.

  2. The ‘teflon’ on ‘Team Key’ is starting to develop a few holes.. methinks our ‘corruption-free’ status is also a very thin veneer & it could well start to, fall off too !

    • Mike C

       /  4th December 2014

      Nope Zedd. TransTasman just gave John Key a brand new Teflon suit. Last year’s suit was 90% bullet proof. The new suit is even better, and is 95% bullet proof. LOL.

      • I listened to parliament yesterday.. NZ rose from 4 to No. 1 (under Helen)……. BUT has now slipped to 2 (under ‘teflon’ John)
        3-4 could be ‘back on the horizon’ (or even lower) 3 years is a very LONG time in politics !
        sorry I’m not laughing (along with Mr ‘teflon’ & his cronies)

    • Budgieboy

       /  4th December 2014

      Yeah Team Key has been under the pump a bit and with a media driven obsession opps I mean attack it’s not surprising!

      Talk of corruption is a bit over the top though, we are still bloody lucky in that regards – regardless of which side is in power and playing politics.

  3. The rating is only about percieved corruption. If people knew how corrupt the system is here that would change.


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