Penny Bright: Is New Zealand really one of the 'least corrupt' countries in the world?

Interviewed by

Lisa Er

Penny Bright: Is New Zealand really one of the 'least corrupt' countries in the world?

In this interview anti-privatisation and anti-corruption whistle-blower, Penny Bright, talks on issues around the three Cs - Corruption, Contractocracy, and Corporate Welfare, as well as issues around the private procurement model for public services.

Penny says the root cause of most corruption is privatisation. She asks why the Public Records Act is not being fully implemented and enforced in New Zealand.

If New Zealand is truly 'the least corrupt country in the world' - shouldn't we arguably be the most transparent?

She says public transport is not public, and asks what the implications are of a fuel tax.

Penny has been involved in opposing the Tamaki 'Regeneration' project and speaks about dubious government and private dealings there.

She talks on the murdered Maltese investigative journalist who exposed the Panama Papers and has found some disturbing New Zealand connections.

Penny also speaks on State Capture, where private interests significantly influence the government’s decision-making processes to their own advantage.”

INTERNATIONAL RULE OF LAW FORUM

Penny Bright, was invited as a NZ 'Rule of Law' expert, together with nearly 300 attendees from 75 countries to the 2017 World Justice Project International Rule of Law Forum at The Hague. There she informed the delegates that New Zealand is a “Corrupt, polluted tax haven.

She says, "My political 'bombshell' was about NZ's corruption REALITY, and

in my opinion, New Zealand is a 'corrupt, polluted tax haven - a banana republic without the bananas'. I also stated that the Transparency International 'Corruption Perception Index' (which NZ topped 10 times, sometimes 1st equal) should be screwed up and thrown into the rubbish bin of history.”

PRESS RELEASE THURSDAY JAN 26 2017

Penny Bright Independent candidate Mt Albert by-election says The 2016 Corruption Perception Index isn't worth the paper it's written on."

She says, "This 'Corruption Perception Index' is not based upon measurable, objective yardsticks - but essentially the subjective opinions of anonymous business people."

http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1701/S00171/the-2016-corruption-perception-index-isnt-worth-the-paper.htm

“Here were objective, significant milestones or yardsticks for quantifying corruption REALITY, rather than relying largely upon the subjective opinions of anonymous businesspeople for PERCEPTION of corruption which in her view are a meaningless measure.

I pointed out how in 2010 how I had attended the Transparency International Anti-Corruption Conference in Bangkok.

Where we were told that the global procurement market was $14 TRILLION and the amount estimated to be lost in bribery and corruption was $2.5 TRILLION!

I had a HUGE lightbulb moment! Wouldn't $2.5 trillion ($2,500,000,000,000, or $2.5 thousand billion) help to feed, clothe, water and shelter a few poor people?

Then another 'lightbulb' moment - was that Transparency International were not looking at the underpinning private procurement MODEL, and only the private procurement PROCESS.”

PRIVATE PROCUREMENT MODEL FOR PUBLIC SERVICES:

As soon as you get into the private procurement (contracting out) of public services, formerly provided in house by staff directly employed under the public service model, you got into CONTRACT MANAGEMENT.

Government or Council staff were regarded as not competent to do contract management - so a 'bureaucrats would then hire CONSULTANTS to 'project manage' the WORKS CONTRACTORS, who would then usually SUB-CONTRACT. So by the time you got down to those in the boots and overalls getting their hands dirty and actually doing something productive - you might have up to 4 layers of pinstripe suits clipping the ticket, while effectively doing nothing.

How is that a more 'cost-effective' use of public money?

Penny says, “In 2010, at the Transparency International Anti-Corruption Conference, I asked a (high-faluting) panel - where was the EVIDENCE that the private procurement of public services, that used to be provided at central and local government level, was more 'cost-effective' than former 'in-house' service provision?

(It was like I had slapped the face of the person who was chairing the panel.

He literally did a 'double-take' and mumbled that there was evidence - but none was ever provided.)

My point to this 2017 World Justice Forum group - was that in my opinion, it was time to look at the whole underpinning private procurement MODEL for public services.

( IMO - it is the privatisation -private procurement - of public services which is the major source of GRAND corruption.”

THE ROOT CAUSE OF CORRUPTION IS PRIVATISATION:

Penny is one of the few people in the world actually saying that the root cause of most GRAND corruption- is PRIVATISATION.

How is it decided who GETS the contracts?

Remember - back in 2010 - the global amount estimated to be paid in bribery and corruption was $2.5 TRILLION!

This is a BIG deal.

The whole Neo-liberal myth and mantra - 'public is bad - private is good' upon which this massive privatisation of public services, locally, nationally and internationally was based - was NOT 'evidence based'.

The BIG business globalists - just MADE IT UP!

If there is no 'cost-benefit analysis' which proves the privatisation (contracting out of public services is more cost-effective' for the public majority of taxpayers and ratepayers - then it's 'CORPORATE welfare'.

Penny asks the most pertinent questions.

Shouldn't the public majority (the 99%) benefit from public monies - not a small minority of private corporates (the 1%)?

While there is a punitive 'Social WARfare' /'War on the Poor' regime waged against the most vulnerable and disadvantaged, there is, a completely different attitude towards the rich' on 'corporate welfare'.

Where exactly are billion$ of public monies being spent on private sector consultants and contractors?

How can you check for 'cost-effectiveness' in the spending of public monies being spent on private sector consultant$ and contractors, if you don't know exactly where these costs fall?

WHY IS THE PUBLIC RECORDS ACT NOT BEING FULLY IMPLEMENTED AND ENFORCED?

NZ LAW is very clear on this requirement for transparency in public spending.

The NZ Public Records Act 2005:.

http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/2005/0040/latest/DLM345729.html

17. Requirement to create and maintain records

(1)Every public office and local authority must create and maintain full and accurate records of its affairs, in accordance with normal, prudent business practice, including the records of any matter that is contracted out to an independent contractor.

How can you have transparency or accountability without full and accurate records available for public scrutiny?

The NZ Public Records Act 2005 has been the LAW for the last TWELVE years.

Why is the Public Records Act not being fully implemented and enforced?

Penny clearly states that the full implementation and enforcement of the NZ Public Records Act 2005, would transform transparency and accountability, and this should be an urgent priority for this new Labour-led Coalition Government.

Penny’s call for transparency includes

“OPEN THE BOOK$!

CUT OUT THE CONTRACTOR$!

BRING NZ LOCAL AND CENTRAL GOVERNMENT PUBLIC SERVICES BACK 'IN-HOUSE' UNDER THE GENUINE PUBLIC SERVICES MODEL!

PURGE THE FORMER PRIVATE SECTOR BUSINESSPEOPLE FROM THE LOCAL AND CENTRAL GOVERNMENT 'BUREAUCRACY' AND BRING BACK GENUINE 'PUBLIC SERVANTS'.

and

STOP THE 'THREE 'C's!

The CONTRACTOCRACY, CORRUPTION and CORPORATE welfare.”

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FUEL TAX:

In Auckland, what is being proposed is an Auckland Regional Fuel Tax, to help fund developments with 'public transport'.

However - there is no such thing, as 'PUBLIC' transport in Auckland.

The trains, buses and ferry services are PUBLICLY-subsidised, but privately owned, operated and managed, passenger transport operators.

Auckland Transport won't reveal how many public millions are being paid to subsidise private passenger transport, on top of their private profits. Their 'books' are NOT open - regarding the millions of public monies paid to subsidise these private passenger transport operators.

Penny calls to make Auckland Transport 'PUBLIC' again!

Get rid of Auckland Transport as a CCO, and bring it back under direct Auckland Council control. And no Auckland Regional Fuel Tax!

THE TAMAKI REGENERATION PROJECT:

The Tamaki 'Regeneration' project - has proven to be a “HUGE GENTRIFICATION SCAM” pushing state tenants off prime real estate. Under the National Government the ownership of 2,867 properties from housing New Zealand were transferred into this Tamaki Regeneration Limited – a 100% crown owned crown entity company. This company then is on selling the land.

Former Tamaki State tenants have been forced off prime real estate to make way for private mansions for the wealthy, and private profits for property developer.

Penny speaks passionately about this, having spent months researching this issue and spending time on site with some of the tenants.

Here is a video about this.

Penny believes there should be an urgent parliamentary enquiry into the Tamaki “scam”.

STATE CAPTURE

A form of corrupt practice, which, in Penny’s opinion, is endemic in NZ, is 'State Capture'.

'State Capture' is where (corporate) vested interests get their way, at the POLICY level of government, in order to get laws passed that serve their interests.

With whom are the 'policy analysts' consulting, before legislation goes through the Parliamentary 'sausage machine'? Penny says, “Check the Regulatory Impact Statements to find out.”

PANAMA PAPERS

New Zealand in Penny’s opinion, is a corrupt, polluted tax haven.

It was murdered Maltese investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia who

'blew the whistle' and twice exposed links between Maltese 'Politically Exposed Persons' (PEPs) and NZ foreign trusts being used for money-laundering, information that had been revealed in the Panama Papers.

On 1 August 2017, the (former) Chair of Transparency International, Jose Ugaz, at a meeting of over 200 people at Rutherford House, Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand, stated that John Key should be investigated over the Panama Papers.

2 days after Daphne was blown to pieces in a car bomb attack (16 October 2017), it was announced that former NZ John Key Prime Minister would become Chair of the Board of ANZ. The ANZ bank is the Australian bank which had been mentioned more in the Panama Papers than any other Australian bank.

Why no NZ mainstream media coverage of this story?

Penny calls for an investigation of John Key over the Panama Papers!

MALTA SCANDAL EXPOSES NZ TRUSTS AGAIN:

It was murdered Maltese investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia who exposed, via the Panama Papers, how NZ foreign trusts were used as money-laundering vehicles by Maltese Politically Exposed Persons.

The saga began in February 2016 when Caruana-Galizia revealed that Schembri and Mizzi had set up two Panama companies, Tillgate Inc and Hearnville Inc, owned by the Haast Trust and Rotorua Trust in New Zealand.

In April 2016, the Financial Review published new details of Schembri and Mizzi's New Zealand trusts and their attempts to open a bank account in Dubai.

A Malta magistrate is investigating the explosive claims of money laundering and corruption that have put New Zealand in the middle of a global cash trail from the family of Azerbaijan president Ilham Aliyev.

President Aliyev's daughter, Leyla Aliyeva, is alleged to have channelled more than NZ$1.6 million to senior figures of the Malta government, including Prime Minister Joseph Muscat's wife.

These include alleged payments to Panama companies owned by New Zealand trusts set up by the Malta Energy Minister Karl Mizzi and Muscat's chief of staff, Keith Schembri.

On April 20, Maltese blogger Daphne Caruana-Galizia reported that she held copies of documents originally stored in a kitchen at Pilatus Bank, which showed that Egrant Inc, a mystery Panama Papers company identified by the Financial Review last year, was secretly owned by the Maltese Prime Minister's wife, Michelle Muscat.

In March 2016, a Dubai company controlled by Leyla Aliyeva had transferred US$1.017 million (NZ$1.47 million) marked as a loan into Egrant's account at Pilatus Bank, Caruana-Galizia reported.

Joseph Muscat denied the claims, calling it the "biggest political lie in Malta's history".

Caruana-Galizia reported that other payments were made from Leyla Aliyeva's company to Pilatus accounts held by Egrant as well as Tillgate Inc and Hearnville Inc, two Panama companies that are owned by Schembri and Mizzi, through New Zealand trusts.

The latest revelations, if substantiated, are an embarrassment for the New Zealand government, which announced an inquiry into its offshore trust laws on April 11 last year, the day after the Financial Review revealed details of how Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca's Malta agent, BT Nexia, began setting up Tillson, Hearnville and Egrant five days after Muscat's election victory in 2013.

Mossack Fonseca's files were obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung.

New Zealand subsequently amended its offshore trusts regime, requiring foreign trusts to file annual accounts with the New Zealand tax office, but with no further restrictions.

At that time, it appeared the Malta trusts had never been used, after Mizzi and Schembri's Panama companies were turned down by eight banks who refused to open accounts for them because they were Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs).

The Panama Papers, however, show repeated cases of overseas investors filing false or implausible sets of accounts with New Zealand lawyers, who have limited means to verify the figures.

NEW ZEALAND’S SIGNIFICANT ROLE:

The latest wave of allegations in Malta underline how easily the New Zealand disclosure laws can be avoided, which the new laws do not change.

If the reports are substantiated, they raise a far more serious picture of money-laundering, from one of the most corrupt countries in the world, in which New Zealand's foreign trusts played a significant role.

We need far more mainstream investigative journalism and reporting on this issue.

Here is a video of a small protest that Penny held in solidarity for Daphne Caruana Galizia, in Auckland on 3 November 2017.

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Penny Bright has been arrested 22 times after being (unlawfully) denied speaking rights at Auckland City Council, mainly on matters relating to water. Four District Court Judges have acknowledged the 'Public Watchdog' role - so that is why she describes herself as a judicially recognised Public Watchdog' on Metrowater, water and Auckland regional governance matters.

Penny has also been described in the NZ Herald as an 'anti-corruption campaigner' in the fight for more transparency and accountability particularly at local government. Penny Bright helped to set up the 'Stop the Supercity' group - which is totally opposed to the attempted corporate takeover of the Auckland region to run it 'like a business, by business - for business'.

She hasn’t paid her rates for 9 years, and won’t until Auckland Council tells us how our rate payers money is being spent. See her Greenplanet interview about this – here.

Having been a mayoral candidate three times, she has a public profile that people are bound to have an opinion about.

Always campaigning with an element of humour, Penny signs her e-mails with,

‘Her Warship’.

This interview was sponsored by The Awareness Party

 

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Lisa Er

Lisa Er

Born in the UK Lisa emigrated with her parents to New Zealand at the age of 16. Already politically active Lisa has continued to have a passionate interest in peace, politics, and the philosophy behind what we do.

A primary school teacher for 14 years, Lisa then turned her hand to business and created the well known Lisa's Hummus, which she sold a few years ago. Now Lisa is immersed in creating a better political system via www.theawarenessparty.com

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