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Expert warns NZ is too casual about conflicts of interest

Newstalk ZB ,
Publish Date
Thursday, 14 March 2019, 8:13p.m.
Lianne Dalziel is one of those politicians in the headlines about a conflict of interest. (Photo / NZ Herald)

An expert says that being a small country makes declaring conflicts of interest hard. 

It comes after Shane Jones declared one but decided he wouldn't leave the room when it came to a debate about his conflict.

And Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel had to admit she probably should have declared a conflict, as her husband's law firm did lobbying work for a water bottling company she approved a permit for.

Transparency New Zealand’s Suzanne Snively told Larry Williams that everyone should list all their interests when in major decision making roles. 

"It should be a regular practice that they record their interests once a month, and then date them for any changes."

She says that it would ensure their interests are always on the record. 

When it comes to decision making, Snively says people should declare their conflicts before the meeting takes place.

Organisations should have clear guidelines around their polcies. 

"We're a small country, and we actually need people in decision making roles who are conflicted at times. We need them to be there as they are the experts," Snively says. 

"In doing so, there needs to be a process that everyone has agreed to in advance to when they can be in the room and when they shouldn't."

She says that not all interests of private companies needs to be made public, but they should be made clear to the board.

Snively says that New Zealand has a 'she'll be alright' casual attitude that has warped our attitude towards conflicts. 

"More than ever, politicians have to be transparent about their conflicts." 

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