Posts Tagged ‘corporate gifts’

Once upon a time…


… this would not have been considered even remotely acceptable.

Once upon a time, every media in the country would have been chasing up this story.

Once upon a time, departmental heads would have rolled, and perhaps even a Minister of the Crown would have been called to account.

Once upon a time, there would have been a Commission of Inquiry called on this matter.

But not anymore. New Zealand, 2011AD, is a far different place than even 25 years ago.

Now the following seems quite acceptable;

$$$   Hundreds of corporate freebies – including pantomime, wine festival and horse racing tickets – were accepted by public sector staff.

$$$   A Treasury  register reveals Treasury staff have taken more than two hundred gifts in the past eleven months from banks like Barclays, Westpac, BNZ and ANZ.

$$$   The head of the Debt Management Office, Phil Combes, has been entertained at dozens of dinners and lunches as far afield as London and Tokyo and  went to a pantomime courtesy of the BNZ on December 9, 2010.

$$$   The newly-appointed chief executive of the Treasury, Gabriel Makhlouf, accepted theatre tickets to The Great Gatsby from law firm Chapman Tripp, on August 3, 2010.

$$$   Makhlouf, when he was deputy chief executive, was also a guest of Datacom at the Wellington Sevens this year. The then-Treasury head John Whitehead was also at the Sevens as a guest of KPMG.

$$$   Debt Management Office staff  recorded on a register as having accepted at least 165 gifts since July last year.Debt Management Office. (There are 24 staffmembers at DMO.)

$$$   Among the other gifts recorded on the register, Debt Management Office portfolio manager Matthew Collin was taken to a movie premiere by CBA in September 2010.

$$$   PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) paid for deputy chief executive Andrew Kibblewhite’s World of WearableArts tickets.

$$$   Westpac and ANZ paid for Debt Management Office portfolio manager Matthew Collin to play golf on four separate occasions.

$$$   Matthew Collin was given  tickets to the Top Gear television show from CBA and to the cricket from ANZ Bank.

$$$   Collin and assistant portfolio manager Briar Fergusson both went to the boxing courtesy of Westpac.

$$$   Westpac also entertained five staff from the debt management office at the 2008 Wellington Sevens.

Quoted material above sourced to:

Foreign-owned banks wine and dine Treasury staff

‘Freebies’ lead to Debt Management Office audit call

Greens demand audit over corporate gifts

Fresh calls for Treasury ‘gifts’ inquiry

It seems that, as New Zealand society underwent a seismic transformation in the mid/late 1980s, it was more than just our economy was was turned on it’s head. As well, our social values have been up-ended. What was once considered corrupt practice and utterly unacceptable – now seems to pass with barely any eye-brows raised or fuss made.

The Greens have uncovered a culture of  (borderline ?) corrupt behaviour, and which merits only a week’s worth of headlines.

It is worth noting that, by comparison, a certain penguin attracted more attention; more scrutiny; and vastly more media coverage.

However, our British cuzzies are not quite so sanguin, as evidenced by a recent law enacted in the U.K…


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Once upon a time, civil servants accepting gifts from corporates would have been a scandal that would have rocked a government.

But, it seems, we have “moved on”  from such ‘niceties’.

Meanwhile, contrast this issue with that of “The News of the World” scandal in the U.K. Corrupt behaviour in that country is not taken as lightly, as a 180 year old newspaper is forced to close; senior Police officials have resigned; arrests have been made; people have gone to prison – and a corporate empire than spans the planet is itself under threat.

The question for us, here in New Zealand remains – how is ‘Happy Feet‘ doing?

Priorities, people; priorities.

– Thursday, 28 July 2011


+++ Updates +++


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