NZ public service least corrupt: survey

STACEY KIRK
Last updated 10:02 04/12/2013

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New Zealand has retained its top spot and gained a point from last year in the latest Corruption Perceptions Index.

Both New Zealand and Denmark received a score of 91 out of 100 for joint leadership in the index, which ranks the transparency of public sectors across 177 countries.

The figures, released by the Transparency International Secretariat in Berlin, rank countries and territories based on how corrupt their public sector is perceived to be.

Australia came ninth on the list, below the Netherlands and Switzerland.

Finland dropped a place to third, while the countries perceived to be the most corrupt were Afghanistan, North Korea and Somalia.

The Ombudsman said increased output from the office had contributed to the top ranking.

This year, the office has seen an unprecedented surge in the number of complaints over the way government agencies are releasing public information.

In September, investigators were struggling to clear a backlog of more than 2000 grievances.

Over the past year, at least 13,684 complaints and other contacts with the office had been registered. Of those, 13,358 had been closed.

There were still 2082 Official Information Act (OIA) complaints being investigated, but the office said that because people were far more aware of its functions, it had lead to a greater understanding of what the public could come to expect from its public service.

It is the eighth year in row New Zealand had measured as having the least-corrupt public service in the world.

Justice Minister Judith Collins said that was one of New Zealand's biggest assets internationally.

"People who live, do business and invest in New Zealand know that they can trust our laws and our government to protect their rights and freedoms," she said.

"This reflects the integrity of our system and the people who work in it."

She said the ranking opened doors for New Zealand businesses around the world.

New Zealand was also ranked first on the Forbes magazine list of the Best Countries for Business. Collins said this was partially due to the high trust in our public sector, and our transparent and stable business climate.

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