Last year, we learned that Treasury had been behaving like bankers, accepting lavish gifts and corporate hospitality from the people they were meant to be representing us against. The public scandal forced Treasury to accept proactive disclosure of such bribes, and to place strict limits on the acceptance of hospitality. Now, that regime is having the desired effect:
Treasury Secretary Gabriel Makhlouf turned down several invitations to schmooze with private sector high-flyers in the first six months of the year, limiting the risk he will be accused of corporate cronyism.This is a positive outcome. Our public servants must not only be non-corrupt, they must be seen to be so. Accepting corporate hospitality undermines that perception, which is why the SSC forbids it. If Treasury staff want to behave like bankers, they can bloody well piss off and work for a bank.
Makhlouf accepted dinner invitations from the Department of Prime and Cabinet and the Governor-General in the six months ended June 30, but shied away from other offers, according to his latest expense claims.
He declined offers of theatre tickets from Craigs Investment Partners, which is one of the firms involved in the government's mixed-ownership model programme, and Deutsche Bank, and said no to drinks with the board of Bank of New Zealand, and didn't attend a farewell for KPMG's Andrew Dinsdale.
Mahklouf also turned down dinner with officials from the Ministry of Science and Innovation and a dinner date with the Lord Mayor of London Alderman David Wootton.