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SkyCity: they’re toxic

Written By: - Date published: 8:11 am, December 16th, 2013 - 170 comments
Categories: auckland supercity, Economy, local government - Tags:

The mode of business that SkyCity operates is one that is going to be toxic for politics. For a politician to be taking favours from a company whose central business is gambling makes them reek of possible corruption in the public eye.

Schmoozing up politicians with free rooms might look like a harmless freebie when they come to pay their bill, but it looks downright fishy and probably corrupt to everyone else when it involves a gambling company. So does being wined and dined at their corporate box at Eden Park to watch a game. So does National holding their frequent conferences at the existing SkyCity convention centre. Every time I see that I ask myself – just how good was the rate that they actually paid?

The reason is obvious. SkyCity derives most of its profit from the highly regulated area of gambling and where they have clear business focus of trying to monopolize the local market in Auckland. They badly need politicians to give them a free run at that by removing the regulation that protects the public.  For them the reputation that the politician has after they get what they want simply doesn’t matter that much.

But the reputation that a politician has is what they trade on election after election. Once it gets tattered with any major perception of corruption then they really a dead meat walking. John Banks has pretty much already been convicted in the public mind. I rather suspect that Len Brown is going to find that out.

The report that the Auckland City Council commissioned* about use of council resources showed no particular smoking gun. It was largely sloppy management control of the resources of the mayors office. The nearest thing to systematic misuse was the use of a mobile phone on which about a third of it’s use was to txt or call Bevan Chaung. The problem is that separating personal and work use is notoriously difficult, and that the phone was almost certainly on an unlimited or near unlimited contract which makes the marginal costs of calls moot.

In the course of the investigation the report looked at hotel rooms, which turned out to have little to do with the council. However they have a lot to do with politics.

Hotel Total room nights booked Complimentary room nights Upgrade room nights
Heritage 1 0 1
Hilton 4 4 0
Stamford Plaza 57 0 57
SKYCITY 8 3 5
Pullman 1 0 0
Langham 2 1 1
Copthorne 1 1 0
Total 74 9 64

The estimates about the value of hotel room upgrades is complete bullshit. Hotel room upgrades are common if there isn’t demand for the better room. Then it costs the hotel essentially nothing to do.  It is a marginal cost for different consumables.

As you can see the mayor and his family (the mayoress paid for it) used the Stamford Plaza on a regular basis, which had 57 of the 74 hotel nights over a 1087 day period. That made them high value regulars and that meant that any hotel with upgradeable capacity will be upgrading them if at all possible. 

But what is interesting are the complimentary hotel rooms where the room is free. This actually does cost the hotel. But it also isn’t uncommon especially if the hotel can make money on other services like meals or if they are trying to poach a regular customer from another hotel. The 4 free rooms at the Hilton and one each from the Langham and Copthorne look like examples of this. For that matter so do the 3 free rooms at Skycity….

But the problem with the Skycity free rooms is that they happened over the same period that Skycity was lobbying both the local and central government to provide a convention centre (that many including myself think is a white elephant) in exchange for significiant increase in their ability to increase their gambling capacity. The dirty (and in my view – corrupt) deals done with the National government have been pretty well documented.

The stench of that is probably going to carry over to those three free room nights. It doesn’t matter if the Hilton did 4 nights. It is fairly clear that they had no particular advantage to schmooze the mayor apart from his habit of staying at another hotel.  But Skycity is far more vertically integrated between its gambling and hotel business. Politically Len Brown accepting three free nights there is political suicide.

Of course as Brian Rudman at the NZ Herald points out, there is bugger all that anyone can do about Len Brown before the next local body elections in 2016.  People who want to whine about that should direct themselves to Rodney Hide who monumentally screwed up most of the supercity legislation including making the mayor a presidential style of position.

* Incidentally Christine Fletcher is a bit of a munter trying to get Len Brown to pay for a report that the council commissioned. At least a  large chunk of the fault for the few minor bits of questionable spending lies with the council for not monitoring expenditures better. That the Bernard Osman at the NZ Herald has written this stupid piece without bothering to note that, indicates he really needs to brush up on his basic organisational responsibilities.

170 comments on “SkyCity: they’re toxic ”

  1. tinfoilhat 1

    Please stop running distractions and blaming the mayors appalling behaviour on everyone but the one who is culpable.

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 1.1

      🙄

      *whoosh*

      • lprent 1.1.1

        Yeah he can’t read..

        • tinfoilhat 1.1.1.1

          she…..thank you very much, and yes I can read very well what you wrote and what was between the lines.

          • One Anonymous Knucklehead 1.1.1.1.1

            Maybe it’s the stuff between the lines you made up that’s causing the problem, because I can read perfectly well too and the article is critical of Brown, though perhaps not for the reasons you prefer.

    • karol 1.2

      This, from the end of Lynn’s post:

      Politically Len Brown accepting three free nights there is political suicide.

      Of course as Brian Rudman at the NZ Herald points out, there is bugger all that anyone can do about Len Brown before the next local body elections in 2016. People who want to whine about that should direct themselves to Rodney Hide who monumentally screwed up most of the supercity legislation including making the mayor a presidential style of position.

      Len Brown has been on the wrong side of the Sky City convention issue for a while.

      But the problem is a deep one. It is expensive to run a mayoral campaign. Brown accepted donations from various sources. And Sky City was looking to get influence with both Banks & Brown when they went head to head in the 2010 mayoral campaign.

      It’s hard to have a mayoral campaign in the amalgamated Auckland Council without having to deal with the power of big money. Rodney Hide’s structure of the super city opened the dorr to such manipulations.

      Many of us on the left want a truly left wing mayor. Brown was always a compromise for me. We were given limited real choices. I voted Brown because he was, and still is, preferable to Banks.

      How can we ever get a mayor who is not beholden to the corporate world? We certainly won’t get it from the SkyCity loving right. We need much better from the left.

    • whatever next 1.3

      Power is seductive, Mayor Len Brown’s over Bevan Chuang, and Sky City’s power over those that like the high life, which number quite a few these days….

  2. dv 2

    >>Incidentally Christine Fletcher is a bit of a munter trying to get Len Brown to pay for a report that the council commissioned.

    Does that mean McCully and Dunne will pay for their leak investigations?

    • lprent 2.1

      I was thinking Bill English over his double dipping and perhaps John Key should pay his own legal costs in the McCready case against him for illegal spying.

  3. Grumpy 3

    Ooh, so it’s not Len’s fault that evil SKYCITY keep giving him free rooms then?
    Now we’ve got that straight………

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 3.1

      Then what is the “problem” Lprent keeps bringing up?

      For those of us who don’t think he should go for being a left-winger who had sex, Len Brown’s acceptance of free hotel rooms from money-launderers is the nail in his coffin.

      • Lanthanide 3.1.1

        Personally I think it’s pretty small beer.

        • Colonial Viper 3.1.1.1

          It pretty much is in terms of dollar total – but the look and timing re: SkyCity is pretty horrific.

        • lprent 3.1.1.2

          It is in monetary terms. The political issue is accepting anything from SkyCity while they were trying to push the conference centre.

          • Lanthanide 3.1.1.2.1

            I’d ultimately have to agree on that.

            Even though SkyCity is actually doing this dirty deal with the government, Len Brown as the mayor still has a large role in it and so should be keeping himself as clear as possible.

            Still, while it isn’t a good look, I don’t think it’s a sacking offence. If the number of rooms/upgrades had been larger, or Len could be shown to have been deliberately chasing them, that’d be worse.

    • Tracey 3.2

      Reading is a skill. If you cant read that lprent is suggesting Brown’s career is as good as over in 2016 because of his own actions, you are in need of reading recovery courses. There used to be night classes at colleges, but National scrapped those. perhaps they like the idea of a dumbed down population such as yourself grumpy?

      • TightyRighty 3.2.1

        2016? if you, and others on the left, think he shouldn’t be punished for his actions for three years, there are more serious problems than reading comprehension.

        • lprent 3.2.1.1

          I guess you didn’t read that dumbarse legislation that the political dickhead Rodney Hide of the party of morons (Act) inflicted on Aucklanders back in 2009?

          You remember… That was when the fool completely overrode the Royal Commission’s recommendations and with the full backing of National imposed a corporate structure on Auckland that most closely resembles a fascist state.

          Part of that was putting in a presidential mayor. There are exactly two ways that Len can be deposed. Read the Rudman link in the post.

          That’s unless he’s chased out of town and thus ceases to remain an elector, or if he is convicted of an offence punishable by a term of imprisonment of two years or more. Not charged with, but convicted.

          When you desist from doing your little right wank and let some blood back into your brain, you might want to consider what charge there is that could be brought to run him through the courts? I can’t see one.

          Weren’t you praising Rodney Hide for his great legislation on this site throughout the supershitty debate? I’m damn sure that you were…

          • grumpy 3.2.1.1.1

            You seem to be obsessed with the sexual aspect of this. Len has shown no contrition for anything. The biggest apology he owes is to you guys – his supporters. He has ripped off the ratepayers (in my mind a fairly minor issue), accepted free gifts and campaign contributions from SKYCITY (John Banks territory) but most of all he has embarrassed his supporters who feel they need to make dicks of themselves to support him.
            If he had an ounce of decency (which he clearly hasn’t) he would quietly pack up and go over Xmas.

            • lprent 3.2.1.1.1.1

              The sexual aspects are all I ever seem to hear from the right. I think that to be a righty you have to think with your dicks… Speaking of which..

              If he had an ounce of decency (which he clearly hasn’t) he would quietly pack up and go over Xmas.

              a. Quite unlikely

              b. Who wants another expensive election especially when there are no candidates worth mentioning – Palino is crispy toast. Minto and most of the others are simply unelectable. There is no-one credible in the wind. I’d anticipate a lameduck mayor winning with 10% of the possible vote on a turnout of less than 40%. Hardly a mandate for anyone.

              c. Who wants the disruption that will put into the infrastructure implementation that requires mayoral approval over the next 6 months? Not only the local stuff but also the national programs. Rodney Hide is such a complete dickhead legislator as he didn’t put in any effective backup to a sitting mayor.

              d. We’ve been waiting for close to two decades for some of the things that are meant to get started this year. Making a choice between having a existing lameduck mayor and a newly elected lameduck mayor is a pointless activity. It seems way too expensive cost to pander to the Mrs Grundys sexual deviancies or for sending a signal to SkyCity

              e. A better course is to get the change in legislation to remove this silly and unmanageable system that Rodney Hide gave us. Electing someone else into that morass of stupidity just compounds the problem. There are too few councillors to be effective, the CCO’s are unworkable (look at the AT Hop card for instance), and the mayoral position is too unassailable. We should fix those before the next election.

              • grumpy

                Hard to disagree with you there {and I notice even you have problems with double comments appearing 🙂 }

                Certainly the legislation needs changing but the projects underway would surely carry on even without a mayor. What the hell do all the other councillors and committees do? The ratbag is just a figurehead (or should be).

                • lprent

                  What the hell do all the other councillors and committees do? The ratbag is just a figurehead (or should be).

                  Think of it as being a presidential system where the mayor has to sign off on everything before it becomes law. But it doesn’t have a fallover system of a vice president or speaker of the house. Nor does it have a system for impeachment.

                  It isn’t a figurehead position. It is a blockage position because everything goes through that position.

                  • you_fool

                    clearly designed for John Banks to fulfill Act’s desires, but (un)fortunately for them it all failed when Len Brown won the election

              • Draco T Bastard

                (look at the AT Hop card for instance)

                The AT Hop card debacle was due to a National MP forcing the Snapper HOP card on us. If that hadn’t happened then the roll out of the AT Hop card would have been almost without incident. Of course, the whole lot would have been better done if the previous government had integrated such cards into the currency system under set standards rather than allowing multiple companies using multiple incompatible standards into the mix.

                Other than that, yeah, the CCOs need to be got rid of and actual control of them returned to the council.

            • lprent 3.2.1.1.1.2

              The sexual aspects are all I ever seem to hear from the right. I think that to be a righty you have to think with your dicks… Speaking of which..

              If he had an ounce of decency (which he clearly hasn’t) he would quietly pack up and go over Xmas.

              a. Quite unlikely

              b. Who wants another expensive election especially when there are no candidates worth mentioning – Palino is crispy toast. Minto and most of the others are simply unelectable. There is no-one credible in the wind. I’d anticipate a lameduck mayor winning with 10% of the possible vote on a turnout of less than 40%. Hardly a mandate for anyone.

              c. Who wants the disruption that will put into the infrastructure implementation that requires mayoral approval over the next 6 months? Not only the local stuff but also the national programs. Rodney Hide is such a complete dickhead legislator as he didn’t put in any effective backup to a sitting mayor.

              d. We’ve been waiting for close to two decades for some of the things that are meant to get started this year. Making a choice between having a existing lameduck mayor and a newly elected lameduck mayor is a pointless activity. It seems way too expensive cost to pander to the Mrs Grundys sexual deviancies or for sending a signal to SkyCity

              e. A better course is to get the change in legislation to remove this silly and unmanageable system that Rodney Hide gave us. Electing someone else into that morass of stupidity just compounds the problem. There are too few councillors to be effective, the CCO’s are unworkable (look at the AT Hop card for instance), and the mayoral position is too unassailable. We should fix those before the next election.

            • Tracey 3.2.1.1.1.3

              I would love him to resign. I would love the supporters of key to call for his resignation over the hundreds of lies he has told the electorate. At least i am consistent in who i call on to resign and WHY.

              Key has told so many lies he has embarrassed his supporters who feel they need to make dicks of themselves to support him

          • TightyRighty 3.2.1.1.2

            While you have your little “my team got off” circle jerk with the other lyen brown fan bois, remember this, i think len was the best of a bad bunch when it came to voting for mayor. so i voted for him as i thought he would be the best for auckland moving forward. he certainly did a fairly good job last term.

            It’s not the money, it’s not that 10% of his calls were to BC (compared to how many to his wife), it’s not even that the supercity legislation doesn’t allow for this situation.

            It’s that this guy campaigned on integrity but blatantly has none. yet somehow, apologists like you think to downplay the significance of this when it was what was first and foremost in the mind of voters when they voted for him. Remember his main opposition? first JB then Palino. hardly integrity focused individuals.

            If the left and it’s prominent commentators had a skerrick of the dignity and democratic values they profess to have, they’d call for his head. or at least put so much pressure on him privately he was forced to step aside immediately. not in 2016 and not when goff is ready. This isn’t a right wing wank, but thanks for reminding everyone of how this issue arose. left wingers, using tax payers dollars to spoof on the keyboard.

            Shall we name the three others mistresses? given BC’s allure, we will see how much of the mayors phone bill and how many free hotel nights he got for the others. say each mistress and his wife got 10% of the bill, that amounts to a personal phone sometimes used for business. wonder how the IRD feels about brown cheating on his FBT declaration.

            • lprent 3.2.1.1.2.1

              …or at least put so much pressure on him privately he was forced to step aside immediately. not in 2016 and not when goff is ready. This isn’t a right wing wank, …

              That is exactly what it is. It isn’t hard to look into Len Brown’s history and find that he is pretty damn stubborn when it comes to pressure being put on him. In fact you don’t have to look past the stupidity of the Mrs Grundy campaign that John Palino and his minons were foolish enough to quietly try.

              There are exactly no levers on the mayor because that was how the idiots in Act set up the position.

              Why would I or anyone else on the left be bothered exerting pressure when it isn’t going to make a blind bit of difference. ANDit will get in the way of starting up the infrastructure projects that are a damn sight more important than right wing Mrs Grundy sentiment?

              We’ll just start looking at who we want to support in 2016. Meanwhile keep gobbling Mrs Grundy…. Perhaps you’ll understand why stupid jerry rigged political structures are a pain in the arse next time.

              • TightyRighty

                yet you support a referendum on asset sales. wow, much consistency.

                • karol

                  TR, do you want to organise a referendum on Brown’s conduct as mayor? How will you word it? Go for it, I say!

                  • TightyRighty

                    I’m good. no point throwing good money after bad. according to lprent it’s all ok as len brown won’t resign anyway.

                    Good think I/S is right on the money on this one. it’s not about the fucking, it’s about the integrity. you guys just keep running interference though. it’s not even the monetary value. one hotel room is one too many.

                    lets have an investigation into all of lens mistresses. if this is just what he takes for one of them, i’d love to see the total.

                    • lprent

                      … if this is just what he takes for one of them, i’d love to see the total.

                      From the public purse? As far as I can see there is exactly nothing taken.

                      Basically you;re looking very very confused (ie stupid) right now..

                      Perhaps you actually should read the E&Y report linked to in the post before making a further fool of yourself.

                    • Naturesong

                      How weird it must be for you to be able to read words, but be completely unable to comprehend what they mean.

                      While not myself a christian, the first verse of the Serenity Prayer seems particularly apt here;

                      God, give me grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, Courage to change the things which should be changed, and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other

                  • Lanthanide

                    Why would I or anyone else on the left be bothered exerting pressure when it isn’t going to make a blind bit of difference.

                    yet you support a referendum on asset sales. wow, much consistency.

        • Tracey 3.2.1.2

          unless he resigns i dont know the legislation supports sacking him. try and keep up, I havent been supporting len Brown for quite some weeks. By all means make it a my team and the other team if it makes you feel good but I dont want Len anymore than I want Banks, Or Heatley or Brownlee (says he didnt understand how the Credit card worked) AND SO ON.

          You guys read so much between the lines yet refuse to read what key actually says, on the lines, and excuse him.

      • grumpy 3.2.2

        2016? FFS his career is over now! He can’t exist without the left support base – just tell him to f**k off, get him a job at the UN or somewhere…….

    • lprent 3.3

      Apart from his family and the prurient dribblers and gossipers, who really cares who the mayor is having sex with. The only interest I’d have is if it intruded into significiant decisions – which it doesn’t seem to have done.

      Basically this isn’t the USA, our “moral majority” is about 2% of the population, and I have a tendency to class obsessive interest in the sex lives of other consenting adults as being an example of the most common version of sexual deviancy we have – Mrs Grundy syndrome.

      Hi Mrs Grundympy – what is your interest in Len Brown? Political or are you being a sexual deviant?

      • grumpy 3.3.1

        I couldn’t give a flying f**k about his sex life but I do about his serial ripping off ratepayers and his sheer stupidity in accepting free rooms (in fact any rooms) for bonking from SKYCITY when there was an ongoing issue over it’s pokie deal.
        Also, if he had a skerrick of honour he would chuck it in now. No right advantage, the job would simply go to a (hopefully) better leftie. There is no upside to the continued excuses and blame shifting from the left on this. Chuck him out, put in a better leftwinger and move on!

        • karol 3.3.1.1

          put in a better leftwinger

          Who? What alternatives are there? Is there a better left winger ready and able to step up?.. especially given the right-slanted, corruption-enhancing structure of the Hyde’s super city creation?

          • grumpy 3.3.1.1.1

            Geez, what an admission! You mean Len’s the best you have?
            Phil Goff looks a starter but it seems he is not left enough for some here. He would make a bloody good mayor though, a bit like Lianne Dalziel in Christchurch.

            • karol 3.3.1.1.1.1

              It’s the most able to compete within a highly skewed system. The buck stops with Hide and the Nats that enabled him to create the undemocratic super city.

              it’s debatable whether Goff is left wing.

            • lprent 3.3.1.1.1.2

              Same problem on the right. John Palino was a political idiot. Brewer is good at self-publicity. We won’t mention that John Banks could see an opportunity..

        • Psycho Milt 3.3.1.2

          Chuck him out, put in a better leftwinger and move on!

          How exactly do you picture that being achieved? It’s been mentioned multiple times now (in the post and in the comments thread) that there is no mechanism for doing that, thanks to the Galtian geniuses of the ACT party.

        • you_fool 3.3.1.3

          I might be wrong, but I am pretty sure the report said that the free rooms had nothing to do with the Mayors “bonking” and was more to do with his working, or at least the fact he was working late and early and wanted to stay in the city to be a better mayor. The problem is that he didn’t declare them which has lead to other issues, the biggest being an ongoing condition of using his office to get him free stuff.

          • Tracey 3.3.1.3.1

            you are not wrong. he was apparently using them for work purposes but decided not to declare them. Why, only he knows. BUT he has embarrassed Auckland and Aucklanders and he has left open the possibility he was conflcited over the convention centre. Many of our politicians forget that whether we voted for them or not they are representing all of us once elected and by that, their behaviour is under scrutiny and so is their honesty and integrity. In the end all we have to know what the fuck is going on with our money and lives is the words that come out of their mouths.

            • Grumpy 3.3.1.3.1.1

              We only have his word that they were for work purposes and that ain’t worth much…..

      • TightyRighty 3.3.2

        Who really cares about the sex indeed. but who cares about his family values campaign or the fact that he accepted what strangely look like “considerations” for “favours”.

        • lprent 3.3.2.1

          Talk to Act. They were the idiots who set up these rules. I guess that when they thought they’d win the mayoralty with John Banks they thought he’d need some protection.

          • TightyRighty 3.3.2.1.1

            how many years ago was that lprent? time to move on don’t you think. all of this is ok because ACT fucked up? i can just imagine your howling if JB did win and something like this went down and you couldn’t do shit. Have you thought about that?

            • lprent 3.3.2.1.1.1

              That is exactly what I am thinking of. The problem is structural in the supershitty acts. That is also where it needs to be fixed.

              I’d be saying exactly the same about John Banks if it wasn’t possible to convict him of a charge that has a sentence of 2 years jail time. Even then imagine the years of running it through the court systems and the effect it would have on all city upgrades. Imagine that in your city right now…

              Flailing around at the edges blaming individuals doesn’t fix that problem of the office of the mayoralty being an impediment to implementation.

              • TightyRighty

                seen the berms round grey lynn? this shit was happening long before he got caught. stop running those bullshit lines. the impediments have not arisen because len brown can’t keep it buttoned up. they aren’t the natural consequences either.

                lets ram some upgrade legislation to the super city act through under urgency in parliament. if that solves the acts problems, can we then get rid of len brown? or is that undemocratic?

                • lprent

                  Now I suspect that you’re stretching further into stupidity and trying to divert from it.

                  The berms are a result of having a super city that was made up of separate cities each with their own rules.

                  Either the berms get mowed by the super city in all of the city or they are the responsibility of the property owners throughout the city.

                  Now personally I’ve lived most of my life in the old Auckland city and we always used to mow our berms. So did my grandparents until they go too old to mow. Then their lawn mower did it. It was preferable to the crap job that the council used to do on their occasional attempts at it.

                  I’ve been in an apartment for much of the last 15 years with no lawns. I prefer not paying for other people berms to be mowed.

                  So I’m failing to see what the problem is. Laziness perhaps?

                  • TightyRighty

                    my berms are fine as i pay for them to be mowed. thanks for your commendable community spirit though. you are all for spending other peoples money on things that you deem to be worthy, i’d prefer everyone mow their berms and not have their hand out for taxpayers money, like using the chaffeured car for the mistress. but that would be too much consistency wouldn’t it?

                    • you_fool

                      would that be the using of council resources for inappropriate use in regards to the mayor’s mistress that he didn’t do? Ah yes that use, the one that doesn’t exist…

                      Also is it just me or did you argue with lprent by agreeing with her using the same arguments?

  4. Sanctuary 4

    I was talking to a very senior police officer once and he told me the only reason the NZ Police force wasn’t corrupt was their wasn’t enough organised crime money to make it worthwhile, and even if a cop was on the take NZ is such a small place that people would quickly notice a cop living beyond his/her means. Well, whenever you get mass gambling you get cashed up organised crime. Organised crime is attracted to the sleezy atmosphere of casinos like moths to a flame. And if you’ve got gambling and organised crime, then the trifecta – corrupt officials – is never going to be far away.

  5. The Baron 5

    The gymnastics you’re doing to justify this is unsightly, Lynn. The term “partisan hack” comes to mind.

    Have a look at Danyl’s post on the same topic, and take the opportunity to reflect on your own credibility. Are you saying that this wouldn’t be a big deal if banksie was in the hot seat? I doubt it.

    • Colonial Viper 5.1

      Do you even think that Banksy in court is a big deal?

      I mean, you are the hypocrite here dude.

      • grumpy 5.1.1

        Come on CV………there is f-all difference now between the Banksie situation and Len, except Banksie wasn’t screwing Kim……..as far as we know.

      • The Baron 5.1.2

        Speaking of partisan hacks…

        CV you’re interviewing yourself. I absolutely have a problem with Banks not declaring $50,000 in donations. That said, his donee received nothing for his donations, so this is a case of potential corruption as opposed to actual. He is rightfully standing trial for that and may well lose his elected position if convicted. I say good show.

        I likewise have a problem with Brown not declaring over $30,000 in gifts. The donee potentially received heaps from that gifting, so it is potentially a case of real corruption rather than potential.

        Unlike Banks however, I have to put up with useful partisan idiots clapping like a seal for his own team and claiming that that’s all Skycity’s fault and no issue to see here.

        Is disclosure fraud is A-OK with the Labour party, CV? Or just when your side does it?

        • lprent 5.1.2.1

          I likewise have a problem with Brown not declaring over $30,000 in gifts.

          Perhaps you should read my post rather than wanking on with stupid errors.

          The Ernest and Young valuation of “upgrades” is costed incorrectly based on a nominal pricelist that virtually never applies in the market and is almost certainly not required under *any* transparency regime. Moreover most of it was for spending by his wife. So about $38k of E&Y’s gifts are simply bullshit.

          If we want to put that on transparency, then I want to first retrospectively apply that new standard to all MP’s and their spouses back to say 2009.

          Basically you can’t just make a fantasy reality by jerking it out whenever you feel like it.

          • The Baron 5.1.2.1.1

            Ah, so we should go with completely made up values? The rate card is the rate card, there is no other way of doing this.

            The policy requires gifts of over $250 to be declared. A night at SkyCity Grand regardless of how you slice it is worth at least $250. So should have been declared.

            The simple fact of the matter is that Lenny doesn’t like people watching him gorge himself from the trough. Lenny also doesn’t like having to be accountable for the decisions he makes.

            Is that ok with you Lynn? Cos that’s why we have the disclosure regime that Len ignored – to prevent these questions of accountability and influence. And cos the rest of your argument is all just muddying bluster, of exactly the sort that you’re quick to criticise when it comes from the other side.

            • lprent 5.1.2.1.1.1

              Your idea of rate cards are kind of irrelevant as all transparency requirements are based on market value. Otherwise it was all too easy to declare any value you like as a “rate”

              I agree for the nine freebie nights that they should have been declared. They are a gift. While you could argue if they were given to the position of the Mayor or the person of the mayor is irrelevant. They should have been in there because of transparency. They should have probably also been declared at the nominal value as being the only available market value – unless they had been booked at a lower rate (which most of them appear to have been booked).

              But I was talking about “upgrades”. Which are rather common in most hotels and have a marginal cost value of virtually nothing and a market value attributed by the hotels of nothing.

              Could you please please read the E&Y report rather than simply making crap up!

    • RedLogix 5.2

      Do you think that accepting a small number of routine room upgrades and complimentaries – that are totally routine in the business – is an act of corruption?

      If so do you think every politician and public official in this country who has ever received one of these, or received a ‘good rate VIP’ rate for a conference, should be investigated and forced to resign – as I assume you are demanding of Len Brown?

      These are simple questions you should be able to answer with a yes or a no.

      • grumpy 5.2.1

        The small number of rooms is not significant – it’s like only being slightly pregnant.
        You are either corrupt or you’re not……..

        • RedLogix 5.2.1.1

          So I take it that you have answered yes to both questions.

          You really want the hotel records of every politician to be examined for evidence of this crime of the century?

          Or are you just being selective?

          • grumpy 5.2.1.1.1

            The accepting of free rooms toconduct “indescretions” is a totally different matter. It exposes him to the possibility of blackmail. There is also the ‘serial” problems with Len’s inability to use a credit card, his huge donation from SKYCITY, total lack of contrition.
            The guy is corrupt, the degree is immaterial.

            • lprent 5.2.1.1.1.1

              In other words you’re a believer in Mrs Grundy…

              FFS this isn’t the US. You’re making the same stupid mistake that Luigi and John Palino made.

            • greywarbler 5.2.1.1.1.2

              grumpy
              Why don’t you get into the political scene and do some things as an elected member for the public good? If you haven’t ever struggled in a contentious political scene, you’re just taking the easy position sitting low and firing high at ‘corruption’. It sure was unwise for Len Brown to accept freebies from big ‘hospitality’ companies like Sky. But if the man is going to do good in his term, let him get on with it. Slap him on the wrist -and then stop pushing him into the bog to ensure he looks dirty after you’ve plastered him with goo. Not good.

        • Tracey 5.2.1.2

          so, if a prime minister was found to be consistently lying to the electorate, he should go?

          or if someone was putting stuff on their credit card they weren’t entitled to, they should go?

          My answer to both is yes, and I think Brown should go. Your answers would be?

      • Ianmac 5.2.2

        Wasn’t Mr Banks (?) involved in a messy upgrade/gifts in Hong Kong a few years ago?

        • grumpy 5.2.2.1

          Quite possible. I have had numerous upgrades to both hotel rooms and flights over the years, they are purely a “perk”. Free rooms to shag your mistress is another matter.

          • lprent 5.2.2.1.1

            Mrs Grundy…

          • Tracey 5.2.2.1.2

            can you point to any evidence of free rooms for that purpose grumpy? I am sure it would be in the E and Young report?

            • you_fool 5.2.2.1.2.1

              Interesting that the report says that none of the rooms were for shagging the mistress…

              • Grumpy

                Only according to Len and only according to the whatever version after Len had “sanitized” it.

          • Tracey 5.2.2.1.3

            “ACT leader John Banks has admitted to 3 News that he failed to make a proper declaration of a political gift from internet tycoon Kim Dotcom.

            It was a $1000 gift basket which the rules for MPs say is large enough to need be declared.

            Labour leader David Shearer says John Key should sack Mr Banks if he broke the rules. The Prime Minister says it is up to Mr Banks to declare it as the rules state.

            Mr Banks holidayed at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Hong Kong last Christmas at the recommendation of Dotcom’s staff.

            Mr Banks payed for the trip himself, but personally thanked Dotcom for his help, writing him this note: “Dear Kim – Thank you very much for your hospitality in Hong Kong. We have enjoyed our stay in your town very much. Warmest best, John Banks.”

            Read more: http://www.3news.co.nz/Banks-admits-not-declaring-Dotcom-gift/tabid/1607/articleID/254513/Default.aspx#ixzz2naFFXUQU

            Now Banks didnt admit it, he confirmed it. He wouldn’t have said anything if he hadnt been confronted with it, as is the case with Brown.

        • Tracey 5.2.2.2

          YES. Gift baskets and everything…

          He has a history

        • veutoviper 5.2.2.3

          Yes, Ianmac – in 2012. Banks and wife went to Hongkong for a holiday and stayed at the hotel his then friend, Kim Dotcom, used to live at in HKG. Banks got a very good rate plus a gift basket that exceeded the value of gifts that needed to be declared (Bamks was then ACT leader and MP for Epsom) under the parliamentary rules. He failed to declare the gift IIRC.

          If you google “John Banks Hongkong” there are lots of links to this story.

          EDIT – This crossed with Tracey’s reply with a TV3 link.

    • Bunji 5.3

      Politically Len Brown accepting three free nights there is political suicide.

      Right-winger can never read to the end of a post can they?

      Spot on Lynn. Not the over-reaction of some, but no excuses either.
      The $15,000 donation, the undeclared 3 free rooms, and then the virulently anti-pokie Manukau mayor becomes the whatever it takes to get a [white elephant] convention centre super-city mayor. It reeks.

      • RedLogix 5.3.1

        Yes. An act of suicide – not because it was necessarily wrong or corrupt in itself – but because it could be given the appearance of being wrong.

        Given this is the case I suggest some gets a hold of SkyCity’s books and see just how many other politicians have also committed ‘political suicide’ by accepting an upgrade or complimentary from them.

        • Hayden 5.3.1.1

          Given this is the case I suggest some gets a hold of SkyCity’s books and see just how many other politicians have also committed ‘political suicide’ by accepting an upgrade or complimentary from them.

          Or what kind of discount the National Party get on their conferences.

    • lprent 5.4

      I did read Danyl when I was writing this post.

      There are two problems with Danyl’s post.

      First is that Danyl was obviously too lazy to *read* the E&Y report before he wrote the post, so he was mostly writing based on some press reports by rather ignorant jonolists. Read this sentence he wrote and find how many errors there are in it.. I count six (ignoring the hypothetical right wing politician) which put it in the realm of being a right wing troll standard…

      How would you feel if a right-wing politician secretly took $39,000 from a casino company to cheat on his wife while he was lobbying to have the law changed to benefit that casino company and then lied about it to the public?

      Secondly, Danyl is writing from the safety of down around Wellington. He doesn’t have to live with whatever crap arises from this. So saying whatever comes to mind without reading the documentation doesn’t carry any costs

      Hell, even I could write satire about his title “Thinking my way through the whole Len Brown thing” because clearly thinking was not what he was doing..

      • The Baron 5.4.1

        Sorry Lynn, your justifications for your partisan hackery are as hollow as the hackery itself.

        Accepting gifts and not declaring them, while in the middle of a highly contentious process, then lying to the electorate, are all sackable in my book. You hold the other side to higher standards.

        This attempt at blame shifting to the “evil corporate masterminds” is just pathetic.

        As a fellow Aucklander, I demand better than this from my political overlords, of all stripes. If you don’t then, well, WTF?

        • lprent 5.4.1.1

          …are all sackable in my book. You hold the other side to higher standards.

          By whom?

          The moronic masterminds in Act made it so that the mayor is not “sackable” for anything apart from a criminal conviction. Perhaps you should complain to Rodney Hide. That is where the low standard of law making came from.

        • Tracey 5.4.1.2

          I understand your frustration but by what mechanism can Brown be made to go without his consent?

    • Tracey 5.5

      Do you get that Lynn’s post is critical of Brown at all?

      • The Baron 5.5.1

        Tracy,

        Do you get that trying to wash this all away as not a big deal is not a credible position?

        Do you also get that this “do you get” style of discussion is infantile? Perhaps you’d like to explain why you think a wet bus ticket is A-OK for fraud like this rather than just questioning my comprehension from, um, no basis other than I’m not agreeing with you. Echo chamber much? Do you “get” that, Tracy?

        I get that you like Len – that’s fine. But you should demand better than this.

        • lprent 5.5.1.1

          The next time we can “demand better” is 2016.

          Those are the rules the idiots from Act set up.

          • The Baron 5.5.1.1.1

            This is a dodgem too Lynn, and you know it. I’m not Rodney and I don’t like that regime at all – it has no accountability.

            Likewise “his wife did it” and “that’s not the real value of the gifts” are equally red herrings.

            Len potentially received favours from SkyCity then helped get them the convention centre deal. I am flabberghasted that you fine soldiers of the left aren’t outraged by that – but oh, I forget you’re a partisan hack, Lynn, as finely demonstrated by this post, and your values only hold when criticising the tribe you don’t like.

            This is what is incredible about this – the sliding morals of the left when their own side is under scrutiny. As far as I’m concerned, policies for stable, credible democracy have been abused by Len Brown. A pox upon him. And a pox on Rodney too if he established it.

            • karol 5.5.1.1.1.1

              And the righties using Brown’s wrongs to do what they wanted to do all along – install a right wing mayor that will be fully enabling of Hide’s gerry-rigging…. that’s not partisan?

              Let’s consider what is best for a democratic Auckland – the system also needs to be reviewed and made more democratic. And then we need a well organised election when it can be done most democratically.

              The rush to lynch Brown ASAP, is all right wing partisan, and little to do for the good of (a democratic) Auckland.

            • MrSmith 5.5.1.1.1.2

              “the sliding morals of the left when their own side is under scrutiny.”

              Baron we could talk about Morals all night, but we are seeing is what happens when to much power is placed in one persons hands, thanks to the Jafa’s falling all over their own egos and creating a super city we now have parliament and Auckland, down south here we just sit back and Laugh as another one of you candy coated chocolates hit the floor and roll towards the trough.

              • karol

                The supercity was the creation of Hide, Key et al, in its current form.

                Most Aucklanders had no say in how it was put together.

                • Draco T Bastard

                  In fact National and Act went to great lengths to ensure that Aucklanders didn’t have a say in their own governance.

        • karol 5.5.1.2

          Let the formal processes take their course.

          And getting some proper oversight to the mayor is at least a step (albeit a small step) in the right direction.

          I understand that righties will talk the whole hotel issue up so they can get what Hide had originally intended: a supercity answerable to no-one, able to walk hand-in-hand with the likes of Sky City, with a friendly NAct mayor playing a presidential, propagandist role cheeerleading the whole corrupt mess.

          And the last thing they want is light shed on the whole SkyCity cronyist issue, or the undemocratic basis of Hide’s supercity.

          Brown is a relatively small player in a much bigger plutocratic disgrace.

          I want an Auckland council structure that is firmly democratic. Then we can have an election.

          • The Baron 5.5.1.2.1

            I can’t speak to the hive mind of these “righties” karol, but that is not what I want at all.

            I want a mayor who declares who is giving him free stuff in accordance with the policy. There is no democratic construct that doesn’t require such transparency.

            Fine if you want more – I’m happy to talk about how the minimums haven’t been met yet, as that’s the issue here.

          • lprent 5.5.1.2.2

            Amen to that especially

            I want an Auckland council structure that is firmly democratic. Then we can have an election.

            What was needed and what the old structure lacked was to make sure that a veto doesn’t stop everything cold. Auckland has to treated as a single largish city because it simply doesn’t make sense otherwise. But we need a presidential system like we need a hole in the head. We also need to make a larger council with much lower limits of election spending and a simple parliamentary type system without any vetos. Being able to raise and use taxes locally rather than routing them through central government would help a lot as well.

            Then I’d suspect we’d get some action on what ails Auckland.

        • Tracey 5.5.1.3

          Please show me where I have said I dont want Brown to go? copy and paste the post where I have said that.

          I understand Lprent’s post is critical of len, maybe not as much as you want, but it is not supportive of him.

          Look forward to your copy and paste of my opinion that a wet bus ticket is A-Ok for fraud and that I support brown on this matter/

          • The Baron 5.5.1.3.1

            More infantileness. It’s not my job to prove your argument.

            You don’t “get” that do you, Tracy. Please go away; the adults are talking.

            • Tracey 5.5.1.3.1.1

              Barren

              you wrote

              “Perhaps you’d like to explain why you think a wet bus ticket is A-OK for fraud like this”

              I asked hwere I had written that i thought this was ok, or that I supported Brown staying

              you wrote

              “It’s not my job to prove your argument”

              • The Baron

                Ad hominem? How old are you?

                • Naturesong

                  Oh dear.

                  Tracey has not asked you to prove her argument, she has asked you to prove yours.

                  To which you responded with ad hominem; here

                  Clearly reading comprehension is not one of your strengths. (Do you know why the previous sentence is not an ad hominem?).

                  • Murray Olsen

                    Doesn’t look like it. Baron’s posts are quite funny, even though I’m sure it takes itself seriously.

  6. Flip 6

    Keeping the population distracted by gambling, sport, scandal, and alcohol is part of the process of control. It enables them to consolidate power. It is evidenced by the governments failure to act on things that are damaging to society like excessive gambling and alcohol when there are clear measures that can be taken. Those measure however would impact on the governments business sponsors negatively so they are ignored in favour of beneficiary bashing which is much better sport for them.

  7. infused 7

    I do love how you make excuses.

    Separating private calls from business calls is not hard at all. Everyone else has to do it.

    Pretty piss poor diversion. Yes I did read it.

    • karol 7.1

      Ah, righties! – always trying to divert from the underlying corrupting influence of corporate power and the manipulations of casino capitalism.

    • RedLogix 7.2

      Separating private calls from business calls is not hard at all. Everyone else has to do it.

      I was in exactly the same position for seven years on a public sector Vodafone plan with unlimited local calls. This was a significant sized organisation and they did not require any accounting of private calls unless they incurred an extra cost, such as overseas calls.

      So no – you are factually wrong.

    • lprent 7.3

      I’ve had company cell phones twice. Once in the late 80s and once in 90s when the calls were frigging expensive.

      On the first one we tried separating the calls for two months and I told them it was too much hassle for me to be bothered with (since I made few personal calls) and that I’d prefer not to have the phone at all. So we stopped separating the calls as an alternative.

      The second one was in my contract that the separation was only on the basis of exceeding the free calling minutes. We then got a contract where the free minutes were too high to ever exceed.

      So no. I don’t know of any company that bothers and haven’t for a long time. Getting virtually unlimited calls and texts is cheap enough now that a business only really bothers getting that because it is cheaper than the accounting.

      The exception is businesses (mostly tiny) who have to do some arbitrary values because the tax department has a rule book left over from the 80s on fringe benefit tax.

      • infused 7.3.1

        They must have been bricks of a phone…

        Thinking about it, most companies now have everyone in the organisation having ‘free calling’ so only people outside of the organisations would be chargeable. That shouldn’t be too hard.

        • lprent 7.3.1.1

          Classic brick. Short battery life. No coverage. Basically was a waste of time.

          Thinking about it, most companies now have everyone in the organisation having ‘free calling’ so only people outside of the organisations would be chargeable.

          Why bother… As an example (after 3 minutes search – there are better contracts) 24 months, 500 minutes unlimited txt, 1.25GB data at vodafone for $59/mo. The most I ever got up to was 250 minutes per month and that was when I was organising Helen’s Mt Albert election campaign in 1999 on it AND running a development program at the same time. These days I’d mostly txt.

          • George D 7.3.1.1.1

            I get through 300 minutes easily, but that’s because I have plenty of 20-60 minute telephone conversations. 2GB is also fairly easy once your phone becomes your main internet device. NZ plans are still horrifically expensive, unfortunately.

            As a political beast, I’m more interested in how this affects his behaviour *as Mayor*, and how it empowers other actors. I’m beginning to form opinions on that.

    • Pascal's bookie 7.4

      Everyone else has to do it.

      Wonder if Jason Ede has to.

    • Tracey 7.5

      yet Brownlee and Heatley couldnt separate stuff on two different credit cards…

      http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/3361482/Minister-caught-short-on-credit-card

      interestingly when an area is grey our elected reps seem to err on the side that benefits them rather than the taxpayer.

    • Naturesong 7.6

      I’ve never had to seperate any private calls from business ones on any of the phones I’ve been supplied with for work.

      Though I suspect that if I made a few international calls to countries other than Australia, I might get an email from the bean counters.

      Given how cheap calls are these days, it’s explicitly accepted (in writing in my case) that normal personal calls are allowed. With the priviso that you do not take the piss.

      The alternative my current employer offered me was to simply pay for the contract on my phone – I said no; happy to have the phone, I will turn it off outside work hours.

  8. Matthew 8

    Here’s a question that I don’t think has been answered…..

    Why is the Mayor of Auckland staying in hotels in Auckland when he lives in Auckland?

    Just curious…

    • Tracey 8.1

      because he was finishing work in the wee small hours of the morning and then had very early breakfast or other meetings. I don’t know where he lives but I dont object to this per se.

      • you_fool 8.1.1

        He lives in Manukau heights I believe, so that would be a long haul along the southern motorway – is also why he takes/took public transport once a week – it is actually quicker

    • sweetd 8.2

      Its been said he had early starts and late finishes. He also said on Campbell Live he and his wife would treat themselves to an Auckland holiday.

      On the first matter, the early starts and late finishes…it would be a an easy matter to prove, just show the corresponding diary entry.

      Secondly, he abused his position as mayor to get free hotel rooms and not declare them. Just try being a humble rate payer and trying to get a free room from one of these hotels and see what happens.

      • you_fool 8.2.1

        If you are a humble rate payer and stay at one of these hotels very often and then drop hints about how a different hotel is giving a better deal, see how quickly then you get upgrades and free stuff.

        Sure the fact it was the mayor of Auckland helped the process, but if you are a frequent enough visitor/high roller I am sure you can expect the same treatment.

    • karol 8.3

      Auckland Council area is now a very big place. traveling from one end to t’other using inadequate transport systems is an on-going hassle for the majority of Aucklanders.

      These days, I often think twice about traveling into the CBD from the west.

      • sweetd 8.3.1

        That maybe so Karol. Like I said, show the diary entry for the late or early meetings that required the hotel room stays.

        • karol 8.3.1.1

          Whatever. I’m all for full transparency on such things. I am not defending Brown’s use of hotels. And I will be looking for another candidate to vote for come the next election.

          Auckland councillors are looking into the whole thing. I’ll await the outcomes.

      • grumpy 8.3.2

        Maybe that’s why he has a 24/7 car and driver laid on by the ratepayer?????

    • lprent 8.4

      He lives a long way out. The Auckland super city is pretty damn big.

      • grumpy 8.4.1

        Late at night???/Just climb into his 24/7 limo with a 24/7 driver and whoosh!!! Probably get home faster than walking to a hotel and checking in…..

        • you_fool 8.4.1.1

          The issue isn’t necessarily the late night bit, but the early morning bit, with rush hour

          • Grumpy 8.4.1.1.1

            So he only needed some of them then? Clearly the late night ones were for some other purpose. Who would have thought?
            Logical really.

      • tinfoilhat 8.4.2

        oh bullshit, outside of rush hour it’s 20 minutes to or from Len’s house to the city.

        • you_fool 8.4.2.1

          but in rush hour it is close to an hour. The issue isn’t necessarily the late night bit, but the early morning bit.

          • tinfoilhat 8.4.2.1.1

            If it’s early morning (pre rush hour) then the travel time would be 20 minutes if it’s rush hour he’s travelling in then why on earth can’t he be like every one else and travel on the train or by bus or in rich hour traffic ?

            • you_fool 8.4.2.1.1.1

              Southern motorway rush hour starts quite early, like 6-6:30; He does take public transport (or did in his last term) once a week – right wing morons complained about that because his company car had to make it into town as well anyway. At any case it is unlikely that 20 minutes would be his commute time and staying in town when he had both late appointments and early ones the next day would make sense – especially since he was trying to pay for them with his own money (or at least his wife’s money.) The issue is how much the free rooms and upgrades were because he as a normal person was a valuable customer and how much was because he was the mayor of Auckland. To avoid the confusion it should have all been declared, but Len obviously hasn’t learnt his lesson from his Manukau credit card issues about what he is entitled to as mayor and what he is not…

  9. Rich 9

    I’m just a lowly peon, but if my firm has a corp-rate with a hotel, I’ll usually get some sort of upgrade. (I once got the top floor suite at the Quadrant, which takes up half the floor. Nice view, but a bit like a big office with a bed and bathroom in it).

    • Tracey 9.1

      and do your shareholders mind? Cos ratepayers might mind, if it has a hidden cost. You do understand those upgrades happen as a quid pro quo to keep your firms business?

      • you_fool 9.1.1

        Yes, but a lot of people here seem to think this upgrading and free rooms are something extra special that Len was only getting cause he was the mayor, when in fact anyone who regularly stays at a hotel will get similar treatment…

        The implications of the quid pro quo bit is different

  10. blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill) 10

    Great article lprent bringing the focus back to where it needs to be – unlike the Fox-News-style seedy coverage this issue has received on the msm.

    • Paul 10.1

      Led by the wondrous Herald

      • blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill) 10.1.1

        …yeah what is ‘The Herald’ heralding exactly?… A paper signalling the introduction of Americano-style junk mulched news to keep people deeply misinformed and distract us from what is really important.

  11. gobsmacked 11

    If Brown quits tomorrow (and I won’t be shedding any tears if he does) the real problem still remains. That’s what LPrent was pointing out, though not everyone seems to get it.

    You go to the theatre in Auckland, it could be at Sky City. You have a meal at Sky City. A conference. A PR launch. A sporting event. A bungy jump, a panoramic view. The “Sky City” Breakers play basketball. The “Sky City” cheerleaders (were?) at the rugby. And so on …

    It is impossible to avoid its tentacles, even if you never gamble a cent. Jim Bolger built the temple of greed and misery in the 1990’s and Aucklanders are signed up to worship there even if we don’t.

    The tower dwarfs the town hall, both literally and metaphorically. That’s where the money and the power is. And where there’s money and power, you’ll find politicians flocking.

  12. Herodotus 12

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/small-business/9489720/Businessman-slams-culture-of-kickbacks
    Dealings between private and public-sector bodies needed to be policed more thoroughly, Sole said. “Most of our interactions are with central or local government agencies, and we would be very upset if anything above a Christmas Card was exchanged.”

    The industry I work within have been strongly advised that under no condition are any gifts to be passed onto council staff, even going for a lunch or even a coffee is ill advised.
    So stressed, hard working staff are to miss out. Yet the king can still accumulate gratuities.

  13. FYI

    16 December 2013

    Nick Paterson
    General Manager Fraud and Corruption

    Julie Read
    CEO
    New Zealand Serious Fraud Office (SFO)

    ‘OPEN LETTER’ request to the NZ Serious Fraud Office to re evaluate your refusal to investigate complaint C 3592 alleging bribery and corruption against Auckland Mayor Len Brown and Sky City:

    This is a formal request for the NZ Serious Fraud Office (SFO) to re evaluate your decision not to investigate a complaint from Lisa Prager and myself for an investigation alleging bribery and corruption against Mayor Len Brown and Sky City, (which the SFO chose to treat as a ‘serious and complex fraud’ – when that was NOT the basis for this complaint) – particularly in light of the recent Ernst and Young investigation.

    (Your SFO reply, dated 5 December 2013 (your reference C3592) is attached to this email.)

    Your reply states:

    “RE: C3592 Complaint to the Serious Fraud Office

    I refer to your complaint received by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) on 22 November 2013.

    The SFO is a highly specialised government agency that is permitted by law to investigate only those matters where there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that a serious or complex financial crime may have been committed.

    We have evaluated the information which you have provided to determine whether it may warrant a SFO investigation.For your information, criteria we consider in determining whether a matter may be of a serious or complex nature include:

    * The financial value of the alleged fraud (usually in excess of $2,000,000);
    *The strength of evidence to support the allegations made;
    * The number of victims impacted by the alleged fraud;
    * The factual, legal and financial complexity of the alleged fraud, including whether you have supplied any documentation to support an allegation of serious or complex fraud;

    When evaluating whether a matter may meet the criteria for an investigation we must first identify conduct that could be considered a breach of the criminal law within the mandate of the SFO (typically under the Crimes Act 1961).

    You have requested the SFO investigate whether Mayor Len Brown has committed an offence under section 105 of the Crimes Act 1961. Section 105 (1) provides that :

    Every official is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 7 years who, whether within New Zealand or elsewhere, corruptly accepts or obtains, or agrees or offers to accept or attempts to obtain, any bribe for himself or any other person in respect of any act done or omitted, or to be done or omitted, by him in his official capacity.

    Section 4 of the Serious Fraud Office Act 1990 provides that:

    Where the Director has reason to suspect that an investigation into the affairs of any person may disclose serious or complex fraud the Director may exercise any power conferred by this Part (Part 1).

    This is an objective test and requires there to be some evidence that would cause the Director to suspect that an investigation may disclose serious or complex fraud.

    The evidence that you have relied to make a request for investigation by SFO is

    1. In 2010 Mr Brown received a $15,000 donation from Sky City towards his Auckland Mayoral campaign which he declared.

    2. On 27 June 2013, he voted against a motion “that the Governing Body does not support the Government’s proposal for Sky City to develop a convention centre in return for changes in our gambling legisation to increase gambling at the Sky City Casino.”

    Your complaint relies on an assumption that Mr Brown voted against the motion because he had received a donation from Sky City in 2010.

    In the absence of other evidence there is not sufficient evidence to form a view that an investigation into the affairs of Mr Brown may disclose serious or complex fraud.

    Consequently we will not be commencing an investigation into your complaint. SFO will re evaluate your complaint if you can provide evidence to corroborate your complaint.

    While we will not be investigating your complaint, we thank you for bringing this matter to our attention.

    Yours sincerely,

    Jess Sewak
    Evaluation Officer
    Evaluation and Intelligence Unit
    __________________________________________________________

    The FACT is that on the ‘watch’ of Mayor Len Brown, Auckland Council did NO ‘due diligence’ on the increased risk of money-laundering arising from the NZ International Convention Centre (now Act) 2013, although this increased risk was spelled out in the following Regulatory Impact Statement.

    http://www.med.govt.nz/about-us/publications/publications-by-topic/regulatory-impact-statements/mbie-regulatory-impact-statements/NZICC-RIS-June-2013.pdf

    Potential risk of money laundering

    95 Cash intensive industries such as casinos are attractive to money laundering activity. New Zealand’s National Risk Assessment 2010 assessed casinos as presenting moderate to high risk of money laundering.

    For this reason, casinos (including all SkyCity casinos) are subject to the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009 (the AML/CFT Act), which comes into force on 30 June 2013.

    The FACT is that not only did Len Brown accept a $15,000 mayoral donation in 2010 (which he did declare), not only did he argue in favour of Auckland Council supporting the NZ International Convention Centre (Bill) on 27 June 2013, but he also accepted free Sky City hotel rooms, which we believe is a major, arguably corrupt, ‘conflict of interest’.

    (The recent Ernst and Young Report has confirmed that Mayor Len Brown has received complimentary hotel rooms and upgrades from Sky City).

    NEW EVIDENCE:

    http://www.nbr.co.nz/sites/default/files/images/Independent_Review_Report_FINAL_131213.pdf

    “5. The mayor has received nine complimentary (free) hotel rooms or suites which have not been registered as gifts or disclosed in his completed annual Declaration of Interests. The value of the complimentary rooms/suites based on rates 3 provided by the hotels is $6,130.

    6. The mayor has received hotel upgrades (to better quality rooms or suites) which have not been registered as gifts or disclosed in his completed annual Declaration of Interests. A total of 64 such upgrades has been identified.
    The value of the upgrades based on rates provided by the hotels is $32,888.50.

    2.3.2 Hotel rooms

    Background

    We obtained waivers from the mayor and selected employees of the Mayoral Office to obtain both council and private information in relation to bookings made by, or for, the mayor in various Auckland hotels during the review period.

    The Mayoress has advised there is an arrangement with The Stamford Plaza whereby the family (including the mayor) stay privately on a regular basis with the Mayoress being responsible for payment.

    In providing context around the mayor’s hotel bookings, a number of the hotels advised us it is standard industry practice to provide room upgrades for VIPS from time to time and there are also valid commercial reasons why hotels may choose to also provide VIPS with complimentary (free) rooms.

    Findings

    1. There were no hotel rooms used by the mayor for private purposes that were paid for by council.

    2. No complimentary rooms/suites have been registered by the mayor as gifts or disclosed in his completed 2011 and 2012 Declaration of Interests.

    3. The mayor received a total of nine complimentary rooms during the period. The value of the complimentary rooms/suites based on rates provided by the hotels is $6,130.

    4. A number of rooms were provided to the mayor at a discounted rate for a standard room and, in most cases, a superior room or suite was provided.

    There were 64 room upgrades during the period. None of the upgrades were registered by the mayor as gifts or disclosed in the mayor’s completed annual Declaration of Interests. The value of the upgrades based on rates
    provided by the hotels was $32,888.50.

    A summary of complimentary and upgrade rooms by hotel follows:
    Hotel

    SKYCITY and SKYCITY Grand Hotels

    Total room nights booked 8

    Complimentary room nights 3

    Upgrade room nights 5 ”
    _________________________________________________________

    In our considered opinion, Mayor Len Brown has effectively accepted a ‘bribe’ / bribes’ from Sky City.

    http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1961/0043/latest/DLM328730.html

    105 Corruption and bribery of official
    (1)Every official is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 7 years who, whether within New Zealand or elsewhere, corruptly accepts or obtains, or agrees or offers to accept or attempts to obtain, any bribe for himself or any other person in respect of any act done or omitted, or to be done or omitted, by him in his official capacity.

    (2)Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 7 years who corruptly gives or offers or agrees to give any bribe to any person with intent to influence any official in respect of any act or omission by him in his official capacity.

    http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1961/0043/latest/DLM328730.html

    99Interpretation
    In this Part, unless the context otherwise requires,—

    bribe means any money, valuable consideration, office, or employment, or any benefit, whether direct or indirect

    official means any person in the service of Her Majesty in right of New Zealand (whether that service is honorary or not, and whether it is within or outside New Zealand), or any member or employee of any local authority or public body, or any person employed in the education service within the meaning of the State Sector Act 1988.

    ___________________________________________________________________________

    We also note that the following OECD Report has been critical of New Zealand’s ‘being soft on bribery’:

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/9515330/Kiwis-rebuked-for-going-soft-on-bribery

    http://www.oecd.org/daf/anti-bribery/new-zealand-not-immune-from-foreign-bribery.htm

    We are concerned that this lack of action by the NZ SFO on bribery allegations appears not to be limited to ‘foreign bribery’?

    Again, Lisa Prager and myself confirm that we will make ourselves available at a mutually convenient time in order to discuss this matter.

    Please be advised that if the New Zealand SFO continues to refuse to investigate this allegation of bribery and corruption against Auckland Mayor Len Brown and Sky City, then options available to us, include petitioning Parliament for an inquiry into why the ‘lead agency’ to whom complaints alleging bribery and corruption are supposed to be made, (the New Zealand SFO) is arguably not doing its job?

    Please be reminded of what the NZ SFO states on your own website about ‘bribery or corruption matters’:

    http://www.sfo.govt.nz/common-questions-complainants

    “In the case of bribery or corruption matters, we focus on crimes involving public officials, which could undermine public confidence in the administration of laws.”

    Yours sincerely,

    Penny Bright

    ……

    Lisa Prager

    ………

    ________________________________________________________________________

    BACKGROUND INFORMATION – REQUEST FOR THE SFO TO CONDUCT AN URGENT INQUIRY INTO ALLEGED BRIBERY AND CORRUPTION INVOLVING MAYOR LEN BROWN AND SKY CITY – available on http://www.pennybright4mayor.org.nz/

  14. unsol 14

    I read the post, but have skipped the comments so no doubt I am about to say something someone else has already said, but…

    Good post & point LP. Brown has been cleared of any misuse of council resources & anyone with an ounce of intelligence should be able to accept that an affair is private business & further, when someone works long non standard hours like that of a major, then business & personal invariably overlap at some point.

    So it doesn’t matter whether he was shagging his wife or his mistress, whether he was shopping for lingerie for his wife or his mistress, he is allowed some personal time & he chose to use some of that time on another women. That is something HE has to live with. If you think that it impacts on his ability to do his job as mayor then I suggest you have a good look around at those around you who are at the top of the food chain, especially in the public service….if they aren’t cheaters then they most certainly are taking the mickey when it comes to using work time & resources to do personal things – from phone calls to long lunch breaks, leaving early etc etc

    So for me the whole issue is dead in the water. It is a beat up exacerbated by WO who wants his buddy Williamson to step up. Or Brewer. But who cares. His ploy failed as he decided to scrape the gutter. Brown won’t & shouldn’t resign unless EVERYONE in the public service from council to central government is prepared to meet the same standards: limited perks, no perks with those they are doing deals with (ooh that means the NZTA can’t get cheap taxis….HA!) & certainly no cheating. Not ever.

    Sadly if you apply those standards there would be no one left. As I said on TDB it takes a special kind of mongrel to be in these top jobs as it needs the kind of person to make the decisions we – the general public with fragile sensibilities – don’t want to make. There is a reason why most of us are not vying for the top job – we just don’t have it in us to do what they do and we don’t want to. There is no way I would ever WANT to make the kind of sacrifices these people make & there is no way I would ever ACCEPT that kind of personal sacrifice in a spouse either.

    Which brings me back to Skycity. If there was anything out of this sorry saga that warrants real concern it is Skycity and their involvement in NZ politics. They, councils & ALL MPs (except maybe the Greens) are donkey deep in it. And it has got to stop.

    Gambling is like smoking. There is no safe amount. It is a waste & amoral – especially given that most people cannot afford to have children without some kind of government assistance yet who makes up most of Skycity’s revenue? The super rich or the masses on WFF? I’m guessing the latter.

    It is simply abhorrent that our lawmakers are such close bedfellows with this group & this issue should be enough for voters to start demanding closer scrutiny on who is giving what to our MPs; the fact that Labour voted against this deal yet were caught living it up in Skycity’s VIP area is morally repugnant. Surely it can’t be that difficult to merge politics with one’s supposed ideals; we never stay at Skycity when we are in Auckland because of the kind of company they are. Just the same as we never buy lotto. We are against gambling. Period.

    There are loads of hotels & venues in Auckland, so how hard can it be for MPs to give them the cold shoulder? To put their money where their mouth is?

    As far as I can see the Greens are far from perfect (anti mining whilst enjoying the benefits of mining in other countries – technology, jewellery etc), but they are the only ones that have a clear conscience on this issue.

  15. Ron 15

    From memory National Party held their annual conference at Sky City Conference Centre. Wonder if there was any kick back to the party provided by Sky City? Maybe we could as for an audit of the expenses of that conference.

  16. Chooky 16

    Penny and Lisa … good work!!!!….. I think you raise important points ….This Mayor needs further investigation….It is crucial that any Mayor of Auckland …whether from the Left or the Right or the Centre is incorruptible and above reproach…and is held accountable

    • Thanks Chooky 🙂

      Unfortunately, it’s not just Mayor Len Brown who needs to be held accountable, it’s the so-called ‘third party’ statutory ‘Public Watchdogs’, like the SFO and the Office of the Auditor-General, who also need to DO THEIR JOBS!

      Cheers!

      ‘Her Warship’ 😉

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