Brown faces no confidence motion

Last updated 14:57 18/12/2013
SEAN WILLIS/Fairfax NZ

Len Brown feels fine, despite media and councillor calls for him to stand down as Auckland mayor.

John Key on Len Brown

Len Brown
PETER MEECHAM/ FairfaxNZ
UNDER FIRE: Len Brown.

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Auckland Mayor Len Brown remains largely defiant despite a group of Auckland councillors planning a no-confidence motion at tomorrow's council meeting, and an editorial calling for him to quit.

Councillors Dick Quax, Linda Cooper, Cameron Brewer, Sharon Stewart and Denise Krum said today they had told other councillors of their intentions and were confident more would come on board to support the move.

The five said in a statement the motion they would present reads: "That the Governing Body notes that Len Brown lacks the essential leadership credentials of judgment, honesty, integrity and credibility, and as a result councillors have lost confidence in his ability to carry out his duties as mayor of Auckland."

The move follows a front-page call today by the city's daily newspaper for Brown to resign.

In an editorial under the headline "It's time to go, mayor Brown," the New Zealand Herald said moves by councillors at tomorrow's full council meeting to censure Brown and limit the powers of his office could leave the city without a mayor who had "the independent authority to drive things forward".

The paper had supported Brown after his affair with Bevan Chuang saying "if Len Brown's family could forgive him, the city should too", but said that position was now "no longer sustainable".

"He must go in the interests of Auckland and Aucklanders," the paper said.

However Brown has said nothing today about any intention to resign and said he would not respond to the Herald editorial.

"I've got no response to the New Zealand Herald editorial. It's an opinion," he said.

When asked if he would resign Brown said: "I'm going to respect the view of my councillor colleagues, await the outcome of that discussion.

"I am committed to Auckland. Aucklanders genuinely want our city to keep moving forward. My commitment has been that way really for the last three years and I maintain that."

Brown accepted pressure was building on him.

"There has been a view around that. I have very recently fought an election campaign and managed to secure 47 perc cent of the vote," he said.

"There has always been people who do not support me and I acknowledge that as part of political life and I also acknowledge these are challenging times for me. I have been apologetic and I maintain that in terms of the impact of things over the last nine weeks in particular."

Brown said it was important for councillors to "take the opportunity to express their concerns and to reflect their view as to how we might go forward".

He suggested one way out of the "present circumstances" might be a committee that would assist with political management in the council.

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"I think there is a way forward out of the present circumstances that could mean we have a more collaborative style."

In an interview on radio station 95bFM this morning, Brown said he had been "well chastened" since the release of the EY (Ernst & Young) report relating to his affair, but at the time of accepting free hotel rooms and upgrades he believed it had nothing to do with the council.

"I was thinking 'hey look this has nothing to do with the council, this has nothing to do with spending ratepayers' money'," Brown said.

"I'm wiser in hindsight, well chastened and I suspect that it's just not me - there'd be many sitting around the council table who'll be thinking back on their declarations and wondering."

He told the radio station that this year had been an "annus horribilis" (a horrible year) and the last few weeks in particular had been tough.

Brown said he had been on the receiving end of a "fair old whack around the ears" and had been making a lot of apologies.

He has been under increased pressure since the EY review.

The audit found that although Brown did not misuse council resources during his affair, he made 1375 texts and calls to his mistress and failed to declare more than $39,000 in free hotel rooms and upgrades, as well as an NRL Grand Final ticket and an iPad.

Councillors have been preparing a response to the revelations and have reportedly settled on an official censure and moves to limit the powers of Brown's office

The Herald took exception to this course of action saying some kind of "oversight committee" ran the risk of "[dragging] Auckland back into partisan and parochial standoffs".

While Brown may be a "lame duck," the Herald said, "Auckland could not let that characteristic be passed to whomever succeeds him in the mayoral office."

Prime Minister John Key refused to get involved in Auckland Mayor Len Brown's woes today.

"In the end it is totally a matter for Len, his council and his family," he told reporters while in Auckland for the start of work on the new Upper Harbour Highway

The mayor was directly elected by the people of Auckland.

"We are absolutely committed to Auckland and we are committed to the mayor of Auckland."

From the Government's point of view the city was functioning adequately.

Key said he believed it was wrong to be talking about increasing power for councillors or reducing the mayor's power.

"In the end its all a matter for Len."

Key said he met with Brown on Saturday.

"He seemed in pretty good spirits, we will work with him as normal," the prime minister said.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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