Daniel Adams: Didn't take long for the Mallet mud-flinging to begin

DANIEL ADAMS
Last updated 15:34 06/12/2013
Garry Mallett
MARK TAYLOR/Fairfax NZ

'VENOMOUS': Hamilton City councillor Garry Mallett wants Cr Ewan Wilson sacked from a committee for sending an email to reporter Daniel Adams.

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OPINION: Well, it didn't take long.

Soon after Mayor Julie Hardaker set the tone by excluding her mayoral rivals from positions of authority in her new council line up, returning councillor and new committee chairman Garry Mallett has seized his first opportunity to flex his newly-formed chairman's muscles.

Mallett's testimony alone on Thursday was enough to persuade three of his council controlled organisation committee that member Ewan Wilson had breached confidence, and should be sacked from the committee where he was likely to be an ongoing prick in Mallett's side.

His allegations - that Wilson sent an email Mallett had composed to media, and in doing so committed a grave breach of confidence , on scrutiny, have the substance of wet tissue.

Councillor Mallett took exception to Mr Wilson discussing with the Waikato Times' City Editor  (disclaimer: myself)  Mr Mallett's response as chairman to issues Mr Wilson has previously raised in the public arena, and which were the topic of this paper's interest.

The newspaper put the same issues to both members, Wilson coincidentally first: whether more CCOs were likely, whether the new council has had any substantive discussion about their goals for the airport company, and the board of directors as a lever to achieve those.

At the conclusion of the discussion with Mr Wilson, and knowing that the same topics would be put to the chairman, he forwarded an email to me containing Mallett's response to his own queries on the same topics. None of his response comprised confidential information.

In fact, when Mallett was asked by the Times soon after about the same airport governance issues, he checked the Times had seen his response to Wilson, and referred the newspaper to that email as his formal response to its questions on the topics relevant to his committee.

Now Mallett is a shrewd businessman and politician. But it is no coincidence that the two unwilling characters in his pantomime - myself and Wilson - have been on the venomous end of his attentions in the past, and he clearly saw it as a golden opportunity to fling mud.

What is more worrying is that three other elected members happily went along for the ride, Mayor Hardaker among them. Did they really believe that Wilson sharing an email - that Mallett then directed the media to for comment - was a sackable offence? Or were they just cementing their positions in Hardaker's new line-up? If the latter, the future looks bleak.

Dave Macpherson, who knows a thing or two about the cut and thrust of politics himself, is right to recall the dysfunctional councils the city has suffered previously as a result of petty point scoring by its elected members.

On the cusp of economic bounty, the city cannot afford for its politicians to be distracted by such posturing by an experienced councillor.

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