How Len Brown silenced Auckland's business leaders

Mayor Len Brown
Council chief executive Doug McKay

Just two Auckland business leaders in a room of some 200 could muster questions for Auckand mayor Len Brown at a Trans-Tasman Business Circle lunch today.

Mr Brown – who, after Prime Minister John Key, is arguably New Zealand's most powerful politician – and council chief executive Doug McKay, the man in charge of the city's controversial $3 billion budget, spoke to a group of top business people at the SkyCity convention centre while they lunched on gourmet food.

The guest list included chief executives, lawyers, captains of industry and company directors from entities such as Genesis Energy, BNZ, Westpac, Barfoot & Thompson and Beca.

While Messrs Brown and McKay spent most of their speaking time reflecting on the past two years, guests were invited to ask questions at the end.

Only two people – Takapuna Beach Business Association general manager Peter White, and senior vice-president of Capgemini, Shelley Oldham – put their hands up with questions about council debt and public transport.

Because of the distinct lack of interest from the audience, the event MC and co-chair of the Trans-Tasman Business Circle, Alison Harrison, asked three questions herself.

Ms Harrison asked Mr Brown if the city should be paying for the proposed rail loop development.

She also asked Mr McKay whether the council's resource consent processes were a roadblock to development, and whether the council should be involved in economic development. 

It is fair to say the answers were long and convoluted.

Following the prime minister and other members of cabinet, Auckland's mayor is one of the most important public figures in the country, taking charge of a city which produces a third of the nation's GDP.

The lack of interest from the business leaders at today's event could simply be the result of post-lunch fatigue.

But it raises the question of what members of the Business Circle get from such events or if they are agree with what Mayor Brown – currently an unchallenged shoe-in for re-election this year – does.

callison@nbr.co.nz

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16 Comments & Questions

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I guess they couldn't ask questions with their mouths full.

But the real entrepreneurs don't go to these bunfights. They are too busy trying to innovate to waste time with bureaucrat's speeches and platitudes. Only those fighting for a place in the bureaucratic trough need attend.

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Totally agree with Alan. Real entrepreneurs are too busy juggling cashflow and building the business to attend these functions. The attendees wouldn't have an entrepreneurial bone in their bodies.

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Alan is on the button. We are too busy getting on with it to attend pompous bunfights. We also know that the tough questions have no chance of being answered. We are now used to our mayor being almost Hitler-like, wasting horrific amounts of money on pet projects and running roughshod over logic and commonsense. The next election will be interesting.

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Totally agree with Alan.

If you've heard Len speak once, it's easy to conclude the man is not exactly Robbie or Vicky buck, former ChCh mayor. 80% of what the Council does is a waste of money.

Business once looked to central government for change in Auckland. We got Rodney Hide who gave us a monopoly council. This from a guy who supposedly believes in competitive markets.

I gotta get back to running my business - despite the politicians who think they are powerful.

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These were intelligent people and knew any answers given would be worth little or nothing therefore they didn't bother.
A smart move if ever I saw one.

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Len who ?

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Shoe-in/shoo-in.

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Gee, perhaps big business is happy with Len, given no creditable mayoral candidate is coming forward from the right.

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Not surprising the so-called captains of industry have not got a clue what is going on. What, no questions from Michael Barnett (Auckland Chamber of Commerce) or Kim Campbell (EMA)? Were they not on the invitation list?

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I do not see how any successful business person or entrepreneur would have the slightest intetest in what this self-serving idiot would have to say, and people who attend these events are doing their best to get noticed - a bit like the sick celebrity culture in Auckland.

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Len would really like to be at the UN with Comrade Helen but has to settle for second best, as NZ is not about to become a republic, so there won't be a President Helen to hand him bags of taxpayer cash for his trainset.

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Prior to the last (or was that first) election I heard Brown, Banks, Andrew Williams and one other contender speak. The last two made no coherrent sense at all, Banksy was bullish but full of wind and Brown stood head and shoulders above the rest - he made coherent sense. Surprised me no end.

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Almost all absolutely pathetic comments. Isn't a bugger that local government is run as ademocracy? Anyone who claims that the mayor is clueless, whoever the mayor happens to be, is effectively claiming that Aucklanders a s a group are clueless. No I think the comment makers are the clueless ones. But then small time and self important "entrepreneurs" usualy are.

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You obviously work for the council , or is it you Len? You miss the point his(your) pathetic conference was targeting business people and entrepreneurs not the clueless fools who voted for him , like yourself.

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Well said palazzopete......pathetic and plain stupid. One guy above says 80 per cent of what council does is a waste of money. Roads, public transport, water, sewage, drains, rubbish collection, libraries, parks, sports fields, building control, community facilities, the list goes on and all a waste of money!! Do some people live in a cave?

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Well there must be some wasting of money as there obviously isn't enough to keep the city clean. The place is filthy, and smells of rubbish and urine from Saturday nights shenanigans...absolutely disgusting. Might stick to visiting Wellington where the streets are spangly.

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