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The Herald on Sunday editorial

Herald on Sunday editorial: Santa may deliver but we won't

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Len Brown. Photo / Dean Purcell
Len Brown. Photo / Dean Purcell

When Santa Claus packs his sleigh ahead of his delivery run in the next couple of days, it's fair to assume he won't be needing a lot of space for parcels for one Len Brown, of Manukau in Auckland.

"Have you been a good boy this year, Len," is a question the Auckland Mayor would, surely, dread right now.

It has been a horrendous end to 2013 for a man who should have had so much to celebrate. He won a landslide victory in the Supercity mayoralty and had another term or two firmly in mind. But his lengthy affair with Bevan Chuang, an independent report that cleared him of legal wrongdoing but revealed freebies and the use of a ratepayer-funded cellphone to support the affair, his forgetfulness over council policies on transparency, and a media pack that has turned on him all mean one thing - Mayor Len is dead man walking.

And that is without considering what he is having to do to save his marriage to Shan Inglis.

His council has taken the unprecedented step of censuring him and our sister paper, the New Zealand Herald, matched that, running a front page editorial calling on him to resign.

"The affair and all the apologies are one thing but the lax accountability over grace, favour and entitlements and the potential emasculation of his office by the council leave little chance of him regaining the respect of Aucklanders," it said.

It was gutsy journalism we applaud, but realistically Brown was never going to go. What else is he without the mayoral chains?

And he's hardly flush with role models when it comes to politicians putting service above self.

When senior Government minister Judith Collins pontificated this week whether Brown had "the moral authority to do what is an extremely important job", she forgot she was in a glasshouse. Her party is propped up by politicians with just as many questions over their ethics.

There is Act's John Banks, of course, whose memory blanks over his Kim Dotcom donations have him facing a High Court trial. At least Banks knows he is now unelectable and will not stand in next year's general election. But he rakes in taxpayer money in the meantime.

And then there is United Future's Peter Dunne, nicknamed "the cockroach" by acerbic TV3 political editor Patrick Gower for his ability to survive any fallout. He was the prime suspect in a leak that embarrassed the PM, yet Key needs coalition partners, so another accommodation in Ohariu-Belmont next year is on the cards.

Dunne and Banks are as brazen as Brown. Contrast these three to lowly-backbencher Aaron Gilmore, who Key forced to resign over a drunken night where he foolishly threatened to have a waiter sacked. If power is an aphrodisiac, Gilmore was impotent while Brown, Dunne and Banks were pumped up and impervious.

It could be worse, of course. Auckland could have a mayor who has admitted crack cocaine use and was caught on camera threatening to kill. And that's not even made up - Toronto's Rob Ford was surely the most outrageous politician of 2013.

Who knows what will happen on Wednesday. Santa may still deliver to these errant politicians. But we are the Santas at the ballot box. Mark it in your diary for the general election, and the next mayoral race. It is unacceptable.

- Herald on Sunday

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