Len Brown’s sudden love for a Living Wage



“Auckland mayor Len Brown supports living wage” says the headline for the story on the TVNZ website on Friday but what follows is so heavily qualified and compromised that Len’s views are barely related to anything promoted by the living wage campaign.

So while the incumbent mayor has “come out in support of a living wage” he says there would need to be a “full review on the economic feasibility of the plan” along with “what constitutes a living wage” and “what implementing it will mean for wage and salary relativities across the organisation”. No promises, no timelines and no guarantee even as to what living wage hourly rate might be paid.

To remove any doubt that his heart is not in it Brown says he would prefer to see the issue addressed by central government in the form of changes to the minimum wage.

You can almost hear the biblical plea “Father, won’t you take this cup from me?” in Len’s agonised announcement of his supposed support for the lowest-paid council employees.
His real worry is that if he goes in to bat for the living wage his corporate donations will dry up. So Len’s dilemma is how to pretend to his South Auckland voting base that he supports the living wage while assuring the corporates that he doesn’t really.

Hence Len’s Friday announcement has more holes than a Swiss cheese.

He faced a similar problem with the SkyCity pokies-for-convention-centre proposal. From the outset he was a strong supporter of this dirty deal and it’s obvious his backing was based on the $25,000 campaign donation he received from SkyCity for the last local body elections.

However Len now says he doesn’t support the financial arrangements for the deal – a fine example of moral contortionism – probably driven in part by the decision of SkyCity not to make a donation to his mayoral campaign this election.

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Mayoral contender John Palino is no better. Palino was not a supporter of the living wage but later in the campaign changed his mind and declared his support at one of the living wage meetings only to retract it later. The corporates had clearly got to him in the meantime.

What we should all take from this is that politicians are only as brave as we force them to be. They are followers, not leaders, and without a gutsy public campaign to force change their default position will be to support the corporate status quo.

Note: John Minto is a contender for Auckland Mayor in the current local body elections.


  1. ‘ note : John Minto is a contender for Auckland Mayor in the current local body elections.’

    So he fucking should be . And thank God you are .

    The time’s up for the likes of Len . I’ve always believed that central government cronyism has it’s roots in local government politics .
    Way down here in my Clutha district , why , the Council administrators wail and moan about how we’re going to get by with what little rates can be collected from a sparse population . Honestly , if you put your ear out your Auckland office window you could hear them .
    We poor bastards who live here and bleed out money in rates can watch as Clutha District Council senior staff drive around in 40 k plus 4×4’s . Brand new ones ! Shiny , new ones . They have air scoops and they have grills and they have big nobly tyres and stripes and logos and everything . But why do they use the super market car park as their parking space when the Council Offices are way up at the other end of town ???

    And did you know John Minto , that you have touched upon a very important point ? The conundrum of the Auckland mayor and that political tangle is precisely the same conundrum of New Zealand , it’s economy and it’s people . It’s that conundrum that’s causing such a dilemma for the architects of our society and a free breakfast , lunch and dinner for our corrupt power elite .

    Put simply , the votes are in Auckland . The money is in the countryside . How to weld those two elements together then ?
    Hmmmm ? Ummmm ? Let’s see then ? Nope . Nothing from me . How about you then ?

    The last time I looked , the farming ( read foreign exchange earning industry ) is well staffed and well trained and NZ Farmer expertise is well know world wide and it expects nothing from no one . In total , fifty three thousand people derive their sole income from the land . Therefore , what do you do with the other four million two hundred and fifty thousand New Zealanders ?
    Stuff them into cities then force them to live on a borrowed , false economy of meager wages and declining services while a select few get filthy rich fiddling the books ? No , surely not ?
    Thus , us Kiwis became one of the most leveraged populations of the developed world . No ! ?
    Would that be a first ? A First World Third World ?

    And on that note , perhaps the answer isn’t necessarily in higher wages . Perhaps it’s in lower costs ?
    Where exactly do our fish go ? Where exactly do those massive logs go ? ( Don’t say down the shitter Haha ! ) Where , exactly do our best lamb , beef , hog , kitten and weasel go ? Not into my fucking fridge I can tell you . And who the fuck says a tiny little house- box in a damp town full of anxious , mentally fragile people is ‘ worth ‘ $ 550,000.00 ! ? Who said that ? Not foreign owned banks surely ? No ?
    And what politician is going to bitch-slap their maws shut then kick them out ? Yeah , didn’t think so .
    You’ve come upon a very interesting knot in your Post John Minto . I’d love to see you
    undo it .

    One last wee thing . Farmers et al are not the enemy . Sure , some of them may vote National , so chuck that first stone then ? Urban people are equally not the enemy of the Farmer . ( The very weird thing is that New Zealand farmers have more in common with the rank and file than with a select few rich Tories . ) The enemy are those few , the very small number of people who , without one single moral qualm can do , and still do what they do . That voodoo . Len knows . So do you John Minto .
    These are heady times and for reasons only just touched upon .

    And for all you naysayers and eye rollers out there . Do your research/thinking , then try to prove I’m wrong but remember , I’m most agreeable when I’m agreed with .

    • Correction: John Palino supports the living wage in principle – I was there at his living wage speech. He believes that legislation is the wrong way to go about it; don’t you agree?

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