Wayne surges in poll but the Mayoral race is still open

The latest poll has Wayne Brown smiling (Picture from Website)

Tim Murphy
Auckland, September 29, 2022

Wayne Brown has found himself leading the pack in the Auckland Mayoral race after an opinion poll this evening. Newsroom Co-Founder and Co-Editor Tim Murphy has been watching the frontrunners. The following is his analysis.

He is not as fluid, verbally or physically, as he once was but Wayne Brown at 76 has positioned himself for a strong run home in the race to succeed Phil Goff as Mayor of Auckland.

He has outlasted his two main rivals on the centre-right of politics, Leo Molloy and Viv Beck, who recognised a split vote among them might hand the job to Labour and Greens-backed councillor Efeso Collins.

In a much-awaited poll published on Wednesday (September 28, 2022) evening, Brown added modest chunks of that pair’s previous support to his second placing to Collins in the last big poll and has a fine margin – 28 to 26 over Collins.

Mayoral hopefuls (from left) Wayne Brown, Efeso Collins, Craig Lord (RNZ Photo)

Brown vs Collins

A lead in one poll does not a Mayor make, and another poll is likely from a media outlet this weekend. Auckland has voted the Labour-aligned candidate – admittedly with higher profile contenders –  into the Mayoral office four times out of the four elections held as a super city. Collins has been the front runner throughout this race, has campaigned assiduously and has a volunteer base and social media game that has helped make him the person to beat.

Brown’s marginal advantage now in the poll may carry its own comment on his prospects. He has the centre-right voting demographic by default now (other than Craig Lord, who was up just 1 point to 8% support in the September poll) and failure to consolidate those preferences from here would be pretty disheartening for his camp and motivating for Collins.

Beck’s exit challenges

The Ratepayers’ Alliance/Curia poll was conducted half before Viv Beck withdrew and half after, leaving 10% of decided votes beside her name. The Ratepayers Alliance is an allied group to the right-wing Taxpayers Alliance and a persistent critic of Auckland Council.

Because Beck pulled out so late, her name is on the ballot papers now being completed in homes across the region, so the possibility of a rump vote for her could also challenge opinion poll findings.

Tim Murphy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brown is the sort of character who would have expected to be ahead in any case. He has half-joked on the candidate meetings stage about the others targeting him because “that’s what happens when you are ahead.” He is noted as the only one who has been a Mayor before (although those two terms in the north ended in controversy and comprehensive defeat).

He does not claim to know it all, but on the campaign trail and in his past roles chairing public bodies such as Vector, the Auckland District Health Board and Transpower, he gives the impression that he knows most of it, and it is all pretty easy to sort out, whatever ‘it’ is.

The problem with optimism

Brown is a mansplainer to men, as well as women. He offers simple fixes for eradicating red road cones, for bus technology to get through red lights, for the port company to pay vast annual dividends to the council, for cycleways to cost far less per metre to build, for trains to replace trucks to carry containers out of downtown Auckland, for cuts to council executive roles and salaries rather than cuts to services to the public, for the City Rail Link project to come clean on its so-far undetermined extra cost exposure, and for two more Council Controlled Organisations Eke Panuku Auckland and Auckland Unlimited to meet their maker.

Too bad if the experts in finance, engineering, bus networks, town centre redevelopment, events and tourism promotion and international infrastructure negotiations, and the KC who reviewed the CCOs just this term of the council roll their eyes and mutter that it is not ‘easy’ to do these things. Or if Collins, who’s on the inside as a councillor, or Goff, watching on as the leader who didn’t have the Brown gifts to make such difficulties easy, try in vain to explain why things have been done the way they are.

Politically, Brown pushes on, labelling naysayers and their ideas dumb, councillors as lacking focus on the numbers or the understanding of what they mean or, worst, policies or officials as being from Wellington. It is an approach that has cut through at a certain level. And Brown’s campaign is firmly targeting a middle-aged, home-owning demographic rather than aiming to be all things to all people.

A property developer, he has known financial success and completed many a project.

He will not detail what properties he owns across the city that he wants to lead but says that there are not many. (At one meeting of candidates, he said that he owned “a few” buildings at Paerata Heights in Franklin).

He is not young to take on the job. The Mayor he most admires, Sir Dove Myer-Robinson, was 79 when he ended his two-stint, 18 years in charge of the much smaller Auckland City Council.

A hint of ‘Robbie’

But Brown has a hint of the ‘Robbie’ about him. It will not be unimaginable for the former surfer to do a Robbie and appear bare-chested in public, political virility on show.

Brown is not particularly a fluid speaker, let alone an orator and does not seem to care much for the statesmanship or political diplomacy that the Mayoral role historically demands. He is admittedly no baby-kisser and (while he leaves this bit unspoken) by temperament no ass-kisser.

“I probably intend to do more change than you are expecting,” he told one crowd this month.

The boost in this latest poll could, in his eyes, validate his pre-campaign qualitative market research, a project that asked how Aucklanders might react to his messages – “if they cared about the sort of things I care about.”

But if the poll that matters on October 8 does not go his way, Brown does not want Aucklanders to come running to him later if things go wrong.

“Then, don’t ring me up please,” he said.

Results of Ratepayers Alliance-Curia Poll (September 28, 2022) (Taken from a sample of 1000 people) (500 people on either side of Viv Beck’s withdrawal): Decided Voters: Wayne Brown:  28%; Efeso Collins: 26%; Viv Beck: 10%; Craig Lord: 8%; Others: 28%; Undecided – 33%

Tim Murphy is Co-Founder and Co-Editor of Newsroom. The above article (updated version), which appeared on the Newsroom website on September 29, 2022, has been reproduced under a Special Arrangement. 

About Wayne Brown

Wayne Brown is a New Zealand politician and businessman. He has worked in leadership roles in several large New Zealand businesses and public infrastructure organisations. He was Mayor of the Far North District Council between 2007 and 2013, and he is a candidate for the 2022 Auckland Mayoral election.

An engineer by training, Brown is a property developer. He has served as a director of many New Zealand organisations, both public and private. These include TVNZ, Maori Television, Transpower and Vector Limited. He was the Chair of the Land Transport Safety Authority.

In the 2000s, he chaired the government-owned telecommunications firm Kordia.

In 2019, he led a review for the New Zealand government which recommended shifting the Port of Auckland to the North.

Brown was appointed Chairman of the Northland District Health Board and Tairāwhiti District Health Board in January 2001 when District Health Boards were established; he had previously chaired the respective Hospital and Health Service (HHS) boards.

In December 2001, Brown was appointed to Chairman of the Auckland District Health Board and remained Chair of Tairāwhiti DHB.

During the 2001–2004 local government term, Brown was forced to resign from Tairāwhiti DHB, where he had been elected, due to an administrative error by the Ministry of Health.

The underlying legislation, the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act 2000, did not allow a person elected to a district health board to also be a member of a second board, but this had been overlooked. Brown remained the appointed chair of the Auckland DHB.

Brown was reappointed by Health Minister Annette King for another term in October 2004 but the new Health Minister, David Cunliffe, chose a new chair for Auckland from December 2007 when he appointed Patrick Snedden

Mayor of Far North

In the October 2007 local elections, Brown challenged the three-term Mayor of Far North, Yvonne Sharp, and had a “landslide victory.”

For the October 2010 local elections, Brown delayed announcing his candidacy “just in case someone younger and brighter came forward” to continue his work but when this did not happen, he put his nomination forward in August. Brown narrowly defeated John Goulter in the election. In the October 2013 local elections, Brown was decisively defeated by John Carter, who had until 2011 represented the area in Parliament.

He launched his Mayoral campaign on March 29, 2022, at an event hosted by the Avondale Business Association, with a plan to “Fix Auckland.”

His team includes Political Commentator Matthew Hooton and National Party-aligned strategist Tim Hurdle. Source: Wikipedia

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