Fran O’Sullivan writes:
The mayor of Auckland has attempted to brazen his way through the embarrassing detritus exposed by the EY (Ernst & Young) report into some of the implications of his two-year affair with Bevan Chuang.
But that report, emasculated as it was after legal negotiations between Brown’s lawyer and the Auckland Council’s QC, has put new material on the table which must now be investigated by the Auditor-General herself.
But in the Auditor-General’s case there is a firm basis on which to make more inquiries of Brown, the mayor’s office and SkyCity. The EY report is fact-based. But it also suffers from the obvious limitation of being a report commissioned by Auckland Council CEO Doug McKay into his boss.
Provost is not constrained by any such relationship and, importantly, has the power to inquire and make relevant comment.
The EY report established some useful facts, but didn’t cover many things. For example there was no asking of the Auckland Art Gallery whether or not the Mayor’s reference was the major reason Chuang was hired.
The EY report – as published – shies away from disclosing whether Brown solicited any of the nine freebies he had in four city hotels or requested any of the 64 upgrades.
The impression by Brown’s public comments is that his wife, Shan Inglis, made most of their hotel bookings.
But it stretches credibility to believe Inglis would have made the booking for her husband’s rendezvous with Chuang in a SkyCity hotel bedroom.
Especially as rumour has it that some of the bookings were for the day, not the night!
EY saves the mayor some embarrassment by failing to distinguish between Brown’s overnight stays and his daytime stays in hotels. A footnote to the report simply says “room nights refers to both night stays and day stays”.
It is unclear whether these so-called “room nights” cover the pop-in arrangements that Brown was said to have when a room was sought for a few hours for him to get away from the pressures of the office.
Pressures of the office?