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Auckland Mayors Upset Over PM's John Banks Comment

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
John Banks. Pic: NZPA
John Banks. Pic: NZPA

Wellington, June 8 NZPA - Auckland regional mayors have reacted angrily to a speech in which Prime Minister John Key appeared to give a nod to John Banks as a super city mayoral candidate.

The Auckland mayor has made no secret of his desire to govern the new super city once it is formed.

Mr Key made the comment about Mr Banks, a National Party member and former minister, during a speech at a National Party conference on Saturday.

"Can I start by acknowledging the mayor -- more importantly the super mayor of Auckland city -- John Banks," he said.

North Shore City Mayor Andrew Williams said he was appalled at the insinuation.

"For a prime minister to come out 15 months before a local body election, already endorsing a candidate is absolutely appalling," he told Radio New Zealand.

"And to John Key I would just say I am absolutely shocked, and Prime Minister apologise."

Rodney Mayor Penny Webster was also unimpressed.

"The prime minister shouldn't be making comments like that. There shouldn't be any politicians -- particularly not at prime minister level -- who would endorse any candidate, he shouldn't be going there."

Labour Party Auckland issues spokesman Phil Twyford said the comment passed doubt on the integrity of the Government's reform process in Auckland.

"You have to ask yourself is this whole exercise about the long term health of Auckland's democracy, or is it about the Government installing its mates to rule our country's largest city."

A spokesman from Mr Key's office said this morning there were no endorsements for any candidates and it was up to the people of Auckland to decide who they wanted as mayor.

"It was not an endorsement of John Banks," he said.

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