Christmas Countdown: Boagan Dwarf Three – Michael “Dopey” Barnett

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Michael “Dopey” Barnett

There’s still six days until Christmas but the early presents for Whaleoil readers keep on coming.  Today’s gift is a cracker –  the story of Boagan dwarf number three, Michael ‘Mayoral-Wannabe’ Barnett.

Auckland readers will of course know Mr Barnett as the face of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce.  If you don’t really understand what the organisation does, fear not you’re not alone. I can happily confirm their key role is to organise business lunches and breakfasts.   Kim The Clown Campbell is a regular attendant.  The Mayoral Wannabe actually celebrates his 25th anniversary at the Chamber this year.  What better way to party than to steal a cool $2.1 billion off the people of Auckland.    

Dopey Mike has also been the deputy-chairman of the Auckland Regional Council.  His crowning glory coming when, along with best buddy and disgraced King Trougher Alex Swney, he tried to bring in the ridiculous new logo for Auckland that looked like a bung firework from the warehouse to replace the city of sails image.  I guess people shouldn’t have expected too much from a man born and raised in the ‘tron.  The tip line has run hot since the Whale mentioned the profiling the Mayoral Wannabe.   Descriptions of “dopey” and “soft” were some of the more printable responses, “all style, no substance” and that sort of thing.  Others said he was the muppet responsible for the huge loss the Chamber made when it was involved with the 1993 round-the-world race.  And the man who went missing when Auckland went through it’s power blackouts.  Dopey.

For a man developing business growth in the region, his personal history doesn’t radiate success.  He worked in a steel fabrication firm, did some time in an importing business, and then found cushy business advocacy roles with the Chamber.  He’s been involved with the Auckland Santa Parade (reports that he played an Elf are yet to be substantiated), and is the Chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunities Trust.  Oh, and of course, he’s also been a member of the Auckland Energy Consumer Trust himself. That’s right, the man who once championed the trust because he was on it, wants to end it because he got booted off!

It’s no secret that the Mayoral Wannabe has delusions about leading Auckland.  He boasted of his intent to run in a by-election if Lyin’ Len stood down after last years’ rooting shenanigans. So it makes sense why he wants the Council to have access to the funding – he wants it for himself when he tries to win the Mayoralty.

In fact, earlier this year the Mayoral Wannabe said a shift in the leadership of Auckland was urgent because “we need a sense of Auckland taking greater ownership of its destiny.”  We can only assume, when he said that leadership of Auckland involved “seeing how to stretch those [limited] resources” he meant robbing from the people of Auckland to pay for a train-set that he would usher in as Mayor.  Dream on dopey.

So readers, be very aware of the Mayoral Wannabe, sitting on his Karaka lifestyle block.  He’s said he still buys lotto tickets in the hope of striking it rich.  Well, I think that he needs to come up with a better plan than trying to get his grubby little hands on the people of Auckland and South Auckland’s dividends.

But, as with The Campbell Clown, I wonder if Dopey Mike’s board knows what he’s up to.


I might just need to feature a few more of The Boagan’s dwarfs.  Which ones are you most interested in?

  • David Nathan?
  • Fred Hellaby, of King’s College, the Meat Industry Association, Wilson Hellaby Ltd, Auckland Meat Processors Ltd, Mathias International Limited and PVLP Proteins Ltd?
  • John Lindsay of Holcim (New Zealand) Ltd, McDonald’s Lime Ltd and The Lines Company Ltd?
  • Kate Daly of Fletcher Building? (Who would have guessed Fletcher Building would be in here!)
  • Peter Gulliver of Deloitte’s?
  • Mark Franklin of Stevenson Group and a former CEO of Vector?
  • Ted Van Arkel, a BFF of The Boagans?

I think I might start with Kate and Ted.


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  • JC

    Still no one from real estate?


  • caochladh

    I recall a bunch of years ago when central government decided to move its departments out of Auckland City to the suburbs. Now that was a fair chunk of the central city’s workers and services that many inner city businesses depended on. Barnett was approached to give the Chambers voice in protest. The little weasel wouldn’t have a bar of it and as a result, the inner city became a mecca for dodgy overseas schools, two dollar shops and noodle bars. Whenever I see that little mongrel, I still get the urge to tighten his bow tie.

  • Albert Root

    Hi ho, hi ho,
    It’s off to work we go,
    With shovels and picks,
    And $2bn we’ve knicked,
    Hi ho, hi ho, hi ho, hi ho.

  • Big Auck

    About 20+ years ago, I was on the National Chambers of Commerce Tax Committee based in Wellington along with a number of senior tax professional from the various CA firms. On their behalf we would examine proposed tax legislation and make submissions to select committees and ministers. We had met with the then Minister of Revenue (Wyatt Creech) the previous week about a contentious proposal. Barnett attending the National Chambers of Commerce normal monthly meeting heard we had met the minister and would be meeting him again next week. He promptly called a meeting of our tax committee and demanded he attend with us despite him having no tax experience. He attended the following week’s meeting with Creech, spent all the time fawning over him and then disappeared to be never seen again by the Tax Committee in the succeeding years on any issue. The only thing that man promotes is himself.

  • Pluto

    What is it with these dodgy Auckland organisations, full of their own self importance ?

    Has Mr Swny been bulldozed out of the way just in time to not be the 11th Boagan Dwarf ?

    • Win

      The people running these organisations consider that they are entitled, know more, know better and are superior to everyone else. BID’s such as the Heart of the City organisation (where Swney was employed as CEO prior to his recent court appearance) seem to benefit only their executive members who determine how the huge amount of funds they are gifted are spent. BID’s are funded by a compulsory levy paid by business owners of 7.5% on top of general rates. What control or governance exists over where these funds are spent? What quantifiable benefits do these organisations deliver?

  • Platinum Fox

    I wonder what the Institute of Directors would have to say about the governance of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce? Apparently the board has eight members, although nine people are pictured and described as being a “director” on the Board page linked above. Five of the external directors have served more than seven years, three of those have served more than 16 years! Barnett has been there since 1988!
    Renewal and reinvigoration of the organisation are not evident.
    I always laugh when The Horrid describes Barnett as a “businessman”. At best he might be described as an administrator and occasional lobbyist, politician and cheerleader for business.

  • HSV325

    Kate Daly next please

  • chris carr

    Hi Cameron,

    I’m not sure whether I should be insulted or flattered, but you have left my name off the list of Directors of the Chamber of Commerce.

    I am happy to stand with my fellow directors and with CEO MIchael
    Barnett and be judged on the results the Chamber achieves for Auckland

    Chris Carr.

    • Alright

      Excellent post Chris.

      The Chamber and Barnett do their very best to advance the cause for Auckland and Auckland business.

      Barnett drives along the middle of the road. I don’t always agree with him but I respect his non-doctrinaire views about governance and his ability to be someone who manages to keep opposing sides in the same room and talking.

      He plays a long game – pro-business with heart.