Why won’t Vic Crone debate anyone and why is her team strong-arming debate organisers?

Vic Crone

Not a good look for Vic Crone and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out who on her team is strong-arming organisers of debates.

Two Auckland mayoral candidates aren’t happy at being invited and then excluded from an election event being organised by a ratepayer-funded business group.

Mark Thomas and John Palino said they were invited to the South Harbour Business Association candidate event, but then removed from the line-up, leaving just Vic Crone and Phil Goff.

Mr Palino said he was invited by email to join a line-up including Phil Goff and Mark Thomas, but 20 minutes later received another email withdrawing the invitation.

Mr Thomas said he believed he’d been excluded after an objection from rival centre-right candidate Ms Crone.

Vic Crone can’t handle a debate. She will get shown up by the more politically educated Mark Thomas and the more passionate John Palino.

Crone’s team know they have the number 11 choice and dud candidate and are doing whatever they can to protect her from any head-to-head debates where she would get shown up for the corporate show pony she is.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out who is pulling the strings in the background; she has a history of this sort of standover.

The business lunch was organised by the South Harbour Business Association, which is funded entirely by a targeted rate and a grant from the Auckland Council.

Email exchanges obtained by RNZ News showed some of the on-again, off-again exchanges:

  • April 6 2.18pm: SHBA’s manager Alex Holley, confirms that Vic Crone and Phil Goff will attend.
  • April 21 12.27pm: SHBA writes to the Goff campaign – “Further to my email regarding Mark Thomas wanting to join, I have received a call from Victoria Crone’s representative saying Victoria will not appear with Phil and Mark.”
  • April 27 11.49am: SHBA invites mayoral candidate John Palino to present “alongside Phil Goff and Mark Thomas.”
  • April 27 12.05pm: SHBA emails John Palino (16 minutes later) “Please disregard my previous email as my request is now withdrawn.”

Mr Palino, who with almost 109,000 votes in 2013 was runner-up to Len Brown, said it was not a good performance from a ratepayer-funded group.

“They should actually give their members the opportunity to hear all the candidates’ policies and visions for Auckland, I think that’s important,” he said.

“To lock someone out or uninvite someone, which is a bit rude, just shows unprofessionalism.”

It isn’t the first time Crone’s team has done this. My understanding is Crone refused to attended a three-way debate on Duncan Garner’s show for the same reasons.

A spokesperson for Ms Crone said they had told the association only that they would prefer being paired just with Mr Goff.

Mr Thomas rejected Ms Crone’s public stance that it was a two-horse race.

“There’s clearly three leading candidates, most commentators are saying that, but it’s not up to us to declare ourselves as leading contenders, ultimately the voters will decide,” he said.

Crone is lying; the emails, which I have obtained as well, show a much different story.

The really important question is what is Vic Crone afraid of? I’d happily debate all comers, and on NewstalkZB when I was on the Huddle – before being blacklisted by management – I always said I’d go on with anyone. It is only cowards like Damien Christie and Tim Watkin who refused to be on air with me. Josie Pagani at least had the courage to do it, and for that she will always have my respect.

But Crone must be afraid of going toe to toe with John Palino and Mark Thomas. It isn’t the hallmark of a quality candidate to dictate terms for debates; it is the hallmark of a coward.

Then again, when you sign pledges but have no idea what you’ve signed up to, and have no policy despite six months on the campaign trail, then I guess you really wouldn’t want that exposed.


– RadioNZ


THANK YOU for being a subscriber. Because of you Whaleoil is going from strength to strength. It is a little known fact that Whaleoil subscribers are better in bed, good looking and highly intelligent. Sometimes all at once! Please Click Here Now to subscribe to an ad-free Whaleoil.

  • Rebecca

    If it’s true that any candidate’s minders are trying to shape access to other candidates: shame on you. NZ is not one of those states where apparatchiks pick candidates and therefore eventual winners. NZ allows voters to form their own judgments, initially via competently administered polls after debates and other opportunities for candidates to strut their stuff, and then at voting time. If any candidate is the “front runner” then that will become apparent after some debates and policy comparisons, not because one candidate managed to shut everybody else out.

  • Effluent

    How about asking each of the candidates to provide a copy (fully costed of course) of their manifesto, or better still, organise a debate between all of them, and see who has sufficient interest to turn up.

    I am almost surprised that Paul Henry hasn’t already done this

  • Isherman

    Well Crones already lost my vote. Phil Goff never had it to begin with, and Penny is just providing the sideshow entertainment, if it can be called that. Thomas and Palino may not emerge the victors, but despite that they have more respect from me than the others ever will, not to mention some actual ideas, I’d like to think I’m not alone in that assessment.