29 Feb 2016

John Palino: 'No dirty politics in my campaign'

7:22 pm on 29 February 2016

Restaurateur John Palino launched his second tilt at the Auckland mayoralty today with a heated exchange in which he made accusations of lies and corruption in city politics.

Watch Todd Niall's RNZ Checkpoint interview with John Palino here:

Mr Palino faced media questions about his failure to give interviews in 2013, after his campaign was accused of involvement in publicity about the mayor Len Brown's extra marital affair.

After a brief speech to a couple of dozen supporters at a cafe in Takanini, Mr Palino then engaged in a heated question and answer session with nearly a dozen media.

John Palino launches his mayoralty campaign

John Palino launches his mayoralty campaign Photo: RNZ / Todd Niall

He also rejected accusations that he was introducing dirty politics to his new campaign by hiring advisors Carrick Graham and Simon Lusk, who were mentioned in Nicky Hager's book of the same name.

"There's no dirty politics in my campaign. But let me tell you something about dirty politics. It was Len's team that got the media to turn onto me. That's dirty politics to me."

For the record, Mr Palino said he was unaware of an affair between the mayor and Ms Bevan Chuang who was part of the Palino campaign, before it was revealed publicly.

He rejected Ms Chuang's claim that she discussed it with Mr Palino, and how the information might be used, prior to election day.

Mr Palino's main policy launch today is a promise of a 10 percent rates reduction.

John Palino

John Palino Photo: RNZ / Todd Niall

It is his second attempt at Auckland's top job, having lost to Mr Brown by 50,000 votes three years ago.

His 2013 bid hit controversy when his campaign team was accused of being involved in the leak of information about Mr Brown's extra-marital affair. Mr Palino gave no interviews, but issued a statement saying he first knew of the affair only when it became public.

He becomes the third centre-right candidate, alongside one-time National Party candidate Mark Thomas and businesswoman Victoria Crone, who is backed by Auckland National Party figures.

Veteran Labour MP Phil Goff launched his mayoral bid in November. Activist Penny Bright, rates campaigner Stephen Berry and former Green Party candidate David Hay are also standing.