6 Sep 2018

Penny Bright: 'I wouldn't change anything'

From Checkpoint, 6:10 pm on 6 September 2018

Auckland's self-titled anti-corruption campaigner, Penny Bright, says she holds Auckland Council responsible for the worsening of ovarian cancer, which has left her in hospital with days to live.

The colourful and controversial stalwart of Auckland's local body politics was given until yesterday - her 64th birthday - to live by doctors at Auckland Hospital after her cancer rapidly worsened late last week.

Ms Bright fought Auckland Council for 11-years over her rates, which she refused to pay until the council "opened its books" and regularly published a list of external contractors used, and what they were paid.

"I tried to work with them, but no, they've been out to crush me. I believe that Auckland Council is responsible for how I am. The stress has been enormous," Ms Bright told Checkpoint this afternoon from her hospital bed, or "death bed", as she called it.

Ms Bright in May reluctantly accepted the council's long-standing offer to postpone the payment of her unpaid rates until she sells her home or dies. The total owed is $89,000 including penalties and legal fees, versus her home which is worth around $1.5 million.

She said she "wouldn't change anything", despite her belief her battle with the council has worsened her cancer, and said it was "bollocks" when Checkpoint suggested Auckland Council may have felt it needed to set an example that residents could not choose not to pay rates.

"We're being bled dry. We don't know where billions of dollars of rates money is being spent on private sector consultants and contractors. New Zealand is supposed to be the least corrupt country in the world, but if we're the least corrupt, we're supposed to be the most transparent," she said.

Ms Bright is continuing that fight from her "death bed", continuing to file requests for information.

"On the day of my death (yesterday) I sent off a Privacy Act request to the CEO of Auckland Council, Stephen Town, because I understand that the council has spent over $1 million pursuing me," she said, adding that would need to be responded to "urgently".

Ms Bright also lamented what she called the media's dismissal of her, and her battle with Auckland Council.

"Here I am wing clipped, supposedly on my death bed, and I've never had more attention being paid to what I've been bleating on about for the past 20-years."

Asked if that frustrated her, Ms Bright said the coverage was "better late than never".