Must have a chat with Kanwal Bakshi, a back-bencher with a flair for winning a headline. Alf has been struggling to win one for years, but fails even to have his name included on a list of successful candidates after general elections.
But today in the Sunday Herald, Bakshi not only has scored a headline – there’s a photo of him too, handsomely turbaned and looking real chuffed with himself.
Mind you, the headline isn’t calculated to enhance his political career.
Outrage over brothel at National MP’s house
At first blush, this suggests he or members of his family are in the brothel business.
Nonsense. The story tells us he is the part-owner of a property that was being used as a brothel in a neighbourhood of very straight-laced citizens (until he found out and kicked out the tenants.)
A brothel that horrified neighbours in a leafy Mt Eden street was operating from a house co-owned by a National MP.
Kanwal Bakshi, a first-term list MP who stood in Manukau East, said he gave notice to the tenants to move out last month after angry neighbours complained. His property manager investigated and issued a warning notice to tenants.
It’s a blot on the story that the other part-owner of the building is not named.
The story goes on to try to generate a political row and bring the PM’s leadership into the matter.
Bakshi acknowledged that he had not told his boss, Prime Minister John Key, that a brothel was operating out of one of his properties. Key, who has said he expects his MPs to disclose private problems to him, last night refused to comment.
Probably Baskshi did not tell the boss because the poor bugger was not aware the tenants were running a brothel – until he found out about the nature of the service they were providing.
When he did, he acted promptly.
Bakshi said he had been shocked to hear the neighbours’ complaints about the brothel in his property: “Mt Eden is one of the nicest areas and I didn’t expect anything like that.” He added: “Within three weeks the property was vacated.”
Much further down in the story, a neighbour credits him with moving fast on the matter.
She had contacted the property manager several times before contacting Bakshi, who was helpful and acted quickly.
The whiff of Labour muck-raking can be detected:
But Auckland Mayor John Banks, whose office received complaints from neighbours and from Labour’s Phil Goff, said such brothels had become a “growth industry” that was expensive to monitor and police.
Auckland City Council environments group manager Mark Vinall has written to Goff, “concerning the operation of a brothel in the vicinity of Shackleton Rd, Mt Eden”.
Fair to say, one neighbour complained to National MP Jackie Blue – but why would she want to dob in a colleague?
Then we learn
There are 16 licensed brothels in Auckland City but there are no figures on the number of small, unlicensed brothels operating out of private homes.
One unlicensed brothel in Puriri Ave, Greenlane, has been given notice to stop operating by May 8 following complaints from residents.
But above all, the story tells a story of a neighbourhood where the people are very easily upset. They probably would complain if Alf teetered home pissed.
A Shackleton Rd resident said living next door to the brothel had “just been horrific”.
“I just felt terrified, I was too scared to leave my kids at home,” she said. “This is a real family neighbourhood.”
It’s Alf’s impression you are in big trouble nowadays if you leave your kids at home in any circumstances.
Another neighbour said the house was recognisable in online advertisements for prostitutes, and was frequented by people who “weren’t the nicest”.
So how was this established? Through conversations with them? Or simply because of where they parked their cars and which house they visited?
In Auckland city – we finally learn – brothels can operate in residential areas if they qualify as a home-occupation business. That means the operator must live at the house, employ no more than four people, operate wholly within the premises but using only a third of the floor space, and have no more effect on the neighbourhood than a normal home.
Dunno about the rules here in Eketahuna. But if there are any brothels here, they are run very, very discretely and Alf can swear on the Bible he does not know about them or where they are located.