A former staff member and longstanding local newspaper editor, Phil Taylor, calls on Botany MP Jami-Lee Ross to do the right thing

I publicly called on Jami-Lee Ross to resign as the Member of Parliament for Botany two years ago after his spectacular tantrum that ended his membership of the National Party.

I again call on him to resign. Last time, it was more on humanitarian grounds. If he was indeed suffering from mental health issues at the time, he should have done the right thing for himself, his family, and those he has contact with, to withdraw from public life and seek qualified medical help. Away from the environment that created the politically power-obsessed monster that has left a lot of people broken and hurt.

My first call for his resignation in 2018 came after Newsroom’s investigative report which revealed his inappropriate abusive treatment of four women associated with him in the political arena.

After the latest Newsroom reporting on July 21, I think Ross should resign immediately.

The story shows he has not changed his ways, as the shocking experience of two more of Ross’ former staff members from earlier this year in his Botany electorate office details.

The environment he created in the electorate office since 2018 was obviously toxic enough to lead three Parliamentary Service staff members to complain and walk out in disgust and frustration.

Sadly, it’s not uncommon for an MP to lose a staff member due to a conflict or some kind of workplace dispute, but to lose three in a week was unprecedented. It’s another shameful record Botany now holds.

The people of Botany deserve much better. Nobody expects their elected representatives to be perfect, but the public does have standards of behaviour for and expectations of MPs.

Ross has clearly fallen well short of that expectation more than once. If this is how he treats his staff, what is his attitude to Botany constituents?

He will likely always portray himself as a victim, when he is the one who consistently victimises others, and he does not take responsibility for his actions.

Instead of blaming political adversaries for his problems, as he did earlier this year, Ross should ask himself why he’s had so many Parliamentary Service staffers.

There have been 24 personnel assigned to work for him as an MP over nine years. That’s a very high turnover, probably another unfortunate record for the Botany electorate.

Constituents have had enough of him dragging the good name of their Botany electorate through the mud. Ross’ endless scandals have only brought shame to Botany and continue to bring its name into disrepute, including the charges laid against him by the Serious Fraud Office that go to court in September, 2021.

I write this as a Botany resident and someone has to speak up for the outraged constituents I’ve been hearing from for two years. I’m a former journalist who was editor and news director of all three local newspapers in East Auckland at different times between 2005 and 2018. I’m also a volunteer for community organisations and was an unsuccessful independent candidate in the 2018 by-election for the vacant Howick ward seat on the Auckland Council.

During a one-year stint away from journalism, I also worked for the Parliamentary Service in Ross’ Botany electorate office in 2015-2016.

I knew Jami-Lee Ross, but didn’t know him. I don’t think anyone really knows him, and I don’t think he knows who he really is.

When he started out in politics at 18 as the country’s youngest-ever city councillor for Manukau representing Howick, he was known for getting results for ratepayers and residents and had a decent reputation. That all changed when he went to Parliament in 2011, where his public servant attitude turned political and self-serving.

As I said publicly two years ago, he has a lot of apologising to do: to his family, ex-colleagues, and people who have helped him over many years for all the hurt he has caused them.

He was surrounded by many good people who helped him professionally and in voluntary capacities, and he has disappointed them to the point where great anger towards him has been generated.

Enough is enough. Jami-Lee Ross must surely go. With all these scandals associated with him, how can he be representing and doing anything for Botany? He should stop wasting taxpayers’ money and shaming Botany. 

He has used the power and influence that comes with the position of MP to manipulate and victimise people for too long.

Many here realise his regular media releases are all about creating an image that he’s doing something, but in reality it’s about him looking for publicity. Where is the political party he claimed he was forming? And there is no public evidence his efforts have saved one cockle on Cockle Bay Beach, an issue he ran a local petition on after leaving National to protect the shellfish beds, yet in six years in government did very little for.

Congratulations to the former staff members and associates of Ross who have been brave to speak publicly. You have spoken for others who have been in the same situations. You have stood up to a bully.

It would be good to know the Parliamentary Service will now actually do something to protect its staff. After all, it said it would with its review of culture two years ago.

Phil Taylor is a former editor of the Howick & Pakuranga Times, a candidate for the Auckland Council and a staff member in Jami-Lee Ross' Botany electorate office

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