Wednesday, 1 September 2010


A young man is dead after consuming the best part of a bottle of vodka . His parents want to know what happened on the night of his death. In the mix is the son of Auckland Mayor John Banks.

This tragedy will leave an indelible mark on all the kids there that night. John Banks has grounded his son and also got him to take a First aid course so that he can be better prepared for dealing with someone who has a life threatening condition.
It was clear from the Close Up programme last night that John Banks was deeply affected by what had happened.

No doubt there will be those who say that the punishment that Banks has metted out to his son Alex is not enough.

Take for instance this Facedbook exchange

Sumner Burstyn WTF WTF WTF - John Banks grounds his son for egging on another kid to drink so much he then dies. And this is man who might run our city - if he can't manage his family with any true morality how can he run a city?

31 minutes ago · ·

    • what was supposed to do? take him out and flog him?
      20 minutes ago · ·

    • Sumner Burstyn
      good question - (in addition) take away all his privileges for 6 months (cell phone / internet / computer games). Make him volunteer after school and weekends at the Salvation Army shelter for 12 months. He has contributed in a large way to the death of a friend. If he was driving a car that crashed and killed his friend he would be charged - so why are we so slack about alcohol? And his father seeks rolls that are supposed to be about 'service to his community' and yet we all know his ego drives him to use public office to feather his own nest. And you know this young man has had a very well-feathered nest. And his father wants him to stay in his nest - (which is hardly a punishment for 'connected' youth) while another family has lost their son. Like father like son I say - this speaks loud and clear as to the culture and arrogance that informs John Banks and therefore his son.
      8 minutes ago ·

    • Crap sumner. James webster was very clearly intending to drink himself silly. I remember my past well. The years of yard glasses and lines of tequila. Guilt will be alex banks biggest punishment. And you seem to be saying that just because alex banks is a rich kid that he is worse for it? Where's the logic in that reasoning
Sumner Burstyn I just want to make it clear that one persons choice - Websters choice to drink - does not absolve another persons response - Banks choice to not only do nothing - but to encourage.
8 minutes ago ·

Guilt is a heavy, heavy burden on a young mans shoulders and Banks has done the right thing.
His sons punishment is just,measured and educative .

While there are others who were involved in the death of James Webster , its clear from his texts that he made his own decisions that night.

We have witnessed alcoholic poisoning first hand as a teenager. A chap who downed the best part of a bottle of vodka was quickly taken to hospital. We just knew something was terribly wrong.

So it taught us all that night that alcohol could kill.

We can all say with gravitas and the with the benefit of hindsight that this is a message we need to give to all young people.

Trouble is teenagers are teenagers. They will test boundaries, make mistakes, break rules. All we can do as parents is give them the best of information and guide them them through the toughest of lifes times.

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