Dalziel won't run for mayor

19:04, May 11 2012

"I want to be the minister, not the mayor."

With that sentence, Christchurch East Labour MP Lianne Dalziel wants to lay to rest one of the city's most persistent rumours since the February 2011 earthquake.

Dalziel, Labour's earthquake recovery spokeswoman, said there were several reasons why she was not interested in standing for the mayoralty late next year.

One was that she had Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee's job in her sights if Labour was able to govern after the 2014 general election.

She said her priority then would be to free Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) chief executive Roger Sutton from the Government's shackles that were preventing him doing his job properly.

Not running for mayor would allow others of similar views to stand, although she was cagey about who those people might be.


Dalziel said she wanted to continue to represent the city's eastern suburbs as an MP. "I intend to re-stand for Christchurch East in whatever form it becomes, because obviously there will be major boundary changes. I could end up the MP for Christchurch Central again by accident," she said.

"I'm sick of every time I try to get debate around the real issues, they say, `It's the beginning of her mayoralty bid'. So I'm taking it off the table.

"The job I really want is Gerry Brownlee's, rather than Bob Parker's."

She did not want to be mayor of a city where the Government was so blatantly controlling things that the council could not do what it was elected to do.

"It's really important that the mayor is able to have a relationship with the Government, and I think it's important for the people of Christchurch too," she said.

"I cannot accept some of the decisions that the Government has made [and] that they have stripped the Christchurch City Council of its democratic role. The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act is a disgrace. The reason I want to be the minister is to put in a layer of governance between the minister and the chief executive of Cera so that Roger Sutton, who is the right person for the job, in my view, is able to do his job properly.

"I think he is unfortunately in a position where he cannot perform to the level where he can, like we saw him doing at [Canterbury lines company] Orion.

"The structure of the recovery organisation is fundamentally flawed without proper governance.

"Some people are excited about the new Christchurch Central Development Unit and, actually, beating your head against a brick wall is also enjoyable because you feel so good when you stop. That is exactly how I feel about that unit.

"It's a relief because it has an element of structure, but what most people don't realise is that it could have been an even better model.

"The Government considered an SOE-model, but turned that down in favour of a unit within Cera. It seems they are not prepared to give the political independence a recovery authority needs, and that is a shame.

"I want to be the minister that will change that structure, that will make it happen for Christchurch."

She appreciated Brownlee had been personally affected by the quakes.

"I think he is just as emotionally affected by this as anyone else. That's why I'm not as hard on him as I might otherwise be," she said.


Lianne Dalziel's refusal to stand for the Christchurch mayoralty should scotch the gossip that has been swirling about the city for more than a year.

The question is, who might this open the door for?

Dalziel did not want to speculate on that. "I do think now that others will stand up. I think there have been some people thinking about whether they are ambitious or not. There is certainly a groundswell of support for change.

"With my announcement now that I'm definitely not going to stand for mayor, some of the focus will go on others to say if they are prepared to."

City councillors Peter Beck and Glenn Livingstone, both from the Burwood-Pegasus ward, have been touted as possible mayoral contenders next year, as has fellow councillor Tim Carter, from the Hagley-Ferrymead ward.

Beck, the former Christ Church Cathedral dean, stood this year as an independent in a by-election for the council seat.

Livingstone, who is also a man of the cloth, is a member of the Labour Party.

Beck would not say whether he would contest the mayoralty.

"I'm on the steepest of learning curves here, trying to get my head around the new role, so it's not a 'no' and it's not a 'yes' either at this stage."

Livingstone said he would "love to be mayor one day".

"But that doesn't necessarily mean next time."

Carter said it was too early to consider standing. "I believe people deserve better leadership than is currently provided and believe that there will be a change at the next election."

Former Christchurch mayor Garry Moore said rather than thinking in terms of having a Left or Right-wing mayor, it was time to make sure Christchurch had the "best person to lead the city".

He believed a "coalition approach" would be best for local government in Christchurch at the moment.

"The mana of local government needs to be worked on," he said.

"People need to be thinking very hard about standing for the council. We need a good mix of people around the table, with all sorts of different perspectives."

The Press