Power boss 'should lead city rebuild'

GLENN CONWAY
Last updated 05:00 02/03/2011

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The performance of Orion chief executive Roger Sutton has prompted calls that he lead the rebuilding of Christchurch.

A city MP and a former mayor yesterday agreed Sutton had the track record and skills to drive what would be the city's most challenging role.

Sutton downplayed that speculation yesterday, but did not rule out a future role.

Wigram MP Jim Anderton and former mayor Garry Moore said Sutton was the man for the job and denied their support was a veiled attack on Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker's leadership.

"This is not about politics. I have been critical of Bob in the past, but those debates are totally buried. We have to forget our differences now," Moore said.

He and Anderton agreed the city had to first lay its dead to rest, but then move quickly to have someone such as Sutton at the helm of the rebuilding phase.

Sutton has received praise from all quarters about his handling of staff working long hours to restore electricity to the city, his honest remarks, and his communication skills.

Anderton said the person leading the rebuilding work needed to be able to drive the mammoth project, be well known, respected, able to get community "buy-in" and have a proven track record in management and administration.

"If anyone can do it, he can do it," he said.

"He would have the grunt to pull people together. If I was [elected] mayor, I would have wanted him to lead it."

Moore said it was important the rebuilding leader was someone who had been visible, was fair, had sound ethics and a sound knowledge of the city.

"Roger is a highly competent CEO and we will need someone like him to drive us forward as the new Christchurch rises phoenix-like from the ashes," he said.

Christchurch was "on a war footing" and facing the greatest national disasters since World War II.

"This is not about ego. This is about us," Moore said.

However, Christchurch list MP Nicky Wagner was less enthusiastic.

"We have a democratically elected organisation [the city council] that should be left to make decisions for now."

While the city needed strong leaders such as Sutton, it was too early to nominate people for positions, she said.

When contacted, Sutton, a keen cyclist, was preparing to take his first bike ride since last Tuesday's earthquake.

His focus was leading his Orion team to get electricity back on across the city, he said. However, he did not rule out taking on more responsibility if asked.

Christchurch Central MP Brendon Burns agreed Sutton would be a logical pick.

"This is an idea whose time has more than come," he said.

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Burns said there were possibly only a handful of other potential candidates.

They included Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce chief executive Peter Townsend, Port of Lyttelton boss Peter Davie and Canterbury District Health Board chief executive David Meates.

- The Press

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