Inner-city advocate helped fund Parker campaign

Last updated 00:00 28/10/2007

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One of Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker's biggest financial backers has been revealed as a Melbourne-based property investor.

Michael Ogilvie-Lee, who was raised in Christchurch and owns the Triangle Building in the City Mall, donated $10,000 to Parker's $60,000 mayoral election campaign.

Ogilvie-Lee is involved with the Central City Business Association, a group of businesses backing regeneration of the Christchurch city centre.

Parker impressed many inner-city developers as the chairman of the Urban Development Strategy for the Christchurch City Council. The strategy, which was launched by Prime Minister Helen Clark in June, set out development plans for Christchurch until 2041, and called for a major increase in city-centre residential development.

Parker's financial support became an election issue when he refused to reveal his campaign backers.

His main rival for the mayoralty, Megan Woods, called for Parker's campaign to be more transparent.

Ogilvie-Lee said he backed Parker for his commitment to inner-city regeneration.

"There are only two people in Christchurch who have the faintest idea what is going on and they are Bob Parker and (former mayor) Garry Moore.

"I think Parker can make a decision, even when it is a hard one, and is behind inner-city development and security. The other candidates were not in favour of the inner city. He was the only candidate with knowledge."

Inner-city regeneration was vital to avoid urban sprawl in Christchurch, he said.

He hoped his donation would mean the Christchurch City Council would focus on central-city issues.

"If you push ahead without inner-city regeneration, then sprawl will do measurable harm to the city. I do expect the council will focus on the issues facing the inner city. Security is a key issue," Ogilvie-Lee said.

When asked about his campaign backers before Ogilvie-Lee came to light, Parker said the key question was not who funded him but whether he had sold his soul.

"Isn't the question you should be asking me: has anybody bought your soul? Has anybody bought influence from you? which I can honestly answer `no'," he said.

"You have to ask yourself what would you be buying if you bought the mayor? You are buying one vote at a table, with transparent processes for business dealings. Would that guarantee you some kind of outcome that you were seeking?"

Parker said he might reveal his financial backers ahead of the December 17 deadline but only if the information was "treated responsibly" and it did not become part of a "political game".

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- The Press

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